//Upper caste men ill-treated us: Dalits

Upper caste men ill-treated us: Dalits

Jaipur, June 20: Dalits in Cidiyas village, in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district, say they were subjected to ill treatment when they worked as labourers engaged in famine relief. “The upper caste Hindus treated us as untouchables when they served drinking water,” said Prema Meghwal.

The village falls under the constituency of Rajasthan rural development minister Kalulal Gujar and has a small dalit population. The upper caste Hindus employed three upper caste women — Madhu, Chandi and Pushpa Suthar — to serve water to the dalits at the relief work site, Badri Meghwal told this correspondent. Last week, they decided to clean up the temple to Devra, a local deity, and asked the relief workers to volunteer. “They employed dalit women to clean the premises. When the work was finished, they collected Rs 5 from each worker, barring dalits, saying their contribution would not be accepted by the deity,” claimed Bhanwar Meghwanshi, a dalit activist in Cidiyas.

“It is shocking for us as the deity accepted our voluntary work, but not offerings,” said Mr Meghwanshi, well known among Rajasthan’s dalits as he publishes a magazine titled Diamond India from his village Cidiyas.  His wife Prema, who feeds her family by working as a relief worker, said there were 50 people employed at a government relief work of which 13 were dalits.

“You can see 23 workers are from a single powerful caste. Their males will not work, but they get a share in the earnings because the payment is task-based,” said Prema, adding,  “We were not allowed to touch the pitcher and water served by upper caste women when we requested them,” she said. The dalits raised the issue in the village, but the upper caste Hindus said it was a tradition and no one had the right to oppose it