Dalits protest attacks on their people for sporting mustaches


A 17-year-old Dalit boy was stabbed Oct. 3 for sporting a mustache in Limbodara village of the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Two days earlier, a Dalit youth was beaten to death for watching a folk dance at a temple in Borsad village of the same state. The event was organized by people belonging to the upper caste.

On Sept. 25, a Dalit youth in Limbodara village in Gujarat was also attacked for sporting a mustache followed by a similar incident on Sept. 29.

Over 300 Dalit youth have now begun sporting handlebar mustaches as a sign of protest.

In unwritten social norms imposed by people from upper caste groups in the area, Dalit men are not supposed to grow mustaches and twirl it. Many upper caste men consider handlebar mustaches as a symbol their superiority.

The Sanskrit term Dalit, meaning "trampled upon," collectively denotes former untouchable people, who were outside the four-tier Indian caste system. Although now outlawed, the caste system continues with higher caste people violating basic rights of Dalit people. 

Activists working for Dalit rights Oct. 4 marched toward the Gujarat secretariat in Gandhnagar shouting slogans against the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that rules the state.

They alleged that the atrocities against Dalits are on the rise under BJP rule. BJP is considered the political wing of groups attempting to establish a high caste Hindu hegemony.

Jignesh Mevani, leader of the Rahtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch (National Forum for Dalit Rights) in Ahmedabad, the state’s commercial capital, told ucanews.com that they plan to widen the protest. On Oct. 10 all districts in Gujarat will conduct rallies to protest these atrocities.

"If Dalits keep a mustache, buy new clothes or a bike, some feudal forces cannot tolerate it and try to suppress the community," he said.

Mevani said these attacks are a failure of the state government and highlights discrimination and untouchability. According to him, Dalit people form 7 percent of the state’s 62.7 million people.

Father Z. Devasagayaraj, secretary of the Indian bishops’ Office for Dalit Development, told ucanews.com that sporting a handlebar mustache by Dalits is seen as an "assertion" of their equality and is "not tolerated by the upper castes. Any disturbance in the hierarchy upsets them," he said.

Mary John, president of Dalit Christian Liberation Movement, told ucanews.com that it is a clear sign that upper caste people are getting a free hand to do whatever they want.

"Dalits are asserting their rights but unfortunately they are not supported by the state machinery," John said.

Write your Comments on this Article

Disclaimer: Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Konkanworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article. Please note that under 66A of the IT Act, sending offensive or menacing messages through electronic communication service and sending false messages to cheat, mislead or deceive people or to cause annoyance to them is punishable. It is obligatory on Konkanworld.com to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request. Hence, sending offensive comments using Konkanworld.com will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Konkanworld.com be held responsible. Similarly, Konkanworld.com reserves the right to edit / block / delete the messages without notice any content received from readers.