Skip to main content

Gujarat Dalit families in Mehsana village refuse to dispose of dead animals: Decide to fight social boycott

Randej Dalits
By Kaushik Parmar*
The slogan “Gaay nu punchhdu tame rakho, amne amari jamin apo” (keep the tail of the cow with you, give us our land), which roared in Gujarat after the gruesome Una incident, appears to be playing a catalytic role in the Dalit rights movement in the state.
Day by day, ever more villages are boycotting the traditional occupations imposed upon them through caste-based society systems. As expected, upper caste communities are trying to suppress Dalits' voice through violence and social boycott, with the state machinery remaining a silent spectator.
Over the last one week, around 35 families faced social boycott by upper caste communities in Randej village of Bechraji block in Mehsana district of Gujarat. This happened following an afternoon feast was organised at a “sthapana pooja” in the newly built temple of the village.
However, the upper caste community arranged for a separate sitting arrangement for the Dalits, thus discriminating against them, and violating the constitutional provisions of equality for all class, caste, and gender. The Dalit community refused to have food.
Later, the Dalit community declared that it will not dispose of dead animals, which is considered their traditional occupation. Objecting to this, dominant sections the upper caste gave a call to socially boycott Dalits, something that other villagers followed out of fear. A penalty of Rs 2,100 was imposed on all those who dared interact with Dalits.
The result was, Dalits stopped getting essential commodities from the ration shop. No one would ply vehicles to the Dalit area. Shopkeepers refused to sell milk, vegetables, and other commodities of daily needs. Dalit daily wagers were refused jobs. This created a situation of food insecurity among Dalit families, especially children and women.
The Dalits decided to fight back. They filed a first information report (FIR) with the police. However, the complainant, Amratbhai regrets, “FIR registered by the police was purposely made weak. It did not register any case of violation of Indian penal code (IPC) sections”.
Meanwhile, the Dalit community has represented to the district collector, asking the state government to provide transport facility, cash dole to those who are unable to earn because of the social boycott, and ensure smooth distribution of milk and other daily needs from shops, especially the public distribution system. All this, the representation insists, should be done under police protection.
The representation has also demanded strict action against shopkeepers and those responsible for refusing to sell items of basic necessities. It also demanded alternative employment to the affected families.
It is sad that the government machinery has been a mute spectator all the while, as it has happened all earlier social boycott cases across the state. Despite low performance of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) for providing employment in Gujarat's rural areas, the state machinery has not provided jobs under the scheme to those who have been rendered jobless due to the social boycott.
There is no clearcut instruction on steps to be taken in such cases, though such incidents have become more frequent, especially following the Una movement. Despite facing threat to livelihood and right to life, the affected families have given a clear message to fight the social boycott and insisted, they will hold government accountable for whatever happens.
---
*Dalit rights activist

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

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.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).