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Untouchability clouds India's hottest tourist spot

Last updated on: October 22, 2010 11:29 IST

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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.

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Image: Pernem Taluka
Photographs: Ssr/Wikimedia Commons
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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.


Image: Keri Beach in Pernem taluka
Photographs: Edson Dias/pictures-of-goa.blogspot.com
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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.


Image: Morjim beach in Pernem Taluka

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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 t hat only non-political contributions would be entertained," Shirodkar said.

Former Deputy Superintendent of Police Apa Teli, who was the part of fund raising team, said that unprecedented help poured in for Kale.


Photographs: Frederick Noronha/Flickr
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"Pernem Shetkari Sanghatna gave electricity connection to the house while Parsem citizens' forum took responsibility of paying for the roof," Teli said.

Pernem, bordering Goa-Maharashtra, still harbours tradition of untouchability.

Shirodkar said it's a rule that no Brahmin can bless Harijan's wedding.

Interestingly, this tradition also exists in Morjim village, a tourist hotspot famous amongst Russian visitors.

The constituency is represented by BJP's Goa President Laxmikant Parsekar.

"Harijan couples have to go outside the state or in some undisclosed locations to get their weddings blessed. If a Brahmin is caught participating in the wedding, he is shunted out of the temple and socially banned," Shirodkar added.


Photographs: Frederick Noronha/Flickr
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