Dalit family forced to leave village after police action to check untouchability

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Koppal : Following the boycott of a Dalit family by villagers, the subsequent police action against the practice of untouchability has put at risk the future of the victim family in the village in Koppal district of Karnataka. The police and Dalit organizations supported the Dalit man at the time of the FIR and arrests, but have failed to provide succour to the family.

The family of Chandrashekar Shivappa Dasar, a 29-year-old Dalit man, has been allegedly forced to move out of Miyapur village in Koppal district following the police action against untouchability including the arrest of five persons belonging to the upper caste. Dasar, who has to take care of his parents and two children including a new born baby, told IANS that after the police action, his life turned to hell in the village.

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“When my wife was 9 months pregnant and faced health issues, a villager who gives a car on rent denied me transport. The whole village stopped talking to me after the police action. More than that they saw me as if I was a rapist. We could not send our 4-year-old son to the Anganwadi centre.

“Insulting looks and the postures of the people made me feel that my family was living under the Britishers. We can’t even fold our hands and stand before the upper caste people. I do not want my children to grow up in such a humiliating environment.

“What they go through during childhood will remain with them throughout their life. As the delivery date of my wife was nearing, I could not take any chances with it and shifted to my wife’s house,” he stated.

Talking about his livelihood and future, Dasar said that he is planning to move to the nearby town of Kushtagi and starting a small business there. “People used to tell me that I don’t speak at all, now they have boycotted me completely. I don’t feel safe anymore in the village,” he said.

The Karnataka government has announced a scheme in the name of Dasar’s son Vinay to bridge the gap between the upper castes and the Dalits. It is called the ‘Vinaya Samarasya Scheme’. “The move of the government is good. But, it has to look into the plight of the oppressed people who raise their voice against oppression after police action,” Dasar said.

Dasar has got a Rs 1 lakh loan from the government but feels that he should at least have been given a loan of Rs 5 lakh to restructure his life.

Recalling what happened, Dasar said that his family had gone to the Marutheshwara temple in Miyapura village to get the ‘abhisheka’ (ritual) done on the occasion of the birthday of his son Vinay. They had to stop at the main entrance of the temple as Dalits are not allowed inside and the priests would perform the rituals and bless them.

There is a tradition of pieces of coconut being placed on either side of the doors of the main entrance of the temple. The boy took one of the pieces of the coconut from there and it was observed by the upper caste people, he said.

Later a Rs 25,000 fine was imposed on the family for letting the boy pick up the coconut piece saying that the sanctity of the temple has been violated. The news came out and it made headlines after which the police were forced to take action.

Miyapur village in Koppal district where the incident took place has 1,000 houses. Some 970 houses belong to the Ganiga Lingayat community people, 25 families are from the scheduled caste and 5 families belong to the Valmiki community.

When contacted Amaregouda Bayyapur, Kusthagi constituency MLA from the Congress party, told IANS that he had gone to the village on Tuesday but could not find the victim. He took the phone number of Dasar and assured full support and action. Government officials had gone to the village and told the people to live harmoniously. The local people claim that they have not harassed the victim’s family. However, the problem will be looked into.

Meanwhile, authorities have made announcements in the village stating that the victim should not be troubled once he returns.

Dasar said that he has named his second son Vijay. “I don’t want my sons to undergo any humiliation. No father wants it. I will put all my efforts into getting them educated and help them lead a dignified life.”— IANS