Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh Rally Calls for Struggles against Atrocities on Dalits
THOUSANDS of dalits and toiling masses from across the country attended the Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh Rally at Parliament Street in New Delhi on September 16, 2016. Six organisations – Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Akhil Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Dalit Aadhikar Raksha Rashtriya Abhiyan, National Council for Dalit Human Rights and Republican Party of India – have formed a broad-based platform to fight against physical attacks on dalits throughout the country. This platform `Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh’ held a day-long dharna cum rally at Parliament Street. Prakash Ambedkar inaugurated the rally. The rally was addressed among others by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, Sudhakar Reddy, CPI general secretary, Subhashini Ali from DSMM, D Raja, Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohith Vemula, Jignesh Mevani, convenor of Una Dalit Atyachar Ladat Samithi, Bezwada Wilson, Paul Diwakar, Vimal Thorat, Thirunavakkarasu, AIAWU, Nirmal, BKMU, and many others. Speakers attacked the anti-dalit stance of the BJP government and called for strong deterrent action against gau rakshaks and vigilante groups. It demanded land rights for the landless and equal opportunity in education and employment. It was decided to unite and fight against caste oppression and cultural nationalism agenda of RSS. Massive meetings in different states, campaign and action plan around the issues mentioned in the resolution have been planned. Below we reproduce the resolution adopted at the rally.
Adopted at Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh
ATROCITIES on dalits have continued with increased intensity ever since the RSS led BJP government headed by Narendra Modi has come to power. The NCRB data compiled shows that crimes against SCs and STs are up by 40 percent. In 2015, BJP ruled Gujarat (163.30 percent, 6,655 cases), Chhattisgarh (91.90 percent, 3,008 cases) and Rajasthan (58.5 percent, 7144 cases) have reported the highest crime rate against dalits. Incidents of rapes against dalit women and killing of dalits are also rising. Dalits are denied of their rightful share in wealth and resources and are being dispossessed of even their meagre land holdings. According to the results of the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011, nearly 73 percent of rural dalit households are considered "deprived". Around 45 percent of SC households are both landless and derive a major part of income from manual casual labour. Inequalities and deprivation are only increasing leading to poverty, malnutrition, health problems, illiteracy and dismal indicators of human development. Indignities are heaped on the community and menial jobs as well as demeaning jobs like manual scavenging are being forced upon dalits.
The institutional murder of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad Central University, with full backing of central ministers and the student wing of RSS saw an unprecedented unity and struggle against the Hindutva forces and the BJP government. On July 11, 2016 four young dalits were publicly flogged, paraded around in broad daylight in Una, Gujarat for skinning a dead cow. The perpetrators in their bravado uploaded their brutal acts on social media with utmost impunity. Attacks and killings of minorities have also risen in the last two years. Dr Narendra Dabholkar, Com Govind Pansare and Prof Kalburgi were killed for fighting against varna based caste system, superstitious belief and efforts to build the society on vedic principles. Systematic attacks on educational institutions like IIT Madras, FTII Pune, Lucknow University, Delhi University, Pondicherry Central University and Jawaharlal Nehru University as well as closure of thousands of government primary schools with a thrust on privatisation have also been witnessed. Communalisation of educational institutions and institutions of higher research are also going on.
Attacks by vigilante groups in the name of "Gau Raksha" on Muslims and dalits have increased. Most inhuman kind of torture has been meted to people on the pretext of cow protection and the brutal acts are uploaded on social media with utmost impunity. Incidents of public flogging, force-feeding cow-dung, stripping and parading the victims have come to light. BJP governments in the centre and different states have implicitly endorsed the violence by either refusing to take action against the culprits or even directly glorifying such acts. Different Hindutva groups and vigilante "Gau Rakshaks" are perpetrating such acts seeking to dehumanise and terrorise dalits and launch an assault on their basic dignity.
There are also concerted efforts to control the food habits of people by bringing legislations for cow-slaughter ban and beef ban. BJP-ruled states like Haryana and Maharashtra have sought to give a cloak of legal sanction to such acts by enforcing beef ban. The ban on sale of cattle and beef-ban is pushing millions of farmers into distress by preventing them from selling cattle during drought and buying new ones when their earnings rise after monsoon. This money also helped them to invest in seeds and other inputs. Cheap source of protein to poor farmers and agricultural workers and toiling masses is also threatened. Abandoned stray cattle have also caused immense damage to crops. The millions engaged in leather industry are also threatened of their livelihoods. The introduction of legislation in BJP ruled states wherein those who have not completed tenth standard and those families who do not have toilet in their homes will not be allowed to contest the local panchayat election is an attempt to create a separate society which can later be segregated and those excluded could be enslaved as a new class of Schedule Caste.
The Una incident is in continuation of a series of attacks like the lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, a truck driver Zahid Ahmad in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, hanging of Mohammed Majloom and a 12 year old child Inayatullah Khan in Latehar, Jharkhand by vigilante groups. Different videos of brutal attacks by such groups in Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are circulating but culprits are moving around scot-free. It was followed by attack on a dalit family in Karnataka allegedly by Bajrang Dal activists on the charge that they ate beef. The tacit support from the BJP government has only emboldened such groups.
These developments point to the unfolding of the RSS agenda of cultural nationalism which is clearly anti-dalit, anti-adivasi, anti-minority and against all oppressed sections aimed at introduction of a system where the individual freedom is subjected or made secondary to caste opinion. The Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh feels the necessity to build broadest possible issue-based unity against the casteist and communal forces led by RSS in implementing the agenda of cultural nationalism as envisaged by Golwalkar in We Or Our Nationhood Defined. It is under the garb of cultural nationalism that Manu-smriti is sought to be introduced, to replace the Indian constitution and discrimination based on caste and gender are being perpetrated. Social exclusion and inequality are legitimised as the guiding principles of social relations. In the social, cultural, economic and religious sphere the hegemony of the Brahmanical forces and hierarchical relationship, discrimination and worst forms of caste oppression are carried out. Denial of entry into temples for dalits and women, exclusive rights of priesthood for brahmins, writ of khap panchayats and killing of people deciding to go in for inter-caste marriage terming them "honour" killing and innumerable other kinds of discrimination continue unabated. In all these levels the Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh shall envisage to overthrow the existing system. It shall work for the unity of all oppressed sections to resist and overthrow cultural nationalism and caste oppression as well as for unity of all toiling masses and peasantry against the neo-liberal economic policies.
Indian constitution under Babasaheb Ambedkar's leadership made provisions for elimination of untouchability, for providing equal opportunity in education, employment and economic development as well as equal rights to participate in the democratic processes. Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh shall work to strengthen the Indian constitution and ensure implementation of these provisions to overcome caste oppression and put an end to atrocities on dalits. It will work for equitable and inclusive social justice. Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh will work for:
· To strengthen SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act to make it more effective.
· Effectively implement SC/ST Sub Plan.
· Stringent action against culprits booked in cases of attacks against dalits.
· Ban anti-social vigilante gau rakshak groups.
· Put an end to manual scavenging. Provide alternate jobs. End contract labour, regularise jobs.
· Distribute land to all landless with priority for landless dalit households.
· Implement Rohith Act to end caste discrimination in educational institutions.
· Stop commercialisation and communalisation of education.
· Ensure equal opportunities and provide education from primary school to university, free of cost.
· More incentives to promote inter-caste marriages.
· Take measures to eliminate caste in the society along the lines of the resolution passed in the "Jati Antachi Parishad" held at Nagpur on April 9, 2016.
· Clear backlog in recruitment under reserved category and ensure reservation in private sector.
· To put an end to casteist, communal and divisive RSS agenda of cultural nationalism.
We call upon all progressive sections to carry out a massive campaign across the country on these lines and build broadest possible issue-based unity around it. Protest actions and submission of memoranda at different levels, resisting all instances of caste atrocities and discrimination shall be carried out. Massive mobilisation in different states in the coming year will be carried out to build a unity of all struggling masses and rebuff the forces of cultural nationalism.
Joint Appeal of the Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh
Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh Rally gave the following united calls for action against atrocities on dalits.
· Observe October 3 as National Protest Day by organising dharnas, rallies, mass representations etc at local level and campaign on the common demands amongst people.
· Organise state level conventions, rallies in all state capitals in a systematic manner.
· To plan for these calls, the member organisations should hold preparatory meetings immediately to chalk out joint action plan at the state level. Apart from national level member organisations, others who are interested to work jointly on the common issues, could be invited.