"I have no Motherland' Ambedkar once said to Gandhi, in frustration following the treatment dalits received in 20th Century. However, even if today an educated chunk belonging to Scheduled caste group get similar feeling of whether this is really "My Motherland", then the status quo of the Indian society and the treatment its people receive has to be intriguing.
In 1935 at Nasik district, Maharashtra, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar had declared his firm resolve to change his religion. He famously said, "The object of our movement is to achieve social freedom. It is equally true that this freedom cannot be secured without conversion". On October 14, 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and lakhs of his followers converted to Buddhism at a place in Nagpur which is now called Deeksha Bhoomi. The day of Vijayadashmi Dussehra, for on this day in 1956, millions of Dalits “broke the shackles of Hindu religion and converted to Buddhism,” according to him.
Just as every year, lakhs of people from Scheduled caste and many progressive groups across India gather in Nagpur to remember this day, to celebrate the Dhammachakra Pravartan Din. Whole city of Nagpur is seen with people from across the country visiting to pay homage to their leader and witness this event of their Liberty. Every nook and corner across Nagpur is seen with people greeting each other. Various Books written by Ambedkar and other progressive writers are sold on a ground near Deekshabhoomi. People rejoice to the rebellious songs singing the story of their liberation and rebel. Music, Speeches, Books, Reverence, Self-respect, Organisation, Citizenship rights, people resolve to abide by Ambedkar's message of "Educate, Organize and Agitate" and lot more can be observed as key-features of this gathering to any witness present there. Book selling crosses record numbers in mere 2 days. The ambience is much similar, even grand compared to what we witness on 6th December in Dadar in Mumbai when people come to pay homage to Ambedkar on his Death Anniversary.
I had no expectation personally that this event could get any air-time in the mainstream media, and I was quite not outraged though not OK with the "black-out" of this event in the media. The outrage arose when since morning I have been watching a Mohan Bhagwat speech atttended by a very tiny crowd being aired on all channels held at Reshim Baugh which is hardly few kilometers away from Deekshabhoomi. I mean, the attitude of "ignorance towards a group existence" of the media is quite evident when their cameras and vans easily navigate through hundreds of people celebrating all around the city but cover a speech of RSS chief.
If media is the fourth pillar of Democracy, the role of Media towards the society and its citizenry has to be extremely responsible. Such ignorance of an outright apparent grand event and cover another speech is a matter of great introspection for us as a society. Such acts clearly gives a group a feeling of being unimportant in the national arena. While the media keeps harping about Secularism, such navigation of their cameras clearly reveal their biased approach of ignorance and selective importance towards the citizens of a same country. Media attitude in this case is "Philosophy of Silence and Killing by ignorance". Such occasions clearly expose the double-standards media practices about Secularism. Secularism discourse in India has been narrowed down to mere Hindu-Muslims binary. When Secularism in its broader sense has to be in treating each citizen of the State without any prejudice arising out of caste, creed, religion etc. Such occasions definitely create a feeling of alienation among the minorities (Scheduled castes in this context). I do not know whether the camera ignorance/affinity of media in this case is just about the indifference or subtle upper-caste prejudice/arrogance. I am not a journalism expert, but I'm sure journalism cannot be just about the TRPs or the choices of the editors, what to air and what not.
I read your letter on the Round Table India website that was addressed to "whomsoever it may concern" and being concerned, I choose to reply.
I can act all intellectual and Brahmanical over this or I can simply lay it straight. Your letter was a hatchet job on TM Krishna over his caste. You saw his caste in the manner in which he wrote and chose to attack him over it, with scant regard for his message that you were attacking in the process.
While contempt and a sense of being misappropriated or somehow lorded over by Brahmins that dalit fundamentalists promote for Brahmins is something that bothers me for the sake of dalits, this letter is not about that, it is as a citizen of India. I think I'll use that royal "we" as well, since it bugs you. Feel free to make an exception for yourself, but not dalits as a whole, because you have as much right to speak for dalits as TM Krishna has for Indians.
I don't think dalits will universally have a problem with a call to condemn violence being made to the Prime Minister, the way you seem to have. If they do, they are free to state it as well.
As a citizen of India, I do not think India's interests are served by discrediting a voice calling for sanity in the face of communal violence.
The only other thing I want to mention here is the absurdity of the allegation you make on TM Krishna in order to discredit him and thus devalue his message.
The privilege/power/social status of the Brahmin/caste Hindu self hides itself by claiming as "we citizens" who "have been abused, ridiculed and trivialized". This is how progressive upper castes confront the shame of the privilege they enjoy. Who among the "Indians" enjoy full citizenship? Who are denied citizenship? Why certain communities are always asked to prove their loyalty to the country or that they are "Indians"? These questions are never being addressed. By talking for the victims Krishna presents himself as a victim – the "citizen".
It may have escaped your notice, but people condemning the rising crimes by Hindutva fanatics are indeed across castes and religions. As are victims. Narendra Dabholkar, a victim of this fanaticism, was a Brahmin. As is Nikhil Wagle, who got threatened for questioning Hindutva zealotry. I am a Brahmin and have often spoken up for the rights of all sorts of citizens and faced the anger of the Hindutva brigade for it.
A reader recently pointed out that those opposing religious or caste discrimination among Brahmins face far more risk than dalit activists - who get more ignored, while we threaten to split the consensus fanatics count on and must be silenced.
Us suffering differently from you does not make us fake. Nor is a call to stop inhumanity a claim of personal victimhood.
As Brahmins, we have our own style of speaking, as do you. Attacking us because we don't speak like you does not make you inherently correct, it just is an ad hominem attack.
What you did, in effect was asserted your copyright to object to suffering for dalit by making it explicit that a Brahmin did not have the right to do it.
And you used a nasty personal attack as your weapon. The letter was not about TM Krishna's caste, his music or what you read into his inclusion. You could have objected to it upfront whenever he did it, instead of use it to discredit his words on another subject you wanted him to not have legitimacy on. Because, in your bigotted little narrow world, an unworthy Brahmin must be on the side of oppression whether he wants to be or not.
Your attempt to hold the copyright on victimhood was excellent, but I read your letter and unlike many others, I do not hesitate to confront fundamentalism regardless of the identity of the fundamentalist. To me, caste equality also means the same contempt for fundamentalists as upper caste or Islamic fundamentalists. I won't trivialize dalits by going "Never mind, what harm can a dalit do to a brahmin's reputation?" Because I listen to your voice, and respect it, I also have a problem when it is hostile or unfair. Because the harm you did wasn't to a Brahmin, but to the overall interest of India when you did a hatchet job on someone objecting to hate crimes. Incidentally, dalits also suffer from hate crimes from the same band of zealots you undermined condemnation of. Your action helped your real oppressors, as opposed to someone you attacked just for his caste.
TM Krishna was indeed abused, ridiculed and trivialized by the same caste and religion supremacists that killed and then defended the killing in Dadri. The idea that because you were harmed, others not you are faking and hiding among "real victims" has been done by Islamists and Hindutvawadis and KKK and a dozen agents profiteering from radicalizing communities they represent before you.
What you in effect did with your open letter was to neatly separate the dalits from a whole because a Brahmin spoke for it. Your validity to refuse inclusion of dalits from this group is no greater than TM Krishna's for including all Indians, dalits included. Being able to do a personal attack does not make you right.
Perhaps you see a part speaking for the whole as an appropriation because that is what you are trying to do with a blog called "Round Table India - for an informed Ambedkar age"? It isn't called Round Table Dalits. Is that your subtle psyops agenda which is why you interpret someone else doing it as sinister? Because TM Krishna clearly did not even explicitly try to represent dalits or any specific identity beyond citizens.
In effect, what you achieved was saying, TM Krishna, speak for yourself and your caste when you demand the condemnation, we and our castes demand no such thing. It wasn't TM Krishna looking down at dalits, it was YOU who went out of your way to invent a suppression based on his caste and refused to be included.
What would you call someone who explicitly excluded themselves from a condemnation of crimes against dalits? That is what I think of you when you exclude yourself from a condemnation of a crime against an Indian. A Muslim in this instance.
And no, I don't recognize your authority to exclude dalits when Indians as a whole are mentioned. Nor would Ambedkar, I think.
There is an article in a blog dedicated to Dalit rights activism titled "How should a Brahmin-Savarna respond to a Dalit voice?" I took exception to it on Twitter and ended up breaking India's "laws" on how Dalits should be spoken to. This apparently means I am a Brahmin supremacist.
Some things upfront. I have a problem with the term "Dalit-expert". For me, Dalits are people, and I have not seen the term "expert" used with people unless they are an anthropological rarity. It is mostly used for objects, methods, etc. I think it dehumanizes Dalits and I'm hoping it is the author's sarcasm, because I have no idea what the Dalit intellectuals are up to (just like Brahmin intellectuals). I don't follow their writings beyond the occasional whatever strays my way.
Secondly, I have a problem with the identity of Dalit being reduced to "oppressed" just as surely as the Hindutva agenda reduces Hindu to "attacked". To reduce Dalits to "oppressed" is in many ways worse, because it denies that they bring anything valuable to the table (other than Dalit literature). Hindutva at least makes some effort to showcase Hindus otherwise. A lot of knowledge in the world has survived because of its Dalit custodians. Dalits live, laugh, love, make meaningful contributions, do crimes, thrash their wives, get drunk, die to save another, exploit or nurture their children, are great or terrible neighbours and more. To reduce them to the "oppressed" creates perfect helpless victims out of them to blame someone for, but denies them any value of their own.
Thirdly, reducing Brahmin-savarnas to oppressors conveniently dehumanizes them as anything beyond what you object to. As though they don't live, laugh, love, create art, worry about inflation, get humiliated by poverty, face marital rape and honor killings and more. Like what Hindutva does to Islam. It conveniently ignores tremendous caste prejudice among Dalits - which when pointed out results immediately in a shifted goalpost to "Brahminism". But I have not noticed any contempt that calls a Dalit evil for oppressing another Dalit. It is a very effective weapon for carpet bombing hate, as though to be born a Brahmin is something haters choose, while poor Dalits are helplessly born in their caste. Fact is, most Brahmins don't meet enough Dalits to have an opinion, and most of those who do lack any real power to oppress, even as it is true that those who do discriminate go unchecked.
I oppose extremism without discrimination, and I do Dalits the respect of reacting to fanaticism among them with the same contempt as for Hindutva or Islamism instead of "jaane do, they don't matter".
I have several problems with this article and the overall fanatical thinking that some Dalit activists promote. Ironically, I had a few dozen handles ganging up to fling accusations at me, and I was the oppressor because.... I am Brahmin. That is the towering perception I have got every time I tried to engage with any Dalit intellectual - not that I make a habit of engaging with identity warriors, but the few times I did. That I am not good enough, that I don't think well enough like "them", that I represent oppression and to basically fuck off. Why? Because I never hide that I was born Brahmin from those who hate Brahmins. That is all it takes. It is the same. I'm a "sickular" to Hindutvawadis and "atheist" to Islamists. Never fails. Mere existence is a problem.
Responding to specific quotes in the article:
...do I have the right to suggest how the Brahmin-Savarnas should respond to a Dalit voice? That is, can I build an ethics for the Brahmin-Savarnas? I think I can. I think I should.
Sure. Everyone has a right to an opinion on whatever and whoever you choose.
In fact, the question I am trying to formulate in this article is a question of 'how to engage with the Other'. The Other here, of course, is the marginalized Dalit community.
But do Brahmin-savarna writers writing in support of Dalits and against discrimination, marginalize Dalits? To the best of my knowledge, NONE of those who speak against caste discrimination practice it. From top journalists to random tiny twitter handles and people in real life. To us, Dalits are as good as anyone else. We aren't engaging with an "Other", YOU are. I am Brahmin, you are Dalit and it is fine. We are both products of our birth which we did not choose. But we can get along fine, including shared goals and mutual respect. It is you who is even dividing writers on a similar subject on the basis of their birth and assigning legitimacy on the basis of that. Not saying don't do it, only saying don't assume your imagination is our reality.
Even more contemptworthy is to take potshots on the basis of identity and then duck behind laws. I refuse to infantalize Dalits by ignoring hate as though their opinions have no consequence anyway. File your cases or whatever.
Backstory: The Dalit activist outrage is about me retorting to the title of this article by calling Dalits "unclean". Apparently, they have not figured out what savarna means. So, "Brahmin-savarna" is not casteist to them. But "Dalit-opposite-of-savarna" is an outrage. You cannot really call people savarna without implying that others not them are not. Why do you say "Dalit-bahujan"? Why not go "avarna" "asprusha"? Think about it. Inequality isn't unidirectional. Sneering or respecting privilege or lack of it is all inequality.
how should a Brahmin-Savarna respond to a Dalit voice?
"With great reverence" appears to be the summary of the paragraph that follows. Something like "Be aware of it constantly, never dismiss it no matter what, read the Bhagwad Gita/Quran/Bible/Ambedkar's works. Understand how you are inherently an asshole and need to be very careful to fix the Dalit version of the Biblical original sin of being born at all."
First: the self-appointed academic Dalit-experts should aim to strongly facilitate the Dalit's right to articulate himself. Otherwise they would end up committing the same epistemic violence usually committed by the 'non-experts'.
No idea what "Dalit-experts" should do, but no amount of logic will explain lack of facilitation as violence - epistemic or otherwise as though any subject to do with people can have one correct voice. Dalits as an island unto themselves serves none.
Second: the Brahmin-Savarna Dalit-experts should constantly ask themselves: how do the Dalits themselves, and not how some academicians, think about the expert's academic interpretation of the Dalit experience? Do the Dalits agree to the kind of representation of their reality put forward by the academicians?
Fair enough, as long as they are not expected to parrot the same as own view. Do Brahmin-savarnas agree to the kind of representation of their reality put forward by Dalit intellectuals? Should their agreement matter? Should the lack of agreement by Brahmin-savarnas mean that the Dalit intellectual's opinion is invalid?
A self-help tool called the Johari window, looks at perception of self by self and others is often used to help people resolve conflicts in being "misunderstood" (among other things), where their view of themselves and that of others creates dysfunctional conditions that don't allow them to thrive and cause distress. It looks at information available about a person, and categorizes it according to what the individual knows about self, what the others know about the individual, what both know and what no one knows.
The tool goes something like this:
If we look at this in terms of the Dalit identity, the "Arena" would contain the obvious oppression. The "Dalit voice" the author speaks of, that "Brahmin-savarna" writers are oblivious of, would go into the "Facade" (this is not a demeaning term, it merely implies the projection of self). What the Brahmin-savarna writers see, that Dalit intellectuals appear to be unaware of would be the "blind spot". And the unknown, of course is what none of us know. It will take dialogue for the blind spot and facade to eventually consolidate in the Arena and empower the individual/entity. In this sense, dismissing the non-Dalit voice about Dalits, does not serve to end Dalit oppression. It merely refuses to recognize any view other than own and prevents a shared understanding that helps to resolve conflict. Obviously, some views will never meet (those elaborate theories of genetic superiority, for example), but the deliberate alienating of all except own serves no useful purpose either.
Third: is the expert more interested in occupying a place in the academia? Or is he interested in concretely contributing to the emancipation of the Dalits, in helping to remove the obstacles in the way of the Dalit's development?
Yeah. The RSS hates intellectuals too. It is a common target for all identity based activism/politics. Are the two goals (academia and emancipation of Dalits) mutually exclusive as implied, or is this merely an attempt to have sole control over what is defined as Dalit interest? Is the Dalit interest helped more by any and all voices opposing discrimination, or by voices catering to a specific manner of opposing that ghettoizes Dalits as a special case perpetually?
Fourth: the Brahmin-Savarna Dalit-experts should be careful in not antagonizing the Dalits at the cost of befriending the casteist non-Dalits. That is, they must guard against all forms of casteism as nurtured mainly by their fellow Brahmin-Savarnas. In their attempt to work for the cause of the Dalits, the Brahmin-Savarnas might have to antagonize their fellow Brahmin-Savarnas.
I think it is far more urgent that the "Dalit-bahujan" Dalit-experts not antagonize others fighting discrimination over fashion sense in activism. There are lives being lost, justice being denied and problems continuing to devastate, which could do with a united opposition than hostility over differences of views or methods.
Fifth: the Brahmin-Savarna Dalit-experts should learn to 'speak with or along with' a Dalit voice rather than 'commenting on' a Dalit voice. Such experts should work hand in hand with the Dalits in spreading the positive kind of caste consciousness for the annihilation of caste.
A "Brahmin-savarna" has his/her own voice that is no more or less valid than a Dalits. This argument is like "to talk about the RSS, first join a shakha". It is a perspective. It can be wrong, in which case it should be debunked. The idea of having it at all being unacceptable is narrow minded. Generally an outside perspective is valued for bringing a fresh look when problem solving (assuming the author sees caste discrimination as a problem needing solving).
There is a massive misunderstanding in general that "Brahmin-savarnas" fight caste discrimination because of the experiences of Dalits or injustices against them. Most Brahmins don't encounter enough Dalits to have any kind of a "Siddhartha" moment about them. Most "savarnas" fighting discrimination just don't like to be assholes and do it for ourselves - to live more congruent to our ideals, which are not the same as those preferring to discriminate, obviously. They do it because their own experiences with discrimination teach them the vile nature of it and they are able to extrapolate it to other ways it occurs. That is how you find the same few heads objecting to gender discrimination, caste discrimination, religious discrimination....
Telling them to stop discriminating is like telling gay men to not rape women. They weren't planning to.
The ones who are planning to aren't interested in your recommendations on how to talk, and it won't change how they act. All that is achieved is telling allies to shut up or devote massive time and effort in their lives to your interest.
To me, this isn't Brahmin superiority, it is plain common sense, which perhaps I may have seen due to my "privilege" of being a "wayward woman" in a Brahmin orthodox moral policing family that are almost uniformly bhakts of the Hindutva agenda. You fight something large, you have to pick your battles. Patronizing allies for not being your puppets is not the way - in my opinion.
With Hardik Patel ratcheting up the decibels on a daily basis, there is a growing multi-layered, highly organized effort at building public opinion against caste reservations and a beautifully architectered amnesia on the fact that Hardik hardly challenges the state when he demands that elites get reservations or they be removed for all. It is the exact BJP agenda he is parroting, that an elected government cannot, publicly. BJP and RSS have always been on the "remove" side of the caste debate and demands to remove it being promoted as a challenge to Modi's authority take extreme gullibility to believe... or an audience age below 20 with no real understanding of caste, reservations or their public history in India.
Regardless, this is not a post about all that. It is a post describing my views on the issue because I'm tired of saying the same things over and over to people who think they are making wholly original arguments by going "hey why not remove caste based reservations". So here is where I am.
Reservations cannot fix caste discrimination
Agree. Reservations are not meant to fix caste inequality - which is an effort all those wanting them abolished haven't even managed to start, for all their talk. Reservations are meant to prevent caste supremacists from outright denying the less privileged their right to learn altogether. That it works is seen from the fury of the supremacists over the "injustice" to them that they cannot occupy all the opportunities and must share. Reservations cannot end caste prejudice, but they can and do prevent denial of rights till someone bothers to do it. They have been doing exactly that. Which is why the upper castes are pissed.
Well, they do, but they cannot do it on a massive scale because.... reservations. Which is exactly why they want the reservations removed - to be able to discriminate and use the reserved seats for elites as well.
And, even with reservations in place, stories abound of colleges keeping reserved seats empty rather than admit dalits, college canteens with separate "thalis" for students according to their caste, colleges with separate canteens altogether on the basis of caste and even midday meals served in schools feeding dalit children poorer quality food or seating them separately from the rest of the students. If they were allowed to deny education to lower castes, make no mistake they would do it in a flash.
If you ban discrimination, you don't need caste reservations
Discrimination is already illegal in India. In fact, so is murder. Yet court after court is acquitting self confessed brutal mass murderers of dalits. There is no outrage, no pressure on the government to bring them to justice no questioning of those exposed for providing material support to the murderers as they continue to hold positions of power. Do you really think anyone is going to give them justice for being refused a seat?
Reservations should address economic vulnerability, not caste.
This is like saying we will fight one kind of inequality but not another. In my view, both should be addressed, not only one. Discrimination of denial of rights must be combated by ensuring that a proportional space in the whole is reserved for the people at risk of being denied on account of prejudice. No, not the Patels. Poverty, on the other hand does not necessarily need reservations. Lack of economic resources can be fixed with free tuitions and funds to enable study. Particularly worthy students from economically backward sections of society could even be paid to attend college so that they don't have to drop out in order to earn. This may have an overlap where backward castes and economically backward students overlap, in which case they should benefit from both, of course. Removing protections to one kind of vulnerable group in order to assist another is not a better method, it is fundamental stinginess that refuses to take responsibility for the whole range of assistance needed.
Replacing caste based reservations with those that are economic capacity based will have an extremely predictable result of filling seats with high caste poor people and disenfranchising the lower castes while pretending that this is a more just system.
Understand this. If you understand nothing else.
This is a simple process of taking the resources (educational/employment capacity is a resource) of a country and saying that those who are in a better position to monopolize them.
Where access to something that ought to belong to all is defined in a manner that prevents use by some so that the remaining may appropriate their share.
But isn't competence important? I wouldn't want to be treated by an incompetent doctor
I don't think India has any laws forcing you to be treated by a doctor not of your choice. Feel free to check out the surname and prefer to die than be treated.
Competence is indeed important. Here's the thing. Our education system does precious little to inculcate it and the admission system makes no effort to measure it. Examination marks are not competence. They are merely a reflection of your memorization skills in an age where everyone can look up information in an instant in any case. Even then, a few percentage points does not make anyone clever or stupid. No seriously, you are really not more competent than your friend who got 5% less marks than you, or a stranger you'd prefer to snatch a seat from. To get an idea, in professions not limited by access in terms of percentage, find out the marks the most successful individuals got in their examinations. Most of the time you will find that their education is irrelevant to their chosen profession and that the range of examination scores is more likely to be between 60% and 80% than the high 90s. While it is fine to use it as a uniform method to share the limited resource of seats, arguing that it means that a person getting 80% marks is too stupid to study or be a professional is plain absurd, which you would immediately spot if your head weren't enveloped in a castesist fog.
The myth of 'competence' is another elitist fiction created to instill a bias in favor of those with the ability to spend considerable resources on an ability to memorize and reproduce quickly.
It is not fair that students study hard and are denied seats and dalits can get them if they just pass
Another elitist myth. That idea that the number of seats reserved for dalits are so vast that any dalit with a whim gets admissions. In reality, dalits too have to work to get admissions and they too get cut off like any other student. Also the idea that low caste people are lazy and not interested in education is an upper caste myth where the lower castes are so objectified as unworthy, that the idea that they too study to create careers simply does not occur to the thoughtless hordes taught to resent their very presence.
And oh, the real reason students struggle to get admissions is not Dalits - they too struggle to get admissions. It is your oh-so-very elite classes that run your country and have not bothered to create educational facilities that are adequate for the population size. This serves all, as the demand and supply rule results in nice fat bribes donations to... not dalits.
Caste reservations keep caste discrimination alive
This is bullshit. There are no seat reservations in college canteens that serve people separately by caste anyway. If a college can have separate canteens for dalits, and yet screams outrage that there is a separate admission quota for them, all I can conclude is that they basically want the dalits to vanish and abdicate all the opportunities to the privileged classes.
Caste discrimination is when a news organization fights to show the impunity with which mass murderers walk free, acquitted by courts one after the other and yet, none of the supposed equality supporting people find this an outrage enough to raise a voice for accountability. There is no caste quota for mass murder, in case you were curious.
What about lower caste people who are already privileged? Why should they get donations?
Feel free to create a rule that goes "people richer than XYZ must seek admissions through the general quota" and not occupy seats meant to protect the deprived. That would be the logical move, yes? But that will not happen, because last thing the elites want is for more competition in their "merit". They'd rather point out to the privileged few and use it as an excuse to deny all.
Wake me up when this bunch of jokers points out to the richest people in India - many of them doctors - many of them running businesses on black money that deprives the country of its due and argue that children of doctors or otherwise rich people must pay the real cost of education of a doctor instead of the massive state sponsorship of the training for all. Yes? No? Why not? We're talking about people who can afford it still using government provided benefits, right?
Well, a lot of medical students who are in "doctor families" so to say will wade through money to reach the college, learn on massive government subsidies meant to make the training affordable for far poorer people, and then go abroad and sell their services cheaper than doctors there who had to invest a lot of money in their careers. Wake me up when someone has a problem with that and goes children of the rich must pay the real cost of education ...
But we can't have caste reservations forever! What is the answer?
If we can discriminate for thousands of years, we can still go a few hundred years without worrying about reservations being continued too long. That said, the answer to this lies with the elites. If there is no discrimination, the reservations will not matter and can be removed - frankly if there is no discrimination, removing them will not create enough of a difference for anyone to get worked up about it.
The truth of the matter is that the people who always oppose caste reservations have also been implicated in caste crimes. The removal of reservations is just another front of attack to strangle the rise of castes they wish to subjugate in an ongoing caste war. The claims of equality are bullshit as you would see if you scratched even briefly under the surface. This mythical Hardik Patel protest against the state over reservations is speaking exactly the BJP line. BJP has wanted caste reservations gone since before Hardik Patel was born and now there are protests "against" the BJP to "force" it to do exactly what it wants to do. Who are we kidding?
BJP leaders are also implicated in support to dalit massacres that ranged from money, assistance in procuring weapons, getaway vehicles when surrounded by police during a massacre and political impunity including intimidation of investigation and inquiry proceedings.
These people are going to allow equal opportunity to those whom they helped kill? Who are we kidding here? The minute caste reservations are gone, exclusion on the basis of caste will rise. Your "underprivileged" will overwhelmingly be from privileged castes. By design.
So you tell us what can be done
Recognize caste discrimination for the disease it is. And like any other disease, eradicate it from the country. Monitor cases of caste violence. "Treat" them with justice and social reform. Reduce incidences and when caste discrimination ends or reliably gets justice in judicial process, remove the reservations. Just like the disease it is.
Your move, caste supremacists!
Note: This post is likely to get updated as I encounter more creative arguments on Twitter.
When commanders of the Ranvir Sena were acquitted of brutal massacres, Cobrapost conducted sting operations to determine the truth of the matter. What they discovered in a year long operation was killers candidly admitting that they conducted systematic massacres. Killers who spoke of political support, financial support, support in procuring arms as Army rejects and training with the arms at the hands of jawans - on leave and retired. Killers talking of politicians providing getaway cars when surrounded by #police who were armed with far less advanced weaponry than them. Killers who talk of killing women and children in cold blood. The accusation is the support for communists among the dalits. Yet what were the dalits rising against? They were opposing exploitative wages for their labour in the fields of these landowners.
The Ranvir Sena massacres confessed to in this documentary
Bathani Tola, Bhojpur (1996) - 22 agricultural workers from Scheduled Castes and Muslims killed in broad daylight at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon with a police chowki close-by
Laxmanpur Bathe, Jehanabad (1997) - 58 people from scheduled castes killed
Shankar Bigha, Jehanabad (1999) - 23 people from Scheduled Castes killed
Miyanpur, Aurangabad (2000) - 35 people from Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes killed
Ekwari, Bhojpur (1997) - 10 people from Scheduled Castes killed
This totals to 154 murders (though the documentary says 144)
Nobody killed 300 or more dalits in Bihar?
Here is what Dy SP CID (Retd.) Mirza Maqsood Alam Beg had to say:
“You see, there is direct evidence against them … eyewitness … people saw them and identified them … apart from that before the occurrence [of a massacre] these people would hold meetings at their places … all these things are recorded in case diary”
Here is what the killers had to say for themselves:
Note: quotes here are by the name of the person under which they appear. While the Ranvir Sena commanders spoke in Hindi, I'm providing the English translations here for readability. Feel free to go and verify against Operation Black Rain document if need be.
Commander of Ranvir Sena, convicted to life imprisonment by lower court, acquitted by Patna High Court.
“As the clock struck 3, the Sena began firing … it was 3:00 at daytime …the massacre was carried out…there was a police chowki too.”
“Some bodies of those who were part of the assault had been cleared from there, but still there were 22 bodies on the spot … yes there were 22 dead bodies lying about.”
Claims Chandkeshwar Singh when the Cobrapost reporter asks him if they had killed five more people whose headless bodies were found about the river the next day:
“Yes, they were beheaded.”
“I was very angry at them. Why should I waste a bullet on them that is worth Rs 100 or so, I thought. Better use the knife I have. So I cut them down with it.”
On the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre
“It was 10 when we arrived there and the Sena began the assault. The firing went for 29 minutes."
“So we decided to eliminate them (the CPI-ML). We should not allow them go stronger. So, our party, I mean the Sena, surrounded them. There was assault and counterassault in which they got killed.”
About a meeting at Belaur village at Arrah to plan Laxmanpur Bathe massacre with all the members of the core group including Barmeshwar Mukhiya, Vakeel Chaudhry, Bhola Singh, Shiv Narayan Singh and Krishna Nand Chaudhry.
“The meeting took place two days before the massacre … the meeting was held in the Arrah district … took place in Belaur village.”
“I told them we have LMGs. They asked how we got them. I told them our Prime Minister got us it from Indian military as rejected lot. They called us traitors. I said no we are not traitors. We are doing it in the interest of the country. That is why we got the arms with help from our Prime Minister. They asked which Prime Minister. I said Chandra Shekhar ….”
And the conduit who got the so-called rejected lot of military weapons, according to Siddhnath, was Surya Dev, a powerful politician from Dhanbaad:
“There was a close supporter of ours … Surya Dev from Dhanbad … it is Surya Dev who brought us a lot of rejected military weapons.” Sidhnath adds further: “In those days, Chandra Shekhar Singh was prime minister and Chandra Shekhar Singh was a very close friend of Surya Dev Babu and upon visiting he would stay at his place. This is how they both helped us.”
Siddhnath also spoke about Aibatpur massacre:
“I told them about the massacre that took place in Aibatpur under Kanpath #police station. Our men had killed seven people of Mushar caste ….”
This massacre was conducted by nine Sena militiamen, but 64 people were named in the FIR by the local police which ultimately helped the murderers get off the hook.
According to Siddhnath, there were nine leaders who formed the core decision-making body of the Sena. He confesses to his involvement in six massacres.
We … one massacre was in Bathe Belaur, one was in Chauri, then (Laxmanpur) Bathe, Shankar Bigha, third was Narayanpur, fourth was Miyanpur, Hyderpur was the fifth … Jalpura was the sixth … Shankar Bigha Bathani Shankar Bigha Bathe was one … the third was Narayanpur and one was in Arval … in all six massacres.”
On indiscriminate killing of women and children:
“In #India, our #religion does not say that if you kill an old man, you won’t become a sinner or that if you kill a young man you will become a sinner … then there is no such law which says that if you kill a boy, you will face imprisonment for 20 years, if you kill an old man you get 2 years jail or if you kill a child you get a term of 50 years. There is no such law.”
Arvind Kumar Singh
“Yes, two massacres took place in Ikwari … seven and nine people were killed.” Adding further he says: “Seven were killed in the first massacre … in the second eight–nine people were killed … one happened in 1996 and the other took place in 1997.”
“Mukhiyaji [Barmeshwar] was not there … only the villagers of Ikwari were involved … yes total[ly] from Ikwari, there was no outsider involved … no no Sena … we have 500 households in Ikwari … and when a member from each family would come out we would have the Sena ready … we never needed the Sena … when you have 500 families of Bhumihar and if only a man each from 200 families volunteered we had the Sena assembled.”
“Weapons and other things were already stocked at our homes … we had bought weapons for safety … we had also bought some expensive weapons ….”
Although an accused in both massacres, Arvind Singh and other murderers forced victims to compromise and withdraw cases.
“No, no. We managed to clinch a compromise with them in all cases … we persuaded them with cajoling or show of force to come around and arrived at a compromise with them.”
“That [Miyanpur] village was the supporter of the Naxals and was thus on the target of the #Ranveer Sena. We executed that massacre.”
The assault was led by none other than Barmeshwar Mukhiya himself as Pramod Singh mumbles an affirmative double “Hoon, hoon” when he is asked if the Sena supremo led the massacre. When the Cobrapost reporter asks him if he could tell him of any such massacre in which he took part along with Barmehswar Mukhiya and others, he replies:
“It was Miyanpur [massacre] … there were many … he too [Barmehswar Mukhiya] was there.”
The assault party had 10 members of the Sena led by Barmehswar Mukhiya of whom nine were sentenced to life imprisonment but only to be allowed to walk free by the Patna High Court some years later.
A prominent #BJP leader supported the dreaded outfit with finances.
“It was when there was the BJP #government [at the centre] … there was Atal Behari Vajpai [as prime minister] … there was Yashwant Sinha … he would visit regularly … meet the Mukhiya [Barmeshwar Singh] regularly … he was there in my village when the police were hot on our heels and raiding our places.”
And how did Yashwant Sinha help them?
“[He] gave us money … Five and half lakh).” Any other kind of support? “What else support he could lend … other than political support,”
“When on the run … suppose the police had laid siege of us … five–six people were to be evacuated … then Arun Kumar, the MP of Jahanabad, would reach the spot and would escort away all of them in his car ….”
“There was this arms drop in Purulia … we got a lot of weapons from there.”
“We killed about 50–60 people then and there in Laxmanpur Bathe.”
“I consider Laxmanpur Bathe the most important [of all massacres] … that is a twin village … there I killed many people.”
According to him there were 100 members of the Sena who launched the assault that was led by one of his nephews.
“The #attack was led by one of my nephews, Santu, from Ekwari village.”
When the reporter asks if Barmeshwar Singh and he himself were among the attackers.
“Yes I too was there.
Bhola Singh recounts the assault on Laxmanpur Bathe.
“There is [Laxmanpur] Bathe across the river and we live on this side of the river. They [CPI-ML] would come here and go back. They had their own boat by which they would cross the Sone, come to our place and commit some crime and return. We thought since they come from that side of the village, why should we not mount an assault on it. They must be taking shelter there. We worked out a plan and launched the attack. All were sleeping and were caught by surprise and killed. We suffered no casualties.”
“We were carrying semi-automatic [weapons].”
"We had in fact worked out a strategy to execute massacres across 50 villages in a single day to wake up the government from its torpor. Otherwise, the government will always think that no castes other than the minorities, most backward and backward live in this country.”
Of the role Anand Mohan Singh played in instigating the upper caste landlords and their militiamen while offering them arms of any kind and caliber.
“One young leader called Anand Mohan came and told us that he has a cache of all kinds of arms. Whatever you need you can pick.”
“[the massacres were] executed upon … you can say I did not execute them but it was me who ordered. You can say I did not execute the job, I did not kill, but when I ordered to commit a #murder then I did it.”
“I dispatched a squad of 50–60 members to a particular village, but they did not find a single soul there and executed the order in another village.”
“We have all kinds of weapons. All people have helped us, donated us the arms. We have also bought with money.”
"We have men in military and they used to give training when on leave … this village is large enough and there are about 200–400 men in military … if we get one or two men from each family we get enough men to fight ).”
"Yes, the reason is our men will go wherever they were told to go … now suppose you are asked to pick a couple of ripe mangoes? You hit the mango tree with a stick … as a result eight ripe mango fall and along with them 5 raw mangoes also fall. Now should you be punished for felling raw mangoes? We send our men to kill the young able-bodied and if some children also get killed along with them should they be punished … they are not on payroll so as to punish them by cutting their payments.”
Sanjeev Singh and Upendra Vatsayan
The spokesperson of the Akhil Bharatiya Rashtravadi Kissan Sangathan Upendra Vatsayan:
“Our men also said if you got an intestine of 36 inches ... we will tear up the whole of 36 you got. And not just you, we will also tear your women … so that they will never give birth in future.”
The candid disclosures of the commanders of the Ranvir Sena make it clear that the state police of Bihar fumbled on probing these crimes against humanity, so that the cases could not be taken to their logical conclusion, while the state political executive saw to it that nothing clinching was established against the perpetrators of these massacres or their mentors in the political establishment.
When the JDU–BJP alliance came to power in Bihar, the Justice Amir Das Commission of Inquiry, which had been set up after the brutal Laxmanpur Bathe massacre that killed 58 including 27 women and 16 children, was dismissed by Nitish Kumar. Justice (Retd.) Amir Das states that it was because his report could have implicated some prominent politicos for their support to the private army he was asked to close the shop without submitting a report. Justice Das is categorical in the interview:
I can tell some names, for instance, Shivanand Tiwary, C.P. Thakur, Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushil Kumar #Modi. Then there was a head of a village in the neighbourhood of Laxmanpur Bathe about whom we had drawn the conclusion that he too supported [the Ranveer sena].
The reason of this sudden volte-face on part of the state executive under the new dispensation of the JDU—BJP alliance was unmistakable: the commission had got to the bottom of the political support that the Ranveer Sena was getting and there were many bigwigs from the BJP both at the centre and at the state level whose names were doing the rounds as mentors of the monstrous private army raised by Bhumihar—Rajput landlords.
Justice Das explains why the government wrapped up the commission unceremoniously:
“It was closed down all of a sudden, without any report or notice. I was not asked to submit the report either. I mean it was done without any ultimatum. When Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government was formed, Sushil Kumar Modi was Deputy Chief Minister. Nitish was not involved in it so his name did not crop up. But Sushil Kumar Modi’s name did crop up along with many from the #RSS or say from the BJP.”
"We had a witness who said that Murli Manohar Joshi had threatened him asking him to behave and if you conducted investigations properly when we come to power you will have it. This all meant to get things done favourably by putting the fellow under pressure.” The witness was an Investigating Officer of the stare police.
"He visited after the massacre. The IO had gone to Senari to conduct a raid. He came to know about it and came to see the IO threatening him if he did what he was set to do he would have it when they would come to power. This is how he stopped him from discharging his duty under threat and when he was cross-questioned he denied it.”
The Cobrapost has a copy of the report of the commission.
In a shocking judgment on January 14th, in this year, a lower court acquitted all 24 accused of killing 23 Dalits in Shankar Bigha in Arwal district in 1999. Earlier, in October 2013 the Patna High Court had acquitted all 26 Ranveer Sena men – including 16 who had been put on #death row by the lower court – accused of killing 58 Dalits in worst-ever massacre at Laxmanpur Bathe on December 1, 1997. The Bathani Tola massacre case had met the same fate on April 17, 2012, when the Patna High Court set all 23 Ranvir Sena men free who were accused of killing 21 Dalits, including 11 women and six children on July 11, 1996. The same happened with Miyanpur massacre of June 2000 when the Patna High Court allowed all 10 accused except one to walk free on July 3, 2013.
Clearly, there is a pattern here, with brutal killers going scot free and unless something changes, these cases are going to pass through our courts without consequence.
The acquittals have been challenged in the #Supreme Court. However, given the blatant cover ups, even as killers brag about their cimes, will we see this farce of acquittals play all through to the top? Where does the complicit wink at brutal massacres end?
Note: It appears to be a political strategy to discredit this expose as motivated by the #elections. However, Nitish Kumar, who scuttled the probe implicating BJP leaders is in the opposition, along with Lalu, who over the years has done nothing to rein in the Ranveer Sena either. There is no political outrage over this expose and no political party comes out smelling sweet. This is the hard reality of India. Some murders don't matter.