Saturday, February 01, 2003

Land allotment to Dalits angers upper castes in MP

Rubina Khan Shapoo

Saturday, February 1, 2003 (Indore):

It's a good scheme gone completely wrong. A recent land allotment programme by the Indore administration in Madhya Pradesh to the Dalits has brought them to the verge of starvation.

Ex-communicated for more than a month by the Upper caste Khati Community, the Dalit Bagri Community in Piplada village is being punished for getting land and the administration has not been able to broker peace between both groups

Bagris out of work

Worn out and desperate, members of Dalit Bagri families have been without work for more than a month and are now on the verge of starvation.

"We don't have anything. They have stopped giving us work. What do we eat? The general store and the flourmill have stopped selling to the Bagris and they are also not being given any work. Any Khati breaking these rules has to pay a penalty of five thousand rupees."

"They send their cattle in our fields, who destroy our crop. And that's why we took this action," lamented another.

A recent allotment of approximately 11 hectares of government land under occupation of the powerful Khatis to twenty-three Bagris by the administration is one of the main reasons for the resentment and this is a deadlock that even the administration has so far failed to break.

And for now, the Dalits in Pipaldha may have the land but their very existence in the village is uncertain.

Source: NDTV, February 1, 2003

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