11/23/2021, 00.00
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Employer chops off Dalit’s hand for demanding unpaid wages

by Nirmala Carvalho

An “outcast” suffers brutal violence in a Madhya Pradesh village. For Fr Devasagsyaraj, “nothing has changed” in half a century. “Culprits should be punished”, and civil society “should raise their voice on behalf of the voiceless”.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A 45-year-old Dalit worker, Ashok Saket, lost a hand after his employer chopped it off when he complained about unpaid wages.

Such a brutal act of violence against a so-called outcast took place in Dolmau, a village in Rewa district (Madhya Pradesh).

His nephew, Lavkush Saket, said that his uncle was working as a construction worker for a certain Ganesh Mishra.

"An argument broke out between the two, following which Mishra severed Saket's hand,” said Rewa Police Superintendent Navneet Bhasin.

Following the incident, the victim was taken to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital. Although the hand was recovered, the surgeons were unable to reattach it.

Ganesh Mishra was arrested along with his brothers under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, which punishes discrimination and violence based on caste membership.

“I am sorry to hear about the severing of the hand of a Dalit, just because he asked for his rightful wage,” said Fr Dr Devasagsyaraj, former national secretary of the Commission for Scheduled Castes of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), speaking to AsiaNews.

“I remember that on 25 December 1968, in Kizhavenmani in Tamil Nadu, 44 Dalits were burnt alive because they asked for a wage increase,” the clergyman said. More than 50 years later, “nothing has changed”.

In his view, “Civil society should condemn this barbaric incident. The culprits should be punished and the victim should be given compensation since he lost his hand and thus his livelihood.”

However, “The lack of political will, the power of the caste [system], and political pressure allow [too many] people to escape from punishment” for such deeds. This is why people “should raise their voice on behalf of the voiceless Dalits”.

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