Suicide of Uttam Mondal and Arrest of Shuma Mondal: The Dalit Protest in Nonadanga
Georgy Kuruvilla Roy
(For Dalit Camera Through Un-Touchable Eyes)
It's a given that if a casteist government is at the helm of affairs, Dalits are bound to suffer the most, and if they were to protest this casteism, they would have to inevitably contest repressive apparatuses like the police forces and ideological apparatuses like the NGOs. This is what happened in Nonadanga, West Bengal, where a group of Namasudras protested against the torture and murder of Uttam Mondal, a Dalit man. The casteist media joined forces with the state to call the protests 'mob fury', thereby sweeping under the carpet the socio-political context of the protests.
On 5th October, 2013, Shuma Mondal, wife of Uttam Mondal, filed a verbal complaint at the police camp situated in the Nonadanga slum and rehabilitation area against domestic violence. The camp, where one cannot file cases, sent six policemen headed by Pasha to 'arrest' Uttam Mondal. The police seized Mondal and assaulted him all the way to the camp. At the camp, the torture of Mondal continued unabated and even after his parents' continued requests, the police refused to stop harassing Mondal and asked the parents to bring the complainant to the camp. Upon this, Shuma Mondal came to the camp and requested the police forces to release Uttam. The officials, however, asked her for a written complaint. When Shuma wrote in the complaint that she was beaten four times, the police changed it to twenty times. The police also demanded Rs 25,000 from Uttam's parents for his release, which they refused. The police continued with the physical abuse of Uttam for an hour more before releasing him. Uttam came back home and was found hanging in his room next morning.