Activists call Gujarat collector’s order transferring ration cards from Dalit dealer’s shop discriminatory

Patan District Collector shifted the ration cards of all 436 households in Kanosan to the neighbouring Edla FPS following an alleged social boycott by the Thakor community

By Arya Rohini
Published: Tuesday 03 October 2023
Representative image: iStock__

On October 2, 2023, the Right to Food Campaign, a coalition of non-profits, strongly criticised Gujarat’s Patan district collector’s directive that mandated the transferring of all ration cards from a fair price shop (FPS) run by a Dalit dealer in Kanosan village to its nearby village.

Patan District Collector Arvind Vijayan, via an order dated September 12, has shifted the ration cards of all 436 households in Kanosan to the neighbouring Edla FPS following an alleged social boycott by the Thakor community (Other Backward Class community).

Right to Food Campaign called the move discriminatory. In a statement released on October 2, Aysha and Gangaram Paikra, the convenors of the Campaign, said the directive flouts existing laws ensuring social equity.

This directive was issued when the majority of the Kanosan village’s non-Dalit residents stopped buying their monthly ration from the FPS, which is administered by Kanti Parmar. Kanosan village has over 2,200 residents, and nearly 90 per cent of them belong to the Thakor community.

Though the Dalit FPS vendor has been in charge of the dealership for the last three decades, a backlash commenced two years ago when a Thakor village leader was denied rations because of the invalidity of his ration card, according to the convenors.

The FPS was initially boycotted after false accusations of improper ration distribution were made against the ration dealer with the support of 371 residents of the Kanosan village, they said.

Following a series of events that led to mental trauma for Kanti Parmar, he attempted suicide by ingesting poison. One of his legs suffered a significant injury from the poison he had consumed, and it had to be amputated, they added.

A lawsuit was then brought after this, and five people were arrested. However, within a month of being freed on bail, there was a widespread social boycott of the Dalit-run FPS in the village.

Most upper-caste households that ceased purchasing rations from him wrote a letter to the district collector requesting that their ration cards be transferred to the nearby village of Edla. The Dalit FPS dealer’s license is about to be revoked at the moment.

“This kind of caste-based discrimination against a Scheduled Caste person is clearly an atrocity that comes under the Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 amended 2015,” the convenors said in the statement.

Such an act of injustice by the district collector to transfer ration cards of the villagers to other FPS should immediately be taken up as a suo motu cognisance by the chief secretary of the Gujarat government, they added.

“The mental torture of a Dalit FPS dealer is caste-based violence that also violates the National Food Security Act, which upholds the democratic empowerment of FPSs in the village by advocating giving distribution control to the marginalised community of the society,“ the convenors said.

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