Surviving boycotts for Ambedkar’s sake

 

Rahi Gaikwad

Part II of the series continued from here

rahi gaikwad 1Washim/Hingoli. The local provision store turns them away. The flour mill refuses to grind their grain. The village well becomes a no-go zone. Barred from farm work their daily wages stop. And a boycott begins.

A number of Dalits in several villages in Washim and Hingoli district are reeling under the impact of boycotts, some lasting as long as a year. Their crime? Celebrating Ambedkar and following his teachings.

A little over a week ago, the Dalits of Pimpalgaon in Maharashtra’s Washim district started to get water supply through a tanker. Till recently, they could not draw water from the fields of the Maratha landowners and had to travel five kilometres from the village to fetch it.      

Caste conflict began with a ‘Dhamma Shibhir’ (Buddhism workshop) they organised on the Republic Day in 2015, which took a violent turn during the Ambedkar jayanti that year. 

“We had invited a guest from Mumbai to guide us on Ambedkar’s 22 vows [Ambedkar prescribed 22 vows to his followers during the historic religious conversion to Buddhism in 1956 at Nagpur’s Deekshabhoomi]. While all of us were sitting in the ‘vihar’, Vishnu Nirgude [from the Maratha community] stormed into the ‘vihar’ and threatened us. He said he would bring 10-12 strong youths with him and show us ‘Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh’ [Ambedkar’s first vow says: I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh nor shall I worship them.],” said Datta Tayde, a farm labourer, a portion of whose house was set on fire in the resulting violence a few months later.    

 “On April 20, 2015, we celebrated Ambedkar jayanti. On April 23, the boycott began and on April 25, our houses were burnt. An Ambedkar library in the village was vandalised and his photo smashed,” said Tayde.

“They stoned our houses. As April approaches and when we play Babasaheb’s songs the stone pelting begins. This year we had some respite. Children still get scared even if a cat jumps on the roof,” said Sanghamitra Pattebahadur.

People complained that only 22 victims of the attack received State compensation. They recalled the early days of the boycott with horror saying they were so harsh that the Marathas even imposed a fine of Rs. 5,000 on anyone seen talking to the Dalits, some of whom were nearly driven to starvation.  

However, village sarpanch Pandit Bhusare, from the Maratha community told Round Table India that the dispute and boycott were the result of an argument at a hand pump, where a group of youths from the Buddhist community took photographs of some women.

Asked about the role of Vishnu Nirgude, Bhusare confirmed, “He has several cases against him. He is the cause of all this tension. He went and abused them [Buddhists] during their meeting. He asked me a couple of times why I was supplying tanker water to the Dalit colony, but I have to think of everybody.”

When Round Table India went to Nirgude’s house, neighbours said he did not stay in the village, a claim refuted by the sarpanch.  

The prolonged strife had an impact on this year’s 125th anniversary celebrations. The Buddhists were not given permission to hold a procession through the village, but were assigned a peripheral route.

“Other religious processions, including Holi rally, are allowed through the village through the Dalit colony, then why not Babasaheb’s procession? They want to keep Babasaheb on the outskirts,” said Nanda Waghmare.

Garkheda’s woes

In Hingoli district’s Garkheda village, a Dalit woman Mathura Khillare did the unthinkable. In her capacity as an Anganwadi worker, she objected to waste water being directed from the sarpanch’s house to the Anganwadi footsteps two years ago. The backlash that followed drove the four Dalits houses in the village to the edge of survival.

vidya anganwadi

The Marathas pulled out their children from the Anganwadi, leaving Khillare with only one Dalit and three savarna children. The sarpanch petitioned the authorities to dismiss her and her helper Vidya Tayde from service. The impact of the boycott is still felt as Dalit men are still not given work in the fields.

“They even stopped taking ‘sukdi’ [a wheat-based supplement given to Anganwadis for distribution among children up to six years and pregnant women]. We were not allowed to draw water from the well. We used river water for two years. They would defecate in the small ditches we made on the river bank to collect water. So next day we would dig fresh ditches. We struggled a lot for water,” said Khillare, who was awarded the Rajmata Jijau Excellence award in 2012 for her work. Today her fate hangs in balance.

The Dalits were provided a bore well after they wrote to the district administration and sat in fast.

~~~

 

Rahi Gaikwad is an independent journalist based in Mumbai

Other Related Articles

The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... Read More...
Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV There is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the... Read More...
"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
I am someone who thinks in an Ayyankali thought: Vinayakan, best actor
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Dwija Aami and Sreerag Poickadan Malayalam actor Vinayakan has received the Kerala State government's Best Actor Award 2016 for the Malayalee film Kammatpadam, recently. His interview by... Read More...
Gandhi and the Structure of Dalit Everyday Life
Thursday, 09 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV As a point of entry, let us focus on the indictment that Manabendra Nath Roy made in his 1938 book on fascism with regard to the form and content of Gandhian politics: he... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Let’s read SFI as 'Students' Fascism of India': Dalit & Muslim Students of Kerala
Friday, 10 February 2017
  C Ahamed Fayiz Activists of Inquilab Students Movement were attacked by SFI hooligans at Government College, Madappally, Calicut today. Adhil Ali. A, a first year student who is pursuing BA... Read More...
“I Shan’t Die, I Shall Live And Win”: Story of An Adivasi Girl Student
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
  Rakesh Sanal "If I die, I will fail. I shall live and win. I very well know how tough it is. Hearing people speak of this nation as a democracy makes me laugh, for isn't it this nation which... Read More...
Dalit Man murdered in Kerala for 30 Rupees!
Monday, 27 February 2017
  This is a transcription of a news report, by Amesh, which originally appeared in Left Click News. It was translated from Malayalam by Dhanya Madhav. A Dalit man was brutally assaulted and... Read More...
Chalo Thiruvananthapuram – Wipe Out Caste Colonies! Reconstruct the Kerala Model!
Monday, 23 January 2017
  [Via Santhosh Kumar] On January 29, 2017 "Chalo Thiruvananthapuram" movement heralds from the protest fronts of Chengara with the mission to ensure equal justice for the marginalised in... Read More...
The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more