Hathras and Beyond: Hindutva Violence against Dalits
THE BJP has brought the Indian polity to a pathetic situation of encouraging the obsolete ideals of the Manusmriti and instigating cold-blooded murder and annihilation of dalits from a phase of negation of freedom of expression. Taking advantage of being in power at the centre and in several states, they are deliberately preparing grounds for dividing the people on the basis of religion, caste, creed and sex, and making democracy a mockery. The poor are being made to suffer social insecurity and distress. The brutal gangrape and murder of a dalit woman in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh reflects such inhuman, prejudicial, political and administrative anarchy.
The valmikis, a dalit community, are engaged in scavenging works and comparatively constitute only a smaller percentage of the population. Oppression and persecution against them are common and it doesn't have any news value. The Hathras incident of September 14 is part of a continuous series of attacks against dalits that started since the BJP came to power at the centre and the Yogi Adityanath dispensation in Uttar Pradesh. The grievous injuries inflicted on the 19-year-old dalit woman by the accused belonging to the landlord Thakur community, her corpse being taken away by the police and she being cremated in the dead of night without family’s consent reflects the brazenness of the Adityanath dispensation.
The UN too expressed shock and anguish on this unheard brutality. The extant custom of showing respects to corpse has been deplorably violated here. These repetitious atrocities show that dalits do not have any right to live respectably and even to die so. Close on the heels of the Hathras case, another barbaric incident of sexual assault against a four-year-old girl took place not too far from Hathras on October 13, signalling that despite raising the rage and anguish of human community against such barbaric brutality, the miscreants under the discriminatory rule of the Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh are not prepared to put an end to such crimes. These unabated occurrences of sexual assaults have triggered fear, anguish and a feeling of extreme insecurity among the downtrodden and marginalised people of Uttar Pradesh.
According to National Crime Records Bureau data, one woman is raped in every 16 minutes in India. The 2019 data revealed that 10 dalit girls get raped every day and one-third of such incidents take place in BJP-ruled states. After storming to power with 303 seats in 2019, the Sangh Parivar unleashed violent and brutal assaults against dalits and the minorities. These incidents proved that Narendra Modi’s message of “sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas” was only for criminals.
Firing at Muhammed Kasim, asking people to go to Pakistan, making Muhammed Baker Alam raise the slogan of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai, arrest of Prof Jeethre Hanze for a Facebook post and lynching for allegedly possessing beef, are incidents that happened in India under the BJP rule. Rejection of dalit-prepared food by Covid-19 patients in UP; suicide by adivasi doctor Payal Thadvi due to harassment based on caste discrimination and of Rohith Vemula; shooting to death of 17-year-old Vikas Kumar Jatav for his alleged attempt to enter a temple; and the murder of Unnao rape case victim and her relatives with knowledge of BJP MLA Kuldip Sengar vindicate the atrocities unleashed by the Sangh Parivar against the dalits in India.
ATROCITY AND SOCIAL
Atrocities unleashed against dalits, particularly women, have implications beyond the crimes. It is appalling and shameful to note that under the BJP government, the attacked dalits are not only denied justice but the authorities stand with the culprits as well. Very often no police case is registered against such crimes. The hapless dalit community is forced to bear with intimidation and discrimination from government officials. Administrative machinery abets such attacks against dalits under the instigation of the Sangh Parivar. The policy of the BJP government slashing the budgetary provisions earmarked for economic development of the dalit community is like the fearless caste-based murder launched against the dalits. With abolishment of the Planning Commission after the Modi government assumed office, the process of earmarking development funds for the dalits in proportion to their population was done away with. The BJP government also slashed the number of posts reserved for dalits in central government jobs. It came down from 92,928 in 2013 to 8,436 in 2015. Adopting a policy of reducing due budgetary provisions, abolishing posts in central government jobs, outsourcing public services, encouraging contract appointments, denying reservation and monopolising government service to the private sector, the BJP is directly following a policy of crushing the dalit-adivasi community, both socially and economically.
It was through struggle that India became an independent country with a socio-political democratic setup ensuring to all citizens equal status, which in effect struck at the root of the Hindutva ideology of the Sangh Parivar. The BJP has been trying to deface the legacy of our great social reformers and the working-class movements (who had sacrificed a lot for moulding the Indian socio-economic political and democratic setup) and to establish a Hindu Rashtra based on the laws of Manusmriti. Their attempt is to set up a socio-political setup as per the dictums of Manusmriti, negating education to the downtrodden, dalits and the poor. For this, their next move proposes even to amend the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act, which are the cornerstones of Indian jurisprudence and judicial system. For this, a five-member committee has been constituted when the country remained under the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
It is surprising to note that no judge who had served either in the Supreme Court or High Courts has found a slot in the five-member committee, vindicating the secret agenda of the Sangh Parivar. It could be a criminal preparation to have constituted such a committee comprising three professors, an advocate and a district judge to act as a forum to justify all caste-based killings. The responsibility of this committee would be restrained just to concur to the diktats of the Manuwadis.
The soft Hindutva approach followed by the Congress led to strengthening of extremist Hindu politics in India. The Congress as such cannot create any alternative resistance against the extremist political ideology of the Sangh Parivar, either organisationally or ideologically. Though the Congress had remained silent on such attacks in the past, it is a welcome move that the party is now coming out against the extremist ideology of the Sangh Parivar. The Congress party has to come to terms with this reality that through extreme reactions the existing realities cannot be solved. It is only through a rehauling of the extant social setup and landlord relations, the problems being faced by the backward classes could be solved permanently. The real issue remains as to whether the Congress would prepare itself for building a forum of secular forces. It has become a necessity of the time to create a political alternative to get rid of the Hindutva extremism by associating with the dalit-adivasi-backward-minority working class. It is not too late to bring down the caste castles and defeat the proponents of the Manusmriti.