It was apprehended that during the final examination of primary
education, what in Bengali is called Somaponi Porikkha, the word Muchi,
a highly offensive and derogatory word to indicate the members of the cobblers’
caste (a former outcast group which goes under the general denomination
of Dalit) has been used in a way offensive to the people. During the
exam of Hindu religion and moral education, the question no. 7 of the
first exercise so read: “At your home the Durgapuja festival (the
greatest religious festival of the Hindus of Bengal, ndr.) is going on.
At that time a Muchi comes and asks to take part in the festival. What
will you do?” Four the possible answers among which the student must
choose one: 1. I will ask my father. 2. I will let him join in. 3. I
will discourage him from joining. 4. Fearing the others’ reaction, I
will not let him join in.
On the 3 of December The Rishi (the proper and non-offensive name of the
“Muchi” of south west Bangladesh) community strongely protested the
happening, requesting the government to punish those responsible in the
education ministry. For the occasion gatherings were organised by both
the Bangladesh Dalit Parishad aided by Paritran in different parts of
the country, including Dhaka. The pictures in the slideshow above depict a number of
“Muchi” of Tala bazar in the Satkhira district carrying out a token
strike to protest the event. Below the pictures the text paper
incriminated is also shown.
A dalit leader spearheading the protest against untouchability at the cremation ground is arrested.
On October 22 last, Ujjol Das, chairman of the Kesobpur branch of the Bangladesh Dalit Parishad, is arrested by Police in the first hours of the morning. Together with Ujjol also his father Kumar Das and grandfather Onil Das are arrested and sent to the thana jail. It is apparent that this sudden arrest has got to do with the protests being organised against the discrimination suffered by a Rishi person at the cremation ground. The Bangladesh Dalit Parishad is about to start a case against this discrimination and their perpetrators.
On 20-10-2011 in the village of Bhalukghar, Kesobpur upazila in the
district of Jessore, the corpse of Anondo Das, a dalit belonging to the
Rishi caste, was turned back from the cremation ground by so called high caste Hindu because of Anondo low status. The Rishi are the traditional coblers and leather workers of south west Bangladesh. Because of their so called low occupation they are to this day despised and scorned. Being turned away from the cremation ground, Anondo’s dead body was cremated by his relatives and mourners along a river bank, outside of the established encloser. The villagers protesting this act of caste discrimination brought out a procession forming a human chain in protest.