//Dalits hit by

Dalits hit by

NAMITA CHOURASIA, The Telegraph, Chasnala (Dhanbad),

Jan. 15: Untouchability, though banned by law, is threatening to become an obstacle in Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO)’s rehabilitation process for a section of people in Motinagar, about 15 km from Dhanbad.

The issue pertains to the rehabilitation of Dalits from the 40-odd dwellings in Motinagar. They have to be relocated if IISCO is to mine coal from the West Quarry open cast project to get adequate raw material for its Chasnala coal washery to achieve its optimum production target.

IISCO had levelled some ground near Ojha Basti and Mahto Basti to rehabilitate these people. But residents of the bustees refuse to let the “untouchables” settle there. Deepak Kumar Shahi, the block development-cum-circle officer of Jharia, revealed that three magistrates had been deputed, after the management’s appeal, to enforce eviction, using force if needed, by January 15.

But one of the magistrates, while agreeing that the “complicated matter will take time to be solved”, said he was going “to press IISCO to solve the problems through negotiations”. He has also promised to look into the “social evil” (untouchability) issue.

Ironically, these people are facing eviction without compensation because even the affiliates of Left-backed trade unions, which swear by socialism, are abandoning them. Though a couple of union representatives had helped these people earlier, they backed down as soon as they realised that the Dalits were going to be their neighbours.

“Where will I go if they are going to become our neighbours?” argued one of them.