The upper castes, it seems, are not the only ones who discriminate against Dalits.
Three Dalit men in Rajasthan were fined R15,000 each by their Muslim sarpanch (village headman) for drinking water from a public tap on Wednesday evening in Randhisar village, 90 km from Bikaner town in the northwestern part of the state. The trio, Beer Balram Meghwal, Sattu Ram and Nandu Ram, has lodged a police complaint.
“We were drinking water from the public tap used by our Meghwal caste,” Beer Balram said. “Gheesu Khan (another villager) was filling his pots nearby. Some water splashed on to his pots and he started fighting with us. He then called the sarpanch, Gope Khan, who fined us R15,000 each.”
When the Dalit community protested, some members were allegedly roughed up by Gheesu Khan and his cohorts. There are around 200 families in the village from the Rajput, Muslim and Meghwal communities.
Police have been deployed in the village to defuse tension. Bikaner Superintendent of Police Habib Gouran said cases had been filed against Gheesu Khan, Khanu Khan, Ramne Khan and Ghulam Khan.
“It is unfortunate that 63 years after Independence we are have not been able to bring about equality in society,” Bikaner MP Arjun Ram Meghwal of the BJP said. “The sarpanch should be punished. I will raise this issue in Parliament.”
Despite several attempts to contact him, the sarpanch could not be reached by Hindustan Times.