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'BJP showing up communal, caste, patriarchal mindset': Hyderabad Dalit youth murder

Counterview Desk 

India’s top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Alliances (NAPM), has distributed a statement “by all-India feminists, democratic activists and groups” on the murder of Dalit youth B Nagaraju in Hyderabad, insisting on the need to counter BJP’s “communal politics” around the incident, even as pointing out, the incident suggests “casteist prejudices and patriarchal practices” exist “across religions”.
Seeking signatures from concerned citizens, the statement, even as asserting that murder was committed not only Nagaraju was of a non-Muslim faith “but more so because was a Dalit”, states, “The painful end to the powerful love life of Nagaraju and Ashrin must be a moment of reckoning and reflection for all religions which, in practice, have been disapproving of inter-caste and inter-faith relationships.”
It insists, “Unless we are able to challenge the scourge of caste and patriarchy across all religions, our young people, especially Dalits, women and marginalized genders would not be able to enjoy their human rights, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution."

Text:

We the undersigned feminists, democratic activists and groups have been observing with utmost concern the developments in Telangana, ever since Mr B Nagaraju, a dalit youth was mercilessly killed on the night of 4th May for marrying his long-time lover Ashrin Sultana.
Different sources including Ashrin have indicated that her brother and relative resorted to killing Nagaraju, because he belonged to a non-Muslim faith but more so, because was a Dalit. The caste location of the deceased assumes significance since Ashrin’s brother disapproved of the relationship, despite Nagaraju’s proposal to convert to Islam.
We are all deeply aghast at the crime committed against Nagraju and expect the Telangana government to arrest the remaining accused as well and conclude the investigation promptly under the SC ad ST (PoA), 1989, so that an appropriate court of law can pass sentence. We are also in complete empathy with young Ashrin as well as the family members of Nagaraju who have been traumatized to no end, because of this gruesome incident.
We join feminist and civil society groups of Telangana in their demands to the state government to provide all necessary support and immediate protection to Ashrin and the family of the deceased in these difficult circumstances. We also demand action against the concerned district police who failed to ensure adequate protection to the couple, and apprehend the accused in time, despite being in receipt of complaints about the threat to life.
While this incident has led to intense debates on questions of faith, caste and gender across social and political circles, the BJP and its affiliates have been quick to manipulate and present this case as one of a ‘religious atrocity by muslims against a hindu’ and have been working overtime both across Telangana and elsewhere to use this as yet another plank to demonize the entire Muslim community, based on this incident, in which not just the accused, but one of the victims is also a Muslim woman!
Across India, the BJP’s track record with regard to upholding the rights of Dalits, women and other marginalized sections is well-known. Some of the highest numbers of crimes have been where the party is in power.
It is, therefore, a cruel joke that the BJP, which has been bothered in the least over all these years when dalit youth were murdered for entering into inter-caste relationships, is now suddenly in ‘campaign mode’ in the Nagaraju-Ashrin case, across Telangana, trying to eke out communal dividends from a tragic end to an inter-faith, inter-caste marriage. We condemn the BJP’s toxic anti-minority politics, its disdain for Dalits and its patriarchal approach to the right of individuals, especially women to love or marry as per their choices.
This is in no way to exonerate non-BJP parties (whether or not in power) who also have an equal responsibility to work towards reducing caste, faith and gender-based crimes against consensual adults. The Telangana Govt. has much to answer as well for its poor response in controlling crimes against Dalits, since 2014. A high-powered Committee under the Chief Minister must immediately review all cases of atrocities against Dalits in the state and ensure action in all of them.
As the BJP is on a spree of getting ‘anti-conversion’ laws passed across the country and raising the false bogie of ‘love jihad’, we think it is time for the non-BJP governments to not only actively counter these unconstitutional moves, but also bring in enabling legislations at the state level protecting inter-caste, inter-faith relationships.
The painful end to the powerful love life of Nagaraju and Ashrin must be a moment of reckoning and reflection for all religions which, in practice, have been disapproving of inter-caste and inter-faith relationships. Unless we are able to challenge the scourge of caste and patriarchy across all religions, our young people, especially Dalits, women and marginalized genders would not be able to enjoy their human rights, as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
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Click here to sign the statement

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