//Dalit women up in arms

Dalit women up in arms

   By: Shramana Ganguly, Mid-Day
   March 5, 2006

The Dalit women were forced out of the Gram Panchayat meeting and threatened of dire consequences

Dalit women bag meal contract

The 11 women from the Boudh Vasti, who formed the Ramai Mahila Bachat Ghat put forth a proposal to the Gram Panchayat seeking the one-year contract for the Aanganwadi meal scheme be given to them.

“Our impressive bank balance at the Thane Gramin Bank that touched Rs 3,556 at one point recently, and our past performance in the social sector here, we were confident that we would bag the contract for the respectable school scheme,” said, Megha Gaikwad, President of the committee.

Villagers refuse food cooked by them

On February 2, when the women awaited the gram panchayat’s decision on the contract, they were told that it would not be given to them.

“The contract had already been given to Kranti Mahila Bachat Ghat,” informed Ranja Pawar. “When asked as to why they have been bereft of the opportunity, the villagers belonging to the Agri caste started abusing us.”

“They told us, ‘How can our children have meals cooked by you all?’,” said Megha Gaikwad.

“We were forced out of the gram panchayat meeting and threatened. They had no problems when we distributed pens to their children at the aanganwadi on August 15, 2005 but now that we want to cook meals for them, they are furious,” she added.

Dalit women file complaint

The women filed an FIR against Ravindra Malugarge, Jairam Kanhu Garge, Kashinath Tukaram Bhundere and Shantabai Bhunde under section 3(1)(10) of the SC and ST Attrocities Prevention Act of 1989 on February 3.

The accused are now out on bail. And the villagers are intimidating the women.

While they were threatened on February 7, on March 1, all 20 dalit families of the village kept vigil the whole night after hearing rumors that they would be attacked by the accused.

Officials may bow to the will of casteist villagers

Child development project officer in Mudbad, Rekha Javarkar said, “Although we are scheduled to invite the Kranti Mahila Bachat Ghat to sign the contract. We are waiting for the opinion of the gram panchayat”

Local dalit leader Shyam Gaikwad said, “The gram panchayat is dominated by the Agris and they will not let dalits bag the contract. This case is an acid test for the government which will have to take the final decision.”