This is for the international and non-Maharashtrian activists/academics/journos only.
Currently, the situation across Maharashtra is extremely diverse depending upon place to place.
There’s an ongoing mechanism by mainstream media and press to isolate the dalits, either by condemning with fabricated charges like Pakistan/Naxal connections bullcrap or in a reverse way by showing support but inadvertently creating a rift between the Mahars and Marathas by making it all about these 2 castes alone. This is going to reflect badly on the ground.
But people all over the state are trying hard to remind of the unity not just between the 2 castes but also a collective of other backward castes as well. There are videos circulating made by town folks on their mobile appealing unity, people are dancing in loud DJ for back to back songs on Shivaji Maharaj and Babasaheb. Videos are coming from places like Pimpri-Chinchwad where working-class Muslims have shown their open condemnation of the attack in a constitutional fashion.
Of course, the situation is still tense, fights are opening up in a multitude of places, combing operations, but overall there is an immense effort going on to bring back peace and harmony. Thousands and thousands are in lockup with charges pressed against them and they won’t be getting top-notch lawyers for free. People are collecting bail money and running from court to station and back to court. People are asserting and expressing in a multitude of ways, some leaders have quit shiv sena, some have quit BJP and some even quit RPI for that matter depending on local context. The descendant of Shivaji Maharaj, Sambhajiraje Bhosale even appealed in the parliament for a massive unity of Mahar-Maratha castes and others as well.
But again, overall, the situation is one where people are re-asserting unity because by making it about a single or 2 castes there’s going to be eventual isolation. And that’s going to reflect badly on the ground. The media is hell-bent on projecting Jignesh Mewani or Umar Khalid upon the entire complex scenario because that’s convenient for everyone above.
In such a scenario, I request to proceed with caution and sensitivity regarding what words do you use in your rallies or articles or theses or events or international protests. Remember that if in doubt about how to express, silence is the best measure. Everyone’s trying for collective peace, avoid social isolation or even criminalization of particular communities, arrange relief for the ones suffering, and to bring quick justice to the ones wrongly accused.
Please act with sensitivity.
Images courtesy: Received via social media circulation