Caste lines drawn, Muslim barbers in Moradabad refuse haircuts to Dalits
The police and administration in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh are having a tough time as some Muslim barbers have refused to cut hair of Dailts from their village. In turn, the Dalits have approached police and the district magistrate alleging caste-based discrimination.
Dalits in Peepalsana village under Bhojpur police station in Moradabad district have alleged that barbers in their village are refusing to entertain them at their shops. After receiving their complaints, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Moradabad, Amit Pathak formed a joint team comprising cops and local district officials to investigate the matter. The SSP said if the allegations are found true, action will be taken under relevant laws.
Dalits in Peepalsana village have complained they are facing caste-based discrimination at the hands of barbers, who are Muslims. Following the complaint, all barbers have shut their shops in protest. They have been arguing that if they entertain Dalit customers at their shops, members of their own community will stop visiting them. Peepalsana is reportedly a Muslim majority village.
WHAT DALITS SAY
Dalit elders in the village say they have suffered discrimination in their lives but they want the new generation to live freely. They say this caste-based discrimination must end. Dalits in the village said their children are discriminated when they visit saloons run by Muslims.
They say their children are getting educated and in the changing world everyone must be allowed to live with dignity. Dalits said police and district administration have assured them that the matter will be resolved.
Kallan, a Dalit elder, said, “They [Muslim barbers] hate us. This is why they have shut their shops. Our sons are not getting married because people look down upon us. They mock at us because we can’t take haircuts in the village saloons. No one wants to marry their daughters to our kids because of this.”
Anil Kumar, a Dalit youth, said, “All our relatives humiliate us because we are refused haircuts in our own village. Police negotiated the matter and the barbers agreed that will allow us to avail services. But now they have shut their shops. We have to travel long distances to get haircuts. Our problem must be resolved.”
WHAT MUSLIMS SAY
Speaking to India Today TV, Naushad, a local resident, said, “Dalits never used to visit barber shops here. They would take services from a barber shop run by a Dalit in Bhojpur. But now they want to get haircuts here. The barbers were clueless when cops took them to the police station. There they came to know that Dalits have complained against them. I am 45 years old and in my lifetime no Dalit ever took a haircut in our shops. They used to visit the shop in Bhojpur.”
He said family members of the barbers are worried as these shops are their only source of income. “If Dalits take haircut and shave in these shops, the towels will become dirty. How will other Muslims take haircuts after that?” he said.
Meanwhile, not just the barbers, even other Muslims are opposing the entry of Dalits in these barber shops. They said Dalits should visit the barber shop they have been using all these years.
“This is Muslim-majority village with 95 per cent Muslim population. Today they [Dalits] are demanding entry in saloons, tomorrow they will start booking marriage halls. There are some people who want to create chaos here. The village has been peaceful for decades. This matter is being raised with ulterior motives,” said Ali Ahmed.
Gulam Gaus, another local resident, said the village has always has been peaceful.
“Hindus and Muslims here have never had any enmity. We want peace and won’t let anyone vitiate it. As far as saloon service for Dalits, people here don’t want them to visit the saloons in the village. If they [Dalits] want, they can start their own shop and avail services there,” he said, adding that this issue is being raised unnecessarily and that there are outsiders involved.