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In Narendra Modi’s Gujarat- Cries of caste discrimination reverberate

 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact<span class= #mustread" src="http://kractivist.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/140411satish.jpg?w=600" width="600" height="449" />

TNN | Apr 14, 2013, 02.24 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: “We are not allowed to get our hair cut at the barber’s shop in our village even if we are ready to pay a few rupees more. If the barber agrees to cut our hair, he is beaten black and blue by the upper caste people of the village,” said BhupatZala, a resident of Badarkha village near Dholka.

The same problem is faced by dalits in Bhat, Kashindera, Ranoda and several other villages of Dholka district. “The dalits are not allowed to have tea in hotels in the vicinity of these villages and they are also not allowed to enter the temples built for the ‘upper classes’ of the society.”

Tales of discrimination tore through the tag of ‘developed’ state as hundreds of members of the community poured on to the streets of the city to raise voice against injustice meted out to them on the eve of 123rd birth anniversary of Dr . Thousands of people from 16 states of and 18 districts of Gujarat participated in the dalit rally organized by Navsarjan and Jan Vikas.

The rally started from Aanand Ashram in Sarkhej and ended at Sanskar Kendra, Paldi. Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr B R Ambedkar, Mallika Sarabhai, the former Chairman of UGC Sukhdeo Thorat, member of planning commission Dr Sayeeda Hameed, founder of Hamal Panchayat Baba Adhav remained present in the rally to support dalit rights. The cultural groups from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh performed special art of drum beating in the rally.

People from different states who arrived in the city to stand for dalit rights unanimously said that untouchability still prevails countrywide. Suresh Kumar, a member of Dalit Foundation, Himachal Pradesh, said, “The dalits of Santoshgarh village of Himachal Pradesh are till date not allowed passing from the streets where Brahmins and Rajputs reside. If a dalit touches the house of an upper class man, he is beaten cruelly. A small boy who mistakenly entered a temple built for upper class communities was beaten to death.” The dalits who came to participate in the rally from also agreed that the police and legal system do not support or protect them.

In Rajasthan, Mamgilal Meghwal’s 30 bigha land was seized by the upper class people. His land was allotted to him on three different names Magga, Mangiya and Mamgilal which is a common tradition in dalits. Taking benefit from that, his land was seized. “Even after submitting identity proofs provided by Gram Panchayat and Jilla Panchayat, I was denied. I registered a complaint against them and also filed a court case, but no actions were taken by the authorities,” said Mamgilal.

Anju Saha, a student from Manjali village of Uttarakhand, said, “Dalit ladies are not allowed to cook food in our village school. If they touch it, the Brahmin and kids won’t eat it. These upper class students don’t sit with the dalit students. We are even asked to leave seats empty in the busses.”

Ray of hope

This proves that the problem of untouchability is ubiquitous in India. However, Satara district of Maharashtra and Karmabhoomi of Dr B R Ambedkar has a different story. According to Chandrakant More and Ujjavala Bhandare from Satara, even though the district is dominated by upper class people, no need has emerged to fight for dalit rights in recent years.

 

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