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Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times
Indore, December 06, 2012
It all started for Rs. 3,000! Raghunath Sirvi (66), a small-time farmer in Dekhupura village of Bagli tehsil of Dewas district has been socially boycotted by his community for not paying a donation for the dharmshala, two-and-a-half years ago. During this period, Sirvi and his family had to face discrimination by his community. The family members were not allowed to attend any social gatherings or functions.

Peeved by the attitude of his community and living in terror, Sirvis approached police and Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission for justice (copy of which is with HT).

Sirvi has lodged a complaint against eight persons of the village and has demanded police protection for his family. Sirvi lives along with his wife Sakku Bai, son Gabbu and a daughter Bhagwati.

Sirvis are the backaward class farming community of Madhya Pradesh. There are about 80 houses in the village and more than 500 people of community are living here.

Some two-and-a-half years ago, the community decided to demolish the old dharmashala and build a new one. A resolution was passed that every member will donate as per the land holdings, i.e., Rs. 500 per bigha.

Sirvi expressed his inability to pay the money because his land was in catchment area. He owns six bighas of land, four bighas of which are in catchment area.

"I urged with folded hands that I will not able to pay Rs. 3,000 since I was running in acute financial crisis. I even asked the community to inform me about the details of the raw materials taken out from the demolished Dharmashala and about the money, which they have got after selling. This offended them and they abused me," said Sirvi.

After a couple of days, enraged over the questions of Raghunath, about a dozen affluent people of the community called a meeting and announced to boycott his family. If that was not enough, the 'affluent' convinced community men in the whole Nimad region to ignore his family, alleged Sirvi.

"Wherever I go for my son's or daughter's marriage, the community members influence the person not to marry in my family," rued Sirvi.

He Sirvi alleged that a year ago, a person from the community, Kesar Singh, even threatened to burn his house and leave the village as soon as possible.

"Recently, on November 22, when a person from another Gauli community called him for a ceremony, he (Gauli community) was pressurised after which he came in wee hours and took back his invitation," said Sirvi.

His community men accept in private that the treatment meted to Sirvi is 'uncalled for'. "This is completely inhuman. Many villagers are against it but nobody dares to speak against the core members (eight members) of community because they are so powerful and they can also boycott others, whosoever speak against them," said a villager preferring anonymity.