We may say that India has been a symbol of unity and solidarity but until the caste system is not eradicated, there will still remain a home of discrimination. We cannot disagree on the fact that something that has remained stagnant is the practice of making one feel outcast and small in the eyes of others. A similar thing happened in Vattavada, Kerala, when barbers refused to give haircuts to people who belong to the Unprivileged cast, The Dalits mainly. But the government stepped in, and opened shops for all, defying the years-long, practice.
On September 13, Sunday, the Vattavada panchayat inaugurated a new barbershop that would serve all sections of the society.
Chakkliyan, in the South, is a community, which is considered a lower caste according to the Hindu religion. They are mainly the people who belong to Dalits and were refused to almost all places, even in salons and barbershops. Likewise, no high barber would agree to give them a haircut in the barbershop in the Vattavada panchayat in Kerala’s Idukki District.
The shop was inaugurated by S Rajendran, Devikulam Member of Legislative Assembly(MLA) after an incident, where the high-caste barbers, refused to give a haircut to the members of the scheduled caste in Vattavada panchayat.
The panchayat took a major step of cancelling all the licenses of other shops in the area and took a decision that they won’t be allowed to operate until they complied to cater all with equality.
“On Sunday, the day of the inauguration, 13 people got their hair cut.” Said Ramaraju, President, Panchayat, Vartavada in an Interview with the News Minute
“The people who came for the haircut were eight of them from the general category and five of them were from the Scheduled Caste community. The reports that some of the youths belonging to the Chakkiliyan community are abstaining from availing the service of the barbershop is baseless.” Added Ramaraju
Ramaraju mentioned that the panchayat has constructed a shopping complex consisting of four rooms. When this issue came up, it was decided to allow one room as a barbershop. The panchayat took a decision to cancel the license of two shops in the area that denied the service to members of the community.
Ramaraju further added that the private barbershop owners have written to the panchayat, expressing their desire to open their shop for all the communities.
This issue came into the limelight after Balamurugan, a native from Vattavada raised this issue during Independence Day function.
“I and my forefathers and I have been silently experiencing this humiliation. When this came to my children, I felt that this needed to be stopped. I could not afford to take my 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son to Munnar for a haircut, especially in this situation of COVID-19.” Balamurugan told the local media in an interview.