India stinks due to caste

13Aug07

Atrocitynews already covered this story but Smruti Koppikar from Frontline explores further the story of Madhukar. She depicts how Indian psyche is  still instilled with obnoxius caste virus, operates against Dalits even if he regains his status by better education, kills him at last. Madhukar a well educated person was awarded death for digging well. Is this growing India,or stinky Indian ‘wellbeing’?

Cousins Tushar and Vaibhav Ghadge, law students barely into their 20s, are men on a mission. In faraway Kulakjai village, in Man taluka of Satara district in Maharashtra, the Ghadge cousins are preparing to finish a task Tushar’s father, 48-year-old Madhukar Ghadge, had started late April, a task that quietly challenged caste supremacy in the village, a task that Madhukar paid for with his life.He ventured to dig a well for irrigation near the village percolation tank and in close proximity to four other wells dug by upper-caste families. Madhukar Ghadge believed that being a Dalit did not mean he couldn’t dig a well there.
 
  
Ghadge ventured to dig a well in proximity to four other wells dug by upper-caste families. He thought being a Dalit didn’t mean he could not. The Maratha-dominated village didn’t agree. The Maratha-dominated village, of course, thought otherwise. Ghadge, the second of four brothers, worked for years in the Western Railway’s workshop at Parel, Mumbai. His elder brother too joined him in the workshop, while his younger brother joined the state police and the youngest Divakar was the deputy sarpanch of Kulakjai village.
 
 
The Ghadges own some land, are a modestly educated family, professionally engaged, but ambitious to own more agricultural land and water sources back home. A dream for a Dalit family that managed to break a few shackles this generation.

yashoda_satara_20070820.jpg
Pic: Mother Yashoda and grandsons ; waiting for justice

To irrigate their land, the Ghadges located a water source in the proximity of the village percolation tank, bought seven gunthas (1 acre = 40 gunthas) there, obtained permission under Jawahar Vihir (well) Yojana, even secured a loan of Rs 60,000. When the matter was put up for discussion in the gram sabha, there were no objections; in fact, a No Objection Certificate was issued to the Ghadges. When Madhukar started preparations, however, there were murmurs about how the water supply might decrease if another well was dug there, but there was no formal protest or cancellation of the NoC.

“My father was at the site all day,” recalls Tushar, “In fact, he hired wheeled excavators owned by the local mla’s family. That evening, as we went home to get food for him and the workers, the attack happened. When Vaibhav and I were returning, we saw about 15 village men—all known to us—assaulting him with sticks, stones and what not. He was screaming and writhing. Some men stopped us from going up close. I saw my father being hacked and I couldn’t do a thing.” The cousins took a profusely bleeding Madhukar back to the village, requesting villagers with vehicles to loan one so he could be taken to the taluka hospital. All four vehicle owners refused—all of them Marathas or Brahmins. They eventually found a motorbike, but it was too late. Madhukar succumbed to his injuries.

That night, Vaibhav registered an FIR at the Dahiwadi police station. Twelve attackers were arrested, but they are all now out on bail. Later, a supplementary FIR named political heavyweights, all upper-caste men, as the masterminds behind the attack. But, as usual, but little has come of it.

In May 2007, a fact-finding committee report observed: “(The) control of wells is a symbol of power, since water sources function as important means of livelihood…. By deciding to dig a well, Madhukar Ghadge had challenged—indirectly—the monopoly of upper castes over water, which stings them the most.” Says Madhukar’s aged mother, Yashoda: “Babasaheb (Ambedkar) broke tradition drawing water from a public well at Mahad. My son was killed 70 years later for digging one. Where’s justice?”
 

Thanks Frontline team for bringing this story to fore; similar journalist spirit is need of the time. Let growing youth-India  understand the biggest challenge in front is not economy but its rotten social system.



One Response to “India stinks due to caste”

  1. This page certainly has all of the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


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