Even though the Constitution of India abolished the practice of Untouchability, a tea stall in Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar, serves tea in the different cup to Dalits.
Even after a long history of social movements to eradicate untouchability, this social evil continues to haunt many states in India. A significant amount of the population still practices the act of untouchability in one form or the other. We can see the rampant practice of untouchability not only in rural areas but in urban places as well. In Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar, a tea stall practices untouchability by not allowing Dalits to sit with everybody else and drink tea in the same cups as everyone else.
“I sit somewhere else and drink tea. I also pay money for the tea, then why am I asked to sit on the floor?”, asked Lalta Prasad, who belongs to Dalit caste. In Belwa Karkhana village, in Khushinagar, this practice has been going on for a very long time.
According to a survey by Social Attitudes Research India (SARI), around two-third population in rural Uttar Pradesh still practices untouchability. Despite being a provision on the abolition of untouchability in our Constitution under Article 17, the evil is still in practice. Untouchability as a practice can be understood whereby, any particular class or caste of people are being discriminated on the grounds of where they come from. Discrimination, which assigns them menial jobs and social boycott.
Chandrika, who is from Belwa Karhana village expresses his agony and discriminatory behavior of the people in his village. “We are not allowed to touch anything, we can't sit on the cot. When we walk past their homes, they say to go away from here, you are a dom”, he adds. Doms have the lowest ranking even among Dalits. Prohibiting people from eating, marrying with another caste, separate utensils and glasses for Dalits in village tea stalls are some types of discrimination against Dalits.
Dalits from Belwa Karhana village every day bring their own glass or are served tea in plastic cups. When Community Correspondent, Madhuri Chauhan asked the tea stall owner about his act, he said, we cannot serve them in the same cup, because they belong to Basfor community. “If we will start serving Dalits tea in the same glass as other people will not be able to drink tea in the same glass”, said Brishpati Kumar, justifying his behavior.
The caste system as we see today is an interpretation of Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, and how the Indian Constitution has evolved around the plight of Dalits. What we cant ignore is the ritualistic behaviours in our society. Behaviors which is rigid and hereditary. In 2016, Uttar Pradesh filed 10,426 cases, of atrocities against Dalits.
The fate of the Dalits in the present scenario is not the problem of law and order alone, but it is also a social issue. The rigid caste-based society in Uttar Pradesh is making the Dalits vulnerable to exploitation and atrocities.
Video by Community Correspondent Madhuri Chauhan.
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a Member of VV Editorial Team.