While most of us read about the afflictions of untouchability in history books and might not have witnessed it in person, there are still places in India where it is a sad reality. For Dalits, in many parts of rural India, untouchability is a part of everyday life.
A small village in Karnataka is now in the news because an upper caste villager decided to poison the water in a well used by Dalits, so they could not use it. This is probably the lowest we can stop as a society. This small village of Channur falls under the Kalaburgi district of Karnataka, where recently, a person from a ‘privileged’ upper caste community allegedly contaminated the village well with endosulfan so that Dalits stop taking water from it, according to a report by the Times of India.
The Channur village has seven wells but the Dalit community has to make do with the only one which lies 200m away from the village border while the wells being used by the upper caste community lie within the village. Four years ago, the farmland near the well belonged to a Dalit member but it was leased to a person who belongs to an upper caste. And since then, Gollalappagouda Kallappagouda Kukanur has pulled every stunt to stop Dalits from using water from the only well in the village they can use. The well has a pump fixed to it that supplies water to the Dalit’s Colony.
According to the villagers, Gollalappagouda has been known to have thrown dead dogs, cats, and snakes into the well to stop Dalit members to draw water from the well. But the Dalit community was somehow managing their water situation for a while but their water supply was shut down on August 29.
The well’s water was tested and was found to be spiked with endosulfan. The Dalit community was left with no water but despite their harsh predicament, the members of the upper castes in the village did not allow them to draw water from the wells inside the village.
Gollappagouda has been booked under section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and also has been booked under a case of attempted murder. The police have collected many statements from the Dalit community and it has come to light that Gollappagouda has threatened to kill them on multiple occasions and allegedly said that he would kill at least one Dalit before he died.
Endosulfan, a well-known insecticide which is banned in many countries causes permanent brain damage in some cases, birth defects in male reproductive organs, autism in newborns, and many other diseases. Its symptoms include tremors, convulsions, lack of coordination, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and in high doses, unconsciousness.
This event has sparked outrage among the people and is being condemned by everyone.
Hindutva so fragile it needs Endosulfan to heal itself. pic.twitter.com/G8OGLu5P8n— Aisi Taisi Democracy (@AisiTaisiDemo) September 5, 2017
The only source of drinking water for Dalits poisoned. 7 other wells in the village are used by upper caste people. https://t.co/fIWVFHo2NK— DalitFeminist (@DalitFeminist) September 5, 2017
When sudra castes gain upward mobility,they convert2Vedic&exert caste pride by killing Dalits.Gouda member poisons.https://t.co/gl7MWJjYX8— Meena (@teloogoo) September 5, 2017
Upper caste pouring endosulphan in a well to stop Dalits from using it, is the worst we can get as a society. And we’ve got there.— Sangita Nambiar (@Sanginamby) September 5, 2017