Vidharba’s day out; hidden Castevirus epidemic; rest of India waits to follow!

25Apr07

The latest face off in Vidarbha’s caste battles is unfolding in a school in Bhandara district. Madhavi Raut, a teacher in the school, allegedly sprinkled cow urine on Dalit students to purify them.

The act led to an uproar forcing Raut to apologise. But days later, she still insists she hadn’t singled out Dalit students. ”It is being said that I put cow urine only on Dalit students, but this is not true. The charge against our principal that he purified his predecessor’s chair with cow urine is also untrue,” she says. The school has supported the denial. In newspapers, they have argued that in a class of 62 students it would have been difficult for any teacher to isolate 20 Dalit students.

Caste segregation

However, when NDTV spoke with the students, the team discovered that not just is this easy, isolation is in fact built into the school system.

NDTV: Did she sprinkle cow urine on all students?
Sneha: Not on all, only SC students.

NDTV: But you must be sitting in different places?
Sneha: No in our school all SC students numbers come first in V, VI and VII standards, so we sit in a line.

NDTV: Your roll call is based on caste?
Sneha: Yes, first SC then OBC and then others.

NDTV: Is it not according to your name?
Sneha : No

Students told NDTV that they are listed not by names but by caste – a segregation that gets easily extended to the seating.

Blame game

When confronted, the school authorities claimed caste based rolls were simply made for administrative convenience. The principal in fact argued that he was being framed by his predecessor because he had exposed how she misused funds.

”I didn’t want to take charge because the earlier principal was corrupt and when she was caught she had threatened to complain against the gram panchyat members under the Prevention of Atrocity Act. That is why I did not take charge of papers related to that corruption,” said Sharad Kaitade, Principal.

And here lies the twist. Till just two weeks ago, the school was headed by a Dalit woman Khilotamma Temburkar, who was transferred out on corruption charges. But when the NDTV team met her, Temburkar broke down and spoke about how she endured constant humiliation by upper caste men of the village education committee.

”The first day I joined the ZP member Anil Kale asked me have you come here to turn this into a Mahar area? How can we allow Mahars like you on this chair, he asked and made me vacate it,” she maintained. Truth is elusive in this allegation and counter allegation. But what is not in doubt is caste friction in the region where increasing Dalit assertion comes with the threat of an upper caste backlash.

After the brutal rape and massacre of a Dailt family in Kherlanji in October last year, it was felt that such incidents against Dalits will not be repeated here. But what happened in this school shows that Vidarbha still hasn’t learned anything from Kherlanji. While last year there were 16 cases of atrocities against Dalits registered, this year in Bhandara district alone, 48 such cases have been registered.

Source: NDTV



One Response to “Vidharba’s day out; hidden Castevirus epidemic; rest of India waits to follow!”

  1. 1 Prashant Tambe

    Dear friends of the cause… The post khairlanji protests and the way they were made and the support it got made people and even activists think that may be dalits are insured for at least five years !! we never knew it would be so short lived !!!. sources inform that till March 2007 itself close to 35 cases of atrocities have been registered in Bhandara only !!!. Well its true that this upsurge can be attributed partially to the awareness in Dalits living in Bhandara and also among the administrative authorities especially Police officials who might have become sensitive about the issue and more of their jobs!!. This hypothesis demands some detail study. friends i would like to bring your attention to the fact that we are still acting as reactionary people. A positive action of empowering people and even communicating to others is required. This along with a study on what is actually wrong with the Districts and whether people whom we perceive are wrong doers are really wrong, is also required. This requires sustained professional efforts rather than amateur activism.


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