Amid the rise in atrocities against minorities and "lower caste" communities of the country, Mysuru district's Mallikarjun Shetty, a 47-year-old barber, is fighting a battle, which seems unreal in the 21st century but actually exists even to this day in India.
The barber is facing social boycott imposed by members of the dominant caste in his village of Hallara in Nanjangud taluk because he offering service to people belonging to the SC, ST and OBC communities. Twitter expressed concern over what is happening and questioned Government policies to erase the caste divide.
Mallikarjun Shetty alleged that members of the Nayak community in his village had imposed a social boycott on him and he is supposed to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 simply for cutting hair of people belonging to SC, ST and OBC communities.
"There are few dark holes in this world. One of them is Indian society": Twitter reacts
A Twitter user reacted, "There are few dark holes in this world. One of them is Indian society." Another one added, "Hinduism - making apartheid cool since millennia." While another one stated, "This is simply unacceptable. The Authorities have to step-in and 'ostracize' those responsible for treating the Barber this way."
Shetty on the other hand stated that the problem started about three months ago, when leaders from the Nayak community, Mahadeva Nayak, Shankara, Shivaraju and their followers asked Shetty if he was cutting hair of people from the SC, ST and OBC communities. Shetty clearly stated that he does not believe in caste-based discrimination and to this the three men stated that either Shetty listens to them or face loss in business.
The men also pressurized him to charge extra for hair cut and shave from people belonging to lower castes. He was quoted as saying, "I told them that I can't charge more than Rs 80 and Rs 60 for a haircut and shave, as I wanted to keep prices equal for all. I even went to the police and they came to the village and warned Mahadeva Nayak."
But things became worse after this, Shetty stated. People were asked in the village not to go to Shetty for his services.
Barber alleges harassment
Shetty said that Mahadeva Nayak and his men allegedly took his 21-year-old son from his residence one afternoon two months ago. The boy was then forced to drink alcohol and was stripped naked while the three men shot a video and made Shetty's son talk ill about the Nayak community. He was threatened that the video will be made viral if Shetty thought of approaching the police. He alleges that he was made to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 to Mahadeva Nayak for not listening to their dictates.
Shetty said that the boycott continues to this day and now they are demanding Rs 50, 000 from Shetty but he said that he does not have the amount.
On Thursday, he submitted a written complaint to the Nanjangud Tahsildar Mahesh Kumar, seeking intervention. The police said that people were counseled and were sent back. The Tahsildar stated that if he finds any evidence of any kind of atrocity then he will seek police intervention into the matter.