Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Cows are holy in India not Harjans

Traveling in a passenger train from my native place Shiekhpura to Gaya in Bihar last Saturday, I found some Harijan folks boarding the compartment at Nawada station, well there is Naveda in Texas too!

They were actually 6 of them, three men, three women and I think 6 or 7 kids, all below ten years of age. They sat on the floor of the compartment not because there was no seat but m
ore I guess because of their habit of squatting on the floor.

The kids stood on the widow, looking for the passing scenery enjoying the train ride. These folks were escorted by a contractor who was taking them to Ayodhya to make bricks.
 I was watching these people and hearing the foul language of the contractor who was loud and abusive at them.  The way he was talking, it seems that, these bunches of people were not human but herds of animal whom he owns.

I was tempted to talk to my fellow passengers and found that the contractor was representing some brick kiln chimney in Ayodhya and he was taking these laborers from Bihar on contract to work there to make bricks.

These folks will be put up in makeshift shed and have to toil day and night to make bricks. I saw a complete despondency on the faces of these folks, telling me about their uncertain future.

There are many promises being made by this contractor and we hope that we get enough food to eat and some place to sleep, said one of the laborers. While the adult were in a state of uncertainty, the faces of the children were brightly lit.

Looking at the passing meadows mountains and rivers, the kids with blowing noses were giggling and discovering the world. They seem unaware of their situation and just wanted to enjoy their travel.

I asked one of the folk, which caste they belong, one answered majhi, another answered mushar, the lady summed it up we are Harijan. I asked which caste the contractor belongs, Rajput was the reply.

The caste equation has not changed even, 68 years of independence and the lives of the Harijan remains the same.

A procession of memories was jogging in my funnel. I was recapping the Gandi vs Ambedkar debate and the Poona pact of 1932. I was contemplating, had Ambedkar left Gandhi die, perhaps the lives of these folks may not have been the same!

Well, I felt pity at the fate of my fellow travelers but at the same time I was incensed at the behavior of that contractor. In a country where Cows are made holy, human being are treated even worst then cattle.

My travel experience comes at a time when, government of the day has passed a bill on the atrocities against Harijan amendment bill 2015 in the Parliament. 

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