07/09/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Haryana, the caste barrier is broken. A Dalit elected head of an Indian village

by Nirmala Carvalho
Rani Devi was named sarpanch (head) of Serhada. The village is located in the district of Hisar, a long time hotbed of violence and atrocities by Jat (superiors) toward lower castes and untouchables such as Dalits.

Chandigarh (AsiaNews) - Social barriers have come crashing down in the district of Hisar in Haryana (north-west India), where a Dalit woman was elected "sarpanch (head) of Serhada. The village is dominated by Jat (Superiors), a community known for its violence against the castes considered inferior, or Dalits, the "untouchables" of India’s social system.

 In the villages of Haryana, the Khaap Panchayats (community council) are known for their violent and discriminatory decisions against inferior castes. On 21 April, for example, only 40 km from Serhada in the village of Mirchpur, a group of Jats set fire to a 70 year-old man and his 18 year old daughter, both belonging to the Dalit community.

Going against this trend on July 7 Rani Devi was elected head of Serhada village in Hisar district, with about 1384 votes out of 1702. Devi, wife of a poor shepherd, has expressed her surprise: "I am the adopted daughter of this village and am now responsible for every family that lives here. This will strengthen our bond with them".

Raghuveer Lathar and Jagbeer Poona, members of the Serhada, said: "The government hold up our village as a model for all. We want anyone to achieve prosperity. We have full confidence in Rani Devi”. A village elder was reasoned that the election of Devi: "responds to all political leaders who have personal interests in incidents Mirchpur”.  

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