In a reminder of persisting untouchability in the country, around 120 members of the Dalit community in Bhataria Village in Jotana taluka, Mehsana district of Gujarat have alleged that they are being subjected to caste-based discrimination in the village feast, which is part of the Praan Pratishtha Mahotsav of a temple on Sunday and Monday.
According to media reports, the Dalits in the village have decided to boycott the feast. The report quoted Vijaya Parmar, the sarpanch of the village, who said that if the organizers of the ceremony cannot invite the Dalits to the same feast at the temple, no one from the Dalit community will participate in it. She declared the decision on behalf of the Dalit community of the village on a Panchayat notice board.
A Dalit activist, speaking to The Mooknayak, revealed that the villagers would lodge a report at the nearest police station in the evening. Natu Patel, a Patel leader, reportedly denied the allegations and stated that there is no separate space fixed for Dalits.
Despite attempts to break silos between the Dalits and other communities due to the widespread untouchability in the region, discrimination still persists. In 2019, people of Kasalpura village, which also lies in Jotana Taluka, organized a mass feast where people from all castes broke bread together. The feast was held to mark the refurbishing of Ramdevpir temple in Gujarat. However, neighboring villages seem to still have caste-based divides.
The Mehsana district, which also happens to be the home district of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been witnessing frequent cases of Dalit atrocity. Recently, a Dalit woman was raped by an auto driver from the Thakur community.
The accused has been apprehended from his house and has been charged with murder, rape, and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The 26-year-old victim used to work in a shopping mall to support her two younger siblings.
The discrimination against Dalits in the home state of the Prime Minister extends even after death. A recent incident in Bhawanpura village of Dholaka Taluka in Ahmedabad, which is a major financial center of the state and about 75 kilometers from Mehsana, highlights their plight.
The villagers claim that there was a cremation ground in the village, but the owner has refused to allow people to use it. Recently, Anita (18), daughter of Daya, a resident of Bhawanpura village, passed away but did not get space inside the village for her burial. Her relatives were forced to cremate her near the highway.
You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.