Sunday, December 4, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Gujarat: Atrocities driving Dalits out of Sanand village

Gujarat: Atrocities driving Dalits out of Sanand village
Published: Saturday, Dec 3, 2011, 16:35 IST
By Roxy Gagdekar | Place: Sanand (Gujarat) | Agency: DNA

Sanand, a taluka of Ahmedabad district, has been developing rapidly
ever since Tata Motors set up its Nano plant here; it is now expected
to emerge as the 'Detroit of India'. But one of its villages, Goraj,
hides an ugly fact - ostracisation of a Dalit community.

The irony is that this discrimination is taking place barely 50 km
from Ahmedabad where Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram (also known as
Harijan Ashram) is located.

Unable to withstand 'harassment' by upper caste villagers, Dalits are
moving out of Goraj. A local community leader, Pravin Makwana, said
that, in the last few years, almost half the 35-40 Dalit families of
the village have moved out.

They had sought help from the police to end their ostracisation but to
no avail. The Dalit locality in Goraj is surrounded by people
belonging to other castes who have allegedly often attacked them.
Kalpesh Dabhi, a Dalit student studying for a BA degree in Gujarat
College, told DNA that he was attacked and beaten up by a group of
people on October 4, 2011.

He said he and his friends were once walking on a road that passes
through 'their' (read upper caste) locality. "They took offence to
this and beat us up. We had to be taken to hospital. I decided to
leave my village rather than face harassment every day," said Dabhi. A
complaint about the incident was filed at the Sanand police station.

In the past few years, as many as six complaints (under the special
law forbidding atrocities on Schedule Castes) have been filed by the
Dalits of Goraj. Of these, two were filed on October 1, 2011 and
October 4, 2011, respectively. The first complaint was filed after
Dalit girls were allegedly teased by some upper caste boys. In the
second incident, two Dalits were attacked while passing through an
upper caste area. A counter-complaint was filed by the upper caste
people of the area after the second incident.

When contacted, sarpanch of Goraj, Devu Thakor confirmed to DNA that
Dalit families were indeed moving out of the village to escape
harassment. However, talati-cum-mantri of Goraj, BG Gurjar, could not
be contacted for his comments despite several attempts.Gautam Vankar,
a peon at the BMW plant in Uttaria village near Shantipura, left Goraj
to come and live in rented accommodation in Sanand town. Vankar, who
is too scared to speak against the upper castes, is among the people
who left the village recently.

Dahya Makwana (35), Ganga Makwana (50) and Khodabhai Dabhi are members
of some of the families who have left Goraj in the last few years.
Talking to DNA at his rented house in Sanand town, Vankar, who leaves
for work at 8 am and returns by 10 pm every day, said he usually comes
late from work and is too scared to go to Goraj out of fear of being
attacked by members of the upper castes


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