Sunday, May 31, 2020


Untouchability still persists in Himachal Pradesh

April 06, 2020 01:43 PM

HAMIRPUR (HP): Passing the link roads of villages in district Hamirpur, one can see a silent revolution for change but cannot miss a tiny house located amongst the cluster of houses. Such small-time shelter has a big story of human interest to tell. Dalit family’s saga speaks the tale of how untouchability still rules the roots of rural Himachal Pradesh despite 53 years of its attaining the statehood.

It needs to be acknowledged that Dalits constitute nearly 28 per cent of state’s population, making it the second state after Punjab with the largest population of Dalits in the country. Districts Solan, Mandi, Kullu and Sirmaur consists the major chunk of Dalit population. Dalits are asked to sit down outside the boundary of the house by the upper caste. The government admitted that untouchability is almost 50 per cent in the State.

Apart from these incidents, Dalits face other many forms of discrimination in their daily lives. A recent study conducted by People’s Action for People in Need (PAPN) called ‘Caste, Discrimination and Exclusion in Sirmaur’ brings out the different forms of atrocities that are rampant not only in this district but others as well. The study was carried out in the villages of Sangrah block where Dalits constitute 43 per cent of the population.

They also go through the local judicial system. In areas dominate by the Rajput or Brahmins take important decisions in matters of violence, rape and other crimes against Dalits by non-Dalits in some parts of the state. Even Dalits are not allowed to approach police if some one does so he is penalized. In heinous crimes, the Panchayat in upper Himachal uses a method of compensation by asking the culprit to offer a goat and one meal to all villagers including non-Dalits to cool down the uproad.

Another practice which is prevalent all over the state is that of ‘Doli Pratha’ where a Dalit has to carry palanquins of brides, grooms of non-Dalits during marriages at a nominal payment. In the cases of denying this service, the Dalit community has to face social boycott, ” according to the study.

The study also lists around 129 untouchability practices prevalent in the State. People belonging to several other districts have shared similar experiences with this reporter. It was also pointed out that the elected representatives from reserved seats do not act freely. The study also noted that most Dalits have no land for farming and grazing their cattle. Even in those villages where Dalits are in majority, most of the land belongs to non-Dalits and without non-Dalit community, Dalit could not even fend for his family.

Caste remains a key determinant of one’s future and reflected in labour market and bonded labour which is governed by laws of social origin than by statutory legislation. But the problem is that state does not even acknowledge such issues exist.

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