RAIPUR: Deputy sarpanch Tikaram Sahu from Abhanpur can’t attend social gatherings in his village. Bhekram Dhruv and his family in Mahasamund are not allowed to use the village pond and access ration. Another couple was ostracized for seven years in Gariyaband district. A resident of Bilaspur was debarred from social and community programmes. Another family in Rajnandgaon’s Dongargaon can’t do farming in their village and can’t send their children to school.
Such stories abound in Chhattisgarh. In the last two weeks alone as many as eight cases of ostracism were reported from the state. No police action is taken in most cases. Needless to say that for the victim it is easier to migrate, commit suicide or convert to another religion.
“There is no effective law to combat the menace. Over 25,000 people are bearing the brunt of social boycott in Chhattisgarh alone,” said Dinesh Mishra, Raipur-based ophthalmologist and recipient of the Union government’s national award for promoting scientific.
As if ostracism was not enough, there is also a ‘rate list’ that has the amount the victims need to cough up if they want to return to the fold. There are receipts which show the fixed punitive fine of Rs 35,000 for a BPL family, Rs 50-75,000 for middle class and the higher class is asked to shell out Rs 1-1.5 lakh. Community leaders claim that these actions are aimed at ensuring discipline.
Ironically, the Chhattisgarh government had drafted a Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill in 2016, but it seems to have backtracked since. “There is no such plan to push for the Bill,” affirmed Arun Dev Gautam, secretary (Home).