news Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | September 19, 2014 | 11.48 am IST An advertisement asking "Harijans" not to apply for a job in a village in Dakshina Kannada has sparked outrage in the district and also on social media. A local Kannada newspaper called Suddi Bidugade having circulation in three taluks carried an advertisement on September 18 for a job at a local general store, but stated that “Harijans” need not apply: “Wanted: Boy wanted for work at a general store. As accommodation is available, preference would be given to those prepared to take it, provided there is permission from parents. (Excluding Harijans). Mobile: 9591173753” The same day Dalit groups in the district filed cases at Venur and Belthangady police stations in Belthagady taluk. Police at both police stations have registered cases under Section 3(1)(10) of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) 1989. The section relates to a person not belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe who “intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view”. In both cases, the advertiser Vasant Poojary, the editor of Suddi Bidugade U P Shivananda, and the printer of the newspaper have been named as the accused. Suddi Bidugade is printed by the press of a national daily . No arrests have been made so far. One of the complainants, Ramesh R, taluk convenor of the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkarvada) told The News Minute that the advertisement used a term that “insulted Dalits”. “The advertisement is insulting to the Dalit community. To see such an ad in a newspaper is very painful. The newspaper reaches every household in Belthangady,” Ramesh said. “The Supreme Court has banned the use of the word Harijan. Upper caste people often have such sentiments but the newspaper should know what to print and what not to,” he said.  The man who placed the advertisement belongs to the Billava caste, which is a backward caste in the caste hierarchy. Asked about this, Ramesh said: “Over three quarters of the people in Belthangady taluk are Billavas and they are economically and politically powerful. Here, the Brahmins do not openly show any superiority, but the Billavas dominate.” Cases registered under the Atrocity Act, as it popularly called are investigated by senior police officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above.  The word "Harijan" was coined by M K Gandhi as a reference to untouchables which also became applicable to people belonging to the oppressed castes. After independence, the government of India used the word Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to refer to certain castes. The use of the term "Harijan" has been been criticised by Dalit groups and Dalit intellectuals, including B R Ambedkar, as the term Harijan is used to describe the children of Devadasis. Many Dalit groups prefer to use the Marathi word "Dalit" which means oppressed. 

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