Ballia DM Sorry After Dalits Call Out Casteism With #ShoesForTheDM
DM had insulted a BSP leader for owning expensive cars, wearing branded clothes yet complaining of discrimination.
After Dalits on Twitter posted pictures of branded shoes, cars and clothes to protest against the casteist remarks of the District Magistrate in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia, the IAS officer issued a public apology on Monday, 2 September.
He had taunted a BSP leader and a few Dalit activists for owning expensive cars and wearing branded clothes when they pressed him to further investigate the alleged case of caste discrimination in one of the primary schools in the district.
"It was my mistake. It was also childish to refer to somebody's watch, shoes or car. It did not occur to me then, but now I feel it," tweeted Bhawani Singh Khangorat, the District Magistrate of Ballia.
The District Magistrate admitted to not giving due respect to the BSP leaders and said the reactions to his comments on social media had shown him the "mirror".
"I apologise from the bottom of my heart, with folded hands and my head bowed," he said.
What Had Happened?
The incident took place on August 29, when the District Magistrate was visiting the Rampur primary school following media reports that Dalit students there were made to sit separately from the upper caste children and were served food on banana leaves.
A team of BSP leaders, including party coordinator Madan Ram had already reached the school and when the District Magistrate arrived, he said he was "astonished to find big cars parked outside the school".
"I don't know which party they belonged to but from their attire, they looked like politicians. White clothes, expensive shoes, expensive watches. It seemed they were big and rich people," he had told reporters.
Later a video clip surfaced in which the officer was seen making similar comments to BSP zonal coordinator Madan Ram. In the video, he was seen pointing to the BSP leader and saying, "Rs 25 lakh ki gadi mein safedposh" and then went on to ask the cost of his shoes and watch.
Khangorat also accused the BSP leaders of engaging in "theatrics".
How Did Dalits on Twitter Call Out His Casteism?
To call out the DM’s casteist insult, some users on Twitter posted pictures of their expensive shoes, some flaunted their suits while others shared pictures of their high-end cars.
Journalist Dilip Mandal, a formidable Dalit voice, shared a photograph of Dr BR Ambedkar in a suit and wrote, “Dalits have a custom, heritage and habit of wearing suits and boots.”
BSP president Mayawati took to Twitter to condemn the caste discrimination at the school and demanded strict action against the perpetrators to check recurrence of such incidents.
“The news of Dalit students being made to sit separately and eat in a government school in Ballia is most condemnable and sad. The BSP demands that the state government immediately take strict legal action against the perpetrators of such disgusting racist discrimination so that others get a lesson and such cases do not recur,” Mayawati said.
(With inputs from IANS)
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