Bhubaneshwar: It is the India of the 21st century, but caste discriminations and untouchability are still a reality. And that is the dark side that our nation is marred by. 

A shocking incident has come to light from Odisha's Jharsuguda district in which a minor boy had to carry the body of his deceased mother on his bicycle after the villagers, who were from the 'upper' castes, refused to assist in the funeral. 

According to reports from the Karpabahal village under Lakhanpur block of the district, 45-year-old Janaki Sinhania, who was staying with her son Saroj and daughter in the village for the past 10 years after her husband's death, died after falling down while she was fetching water. 

In spite of Saroj's calls for help, none of the other villagers came forward and refused to even touch the body. Saroj had asked some of his relatives and neighbours to help him conduct the last rites of his mother, but they turned him down.  

Left without any option, a devastated Saroj had to carry the body of his mother on a bicycle for nearly four kilometres and conduct the funeral himself.

Jharsuguda collector Bibhuti Bhusan Patnaik said he was unaware of the incident, but promised appropriate action after an inquiry is conducted.

This incident shows that there are still parts of the country that are caught in a warped mindset informed by caste considerations and untouchability. These are parts that have hardly been touched by development, and untouchability is practised in these remote corners despite stringent legislation against it.