ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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GUJARAT- Mobilising Rural Dalits

GUJARAT Mobilising Rural Dalits Shalini Randeria Achyut Yagnik THE anti-reservation movement in Gujarat ended in April 1981, but the social and economic boycott of Dalits in rural areas continues. In a climate of increasing mistrust and widening social distance between upper castes Dalits, the latter are subjected to continual , harassment, being refused work, denied milk and newspapers in the villages, In central Gujarat, in southern parts of Mehasana district and in areas around Ahmedabad, Dalit landless labourers are being replaced by Bhil tribals of Panchmahal With growing awareness among the Dalits, and the demand for statutory minimum agricultural wages (revised from Rs 5.50 to Rs 9 in 1982), the offensive against them has assumed serious proportions. According to official statistics, last year on an average, one Dalit was murdered in Gujarat every fortnight. Any one familiar with rural Gujarat will realise that tin's is a grass underestimate, as most murders of Dalits by high-caste landlords are passed off as 'accidents'. The modus operandi of the rural elite, and the complicity of lower-level bureaucrats and politicians in the atrocities on Dalits, is illustrated by these two incidents in Sabarkantha District which these correspondents visited recently.

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