New Dalit Movement
Emerging From Maharastra ?
By Vidya Bhushan
02 December, 2006
television channels are to be believed then the Dalit rampage in the
Indian state of Maharastra is an outcome of what they term as 'simple'
incident of desecration of Baba Saheb Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur. 'Even
when Kanpur was not burning why should the Dalit protester take Mumbai
to ransom', an anchor remarked. The responses on various websites were
like 'send' these guys back to villages or 'appeasement' by the government.
The other felt pain to term it as 'political' while liberals were questioning
the wisdom of the Dalits about why they have been pained over a statue.
' Do we need statues in India, said a hypocrite TV anchor. Surely, we
do not need statues in India but who have more statutes than the parents
and grand parents of these anchors and experts. Can they tell Lal Krishna
Advani and his company, as why are they fighting to put two statutes
where the Babari Masjid once stood. So many statutes of Hanuman and
other gods are there taking our large space while very little for human
being to live a life of dignity in India. If we become iconoclast in
India, the Brahmin would go out of work for they have monopolized to
keep all these statutes in every part of India. What are these temples
about and why should they keep so many statues of so-called Gods. Throw
them away and give these temples to the poor and all our housing problems
would be resolved.
Coming back to main point
of Dalit fury in Maharastra where life has been paralyzed. 'It is ironic,
said few experts, that Dalits in UP are not doing anything but in Maharastra
they are unnecessarily agitated.' Now, the powerful UP Police, which
spinelessly goes around with the local MLAs, has arrested a young man
called Arun Valmiki for allegedly defacing Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur.
That is the best tradition of a brahmanical administration to convert
an issue of Hindu hatred into an internal Dalit fighting. You can see
how immediately after the Khairlanji incident, the one person who was
suspended for dereliction of his duty was a Dalit constable. So the
authorities feel that a constable has not filed FIR and therefore need
punishment but the powerful upper caste hate campaigners sitting in
the offices remain untouched and unaccountable. What is the power of
a constable if a crowed is on rampage? Why no police officer was dismissed
or suspended for dereliction of duty in Khairlanji.
Therefore, the uprising in
Maharastra has a signal for the self styled mainstream Dalit political
leaders and parties. Mend your ways or get lost as the young Dynamic
Dalit leadership would emerge out of a crisis from Maharastra. It is
certain that incidents like Khairlanji and Gohana would fuel the Dalit
anger and turn them to streets. Out of this anger and frustration would
emerge a leadership which would not compromise like their leaders.
Painful it is, when one see,
how the mainstream Dalit political parties find no shame in aligning
with the thugs of Hindutva and even campaigned for them. How can an
Ambedkarite ever think of joining hand with fascist forces in India
without offering an apology? And it is not just once; the same forces
are again ready to embrace the Hindutva for their own ulterior motives.
One can see what happen to
Hindutva. It is a philosophy of betrayals. It betrays those who it embraces.
See how moralistic Lal Krishna Advani was yesterday in Parliament when
he felt 'shocked' and 'shameful' as central minister Shibu Soren was
convicted. And our CBI want death sentence for him. The same CBI, which
cannot get punishment for Narsihma Rao or Rajiv Gandhi in the Boforse
Scandal and which spinelessly, took order from Lal Krishna Advani when
he was home minister and facing cases of Babari Masjid Demolition. I
am sure, Advani would demand the same punishment and feel double shock
after hearing Navjot Singh Siddhu, a BJP MP, very loud mouth, for allegedly
murdering a person in Punjab. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has
held Siddhu guilty for the same. One hope we will have same kind of
ruckus in Parliament by the Hindutva party.
It is more than shocking
that our Parliament did not have time so far to discuss violence on
Dalits. They do not have even time to discuss why the courts are intervening
in the matter of executive. The fact of the matter is that our political
class is the most opportunistic one in the world and the Dalit leaders
are no different than their brahmanical masters. They have used money
and funds to propagate their own interest while keeping quiet on the
violence against Dalits. Over two months have passed and Parliament
has not time to discuss Khairlanji while issue of Saurav Ganguli's inclusion
become more important for politicians to debate in the parliament.
Khairlanji was flashpoint
in Maharastra. Incident of atrocities against Dalits are on the rise.
Like every incident related to Muslims, the state had the easier way
of describing the incident as ISI sponsored. Now with growing dalit
violence, it is the Naxal intrusion in the Dalit ranks alleged the officials.
Those who do not understand
the importance of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar in the lives of millions of
Dalits world over make the folly of terming these events as shocking
and well planned incidents as 'nothing' specific. Ambedkar's statues
are not like any one else's statues. They are not erected by the governments
as done in many other cases of so-called 'freedom fighters' and political
leaders. Ambedkar symbolize Dalits fight for Dignity and honor. Ambedkar
mean the strongest and most potent symbol of Dalit power and assertion.
Maharastra government's failure to punish the perpetrators of the Khairlanji
violence is like other incidents. We have not heard what happened to
the conspirators of Kumher massacre in Rajasthan or Tsundur in Andhra
Pradesh. There is virtually no information to what happened to the perpetrators
of ghastly crimes in Gohana and Jhajjar in Haryana. Therefore, it is
a pattern to attack the Dalits whenever they assert their identity.
Whenever they perform better than any upper caste Hindu, Dalits would
have to pay price, that is what our system has failed to protect the
dalits against this savagery of the upper caste Hindus.
A friend recently asked me
that the violence against Dalits is mainly being perpetuated more by
the backward communities so why I had used the word upper caste violence
against the Dalits. Agreed, that the backward communities are the front
rankers in hitting the Dalits but they are faithful slaves of the brahmanical
institutions of criminal violence against the Dalits. The entire brahmanical
structure is based on caste based identities and every caste feel proud
of identity in terms of 'bigger' than the lower one. Ambedkar defined
it as 'graded' inequality. It was not a fight between equals and unequal.
The battle here is more difficult because of the compartmentalization
of our caste structure. Brahmanical values thrived on this rigid regimentation
of communities in their identities and their contradictions. Hence,
the backward classes or simply the hinduised shudras may be attacking
the Dalits but they are simply following the guidance of the brahmanical
scriptures and values which rule on the small contradiction between
different communities. Lastly, every person above the level and who
instigate violence is an upper caste in relative term because that is
the nature of caste violence in India. It is important to understand
this psyche of the Varna system. The Dalits, backwards and even the
upper caste Hindus who feel uncomfortable here, must understand that
as long as you are part of Varna system you would always oppress the
lower one. That is for sure as we feel immense proud in our identities.
Dr Ambedkar knew this and provided a humanist Buddhist alternative which
he redefined according to his own convictions and embraced with nearly
half a millions followers in 1956. It is important that without changing
our social system, the Dalits and backwards would continue to fight
against each other. The Dalits have taken the leadership. A large number
of them have embraced Buddhism and do not live in the past of caste
system. It is now essential for the backward communities if they feel
that they too are victim of the caste system, they should follow the
new path. Nothing will come out of anti Brahmanism if we are not embracing
a new socio cultural system. Anti Brahmanism would only strengthen the
next powerful communities and they would do the same as the Brahmins
did as it has no philosophy only nepotism and identity to work on. The
Thevars, Yadvas, Kurmis, Kunbis, Jats, Gujjars, Marathas and so on would
continue to suck the blood of the Dalits as they inherently feel themselves
as 'higher' than the Dalits and hence are not ready to follow the Dalits.
How can they do it hence they are ready to follow various Brahmin Swamis
but at the same time raise the slogan of 'anti Brahmin' movement for
political purposes. Such political purposes will not solve the socio
cultural crisis of India as long as we continue to be part of Varna
Now, there is some uproar
in Parliament but that would not suffice. Political allegation would
be made by parties to score their political points. The Hindutva party
can blame every one from the SP-BSP to the congress and nothing will
change. The silver lining from Maharastra's spontaneous movement is
that it has resurrected the new dynamism. Baba Saheb always felt that
a radical powerful dalit leadership would always emerge from a movement
or agitation though the Dalit leaders who retires from the government
jobs first create a party and then want people to follow them in their
pursuit for power. But, here the situation is different as Dalit youth
have taken to the street and particularly the presence of women in the
movement shows how far the movement has gone.
It is therefore important
for these dynamic youths not to allow political parties use their initiative
for their own political purposes. They should use this opportunity to
develop a vibrant Dalit movement with strong political convictions which
can send jitters in the spines of all those who want to co-opt the great
legacy of Baba Saheb Dr Ambedkar. If the youths do not take the leadership
in their hands, they would end up as what happened in the creation of
Uttaranchal state. A spontaneous movement of the students created the
state though wrongful demands yet after the creation it is the mainstream
parties who are reaping the benefits of it. The parties have forgotten
virtually all those who laid down their life. Nepal has similar example.
The power is in the hands of those who licked the boots of the king
and served him like slave and those died protesting against monarchy
are forgotten easily. The followers of Ambedkar should not allow this
Dalits saved the democracy
in India curtsy Dr Ambedkar. They vote in large number and participate
in the festival of democracy more than any other community. And nearly
sixty years have passed to freedom of India and our institutions and
social system remain confined to a few elite caste and groups. Why have
we allowed this to happen? How prophetic Ambedkar was, when he said
that if there were no social democracy, the Dalits would themselves
blow up the political democracy in the country. What happened in Maharastra
was a clear case of frustration in the Dalit youth, when the system
so laborious developed by Dr Ambedkar, refused to shed its biases and
prejudices against the Dalits. How long will Dalit glorified this great
democracy and Parliament when every day their life is endangered and
their livelihood is snatched from them. It is not that the entire Maharastra
burnt out of a desecration of Baba Saheb's statue which was most unfortunate
but the unease was there as the shameless government of the state had
done very little to bring the culprits to the book. If the democratic
institutions do not give justice to the Dalits on time, mere symbolic
presidents, prime ministers and chief ministers would gladdened the
heart of them for a few days but in longer term, would increase the
unease. And remember, it would be difficult for any government to curtail
the Dalit rage if political democracy does not pave way for social democracy.
It is clear that Dalits have ideological clarity and strong convictions
than most of the other communities. It would be nearly impossible to
stop them now if the governments, political system does not behave in
an unbiased way, without prejudices.
Already, newspapers are writing a lot on the so-called infiltration
of the Naxal movement in the Dalit groups but the happy news is that
Dalit Panthers are resurrecting and it is reassuring that Maharastra
would again lead the Dalits all over the country with progressive ideas
and uncompromising stand on various issues confronting the nation. If
the movement has to survive and lead the country, the Dalit movement,
who ever leads it, has to reassure its people to say a big NO in an
unambiguous term to the communal fascist forces and secondly fight the
honor of the people against the onslaught of international parties colluding
with the national one, on their natural resources. In the meanwhile,
those who say that UP Dalits are not agitated because of BSP is leading
them, may be wrong in future. Dalits in Uttar-Pradesh may vote BSP for
political purposes yet inside their heart they are highly agitated.
And surely flirting with the upper caste and the Hindutva would further
damage the cause of the Dalit empowerment. But the more the Dalit leadership
fails the people, the better it is for a new radical Dalit leadership
in the state. Maharastra, they say, did not have a Dalit leader but
the movement would definitely throw leadership and surely, Uttar-Pradesh
Dalit will also find a way out, if their political leaders continue
to play games with the Hindutva as well as capitalist power elite. It
is time of reckoning in the legacy of Ambedkarite movement and a time
of introspection for our political parties and governments.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
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