Dalits in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh have approached the police and district magistrate against caste-based discrimination by Muslim barbers in the area. Allegedly, Muslim barbers have refused to offer haircuts to Dalits living in their village.
According to a report published in India Today, elders from the Dalit community alleged they have been suffering discrimination for years and now want their new generations to lead a free life. They asserted putting an end to the caste-based discrimination and claimed their children face discrimination at the saloons run by Muslims. Upon receiving the complaint, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Moradabad, Amit Pathak created a joint team of local district officials and police officers to investigate the case. Pathak asserted to take strict actions if the allegations are found to be true.
The barbers in the area have shut shops to protest the complaint filed by the Dalits. They argued that entertaining Dalit customers would mean losing customers from their own community. It is pertinent to mention, as per reports, Peepalsana is a Muslim majority village.
“This has been going on for decades but now we have decided to raise our voice against this practice which amounts to promoting untouchability,” said Rakesh Kumar, a Dalit from the village.
According to them, they are educating their children who should be allowed to lead a dignified life like everyone in this changing world. They claimed the support of police and district administration in resolving the matter.
Kallan, a Dalit elder, has claimed that the Muslims in the neighbourhood hate the Dalits. He has even alleged that their children are not able to get married because they are mocked for not even being able to get haircuts in village saloons.
Anil Kumar, a Dalit youth, said that the relatives often humiliate them because of refusal of haircuts in the village. “Police negotiated the matter and the barbers agreed that will allow us to avail services. But now they have shut their shops. We have to travel long distances to get haircuts. Our problem must be resolved,” he said.
The barbers, however, have a different version. Naushad, a local resident said that the Dalits in the village used to go to nearby village Bhojpur for haircuts. “Dalits never used to visit barber shops here. But now they want to get haircuts here. The barbers were clueless when cops took them to the police station. There they came to know that Dalits have complained against them. I am 45 years old and in my lifetime no Dalit ever took a haircut in our shops,” he said.
Naushad pointed out the worries of the families of barbers in the village and said these shops are their only source of income. “If Dalits take haircut and shave in these shops, the towels will become dirty. How will other Muslims take haircuts after that?” he questioned.
Not just the barbers but other members from the Muslim community are also opposing the entry of Dalits in their barber shops. They suggested that Dalits should visit the ‘regular’ barber shop they have been visiting over the years.
Another local resident, Ali Ahmed said, “This is Muslim-majority village with 95% Muslim population. Today they [Dalits] are demanding entry in saloons, tomorrow they will start booking marriage halls. There are some people who want to create chaos here. The village has been peaceful for decades. This matter is being raised with ulterior motives.”
Meanwhile, Gulam Gaus, a local resident maintained their village has always has been peaceful.
“Hindus and Muslims here have never had any enmity. We want peace and won’t let anyone vitiate it. As far as saloon service for Dalits, people here don’t want them to visit the saloons in the village. If they [Dalits] want, they can start their own shop and avail services there,” Gaus added.
He stated further that this particular issue is being raised needlessly and claimed the involvement of ‘outsiders’ in this matter.