What does a dalit man do when his wife is refused permission to draw water from a well by an owner? He digs a well himself so that his wife does not have to face, not only water scarcity, but also insults from the members of the higher caste. Bapurao Tajne dug a well all by himself, a job that is normally done by about 5 people. Now, the entire Dalit locality of the village is drawing water from his well and does not have to depend on people from other castes for water.
Bapurao is a poor labourer of Kalambeshwar village of Washim district, Maharashtra. Though he had never dug a well before, he devoted six hours daily for 40 days until he struck water. No one, not even his family members, helped him. Everybody thought he had gone crazy. After all, who could find water in a rocky terrain especially when three wells and a borewell near the spot had gone dry. The villagers openly mocked him but Bapurao went ahead with his task undeterred.
“I don’t want to name the well owner for I don’t want bad blood in the village. However, I feel that he insulted us because we are poor and Dalits. I came home that day in March and almost cried. I resolved never to beg for water from anybody. I went to Malegaon (the closest town) and bought tools and within an hour I started digging,” Bapurao told The Times Of India. There was no hydrological study done to select the spot, Bapurao went by instinct. “I prayed fervently to God before starting the job. I am thankful that my effort has been rewarded,” he added.
His wife Sangita now regrets mocking at him. “I did not help him a bit until he struck water. Now the whole family, except the two kids, helps him as he deepens and widens the well. It is already 15 feet deep and Bapurao wants to dig 5 feet further. It is 6 feet wide at the top and he wants to make it 8 feet wide. We are hoping our neighbours will help us in this task,” she said.