24 September 2010 Last updated at 19:26 GMT
Row over 'untouchable' Indian dog
Police in India are investigating claims that a Dalit woman has been
ordered to pay compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog she fed.
The woman says the village council wants her to pay a fine of 15,000
rupees ($330) for feeding the dog, which the owners have now kicked
They are reported to have said the dog is "untouchable", but deny
being motivated by caste considerations.
Although widespread, discrimination against Dalits is an offence in India.
Dalits, who make up nearly 20% of the Indian population, say little
has changed despite the government enacting various laws banning
'He got very angry'
The incident took place in Malikpur village in Morena district in
central Madhya Pradesh state.
"I made some roti [Indian bread] and took it to my husband who works
in a farm. After I had fed him, we had some leftovers which I gave to
the dog," the Dalit woman, Sunita Jatav, said.
She said the owner of the dog, Amrutlal Kirari, saw her feeding him.
"He got very angry and said 'You've fed my dog, it has become an
Mrs Jatav said Mr Kirari left the dog, a black mongrel called Sheru,
tied to a pole outside her house.
On Monday, the village council met and decided that Sheru had been
defiled and hence Mr Kirari should be paid 15,000 rupees as
compensation, Mrs Jatav alleged.
On Tuesday, she approached the district collector of Morena who
ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Senior police officer in the area, Baldev Singh, told the BBC that he
was investigating the matter.
He said Mr Kirari had alleged that after eating the bread, Sheru fell ill.
Mr Kirari said he abandoned the dog at Mrs Jatav's house so she could
look after it and nurse it back to health, Mr Singh added.
Dalits - formerly untouchables - are considered at the bottom of the
Hindu caste system.
Any discrimination against them is an offence and punishable by law.
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