For this dalit family in Pune, fear follows shame as law fails it

Sunil Pawale was forced to eat faeces by his employer in Pune. Illustration: Prathap Ravishankar

Sunil Pawale and his family were all over the media in March. Newspaper headlines screamed at how he was made to eat faeces by his employer because he had argued with him. Pawale and his family did not have a healthy employee-employer relationship with their tormentor. They were modern-day slaves earning ₹100 a day at a brick kiln near Pune. More than a month later, it’s business as usual at the brick kiln. The family lives some 10 km away, fearful that the powerful perpetrator is free to attack them. The brick kiln continues to operate and everyone else working there is resigned to their fate.

The powerful are on the right side of law

Pawale and his parents worked at a brick kiln in Jambhe village near Hinjawadi, a suburb in Pune, for five years. Pawale distinctly recalls March 13, when the 22-year-old was forced to eat faeces by Sandip Pawar, the kiln owner.

Narrating what happened that day, Sunil told The Federal, “On March 13, my parents and I were sitting in front of the house after lunch. Pawar came over and asked why we were not working. My father told him we had just eaten and would start working soon. He got angry and started to verbally abuse my father. I tried to pacify him by apologising but he abused my mother too and then began to assault my father. I couldn’t control myself at this point; I verbally abused him and ran away."

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