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Untouchability in Rural Karnataka

Untouchability in Rural Karnataka

prajavani 2019 news

Srikanth Karan

Untouchability is a lived reality for many Dalits in the interior villages of Karnataka, mostly in Tumkur, rural Bangalore and many other villages. I am sure this is the case across the country though hardly reported in the news. Only one out of a lakh incidents are reported or brought to light and that too goes without any public attention. Dalits are not allowed to enter the Brahmin and caste Hindu households but are called for labor and household works; water is served in a glass reserved for Dalits, placed always outside the house; temple entry is still prohibited, Dalits worship outside the temples and walk away. The news report here from a village in Koppala district is only a leaf from the book. I have tried to translate the contents of the news report below.

prajavani 2019 news

News from Prajavani print edition

“On the occasion of a Dalit marriage, entire village was shut down because Dalits would visit in huge numbers.

The wedding of Basavaraja and Shruti was arranged on Wednesday in Hirebaganala village of Koppala Taluk. As soon as they heard the news of the marriage, the caste Hindus/savarnas decided to shut down all the shops and hotels in the entire village. In anticipation of huge number of Dalits polluting the shops and hotels, the upper castes devised a plan to close the shops.

The guests who came for the marriage were shocked to see the whole of village sealed, only to feel further humiliated after they heard the real reason later. Mallikarjuna Pujara, one of the merchants among the guests said, “it is inhuman that these same people who engage in business relations, indulge in caste discrimination when it comes to issues like marriage.”

Some villagers alleged most of the hotels and shops were forcibly asked to close. “When the entire village decides how can we go against them?” asks a shopkeeper helplessly, “unwillingly we had to shut down fearing the ire of the villagers, especially the elders (read powerful).”

Even to this day, few glasses and brick benches can be seen outside the hotels. Dalits are prohibited from entering the hotels; they have to drink tea in the glasses reserved outside sitting on these benches and leave. Even water is poured from a height, at a safe distance from the touch of a Dalit. Caste discrimination is a lived reality in Hirebagalana, just 20kms away from the Koppala District Centre. Dalits in the village complain the shops, hotels and salons remain shut for any event in the Dalit colony.

The couple Basavraj and Shruti brimming with joy had no idea of the turn of events, but the guests who faced caste discrimination felt stripped of their honour. Such a harsh treatment on the occasion of Buddha Purnima had visibly crushed them within.”



Srikanth Karan is a Ph.D student at university of Hyderabad in the Centre for English Language studies. His thesis is on “New Technologies and Language”. He is looking at how social media ‘changes’ the language and/or the way different users challenge the ‘standard’ language.