Higher Caste Bans Dalits From Drinking Water in MP Town

Dalits prevented from drinking clean water in Madya Pradesh town.

ALIRAJPUR, MADHYA PRADESH: Dalit residents of Ghatwani village in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh — some 400 km from Bhopal — have alleged that they are not allowed to use a public borewell and have to drink dirty water of a disused well.

Ironically, the Bhilala community in the village, which allegedly does not allow Dalits to use the lone hand-operated borewell, is itself a scheduled tribe.

Over 200 Dalit residents of the village recently met Collector Shekhar Verma and demanded that a separate borewell be dug for them.

Also, as demanded by the Dalits, another hand-operated borewell would be provided in the village, he said. RS Chouhan, Executive Engineer of Public Health and Engineering Department, said, “A complaint has come that Bhilalas don’t allow Dalits to fetch water. We will install a new hand-pump for the Dalit community in the village.”

Mehtab Mandor and Mukesh, both Dalits, said the existing borewell is just 100 metres from their houses, but they are not allowed to use it.

They fetch water from an old well. “Our children frequently fall ill due to its contaminated water,” they said.

Pinki Mandor, a Dalit woman, said there were instances where members of her community were thrashed for daring to use the only borewell in the village.

The village has a population of about 930, over 200 of them Dalits. Majority are Bhilalas, a sub-community of Bhils, who consider themselves descendants of Rajput chiefs who married daughters of Bhil chieftains.

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