Dalit ‘defiance’ brings trouble | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Dalit ‘defiance’ brings trouble

bhopal Updated: Nov 28, 2009 01:46 IST
Sravani Sarkar

n Vimla Bai, 35, of Deori village received a threat from upper castes that if she visited their agricultural farms, she would be paraded naked around the village.

n Phullu Singh Ahirwar, 70, of Tekapar village began to collect animal carcasses after upper castes refused to give him his legitimate share in the crop if he did not do the job.

n On October 10, a dead animal was thrown in front of the house of Ramesh Ahirwar (38) at Nander village and he was warned against removing it though people there fell ill because of the stench the carrion emitted.

n Ahirwar women in Madgula village are forced to attend to nature’s call right beside the main road because villagers have prohibited them from using community toilets.

Ahirwar community members are denied work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and deprived of the benefits of other government schemes.

This is the finding by a team in at least six villages of Narsinghpur district, 210 km south-east of Bhopal.

The Ahirwars are Dalits, a sociological term for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is the largest social safety net scheme in the country.

Around July, the community decided to stop doing its traditional job of removing dead animals and skinning them. The Ahirwar Samaj Mahaparishad (great council of the community) took the decision to insulate younger generations from the stigma of being untouchables.

The formal announcement in this regard, through a memorandum to the governor, was made on October 8.

“Immediately after we decided to stop the traditional work, the (atrocities) started. Now the police and administration are supporting us (to some extent) wherever there is an assault or threat. But still everyone is living in fear. We want a solution to this,” Ahirwar Samaj Mahaparishad district President Umed Singh Ahirwar, 46, told Hindustan Times.

A team of two voluntary organisations of Bhopal, which visited four villages in the area, has come out with a report on the social boycott, economic sanctions and other atrocities meted out to the Dalits after the recent decision.

The report says upper-caste landholders refuse to give the Ahirwars their genuine share in the crop. The Dalits worked in summer under the share-cropping (bataidar) system.