Sunday, March 07, 2004

Tensions simmer in Shinde village

Yogesh Pawar

Sunday, March 7, 2004 (Mumbai):

Tensions continue to simmer at Shinde village in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra after violent attacks by the dominant Maratha community on Dalits left over 29 seriously injured.

Village elders pointed out that traditionally there was been no animosity between the dominant Marathas and Dalits until three years ago when the upper castes cut off access to a Dalit crematorium and tried to take over their separate well, triggering tension.

"First they took our crematorium and when we protested shops and flourmill became out of bounds for us," said Tulsabai Shinde.

"When we complained that they were taking over the crematorium they had promised they will teach us a lesson and they have," lamented Buddhaba Shinde.

Ironically, Shinde draws its name from a traditional Dalit clan. But in the past few years, the Dalits find themselves excommunicated. Their children cannot attend the local school and shopkeepers refuse to sell them groceries. Matters only worsened when some educated Dalit youth challenged this boycott.

"The better off homes were targeted. They didn't like it that we were educated and could match their lifestyles and kept asking whether we think we were upper caste," said another resident of Shinde village.

Unless casteist agendas make way for development villages like Shinde will always be on the road to nowhere.

Source: NDTV, March 7, 2004

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