Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Authorities warned: Dalits may be forced to migrate from North Gujarat village if social boycott continues

Dalits protest against social boycott outside Aravalli
district collector's office, Modasa
By Our Representative
Threat of forced migration is looming large over the Dalit community of Kudol village of Modasa taluka in the newly-formed Aravalli district, North Gujarat, following an upper caste attack on a wedding procession on May 24, where social boycott has been imposed on Dalit families. The attack took place after several dominant castemen objected to the bridegroom riding a horse during the wedding procession, to which the Dalits refused. The procession was attacked despite the fact that eight policemen accompanied the procession. A mob, consisting of several dozen persons, pelted stones on Dalits, injuring some of them, including cops.
A representation to the district collector, Aravalli, by the "Dalit community Aravalli", said, no sooner the culprits of the attack were taken in custody, upper caste social boycott has come into effect on the Dalit households. “In case social boycott does not end, we will be forced to migrate out of the village”, the representation warns, adding, “We have been barred from entering into the barber’s shop for hairdressing. A ban has been imposed on employing us as wage labourers, or sharing agricultural equipment with us. We are refused to enter jeeps or rickshaws.”
Giving more examples of social boycott, the representation said, “We are not being allowed to buy milk or curd from the local dairy, or goods of daily use from the local shops. Also, the local shops refuse to accept wheat and other foodgrains for grinding. We have represented to the deputy superintendent of police (DySP) for urgent steps against social boycott. We want that those responsible for imposing the social boycott should be brought to book by registering offence under the anti-atrocities Act and the prevention of anti-social activities Act.”
Dalits protest in Modasa
The representation further says, “The police should search individual houses of those who have been identified as culprits during the attack on the marriage party, and take possession of any sharp weapons, including fire arms, knives and swords, which they might have used while attacking the marriage procession.” Wanting police protection, the representation said, “The children will soon start going to the school following the vacation, hence they should be particularly provided security.”
Other demands include asking the authorities to ensure that the common village plot next to the Dalit colony in the village, which has been "illegally" occupied by the high caste people, should be vacated and put to common use; there should be a proper checking of the ration shop, which discriminates against Dalits while giving foodgrains and essential goods; and the peace committee formed in the village in the wake of similar attacks should be reactivated by taking written assurance from those responsible not to disturb inter-caste harmony.
Local Dalits allege that the attack on the marriage procession took place despite the fact that the bridegroom’s family had sought was provided police protection, following a warning from some members of the upper castes against riding a horse and taking out the procession, which the upper caste communities claimed was a tradition not meant for Dalits. In a similar incident at Tajpuri village in Himmatnagar taluka of Sabarkantha district on March 6, 2014 two dozen Dalits were reportedly injured after being beaten up by some members of upper castes.

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