Dalit families flee state’s rich NRI village Dharmaj
In Dharmaj, known as Gujarat’s “village of NRIs” with a whopping Rs 1,000 crore of deposits in its banks, the dalit falia (quarter) wears a deserted look. Only 24 of 274 dalit families have remained in the village. The reason for the mass absence they claim, is that they were being intimidated by the dominant Patidar community , for trying to exercise their right to vote for local body polls held on November 29.
Close to the 65th death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on December 6, the dalits of Dharmaj village alleged that they were barred from exercising their constitutional right. The dalit quarter, which earlier had a population of about 1,500, had few houses open and almost none dared to talk about what happened between November 23 and 29.
Dina Rohit, a worker of the NGO Navsarjan, says atrocities on dalits are common here. “They don’t speak out as they fear losing daily-wage work on the tobacco farms of Patels. Even if a dalit farmer has land, he would grow tobacco and that trade is also dominated by Patels. So they fear harassment by way of blocked payments,” she says.