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In
the panchayats in Simaur and RohrooDalits can enter into panchayat bhawans and
non-Dalit homes except in some parts such as the kitchen and places of worship.
A majority of the non-Dalit respondents stated that they do not believe in the
caste system though Dalit rspondents agreed that subtle forms of untouchability
are stil practiced. Half of respondents-both Dalits and non-Dalits- in Rohroo
felt that functioning of Dalit representatives in the panchayats is still
influenced by upper caste representative and people of the area. Thus, the
relationship between the two groups seems to be in a phase of transition from
control of panchayats by upper castes to greater inclusion of Dalits.1

The
study pointsto a different situation in the states in the Gangetic plains that
have experienced Dalit assertion. In Rae Bareali district of Uttar Pradesh and
the backward districts of Sehor and Satna in Madhya Pradesh both the Dalits and
non-Dalits panchayat members were not keen to discuss their relationship and
agreed that their mutual relationship was bitter and strained. In the former,
rather than the upper castes it is with the OBCs, who constitute th dominant
landowners in the village that realtionships are unequal which spills over into
the functioning of the panchayats creating conflict and tension.

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Dalits
are provided equal seating places in the panchayats and the OBC members do not
openly use force or overtly react to suggestions/decisions by them, but some
admitted that they do try to stop them , at times openly rebuke them and
attempt to control the functioning of the panchayats to suit their own
interests. In the latter, which has experienced less assertion, Dalits face
difficulties in discharging their duties because untouchability is still
practiced and there was no attempt on part of the panchayat to attend to this
problem. Most Dalit respondents pointed out that due to their low social status
nobody was prepared to listen to them and rejected their proposals,
particularly in situatons where Sarpanch is a non-Dalit2.

Finally, even in the more economically developed
state of Haryana,the study reveals that in Rohtak district the caste barrier
still poses a major impediment. Dalit leaders within the panchayat have not
gained the trust of the people and in some cases attempts by the

1 Ibid., 67.

2 Ibid., 109.

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