'Dalit Atrocity' or 'Atrocity on Dalits'?


Priyadarshini Ohol

priyadarshini oholFor the last few months I've been noticing that sections of the media, especially those that are usually loathe reporting on caste or mentioning dalits, have started vehemently using the phrase "Dalit Atrocity" to describe crimes against them. There are also some oppressor caste communists using this phrase with abandon. This is perplexing in its entirety to me. How can a crime committed on or against someone be their crime?

I've written to India Today's editor when I first noticed the phrase on twitter calling to attention the folly of attributing a heinous noun – atrocity - to dalits who are the survivors of it. I received no answer to my email in spite of calling attention of multiple editors and their handles on twitter.

I'm not a media graduate or even a English major nor do I have any experience working with large media houses and dealing with editorial lines, so correct me if I'm wrong, but when an ill or a crime is described as being committed, the perpetrator is the one that it is attributed to, not the victim or survivor. Such as a burglar's burglary and not a homeowner's burglary, a pickpocket's theft not the unsuspecting victim's theft, a rapist's rape and not that of the survivor's.

How is it that this very sensitive and common norm of being sensitive to the victims is abandoned when it comes to reporting heinous atrocities committed ON the scheduled castes and tribes – collectively called dalits BY the oppressor castes? Why such a level of dehumanization of dalits that even a common courtesy extended to all humanity is not available to them?

How come it's not an OPPRESSOR CASTE ATROCITY or a BRAHMIN ATROCITY or a PATEL ATROCITY or a CASTEIST ATROCITY or even a tempered down BRAHMINICAL ATROCITY or just plain CASTE ATROCITY if not "WHATEVER CASTE or GROUP ATROCITY" of stripping or raping or beating or flogging or otherwise humiliating any dalits? How come only the dalits get labeled with the caste denominator and the title of the crime?

Are dalits committing these atrocities? Are dalits committing humiliating atrocities on themselves or are the oppressor castes in UNA and other places committing them on Dalits? Are dalits committing atrocities on themselves to label crimes against them as 'Dalit Atrocity'? Are dalits exploiting themselves or committing casteism , caste based humiliation, caste based discrimination, caste based violence or caste based sexual violence on themselves that they then end up suffering for? Is there no perpetrator but the dalits themselves? How is it that in crimes and indeed atrocities committed against dalits the narrative pushed is that they themselves are committing these atrocities by using misleading and dehumanizing phrases like "Dalit Atrocity"? Why are the perpetrators given such a leeway that they can commit atrocities and get away with it because no one's going to attribute those atrocities to them.? Instead, the atrocities are going to be attributed to the victims or survivors under the label of "dalit atrocity", regardless of whether the perpetrators of such atrocities are Brahmins or Patels or ABVP students or oppressor caste vice chancellors?

ohols letter to india today

Priyadarshini's letter to India Today

I would like to understand what the editorial standards of Indian journalism and editorials are. This perpetual cycle of injustice to those denied, and immunity to the perpetrators needs to be stopped. Is our fourth estate that debased, that even in claiming to be an "activist media" they continue to perpetrate structural injustice upon the oppressed? By hiding discussion about caste, not naming the castes of the perpetrators but naming those of the oppressed, by using misleading titles, using words like Italy's fascism instead of coming to the point with India's brahminism, denying atrocities committed by oppressor castes on dalits by claiming those are in fact dalit atrocities?

I would think misattributing a criminal noun to a victim of a crime is not just shoddy but yellow journalism that borders on criminal. After all which newspaper or serious weekly or monthly will get away with calling a victim of a rape as a rapist? And why should these callous rags pretending to be news media be allowed to get away with characterising a whole group that is oppressed as some mythical "self oppressors" with no one else to blame? After all, why can't they just tell the truth and label these news pieces as Atrocities on Dalits which is what they are, instead of calling them "Dalit Atrocities" thus misleading and setting up further victimization?

If I were to paint a victim or survivor as a perpetrator the only reason I would do it is because I favour the perpetrator or I don't want to represent them unfavorably, because I consider the victim expendable in the project of saving the perpetrator, because I am negligent, because I do not think the victim of the crime deserves relief, out of malice towards the victim or survivor

Journalists and news media propagating the lie under the label of "Dalit Atrocity" are in fact maliciously colluding with the time held tradition of Brahminical India to misrepresent all narratives on caste and casteism and make invisible any atrocities committed by those that benefit from the pyramid scam caste system of exploitation.

If there are any democratic ethics remaining in Indian journalism, the phrase "Dalit Atrocity" should be abandoned herewith as extremely prejudicial and any news articles with such titles or hashtags should be edited to reflect the reality of atrocities on dalits.

One of the main reasons I object to this twisted title "Dalit Atrocity" is because the word "Dalit" is a common noun. It comes from the word "dalita" meaning the oppressed. So it recognizes that there is oppression and the oppressed castes exist. It doesn't recognize a particular caste but is a title for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. I prefer to define them as survivors of oppression. Indeed, I think, they are one of the worst oppressed and subject to holocaust groups in the world for the longest time by an illogical and uncivilized pyramid scam invented by the worst of mankind. We have not only survived but within less than a century of enforced civility, through equality of opportunity, some of us are actually beginning to flourish. So I see us as the people who cannot just resist or struggle against or beat oppression but also the people who can flourish in spite of it. That is what being a dalit means to me.

But then here they come, with another noun, to add to the noun dalit. Somehow the title is now "Dalit Atrocity." I'm a dalit and you are throwing this title dalit atrocity at me now. So are you calling me atrocious? Or accusing me of committing atrocities on myself? Or are the atrocities committed by the oppressor castes on my people, dalit by their heinous nature? In which case are those that use the phrase "Dalit Atrocity" trying to redefine the word dalit from oppressed to heinous and violent? Exactly what are the editors of these dailies and newspapers trying to tell me? I say it is offensive. It is insensitive. It is negligent and dehumanizing. It is probably intentionally malicious. It is capable of marginalization of already marginalized groups. It borders on malice to title a group of oppressed people as an Atrocity. This is extremely low standards for the fourth estate, the very people who are supposed to prevent this from happening and safeguard the democratic principles - one of the chief amongst them being fraternity. Because as a fellow Indian, if you cared about me and my people, you would show me the basic human courtesy, consideration and sensitivity like you show any other victims and survivors. Instead you are calling us Atrocious.



Priyadarshini Ohol is an Artist and Activist fond of Adventure Sports. She used to be a businesswoman and one of her businesses was about writing.

Other Related Articles

The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... 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...
I am someone who thinks in an Ayyankali thought: Vinayakan, best actor
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Dwija Aami and Sreerag Poickadan Malayalam actor Vinayakan has received the Kerala State government's Best Actor Award 2016 for the Malayalee film Kammatpadam, recently. His interview by... Read More...
Gandhi and the Structure of Dalit Everyday Life
Thursday, 09 March 2017
  Anilkumar PV As a point of entry, let us focus on the indictment that Manabendra Nath Roy made in his 1938 book on fascism with regard to the form and content of Gandhian politics: he... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Let’s read SFI as 'Students' Fascism of India': Dalit & Muslim Students of Kerala
Friday, 10 February 2017
  C Ahamed Fayiz Activists of Inquilab Students Movement were attacked by SFI hooligans at Government College, Madappally, Calicut today. Adhil Ali. A, a first year student who is pursuing BA... Read More...
“I Shan’t Die, I Shall Live And Win”: Story of An Adivasi Girl Student
Tuesday, 14 February 2017
  Rakesh Sanal "If I die, I will fail. I shall live and win. I very well know how tough it is. Hearing people speak of this nation as a democracy makes me laugh, for isn't it this nation which... Read More...
Dalit Man murdered in Kerala for 30 Rupees!
Monday, 27 February 2017
  This is a transcription of a news report, by Amesh, which originally appeared in Left Click News. It was translated from Malayalam by Dhanya Madhav. A Dalit man was brutally assaulted and... Read More...
Chalo Thiruvananthapuram – Wipe Out Caste Colonies! Reconstruct the Kerala Model!
Monday, 23 January 2017
  [Via Santhosh Kumar] On January 29, 2017 "Chalo Thiruvananthapuram" movement heralds from the protest fronts of Chengara with the mission to ensure equal justice for the marginalised in... Read More...
The landless will now receive no land
Saturday, 22 April 2017
  Santosh Kumar Thomas Isaac, the Finance minister of Kerala had declared in the budget that flats/apartments shall be constructed within a year and given to one lakh people in Kerala who do not... 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