By Manjula Pradeep*
On November 2, I visited Malavada village in Kheda district, Gujarat, where 60 Dalit families were attacked by the dominant caste Sarpanch (village head) and her husband along with a mob of almost 600 dominant caste people of the village. The attack was to create a fear amongst the Dalits who dare to speak out against untouchability practices, discrimination in access to water. The dominant castes have also defiled the well which the Dalits were using for everyday usage. Innocent Dalits both old and young were attacked. Their window panes which were of glass were destroyed. The bicycles, utensils, motorbike, sewing machines, chairs, etc., were destroyed. Their property was looted. Some of the Dalit families have fled the village.
Pregnant and lactating mothers were attacked. An old woman who could not get up from the cot was beaten up. It was a chaos and I was moved by seeing the tears and pain in the eyes of women, girls, children, men and youth. The Limbasi police station is just two-and-a-half kilometres away, but the police came only after one and half hour of the attack. The Village head and her husband and the deputy village head along with other accused have been absconding and now got the news that they were arrested and released on bail just now. Its a shame that in such a gruesome incident, how can the accused be released on bail.
But this is a challenge for the Dalits and the Navsarjan Trust and we shall ensure that bails of the accused is cancelled by the High court, the accused village head and deputy village head are suspended from their positions and the Dalits of Malavada village can live with peace.
It was evident that how Dalits are treated by the dominant castes in Malavada. When we asked for Vankar locality, they said yes the Dhed vado is in this direction…