Friday, June 8, 2012

Humiliated, deserted Dalit girl ends life
Feeling disgraced by the surname betraying her Dalit caste, usage of which was banned by govt long ago, 17-year-old girl hangs herself at Mahipatram Ashram
Deserted by her family long ago and feeling humiliated by her surname, a 17-year-old inmate of Mahipatram Rupram Ashram committed suicide in Raipur. Aruna, a class 12 student living in the ashram was found hanging from the ceiling of the bathroom. While cops are yet to ascertain what prompted the teenager to take the extreme step, sources in the orphanage indicated that the girl, who had a Dalit surname felt ashamed of it and ended life. The teenager who was brought to the ashram 12 years ago also felt she had been abandoned by her parents, who never turned back to take her.
The victim was brought to the ashram by the police when she was barely five. A post-mortem report is awaited
The incident however has raised a bigger question as to how the girl was being addressed with a surname the usage of which has for long been banned by the government.

“The state government issued a government resolution in 1998 according to which only Dalit word is to be used while describing a community or a person. Any such usage (the girl’s surname) is violative of provisions,” said Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Fakirbhai Vaghela.

WATCHED TV PREVIOUS EVENINGThe incident came to light on Tuesday morning when the inmates of the hostel in the ashram found the bathroom bolted from inside. When calls from outside evoked no response they called up ashram officials. Later when the police arrived and broke open the door Aruna was found hanging from the ceiling. She had tied dupatta with the hook of the ceiling and locked the door from inside, the police said.

Sources disclosed to Mirror that a few hours before she locked herself in the bathroom, Aruna watched a TV serial with other inmates on Monday evening. The inmates or other employees in the ashram had no inkling that Aruna, who was friendly with every one in the ashram, could take such an extreme step.Sources, meanwhile, maintained that Aruna was to turn 18 on June 30 and looked withdrawn for the last few days.Boarders mentioned that Aruna was friendly with everyone in the hostel. “Aruna was good at her studies and had scored 74 per cent marks in class 11 examination. No one could have suspected that she would take such a drastic step,” said an insider.

BROUGHT TO ASHRAM WHEN 5“Aruna was brought to the ashram by the police when she was barely five. She was handed over to Shahibaug police by Arvindbhai, a resident of Girdharnagar Makoda ki Chowki. She had a dalit surname and would often feel humiliated when addressed by surname, in the school. She would also get upset, as no one would take her out during vacations. Also, she never had any visitor. The letters which were sent to her local guardian at Girdharnagar too came back,” said an insider. 

Ashram Superintendent Vijay Pandit admitted that though Aruna looked hassled with the usage of her surname, she never made any complaint to anyone in the management. “She seemed to have some issues with her name but she never took it up with us. Though under the provisions after turning 18 she could have changed her surname,” Pandit said. Police officials who are conducting the probe maintained that when Aruna was brought to the Ashram in 2000 she had disclosed her name with a dalit surname.

Cops still probing
Maintaining they were still not clear about the exact provocation, Kagdapith police officials said they were recording the statements of inmates and others in the ashram.“Nothing can be said yet about the motive. We are awaiting postmortem report before reaching any conclusion,” said Kagdapith Sub-Inspector D B Dabhi.

The orphanage management maintained this was a rare instance in the ashram ever since it was founded about 120 year ago. “The incident has shocked us and the inmates have still not been able to come to terms with the reality that Aruna is no more,” said a member of the management.

Mirror Says
The innocent 5-year-old Aruna identified herself with a Dalit surname when she was brought to ashram way back in 2000. It is a shame that the surname stayed on the roll for 12 years. The Union government had issued a circular 30 years ago, on February 10, 1982, to be precise, to the state governments and Union territory 
administrations requesting them to issue instruction to the authorities concerned not to use the word ‘Harijan’ in Scheduled Caste certificates.

Coined by Father of the Nation Mohandas Gandhi to make the underprivileged feel that they are the sons and daughters of God, the word lost its sanctity and purpose as identity politics took centrestage in independent India. It is unfortunate that a young life felt so humiliated due to our caste legacy that she decided to end her life. One may say Aruna felt deserted by her parents and lacked the strength to fight her way, but her death is a commentary on society’s failure to make the underprivileged feel that they are very much a valued part of it.

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