KOLKATA: West Bengal has always proclaimed itself a progressive state that shuns caste-based discrimination at all levels. But the harassment of a Dalit family by villagers as well as the police belies the claims.
The family of Madhusudan Gorai, which belongs to the Hari caste, has been socially ostracised and forcefully prevented from carrying out economic activities for the past six months in Chandpur village under Sabang police station of Paschim Medinipur district. The harassment has been going on since Madhusudan, son of Krishnapada Gorai, dared to marry an upper caste girl named Ronita eight months ago.
However, the incident came to light on Thursday, when the family approached the media after the police allegedly didn’t help them. After the marriage, the local ‘Shalishi Sabha’ (Bengal’s equivalent of Haryana’s Khap panchayat) ordered a boycott of the Gorai family and snatched their livelihood.
The family has been prevented from working in the fields or running a shop provided by the gram panchayat. The Gorais said though they had lodged a complaint at the Sabang police station, the boycott had still not ended.
“The Shalishi Sabha in our village boycotted my in-laws, snatched the stall that my father-in-law ran, prevented us from working in the farms even stopped my mother-in-law from working as a domestic help. All this was done at the insistence of my father because I married a lower caste man. We filed a complaint with the police but no action has been taken so far,” Ronita said.
Krishnapada said he tried several times to open his shop and work on his farmland during the sowing season, but was prevented from doing so by upper caste men, which resulted in agricultural losses.
Gram panchayat pradhan (chief) Madhab Chandra Patra confirmed the narrative of the Gorais. He said the villagers had illegally occupied Krishapada’s shop.
“The illegal occupation of his shop and preventing him from attending to his fields is a case of caste discrimination and we are looking into the matter,” he said.
However, Sabang police station SHO Biswaranjan Banerjee said he did not know anything about the case as he was posted there only a month ago. A Hari girl and a Brahmin boy had ended life in Asansol in West Burdwan district four years ago due to caste-related harassment after marriage.
Harassment of the Gorai family
Madhusudan Gorai from Hari caste married upper caste girl Ronita eight months ago in
Local ‘Shalishi Sabha’ ordered the boycott of his family.
They are stopped from working on farms.
Gorai’s mother prevented from working as a domestic help.
Shop given to Gorai’s father by gram panchayat illegally occupied.