Thursday, May 22, 2014

Barred from accessing water from the common bore, Dalits say they are being forced to migrate from village

Dalits meet in Lunasan village to decide on future action
By Our Representative
Following a glaring instance of discrimination against the Dalits in a North Gujarat village, a representation by the Dalits rural folk to the district collector, Mehsana, has said they are being forced to migrate from their village because the “non-Dalits” are prohibiting them to access water from the public bore. This is happening despite the fact that the village, which is dominated by the other backward caste (OBC) Thakore caste, has a Dalit sarpanch and a Dalit member in the village panchayat, the representation regretted.
The instance of Dalits not being allowed to access water suggests that the Gujarat government’s much-talked-about effort to usher in an era of samras or a homogeneous atmosphere is nothing but an effort to hide caste and class contradictions in the state’s villages, say Dalit activists. It also suggests that the effort usher in samras is, if anything, an attempt to install the upper caste hegemony, these activists point out.
The issue concerns Lunasan village in Kadi taluka, from where one of the senior-most ministers of the Gujarat government hails – Nitin Patel. “The forcible ban on access to water has been going on for the last more than six months”, the representation said, adding, “This is part of the anti-Dalit, untouchability practices currently being aggressively pursued by the non-Dalits. The bore belongs to the village panchayat. It does not belong to any private individual.”
Things have lately reached such a point that, said the representation, some non-Dalit men of the village used abusive words and then beat up of several of the Dalit men and women, who had gone to fetch water from the common bore late in the evening recently. The result was that on May 16, the Dalits were forced to register a police complaint.
The complaint not just said that the public bore is not being allowed to be used. It added that the pipeline connecting the bore with the Dalit locality, where 100 Dalits live, has been deliberately breached. “Most of the Dalits are either wage workers or eke out their living as cattle breeders. More often than not, they have to depend on private tankers by spending huge sums to get water”, the representation pointed out.
Asking the district collector to “immediately act” and ensure that the Dalits are not discriminated against, the representation – a copy of which was obtained from NGO Navsarjan Trust’s senior activist Kirit Rathod – threatened, in case the officialdom refuses to act, the Dalits would be forced to move out of the village. “It is a clear case of social boycott by non-Dalits against the Dalits, and the officialdom should not tolerate this”, Rathod told Counterview.

No comments: