Harish S. Wankhede
We have adjectives like barbaric, heinous and violent in our regular usage. Are these modern civilized terms? No, these terms are related to the textual demonic medieval mythic orchestra that demonstrates the inhumane avatar of 'non-humans/aliens' who are blood thirsty and eat human flesh. A 'barbaric' ruler is one who is completely mad and wallows in arrogance to laugh over chopped corpses. A 'heinous' crime is an unthinkable act in which a pathetic psychopath indulge his cravings on a rotten dead body to craft his name over her sexual organs. And 'violent' describes the male aggression which subjugates, belittles and dismembers the human body into nothingness. However, I am not surprised that these words are still in practice in our own context. Here, the Dalits are condemned to live in a society, where individuals in some communities are still groomed in, and personify such pathetic cultural values of the medieval age. A brahmanical upper caste male chauvinist criminality is realized in its full glory only by inculcating such animalistic desires and contempt towards a Dalit body.
What exactly is the post-Ambedkar Dalit Movement in India fighting for? Is it for claiming the Prime Minister's chair of this country or to become the richest capitalist entrepreneurs of Asia? Do the Dalits aspire to monopolize all the government jobs or wish to loot all the agricultural land? Do you think that Dalit youths have hidden desires to marry your sisters? Or do you fear that if these 'bastards' get better education, they may write a 'non-meritorious' history of this nation? No! A loud no to all your fears, assumptions and pathological dreams. Dalits have no such grandiose plans. Such aggravated human desires are only for modern secular scientific tempers, manufactured in air conditioned houses, that travel in fancy cars and airplanes. On the contrary, the majority of Dalits have been perpetually in the clutches of primitive social conditions, gripped by poverty and darkness and fighting merely for humane treatment. We have only a basic need and desire to be considered as living souls. But the answer from your side is a consistent No! A complete refusal.
And then you also react against our audacity. Your perpetual hatred, fear and contempt against us become volcanoes that erupt in molten lava over half-naked, unhealthy bodies to burn them dead into ashes. In anger, your giant patriarchal self becomes a brutal sexual demon and rapes our woman till she turns into a dead body. Then you chop her body parts and give to your young children so that they can play with it. And those innocent bodies of small children! You shot bullets into their heads, and even foetuses, just because you thought that they might mutate into Naxal bodies. The whole Dalit village is bulldozed, burnt and tortured to suit the extreme fantasies of a criminal psyche. You return home in a jubilant march, brandishing rifles and blood drenched swords. At the gates of the citadel your women are ready with garlands and puja thalis.
The demonstration of your demonic realm is not over. You can re-perform it at whim. It is a routine act under the sacred shadow of the ancient Hindu Bargad tree. You are performing your karma to save the spiritual merit of the brahmanic social order that treats a section of population as 'untouchable' filthy carcasses, worse than animals. Butchering them is thus no crime in your religious texts and ethics.
Violent caste atrocities, the heinous tragedies of brutal rapes, mass murders and social violence will continue. The realm of landlords with satisfied proud faces sitting over the chopped bodies will be retained. Outside such operative casteist realm, the Universities will keep teaching Marx and Freud in closed rooms. Tomorrow, the Prime Minister will wear the same white clean shervani and 'The Hindu' will publish more color pages. The economy of 'Jantar Mantar' will flourish uninterrupted and consequently make India the world's third largest economy. Beauty parlors, medical stores and banks will remain open without disturbance. You, the city dwellers will remain the sleeping partners of the horrendous crimes against humanity that are taking place in your backyards and maybe some of your counterparts are actively involved in it.
The Dalits are victims of aggressive macho casteist violence and the criminal silence of the modern 'civil' society. The grand statues of your proud nation, functional civil society, vibrant political institutions and your ethics of family have been erected by burying numerous brutalized, murdered, raped corpses in their foundations. You remained silent and completely absent in the discourse of caste atrocities, social violence and religious butchery because inside your mind there is a fear which tells you not to say anything as someone from 'the family' is involved in each brutality. Your moral and ethical channel is switched off as soon as any scene of a wretched Dalit basti appears on the screen. Your silent contempt for the Dalit question is no different from the hatred that the criminal psychopath had demonstrated in the horrifying caste violence of Lakshmanpur Bathe, Bathani Tola and Khairlanji. We are killed not only by the brahmanical sword but equally by your presence as a mere spectator standing in tacit silence to support my killers.
The Dalits are not rebels, revolutionaries and anarchists. We have hardly reacted. We are more peaceful, non-violent and harmless than thousands of your Gandhis, Teresas, Mandelas and Malalas. Our leader, Babasaheb Ambedkar hoped that this nation will respond to its historic crimes and in its guilt and redemption it will open the gates for the 'wretched brethren' to transform society in the light of the values of liberty, equality and fraternity for all. We are still waiting for that magical day. The Dalits still put their faith in humanity, love and peace against the uninterrupted experiences of inhumane atrocities and violence. I simply don't know from what route such moral human capacity still enters into the Dalit basti and asks them to stay calm and confident about the future. Why does that route lead only to our homes and not to the doors of the demons, criminals and brahmanical casteist elites?
Somewhere inside a wretched hut in a Dalit basti, under a dim light, a little pale girl has opened her school bag to do her History home work. She has to write an essay on India's freedom struggle against British imperialism. She started writing about the glorious leadership of 'Mahatma' Gandhi in liberating the country but was suddenly interrupted by the loud sounds of fired bullets in the neighborhood. Her mother clutched her close to her chest in dead fear, knowing that the dreaded 'Ranveer Sena' has attacked the village in vengeance.The mother and the child somehow escaped from the attack but not many others in the basti did. 58 people, including infants and pregnant women, were massacred. That night, the little pale girl decided not to write the essay on India's Independence struggle. She learnt a new lesson in History that day.
Harish S. Wankhede is assistant professor of political science at Delhi University.
Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.