Untouchability still rules Goa post liberation

Last Updated 22 October 2010, 10:16 IST

This small-time shelter has a biggest human interest story to tell.
Kale family's saga speaks the tale of how untouchability still shamefully rules the roots of rural Goa despite 40 years of liberation.

Sadashiv alias Shambhu Kale, his wife and three minor children were literally stoned out of Poraskaden village in Pernem taluka. Their fault: Blessing the wedding of a Harijan couple.

Kale, who was eking out a living by performing puja at Shree Mauli Devasthan, had to abandon his house in Poraskaden and run for a cover. Entire village was against him. He was thrown out of the temple and later was forced to leave the village.
Shattered, his wife committed suicide.

Kale was forced to take up rented accommodation in the nearby village and faced social stigma. He has two girls - 12 and 9 years each and a four year old boy.

The issue hogged limelight in after local MLA Jitendra Deshprabhu raised it in the state Legislative Assembly forcing the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to given an assurance of help to this family.

Seven years down the line, the same Harijan community because of whom he lost his house and was declared social reject, joined hands to give him another house in the nearby village of Tuem.

It took several years for this financially unsound community to move forces and get Kale a House.

A social movement was built up giving justice to Kale.
Right from getting piece of government land sanctioned to raising funds, the Harijan community stood firm with the Brahmin.

This month, the house was completed and formally handed over to the family.
Kale's own society, Purohit community, too contributed for this shelter, which was handed over to him, this month.

"Untouchability still exists in Pernem taluka. When we realised that Kale is left to fend for himself, many felt that he should be helped out to rise from the injustice," said Nivrutti Shirodkar, a journalist and social activist.

Harijan community, Purohit community, social workers and Goa-based Dhavalikar Trust came together for the project.

"Any politician would have been ready to construct shelter for Kale family but we decided that only non-political contributions would be entertained," Shirodkar said.

Former Deputy Superintendent of Police Apa Teli, who was the part of fund raising team, said that unprecedented help poured in for Kale.

"Pernem Shetkari Sanghatna gave electricity connection to the house while Parsem citizens' forum took responsibility of paying for the roof," Teli said.

Pernem, bordering Goa-Maharashtra, still harbours tradition of untouchability.
Shirodkar said it's a rule that no Brahmin can bless Harijan's wedding.

(Published 22 October 2010, 10:16 IST)

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