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Dalits Cowed By Vigilantes.

India, July 25 -- "What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by treachery of some of her own people," said Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution. His words still hold good in a different context. Dalits and minorities find themselves tied in knots, unable to enjoy the fruits of freedom, because of the ideological arrogance and moral policing of some organisations. The atrocious attacks on Dalits in Gujarat; the killing of Dalit youths in various parts of the country; the rising number of students of weaker sections who end their lives in colleges and universities; the venomous verbal assault on Dalit leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati; all these reiterate the fact that 'Manuwadi mentality' is still ruling the roost.

The appalling prejudice against Dalits has not happened all of a sudden. It has its roots in Manu Smriti, a revered text of the Hindus, which looks down upon the 'low castes'. It apparently says that a Dalit is created by Brahma to serve the Brahmins and he is created for slavery. It even equates the status of a 'low caste' person with that of a village pig, a cock and a dog. It is this perverse mindset that is at the back of attack on Dalits across the length and breadth of the country. It will be wrong to look at such brutal assaults as isolated incidents. It springs from an upper caste ideology that looks down upon certain sections in the society. Picking up one incident here or another there and handing out some cosmetic punishment will be nothing but treating the symptom rather than the disease.

The outrageous attacks on minorities and Dalits by the 'cow saviours' have gone up since the BJP government came to power at the Centre. The impunity with which the vigilantes indulge in their outlandish activities points to a larger political narrative built around the issue of cow protection in the last couple of years. What one got to see in Gujarat is even more worrisome as the victims were engaged in skinning carcasses of cows, something they were legally permitted to do. It is equally important to understand that they were engaged in their only source of livelihood. If we juxtapose the Gujarat incident with attacks on cattle traders in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and so on, a clear pattern of communal polarization for apparent political gains emerges. The most uncivilized verbal assault on Ms Mayawati by a senior BJP leader too falls in this pattern of polarization as several States in the cow belt are going to polls next year.

A few innocuous actions like suspending an accused from the party or filing FIRs are not going to solve the issue. State and Central governments along with the ideological mentors of these vigilantes should show sincerity in stopping the Dalit attackers in their tracks. Or else, those who play into the hands of the Hindutva hardliners for short-term benefits will reap heavy losses in the long run. The Dalit outbursts in Gujarat and U.P. signal what lies ahead.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.

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Publication:Indian Currents
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 25, 2016
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