July, 2016. Incidents of lynching are on the rise. Newspapers, TV channels, and conversations with friends are getting increasingly more populated with the ethics, verifiability and the necessity of mob justice. Batman and Robin Hood are quickly overtaken by the new vigilantes in town: gau rakshaks (cow protectors).
All this in reference to a specific case: that of a family of seven from the Dalit community being flogged in public on the accusation of having killed cows. In Una, Gujarat, self-proclaimed gau rakshaks stripped, flogged and assaulted the Sarvaiya family for skinning a dead cow. This incident was recorded on video.
Leaders from the Dalit community took this up strongly and held protests across the state. The victims were promised BPL cards, housing plots, five acres of agricultural land and government jobs.
The Gujarat CID arrested 43 people in connection with the flogging, and filed a charge sheet in December 2016.
January, 2020. India reels under the implementation of the CAA-NRC-NPR. People are more divided on ideology than ever. Frustrated with government inaction, they’re out on the streets, treating the attack on the country’s secular fabric as the last straw in a long list of sins of omission the BJP government has indulged in since 2014.
Vashram Sarvaiya, one of the seven members of the Dalit family that was flogged in Una in 2016, has spoken out. He says, “We oppose the CAA but if they want to implement the Act, they should also deport us to a country where Dalits would be considered equal citizens.”
In a letter addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind on behalf of his brothers, Vashram says, “We are not considered citizens in India. Dalits are discriminated against in the Hindu community. So we request President Ramnath Kovind to send us to a different country where we won’t face discrimination.”
It is important to note that this is not the Sarvaiyas’ first letter to the President. In 2018, another one had been written seeking permission for mercy killing.
If their plea is not considered this time, Vashram said he and his brothers will immolate themselves outside Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.