By Akrit Michael:
The situation in Gujarat has gone from bad to worse. Dalits in Una have taken it upon themselves to stop being at the exploitative end of the casteist social structure and break the age old shackles of untouchability. The event that acted as the spark to this fire was the beating of seven Dalit youths. Their crime was of clearing the carcas of a dead cow.
Cow, being a symbol of Brahminism has been made sacred by the Hindutva right in recent times. It’s not even been a year since the mob lynching in Dadri, when a man was murdered by a mob over the alleged suspicion of possessing beef. This incident is still in the minds of the people of India.
This movement in Una, which has been aimed at unifying the Dalits as well as the Muslims against the same banner of oppression by upper caste Hindus, in some aspects mirrors the iconic Dandi March of Gandhi. Gandhi used to march from village to village and the strength of his supporters increased as the march progressed. But instead of his novel non-violent mobilisation strategy, this crowd tends to display overtones of violence when faced with opposition by hot-tempered anti-Dalit crowds.
The most shameful aspect of this is the way the police forces are allegedly reacting to instances of violation of social security. If they just remain mute spectators, when Dalits are beaten up, it is pathetic, to say the least.
Such a powerful and popular campaign has not been witnessed in Gujarat since the 2002 communal riots and it could be a movement that holds potential to get the oppressed harijan of our country the equality and respect he deserves and strike a blow to the sick casteist mentality.