Dalit Mukti Morcha strong condemns the social boycott and discrimination against Dalit Woman Sarpanch in Karauvahdih Panchayat. A seven member fact finding team consisting of Vibhishan Patre, Sandhya Bodhlekar, Bundkunwar Banjare, Pitambar Nirala, Dhananjay Jangde, Santosh Ghitore and Goldy M. George visited the village on July 2, 2011 to get further details of the incident. On June 28, the incident came into limelight when the Sarpanch and other approached the SP office at Janjgir that the village as a whole has imposed a social boycott on many including the Sarpanch. Due to this the day-to-day activities of the Panchayat has been badly affected.
According to the Sarpanch Ms. Kavita Manhar, the current phase of problems began when last year the CC road work was being constructed and the son of the Upsarpanch demanded 50000/- as token bribe for no reason. The Upsarpanch listens to the Gautia and follows his instructions, said Ms. Manhar. Many similar happened in Karauvahdih in the past. Ghuruva Tandan said that he was socially boycotted last year and was asked to deposit 50000/- to start a village level hearing on his case. The reason was that he constructed a house on his own land. He couldn’t pay that and he is still boycotted by the village community. The main person involved in this was one Rajkumar Sahu.
Panuram Satnami mentioned that he was the first one to be boycotted last year and he was penalised Rs. 25000/-. Since he was working as the NREGA assistant, it become a real issue and if he desisted to pay then people would have thrown him out of his small job. Succumbing to the pressure, he paid the same amount. Panuram also mentioned that the discussion last year was to smash off five houses belonging to Shiv Prasad Shive, Parasram Manahar, Ghurva Tandon, Devlal Manahar and Dhwaja Kumar Siddar. All these were done at the behest of Leeladhar Chandra and Rajkumar Sahu propeller through the Village Community Meeting (Gudi Baithak), accused Parasram Manhar.
The Police Station as Jaijaypur is equally responsible for the situation. The police officials were aware of all these caste-based discrimination is a fact who in turn choose to remain silent instead of taken legal action and discourse. All these cases should had been registered under relevant sections of IPC, sections of SC/ST (PoA) and other relevant acts and laws. The fact that the Police Officials at Jaijaypur remained mute to such incidences has in fact aggravated the situation that today the Sarpanch has to face social boycott.
While discussing the problem with the officials, they took it just in a causal way and told the team that nothing of that sort has happened and the situation is under control once they made the two sides to compromise. However the villagers told us a different story. The Sarpanch Kavita Manahar said that she is living in fear; all panchayat work has been blocked and is not free to move around and work. Even others were of the opinion that there is a growing fear in the village particularly on Dalit community. Last year after the CC road incident, they tried to block the villagers to come for the work under NREGA programme by imposing a fine of Rs. 5000/- on every person who fail to adhere to the gudi’s decision. It was with great difficulty we finished that part, continued Manahar. The situation is that I could easily face a no-confidence move from their side as they are trying to topple all the activities to be done through the panchayat.
While this seems to be too much naïve on the part of the police officials, it also indicates the attitude of the police and administration towards the question of caste discrimination and social exclusion on Dalits. Under the given situation Dalit Mukti Morcha demands that the government should -
a) Conduct a thorough investigation of the series of incidences in Karauvahdih and taking appropriate legal action.
b) Creating a conducive atmosphere whereby the Dalit woman Sarpanch could perform her duties in a free and fair environment.
c) Provide compensation, relief and justice to the other victims of social boycott and caste discrimination in Karauvahdih.
d) The police and administration should stop acting like the upper caste agents by diluting the gravity of the crime and forcing the victims for a compromise.
e) The state government should engage in the formation of people’s vigilance committees across the state to keep a vigil or caste based discrimination, untouchability, violence and exclusion of Dalits, Adivasis and marginalized minorities.
f) Impose a ban on all forms of social boycotts with strict action and punitive consequences.
Dalit Mukti Morcha will soon come up with a detailed report and approach the National Human Rights Commission, National Women’s Commission as well as the National SC Commission.