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Brutal murder of young Dalit girl, family shows Manusmriti 'still rules the roost'

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat* 

The brutal and barbaric murder of a young Dalit girl, who was sexually harassed way back in 2019 and was seeking justice for herself in the Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh ever since, is a reminder of the impunity these casteist criminals and thugs enjoy in that state.
A case of sexual harassment since 2019 did not result in any punishment and conviction of the criminals, who got so emboldened that they killed everyone close to her, including her 18-year-old brother, followed by killing of her mother and uncles. 
It is a true copy book story of the brutal social structure which tries to intimidate and silence people so that culprits are never punished. We are amidst a vicious election campaign, and Constitution is the most important point of discussion for everyone. Both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are speaking loud about the supremacy of the Constitution. Yet, the fact is, Manusmriti is still more powerful and it rules India's villages. 
The power of the caste actually overrides anything else in our village republics, and that is why it needs to be understood that unless we strike at the root of caste supremacism,  war against Brahmanical inequality will remain merely a pipedream.  When we celebrate Constitution, we need to doubly celebrate the idea of "annihilation of castes" and follow the humanist alternative provided by Baba Saheb Ambedkar in 'Buddha and his Dhamma'. 
It is important to strengthen Buddha's cultural alternative to irrational and inhuman Brahmanical system that degrades human being, pitches one against the other and instils false notion of "superiority" against fellow human beings.
The supremacy of Constitution must prevail, but how will it happen when majority of  us don't want it to be our way of life? It is not a document to be protected when the need arises. Fact is, we need to live by it. Unless constitutional morality becomes our cultural and social morality, we will not succeed, because those who are supposed to implement  Constitution need to have true faith in it. Sitting in government offices and looking for Brahmanical thought as the guide will not take us anywhere.
The Dalit girl who faced the ordeal and trial of society had to suffer further because  Constitution could not protect her. It happened because those whom we trust should implement the law of the land were simply protecting their caste-based supermacist order. The supremacy of jaatis needs to be broken and demysticised.
When we celebrate Constitution, we need to doubly celebrate idea of annihilation of castes, follow humanist alternative of Ambedkar
It is also important not to make false comparison of this jaati with that jaati. The concept of jaatis essentially is to enjoy supremacy over others. Baba Saheb described it beautifully as 'graded inequality'. 
It is essential to show zero tolerance towards caste discrimination and caste violence. For that to happen, all officers responsible must be made accountable. There should be collective punishment in the villages if the incident is repeated. The judges must be made accountable if they exonerate such cases. Equally important is to identify the castes of the perpetrators. The jaatis need to be identified, so that by the year end, the government knows which jaatis were involved in violence against Dalits.
At a time when we are  raising the issue of caste census, it is important to name and shame jaatis for their criminal violence and their subsequent silence on caste violence. It is equally important to investigate such cases, without jumping to any conclusion by those sitting  in Delhi or state capitals. 
Let the Madhya Pradesh government act responsibly, form special court so that justice is done; but can we expect it in a state where such violence is order of the day, and cases like Vyapam remain unchecked and unpunished?
*Human rights defender 



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