Monday, February 8, 2010

30. Oye Kanjar, Kanjar Oye!

Every day past midnight, the police comes knocking at their door. Half asleep, each one from their dilapidated dwellings (see picture) is forced to crawl out for the mandatory headcount. For fear of retribution, no one dare remain absent without prior permission from the `protector of law' . It isn't a work of imagination but a narrative on the daily ordeal of over 600 families in a district of Rajasthan. These are Kanjar, members of a semi-nomadic tribe, who wonder what freedom is all about? They haven't slept well for several years now!

Household name across north India, Kanjar carries double-edged expression. While some mothers call their naughty children `oye, kanjara.', for many others it is an abusive expression. Derived from the Sanskrit kanana-chara, kanjar means wanderer in the jungle. Claimed to have originated in Rajasthan, they served as servants of the Rajputs & Jats before Moghul invaders forced them to flee to the jungles to avoid persecution. Since then they have been on the run, as hunter gatherers or petty criminals.

While the British had listed them under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, a tribe addicted to non-bailable offences, the denotification of law in 1952 placed Kanjar under the Habitual Offenders Act. Though most have left their past vocation, they still carry an absurd social stigma for which their children are often forced out of schools and their women remain vulnerable to exploitation. Bereft of any assets, Kanjar have been literally driven to the wall. No one offers them any respectable job either. Most survive under the shadow of perpetual fear, with less than Rs 1,500 a month to survive.

However, for police they remain a potential catch! Wonder, if the law enforcement agency were to look beyond and hound other potential offenders amongst bureaucrats and politicians?

4 comments:

arvind said...

It is a shame on our democratic system. Worse still, this community's voice is beyond our hearing range 20Hz - 20,000Hz it seems. All kinds of laws and all kinds of law makers we have in our country. We progressive middle class conveniently downplay their plea to be treated as human. Arvind Mishra

Kuldeep said...

The plight of Kanjar community is a tight slap on the face of those who claimed to have 'served' the poor in the last 63 years. Be it the politician, bureaucrat, journalist, judge, human rights activist, social worker or the industrialist, every one should be made to go to these villages of Kanjars and then asked to keep them in mind while 'serving the people'.
By the way, can someone convince the Kanjars to rename their community as Ambani? Authorities may start treating them better thereafter...

3d電影 said...

友情像一棵樹木,要慢慢的栽培,才能成長真的友誼,要經過困難考驗,才可友誼永固..............................

Kabir said...

@Kuldeep: or Tata's even Gandhi can be a better choice!
Can someone inform about this story and many similar to P.Sainath so that he can put compile them in his"holy book" (Everybody loves good drought) and present it to the prime minister. Hope the parliamentarians take "Mukh Waak" atleast from it before beginning the day's work