In Anandiben’s Gujarat, dalits are lining up to die

Attack by ‘cow protector’ vigilantes of upper caste brings out yet another social schism

GN Bureau | July 20, 2016


#Politics   #Narendra Modi   #Anandiben Patel   #Dalits   #BJP   #Gujarat  
Anandiben Patel, CM, Gujarat
Anandiben Patel, CM, Gujarat

 At least a dozen youngsters from scheduled caste (SC) communities have attempted suicide this week in various small towns in Saurashtra region of Gujarat, protesting against the state government’s alleged inaction after a group of SC men were attacked for skinning dead cows earlier this month. For the Anandiben Patel government, this opens up yet another social division when the Patel community is on warpath demanding job quotas.

On July 11, three men were attacked by self-styled cow protectors – ‘cow protection’ being a shorthand of the informal show of strength spearheaded by many BJP leaders after the party came to power –  in Moti Samadhiyala village near Una town of Rajkot district. The victims were paraded naked and beaten by iron rods and wooden sticks.
 
On July 18, four dalits in Gondal town and two more in nearby Jamkandorana attempted suicide by drinking a poisonous substance, according to reports in the local media. The next day four youngsters in Saurashtra also did the same. During a protest in Ahmedabad a youngster from Kalol in north Gujarat also consumed a poisonous liquid. All of them are lodged in various government hospitals, and their condition is improving.
 
Each of them adopted the same mode of protest: they shouted ‘Jai Bhim’ in dalit solidarity and consumed acid or insecticide liquid during demonstrations.
 
Dalits in Saurashtra and elsewhere are angry as video clippings of the attack have gone viral, though the government claims it has taken timely action: initially nine and by now 16 people have been apprehended and four policemen have been suspended.
 
In a statement issued through a private PR agency on Tuesday, the CM announced further measures as unrest grew: “looking to the gravity”, it has been decided that the matter will now be investigated by CID Crime, and a special court will be set up for trial. Each victim gets Rs 4 lakh in ex gratia relief.
 
“The gravity” of the situation however refers more to the protests than the crime itself.
 
As the OBC Ekta Manch organised a well attended protest demonstration near the Gandhi Ashram Sabarmati of Ahmedabad on Tuesday, there were reports of stray violence in some places. A crowd threw stones at a public bus in the city.
While Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party raised the matter in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, dalits here are unhappy with the fact that their MPs, from BJP, have been silent.
 
The spate of suicide attempts finally prompted the government to push the police action, even as the chief minister decided to pay the Una victims a visit on Wednesday. She is not much ahead of Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party – who are expected in the town soon.
 
Gujarat goes to polls by December 2017, and there have been sporadic reports that the party’s central leadership may replace Anandiben much before that, given her perceived unpopularity. The ‘quota agitation’ launched last year by the Patel or Patidar community – a staunch support group that helped BJP win and retain power in the state over the last three decades or so – has been a major bugbear for the CM. Now the spreading dalit unrest is likely to undo the social engineering effected by her predecessor, prime minister Narendra Modi. The SC and ST communities had switched their political loyalties from the Congress to Modi’s BJP, especially during and after the 2002 riots.
 
The dalit protests this week lays bare the caste reality of the state that was not under focus so far, thanks to rapid economic growth and development claimed by Modi who ruled the state for 12 years. In Samadhiyala village, for example, dalits are barred from entering temples and have a separate cremation facility, according to a fact-finding report by a bunch of NGOs.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Omicron: Maharashtra revises travel guidelines

A day after the union health secretary wrote to it that its order on SOPs for air travellers was in divergence with guidelines issued by the MoHFW, GoI in view of the Omicron threat, the Maharashtra government on Thursday revised its guidelines for passengers arriving in the state. Issuing

Omicron: Centre asks Maharashtra to follow uniform guidelines

With the threat of Omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus, looming large, the union health ministry has written to the Maharashtra government to align orders issued by the state with the ministry’s guidelines for uniform implementation. The state government in its order dated Nove

Central Railways runs over 800 Kisan Railway trips

To ensure bigger access to farm produce and provide new markets with quick transportation and subsidy at 50%, the Kisan Rail has been bringing prosperity, joy, and hope to farmers of Maharashtra. On November 28, the Central Railway ran its 800th  trip of Kisan Rail from Sangola to Muzaffarpur.

Omicron forces Mumbai to delay school reopening

The looming threat of the new Covid strain B.1.1.529, known as Omicron, has pushed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to postpone the reopening of schools for classes 1-7 to December 15. Earlier, these classes were scheduled to reopen from December 1. The education department of t

4 Industrial Smart Cities built under the aegis of DMIC: asserts Commerce Ministry

 Source: PTI   As many as 4 greenfield industrial smart cities or nodes are being built under Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Co

Center completed more than 3000 smart city projects valued INR 53, 575 crores: Kaushal Kishore, MoS, MOHUA

 The Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs(MoHUA), Kaushal Kishore recently shared information in the Rajya Sabha, stating the central government successfully completed 3000 smart cities projects

Visionary Talks: Dr. Naresh Trehan, CMD Medanta Heart Institute with Kailashnath Adhikari



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter