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In Karnataka's Hulikal Village, Dalits Need to Travel 8 Kilometres For a Haircut

The practice is emblematic of the systemic discrimination that Dalits continue to face with, a section of the villagers opposing Dalits' entry to salons.


Updated:June 26, 2019, 9:42 AM IST
In Karnataka's Hulikal Village, Dalits Need to Travel 8 Kilometres For a Haircut
Image for representation. (Image: Reuters)

Hassan: Little has changed for Dalits in Karnataka’s Hulikal village. With the local barbers refusing their services to this population, the Dalits are forced to travel a distance of at least eight kilometers to Arkalgud or Konanur for a mere shave or haircut.

Hulikal is a small village of Hassan district and was represented by the former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda for decades until he decided to allow his grandchild Prajval Revanna contest on the seat.

Being represented by the state’s political elite has made little difference to the Dalit population in the village.

A report by The Hindu quoted one Mr Pratap, a Dalit youth residing in Hulikar’s Ambedkar Colony as saying “Dalits have to travel to Arkalgud or Konanur to get a shave or a haircut, both places being about 8 km from the village. We younger people can go, but it is difficult for the old.”

Even the barbers, who offer call-in services in the village, refuse to visit the homes of these Dalits.

The practice is emblematic of the systemic discrimination that Dalits continue to face. Here, a section of the villager's opposing Dalits entry into salons.

As a consequence, barbers in the village have been unable to set up a salon.

Mallesh, a barber in the village, told The Hindu that he was not personally against offering services to the Dalits. “I have no place to set up a salon. Moreover, even if someone opens a salon, there is no guarantee of business as a section of villagers would oppose the entry of Dalits.”

The villagers’ recall an incident from 20 years ago, when some upper caste villagers forced a barber to shut shop after he offered services to Dalits. The villagers reportedly refused the barber business if he continued to “entertain” Dalits.

A few years ago Dalits were restricted from entering the Venkata Ramana temple in the village. Dalits, however, fought for their rights and got the entry through law. During this period, they faced severe social boycott and humiliation.

Plans are now in the words for a protest against Gram Panchayat to provide them salon. If the Gram Panchayat fails to initiate action, the Dalits may even open a barber shop right in front of Panchayat Development Officer’s chamber.

PDO V Naveen Kumar confirmed in the report that he has received an application from Dalits for a salon. He was reported to have been making efforts to find a suitable place. “I have brought the issue to the notice of senior officers. We are making efforts to resolve it,” he was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

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