Massacre Of Dalits, Christians In Gujarat Recalled
AHMEDABAD, Gujarat (SAR NEWS) — A Dalit human rights movement, “ADHIKAR”, held a seminar on “25 Years after Golana Massacre” at the Gujarat Sahitya Parishad hall here February 13.
Golana massacre had been a turning point in the history of Dalits’ fight for justice. On January 25, 1986, four Dalits, including two Christians, were shot dead by Darbars (people of Rajput community), after a conflict in connection with the construction of shanties by Dalits on the land allotted to them for the purpose.
After long battles and many forms of threats and coercionm 11 Darbars were sentenced to life imprisonment. The seminar was organised to evaluate the present situation after 25 years.
Speaking on the rationale of the seminar, the organiser, Chandu Maheria, explained the current situation of Golana after 25 years in the light of his study and visit to the village on January 8, 2011. “Many things have changed in the village but not the mental attitude of the people,” he said giving many concrete examples and proofs for his statements.
The speakers in the seminar were a social activist and the Founder of a NGO ‘Navsarjan’, Martin Macwan, and a journalist of Times of India, Vijaysinh Parmar from the Darbar community in Golana village. Well-known writer and sociologist Ghanshyam Shah chaired the seminar. More than 60 people including Urvish Kothari, a columnist, Dr. R. D. Desai and Dr. Kanti Parmar and others attended the seminar.
All speakers acknowledged that socio-religious awareness and awakening of the Dalit community started with the missionary activities in the (Bhal) area.
Vijaysinh Parmar said that when the fight between Darbars and Dalits took place, he was only five years old. His mother was returning home after drawing water from a well. She saw two Darbar leaders shooting two Dalits. “She rushed home, closed us inside the house as did all women in the Darbar Faliyu (narrow street).” Police arrested a number of Darbar leaders. Hence cultivation of their fields could not be done leading to the economic and social decline of the Darbars. Consequently, it was even difficult for them to marry their daughters or get brides for their sons. Ten years later, Parmar visited the Dalit Faliyu for an article. He was the only Darbar who ever set foot in Dalit Faliyu and drank water and shared tea with them.
When his article appeared in his newspaper, the readers could not believe that it was written by a Darbar! “Surely, Vijaysinh Parmar is a Dalit!”, people commented. The Darbar people who knew him were spreading rumours that “surely the Christians have paid him money to write such an article!”
Today, the Dalit people in Golana village are comparatively well off with education, better houses, land for cultivation, and many are doing jobs in government or private concerns. But there is no social equality. Untouchability is still prevalent. Some Darbars do feel that Dalit people have been wronged. But there are other Darbars, a minority, who justify the killings of the four Dalits, like there are people even today who justify the murder of Gandhiji. “Both sides need to take steps for social unity,” Parmar concluded.
In his address, Martin Macwan shared his experiences of staying with Dalit people at Vadgam, not far from Golana as a student of Father Jose Maria Heredero, SJ, the Founder of Behavioural Science Centre (BSC) and also as a BSC staffer. He said that he saw and experienced the helpless situation of the Dalit people. But the Self Help Groups (SHG) and social awareness seminars and meetings initiated by BSC made all the difference. They became more self-reliant economically and educationally and their leadership were developed.
Today progress has come to the villages. But the definition of justice and of progress has changed and corruption is all pervasive. Martin said true development was a win-win situation for all. “In that sense, I do not see any true development,” Macwan concluded.
In his address as the chairperson of the seminar, Dr. Ghanshyam Shah called on the audience to evaluate the current situation of Golana in its true perspective. Dr. Shah recalled Father Heredero’s 1976 book on Rural Development and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s call for social change. Ambedkar called for the annihilation of caste. He also recalled Chandu Maheria’s long article in Dalit Adhikar (fortnightly) that there is no equality in our society even between men and women.
Shah said that caste system was against equality. The intellectuals have a great role to play to bring about social change. The call of Liberty, Freedom and Fraternity brought about the French Revolution. But “in our society there is no equality. The caste system is not division of labours but of labourers”, Shah concluded.