In the 20th year of the 21st century, many in India were killed just because they belonged to lower caste. Because they were Dalits; because many in India think Dalits do not deserve honorable life.
In India, barbarities against Dalits are increasing at an alarming rate as if Dalits are animals on whom the government has put a poaching price. Many from the upper caste in India think of themselves as a power beyond the rule of law and consider that their high caste status gives them a license to commit atrocities against Dalits. Be it North, South, West or East India, all over the country, Dalits get a welcome with insults and bullets.
Studies have shown that these incidents prove the rising insecurity amongst the upper caste individuals as socio-economic conditions of Dalit groups has seen significant improvement in the last few years. But still, the ace of spades remain in the hands of privileged; be it in terms of employment, education, medical facilities, the standard of living, etcetera.
Our leaders go and eat at the house of Dalits throughout elections, make promises of policies that favour the Dalits, but choose to remain silent when crimes against them are committed. If this silence does not mean encouragement to wicked upper caste individuals, then what does it?
Mahatma Gandhi said that “Swaraj is a meaningless term if we desire to keep a fifth of India under perpetual subjection, and deliberately deny to them the fruits of national culture. We are seeking the aid of God in this great purifying movement, but we deny to the most deserving among his creatures the rights of humanity. In human ourselves, we may not plead before the Throne for deliverance from the inhumanity of others.” His words remain mere words for nationalists who consider themselves Gandhi’s disciples yet commit sins against Dalits at the same time.
The latest data published by the National Crime Records Bureau threw up some grim statistics showing why Uttar Pradesh remains the state where most crimes against Dalits take place. The data showed an increase of 7.3 per cent in crimes against scheduled caste people with 45,935 cases, an increase from 42,793 cases registered in 2018.
Moreover, crimes against Dalit women have gone up by a drastic rate as compared to statistics of 2018. Hatras victim case portrays the clear picture of atrocities against Dalits, in which the victim was a Dalit and a woman. In case of rapes of Dalit women, Uttar Pradesh scored second after Rajasthan where 5977 cases were reported.
Cases of prejudice amidst Covid-19 pandemic saw a steep rose; highlighting how the lockdown drove the already helpless to extreme ends of marginalisation on manifold fronts. The lockdown testified to a particular set of repeated patterns through which the powerful caste-based nexus managed to deny fundamental rights to Dalits. Numerous such cases arose to the spotlight after being broadly shared and debated on social media. Demonstrations and campaigns were staged as the aftereffect.
Dalits are slain, punished and shunned, but the stories do not get reported by mainstream media. Insignificant reportage leads to privileged and shallow people into assuming that casteism does not breathe in India anymore. We need to state their names and acknowledge their stories.