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Musahar resistance in the face of imminent starvation

The Musahars of UP and Bihar are finally finding their voice against oppression and marginalisation which has brought its people close to starvation.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST

The Musahar community of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is finally finding its voice against oppression and marginalisation which has brought its people close to starvation.

In block and panchayats where they live, the Musahars are today joining hands to stand up and demand their right to food and livelihood

The Musahars live along the banks of River Gandak and its tributaries in the eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Socially and economically, they are the most backward among the dalit community, and they face discrimination even at the hands of other dalits, who treat them as untouchables.

Indeed, such is the extent of deprivation that many of them have to eat rats to live.

The Musahars have, in fact, been hit the hardest by hunger in the past two to three years, after the zamindars (landlords) started using combined harvesters in the region. Today, a lucky Musahar household may at best get a few kilograms of paddy post harvest. Not surprisingly, starvation and related deaths have increased many folds. Ghorohu of village Koileswa summarises the Musahars' plight: "Why don't they run the 'compine' on us, at least we will not starve this way then."

Historically, however, the Musahars had been a happy and contented people.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 00:51 IST