Skip to main content

The war of attrition on Dalits and Adivasis: Anti-atrocities Act, reservations and Constitution of India

Dalits agitate against the anti-atrocities Act
By Antara and Umesh Babu*
“Ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle of reclamation of human personality.” -- Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
In the recent past, the social fabric of this country has been repeatedly violated through gross acts of politically motivated injustice and violence. We are witnessing a growing political leaning towards fascism under the current regime. Hundreds of cases of pre-planned riots, murders, mob lynchings and loose-end policy formulations have been taking place rampantly.
Some examples would be the murders of renowned journalists like Pansare, Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi amongst others who articulated such doubts. Further, horrendous cases of mob violence have been reported, where innocent Dalits, Adivasi, women, religious and other social minorities have been targeted without the fear of law. Dalit and tribal students have been harassed in University campuses, where educational aids have been reduced and conditioned, women are increasingly being reduced to their bodies and the entire country is being poked into a xenophobic frenzy.
In relation to the above, most political parties have failed in their duties and their assurances have fallen flat. Persistent and consistent deprivation, humiliation, isolation and discrimination to the point of cold blooded murder is being regularly committed by militant political outfits like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Durga Vahini, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and its related branches. 
They claim that they are the ordained enforcers of religious codes and that their retaliation towards any social minority that tries to step out of their ‘status’, is a sacred duty. They are shielded by the governments at the Centre and run amok with no fear of law. Even though there is a large pool of proof like audio, video and photographic evidence of their wrongdoing, they continue to go scot free.
To articulate the necessity of collective action, one should observe the current events in the country. The Supreme Court’s decision to dilute the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has resulted in a widespread protest and agitation by unorganised Dalit and tribal communities. 2nd April 2018 was a day of historic resistance, without any political or religious organisation, the streets across the country were covered in blue and the rage of the historically deprived masses. This attempt by the Supreme Court to protect the perpetrators was not received passively, it is not only an attack on these communities but also a large blow to the Constitution of this country.
The High Courts have also ordered that SC/ST/OBC employees, who benefitted from reservation at the time of their recruitment, should not be promoted and instead should be demoted if required. Court orders also prohibit recruitment of merit owners, once fee or any other relaxation is taken by the applicants of these communities. Such court orders are being implemented on war footing. Besides court orders; there are ordinances, laws, office memorandums, guidelines, and many other instruments and subordinate legislations that are being used to abandon the representation of these communities in bureaucracy.
It makes one thing clear: religious and political ideologies that encourage violence, political and economic unrest within the country are in blatant opposition to the Constitutional rights; they are no longer acceptable to the larger population, which is evident in the growing distrust in the system. These spurts of resistances and social movements have to be channeled into a larger opposition to the current regime. These struggles can be turned into a tide of change and to strengthen it, the civil society has to play a major role.
Therefore, we need to plan and strategize our work to support such resistances. Political leaders, law scholars, academicians, activists and other likeminded people need to work together and unify practice and theory.
---
*With Delhi Forum. Concept note for preparatory meet in Delhi on April 6 for a plan of action and to strategize to support struggle

Comments

TRENDING

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Report on "torture" in Kashmir jails: 44% detainees stripped naked, 29% electrocuted

Counterview Desk
A recent report titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir”, published by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), has claimed to build “on the body of human rights documentation on torture” in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) through an examination of 432 case studies. It seeks to focus on "the trends and patterns, targets, perpetrators, contexts and impact of torture" in the state.

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Amidst Modi celebrations, thousands protest 'massive' submergence in Narmada Valley

By Our Representative
Thousands of women and men gathered on at the Shaheed Stambh in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh, to raise their voice against what they called "the destruction of the Narmada Valley", protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat BJP rulers for celebrating the Sardar Sarovar dam being filled up to the full reservoir level (FRL) on September 17, which also happens to be Modi's birthday.
Calling it a black day for the people of the Valley, whose villages and farms got submerged because of highest-ever water level having been achieved in the dam, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which organised the parallel rally across the border with Gujarat, regretted in a statement that Modi's celebration at the dam took place amidst " martyrdom of the Valley".
The demonstration in Badwani was preceded by a vehicles rally, which took rounds of the city streets. They were joined by people from several villages of Dhar district. They gather…

Kandla Port Trust activities 'destroyed' mangroves, affecting rare camel species: NGT

By Rajiv Shah
Taking serious note of large-scale destruction of mangroves on about 750 acres in Bhachau taluka of Kutch district, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi, has “directed” the Gujarat government, its forest department, and the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GSZMA), to “jointly inspect the area” and fix responsibility as to who is “responsible for obstruction of the creeks” next to the Kandla Port Trust (KPT), leading to the damage to the plantations in the area.

Narmada valley: SC notice to Gujarat, MP, M'rashtra on submergence sans rehabilitation

By Our Representative
Thr Supreme Court has issued notice to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra governments following a Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)-backed petition seeking the explanation as to whether large areas of Narmada Valley have gone into submergence by filling up the Sardar Sarovar dam up to the full reservoir level (FRL) without rehabilitating the project affected families (PAFs).

'No regulation' in India on use of deadly chemical in surfactants, consumer products

By Our Representative
A new study released by Toxics Link, ‘Dirty Trail: Detergent to Water Bodies’, has found alarming levels of the toxic chemical nonylphenol in detergents as well as in river water in India. The detergent samples were taken from the local markets of Delhi and water from six rivers i.e. Garh Ganga and Hindon in Uttar Pradesh, Krishnan in Andhra Pradesh, Tapti in Gujarat, Bandi in Rajasthan, Mahanadi in Odisha and Ambazari lake in Nagpur.

ANHAD brainstorming: Why cops came in private meeting?, Home Ministry asked

By Our Representative
Well-known human rights organisation Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) has taken strong exception to a special branch officer and a cop reaching its office in Nizamuddin West in Delhi, even as its brainstorming session about to start to "discuss" the possibility of doing grassroots work for spreading ideas of peace and harmony.
While the cop went away after taking photographs, the special branch officer sat through the meeting. Wondered Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD, "Is talking about peace, communal harmony, bringing communities together, fighting hatred and spreading the vision of an equal and just society a crime in #NewIndia?"
Hashmi said, "There are groups openlygiving weapon training , lynch mobs killing innocent people in the name of cow and child lifting and the special branch is busy doing surveillance of groups, who are trying to bring back some sanity to society?"
"The meeting was in our office, not in a public place…