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From Atrocities to Affirmative Action: The Only Solution is Annihilation of Caste
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From Atrocities to Affirmative Action: The Only Solution is Annihilation of Caste

dipankar kamble 2a

 

Dipankar Kamble

dipankar kamble 2aSince last couple of months many issues are coming to the fore in the news. This includes the Supreme Court’s ruling on SC/ST POA Act and Dalit outrage (#BharatBandh) and the counter protest by Savarnas against reservation policy and call for Bandh.

First, we need to understand that what was the objective of SC/ST POA Act, 1989

The main objective of the SC/ST POA Act was to prevent the brutal and barbaric crimes against members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

One such brutal case of anti-SC violence took place in a small village named Khairlanji in Bhandara district of Maharashtra in 2006. A woman named Surekha Bhotmange lived in the village with her husband, two sons and one daughter (Priyanka Bhotmange). They belonged to the Mahar caste classified as Scheduled Caste. They had a farm in the village but were not allowed to draw water from the well and were tortured like anything by the superior caste villagers. She went to the police station and made a complaint but the officers paid no heed towards her complaint. Then the villagers attacked one of her relatives as a warning to Surekha. She again went to the police station and made a complaint. This time the police took some action and made arrests, but released the culprits almost immediately. The villagers gathered around Surekha’s house and dragged everyone out of the house except her husband as he was away in the fields. Surekha’s sons were beaten black and blue and left to die. Surekha and her daughter (Priyanka Bhotmange) were gang raped by the villagers and were made to march naked in the village. Finally all four were thrown into the canal after they died.

I was probably 7 years old when I read about this case. I could gather some instances which I had observed in the past, especially as my grandfather was a Dalit leader in Bramhapuri, a tahsil near Bhandara district in Maharashtra.

I tried to contrast the public response to the Khairlanji atrocity with that of Nirbhaya. When the Delhi case of Nirbhaya happened in 2012 people irrespective of caste participated in the protest, Mymother and I too participated in the protests. But when I read about Khairlanji on several websites, blogs, etc., I find that there was outrage only within the Dalit Community.

WHY ONLY DALIT COMMUNITY? This reflects the casteist nature of a majority of the Indian population.

Khairlanji is not a singular incident. This kind of violence has always been prevalent in India.

The ruling which the Supreme Court has given on SC/ST POA Act: the two judges of the Supreme Court are insulting 29 percent of India’s population by calling the agitators misled. Thousands of agitators are misled while these two judges are led by their self-proclaimed “good” intentions? The judges have no locus standi in making amendments in the Atrocities act and its processes.

Recently, I heard about PS Krishnan who played an important role in drafting the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In response to the recent Supreme Court judgement on granting bail to the accused in atrocity cases, the senior bureaucrat-turned activist, PS Krishnan said that without touching the actual atrocity act, but undermining its vital provisions, the Supreme Court has actually abolished the vital elements of the Atrocity act, and in essence made the act powerless to defend the SCs and STs.

I have a strong contention against the thought that SC/ST POA Act is being misused by people of SC/ST community. I fail to understand how can an Act which is merely used, get misused?

Recently there had been events which prove that the brutal and barbaric behavior towards the SCs and STs has not yet stopped.

In Una city which is in Gujarat, Dalits were beaten naked by cow vigilantes.

In Timbi, a village in Umrala Taluka of Gujarat, a boy named Pradeep was killed for riding a horse.

Acts Like SC/ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989; Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013; and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, are made to protect the vulnerable sections of society and are needed because these sections (SCs/STs, Women) had been discriminated and ill-treated since time immemorial.

The Second Issue: Counter Protest by Savarnas against Reservation and Call for Bandh

Savarnas can’t digest Dalit power, So when the people of SC/ST Community demonstrated against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Atrocities Act, the Savarnas planned to call a counter Bandh with an Anti-Reservation stand which was backed by ABVP, the students wing of the Bharatiya Janta Party, the party which claims to be sympathetic towards the SC/ST population.

Arguments made by Savarnas:

Even America had faced racism like caste but they have not given reservation to the African Americans…!

 Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, in which he declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.

But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was fighting for civil rights of African Americans till 1963. This we can derive from his speech which he made in front of the Lincoln memorial in the year 1963. “I Have A Dream” means it was almost a 100 year fight even after emancipation from slavery in 1863.

Recently, we saw that in Sacramento, California, an unarmed black man was gunned down while standing in his grandmother’s backyard. The dead man was Stephon Clark. Police thought he might be vandalizing cars. A neighbor called 911 after he saw a man breaking the windows of his truck. Police showed up. They didn’t know if Stephon was the vandal or not. But they shot him, several times, in the back. Police said Stephon had a gun. He did not have a gun. The officers who shot him knew they had done wrong. “Hey, mute,” said officers on the scene, so they all turned off the audio feed on their body cameras. Now the neighbor who called the police says, “It makes me never want to call 911 again. They shot an innocent person.” Stephon’s killing has provoked ongoing protests in Sacramento. People are saying he was shot because he was black. People are saying the police harass, brutalize, and kill black people. This Shows the Dehumanization of African Americans in America, even after emancipation from slavery and the struggle for civil rights.

Coming back to reservation policy

Bangladesh Prime Minister ended the Reservation system in Bangladesh recently, and again the Savarna chorus begins. Before saying anything, we should first understand the Bangladesh Reservation system. In Bangladesh, 30 percent of the seats are reserved for the students coming from the “freedom fighters” background. It means those families which fought in the “war of independence” against Pakistan in 1971 have the “quota”. There are over 2,50,000 families that are elegible for this quota. The certificates are either forged or procured through bribes, in many cases.

The freedom fighters’ families are not socially and educationally deprived like the SC/ST OBCs of India. They are rather the families of freedom fighters who must be most respected families in Bangladesh.

The reservation policy is also one of the strongest reasons, why the upper castes nurture such hatred in their bellies against Dr. Ambedkar and are reluctant to accept his greatness.

Last year, on the 126th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, I was a speaker at one of his Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) celebrations. There was a Savarna girl who spoke before me and was very critical towards thoughts of Dr. Ambedkar. One of the things which she said to justify Varna (caste) system was, and I quote “Are legs inferior to thighs, are thighs inferior to arms are arms inferior to head?”. Unknowingly she reinforced the whole structure of the caste system.

Varna (caste) system as I understand it is like: “Can legs perform the functions of the brain, can arms perform the functions of legs, can brain perform the functions of thighs”. This means that a Shudra can never perform the functions of a Brahmin, a Shudra can never perform the functions of a Kshatriya and vice versa. Once a Shudra always a Shudra.

The Indian readers are casteist in nature–they’ll read Gandhi but not Dr. Ambedkar. They’ll read Ramchandra Guha, Shashi Tharoor but not Sukhadev Thorat or Sujatha Gidla.

The cate tension is increasing day by day in this country which will affect the integrity of India. The only solution to prevent it is Annihilation of Caste.

Jai Phule! Jai Shahu! Jai Bheem!

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Dipankar Devesh Kamble is a student at National Law University, Nagpur, and Management member of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Education Society, Bramhapuri. He can be contacted at kambledipankar10@gmail.com

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