Dalits in UP threaten protest after 22 year old youth is attacked by Hindu group activists

Youth being thrashed on the streets by Hindu groups and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Image Source: ANI

Several Dalit organisations have threatened to launch protests aftera  22 year old lower caste man Vipin Kumar was allegedly beaten up by 4 Hindu Vahini activists in Muzaffarnagar, UP. The youth was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ said the officials on Wednesday. Shahid Udham Singh Sena, Bheem Army and other Dalit rights group, have announced that there will be agitations if the accused are not arrested at the earliest, reports Asian age.

Vipin Kumar was allegedly brutally thrashed on Monday in Kalanpur village in Muzaffarnagar, said Circle officer Yogender Singh. A complaint was filed by the victim under sections 307 of IPC and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Singh also added that a case was registered against four individuals who are currently absconding. Hindustan Times reports that Vipin was allegedly assaulted for leading a Dalit group that had intentions of converting to Buddhism while also removing Hindu deities from their homes.

A video clip documenting the entire assault was released on Wednesday that created significant caste tension in the region that was already volatile because of the clashes between Dalits and Thakurs last year.

In the video, the attackers can be heard saying that they had no objection to Dalits keeping portraits of Dr.Ambedkar in their homes but they could not remove portraits of Hindu deities.  The Dalit rights groups staged a demonstration at the office of the senior superintendent of police in Muzaffarnagar. The accused are yet to be arrested.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Asian Age

Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

Image Courtesy: NDTV                                                                              People carried processions on 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, and pelted stones at vehicles on one of Mumbai’s arterial highways.

Pune, January 04: Bhima Koregaon, a village 30 kilometres north-east of Pune, witnessed celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces, including Mahar troops, and the Peshwa army. However, clashes broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon. The violence occurred in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old Maratha youth and injuries caused to several people. The Dalit community began protesting in cities of Mumbai, Pune and nine other districts across Maharashtra. On January 3, they demanded a statewide bandh. Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a judicial probe by “a sitting judge” into the matter.

He said, “Every year, about 15,000 people assemble at the memorial. But this year the crowd was 3.5 lakh strong. Six battalions of police force were deployed, four of them placed at strategic points. As a result, despite attempts to trigger violence and riots, it was immediately curbed and major incident averted.”

What initiated as a caste based violence, later progressed into political firestorm.

Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had envisioned the fact that Dalits “remain at the bottom” of the society.

He took to Twitter, “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance.”

Denying these allegations, BJP sources said that the party was “concerned” about the Dalits. The reason being Dalit leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, who recently won the election in Gujarat, have marked their presence in Bhima Koregaon.

It is worth noting that the political aggression also echoed at the state and Centre level. Mohan Prakash, General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, All India Congress Committee claimed, “Wherever the BJP is in power, its supporters and RSS execute such actions when events related to Dalit pride are organised”.

The Shiva Sena accused the current government of not having the knowledge about mischief mongers living in the state. “The state is bearing the brunt of the BJP having control of the Home department and politics in the police department.,” it alleged.

Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, President of Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh reportedly said that Hindutva outfits were behind the Bhima Koregaon attacks.

Police has booked two local Hindu right-wing leaders- Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan for inciting violence. Complaints have also been filed against Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA and Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student for instigating the crowd. Both of them were invited at the celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle.

It will be interesting to see the amount of truth that these allegations hold. On one hand, it is possible that the right-wing groups were the reason behind this violence. On the other hand, it is strange to accept the fact that BJP would instigate such a division in the society. This contrasts its policy of ‘one India.” However, it will be beneficial for its rivals, as this will affect the Hindu vote bank of BJP immensely.

Continue reading Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

2.5 Lakhs offered for Inter-Caste marriage with Dalits

To promote the social status of Dalits, Centre is encouraging inter-caste marriages. According to the rule, the Dalit brides or bridegrooms of an inter-caste marriage will be rewarded with Rs 2.5 lakh. This new scheme is entitled to all Dalits, as against the earlier system where only couples with an annual income of Rs 5 lakhs and below were applicable. As reported by Indian Express, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment suggests the linking of the ‘Dr Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration’, to the couple’s Aadhaar numbers and bank account details. This scheme aims to target around 500 marriages a year, though it hasn’t reached even 100 in the past years.

Though the income limit has been scraped off, the scheme demands the marriage to be recorded under the Hindu Marriage Act apart from being the first marriage of both the spouses. The scheme draws inspiration from BR Ambedkar’s views on caste culture and union through exogamy.

As reported by Indian Express, the scheme has failed to perform satisfactorily since its inception. Only five couples were given the sum during 2014-15, and in 2015-16, only 72 couples among 522 applications were accepted. While in 2016 – 17, as low as 45 out of 736 couples were approved. And as of this year, the ministry has received the proposal of 409 couples, but only 74 have been cleared. The target for each state differs depending on their overall share of Scheduled Caste population. Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan submit the maximum proposals.

Sources- Indian Express, Firstpost

Is India is still in the clutches of Casteism?

The proverb, “Give a man a fish; he’ll eat for a day.Teach a man how to fish; he’ll eat for a lifetime,” is as apt for Dalits today as for any other community. The constitution which promises to provide equal status to all the people irrespective of their caste has pushed this community to oblivion.

India is a functional democracy. Democracy ensures equality among all. But does the country give equal rights to the Dalits as well? Looking at the recent incidents of mistreatment, the democratic status of India stands contradicted. The question that strikes is whether they are enabled to get what they are entitled to? For every political party, the Dalit community often turns out to be a prized pawn which can help them win more seats and get in power. Before the elections, Dalits are entitled by the political parties to important statuses in the society, but then comes the reality into the frame when after the elections, the situation for this community remains grim devoid of the enablement.

This explains how parties embark upon enabling the constitutional rights guaranteed by the government to the Dalits, as a scheme to garner marginalised support, which suffers a flipside when the reality strikes, amid the contours of dirty politics. Thus making no considerable positive change in their social status.

Gujarat’s recent case of vigilantism has shed substantial light on how Dalits are being discriminated. A Dalit family had been publicly beaten up for skinning a dead cow. The fact that the so called gau rakshaks had wrongly accused the family of slaughtering a cow, and taken law in their hands, is highly objectionable. Would this have been possible, if this family did not belong to the Dalit community?

While, this increasing involvement of Dalits in politics could be seen as a good development for the community, their usage as a mere political, is rather problematic. The seed of this problem is still untouched – the constrained mentality of the society.

 

Sources: The Hindu, YouLibrary

 

Anandiben Patel Quits as Gujarat Chief Minister amidst controversies

Surrounded by political chaos in Gujarat, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel took everyone by surprise when she declared her resignation via a Facebook post on Monday. The internet was taken aback by her sudden decision to quit. However, the 74 year old Gujarat CM cited her age as the primary reason for this step. According to News 18, she has handed over her resignation to Vijay Rupani who is the state Bhartiya Janta Party President.

Soon after BJP came to power at the centre in May 2014, Anandiben Patel became the first woman Chief Minister of Gujarat. Patel expressed her gratitude to the party especially Narendra Modi for giving her this great opportunity to govern a state. However, her resignation comes one day after the Dalits of the state took to streets to protest for bashing up of a family by the cow vigilantes in Una for skinning the animal. Also, the Assembly Elections are just a year away. BJP President Amit Shah has confirmed the news and added that the resignation request will be forwarded to the party’s parliamentary board. The party is going to announce her replacement tomorrow. The current Health Minister of the state, Nitinbhai Patel is the probable choice.

Seven Dalits attempt suicide in Gujarat protesting against atrocities

Seven youngsters of the Dalit community attempted suicide in the state of Gujarat on Monday, to protest against the public thrashing and atrocities inflicted upon them for allegedly skinning a live cow in a village in the state on July 11.

Protest rallies were organised in major towns of the state on Monday, during which five members of the community consumed pesticide in Gondal and another two in Jamkandorana town.

Among those who attempted suicide includes a local Congress leader Anil Madhad.

The whole issue has escalated into a political crisis for the state government and Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has ordered a CID probe into the public thrashing and atrocities on the Dalit community. According to a report by The Hindu, she also stated that a “designated court will be set up to expedite the trial and chargesheet will be submitted within 60 days.”

The issue came to light when a video showing the victims getting assaulted with iron rods and sticks started going viral on social media platforms. Sources claim that the video was recorded by Pramod Giri, who is the president of  Shiv Sena unit in  Somnath district.

Caste out by law

 

Protests against caste discrimination| Image source: demotix.com

One would think that the age long discrimination on the basis of caste and religion is a long forgotten rite. But recent studies give overwhelming evidence that point to the contrary. What’s even more disturbing is that these studies were conducted in the United Kingdom. The silver lining in all this though, is that on June 25th, the British parliament , UK’s sovereign body, activated clause 9 (5) (a) of equality act 2010 to outlaw discrimination on the basis of caste. Yet, British government  assented to the relevant measure only after the House of Lords had for a second time defeated the executive by insisting that the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill, included caste discrimination as a form of racial discrimination under the Equality Act.

Helen Grant, junior minister in the ministry of justice even wrote to the lobbying group, the alliance of Hindu organizations, expressing her sorrow for the passing of this bill, dismissing it on grounds of lack of evidence for the same.

Caste discrimination, studies found, has been a big part in the lives of British Asians and is a particularly strong factor when it comes to arranged marriages. Dalits are not even allowed into places of worship of the so called upper caste Hindus. The passing of the act is a ray of hope for the several dalits who have been mistreated by the law of the very country they live in.

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