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

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

Govt of India 'has no plan' to reduce energy, fossil fuel consumption, emissions

Counterview Desk
In his representation to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India on draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP), 2019, top power policy analyst Shankar Sharma has insisted that there is imminent need to consider the economic activities at the national/international level very carefully from the perspective of climate change.

Here's proof: Manual scavenging is rampant, Ahmedabad isn't open defecation free

By Parsottam Vaghela*
Authorities of Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat, may have gone into full swing in its cleanliness drive under the Swachh Bharat mission after the city was awarded the open defecation free plus (ODF+) certificate by the Union government’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. However, my visit to some of the areas of the walled city of Ahmedabad on August 7 in order to ascertain whether it has become open defecation free suggested that the claim is a total humbug.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.