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The United Savarnas of Odisha
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Assertion

The United Savarnas of Odisha

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Students’ Federation for Social Justice

The BJP, Congress and the civil society (mainly the bar council of Odisha high court) of the state have displayed unprecedented solidarity and demanded action against Mr. Satish K. Gajbhiye, an upright Dalit police officer. Such deep conviction they share for their state, such is their patriotism that they would boycott Independence Day celebrations (meaning: not allowing flag hoisting in the state’s highest judiciary, we suppose).

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That kind of conviction, that shared fellow-feeling cutting across party lines, is best displayed in the darkest hours of democracy, when you face dangers to your sovereignty, you would think. But former Kendrapada Superintendent of Police Mr. Gajbhiye was neither throttling democracy nor was he a threat to the state. What he did was what you observe everyday on parliament street in the national capital. He was reining in protesters whose protests were turning violent.

A motley crowd of less than a few hundred had descended on the street demanding action against one Sarathi Baba, a self-styled godman who had been caught doing on TV what the protesters normally would love to do (like checking into a hotel with a woman companion). Mr. Gajbhiye says, there were no ‘actionable complaints’ against Sarathi Baba to arrest him. The price he paid for reining in the rabble-rousers and trouble-makers is unprecedented. He was first shunted out from Kendrapada, and few days later placed under suspension. He is continuously quizzed on the lathi-charge and hard-measures the police undertook, but not questioned about how many of the people were wounded (news reports say 10, but all policemen); but was it fair to make an advocate do sit-ups! The media simply never reported the number of dead or injured in the incident.

 Police apathy is not rare in Odisha. A month before, on July 19th to be exact, almost 7000 people marched in Bolangir district to demand action against the District Collector and SP for failing to arrest anyone a month after the gut-wrenching rape and murder of a minor Dalit girl. A week later, a few more thousands protested in the State capital. As months go by, the mysterious investigation into the rape and killing of a Dalit minor in a small village where caste conflict had intensified makes no headway.

Police violence is not unheard of in Odisha either. Take for example, the worst cases where police opened fire on protesters, Maikanch or Kalinganagar police firings. Too many people were shot dead and wounded. Many in the back. No action has been taken on those officers at the helm. It was the same parities in government and opposition, same Chief minister. Only difference was caste. The protesters were tribals and dalits trying to save their land, their livelihood.

Instead, it was a well-oiled political machinery in Kendrapada which roped in pawns as protestors with the ultimate motive of saving Hindutva. Just like any other Hindu Baba, Sarathi Baba drew crowds in hundreds, flourished with the four-term government for decades. What brings him in confrontation with the RSS and BJP is a mystery. People whose gut didn’t turn in defending Asaram Bapu for his rape and killing of a minor are aghast at seeing Sarathi Baba in jeans. People who saw the Christian Lady’s conspiracy in arresting and/or defaming Hindu godmen (Asaram, Nityananda, Ramdev) for crime and corruption, demand suo motu action against Sarathi Baba.

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Satish K. Gajbhiye

When a group of prescient college-going kids went to the then SP of Bolangir, demanding action against dalit atrocities swiftly unfolding in Bolangir, just months before the aforesaid rape and murder, the SP quickly pointed to the CrPC amendment which inserted the clause that “Instead of arresting the accused, the police will now be obliged to issue him a “notice of appearance” for any offence punishable with imprisonment up to seven years”.

Unlike the protest in Bolangir, which barely made into squared boxes in newspapers and didn’t see even the Dalit politicians of any party (except the CPI), the BJP is united with the Congress in Kendrapada protest. They have roped in the High court bar council too. The news of their strike is replayed on TV as if it is the only thing happening in Odisha. In trying to create a political bonfire, they needed a proverbial Holika. A senior, down-to-earth, and non-religious Dalit Police officer, who swears by the constitution of India is being sacrificed.

The so-called civil society, BJP, Congress, the media and the government are united in the persecution of an upright Dalit IPS officer, each for their own interest. They should stop canoodling under the sheets of their caste-lineages and caste-loyalties, and declare themselves The United Savarnas of Odisha.

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[Via Jadumanilion Bauddha]

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