The Uttar Pradesh police have booked one Seraj Ahmad, a native of Bhujouli Khurd village in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district on Monday for allegedly refusing to eat food cooked by a Dalit village head at a quarantine centre.
Station House Officer (SHO) Khadda police station R K Yadav said an FIR has been filed against Seraj Ahmad under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Speaking about the incident, the village head Lilawati Devi’s husband Subhash Gautam said that the caste-based discrimination they faced has hurt them. He said that after the cook in the quarantine centre ran away, fearing infection, his wife felt bad that those five people in isolation were hungry. She went there and cooked food for them. The other four ate but Seraj Ahmad refused to eat since the food was cooked by a Dalit, he claimed.
As soon as the news reached BJP MLA Vijay Dubey, he visited Devi’s house on Sunday and asked her to serve him food cooked by her in order to set precedence. He said untouchability is a social evil and it can’t be tolerated at any cost.
Seraj Ahmad, along with four others, was lodged at a quarantine centre set up in a primary school in the village after he returned from Delhi on March 29.
On April 10, the village head, Lilawati Devi, who is a Dalit, went to the quarantine centre and prepared food for the five people lodged at the quarantine centre as the cook was absent. However, Ahmad refused to eat the food cooked by her, police said.
Later, Lilawati Devi informed Sub-Divisional Magistrate Deshdeepak Singh and Block Development Officer Ramakant about the incident. She also lodged a police complaint on Sunday, police added.
Though untouchability was abolished with Article 15 of the Constitution, giving every Indian citizen the right to be treated equally, regardless of religion, caste, creed and gender, this incident once again shows that casteism is still a very relevant and a genuine problem faced by the Hindu society in many parts of India. While left-liberals and Islamists often mock Hinduism due to the caste system, it is interesting that a Muslim person refused to eat food prepared by a Dalit.
Last year, in a similar incident, Dalits in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh had 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. The Muslim barbers had allegedly said that if Dalits get their haircut and shaving done at their saloons, the towels will get ‘dirty’ and Muslims will stop visiting their shops.