OTHER STATES

Nitish gives ‘Maha Dalit' benefits to Paswan community

All smiles: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar with his Deputy Sushil Kumar Modi (left) and Building Construction Minister Chhedi Paswan being garlanded during NDA's Dalit conference to mark the birth anniversary of Baba Chauharmal in Patna on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: - Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

Shoumojit Banerjee

Every landless member of the Paswan community will get 3 decimals land

Patna: In a significant overture to woo the Paswan community, Bihar Chief Minister Mr. Nitish Kumar on Sunday announced that the state government would shortly begin distributing land to landless members among the Paswan (Dusadh) community.

As of now 21 backward castes, with the exception of the Paswan community, have been included in the Maha Dalit caste list under the Maha Dalit Committee set up by Mr. Kumar to identify the most backward castes among the Dalits.

The move means that every landless member of the Paswan community will receive 3 decimals of land as decided by the Bihar government in their land allocation procedures regarding Maha Dalits.

Mr. Kumar also expressed concerned for women in the Paswan community and said that appropriate steps for their welfare would be soon taken up.“We believe in practising the politics of unity,” stated Mr. Kumar. Alluding to Lok Jan Shakti (LJP) party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, Mr. Kumar stated that some leaders were “living under false illusions that he was interested in dividing the Dalit fraternity.”

“Our credo is to strive for the equality and integration of every section of our society. This is only proper as it is in keeping with Bihar's changing image of a progressive state,” said Mr.Kumar.

The four castes – Dusadh, Pasi, Dhobi and Chamar constitute 69% of the Dalit population in the state of which the Ravidas caste and the Dusadh (Paswan) castes form 31.34% and 30.88% respectively. Moreover, the Dusadh (Paswan) community is more literate among the other scheduled castes in the state with a literacy rate of 25.62%.

Speaking to The Hindu from his constituency Hajipur, Mr. Paswan said that “Mr. Kumar was trying to sow the seeds of divisiveness among the Dalit fraternity.”

“He is playing with a live electric wire,” Mr. Paswan said. “He [Nitish] first insulted the Dalit community by inventing and then thrusting the abusive nomenclature of Maha Dalit upon them.”

Mr. Paswan further said that his original demand to the Bihar government was that every Dalit should be given 1 bigha of land, and not a mere 3 decimals.

“Earlier, he [Nitish] had included 18 castes. Now, he is slyly trying to secure the goodwill of the educated Dalit castes. But his scheming will not give him much political mileage,” he warned.

Mr. Paswan stated that if he came to power, he would ensure the obliteration of the term ‘Maha Dalit.'

“The original definition of the word Dalit was ‘ Achhoot' (Untouchable), so in that sense the use of Maha Dalit is highly derogatory,” he remarked.