Atrocities against Dalits surface in village near Bhopal
Monday, April 23, 2001 (Etawah Kalan):
In Etawah Kalan, a village more then 100 kilometers from Bhopal, five dalits were severely beaten up by a mob of upper caste landlords. The incident took place after they demanded the right to worship at a common village temple. Twenty-six people have been booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, but dalits in the village continue to feel insecure in the village.
Trouble for the 20 chamar families of Etawah Kalan in Madhya Pradesh began after an educated youngster from among them tried to offer prayers in this Hanuman temple. The construction of the temple had been a collective village effort, but the village panchayat recently banned anyone from entering the sanctorum of the temple. Upper caste Rajputs however flouted this restriction, but when Dalits followed suit, Hindus retaliated seriously, injuring five among them.
Pawan Kumar Jain, SP, Sehore, said, "The upper caste was upset with the Dalits and on April 19, they stoned the entire area where the Dalits stayed. A teacher was also beaten."
Villagers complain of being beaten by the upper castes. Leelabai, whose son was mercilessly beaten, says he can barely move his limbs. She said, "He has got hurt badly. He cannot even move his hand properly. I was also beaten badly and I have pain in the chest."
It is not merely this incident. Dalits of Etawah Kalan complain they've been subjected to daily privations by chaste Hindus, especially off late, after the younger generation from the community have started doing well professionally.
Among the 200 Dalits in this village, there are six teachers, one bank employee, one patwari, two village helpers who are government employees, three undergraduates and five post-graduates. Dalits say it was this prosperity which lay at the root of the incident on April 19.
Ashok, a Dalit in the village said, "If one is educated, one moves ahead in life. We don't wish them (Hindus). Our forefathers have been bowing in front of them, but we will not follow suit."
So far, the administration has only managed to nab one of the 26 accused. Twenty-five policemen have been deployed in the village to provide security to the terrified Dalits.