Dalits to unite against discrimination on caste basis

December 14, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 03:59 am IST - BERHAMPUR:

Alleging that lack of strict action by police and administration is promoting incidents of caste-based atrocities against Dalits in Ganjam, Dalit Samanwaya Samity (DSS) has decided to build up a mass movement in the district.

DSS, a federation of all pro-Dalit activists and organisations in the Ganjam district, has also protested against this discrimination. Leaders of the organisation have started to unite the Dalits for a mass movement. In January, a Dalit convention would be held in Berhampur to discuss the atrocities against them.

As per the DSS leaders, in May this year, Dalit families at Panchabhuti of Jagannathprasad block were attacked allegedly by upper caste persons. No one has yet been arrested.

In June this year, Dalits faced lewd remarks, social ostracisation and arson. The victim Dalit families are still living under polythene sheets at the village as the administration has allegedly not taken any measures to rehabilitate them. Cases against Kamagarh culprits have been made weak to enable them to get bail easily, said DSS adviser Raja Suresh.

Fifty Dalit families of Balichhai village of Aska block, who had been driven out of their village by the upper castes 16 years back, are yet to garner courage to return to their homes even after a directive by the Odisha High Court.

According to DSS adviser B. C. Sarangi, as no strict action is taken against the accused, in recent months another similar incident has come to fore at Pangidi village under Buguda block. It is alleged that around 50 Dalit families of Pangidi have been barred from entry into a Shiva temple at the village by the upper castes.

The Dalits claim that they had also contributed in kind and labour for construction and development of this temple. Ranjan Nayak said for the past few years upper castes have been trying to diminish involvement of lower caste families in the affairs of the temple. No Dalit was allowed a darshan in the past one year.

In the month of Kartik this year, Dalits were stopped from participating in the religious sankirtan at the village. Dalits here are of Khadal caste. “The Khadal samaj has also protested against this atrocity and complained to the police and administration without any result,” said Khadal samaj leader Surendranath Nayak.

DSS leaders allege that the local police are also not serious about checking this discrimination. “Instead, they are asking the Dalits to stop visiting the temple or construct their own temple,” said Mr Sarangi.

They still face lewd remarks, social ostracisation and their houses are burnt, say activists

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