Untouchability still rules Goa even after liberation

published on October 22, 2010

PTI | Pernem (Goa)

Passing the interior road of Tuem village in Goa’s Pernem taluka, one
cannot miss a tiny house located amongst the cluster of houses. This
small-time shelter has a biggest human interest story to tell.

Kale family’s saga speaks the tale of how untouchability still
shamefully rules the roots of rural Goa despite 40 years of liberation.
Sadashiv alias Shambhu Kale, his wife and three minor children were
literally stoned out of Poraskaden village in Pernem taluka. Their
fault: Blessing the wedding of a Harijan couple.

Kale, who was eking out a living by performing puja at Shree Mauli
Devasthan, had to abandon his house in Poraskaden and run for a cover.
Entire village was against him. He was thrown out of the temple and
later was forced to leave the village. Shattered, his wife committed
suicide. Kale was forced to take up rented accommodation in the nearby
village and faced social stigma. He has two girls – 12 and 9 years each
and a four-year-old boy.

The issue hogged limelight in after local MLA Jitendra Deshprabhu
raised it in the State Legislative Assembly forcing the then Chief
Minister Manohar Parrikar to given an assurance of help to this family.
Seven years down the line, the same Harijan community because of whom
he lost his house and was declared social reject, joined hands to give
him another house in the nearby village of Tuem.

It took several years for this financially unsound community to move
forces and get Kale a House. A social movement was built up giving
justice to Kale. Right from getting piece of Government land sanctioned
to raising funds, the Harijan community stood firm with the Brahmin.

This month, the house was completed and formally handed over to the
family. Kale’s own society, Purohit community, too contributed for this
shelter, which was handed over to him, this month.

“Untouchability still exists in Pernem taluka. When we realised that
Kale is left to fend for himself, many felt that he should be helped
out to rise from the injustice,” said Nivrutti Shirodkar, a journalist
and social activist.

Harijan community, Purohit community, social workers and Goa-based
Dhavalikar Trust came together for the project. “Any politician would
have been ready to construct shelter for Kale family but we decided
that only non-political contributions would be entertained,” Shirodkar

Former Deputy Superintendent of Police Apa Teli, who was the part of
fund raising team, said that unprecedented help poured in for Kale.
“Pernem Shetkari Sanghatna gave electricity connection to the house
while Parsem citizens’ forum took responsibility of paying for the
roof,” Teli said.

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