Bhopal: “Torture, molestation of highest degree is our fate,” said a 37-year-old woman from Neemuch. She said that she was eldest of siblings and hence was forced into prostitution after which she became a mother. “I still struggle to get identity proofs for my children as they are born out of wedlock,” she said.
This was the plight of all women members of 10 denotified tribes who had gathered in the city on Friday. The members of Pardhi, Nat, Mahaar, Bacchda-Bedia, Kalbeliya, Banbawariya, Irani and Kanjar communities had gathered to express their pain and misery at Gandhi Bhavan. The members said they should all unite to fight against social injustice they face.
Some women complained of being denied even basic amenities while few had complained of torture by local administration. Others present said that people of upper caste do not allow them to use water from the well. The women narrated how police vandalise their homes on mere suspicion that their male members committed theft or loot.
Bhawar Meghwanani, a social activist from Bhopal while speaking from the dias, said that on one hand there are people who get offended by books and films and on the other hand, people are cursed to live with the word criminal before their names. Another social activist Saba narrated how homes of Bhilala community were vandalised by 40 policemen in Dhar district. “They went berserk, vandalised houses in village, raped and molested five women there,” she said.
The women along with their families went to police to file complaint but no action was taken in this regard. When contacted, SP Dhar Virendra Singh, he said the case is one year old and none of the investigating agencies has verified women’s complaints. He said, “It was simple raid but community members are lying only to build pressure on police,” he remarked.
The incidents of alleged institutional murder of Indermal Bai of 2017 and suicide of Tinti Bai of 2008 were also discussed in the programme. “Unless stigma of being a criminal tribe is removed, their bad image will continue to haunt them,” social activist Swati Asha said.