A Dalit leader Chandrashekar Azad addressed a rally (New Delhi, October 4, 2020) ` to demand justice for Hathras (Uttar Pradesh) gang-rape victim. He is the `Bhim Army chief’ (a social body for protection of the Dalit human rights). The speakers at the rally condemned the government’s failure to protect the life and property of the Dalit. He demanded licenses and arms, subsidized at 50 percent to enable the Dalit to protect themselves on their own. They pointed out that their demand was in sync with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules 1995.
They ventilated anger against police connivance with the high-caste community to hush up the molestation of Dalit women by cremating her in midnight. They pointed out that it is customary in the Hindu religion to cremate a dead body in the presence of near relatives. The believed family was cordoned off by a heavy contingent of policemen. They were not allowed to see journalists or opposition politicians. Even the opposition Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka were manhandled when they tried to reach the village Hathras. The opposition leaders were allowed to go there after nation-wide furor about the high-handedness of the state and central governments.
Police modus operandi to cover up violence against the Dalit: Besides concocting alibis for the absconding accused of heinous crimes against the Dalit, the usual tactic is to play down the Dalit protest. To do so they link Dalit protests to Naxalite (Maoist) movement dubbing protesters as `traitors’. The police rounded up even professors, poets and lawyers who wanted to participate in the anniversary to celebrate Bhim Koregaon victory on December 31, 2019. A case in point is the arrest of five prominent left-wing activists, dubbed `urban Naxals’, and accused of funding the Dalit protests. They were even accused of being linked to terrorists in illegally occupied Indian Jammu and Kashmir State. The arrestees are writer-poet P. Varavar Rao, lawyers Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Fareira, Vernon Gonzaleves and Gautam Navalakha.
The Koregaon Victory celebrations irked the high-caste Hindu as it aimed at commemorating the British victory (January 1, 1818) against Baji Rao Peshwa, a Maratha, by the Dalit recruited in the British army. The Dalit had earlier asked the Peshwa to recruit them for fighting against the British army. But the Peshwa contemptuously rejected the request.
The Dalit’s miserable life-style in modern India: The Hindu caste-and culture code prevents high-caste Hindu to intermingle with the Dalit on equal terms. Dalit is supposed not to wear footwear in certain villages, ride a bicycle, or a horse, not to march his marriage procession in front of high-caste Hindu, and even dare worship in a high-caste temple. At a ceremony, five thousand Dalit converted en masse to Buddhism.
A cursory look at the oppression of the Dalit during the past few years confirms that the Dalit are treated as worse than animals in the Hindu society. The law enforcement agencies (police and judiciary) always support the high-caste culprits if a first information report is registered. The Dalit were forbidden (October 5, 2003) by the upper caste Hindu to offer prayers at a Durga Puja congregation (“Pandal”) in Gopalichak locality of Bihar’s Bhojpur district (ARA, Bihar). An altercation between rival groups led to the stampede. Instead of resolving the matter amicably, the police opened fire on the Dalit congregation, killing two Dalit on the spot and injuring several others.
A 28-year-old Dalit youth was beaten to death by upper-caste Hindus for daring to sit in the verandah of Bhathiji temple (Gujarat Times News Network, Anand, Bhitasi village, August 10, 2003). According to news media), According to the police officials and social workers, `such incidents occur regularly, but only a handful are reported as members of the lower caste community still fear the wrath of the upper caste’.
The Dalit sanitary workers, frontline health staff, engaged against COVID 19 pandemic, are denied protective gear despite media outcry.
Dalit population: The official term for the Dalit (including Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist) is Scheduled Castes. According to the 2011 Census, the Dalit population in India is 200 million, excluding Muslim and Christian Dalit. If the excluded are counted among the Dalit, the actual figure would be about 300 million, a quarter of the country’s 1.2 billion population.
India’s Scheduled Castes are distributed across 31 states and union territories. The states with the highest total numbers of SCs are Uttar Pradesh, with more than 40 million, and West Bengal with approximately 20 million. The less populous Punjab is the state with the highest proportion of SCs to its total population – 31.9 percent.
Half of India’s Dalit population lives in four states (Times of India)
Four states account for nearly half of the country’s Dalit population, reveals the 2011 census. Uttar Pradesh stands first with 20.5% of the total scheduled caste (SC) population, followed by West Bengal with 10.7%, says the data released by the Union census directorate on Tuesday. Bihar with 8.2% and Tamil Nadu with 7.2 % come third and fourth. Dalits form around 16.6% of India’s population. Half of India’s Dalit population lives in 4 states,
among their population. Though UP has the largest chunk of the total SC population, Punjab has the largest share of Dalits in its population at 31.9%. Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal follow Punjab with 25.2% and 23.5%. In Tamil Nadu, Dalits account for about 18% of the population. There are around 9.79 crore women among the total SC population, and the sex ratio works out to 946 females per 1000 males. Nagaland, Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar islands have no scheduled castes.
Inference: Modi’s India is trying to convert, hands in gloves with fascist Rashtriya Swayem Sevak Sangh (voluntary service association), into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). . But, the divisions in the Hindu society are obvious. A quarter of the Hindu population, the Dalit, are not treated as equal citizens and denied access to even high-caste temples.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing freelance for over five decades. He has served the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is the author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic.