November 16, 2013 2:52:39 am
Following a minor dispute between two youths of a village in Mehsana district,which led to a clash between Dalits and locally dominant and influential Chaudharys in late October,tension has ceased the leave the village. The Dalits,who are a minority here,are allegedly being ostracised by the Chaudharys. They claim that the ostracisation is to such a level that they are not getting work in farms or even their daily ration.
On October 24,two youths,a dalit and a Chaudhury,from Dagavadia village in Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district,reportedly had a fight over some minor issue,which was sorted out after their fathers intervened.
However,Kantibhai Makwana,the Dalit boys father,who is also a former sarpanch,claimed that later that night,a mob of around 100-150 people of the Chaudhary community gathered in front of his house and started pelting stones. I was badly injured and had to be rushed to hospital in an ambulance, he said. An FIR was registered with the Vasai police station against five Chaudharys and several others,including deputy sarpanch Ketan Chaudhary. The five were arrested and are currently in jail.
On the other hand,Ashwin,a Chaudharys,has also lodged a complaint with the police against the Dalits for attacking them on October 24. Ashwins FIR names five dalits,including Kantibhai,his two sons and two others. While Kantibhai got anticipatory bail,the four dalit youths have gone underground,police said.
Dagavadia is a village with a population of around 3,000,dominated by Chaudharys. Dalits are in thin minority,comprising only around 30-35 homes.
Kantibhai alleged that on November 8,the Chaudharys held a community meeting in the village,in which they decided to ostracize the Dalits in their village and impose a fine of Rs 5,001 on any Chaudhary who violated this decision. We (Dalits) are not getting work in farms,owned by them (Chaudharys). When some of us went to farms in nearby villages in search of work,the Chaudharys here wielded their influence to stonewall our chances of getting work, he said.
Hansaben Makwana,a former sarpanch of the village,said,We (Dalits) are not even allowed to enter the village temple. Following the decision,taken orally by the Chaudharys,none of the owners of the provision stores,barring a few,give us daily ration. Those who do,do so secretly. Even the local barbers here refuse to cut the hair of a dalit man.
Jagdishkumar Parmar,another dalit,said,I was a witness in the complaint lodged by Kantibhais son. When they found out,they threatened me. I am a school teacher,but my family members are no longer getting farm labour-work.
The village sarpanch Prakash Chaudhary could not be contacted either on phone or in person. Another Chaudhary leader of the village,who is also a member of Mehsana district panchayat Narayanbhai Chaudhary claimed no such decision was taken.
When contacted, Mehsana Collector Rajkumar Beniwal said,Sometime back,there was some issue in that village (Dagavadia). We had issued police bandobast for 10-15 days. But,the situation had normalised since then. I have not received any complaints of dalits being ostracized there. But,if such a thing is happening,we will get it checked and take necessary action.
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