The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law as per the Article 17 of the Indian Constitution. It was drafted in 1949 specifically to eradicate & abolish the practice of Untouchability. Yet 65 years later, the practice still reigns in far too many parts of the country. CC Bhan Sahu brings the story of Kinsuram Chowre from Domha Tola village who in spite of being a panch (village head), is discriminated against on the basis of his caste.
Kinsuram belongs to the mochi community. He is a panch (village head) and strives to be a good human being. He supports his village in all activities and tasks. He enjoys being a part of all festivities and celebrations. He is a loving father and a good husband.
But sadly for him, his caste comes before any of his great attributes. The people from the ‘upper caste’ in his village discriminate against him at every possible opportunity. Seldom subtle, this practice has severely disheartened Kinsuram and his belief in good deeds over a ‘good caste’.
In one such instance, his niece was one of 9 girls who was to be fed, as part of a ritualistic offering to God. However, she was asked to get up and leave, because of her caste. The effect of discrimination on a child’s mind is immeasurable. Kinsuram has been subjected to such discrimination since childhood and watching his niece being subjected to the same, decades down the line, is an inhuman experience. He religiously supports all community activities and donates to the festival fund even though he has a modest income. For him, his village is his community.
Recently he invited the whole of village for his daughter’s naming ceremony. People came but none of them touched a grain of food or even sipped a drop of water from his house. They instead took raw rice and pulses back home with them and ate that. Even the barber refuses to touch him or his family. As per some Indian customs, if somebody dies in the family – the men or immediate male relatives have to shave their heads. A death is a saddening event and people like Kinsuram face discrimination atop that. What has humanity come to?
Kinsuram’s sentiments have been torn so many times that he has now lost faith in humanity.
“What can we do? After all we are Untouchables. …We have made peace with ourselves that we are Untouchable. What else can we do? We are poor. Who can we fight”?
We are born in this world without any caste, religion, community or any other labels that society tags us with. It is our deeds that define us, not any labels. People should be judged by how much wealth they have in their hearts and by that measure, Kinsuram is a freakishly wealthy human being.
CC Bhan Sahu is one of the rare few who stand against caste practices. Join us in our crusade against caste discrimination. While laws can be enforced, to create long lasting effects, mind sets need to be changed. Look at the person beside you. What if you knew nothing of their caste, religion, orientation or origins? What do you think about them now? That’s who they are. Just human.