On November 18, a Dalit woman passed through a village in the Chamarajanigar District of Karnataka, India. After the woman was seen drinking water from the upper-caste water tank located near a temple, the villagers drained the tank and “purified” it with gomutra (cow urine).
Upper caste Hindus in Karnataka, India, ‘purified’ a water tank with cow urine after a Dalit woman drank water from it! This is the tweet. https://t.co/nk5ox9S1uV
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) November 21, 2022
A woman identified as Shivamma was passing through the village on her way to a wedding. After taking a drink from the communal water tank, a village leader identified as Mahadevappa approached her, demanding to know her caste. According to Shivamma, he told her that people from Scheduled Castes must not drink from the tank, after which she promptly boarded a bus. Eyewitnesses, including the village leader, spread the information throughout the village and decided to perform a purification act by draining the tank and “cleansing” it with cow urine.
A video of the purification act was uploaded to social media the day after and quickly went viral, spurring a police investigation.
#Untouchability A few villagers belonging to an upper caste #Hindu drained drinking water from a mini-tank in Heggotara village in Chamarajanagar taluk, Karnataka and cleaned it with gomutra after a Dalit woman drank water from the tank..... pic.twitter.com/KeDNrdGtfV
— The Dalit Voice (@ambedkariteIND) November 20, 2022
Shivamma hails from Mysore District, about three hours away, and says she was unaware of such practices in the village. The Dalit community is linked to the village by a road that was reopened by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi this past October. The road had been closed since 1993, when three Dalits were murdered in a dispute over entry into a local temple. Reopening the road was seen as progress in caste relations, promoted as “rebuilding India into the united and harmonious nation it once was.”
— Bharat Jodo (@bharatjodo) October 3, 2022
Dismayed by the investigation, which confirmed the event, police registered an FIR under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. The FIR named the village leader, Mahadevappa, who has been arrested.
Legislative Assembly member V. Somanna said he “would not tolerate such discrimination” and instructed officers to take action. On the 20th, officials from the social welfare department spoke to the villagers, telling them that the water tank was public property and was available to all. To demonstrate this point, officials gathered twenty Dalit youth and had them drink water from all public taps in the area.