The JJSS has decided to organise its karyakarni meeting evry year on Ambedkar Jayanti, this 14th April, was made special by the screening of India Untouched, a film made by Director Stalin, over a period of ten years document acts of untouchability across the country.
The film was screened during a special session of the JJSS working committee meeting on the occasion of Ambedekar Jayanti. Including some special invitees, there were nearly hundred attendees at the Karmchari Sangh Hall, Araria. Before the screening, three saathis had seen the film multiple times and edited it to one-hour running time. More importantly, since the movies has several sections in regional and English languages, it allowed us to prepare a simultaneous voice over during the screening.
After the film we invited comments and asked saathis what came to their mind. In facilitating the discussion we asked whether they had faced or seen such discrimination, open practices of untouchability. At first, it was a solid ‘no’. Then as we went on and asked whether they knew that in Araria town itself some of us had to go with our own steel tumblers for tea at tea stalls, more people said they knew. There were Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Women and one representative from the CPI. When the film was being played, there was rapt attention and no one went out. In the karyakarni, not many have gone through a large number of school years and many are illiterate. We agreed that we are all Dalits ‘oppressed’: most because we come from the former untouchable castes, some because we are oppressed by our status as women, and still others face economic backwardness. The discussion then went to how inter-caste marriages did not happen, how even as we faced discrimination from higher castes we subjugated those below us in the caste hierarchy ….
The karyakarni pledged to fight untouchability.
This was also the day on which it was decided to announce the battle for minimum wages.