Tirath spends time with Dalits on Gandhi Jayanti

October 2nd, 2009 - 6:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Symbolically sweeping the courtyard of the Harijan Sevak Sangh here and then sharing a meal with Dalits, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath Friday reiterated Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence, especially against women, on his 140th birth anniversary.
“My message today is that of Gandhi-ji’s — that of non-violence and removal of intolerance from the society. On his birth anniversary we must remember what he had said and practise it,” Tirath said.

Responding to incidents of violence against Dalit women, Tirath told IANS: “We at the ministry are going to start an all India campaign to stop violence against women, especially Dalit women. Discrimination against lower castes is one of the root causes for such cases of violence and empowering women will go a long way in curbing this trend.”

The Harijan Sevak Sangh in north Delhi’s Kingsway Camp area, where Tirath went for the function, was established by Mahatma Gandhi on Sep 24, 1932, with an aim to “remove the sufferings of the lower castes and untouchables”.

H.P. Negi, secretary of the Sangh, said: “At that time it was a big thing if a person from a higher caste mingled with those of the lower caste. And when the non-Harijans ate meals with the Harijans, it was a historic moment. Now such discriminations are not so prevalent, yet stray cases of intolerance raise their ugly heads at times.”

The Harijan Sevak Sangh has a residential school for boys and girls of lower castes up to class 5. It has 250 students.

Neeraj Ray, a Class 1 student of the school, said: “My parents live in the outskirts of the city, but I live here so that I can go to a good school, make good friends and fulfil my aim of becoming a teacher one day.”

Thrilled at all the media attention, the celebration in the Gandhi ashram inside the campus and the feast laid out for the community lunch, Neeraj said: “It’s fun during these big lunches. I am especially looking forward to the puri and kheer that they serve during these lunches!”

Said Asmita, a seven-year-old, who was invited to the ashram for the community lunch from a nearby area: “I came here last year as well. It’s Bapu’s birthday and I am feasting my heart out!”

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