It had been a long time.. err! a very long time since i last wrote in my blog. While i was thinking of topics to write , it suddenly occurred to me, what could be better than writing a post on caste discrimination on the day of ambedkar jayanti. So, today i ‘m here to tell the tale of the oppressed, innocent, downtrodden people of the country whom i witnessed.
It was two days ago that, I along with my friends srikar, hari, barathwaj and madhu went to Thandur mandal to visit a few villages nearby to educate dalits of their right to be treated equal and also make them know that the law is on their side. It was not a routine day in my life. It started at 04:00 am in the morning,I got ready to board a passenger train at lingampally station at 06:30 am along with my friends, the train was heavily loaded, we hardly found any space to rest our feet. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for a nap except for barathwaj ( who could make use the entire travelling time to have as many naps as possible, even few power naps ).As soon as we arrived in Thandur, we rang vijay who was co-ordinating the “struggle against untouchability” as a part of KVPS (Kula vivaskha Vyatireka Porata Sangam) who were moving around in villages in the form of cycle rally. We joined them at karan kot ( a few miles away from Thandur) after having some juices at Thandur.
We started our rally in karan kot, we all were excited to cycle through the streets of the village and finally reached a temple where all the villagers generally gather. Some of the members of KVPS spoke to the villagers on how they are being deprived of basic rights to be a human being.After that madhu asked the villagers to avail the support of KVPS in fighting for their rights. Soon after this we cycled to another village through a 6 km long narrow tough road, where we had our food in one of the KVPS sympathizers home and then had a singing session with local singers and drummers followed by a small nap. Not many people turned up in this village so we moved to another village called “navandgi” which is again 6 km away ( but this time we prefered a jeep to the cycles as we were already exhausted ). It was this village were we actually saw the real discrimination. “Untouchables” may not use the same wells, visit the same temples, drink from the same cups in tea stalls, or lay claim to land that is legally theirs. Dalit children are frequently made to sit in the back of classrooms, and communities as a whole are made to perform degrading rituals in the name of caste.Most Dalits continue to live in extreme poverty, without land or opportunities for better employment or education. With the exception of a small minority who have benefited from India’s policy of quotas in education and government jobs, Dalits are relegated to the most menial of tasks, as manual scavengers, removers of human waste and dead animals, leather workers, street sweepers, and cobblers. Dalit children make up the majority of those sold into bondage to pay off debts to dominant-caste creditors.
Dalits in Dalit
Dalit women face the triple burden of caste, class, and gender. Dalit girls have been forced to become prostitutes for dominant-caste patrons and village priests. Sexual abuse and other forms of violence against women are used by landlords and the police to inflict political “lessons” and crush dissent within the community. Less than 1% of the perpetrators of crimes against Dalit women are ever convicted.
There are more dalits in India than there are people in Pakistan. That is, over 25 crores of indian population are dalits. Nearly 80% of India live on less than Rs.20 a day and most of them are dalits.
Coming back from statistics, at navandgi we spent most of our time, as before, we gathered most of the dalits in the village and started speaking to them and most of them were preoccupied by the thought that as they were born into dalit families they are supposed to live that way. It was the tirade by us which motivated them and increased their hopes of better living. When the morale of the gathering was raising high, we suddenly started marching towards the hanuman temple in the village where the entry was barred for the dalits.Near the temple the S.I. of that region spoke for a while assuring his support in eradicating discrimination, then the dalits started entering the temple with support extended by policemen and KVPS volunteers who were shouting slogans on caste discrimination. But the dalit women refrained from entering into the temple due to their fear of repercussions. Next we marched to a hotel where the owner being an upper caste fellow was offering tea to these dalits in an unwashed glass kept outside of the hotel specially for dalits. With some police intervention we could make the dalits drink water and tea in the usual utensils that were generally given to the upper caste. After these two incidents the dalits in the village were very much happy as they never dreamt that they could do these things so publicly. When we are returning from there village, many of the dalits started interacting with us, they were asking for our support in the future too, then we gave the phone numbers of the KVPS offices and members so that they could contact them any time they needed. That day would remain as one of my memorable days in my life, hopefully memorable day in the lifes of those dalits.
While returning home, the journey was filled with lots of adventures we were hardly finding any bus to travel back to Thandur in the night, after sometime at 8:00 we could find one, but that was not the end of the tragedy. There was a last bus to hyderabad at 8:30 and the journey from that village to Thandur takes nearly half-an-hour , so we were not sure what would happen with us, but one thing we decided for sure was to travel back hyderabad the same day itself. Unfortunately, as we didn’t expect, we missed the bus by just 5 mins. So, the only option left for us was to travel by a lorry. Then we started requesting lorry drivers, but no driver found our faces pleasing, fortunately, we found a auto trolley who gave us a lift home. We reached hyderabad around 12 pm and the auto fellow dropped us at mehdipatnam. We then found it difficult to reach our homes from there.We had to travel all the way to lingampally and took my bike and gave srikar a lift home and then reached my home by 1:30 am
This is the day that never ends, as soon as i reached my home, my cousin manoj was waiting for me. We discussed a lot of what happened in those villages.He was awe-struck by my adventures, however he could not believe that untouchability is prevalent in villages which are very much connected to the towns and cities.Many youngsters who are brought up in cities fail to see the extent of sufferings that the dalits experience. Many question the justness of reservation to dalits, but very few were benefitted through this and which doesn’t mean the suffering has ended. Finally manoj convinced that reservations are required to uplift the downtrodden sections and then we went for bed at around 4:00 am.
- 3 Dalit women are raped
- 2 Dalits are murdered
- 2 Dalits Houses are burnt
- 11 Dalits are beaten
There is a crime committed against a Dalit every 20 minutes.
Let us recall the last words of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on his jayanti,
“My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality.”