40 Dalit Families Face Social Boycott and Indignity in Odisha Over Flower Plucking

After a Dalit girl plucked a flower from the garden of an upper caste resident in an Odisha village, the entire community has been boycotted.

Caste hierarchies and deeply entrenched inequalities in the domain of Indian society depict the most disturbing truth wherein despite over seven decades of independence, we continue to nurture a social fabric that discriminates and exploits people on the basis of their caste affiliations. This truth became even more apparent when forty Dalit families in the Kantio Kateni village of Odisha were asked to leave and village and go after they were subjected to more than two weeks of boycott after a Dalit girl from the community was  caught plucking flowers from the garden of an upper caste family. For having plucked flowers from the garden of an upper caste family not only the little girl and her family, but more than 40 households of the Dalits were humiliated and assaulted for over two weeks  and they were also asked to leave the village.  

This led to a sustained conflict between the upper and lower castes in the village and as a result the  upper castes boycotted over 40 Dalit families. The girl who had allegedly picked up flowers from the garden of an upper caste resident of the village is reported to have immediately apologised so that they matter could be resolved on the spot but after a series of meetings, it was decided that all the Dalit families living in the village will be boycotted and it was also decided that they would no longer be allowed to participate in any social event of the village. 

The village has a total of 800 families and 40 households belonging to the SC Naik community. 

As part of the social boycott that is being sustained against these 40 families, milk and grocery stores in the village have stopped selling their items to them and everybody outside the caste fold has stopped talking to them.  

The upper castes have also ensured that the lower castes are not given any work in the village and are compelled to move out of the village in search of work. They have also been warned against taking out processions related to funerals and marriages and their children have been denied the right to study in the government school in the premises of the village. 

The police have said that even if after the conduction of several meetings between the elders of both the communities matters are not resolved, they will be completed to register an FIR.

 

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