JAIPUR: Urban India may not have seen the ugly face of caste system, but in rural areas untouchability remains prevalent even six decades after it was banned under the law. The district collector of Dholpur in Rajasthan was shocked to see a young mother bear the injustice during an inspection of an MGNREGA site in Basedi Panchayat on Friday.
The collector, Neha Giri, found it odd when she saw a woman with a young child working hard as a labourer while a strongly built man was doing the easy job of serving water to the people. When Giri asked the reason, a villager told her that the woman was from Valmiki community and hence untouchable and that nobody would drink water offered by her.
Outraged by the reply, Giri reprimanded the villagers for practising untouchability. To send out a strong message, she had water offered by the Dalit woman. The collector then asked her to serve water to the other labourers and everyone drank it. “Discrimination is not a good thing,” Giri said.
According to the 2011 Census, Rajasthan has 17 per cent Dalit population. The Valmiki, being at the bottom of the hierarchy even among Dalits, are considered untouchables.
Dalit activist Bhanwar Megwanshi said though the law banning untouchability was framed in 1955, the government lacks the will to abolish the practice. “Be it mid-day meals, distributing water or jobs under MGNREGA or anganwadi programmes, the upper caste people are employed. We have always insisted that the government should involve Dalits in their schemes. Only then will this practice end.”