Superstition
Locals believe that it is inauspicious to touch a dead body during the ‘Daiva Nema’ ritual, as they fear that it would invite the wrath of the deity.

For over six hours, the deceased Asalappa (80) remained exposed to the searing heat and sunlight on the Koila hillocks in Dakshina Kannada, despite being first spotted by some nearby villagers at 10 am on Saturday.

The villagers, who were observing Daiva Nema (worship of the spirit) over the weekend, allegedly decided against recovering or reporting seeing the body because of a superstitious belief. They believe that it is inauspicious to touch a dead body during the Daiva Nema ritual, as they fear that it would invite the wrath of the deity.

In this scenario, going beyond the call of duty, police officials in Kadaba retrieved Asalappa’s body and brought it down the hill themselves.

Alerted by Balakrishna Koila, a reporter from a Kannada daily, Sub-Inspector Prakash Devadiga and Assistant Sub-Inspector Ravi from the Kadaba Police Station reached the spot. The officials initially requested the locals to help them to take the deceased to his son Ravi’s home. But they excused themselves saying that sootaka (impurity due to birth or death) would befall them and their families if they attended to the body during the Daiva Nema.

With no breakthrough in negotiation, SI Prakash summoned Home Guard Sandesh for help and the trio along with Asalappa’s son Ravi transported the body down the hill.

“The hill is very steep, no vehicle or ambulance can scale the uneven terrain. So, we decided to carry the body down ourselves. We placed the body on a wooden bench, wrapped a cloth over it, bound it with a strong twine and made our way down,” ASI Ravi said.

Meanwhile some locals allege that it was not just Daiva Nema that kept the residents away from helping with the body.

“Apparently Asalappa’s son Ravi, who belongs to the Gowda community, had married a girl from a local Poojari (Billava) community. It looks like the family had been ostracised by some of the locals due to the inter-caste wedding,” a resident, who didn’t want to be named, said.

Barely over a month ago, Asalappa, who is a native of Jambadahalli village in Tarikere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district, had come to visit his son, who had settled in Gulgodi village in Koila for the last 12 years.

“Asalappa used to help his son in his fishing related occupation. On Friday, he started out to visit Tarikere after informing his son. As he was crossing the hill that falls en route, he must have slipped over the rocks and fallen fatally on the ground,” SI Prakash said.

While Kadaba police have registered a case of unnatural death, they have ruled out any foul play.

Meanwhile, appreciating the gesture of the law-keepers, Dakshina Kannada Superintendent of Police B R Ravikanthe Gowda announced a reward for them, along with a ‘Letter of appreciation’ for the scribe.

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