Monday, October 04, 2004

Dalits are still oppressed

The tyranny recently unleashed by an upper caste Thakur upon a Saharia tribal family to realise his dues from the latter in Shivpuri district of MP, carries us back to medieval barbarism. Santosh Singh’s article “Pay up for the wheat ... then starve” (22-23 September) is too shocking to believe. For a debt of only “do pasera” (10 kg) of wheat, eight members of a family were forced to relinquish rights on their ancestral immovable property of 16 bighas land in favour of the Thakur and are about to starve even after rendering service gratis for eight years in the Thakur’s field. Not content with the series of cruelties the oppressor also forced the destitute family to leave their native village by issuing a death threat.

This comes barely a month after the an incident where “the principal and a teacher of a Madhya Pradesh school prevented students from eating mid-day meals cooked by a Dalit woman” in the same Shivpuri district. These heinous crimes are the repetition of history in 1928 when hundreds of Balais with their wives and children were obliged to abandon their homes in which their ancestors lived for generations and migrate to adjoining districts to save themselves from torture at the hands of upper caste people viz Kalotas, Rajputs, Brahmins, etc. Could they save themselves from the caste Hindus’ wrath in their new homes?

We have got political freedom but not socio-economic freedom. Is this country only for the privileged class? Democracy is futile because all political leaders want to keep Dalits debilitated for their vested interests.

Rabindranath Sarkar, Kolkata

Source: The Statesman, October 4, 2004

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