In a village near Sangrur district of Punjab, India still seems to be trapped in caste divides. Dalits of the Mahasing village who work as farm help have been boycotted and shunned by their upper caste landlords. This because they demanded wages due to them.
The landlords have issued a diktat to the villagers that says whoever is caught helping or interacting with the roughly 350 Dalits will have to pay Rs 5000 as a fine.
So while being employed is a distant dream for these people, even basic groceries are being denied to them.
"Shopkeepers have been told not to give us anything. We buy everything from outside the village, even milk. The whole village has boycotted us" explains Satnam, a youth now unemployed.
Villagers say the authorities have not responded to them, but the issue is already getting political overtones. The Youth Congress who have got to know of this, say they will organise a big protest if the government does not react.
"When we got to know about this situation, some youth members from our party tried to talk to the Deputy Commissioner about this issue. He asked the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to look into this case, but now even after a week no enquiry has been initiated," says Vikram Chaudhary, President of the Punjab Youth Congress.