Over 200 women fly to Varanasi to fight untouchability

June 19th, 2011 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), June 19 (IANS) Lalita Nindania, who was once a manual scavenger, flew in a plane for the first time Sunday in what she described as a “flight to liberty”.

Like Nindania, 200-odd women from Rajasthan, who earlier worked as manual scavengers and were branded “untouchables”, reached Varanasi Sunday by four flights to take part in a campaign to fight discrimination and social untouchability.

As part of the programme, the women will Monday share food and visit a temple with higher caste people and Sanskrit scholars.

“Boarding a plane and sharing a ‘thaali’ (plate) with ’savarns’ (upper-caste people) are like dreams for people belonging to our caste,” Nindaniya, a native of Alwar district in Rajasthan, told IANS.

“I have no words to express myself…I am really feeling top of the world. We will remain thankful to the Sulabh International that is turning our dreams into reality,” added Nindaniya, who worked as a manual scavenger for over a decade before being rehabilitated by the Sulabh International.

Sulabh International, a social service organisation organising the programme here, has brought the participants by plane.

“We had never ever thought that we would get a chance to fly and share food with the general caste people on a mass scale…Our visit to Varanasi will always remain special,” said Guddi, who also used to clean toilets in the homes of upper caste people in Rajasthan.

Madan Jha of Sulabh International said: “The effort intends to remove at least by some degree, social untouchability and discrimination from the caste ridden Indian society”.

The women will visit the Vishwanath temple Monday morning under the leadership of social reformer and founder of the Sulabh movement Bindeshwar Pathak, who has so far helped rehabilitate thousands of scavengers.

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