Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dalits allege social boycott, quit Haryana village

CHANDIGARH: Around 70 dalit families of a Haryana village have left their homes and are camping outside the Hisar district administration headquarters to protest discrimination by upper-caste villagers. Dalits of Bhagana village allege they are facing social boycott.

Police have been deployed in the village to avert a flare-up. The dalit protest is also receiving support from members of other backward communities.

When a low-caste farmer was stopped from entering a village pond by upper-caste men, the dalits bolted their houses and marched to the district headquarters the next day. "On Monday, we decided to finally leave. We have suffered enough," said Satish Kumar, who is leading the protests. He alleged dalits are being ostracized for the last three months.

On Tuesday, a delegation of upper-caste villagers met the deputy commissioner, Amit Aggarwal, and denied imposing a boycott on dalits. "A few people are trying to create a rift," said village sarpanch Rakesh Kumar.

Sparks were first lit in 2011 when dalits demanded free residential plots of 100 square yards under Mahatma Gandhi Gramin Basti Yojana. This was strongly opposed by upper-caste villagers even though 220 acres of shamlat (community) land lay vacant. "Upper caste men distributed this land among themselves. Now, they are forcing us to withdraw a complaint against encroachment of land," said Balraj Satrodia, district president of Bahujan Samaj Party.

Deputy commissioner Amit Aggarwal said a probe has been ordered. "It's not a case of atrocities on dalits, but a dispute between two groups," Aggarwal said. Source

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