Seven months after 13 Dalit families in Maharashtra’s Ansurda village of Osmanabad district faced social boycott by upper caste villagers, the main complainant in the case has been served an externment notice by three districts authorities. No action has been taken against the accused, so far.
Nishikant Humbe, a member of the Dalit community who had contacted the police and the media about the social boycott in the village, is now accused of creating rift in the village, and has been called a habitual criminal. The notice bars him from residing in Osmanabad, Beed or Latur districts for the next two years. However, he will be given a chance to present his case in front of the sub-divisional magistrate on December 8.
“I do not know why they want me out? I raised my voice against powerful people in the village. Was it my fault? I am nobody in front of them and still I am being targeted,” Mr. Humbe told The Hindu.
When contacted, district collector Dr. Prashant Narnavare said that he was not aware about the notice being served to Mr. Humbe. “I must get all the details from the concerned officer before commenting on this matter. But there has to be a reason why the notice has been served. I will get all the details and appropriate action will be taken,” he said.
In a first notice served to Mr. Humbe three crimes were registered against his name, while the second notice on October 31 mentions only one case. The notice accuses the complainant of continuing to terrorize people in the village as a result everyone is scared of him.
“Any sane person who knows the dynamics of rural Maharashtra will laugh at this. Furthermore, the administration has not initiated any action against the accused. Why? There is no answer to this,” said Subodh More of Jati Ant Sangharsh Samiti, which had raised the issue in the past. The samiti members held a meeting with C. L. Thool, member of SC/ST commission demanding cancellation of this notice.
On April 28, the Dalits took out a procession to mark the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, where songs dedicated to the Dalit icon were played. According to the original complaint, few upper caste youths objected to it and demanded songs on Shivaji Maharaj, which were played too. The young men allegedly desecrated the image of Dr. Ambedkar and abused Dalit women, according to a police complaint filed by the families. The police arrested four youths, of which two were minors.
“The fact that we filed a complaint enraged the upper castes and they called for a social boycott,” said Mr. Humbe. Ansurda, with a population of over 1,500, has only 13 Dalit households — 11 of Buddhist Mahars and two of the Mang community. The Dalits were asked not to drink water from public taps and their cattle was barred from grazing in the village. Shopkeepers were asked not to sell groceries to them.
Externment notice bars him from Osmanabad, Beed or Latur districts for next two years.