Vol. XLIII No. 14 April 07, 2019

Attacks against Dalits Spike in ‘Modi’fied India

K Radhakrishnan

THE persecutions reported against dalits, under the rule of Narendra Modi, are on the rise in India, establishing a similar scenario to the earlier regimes of the BJP government in the history of independent India. The BJP-led government is waging diabolic attacks against dalits and adivasis, violating all civil rights and natural justice, repeating history.

While the BJP-led government is extending full support to the RSS and Sangh Parivar forces to re-establish the venomous status of 'Chaturvarnya', Prime Minister, Modi is keeping mum as dalit women are being chased on the streets and the dalit children are being stained and burnt alive.

The BJP government, in a number of instances, has acted barbarically and denied respectable last rites for dalits who lost their lives to the discriminatory caste system in the country, over the past few years. Rohit Vemula, the dalit student activist from University of Hyderabad was secretly burnt in a crematorium on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Another dalit, Danamaji, along with his young daughter, had to carry the corpse of his wife who died in the district hospital at Kalahandi in Odisha for 12 km as no help came his way. And, before that agonising picture of a father, Gali Desawar, carrying the corpse of his five-year-old daughter Sumi, for 15 km is also witnessed by the nation. Sumi died in Pallahara Community Health Centre of Augur district in Odisha.

Many dalits, who were attempting to exercise their rights as citizens of the country, were attacked during the BJP rule over the past five years. The chopping off of a dalit's nose in the village of Surfasi in Uttar Pradesh allegedly for holding a marriage ceremonial procession, is just another example of the upper class attacks on the dalits.  In another incident, Rajya Mantesh a couple was brutally attacked for allegedly refusing to work in the cane fields in the village of Pivlera in Uttar Pradesh.

As the upper caste people continue to deprive the dalits of access to basic facilities like drinking water in the country, a 13-year- old dalit girl, her brother and father were brutally thrashed for taking water from a tube well set up in the temple premises. In Vashi district of Maharashtra, another dalit woman was prevented from drawing water from a public well.

In a similar fashion, a dalit youth was shot dead in Saharanpur of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly urinating on the property of an upper caste man. In Uttarakhand, in another incident, upper caste lords rounded up more than a thousand dalits and grievously wounded them with stones for entering Silgur deity temple, where entry to the dalits was banned.

The report of setting ablaze of two small dalit children has come to light in Haryana in 2015 and to the shock of the country, Union Minister V K Singh equaled the attack to pelting of stones at dogs and asked if anyone would order enquiry into such incidents. Prime Minister Modi, instead of standing by the victims, had supported V K Singh despite his appalling comments. In June 2016, four dalit youths were publicly assaulted and paraded along the street in the broad daylight in Gujarat. The assailants themselves, without any qualms, published their criminal and inhuman actions in the media.

The naked truth of a large number of people still destined to live on carrying human feaces in the ‘Shining Gujarat’ of Narendra Modi cannot go unnoticed as one speaks about the oppression faced by the dalits in the country. The picture of a poor dalit crying for a meal and a piece of land is seen with another picture of death of a dalit farmer, Prabhat Bai Madhubai in Gujarat. These pictures reveal gross neglect of the protection of the rights of the adivasis and the dalits by the union government.

Dalits, during the demonetisation feat pulled by Narendra Modi, once again became the worst hit among the general population in the country. While it caused no inconvenience to the black money holders or affected terrorism, it proved to be fatal for the daily wagers, majority of them being dalits. Many of them lost their jobs and for others it costed them their education and healthcare.

The attacks on dalits are seen on the educational front as well, especially the higher education centres, which are being turned into play grounds for religious fanatics in the country. The institutions have deliberately created excuses and denied fellowships and hostel facilities to dalit students, forcing them to leave higher education. It is in the India of Modi, that a 16-year-old dalit student of Kendriya Vidyalaya of Muzaffarpur in Bihar revealed through video clipping that his classmates becoming jealous of his studying well; they very often spat at his face, at least once in a week and beat him up.

 The assault and rape of 12 adivasi girls by the teachers and school officials in Nandhi Ashramam Residential school of Buldhani in Maharashtra also threw light upon the vulnerable state of dalit students in Indian schools. Despite recurrence of such violations, the government has failed to initiate steps for the formation of a committee to see that the rights of the dalit students are ensured in India.

Under Modi rule, the attacks and murders against the minorities have also increased. Comrade Govind Pansare, Professor M M Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh and Dr Narendra Dabholkar were killed for putting up a fight against caste system and for expressing critical opinions with reasoning, logic and secularism as the basis of their arguments.

IIT Madras, FTII Pune, Universities in Lucknow, Delhi and Pondicherry have faced attacks from religious fundamentalists in the recent past. Closure of several educational institutions as part of enforcement of the policy of privatisation has also proved to have affected higher education in the country.

Furthermore, 27 lakh vacancies in different central government institutions still remain unfilled under Modi rule. This reveals the facade put up by the BJP in the last general elections that steps would be taken to address the problem of unemployment. It is to hide this deceit, again that the BJP has come up with declaring reservation for the forward caste members during the ensuing Lok Sabha poll, attempting to cheat all sections of the people.

The independence and impartial supremacy of the judiciary and election commission have also been threatened in India with unwarranted intervention of the government in the affairs of the autonomous bodies.

At this juncture, the prohibition of 'Madesnana', a discriminatory ritual in Uduppi Srikrishna temple in Karnataka has attained greater prominence by becoming a striking example of results of vehement people’s movements. The ritual sought self rolling of dalits on the dirt of 'brahmanya waste' to attain ‘bliss’; was stopped due to struggles of the leadership of Communist Party of India (Marxist). The inhuman ritual of rolling of the lower caste people on the food waste of the brahmins (Edesnana) and on the leaf used for offering ‘prasadam’ was stopped. The collective struggles of the secular forces have reflected in the results of the elections held in five states in the country recently.

The struggles of Dalit Soshan Mukthi Manch (DSMM) would become a milestone in the history of India, along with that of the farmers, workers, students, cultural activists and others in breaking the walls of caste and religion and in protecting the constitution of the country.