Family of Dalits alleges social boycott in village

ST Correspondent
Friday, 6 April 2018

“My family has been making food and water arrangements for the people who come to visit the war memorial every year on January 1 for years. Some people in the village somehow had anger in their minds towards us due to that,” Rama Athawale said.

PUNE: Three months after the Koregaon-Bhima attacks, a family who fell victim to the attacks along with others, has alleged that they are facing a social boycott and harassment from the villagers. The victims and their families were speaking at a press conference organised by the Republican Yuva Morcha in the city on Friday. 

Rama Athawale, whose family ran a fabrication business in Koregaon-Bhima which was also their home for 20 years, said their house was torched in the violence that ensued the Koregaon-Bhima incident. 

“My family has been making food and water arrangements for the people who come to visit the war memorial every year on January 1 for years. Some people in the village somehow had anger in their minds towards us due to that,” she said. 

“This year our family made arrangements for at least 1,000 people but the violence began in Koregaon-Bhima and spread to our village. The mobs of miscreants in the village who held vendetta against us torched our home and workshop,” Athawale said, adding, “They even tried to burn us alive. Their aim was to create another Khairlanji. We have been living like refugees in a Buddha Vihar in PCMC area since then.” 

“This was my 9th year attending and serving at the Koregaon-Bhima event. I have been living in Sanaswadi for 25 years and have been involved in activism. This made them foster anger towards me,” said Jaydeep Sakat, whose house in Sanaswadi near Koregaon-Bhima was burnt to ashes. He added, “I have been living as a refugee in Wada rehabilitation. The people of powerful castes are still threatening us if we return to our village.” 

“The situation on the ground is still tense. There is an undeclared social boycott in the village by the people of upper castes. There are some miscreants who are responsible for this rift. The government has taken no cognisance of this and is yet to help these and more than 60 such families in rehabilitation,” said Rahul Dambale of the Republican Yuva Morcha. 

“We will appeal to Chief Minister in a meeting on Saturday or else we will approach the courts,” added Dambale. 

Dambale said they will be organising programmes on BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. “The target after all of the casteist elements was not just the Koregaon-Bhima but Ambedkar himself. We are going to organise programmes on his anniversary on April 14,” Dambale said, adding, “We do not want to increase tension but to give a message of togetherness and equality.”

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