Caste-based discrimination is rife in the native state of Dr BR Ambedkar, the father of the Indian Constitution who faced untouchability and fought against this social prejudice throughout his life.
Like Ambedkar, who confronted fellow teachers at Sydenham College in Mumbai for their objection to sharing a water jug with him, Charmakars and Bhangis in Mhow’s Harsola village are not allowed to use the community crematorium even in the 21st century.
Charmakars are Dalit people who traditionally work as cobblers or skins dead animals while Bhangis are scavengers. Both groups are considered extremely low in India’s deep-rooted caste-based social order.
The dominant OBCs – Malis, Patidars, and Malviyas — in the village have been accused of oppressing the marginalised communities for ages. “This will not go easily,” said a villager.
The consequences of defying the diktat are so extreme that wary Dalits seldom venture into the crematorium of upper castes, who call themselves members of Swarna Samaj or golden community.
The caste divide is visibly distinct in the settlement pattern as each community lives in segregated areas within the village.
Social rights campaigner Mohan Rao Wakode, secretary of the Ambedkar memorial society in Mhow, regretted that untouchability was still widely prevalent in the Dalit icon’s birthplace as well as the entire state of Madhya Pradesh.
10 RECENT INCIDENTS OF DALIT ATROCITIES
Shivpuri, March 2015: Upper caste members force cow dung into mouth of a Dalit woman for being elected as sarpanch of Kuwanpur village
Ratlam, May 2015: Members of upper caste allegedly pelt stones at six policemen in Negrun village for accompanying a marriage procession of a Dalit
Chhattarpur, June, 2015: Women from upper caste beat up a Dalit teenager in Ganeshpura village of Chhattarpur district after her shadow fell on a person belonging to the upper caste.
June, 2015: A Dalit woman sarpanch was not allowed to hoist national flag for the past four years at her village Puravas Kalan in Morena district.
Dhar, August 2015: Upper caste men allegedly beat to death 16-year old Bhil boy in Manawar town of Dhar district; his burned body was found hanging from a tree.
Indore, August 2015: Affluent villagers of Sitapat allegedly ostracise Dalits of Sitapat and deny them entry into the lone temple of the village.
Dhar, October 2015: An armed group of about 40 people loot crops from the land of a tribal on October 1 and 3. Station house officer refuses to register FIR against accused, citing orders from Bhopal.
January 2016. Two Dalit Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers of Madhya Pradesh, Ramesh Thete and Sashi Karnawat stage a dharna in Bhopal, alleging caste-based discrimination by the state government.
Damoh March 8, 2016 : A nine-year-old Dalit boy drowns in a well after he was denied access to his school’s hand pump in Damoh district.
Sehore, April 2016: Upper caste people break an arm of a 13-year-old Dalit boy in Dudhlai because he drank water from the well of an upper caste farmer.