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

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

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.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).