Photo credit: The Indian Express

TDN World Desk: The evil of caste-discrimination remains a festering sore in the Indian society. After 74 years of Independence we are still unable to eradicate this hierarchy of classes, solely based on archaic prejudice. As a fresh example of the castiest discrimination, forty Dalit families in Kantio kateni village of Odisha’s Dhenkhala district have been subjected to social boycott for the past 14 days after a 15-year girl from the community plucked flowers from the backyard of an upper caste family, The Indian Express reported.

Reportedly, the dalit teenage girl plucked flowers two-months ago, which resulted into a social fall out between the two communities, forcing all the 40 Dalit families to social ostracization.

The girl’s father Niranjan Naik told The Indian Express,” We had immediately apologised so that the matter could be resolved, but following the inciddents, several meetings were called and they decided to boycott us. Nobody is allowed to talk to us; we are not allowed to participate in any social event of the village.”

Objecting to the social boyott, the Dalit community has submitted memorandums to the district administration and local police station.

” A diktat has been issued that our community children cannot study in the local government school. Even teachers who belong to our community have been asked to get themselves transferred elsewhere on their own,” the community members said in the memorandum.

The Kantio Kateni village in which the 40 Dalit families live has nearly 800 families.

Jyoti Naik, one of the villager alleged that the (local) PDS dealer has stopped selling essential food items to them and they had to walk at least 5 km to buy essentials.

The Dalit community member raised further concern in the memorandum that they were even boycotted from their respective work-fields. They are excluded from apple-work in the village. And if that continues the community fears that they “have to move in search of work”. “Most of our people are semi-literate and illiterate and work in the vilagers’ field,” says the memorandum.

The village sarpanch and members of the upper caste community who issued the diktat of socila boycott has conformed that they have asked people not to talk to them, saying other allegations are baseless.

“It is an inter-community matter and will get resolved eventually. The majority community has problems that the minority community implicates them in false cases and files police complaints under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”

” The incident which triggered this has led to an altercation and minor brawl. FFor a couple of days, as per the committee’s decision, the majority community had stopped talking with members of the Dalit community. The situation is now returning to normal,” Slighting the gravity of the issue he added further.

Sub-collector Bishnu Prasad Acharya ensured that he will arrange a peace meeting between the communities to resolve the matter.