Skip to main content

Gujarat govt 'refuses' to include Ambedkar in national leaders' list: Dalits to stage protest

Kirit Rathod with Ambekdar's portrait
By Mahesh Trivedi* 
Gujarat’s Dalit rights leaders have come together to form Dr Ambedkar Swabhimaan Sangharsh Samiti to organise awareness campaigns as part of their state-wide agitation following the Gujarat government reportedly rejected a proposal to include their Dalit messiah in the list of national leaders.
It all began about ten days ago, when scores of angry members of the Dalit Adhikar Manch from various towns and villages, who gathered in Vadodara recently, made a bonfire of copies of a recent anti-Ambedkar resolution of the state government, deciding to launch an indefinite mass movement by staging demonstrations, taking out rallies and submitting memoranda to local authorities in every nook and cranny of the state.
The scheduled caste men and women are boiling with rage after the BJP-governed administration rejected Manch convener Kirit Rathod’s proposal to include the name of the messiah of Dalits, Dr BR Ambedkar, in its list of national leaders.
Rathod told this correspondent, plans were afoot to even organise a massive protests near the Vidhan Sabha building before the end of the House business on April 1 if the Vijay Rupani regime did not include the name of the chief architect of India’s Constitution at the earliest.
He said that the Dalit leaders, who met in Vadodara and handed over a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister to the district collector, had also formed a Dr Ambedkar Swabhimaan Sangharsh Samiti to organise awareness campaigns as part of the state-wide agitation which has the support of lawmakers of the community who had also made several representations to the government. The first such awareness drive was kicked off in northern Patan town on Saturday.
For more than a year, Rathod and other Dalit leaders have been going from pillar to post to meet various officials of the administration, including educational institutions, police department, administrative blocks, etc. to persuade the decision-makers for paying tribute to Dr Ambedkar by at least hanging his photo frame along with those of other national leaders.
As Rathod carried on with his marathon efforts to make sure that justice is done to the champion of the downtrodden, even the Governor advised the General Administration Department (GAD) to look into the Dalit leader’s gravamina, what with even the National Commission for Scheduled Castes later shooting off a notice to the Gujarat government and seeking its reply on why Dr Ambedkar’s name was missing from its list of national leaders.
But, on November 21 last, Rathod was shell-shocked when he finally received a letter from Rupani-headed GAD citing a 1996 government resolution about the approved list of national leaders who did not include the man who drafted the world’s longest-written, 146,385-word Constitution.
“The Gujarat government has insulted the great Constitutionalist and messiah of the untouchables, and this at a time when cases of harassment of Dalits by upper-caste men have been coming to light now and then,” said Rathod.
In crimes against Dalits, ranging from rape, murder, violence and land-related issues, Uttar Pradesh remains among one of the top states, followed by Gujarat
February alone witnessed countless incidents of atrocities on Dalits who are treated like dirt in the saffron-ruled state.
While the Manch has lodged a police complaint against a BJP candidate Jhelum Choksi who used offensive words against a low-status caste during her election speech last week, upper-caste Darbar community men in a village near northern town of Patan on February 23 hurled casteist slurs at a Dalit teenager and threatened to kill him if he did not remove the suffix ‘sinh’ from his name, used generally by the Darbars. The threat scared the living daylights out of the 19-year-old who has now shifted to Ahmedabad with his parents.
If, on February 23, stones were hurled at a wedding procession of a Dalit groom by upper-caste people in Limb village in Aravalli district who objected to the revellers wearing a traditional headgear and dancing to loud music, similar incidents of violence during celebrations by the socially-disadvantaged community occurred in Nandisan village in Modasa taluka in the same district and Kamliwada hamlet in the Patan region.
All said and done, the fact remains that, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in crimes against Dalits, ranging from rape, murder, violence and land-related issues, Uttar Pradesh remains among one of the top states, followed by Gujarat. UP has witnessed substantial increase of 47% from 2014 to 2018 in the crimes committed against Dalits followed by 26% in Gujarat which also registers the lowest conviction rate.
After all, frequent incidents of injustice meted out to Dalits were the order of the day even when Modi was the chief minister, and continue unabated even till date, raising serious questions regarding the role of the Gujarat government and local administrations in containing cases of harassment of Dalits.
As for the scene in India, crimes against Dalits totalled 45,935 in 2019, an increase of 7.3% over 2018.
---
*Senior journalist based in Ahmedabad. A version of this story was first published in Clarion

Comments

TRENDING

Ganga world's second most polluted river, Modi's Varanasi tops microplastics pollution

By Rajiv Shah  Will the new report by well-known elite NGO Toxics Link create a ripple in the powerful corridors of Delhi? Titled “Quantitative analysis of microplastics along River Ganga”, forwarded to Counterview, doesn’t just say that Ganga is the second most polluted river in the world, next only to Yangtze (China). It goes ahead to do a comparison of microplastics pollution in three cities shows Varanasi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is more polluted compared to Kanpur and Haridwar.

How real is Mamata challenge to Modi? Preparing for 2024 'khela hobey' moment

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  Third time elected West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee is on a whirlwind tour of Delhi, meeting everyone who matters within and beyond the government, the Prime Minister, the President, some Cabinet ministers, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, several other opposition leaders, et al.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

UP arrest of 'terrorists': Diverting attention from Covid goof-up, Ram temple land scam?

By Advocate Mohammad Shoaib, Sandeep Pandey* That corruption is rampant in police department is a common experience. However, there is another form of corruption which devastates lives of individuals and their families. It has now emerged as a common phenomenon that police more often than not register false cases because of which individuals have to spend number of years in jail.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Effluent discharge into deep sea? Modi told to 'reconsider' Rs 2275 crore Gujarat project

Counterview Desk  In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, well-known Gujarat-based environmentalist, Mahesh Pandya of the Paryavaran Mitra, has protested against the manner in with the Gujarat government is continuing with its deep sea effluent disposal project despite environmental concerns.

Khorigaon demolition: People being 'brutally' evicted, cops 'restricting' food, water

By Ishita Chatterjee, Neelesh Kumar, Manju Menon, Vimal Bhai* On July 23, the Faridabad Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court that they have cleared 74 acres out of 150 acres. Despite the affidavit of the Municipal Corporation, the court, on the complaint of various litigants, that the arrangements for living, food etc. have not been made for the people. 

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.