Skip to main content

Dalits 'refrain' from entering temples in the interest of rural peace and harmony, believes Gujarat govt

Forced migration from a Banaskantha village:
result of untouchability in Gujarat
By Rajiv Shah
In a strange explanation, the Gujarat government has said that providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on prevalence of untouchability in the state will lead to “a sharp rise in incidence of enmity in the rural areas of Gujarat.” The explanation comes in reply to an RTI application, filed by top NGO Navsarjan Trust's senior activist Kirit Rathod, who had wanted to know details of a report, titled “Understanding Untouchability”, prepared by the Centre for Environment and Town Planning (CEPT) University, commissioned by the Gujarat government on October 22, 2010.
A copy of the letter, sent to the state information commissioner, D Rajagopalan, on April 4, 2013, has sought to give as many as seven different reasons, in order to deny information on untouchability in rural Gujarat. It is still not known how the Gujarat information commission takes these explanations, which are self-explanatory on how the officialdom is shying away from addressing issues related with the prevalence of untouchabiliy in the state's villages.
Significantly, the explanations do not just include the imagined prospect of a sharp rise in incidence of enmity in villages in the state in case information on untouchability is provided, but also such reasons like “possibilities of hurdles in the process of dialogue between different castes” in the rural areas, and chances of “a sharp decrease in interdependence” between different castes, which allegedly characterizes the “homogeneous atmosphere” in the state's rural areas.
Saying that if information is provided, “relations between different communities may be in jeopardy”, the reply to Rathod further says that in case incidence of untouchability are “proved to be true” in villages, this would lead to “rise in the atmosphere of peace, dialogue and compromise” which may be prevailing in the villages.
“There is also a possibility that the person who reports on untouchability would find living difficult in the village”, the government believes, suggesting how Dalits in some villages, in order to maintain an atmosphere of homogeneity, take steps which apparently ensure that the overall atmosphere of peace in the village is not marred.
“In some villages, for instance”, the government believes, “the Dalits themselves do not want to enter into villages.Similarly, in some other villages, if the barber refuses to entertain a Dalit wanting to have hair-cutting, the Dalit decides to go to a town-based barber in order to avoid any possibility of a dispute taking shape in the village between different castes.”
The last explanation, given in the explanation, prepared by the state social justice and empowerment department, is that in case information on untouchability is provided under the RTI application, it would lead to a situation where the Dalits may be deprived their source of livelihood. “This is because the Dalits' livelihood depends on the jobs provided by higher castes”, the letter explains.
Rathod, who had wanted to know about details of the untouchability report prepared by the CEPT University, had sought details like on-the-spot inquiry of incidence of untouchability in the state's rural areas, made by the CEPT University scholars, as also the reasons for untouchability provided by state-level and district-level officials. The government, while denying the details, said it was acted under the RTI Act's section 8(J).
The Gujarat government had asked the CEPT University to review the study, "Understanding Untouchability", following a news story in on it in the Times of India. "Understanding Untouchability" is a complete census on prevalence of untouchability in the state's more than 1,589 villages, carried out by Navsarjan Trust volunteers with the help of US-based Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The Navsarjan Trust released the results of the survey on January 27, 2010. Two other stories, also based on the survey, on Dalits facing disrimination in temple entry and midday meal scheme appeared subsequently.

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

When judges behave more like priests, delivering sermons from high podium...

By Ajit Singh*  The theory of separation of power found its origins in ancient Greece but with the passage of time it became widespread in other parts of Europe. Early proponent of the theory Greek philosopher Aristotle in “Politics” argued that implementation of constitution in letter and spirit can only be possible if the three elements among whom the power has been distributed are well arranged.

Covid appropriate behaviour? Why masks can't be suitable in hot, humid climate

By Dr Amitav Banerjee* Appearances can be deceptive. So can be Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB). An anecdote illustrates this well known cliché. A man who is very particular about hygiene decides to eat out. After a rather long search, he spots a restaurant which has a spotlessly clean exterior and he walks in.

Muck being thrown in Uttarakhand rivers: Villagers face 'existential' crisis

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The Uttarakhand government must act fast to clear the path of Dhauli Ganga river about two kilometres ahead of village Neeti and about one kilometre from Ghamsali village, which is about 90 kilometer from Joshi Math town in district Chamoli. The creation of an artificial lake due to throwing of muck and mud can create a catastrophic situation like what happened on February 7, 2021-- the Rishi Ganga-Dhauli Ganga tragedy at Tapovan and Raini village in which over 200 people lost their life.

How Indore turned into water minus city after authorities 'managed' Water Plus title

Water harvester cleaning up hyacinth from an Indore river By Rahul Banerjee*  Recently, the city of Indore was declared the first Water Plus city in India under the Swachh Sarvekshan programme of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development for its ostensibly exemplary waste water management. However, the reality is quite different as a detailed study of the prevailing wastewater management situation in the city shows.

UP govt 'ignoring' demand to fill up teachers' posts despite unemployment: Rights groups

Sandeep Pandey with Shikha Pal Counterview Desk  Commenting on the unique protest undertaken by Shikha Pal atop an overhead water tank for nearly four months, the Socialist Party (India), in association with several civil rights group, Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Socialist Yuvjan Sabha and Rihai Manch, have wondered why has the Yogi Adityanath government is so “insensitive” towards her demands and is looking the “other way.”

Restricting use of public places for religious purpose: Will Gehlot govt respect HC order?

By Kavita Srivastava*  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan, has welcomed the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court dismissing the petition by Pooja Gurnani which challenged a circular of the Rajasthan government which restrained the construction of a ‘Pooja Sthal’ in the premises of a police station.

Rehabilitation site 'offered' to 6000 displaced Khori villagers not livable: Team Saathi

By Our Representative  Second round of the Chitthi Andolan (letter movement) of the Khori village residents, whose more than 6,000 houses were demolished as they were allegedly built on forest land, has begun, with hundreds of them telling the authorities of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad, that no one has received the promised financial assistance of meagre Rs 2,000.