Mevundi women crash their men's dream

Mevundi women crash their men's dream

women power: Dalit women at the Harijankeri of Mevundi in Gadag district are set against the plans of their men to sell the lands.  dh photo

They are ‘willing’ to sell off their land and live a lavish life with the lakhs of rupees they will get. But the womenfolk are coming in their way.

There are about 50 dalit families at Harijankeri (dalits’ layout) of Mevundi. All of them are small farmers and own one or two acres. After years of hard work, most of the land is irrigated through borewells. The dalit farmers, most of them illiterate, are growing two crops every year.

The State government has issued a notification for acquiring 700 acres of land falling under Mevundi village limits for Adhunik Metalicks Limited. Of these, 150 acres belong to dalit families. After getting the notices, men in some of the dalit families contacted Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) officials and enquired with their friends in cities about the advantages of selling off their lands and what price they should demand. But all these enquires were done secretly, to avoid inviting the wrath of their families, especially the mothers and wives. But, somehow, the women have come to know about the ‘plan’.

“It is we who will decide what to do with our land,” declares Durgavva Devappa Kudari.

“They have no sense of responsibility. They will spend that money on liquor or gambling and push us to the streets within a year.”

Durgavva has a valid reason to say so. Most of the men in Harijankeri are drunkards and have developed other bad habits. It is the women and children who toil in the fields as well as in others’ fields for a livelihood.

“They (men) cannot take an informed decision. The government should ask us first, if it wants to acquire the land. We will tell what to do. Men have no business here,” said Kashavva Hiremani, whose six-member family survives only on two acres of land. She says no amount of money will be sufficient for ‘these men’ and their bad habits.

“Selling our land is nothing but pushing ourselves to the streets and rendering our children orphans. We will not give up our land at any cost,” says Mallavva Mariyappa Hiremani.

She expresses apprehensions that the price of land in and around the village will go up sharply once the government acquires the land. “We may not be able to buy even one acre of land for Rs 20 lakh to Rs 25 lakh, the compensation amount the government is contemplating to offer. We will have to migrate to the cities in search of a livelihood.”

When asked whether her husband would give up the land, Aalavva (40) said she had lost faith in her husband long ago.

“If you ask him, he will definitely give it. How should I maintain my four children? Where should I go?” she asks with tears in her eyes.

She said: “We may get money, but will lose our livelihood once for all. I will not allow him (husband) to spoil my family.”

However, Somanna Madar, a BA degree holder from Harijankeri who is into transport business, said: “We may think of parting with our land if the government offers a better price.”

“It all (selling the land or not) depends on others (the upper caste people in the village). Dalits can’t take an independent decision in this matter,” he added.

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