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Torture of adivasi girl 'reflects' caste bias of BJP's #BetiBachaoBetiPadhao drive

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The story of the brutal torture of the adivasi girl by the Jharkhand chief of BJP's Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, Seema Patra, wife of a retired IAS officer, looks unprecedented, yet it is reflective of how we treat out domestic workers in our homes. The fact is that most of the elite class officers, including India's top civil servants, keep them on lowly paid jobs as domestics who are actually compelled to do everything in the hope that they will one day become permanent.
Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh contribute maximum to the domestic sector in our major cities, apart from poor immigrants from West Bengal. Adivasi girls become part of the network which supplies domestic workers to the homes of the middle classes, whose members work in big corporations or live abroad.
The stories of these scoundrels keeping their domestic workers in their toilets or with dogs are not new. The maltreatment of the adivasis clearly shows the bully and exploitative nature of India's growing middle classes, which do not want to pay minimum wages to their domestics and exploit their vulnerabilities.
These are also the bhakts who are in the forefront in all 'nationalistic' campaigns. They don't want their children to join the army but would like to look more deshbhakts than our jawans, who are fighting on the borders, because on TV channels bhakti comes with a great premium.
It isn’t without reason that the Swachch Bharat campaign became a hogwash, as most of the corrupted middle classes from “pure” sarvarna castes never bothered about the 'kooda wallahs' or sanitation workers, who come and clean their streets or take away their dirt daily. The campaign became an event to get photographed and send the photographs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so that they look more obedient than others.
It is the same castes which came forward with the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, butnever treated their daughters or others’ daughters as equal.
Now, after much effort, Seema Patra has been arrested, but will this case become an example for others to treat their domestic workers better? Was the violence on the adivasi girl merely a violence on domestic workers or was it a violence on an adivasi girl that needed to be seriously probed?
As reports are suggesting, Seema Patra's son Ayushman actually contacted a friend against his mother’s misdeeds. Ayushman perhaps asked her mother to treat the adivasi girl better. How could a mother be so brutal to forcibly send her son to hospital in the name of psychological disorder?
It is now reported that the son has now been withdrawn from the hospital by his sister Vatsalya, who took the adivasi girl to Delhi along with her, and when transferred back to Ranchi, brought her along. It means that both Seema Patra and her daughter have been brutally exploiting the adivasi girl for long.
We have seen the video, which is unbearable. It reflects on how our caste mind works. I have seen no campaign by the Hindutva managers against this. They only look for stories where a Muslim is involved, otherwise they are least bothered.
Hindutva is an echo system of ignoring things when issues of caste violence or attitude of the savarnas towards Dalits and Adivasis come up. They only wait for issues of involvement of Muslims to begin their noise from the rooftops.
Right now they are silent, which is criminal and mischievous. Not a single neta has spoken out. But why will they speak? Smriti Irani's histrionics on the issue of rashtrapati by the Congress leader's alleged slip of tongue was so 'powerful' that it looked like a drama. But she has refused to speak a single sentence about garlanding of criminals, rapists and murders of the family of Bilkis Bano.
Smriti Irani spoke passionately about adivasis while referring to Droupadi Murmu as the new President of India. But now when an Adivasi girl has been brutalised by a BJP leader, who happens to the party’s Jharkhand chief of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, she is silent. It reflects on how leaders are appointed in the party.
Why should a Brahmin from Odisha be appointed leader of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign in Jharkhand? Are there no eligible adivasis from Jharkhand for this? Will our Prime Minister speak about the incident? He has been speaking about his Mann ki Baat, but during the last eight years he has not spoken a word about anyone who suffers from such brutalities and caste or communal violence.
The Jharkhand government must take this issue to a logical conclusion. The question is not just that whether the adivasi girl will get compensation. The culprit must be punished. Yet what needs to be looked into is: despite the fact that the elites are intoxicated with their power, yet they are not made accountable for their misdeeds.
Seema Patra is the face of the terror of a casteist mind, of those who are so arrogant about their caste identities that they will resort to any inhuman brutalities, if any one, particularly a Dalit or an Adivasi, tris to look equal to them.
Indeed, the annihilation of caste is not possible with those who believe in Brahmanical supremacy. Everyday, we are being told about 'great' cultural values and civilisation, but what this adivasi girl faced in Jharkhand is a reflection of the values that have treated Dalits and Adivasis in utter disdain and with great humiliation.
Will India's Parliament take up the issue of Dalits and Adivasis and offer an apology for the historical wrongs? Will our Prime Minister speak on the issue in his Mann ki Baat and tell people about the need to not tolerate towards those who humiliate fellow citizens of the country merely on the basis of their birth? Will the Prime Minister speak about untouchability and the caste system?
I hope he speaks and tells fellow countrymen about the dangers of such inhuman behaviour, as, surely, Adivasi lives do matter. It is not expected from anyone to treat the fellow citizen in such a cruel and brutal way. Shame on Seema Patra. She must face the law, and any effort to protect her must be exposed.
---
*Human rights defender. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat, twitter: @freetohumanity

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