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

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Dalit Sikh Settlers in Shillong

Confronting Indigeneity with Livelihood and Survival

In North East India, the indigenous assertion and mobilisation of various ethnic communities often lead to the dislocation and impoverishment of the settled minority communities. The relationship between tribal communities and settled minority communities is often driven by conflicts in sharing resources and accessing political power. When the Khasis, the dominant ethnic community in Meghalaya, assert their indigenous claims over the minority Dalit Sikhs, it would displace their land and resources leading to further insecurity and impoverishment.

When Charanjit Singh Channi became the first Dalit chief minister of Punjab on 20 September 2021, it was seen as the empowerment of Dalit Sikhs, particularly in Punjab. Channi’s chief ministership was also showcased as the Congress party’s commitment to the empowerment of the Dalit Sikhs and their upliftment to power in the state. However, the wait for justice for the Mazhabis, the Dalit Sikhs in Shillong in the hill state of Meghalaya, continues unabated.

Sikhs are an enterprising people known for their hard work, sacrifices, valour, and humour. However, they are not a homogeneous community. Despite Sikhism preaching equality and human dignity, social equality is a misnomer, and caste hierarchy exists in Sikh society in a similar form as the Hindus. Even Dalit Sikhs have multiple subcategories, many of whom were primarily scavengers before their conversion to Sikhism (Ram 2021). The Dalit Sikhs often became the victims of indigenous claims and assertions in certain states leading to their further marginalisation and impoverishment.

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Updated On : 20th Mar, 2023
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