Breaking free from the century-old tradition of caste-based prostitution, 17-year-old Muskan Dawar of Banchara community has made her country proud by winning gold in wrestling in the Asian leg of IInd Students Olympic International Games 2015-16, organised by Student Olympic Council Asia.
The championship, held at Colombo between September 21 and 23, witnessed the participation of several Asian countries. Muskan represented the country in the 55 kg wrestling category.
The annual event gives students across Asia and even outside a platform to test and showcase their sporting skills, Pradeep Bhardwaj, national general secretary of Students Olympic Association, said.
A student of first year at Vivekanand Government PG Degree College, Neemuch, Muskan received a grand reception on her return to hometown. “Now I want to participate in bigger events and win more laurels for the nation,” the confident teenager told HT.
Her journey, however, has not been an easy one so far. “It was not easy for me to break the taboo associated with our community to follow my dreams. But my parents have always been very supportive,” she added.
High on her daughter’s feat, Muskan’s parents — Lalita and Ravishankar — believe her achievements will bring about a change in the society. “We hope Muskan’s feat will encourage other girls from the community to find their true calling,” Ravishankar said.
Praising Muskan for her success, district collector Rajnish Shrivastava said, “We are proud of her achievements and her success will go a long way in changing the mindsets of people from their community”.
Juhi Jain, joint secretary, Student Association of Madhya Pradesh, “This is just the beginning for Muskan. We would like to see her representing the country in Olympics and once that happens, it will change the way people look at them”.
In Neemuch district, there are only 25 villages where a large chunk of the population belongs to the Banchhara community. The 15,000-odd members of the community are spread over 70 deras (settlements) in Neemuch, Mandsaur and Ratlam districts.