Atrocities against Dalits should put us to shame
Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur made a legendary film ‘Bandit Queen’ way back in 1996, starring illustrious actress Seema Biswas in the lead to unfold the story of Phoolan Devi, a dacoit woman belonging to a lower caste in a small village in Uttar Pradesh who waged a fierce battle against the upper caste Hindus (read Thakurs) who raped her brutally for three weeks consecutively
Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur made a legendary film 'Bandit Queen' way back in 1996, starring illustrious actress Seema Biswas in the lead to unfold the story of Phoolan Devi, a dacoit woman belonging to a lower caste in a small village in Uttar Pradesh who waged a fierce battle against the upper caste Hindus (read Thakurs) who raped her brutally for three weeks consecutively. For the new generation readers, Phoolan may sound like a superwoman in a folklore, but she was a stunning example of a Dalit uprising who was often alluded as the female Indian Robinhood. She later turned out to be a popular politician and was assassinated by rivals and all that are history now.
Caste-related violence in India is nothing new and has been repeatedly happening from all across the country from time immemorial. Perhaps in the history of post-independent India, it might have begun from the anti-Brahmin riots in Maharashtra in 1948, following the assassination of the Mahatma by a Brahmin youth, Nathuram Vinayak Godse. Later in 1987, 52 people belonging to upper caste Hindu community of Rajput were brutally murdered by an extreme Left-wing outfit MCC, which was a rebel group comprising of scheduled caste members. In 1968, a group of 44 labourers belonging to Dalit community were murdered by their employers of upper caste in Kilvenmani village in Tamil Nadu for demanding higher wages. In 1985, several people belonging to Dalit Madiga community were brutally massacred in Karamchedu village in Andhra Pradesh by upper caste Kammas and later in 1991, a mob of around 300 people belonging to upper caste Reddy chased down eight Dalits and murdered them.
The violence unleashed against the Dalits by Ranvir Sena, a militia group in Bihar in 1990s and the 1992 Bara massacre are all etched in history. Melavalavu Dalit murders in Tamil Nadu, Kambalapalli murders and many more such incidents are still fresh the memory of people of yore. The latest police murders of two Dalit members in Tamil Nadu's Karaikudi and the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi in Mumbai last year, all are glaring examples of atrocities against Dalits in modern India. Unfortunately, these instances of weaker communities being subjected to atrocities and savagery continue to recur even in the age of modernity unabatedly.
The latest incidents of Dalit torture come from Andhra Pradesh which boasts of having Dalit members in its legislative decision-making bodies. Only a month ago, a Dalit man was beaten, and his head and moustache shaved allegedly by two policemen acting on behalf of an MLA of the State's ruling YSR Congress Party. And now, a video is going viral in social media which shows a 20-year-old boy was beaten with sticks, abused and tonsured for allegedly stealing an iPhone from filmmaker and Telugu Bigg Boss participant Nutan Naidu's house.
It may be mentioned here that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy recently warned of stringent action against anyone indulging in inhumane, violent, abusive and illegal acts against the Dalit community. But it seems no one is ready to listen. Unless these atrocities against the Dalit communities are curbed with an iron hand, we have to feel ashamed of our own culture.