People may refuse to acknowledge that casteism continues to prevail in the country, but its roots are so deep that it will not be easily eradicated. Another incident exposing the reality of our casteist society has been reported from Karnataka. Where on June 10, 2021, Milana Bai, a 30-year-old Dalit woman from Hatyal village inBasavakalyan, Bidar, received an order from the Karnataka Women and Child Development Department about her appointment as an Anganwadi assistant. Milana was hired to cook as well as help with the upkeep of the Anganwadi. But shortly after, all schools were closed due to the corona pandemic.
According to Milana Bai, “Local villagers who create difficulties due to caste have appointed a new Maratha volunteer in my place, and asked for me to be transferred to the neighboring village of Sirgapur, which is 10 kilometers away.”
Milana Bai’s husband, Jaipal Rane, told The Mooknayak, “There are three Anganwadis in our village, and my wife was recruited on the basis of merit (general category) as an assistant in a school which is in the neighborhood. But people from upper [oppressor] caste Hindu communities live here, and they didn’t allow my wife to do the work of cooking the food in the Anganwadi.”
A member of Milana Bai’s family, on condition of anonymity, said, “After the school closed, the villagers also insulted Milana Bai. Milana was among the people distributing groceries during the lockdown. They opposed that too.”
The Child Development Project Officer [CDPO] at Hatyal claimed that the villagers had no problem with the caste of the Anganwadi helper and that they wanted representation for people from the upper [oppressor] castes. The department official requested to remain anonymous and said, “The people of the village wanted a helper from their caste, as they had problems with a Dalit being appointed as a cook. They are demanding her transfer. It has been more than a year since the Dalit helper was appointed in this Anganwadi.”
Milana Bai and her family have alleged that the office of the CDPO has asked her to voluntarily transfer to the neighboring village of Sirgapur. The family refused to comply, saying that she may be subjected to dominant-caste oppression in the nearby villages too.
Meanwhile, the villagers have appointed another person to work as an assistant in the Anganwadi. Milana Bai says, “Only after repeated complaints were made to the CDPO [Child Development Project Officer] and the Social Welfare Department, that the officials visited the village and assured me that I would continue working in the Anganwadi. But some upper [oppressor]-caste villagers have said that they will not send their children to the school.”
Whereas, according to officials, they have told the so-called upper caste people of the village to let Dalit helpers work in the Anganwadi. The villagers, however, have threatened to approach the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Bidar.
The police are yet to register a case against the villagers who are said to have opposed [the appointment] of the Dalit assistant. The Mooknayak called the local police station for information but they did not respond.
यहाँ हिन्दी में भी पढ़ें: कर्नाटक: दलित आंगनबाड़ी कार्यकर्ता के काम करने पर सवर्णों ने जताया विरोध!
[Story Translated By Lotika Singha]