Police Files Case Against Victim of Caste Discrimination

A senior government scientist in Pune has complained to the police that her cook ‘lied about her caste’.

The Pune police registered a case of cheating against Nirmala Yadav, the cook. Credit: WIkimedia Commons

The Pune police registered a case of cheating against Nirmala Yadav, the cook. Credit: WIkimedia Commons

New Delhi: A cook who was forced to “lie about her caste” in order to get a “Brahmins only” job has been charged by the police in Pune with impersonation and other crimes after her employer – a senior government scientist associated with the India Meteorological Department – filed a complaint.

According to Hindustan Times, Medha Vinayak Khole, deputy director general for weather forecasting at the IMD, alleged in her police complaint that the cook, Nirmala Yadav, abused her when she was questioned about her caste.

Khole said in her complaint that she needed a Brahmin to cook food at her house during religious and other occasions. Yadav, who approached Khole in 2016 for the job, had then introduced herself as Nirmala Kulkarni, a senior police official said.

“The complainant had even gone to her house to cross check her claim in 2016. Thereafter, Yadav started going to Khole’s house on such occasions to prepare food,” she added.

A local priest told Khole on Thursday (September 7) that the woman cooking in her house wasn’t a Brahmin, DNA reported. According to the officer, Khole stated that upon knowing about the cook’s “lie”, her “religious sentiments” were hurt.

After this, Khole went to the cook’s house to seek an explanation and found out her real name, the officer added.

A case under sections 419 (cheating by personation), 352 (punishment for assault or criminal force) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at the Sinhgad police station, the official said.

Open caste discrimination – to the point of announcing it to the world – isn’t new in India. Except when it is practiced against Dalits and adivasis, it is not even treated as illegal or unconstitutional. And though untouchability towards Dalits is illegal, the practice is rampant in many parts of the country with the administration reluctant to act.

In 2013, a residential complex in Bengaluru advertised itself in The Hindu as being for ‘Brahmins only’, with amenities like a “temple complex”, “goshala” and “Ayurvedic hospital”. The bottom of the ad called the complex “An Exclusive Brahmin Community Township”.

Sunil D’Monte, while writing about the ad, said that one of the problems is that such discriminatory practices aren’t outlawed in India. The idea of creating a law that bans discrimination on the basis of place of origin, religion and caste has been brought up several times and demanded by rights groups, but is yet to come into being. In 2014, a committee set up by the Central government also highlighted the need for anti-discrimination laws. “Non-discrimination is a promise made in the Constitution of India… These constitutional promises against discriminatory acts require legislative backing in the form of anti-discrimination laws, and these must be extended to private and non-state spheres as well,” the Amitabh Kundu-headed Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee had said in its report.

The Dr Mahmood-Ur-Rahman Committee appointed by the Maharashtra government also made a similar suggestion: “The Constitution assures non-discrimination but the existing laws do not punish an offender for such behaviour. There are procedural problems with the existing laws and there is a need for the country to bring in an anti-discrimination law for all sections of society.”

At the very least, both activists and government committees have argued, an Equal Opportunities Commission should be set up to deal with grievances like the denial of accommodation or buying rights to minorities in housing societies, as well as employment-related discrimination. While the UPA government had announced before the 2014 elections that this commission would be set up, no progress has been made so far and the NDA government seems to have abandoned the decision.

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  • Anjan Basu

    Things do not get more absurd than this! A ‘scientist’ files a complaint with the police that her cook had impersonated as a Brahmin, and the nationalism- fired police in saffron Maharashtra obliges by promptly booking the lowly cook. No doubt we as a nation deserve no better than a Modi as the arbiter of our destiny, and a Mohan Bhagwat as our teacher. I would rather, though, that we dumped all this science that these ignorant ‘scientists’ do and went back to the primeval forest to make our home there.

    • Bravo Basu Sahib! I can already see you swinging from tree to tree like Tarzan. You will soon learn the tongue of Hathi the elephant and Sher Khan the Tiger. It may be that you will also learn enough Bengali to translate the poem I submitted to you. But, why stop there? Like Madhusudhan Dutt, you could learn Tamil and thus explain to me in my own language why an educated man like you displays such intense ‘virodha bhakti’ or ‘samrambha yoga’ towards Modi of all people?

      I agree, however, that in this day and age, it is utterly barbaric for soi disant ‘Scientists’ to complain that their cook is actually Brahmin, and not Scheduled Caste as stated in the certificate presented to the relevant Hiring Committee.

      I recall Barrister Khobragade was accused of employing ‘Brahmin cooks’ for some fund raising event supported by Ravidasi entrepreneurs. I had thought that the chef was S.C. whereas he was Dominant caste and a big drunkard- sure to alienate everyone. Anyway, for a day or two I was really scared I had messed things up because of my deracinated ‘Convent School’ education. Khobragade Sahib dismissed the whole thing in his forceful yet graceful style. Meera Kumari (Jagjivan Ram’s daughter) left Golden Memories in London where she served briefly. Some ‘aristos’ eagerly took food from her gracious hands. They are now controlling billions. Why pretend that there can be any sort of ‘impersonation’ where our view of ‘purity’ has changed so much?

      ‘Untouchability’ nonsense arose from a cultural dynamics of pathogen avoidance. I’ve seen with my own eyes that ‘black’ people like my father (who was tall, sharp featured, and very well built) or my mother (who was beautiful) could get foreigners to eat our (actually simple and purely vegetarian) food.

      The skeletal but very pious and erudite ‘Maharaj’ had to be kept out of the picture. My sister and I- being of robust constitution and exceptional height and educational attainment- were effective waiters even though our colour was much darker than our Maharaj. Why? This simple Brahmin prayed rather than ate. Yet, he had brothers who were pahalwans. He cooked the healthy North Indian food and prevented my Dad from succumbing to Diabetes or Heart or Blood Pressure related problems. Of course, Mother was mainly responsible- but she had never been taught to cook.

      Basu Sahib, I don’t get you. Bengali Kayasthas & ‘Piralis’ & other beneficiaries from the Navya-nyaya discipline of Nawadvip created ‘Hindutva’. I know, it could take crazy and violent shapes in your own native Bengal- e.g. the Ananda Marg. But, Modi is from the other side of India. He is a Gujerati of the productive class- not some Rajput or crazy Brahmin. He ended the cycle of violence in Gujerat. He could have been a chest thumping hate monger but he chose another path.

      Bengalis are the most noble in spirit and generous in nature. What is the true cause of your animus against this man?

  • Gujarat saw a cycle of politically instrumentalised riots between 1969 and 2002. They then stopped. No doubt, Modi had help from the Centre. It wasn’t all his own doing. Still, that’s the reason Gujaratis voted for him.
    Cow vigiliantism is illegal. Cow protection, in some States is mandatory. Bare possession of beef in one or two States is a cognisable offence. The elected Govt. must suppress vigilantism or else lose legitimacy. Nothing is stopping them enforcing the law.