Online campaign against 'untouchability' in Rajasthan

Online campaign against 'untouchability' in Rajasthan

An online signature campaign has sought action against alleged untouchability in a Rajasthan district where Dalit women are forced to remove footwear while passing through upper caste neighbourhoods, an activist said Thursday.

The alleged practice was going on in Dangariya village in Karauli district since generations though such acts are punishable under the constitution, said campaign initiator and Goa-based social activist Stalin K.

Stalin appeared in last weekend's episode of actor Aamir Khan's TV show "Satyamev Jayate" to discuss the issue of untouchability and how this illegal, abhorrent practice was still a part of the Indian tradition.

"In Dangariya village, lower caste women are asked to remove their footwear as they pass through upper caste neighbourhoods. This has been happening for several years, despite of untouchability having been declared illegal by the constitution," said Stalin.

"If these women wore slippers in front of the so-called upper caste neighbourhoods, they would be abused and their husbands would be troubled for days," said the activist. Stalin said that he started the campaign on to "help these women get their dignity back".

The campaign, which received close to 2,000 hits within hours of its launch, asked District Magistrate Bishnu Charan Mallick to abolish the practice and punish the perpetrators. Karauli is around 180 km from state capital Jaipur.

The campaign's webpage also carried a video showing Dalit women of Dangariya village walking barefoot, carrying their slippers in hands. Asked why they removed their footwear, the women interviewed in the video said the houses belonged to upper class people and they had been following the practice for generations.

"My mother-in-law asked me to do this and when we get daughters-in-law in our houses we ask them to do the same," an unnamed woman said in the video. She added that if they forgot to remove their footwears, they would be "treated badly".

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