Mumbai, mai 2007
Water becomes a major cause for caste atrocities in India
The file contains details on the murder of a Dalit on the ground of water rights. It also looks in to the causes of caste atrocities.
Madhukar Ghadge, 48, a dalit of Buddhist faith, was brutally murdered at Kulakjai village of Man taluka of Satara district on 26th April, 2007. The second son of Abaji Ghadge, he worked with western railways at Parel work shop as a black smith and lived at Ulhasnagar, Thane district. His elder brother Divakar is also with railways and he, too, lives in Mumbai. His younger brother Prabhakar is in police and posted at Dhebewadi, Patan taluka, Satara. The youngest of the siblings Sudhakar lives at Kulakjai and is a deputy sarpanch of Kulakjai village panchayat. Madhukar has two sons, Tushar is a 2nd year student of LLB at Satara and Suraj is in 12th standard, studying at Ulhasnagar. He also has a daughter, Asmita, studying in 9th standard.
The Ghadge family in order to irrigate their agricultural lands sought permission from the government and other authorities to dig a well near the percolation tank and other wells situated there. This was sanctioned under Jawahar Vihir (well) Yojana and they were provided a financial assistance of Rs. 60,000. There are four other wells in that area including a public well for the village owned by the village panchayat which is incidentally the largest one.
The digging of the well begun on April 26th with Madhukar Ghadge being physically present in the village and the digging work. They used wheeled excavators for this purpose which was owned by local MLA’s family. The work continued for the whole day and after the day’s work Madhukar asked his son and other relatives to fetch some food for the workers from their place. At around 7.45 pm, when they were returning to the fields screams were heard. Vaibhav, son of Divakar, saw around fifteen people attacking his uncle with weapons. They ran to save Madhukar, seriously injured by the assault and in the mêlée, attackers ran away but not without threatening Ghadge family. They also threatened to hurl a huge stone on Madhukar.
The contention of attackers was that with the digging up of another well by the Ghadges, the water flow will reduce and especially water to the village well will shrink. However, we found that though the immediate reason was nothing but of water however, the whole concern stretches much beyond that.
As the attackers were from the village itself, the Ghadges immediately identified them. They were known to Ghadge family. In fact, they used to come to Ghadge’s house also on some occasion.
The caste question
The caste oppression in this case is not as direct as in other cases of atrocities against Dalits where untouchability and other savage treatments exist comfortably; however, the issue is transparent if go deep into it and understand the manner in which the physical manifestation of this oppression has transformed.
The report cannot be substantial without mentioning a very important fact. Madhukar was attacked around one and a half kilometres from the village. His relatives brought him back on a two wheeler from the site and as there was no road on farm lands it was a difficult journey taking around thirty minutes. There are four to five vehicles in the village whose owners the family requested in order to take Madhukar quickly to the nearest hospital. But, no one came forward to lend their vehicle forcing them at last, to take Madhukar on two wheelers. He was bleeding profusely and was declared dead before admission.
Ghadge family informed us that when they were taking Madhukar to the hospital they were threatened by villagers on the road. They also approached the nearest health centre at Malavali for their ambulance on the way to Dahiwadi; however, their plea was refused on flimsy grounds.
The case exposes a clear cut issue of an atrocity on dalit. Madhukar was killed because he being a dalit challenged the monopoly of water of the savarnas. It was well planned and Madhukar was attacked when hardly anybody was with him. This was beyond any wild nightmare of the Ghadge family.
Dalits have lost confidence on police investigation since they feel police that the police are trying to shield Amar Kulkarni and others and not attempting to arrest them. They are behaving like a defence lawyer and in such circumstance; investigation should be handed over to CID
Amar Kulkarni and other main accused should be arrested immediately.
The Government should provide protection to Ghadge family to complete well as the well has become a symbol of equality.
On behalf of Dalit Intellectual Collective (DIC) and Peoples Media Initiative (PMI)
Courtesy to VAK, Mumbai