In the light of the recent events surrounding Indian Meteorological Department scientist Dr Medha Khole filing a complaint against her cook, Nirmala Yadav, for allegedly lying about her caste, we speak to people to find out why the police cannot file a caste discrimination case against Khole.
The scientist in her complaint to the police claimed that her religious sentiments were hurt by Yadav hiding her caste and marital status.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Sambhaji Brigade held a protest in front of Khole’s house. “The police cannot file a caste discrimination complaint against Khole because the sections under which Yadav has been booked are all to do with impersonation and assault.
In fact, the police did not know how to handle the situation because of the caste factor. This really shows that casteism still prevails in society,” explains Manali Bhilware, a member of NCP.
On September 9, Khole withdrew her complaint against Yadav, who has also filed a cross-complaint against the scientist. According to reports, the complaint includes defamation and mental harassment by the scientist. “Police cannot take any sufficient action. It all depends upon the victim. The police can only register the offence. There are various provisions in the Constitution like Article 14 and 15 which mention that there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste or religion. But, there are no sufficient laws to uplift this.
As long as the person has the capacity to work, how does the caste matter?” states Asim Sarode, lawyer and human rights activist.
Does the caste of a worker still matter even though he or she possess the skill for the work required? Kedar Joshi, a resident of Wanowrie feels that even today, many households are particular about the caste of their servants.
“I still do believe that there are families out there who inquire about their servant’s caste.
My maid is Muslim and she claims that many houses don’t hire her because of her religion. In this day and age, why should we follow the caste system?”
This incident has sparked outrage amongst many in civil society and has taken an ugly turn for Khole. Many feel that the scientist ought to be removed from her position at the IMD.
However, this case has further brought out the menace of caste and its implications on people belonging to marginalised communities.
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