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

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.