It’s a Wake-up call /\
In Khairlanji, on 29th September 2006, Surekha Bhotmange, her daughter, Priyanka and her two sons, were killed by a frenzied mob. In total four people were killed. They would have been just killed like any other killing. But before they were killed, the women were stripped naked, and humiliated and maybe raped (the evidence of which is very difficult to establish due to lapses in the postmortem procedure and reporting, but circumstantial evidences prove beyond doubt that their modesty was outraged as the bodies were found naked). One of the men (one among the two brothers) was blind. The mob didn’t spare even a blind and helpless person. The whole incidence did not get much press, and whatever it space it got in the newspapers whose front pages are adorned with scandals and gossips, painted this heinous incidence as just another scandalous murder by the mob.
Due to alertness of a few local activists, the case came into public after one month. And the demonstrations were held everywhere, not only in the state of Maharashtra, but also all over India, and world. Hundreds of peaceful demonstrations took place, which were suppressed by the violent and brutal police action. Thousands of people were baton by the Police and in some cases the peaceful demonstrators were branded as seditious and anti-national. Still hundreds of cases are pending in the court of law. For the first time in Indian history any case raised such a fury for justice, and this fire for justice was finally extinguished by the infamous judiciary in India, which instead of acting as the custodian and guardian of Justice favored the perpetrators by invoking the decision of the lower court.
The Dalits in India, who constitute almost a quarter of India’s population and five percent of the world’s population, are wondering about their fate after this infamous reversal of justice. What is their fault? Why is justice denied to them? Why they have to eat rats? Why do they have to clean human excreta? Why they are forced to the life of subordination? Why their humanity and dignity is snatched? How long will it take to end their plight? How long it will take to send their children to good schools?
There is a crisis in the Dalit movement. The movement that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar started facing infinite series of hurdles is in crisis. The Dalits as it were are treated with tokenism, tokenism as a technique to blunt the movement of Dalits includes offering one post here and another post there, and in reality not doing anything to solve to solve the problem of caste discrimination and the practice of untouchability. The tokenism as a technique is not only used by the governments, but also by the established national and regional parties to just show that they care for Dalits, but in reality they do not do anything to end it.
The laws that are made in this country are also against the Dalits, even if they look effective on paper, they don’t do anything in reality to stop their plights. The example of this is infamous Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989, which looks such a great social legislation on papers, but the conviction rate is less than half a percent. If this is not the mockery of the law, what else can it be!!
The Dalits in India are the poorest of the poor, and in some situations their condition is so pitiable that they have to eat rats to survive (The Mushahars). In several cases their condition is so pitiable that even the rats may be eating them.
The techniques that Babasaheb Ambedkar used need to be revisited. In Dalit community, there are people with varying mentalities, and some of the politicians act as the brokers, some people willingly sale the community interests for their private gains. This doesn’t mean that the majority of the Dalits do not want change or bring in revolution. This is very much evident in case of Khairlanji agitation during which thousands of people came on the streets to express their feelings and their willingness to work and sacrifice for the society.
As a technique to take the fight further, we have to try to reach to individuals of the community. We have to find means to reach the people through various media like pamphlets, emails, cell phones and new papers both our newspapers and mainstream newspapers.
The message can be simple.
We condemn the decision of the High Court to reduce punishment of the casteist perpetrators who massacred and raped mother and her daughter and her two sons.
1. We demand reopening of Khairlanji case.
2. We demand application of Atrocity act on the killers.
On the internet forums:
We can express our feelings through writing on our blogs, writing emails to as many people as possible.
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