Barbershops close over untouchability conflict
Ahmedabad: Caught in the middle of a conflict between two castes, the barbers of Trent village in Mandal taluka of Ahmedabad district, 76km from Ahmedabad, have decided to shut their businesses due to a conflict between Patels and Dalits, as the Patels have objected to the ending of a practice of untouchability, barring Dalits from getting their hair cut at barbershops in the village.
On September 27, the mamlatdar and police visited the village, after Dalits raised the issue of untouchability being practised, as local barbers would never serve Dalits. Police and social justice officers directed the barbers to end the practice of untouchability and met the village sarpanch as well.
However, as the dominant Patel community allegedly pressured the barbers, they preferred to shut their shops rather than get further embroiled in the conflict.
PSI Anshuman Ninama of Mandal taluka police station said that they had received information that barbers in the village were not serving Dalits, after which they intervened and tried to “reach a solution”.
“We visited the village to take stock of the situation and to tell the villagers that the practice of any type of untouchability willnot be tolerated. However, the barbers then closed their shops to avoid being embroiled in the conflict,” said Ninama.
One barber from the village, on condition of anonymity, said that they preferred to work outside the village rather than attracting the fury of the affluent Patels.
The village has four barbershops where about 15 person
Dinesh Vanand, another barber from the village said, “The Patels have helped us a lot. They allowed our forefathers to settle in this village so we cannot go against their diktat despite knowing that practising untouchability by not giving haircuts to Dalits is a wrong thing. Because the Patels give us grain in return for our services and help us financially — by paying the school fees of our children, or holding wedding ceremonies and sometimes even funerary rituals — we are grateful to them and will do whatever they want us to do.”
Vanand added, “I closed my business in the village so neither community feels bad and started providing home service to earn my livelihood.”
Barbers like Vanand have not opened their shops for a week now.
A Dalit youth from the village, Ashok Rathod, said they had never got haircut in the village before. As some youths from other towns visited their village and found this type of untouchability being practised, they raised the issue which has now resulted in people being forced to close their businesses.
Rasik Patel, who is serving his second term as sarpanch of Trent, said the barbers shut their shops voluntarily after the police and district administration officers visited the village. “The village has about 1,000 Patels, around 800 Thakors, 300 Dalits and 200 Bharwads, all of whom live in harmony,” said Patel.
Source: TOI, Oct03, 2018