Dalits in Gujarat facing atrocities for watching Garba, sporting moustache

Dalits in Gujarat facing atrocities for watching Garba, sporting moustache
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Ahmedabad: In Gujarat, Dalits are being targeted sometimes for attending Garba, in another incident for sporting moustache.

In one such incident, a Dalit youth was beaten up by few upper caste people allegedly for sporting a moustache in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar.

Three persons from the Darbar community allegedly abused and assaulted Piyush Parmar, aged 24, on September 25, because the members of the dominant community did not like the idea of a Dalit youth sporting a moustache.

The police has lodged a complaint under the atrocities act against the trio from the same village, identified as Mayursinh Vaghela, Rahul Vikramsinh Serathia and Ajitsinh Vaghela, on September 26.

The case is being probed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

According to the FIR, Parmar, who works with a private firm in Gandhinagar, and his cousin Digant Maheria, were returning to their home after enjoying Garba at their village when some people started hurling casteist abuses at them.

“As it was dark, we could not see them. When we went near the place from where the voice was coming, we found three members of the Darbar community there. Just to avoid any scuffle, we ignored them. They followed us to our house and started abusing us again. They first assaulted my cousin Digant and then started beating me, repeatedly asking me how you can sport a moustache despite coming from a lower caste community,” Parmar said.

In another incident, on 1st October, a 21-year-old Dalit man was beaten to death allegedly by a group of men belonging to the upper caste Patel community for attending a Garba event in Gujarat’s Anand district on Sunday, police said.

Jayesh Solanki, his cousin Prakash Solanki and two other Dalit men were sitting near a house at 4 in the morning, adjacent to a temple in Bhadrania village when a person made “derogatory remarks about their caste”, police said quoting a complaint.

The accused said Dalits “do not have any right to watch garba. He made casteist remarks and asked some men to come to the spot,” an officer at Bhadran police station said.

The upper caste men allegedly thrashed the Dalits and banged Jayesh’s head against a wall, the officer said. He was taken to a hospital in Karamsad, where he died later in the morning.

The officer said a police complaint has been filed.

Senior police officer AM Patel said it did not appear to be a pre-planned attack. “Jayesh was killed in the heat of the moment, as there was no rivalry between him and the accused” the officer said.

According to report published in The Wire, eight men, including a juvenile, have been arrested. All are the residents of Bhadraniya village. Sanjay Patel alias Bhimo (24), Rutvik Patel (22), Dhaval Patel (27), Ripen Patel (22), Chintan Patel (27), Dipesh Patel (22) and Jignesh Patel have been named in the FIR. However, Borsad court rejected police custody of the accused persons and remanded them in judicial custody.

It may be mentioned that the accused have been arrested under various sections of IPC including SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act.

Similar incidents of caste discrimination

In Bhadraniya village where only 45 households belong to Dalits, caste discrimination and violence are a common phenomenon.

In 2000, crowd of more than 500 Patel community attacked Dalits. In 2011, Patels thrashed Dalits for using a certain street passing through the village.

Jayesh’s mistake was he broke diktat which bans Dalits from playing cricket or wearing new clothes and even passing through the area belonging to higher caste people, Jayesh’s neighbour said.

It is also reported in “The Wire” that this is not the only story of one village. Limbodra village in Kalol taluka of Gandhinagar district also witnessed caste discrimination.

In Limbodra, Dalits are not allowed to wear new clothes, sport a moustache or even fetch water from the well which upper caste people use.

On September 29, in Limbodra, a youth by name Krunal Maheria was thrashed for sporting a moustache.

On the same day, in another incident which took place in Ganget village, four members of Dalit family were thrashed for attending Garba near a temple in the village.

This case is also under investigation.

Meanwhile, several youngsters from Dalit community have also launched a social media campaign in support of Piyush Parmar and Krunal, who were thrashed for keeping moustaches, posting selfies sporting twirled moustaches and hashtags as #Jativaadnavirodhma (In protest against casteism), #Samvidhaannasamarthanma (In support of Constitution) and #Piysushbhainasamarthanma (In support of Piyush).