Roop Upadhyay, Hindustan Times  Mandi, March 27, 2014

Dalit Social and Financial Rights Movement (DSFRM) convener Balak Ram has alleged discrimination against Dalits in Mandi district.

Speaking to HT here on Thursday, Ram said the movement was pursuing the matter with the Mandi district administration, the state government and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi.

He said discrimination against persons belonging to the schedule castes (SC) and schedule tribes (ST) continue unabated. The practice of untouchability still persists in schools, educational institutions, temples and in fairs.

Ram said the movement had submitted reports to the state government and to the NHRC, New Delhi, on few government schools of the Seraj segment of Mandi district and Kangra district where school authorities serve mid-day meals to SC and ST students separately from the upper caste students.

“The school authorities give food to Dalit students after serving upper-class students. Moreover, Dalit students are made to sit in separate rows. It is discrimination and violation of human rights” he said.

Ram further said that the same practice was being adopted by the traditional fairs organisers. They not only cook food for them separately but earmark the space where lower and upper caste people will eat separately.

“The Mandi Shivratri fair is one of the major fair of the state and fair organizers provide common feast to the local deity’s accompanists and musicians in U-Block building of Government Primary School, but cook and serve the meal separately for the Dalits. No social organization or administration officials object to the repeated discrimination,” he said.

He added that Article 17 of the Indian Constitution had abolished such practice.

“It is the duty of upper caste people to provide equal platform to celebrate religious occasion and enjoy common feast to deliver justice to downtrodden community and enable them to live with dignity and self-esteem” said Ram.


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