Telangana: Barbers in Mancherial stop giving haircut to protest other caste man opening salon

Barbers raise slogans during the relay hunger strike against the ‘outsider’ in Mancherial on Tuesday.

Mancherial: The male population in Mancherial town is faced with a peculiar problem these days that has also brought back memories of the lockdown period. They are either forced to grow their hair or go to a nearby village or town to get a haircut, courtesy the 11-day-old strike by town barbers who downed shutters in protest against the setting up of a salon by a person from outside the community.

The town has 1,500 barbers working in 250 salons for their livelihood. They launched a relay hunger strike against the ‘outsider’ from Karimnagar who started a modern hair salon in the heart of the town. Consequently, customers are left with no option but to rely on barber shops in Bellampalli, Mandamarri, Luxettipet, Srirampur, Ramakrishnapur and Godavarikhani in Peddapalli district, traveling 10 km for a haircut or a shave. The more adventurous ones are trimming their hair themselves.

Ch Gopal of Hamaliwada said he was forced to hire an autorickshaw to Srirampur town for a hair cut for himself and his two children recently, that set him back by Rs 200. “I used to pay Rs 100 to the barber, but now I have to spend Rs 300. Both haircut and a shave are essential. One can’t imagine life without barbers,” he said.

Vishnubhaktula Sadanandam, Nayi Brahmana Association Mancherial town president, said they would continue with the relay hunger strike as long as the ‘outsider’ kept his shop open. The strike also attracted the attention of political parties and various organisations who have expressed solidarity with the Mancherial barbers. “It is unfair for a non-barber to take up this traditional occupation,” Sadanandam said.

Meanwhile, there are indications that barbers across the State will observe a State-wide bandh in the next couple of days to extend their support to their Mancherial brethren. They will also submit representations to district Collectors and tahsildars in their respective areas seeking their intervention to resolve the Mancherial impasse at the earliest.

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