From Khairlanji to Haryana: Do Dalits have human rights?


Karthik Navayan

(This is a slightly revised version of an article written in 2006)

The publicity that was given to the incidents of burning of five railway bogies and vandalizing of a hundred bus windows was not extended to the massacre of four members of a single family. The upper caste media widely, and intentionally, publicized that an angered Dalit community had gone on a rampage as a result of the desecration of Ambedkar's statue in Kanpur. But, the gruesome incident in Khairlanji village of Bhandara district, Maharashtra, in which the family of Bhaiyalal Bhotmange, comprising his wife Surekha, daughter Priyanka and sons Roshan and Suresh were subjected to inhuman violence, remained unknown to the world outside the village for two whole months after it happened, thanks to a very 'vigilant' media.

The family was paraded naked in front of all villagers who ordered Roshan and Suresh to rape their mother and sister publicly, and when they refused, mutilated their private parts. Later, they gang raped Surekha and her daughter Priyanka openly, inserted sticks in their vaginas, killed all the four members of the family and threw them on the outskirts of the village. The fact that this horrific incident was picked up by the upper caste media only two months later provides ample evidence of their hardcore, discriminatory attitude.

martyrs shall rise

The attacks on Dalits are not a new thing. Karamchedu, Chunduru, Neerukonda, Padirikuppam, Vempenta, Kanchikacherla and the recent Lakshimpeta in Andhra Pradesh, Kilvenmani, Melavalavu in Tamil Nadu, Shankar Bigha and Laxmanpur Bathe in Bihar, Jhajjar, Gohana, Mirchpur and the increasing acts of violence against Dalit women in every block in Haryana and Khairlanji in Maharashtra - and many other incidents which are yet to come to light are humiliating and insulting the constitutional democracy of this country.

Through their own efforts, some members of the Dalit community - which was subjected to oppression, exploitation and humiliation for thousands of years and which remained estranged from village, school and temples, lived as untouchable, unseen – are now garnering education, some livelihood. But the prospects of their endeavours to live as human beings are becoming questionable every day. Every incident in which the Dalit community shows its self-respect is met with bloodshed.

The inhuman culture which is not willing to accept fellow men as human beings still dominates this society. The evil social mechanism, the inhuman caste system, crushes down mercilessly even small efforts by Dalits to safeguard their identity. There is no single incident of any Dalit attacking and killing anyone in Indian history. Dalits are still maintaining restraint by exhibiting faith in laws and the constitutional system though they are attacked continuously. They did not resort to retaliatory attacks anywhere in the country. Consequently, legislations and the systems for implementing these legislations face a great crisis and stand behind the upper caste oppressors. This fact was proved in every incident of attack and carnage on Dalit community.

Today, protection of Dalit human rights is a million dollar question. No single accused who was involved in mass killings of Dalits across the nation, ever received any type of punishment. That means, given this context, every Dalit should think of his/her security. The blunt courage that remains after every hope evaporates is a big asset for Dalits. From now onwards, perhaps the guiding principle for Dalits to tackle unlawful violence should be to follow the course suggested by Sant Tukaram in this abhang:

'To a good man, we will even give our loincloths. But for a bad man, we will have our sticks ready'

Though Article 14 suggests equality, Article 17 article bans untouchability, Article 21 provides the right to live and the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities), 1989, safeguards the interests of Dalits, why are we today thinking that the above stated laws are not sufficient, why has protection of Dalits become a nightmare? Why are the accused in the Chunduru massacre - in which 26 Dalits were chased and hunted with hunting sickles, their bodies chopped into pieces and packed in gunny sacks to be thrown in the Tungabhadra canal passing through the village – roaming scot-free for the past 13 years? Fully engaged in their businesses and producing movies? Are the laws of this nation not applicable to these people?

This is an upper caste, predatory, Brahminical state. Laws and systems of this nation will not dare to cross the line drawn by the anti-Dalit Manu. Therefore, the father of our constitution Dr. B. R. Ambedkar stated that: "any legislation which is not accepted by the civil society will become useless." He further added that "I buried Manu in constitution and legislation, but he is still alive in the society." I think, every Dalit, who wishes to protect Dalit human rights, should understand from that what his duty is.

It is 50 years since Bodhisatva Baba Saheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar embraced Buddhism. Protection of Dalit human rights has become a problem and come to the forefront only because of negligence towards his ideology, principles and not accepting his fighting spirit in practice. The upper caste ruling classes are protecting the accused in Dalit atrocities cases. Courts and the administrative machinery are influenced by inducements. Consequently, a strong belief that "nothing will happen if we kill Dalits" is gaining strength day by day.

There is no need for new laws to protect Dalits from attacks if present existing laws are implemented effectively. We can infuse confidence among Dalits if that is done. But the role played by the Law Ministry and the police machinery is very regressive. Charge sheets were not issued in 14,000 cases out of 24,000 cases registered under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, from 1995 to 2006. The accused who must stand behind bars are kept away from jails and are threatening the Dalit victims. Of the remaining 10,000 cases, most of them were closed because of lack of proper evidences. There is no progress in other cases. If anyone still has any faith in police and the courts, then it is nothing but their foolishness!

In these circumstances, the responsibility of protection of Dalits is on Dalits themselves. An independent Dalit movement should emerge from Dalits themselves. But, the Dalit who managed to secure education, jobs, two meals a day and clean clothes to wear is "forgetting his caste after filling his stomach." The people who forget their community and Ambedkar will remain as traitors. The Dalit leaders become MLAs and MPs by utilizing political reservations, and act as domestic animals for the upper caste dominated political parties. If any injustice is done to any of them, only then will they growl that the injustice happened because of their Dalit background. This has become a common affair. There is no exception among the bourgeois party Dalit leaders. Commenting about such people, Dr. Ambedkar observed: "I thought that the one who gained advantage out of reservations will stand behind his fellow Dalit in all round development, but instead a self feeding clerical herd formed."

But still, there are some signs which kindle some optimism. The Dalit student community understands all aspects in the right perspective, and the best example in this regard is the right manner in which they responded during the recent Golden Jubilee celebrations of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's Dhamma Deeksha. It was after that event that the four members of Bhaiyalal Bhotmange's family in Khairlanji were brutally killed by an unruly mob led by local RSS leader Bhaskar Kawad. After this incident, whole nation should bow down its head in shame. The family of Bhaiyalal Bhotmonge had converted to Buddhism a year earlier (on the same day, 14th October, the anniversary of Baba Saheb's conversion). This had become indigestible to the local Hindu RSS mob.

The attacks, killings, atrocities, robbery and oppressions are not unplanned affairs. These are carried out as part of perfectly devised plans. Vicious casteists who are jealous of the development of the Dalit community, here and there, are resorting to attacks on Dalits. It is part of the plot to reintroduce untouchability and an ancient racist doctrine in this country.

Humiliating Ambedkar is nothing but humiliating the nation. In 2006, fifty years after the departure of the great leader from this physical world, there is a need for retrospection, to examine to what extent we have traveled in his path. We should all rededicate ourselves towards the inherited fighting spirit of Dr Ambedkar who sacrificed everything for the development of this nation and for annihilation of caste in this country.



Karthik Navayan is a human rights activist.

Other Related Articles

Dr. Khatumal Jeewan on the Rise of Meghwars in local Politics of lower Sindh
Saturday, 25 March 2017
  Dr Khatumal Jeewan Dr Khatumal Jeewan (Khatu) is the most celebrated Dalit leader of Pakistan. He has been senator, four times MNA (Member of National Assembly)  and two times MPA (Member... Read More...
Slaves of Manu
Friday, 24 March 2017
  Nitin Dhaktode Some peopleBorn in the socially marginalised community,Forget their rootsSpend their life practising slaveryThe bootlickers of the oppressor casteOppressors from Right, Left,... Read More...
Vayalar Rebellion: A Rethought
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV There is no other grand claim about history as that of Hegel's inimitable remark: "God is God only in so far as he knows himself." It was Marx who liberated thought from the... Read More...
"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF. In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Parched and Feminism: Are All Women's Stories the Same?
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
  Asha Singh In the past few days, I have noticed that a few of my Dalit-Bahujan friends are engaged in an uncritical celebration of Leena Yadav's feature film titled 'Parched'. I would like to... Read More...
Who’s your Perfect Dalit Woman?
Tuesday, 04 October 2016
  Christina Thomas Dhanaraj "The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt... Read More...
Presenting Angela Davis, the Savarna Style
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
  Sukanya Shantha On Friday, a friend and I walked into a movie hall to watch an American romantic musical, La La Land. Enticed by the cinematic beauty and the dreamy two hours spent in the... Read More...
In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities
Thursday, 01 December 2016
  Nidhin Shobhana In the name of the Nation: Historicizing Caste in Indian Universities (with special reference to Jawaharlal Nehru University) Setting up the Stage The 'idea' of a... Read More...
Wherever Caste exists in the World, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
  Dr Manisha Bangar NVP BAMCEF In India, and wherever in the world Caste exists, Ambedkar and Marx will remain Irreconcilable. Starting from the happenings in Hyderabad Central University in... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more