He struggles to keep his livelihood, and is frustrated at the absence of sanitation facility.

Chaheti Singh Sisodia

Udaipur

“My family came to Udaipur around 50 years ago and we got settled here on the road in these makeshift homes”, says Kishoreba Gaduliya Lohar, who is 75-years-old. 

Lohar narrates the history of their community and says that his forefathers worked for Maharana Pratap. They made iron weapons for his army. When Mewar fell to Mughals, their community vowed to accompany Maharana to wherever he goes, and never settle down until his hegemony was restored.

“We left Chittaurgarh around 500 years ago on our Gadis. We have been living a nomadic lifestyle since then. After our country became independent, we settled down on pavements in cities”, adds Lohar.

Lohar lives on a pavement in Sunderwas area of Udaipur. They live in makeshift homes. They are asking the government to give them land rights so that their living conditions can improve.

Lohar says, “Many of our Gaduliya Lohar brothers have settled in nearby villages. They have been given land rights by the government. The government has also built homes and toilets for them.”

“We chose to get settled in Udaipur. The government hasn’t yet made toilets for us. Our women are forced to squat and bathe in the streets. Do our women not deserve a respectable life?”, asks Lohar.

Lohar makes iron tools that are either used in the farms or in households. He buys iron from a junk store nearby and sweats day and night to make these utensils and equipments. There is not much demand for these nowadays. But this is all he knows. Gaduliya Lohars are barely surviving.

The Covid-19 pandemic has broken their back. Lohar says, “We didn’t have anything to eat during the lockdown. Nobody helped us. This life as a Gaduliya Lohar is like a curse on me.”