Residents of Horogeri village in Karnataka were moved by a small gesture of Mundaragi tahsildar Ashappa Pujar, who tried to enlighten the torch-bearers of untouchability. A video that went viral showed Pujar washing teacups at a hotel in the village.
Karnataka tahsildar Pujar visited one of the hotels after he heard of untouchability being practiced in the village. Villager claimed that there are residents who do not open their hotels if there is any marriage or any other function being held in a Scheduled Caste family. The practice continues unabated despite persuasion from local leaders and of neighbouring villages, reported The New Indian Express.
An incident of caste discrimination had taken place in the village some days back. Upon learning about the same, Pujar rushed to the village and held a meeting with villagers, accompanied by circle police inspector Sudhir Kumar, Social Welfare Department assistant director Udaykumar Yalivar and others. The hotel owners were warned of legal actions if they did not stop such practices.
Pujar told The Times Of India: “We were told that 4-5 tea stalls of the village would shut whenever a person from the Dalit community died. We were also told that Dalits were denied access to barbers’ shops. Accompanied by circle police inspector Sudhirkumar Benki, social welfare officer Uday Kumar and others, we went to the village.”
He added: “Our officials invited about 100 people from both communities and convened a meeting for about two hours. Some upper caste people seemed hesitant about serving Dalits at the tea stall. Therefore, we washed cups used by Dalits. Seeing us, upper caste people came forward to wash the cups used by dalits. They assured us they would treat Dalits on par with upper caste customers.”
Commenting on the viral video, Pujar said, “After receiving complaints on untouchability, a few officers and I held a meeting with hotel owners. We had tea with the villagers. I did not intend to wash the tea cups. While answering a question, I was just showing them that if I washed teacups, nothing will happen. Every work has its recognition. But I wish to say that we should all fight together to root out such bad practices from society.”
Sanjeevkumar Patil, a local, said, “We went inside the hotel and were having tea. The tahsildar had tea and went near the washing area, he suddenly took other teacups and washed them, and also told people to root out evil systems from the village. We were surprised to see such a moment.”