Police and government officials on Tuesday met members of the Madiga community and the dominant Lingayats in Karnataka’s Haveri district after a report by a Dalit rights organisation documented shocking caste discrimination practices in the region. The officials warned against such practices and assured the Madigas of action.
Madiga is a term used in Karnataka for more than 50 Dalit sub-castes who have been treated as untouchables for centuries. The Swabhimani Dalit Shakti conducted an extensive study over three years, interviewing over 4,000 Madiga families in 87 villages in Ranebennur taluk. The report was released on January 18. Scroll.in also reported about the discrimination against Madigas on Monday.
A team comprising officials from the social welfare department of Haveri district and Ranebennur taluk, the tehsildar and senior police officials visited Haranagiri and Nandihalli villages on Tuesday.
“The police officials told the members of Madiga community not to fear and to call the police and register a complaint if they were subjected to any form of untouchability practices,” Marideva Mailappa Naduvinakeri, an organising committee member of Swabhimani Dalit Shakti, told Scroll.in.
The district administration also called a meeting at gram panchayat offices on Wednesday to address the complaints raised by the Madigas, and invited all community members for the meeting.
The report had found, among other things, that the Madigas are not allowed to fetch water from public taps in 20 of the 87 villages surveyed. They are not allowed into the village temple in 72 villages, and the two-glass system prevailed in tea shops in 57 villages. This means that Madigas were not served tea in the steel tumblers that caste Hindus drank from, but in separate glasses or mugs.
Caste-based discrimination also forces the Madiga community to perform degrading caste duties in 86 villages surveyed, the study said. They are purportedly made to clear the carcasses of dead cattle, offer their labour for free on occasions such as marriages, walk around the village making announcements when someone dies, and clean the households of the dominant castes without any wages.