ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Dalit Hindus in Bangladesh

A Study of the Scavenging Community

Most Dalit Hindus in Bangladesh had migrated during the British Raj in search of secure livelihoods and a good life. Their historic betrayal by the colonial and postcolonial masters resulted in subjugation and stigma as a scavenging community. By using both qualitative and interpretative methods complemented by field visits, this paper attempts to trace this community’s movement from forced migration into ascribed untouchability. Their present socio-economic status and living conditions in Dhaka are explored as also the recent spotlighting of their underdevelopment by civil society and government action. The Dalit Hindus of Bangladesh remain discontents of its rise as a “developing wonder” in the subcontinent, even after 50 years of independence.


[O]ur ancestors were either landless peasants or poor agricultural l abourers … who were brought here (to East Bengal) by the British … mostly from the interiors of Kanpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Andhra Pradesh and Madras around the 1830s. Unfortunately, they were uneducated and simple, hence they trusted the words of the British who promised to provide them with permanent government jobs. Our forefathers could not have even imagined that they would become the sweepers … Harijan [Dalit] … achhut [Untouchables] … the eternal cleaners of this society … through generations. (Chandranath Das, personal interview 2019)1


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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2022
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