Skip to main content

In another case of social boycott, Dalits of North Gujarat village seek security to return to their house

Dalit women in a Gujarat village
By Our Representative
In a stark example of what may happen in a traditional Gujarat village in case a higher caste girl falls in love with a Dalit and marries him, a recent complaint to the Banaskantha superintendent of police (SP) suggests how deep casteism is rooted in the state’s rural areas. The complaint, a copy of which is with Counterview, is about Kishorkumar Hemji Pandya, a resident of Harijan Vas in Khimanwas village of Vav taluka of Banaskantha district. Pandya married Vimlaben Prajapati on December 13, 2013 in Vadodara.
While the complaint suggests those in power, as also social organizations fighting against deep caste roots, have failed to bring an end to the ingrained divide in any manner, it suggests the extent to which the upper castes can go in intimidating the lower caste families, with those in power siding with the upper castes. According to the complaint, made on April 14, 2014, several high caste persons, including the family of the girl and several Rajputs, reached Pandya’s house on December 14, 2013, searching for the boy.
The complaint said, the higher caste persons threatened to kill the boy, asking his family members: How dare a Dalit boy from to the Garoda sub-caste, touch a Prajapati girl? Garoda is the highest sub-caste in the Dalit hierarchy, and hence is more acceptable among upper castes than other Dalit sub-castes. Traditionally, its main job is to perform priestly rites among other Dalit castes – as high caste Brahmins wouldn’t enter a Dalit household to perform the rites. In the hierarchical social order, Brahmin priests consider Dalits “impure”.
The complaint, lodged by Hemjibhai Gordhanbhai Pandya, father of Kishorkumar, says that the higher caste persons came to their house twice, and every time they threatened to hand over the boy to them. They said they would “tear boy into pieces”, according to the complaint, adding, “They continued threatening us despite the fact that we told them that we have no knowledge about his whereabouts. Earlier, we told them, he worked as multipurpose health worker at Motakapra village, Deesa taluka, Banaskantha district.”
“Things reached such a point that, using their influence, the upper caste persons were able to convince the local police of Vav taluka that my son had abducted their daughter”, the complaint said, adding, “As a result, my younger son, Lakhiram Khemji Pandya, and my younger brother, Ramesh Gordhanbhai Pandya, were kept in police lockup illegally for three days – December 14 to 16, 2013 – without any charges. They were psychologically tortured. The cops in charge even threatened them that our houses would be burnt in case the boy married the girl.”
“On December 18”, the complaint said, “We received a true copy of the marriage certificate showing that Kishorkumar had married Vimla in a Vadodara court. This aggravated things, further fuelling the already charged atmosphere. The upper caste persons came to our house with armed with lathis and knives, and declared that nobody in the village would, now onwards, keep any relations with our family members. We were threatened social boycott, and asked to leave. Their intentions seemed clear – to attack us.”
“Out of fear, all of us, men, women and children, were forced to run for our life”, the complaint said, adding, “For the last four months, we have not been able to return to our houses. We have been told that our houses have been bugged. The locks were broken and our valuables looted. We made a complaint to Vav police station with PSI on April 13, 2014 at 5 pm. We were told that we would be informed about the progress within two days. We would want you to use your influence to ensure that we are given justice.”
The complaint ends by asking: “If our son has decided to go ahead with an inter-caste marriage, how is the family to be blamed for it? Why are we facing social boycott for no reason? We would request you to ensure that we are able live a normal life at our house, without any fear, and feel secure. In case no action is taken, we would be forced to migrate in front of the district headquarters.” Meanwhile, Ahmedabad’s Navsarjan Trust, a Dalit organization, has received the letter and has begun to pursue the case.

Comments

TRENDING

What's behind public sector banks showing huge profits in 2nd quarter of 2022-23?

By Thomas Franco*  The quarter two results of the public sector banks (PSBs) appear to be noteworthy compared to a few years ago. All these banks showed good profits in the financial year 2021-22. Twelve PSBs made a net profit of Rs 25,685 crore in quarter 2 of FY23 and a total of Rs 40,991 crore in the first half of 2023. The combined profit of 12 banks in March 2022 was Rs 66,539 crore which was 110% more than 2021 – Rs. 31,816 crore. The Asset Quality Review of 2015 saw a surge in NPAs of PSBs jumping to Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 from Rs 2.17 lakh crore in March 2014. This was simply because the norms for NPAs were changed from 180 days to 90 days, and all restructuring of even genuine accounts was done away with. In 2018 NPA of SBI was 5.73% which has come down to 0.8% in Q2 of FY23. The NPA of Canara Bank has come down to 2.19% from 7.48% in Mar 2018. The same trend is seen in all public banks. Now SBI has seen a jump of 74% in its net profit, while Canara Bank’s profit is

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures. Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.” Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or household

GoI's productivity linked incentives to corporates 'without independent analysis'

Counterview Desk  Wondering how prudent is the Government of India's (GoI's) Productivity Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, EAS Sarma, former secretary, GoI, in a representation to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister, has said it appears to be nothing more than subsidy to the private sector without any responsibility. Giving a specific example against the backdrop of announcement of 50% subsidy covering the project cost of the Vedanta Group's decision to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in Gujarat, in collaboration with Foxconn, Sarma says, "The total cost of this project is reported to be Rs 1,54,000 crore. 50% of this works out to Rs 77,000 crore." Stating that this creates the impression that the entire subsidy allocation for the semiconductor manufacturing sector would be appropriated by this company, Sarma says, "The Gujarat government did not lag behind in liberally announcing similar incentives for the Vedanta-Foxconn project. It offered 7

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".

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

Diminishing returns: Hydro projects contribute less than 10% of India's power generation

Counterview Desk  Pointing out that India’s hydro generation remains around 10% for the last six years, the advocacy group South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) has said that power generation from hydropower projects continues to show diminishing returns, as has been the story close to three decades now. Yet, says SANDRP in a note, the Government of India continues to push large hydro by announcing a slew of additional subsidies for hydropower projects, more for political economy reason. In fact, attempts are being made to flog unviable hydropower projects with various kind of manipulations, illegalities and violations, it adds. Text : In last six years, from 2016-17 to 2021-22, India’s large hydropower projects (projects above 25 MW installed capacity) have contributed just around 10% of the total power generation, going as low as 9.68% in 2017-18. In fact, in three of these six years, large hydro contributed less than 10% and recovering only marginally in the rest,

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.