Jammu: India will celebrate 60 years of being a republic on January 26, 2010, but it seems that BR Ambedkar's dreams are still unfulfilled.
The 500 families of Valmiki Dalits in Jammu are forced to become sweepers as the Jammu and Kashmir law does not recognise their community, who are traditionally manual scavengers, as state subjects.
"l always dreamt of becoming a doctor but I was disappointed," says a Valmiki Dalit girl Meena Gill.
But Meena's dreams were cut short as she couldn't appear for the state medical entrance exams despite being qualified.
As Valmiki community is not recognised as state subject in Jammu and Kashmir so the community members cannot apply for a scheduled caste certificate or apply for a government job.
The only exception is that they can apply for the post of sweeper.
"Being a son or a daughter of safai karamchari does not mean we have to pursue the same profession. Being a human being we have right to develop," says Meena.
In 1957 over 70 families of sweepers were relocated in Jammu and Kashmir to fill in for their posts of striking sweepers and ever since they have lived in the state but without basic rights
As per section 35-B of J-K state service rules, only a hereditary state subject can get a government job and the Valmiki community members brought in from Punjab are still treated as migrants, resulting in no government jobs for them.
"It is not written on our foreheads that we should be sweepers, Our children who have studied should get options," says Bagga Ram.
"We are still backward even as the entire country is progressing," Akhil Bhartiya Valmiki Maha Panchyat President Jang Bahadur.
The community has now approached the J-K government for recognition of their rights.
They hope that as the Indian Republic celebrates its 60th year perhaps the new generation would see the change which the founders of our nation always dreamt of.