Vol. XL No. 32 August 07, 2016

Protest Demonstration against Atrocities on Dalits

Preethy Sekhar

ON July 27 evening in Dadar, Mumbai, activists comprising women, youth and students protested the brutal attack on dalits in Gujarat by gau rakshak dal and the brutal murder of the 16-year old boy in Nerul in the name of caste honour. The response of police authorities has been completely callous in both the incidents.

Mariam DhawalePreethy Sekhar, Sugandhi Francis, Shailendra KambleSubodh More, Ramehshwar Shere and Moin Ahmed Ansar spoke in the meeting representing All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Jati Ant Sangharsh Samiti (JASS). An RSS activist tried to create ruckus in the meeting by questioning the right to demand lifting of ban on cow slaughter. Police removed him from the spot after some commotion

The 16-year old dalit boy who was killed in Nerul in Navi Mumbai in the name of caste honour for having friendship with a girl of an OBC community was denied justice twice by the police. His father had approached the police station to register a complaint that they were being threatened by the girl's family. The police officer in Nerul police station asked them to keep quiet and remain at home, otherwise "Sairat" (the name of a very popular recent Marathi movie that deals with the issue of honour killing) will happen to them too. Is this what the police is supposed to do?

The latest atrocity against dalits in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district has shocked all sensible people in the country. On July 11, while skinning the carcass of a cow bought from a nearby village, seven dalit youth in Mota Samadhiyala village were rounded up by upper-caste criminals belonging to ‘cow protection committee’ and brutally beaten with iron rods alleging that the youth had killed a cow to skin it. Afterwards, the youth writhing in pain were tied with ropes, taken to Una town, paraded in the town and brutally beaten turn by turn by several upper caste people. The perpetrators filmed some of their acts and circulated through social media to congratulate themselves and threaten dalits and minorities.
Most shockingly, police personnel in the town did not stop the criminals who were assaulting the helpless youth. Instead, the police started investigating whether the cow which was being skinned was killed by the youth or not, so that a case of cow slaughter could be charged against them!

Only a few months ago, Muhammad Akhlaq of Dadri village in UP was lynched by a mob incited by BJP leaders alleging that Akhlaq had stored cow meat in his house. Now, a lower court has issued orders to file an FIR against the murdered Muhammad Akhlaq himself and his family members for alleged cow slaughter! Murder of 12-year old Inayatulla Khan in Jharkhand earlier this year was also in the name of protecting cows.

The media pays attention only when such outrageous criminal acts occur. But in reality, dalits and minorities find themselves regularly at the receiving end of innumerable acts of cruelty by cow protection criminals with political patronage.

The perversity of law enforcing agencies, legal system and rightwing communal and criminal gangs collaborating to assault and intimidate poor people belonging to dalit and minority communities in the name of cow protection is becoming a routine affair in several parts of India. Laws prohibiting cow and bullock slaughter provide legitimacy to such violent lunacy. These laws are loaded with majoritarian prejudices and hatred towards dalits and minorities.

These laws which do not befit a modern republic must be withdrawn to stop communal and criminal elements from perpetrating violence, murder and humiliation of minorities and dalits in the name of cow protection.

All democratic forces must condemn the hate crime reported from Una town, and also raise voice for annulling the laws that implicitly justify such hate crimes.