In Madhya Pradesh, upper caste villagers pollute Dalits' well, pour kerosene

In yet another incident of discrimination against Dalits, the upper caste villagers in Madhya Pradesh's Mana village poured kerosene into a well used by the Dalits for "overstepping their boundaries".

The incident took place, near Agar Malwa district, about 200 km from the state capital as the villagers of the upper caste category were unhappy with Chander Meghwal, who invited a band party for his daughter's wedding on 23 April since the Dalits in different societies in the country  are no longer observing witless caste taboos. The well supplied water to nearly 500 Dalits according to a report carried out by NDTV.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Forty five-year-old Meghwal had invited a band party despite getting a warning of facing a boycott as these acts of magnanimity and splendour are reserved solely for the suvarnas (people belonging to the upper caste.) Additionaly, the groom had come riding a bike, he had even used the main road, flouting the diktat of the upper caste villagers. The traditions of Mana village do not permit such things with special reference in the case of Dalits and they only approve a 'dhol' to welcome the groom.

Meghwal had been expressly warned that if he defied "rules", his family would not be allowed to draw water from the common well and would be barred from entering the local temple.

Following the threats, Meghwal had informed the cops and the marriage took place under tight security. Policemen, armed with rifles, batons and teargas, had been stationed to keep the peace. But two after they left, the retaliation started.

Kerosene oil was poured in the well to avenge Meghwal of his audacity for ignoring the warning of the upper caste members. With the village well polluted, the Dalits had to make alternative arrangements for potable water. Apart from this, the community also used pumps to separate the kerosene from the well water.

The well, constructed 1.5 km away from the habitat, was originally used for irrigation. But with water becoming scarce and tube-wells drying up in the village, it was the only source of drinking water."We are now forced to draw water from Kalisindh river, four km from the village," Meghwal told The Times of India.

After the well was cleaned, district collector Durvijay Singh and superintendent of police RS Meena went to the village and drank water from the well used by Dalits in order to reassure them. The collector also announced that two borewells would be dug in the area where the Dalits live. However, these promises will take time to materialise, until which time the well is the only source of potable water for the Dalits in the village.

The officers also had a word with the members of the upper caste to find out who was behind the incident. "No one admitted who put the oil or kerosene in the well. The elders were perturbed by the happenings," the district administration was quoted by The Times of India as saying. Singh further said that the recent incident has escalated tension in the village, adding that this was the first time he has witnessed such an attempt to polarise a peaceful society. The officials, Singh said, are keeping a watch on the situation.

Singh, a senior official, told NDTV that incident was "not such a big issue" since the various communities in the village have been living in amity. "Obviously someone has done this deliberately. It will eventually come out who was responsible," he said.

But no case has been registered in the matter and no investigation has been started, although the police have been stationed again in the village to provide protection to Dalits.

Updated Date: May 01, 2017 14:28 PM

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