22nd June 2016 : An advertisement was issued more than a month back for vacancies for the posts of sweepers at The Human Development & Research Centre (HDRC), St. Xavier’s College Campus, Ahmedabad. The additional clause mentioned that the first preference would be given to people belonging to the general castes. They also mentioned names of the castes whose members can apply for the job – Brahmins, Baniya, Patels, Jains, Saiyed, Pathans, Syrian Christians and Parsis. However, this has turned into a communal and caste issue.
The allies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other Sangh Parivar affiliates like Brahmo Samaj, Police Lok Seva Raskshak Samiti and some members of the Patel community began protesting since yesterday, around 50 people entered the campus and terrorized people and tried to damage the area. These kinds of actions continued even today in presence of the media and physical harm to the objects done. Charges have now been put against HDRC and Prasad Chacko, Director, HDRC for inciting communal and caste unrest and an FIR has been registered under section 153A of the Indian Penal code against him. Amrish Jani, a leader of the Brahmin Community has also targeted the HDRC and ensured that charges are put against them.
The fact of the matter remains that this was not done with any ill-intention, however, the reaction to it very clearly indicates that certain elements in the society will go to any extent to maintain the caste hierarchies and the discriminations. The job of a sweeper is mostly given to the lowest castes in the society, Dalits, OBC’s, those at the bottom of the caste pyramid across different religions. The discrimination against certain castes is perpetuated by various means and any attempts at trying to break that, is met with threat and intimidation by dominant castes. This is the worst feature of the caste society and instead of finding ways to challenge it; is being taken as something that has to be preserved.
It is unfortunate to see that an advertisement to invite candidates from the general category for a sweeping job has turned into a crime and an FIR has been lodged against HDRC Director. We want to know on what basis, police has resorted to such a tactic, it only shows their own complicity in it.
This also clearly implies that the Hindu social order of Caste System persists and cleaning work is to be performed in accordance with the Hindu Social Order, meaning untouchables have to do cleaning and serve. A change of faith and religion does not guarantee freedom from menial work of sweeping. The continuance of this system can in no way define social harmony and peace.
We demand that the charges filed against HDRC and the Director, Prasad Chacko be withdrawn and instead, a FIR should be registered against the people who have spread hooliganism on the campus.
Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Samajwadi Jan Parishad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti & Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah & Ramakrishnam Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru, Richa Singh, Nandlal Master – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union & Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, J S Walia, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Avik Saha, NAPM West Bengal; Bhupender Singh Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini & Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Shabnam Shaikh – NAPM, Delhi