Bigger Threat Looms For Dalits, Not Cows

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Dalit Suicide

The tension is palpable all over the state, from people attempting suicide to consuming poison or pesticides. Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has quite recently ordered a CID probe into the matter. A Cow Vigilante Group is on the loose in the state of Gujarat, from stripping people to beating them with an iron rod, the group is all set to reinstate the lost honor of our Bharat Mata (cows), by ridiculing human life.

However, are the atrocities against the Dalit community anew, or are we just using our cows for ridiculing them and of subjugating their presence?

Almost a week ago, four people from the Dalit community were thrashed, beaten and stripped of not just their clothes but dignity by these cow vigilantes who alleged that these boys skinned a cow alive. As told by the victims, they had bought a dead cow and was skinning the carcass when the cow vigilantes accused them of cow slaughter. The entire brutality against them was videotaped for the world to see and to be warded off from indulging in such anti-national activities.

People are protesting against this brutality in large numbers. While five Dalit young men drank poison, another two tried to commit suicide. Also, two state transport buses were set on fire by angry protesters. After all, what is a protest without destroying some assets which are made for public by the state government?

To add more woes, the protestors have threatened to stop carrying away dead animals from villages and towns, which they traditionally do. What if someone alleges them again for a job they are entitled to do or have been asked to do, and get wrongfully blamed and beaten over the manipulation of the act?

Most of the protestors are risking their lives to highlight the plight of the community, which has been rebuked, assaulted and demeaned since a very long time. While there are many nationalists claiming to protect the dead or alive cows, who raises a voice against the brutalities that are inflicted upon the foresaid community? Is nationalism just limited to protection of cows, and not the nationals of the country? Or, because they are untouchables, the cruelty against them is justified and is a way of putting them in their place?

Though, post the incident, the inflictors have been arrested and the policemen have been suspended for their lack of conviction in handling the issue. But, the solution isn’t going to benefit anyone from the community for long, as the ostracisation of the community has been going on since decades, few arrests cannot really uplift their position in the society.

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We have long rid ourselves from the caste system that have plagued our society, however, the titles for castes have changed while the concept is still relevant and is going equally strong. According to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. Every day, on average, 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits murdered, and 2 Dalit houses burnt.

Dalits continue to be oppressed and discriminated against in villages, in educational institutions, in the job market, and on the political battlefront, leaving them with little respite in any sphere or at any juncture of their lives. How many Rohith Vemula should die so that we finally pay heed to the atrocities gripping the community? How many more will commit suicide, still calling their birth into a community as such, as a ‘fatal accident’?

Neither have they been uplifted from their roles of being a sweeper, of skinning carcasses of animals or for cleaning the human waste, nor have they been provided with job opportunities that somehow would make them ‘unpolluted’. Dalits, literally means divided or broken which got manifested into untouchables; how long will they remain broken till they are elevated?

Despite Prevention of Atrocities Act (1989), political rhetoric and constitutional protection have failed to end atrocities against Dalits. Is Ambedkar’s dream of social and economic equality a bridge too far?

Yugansha Malhotra

Image Sources:

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