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UK Indian Couple In UK Alleges Caste Discrimination

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
August 18, 2011

Special to the Tribune
Indian couple in UK alleges caste discrimination

Shyam Bhatia in London

The UK society has learned to its dismay this week that there is a darker side to the Indian connection that surpasses the stories of holidays in Kerala, tigers, Bollywood and joyful investors prepared to pour buckets of money into ailing British companies.

In the first-ever case of its kind, a young Indian-origin couple has testified before an employment tribunal in Birmingham about how they were allegedly discriminated against on caste grounds before they resigned or were dismissed from their jobs.

Their former employers, Heer Manak, a group of mostly Indian-origin solicitors based in the city of Coventry, are understood to regard the allegations as outrageous.

Whatever the final outcome of the employment tribunal hearing, there is no denying the dented image of India as a progressive society where all are deemed equal, regardless of race, religion, gender or any personal factor.

Amardeep Begraj, 33-year-old Sikh Jat woman, told the tribunal that her employers tried to discourage her from marrying the love of her life, Vijay, a practice manager at the same company because he was a Dalit.

In her testimony, Amardeep is quoted as telling how one of her senior colleagues warned of future difficulties. “He said…I should reconsider the step I was taking of marrying Vijay because he belonged to a different caste. People of Vijay’s caste were different creatures. Marriage would be very different from dating.”

Even worse was the reaction on her wedding day when one of her colleagues “raised a toast to Jat girls going down the drain.” Amardeep resigned from her job earlier this year. Vijay was dismissed last year after working for the solicitors for seven years.

There was worse to come for the couple. After a British newspaper highlighted their case in a story entitled “Forbidden Love”, their car windscreen was smashed.

Those responsible for the vandalism seem to have got hold of their identities even though the newspaper article made sure their names were changed for their own protection.

Although Amardeep and Vijay’s lives may have been blighted, the publicity given to their case could benefit others suffering in the future from similar alleged discrimination.

Under the current British law, employers are specifically banned from discriminating on grounds of race, sex, religion and sexuality. If Home Secretary Theresa May has her way, caste discrimination could now be added to the list.

source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110818/main8.htm



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