It is hard to imagine that untouchability is a tangible reality even today. We hear so much about untouchability being wrong, but does anyone actually do anything about it?
Let us meet Sanjeev Kumar who has been fighting untouchability in the villages of Bihar for 14 years.
In 2005, he was pursuing a career in modeling. In the same year, he had to visit Khagaria Zilla in Bihar to attend a gathering arranged in his sister’s mother-in-law’s memory. Well, he didn’t know that this visit would change his life.
What was his journey?
In 2006, he left home with a couple of clothes in a small bag and sat on a train that would take him to Bihar.
“I knew I could not tell them the real reason why I was here. They would not accept it. So I told him that I had simply come to visit them, and they were happy. At the back of my mind, I had a plan,” says Sanjeev Kumar.
Every day he used to leave for the area where the people from the Dom caste lived. He started to understand the lifestyle of these people.
It was hard for him to digest that they survived on leftovers, hardly bathed and had no connection with the outer world.
Cleaning the toilets was the only work they used to do. They weren’t even allowed to touch the taps.
“However, in such a small area, words spread like wildfire. Soon, villagers saw me bathing, teaching and spending my days with these people. As expected, they complained to my sister’s family. They warned me, but I told them I could not give up on my mission,” says Kumar.
Later he was made to leave his sister’s house and he went to his grandfather’s house in another village nearby. But he continued his fight against untouchability.
This is how he fought against untouchability
He took many initiatives to fight against untouchability and one of them was that he formed a group called ‘Bahishkrit Hitkari Sangathan.’ He also created separate panchayats comprising people from these castes.
Sanjeev says, “My daily routine included walking at least 16 kilometers to go round some of the 40 villages I was catering to, interacting with these people and empowering them. By this time, I had made a lot of enemies.”
It was true that the untouchables were not allowed to touch the Ganga water, and he decided to break this “rule”.
He believes that the Ganga water is for everyone and we should not let anyone tell us that a river is their right. It was the women who filled their matkas with water from the Ganga, and the rule was broken.
It was because of Sanjeev’s efforts that the people made it clear that they will not clean the toilets or eat leftovers.
Though he is in contact with his family in Delhi and they do help them with funds but he isn’t ready to go back.
It is true that people like him give us hope that someday we will be free from such practices. There will be equality, love, and respect between each other.
Image Credits: Google Images
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