On May 25, George Floyd, a black American died of police brutality. The aftermath of which was protests breaking out in the United States and other parts of the world. Everyone, from local protestors to celebrities and prominent public figures shared statements of solidarity with the black community on social media. A pregnant elephant in Kerala died while accidentally consuming firecracker-filled pineapple.
Several noticeable figures, like Ratan Tata, questioned humanity after this tragedy. The start of June, if not the year, marked increased violence against the Dalit community. From the murder of a 17-year-old Dalit teenager for entering a temple to sexual assault of a 13-year-old Dalit girl in Rajasthan, we witnessed atrocities against the Dalit community going unnoticed, instilling no outrage.
On May 29, Priyanka Chopra posted a picture on Instagram which read “Please, I can’t breathe,” the last words of George Floyd. She also suggested she stands against police brutality. Less than a week later, a 13-year-old girl in Kerala died due to suicide by burning herself as she couldn’t access her online classes. Protests broke out in the city which were met with instances of police brutality. However, Priyanka, the ambassador of The United Nations Children’s Fund, chose to remain silent about this.
On the same day, June 3, Ratan Tata posted a picture on Instagram showcasing his grief for the accidental death of a pregnant elephant in the state of Kerala. His post read “Such criminal acts against innocent animals are no different than acts of meditated murder against other humans.” Yet I fail to find more of such condemning statements against violence inflicted upon the members of the Dalit community, daily. Are they not humans?
On June 6, three days after, a 17-year-old Dalit teenager was shot dead in his sleep for entering a temple. On June 7, a 20-year-old Dalit man was lynched to death in Pune for loving an upper-caste woman, a minor Dalit girl was sexually assaulted in Jharkhand and a 20-year-old college student was killed for loving a Maratha woman in Maharashtra. On June 9, a Dalit activist was murdered by UC men in Gwalior for not letting Dr Ambedkar’s statue be broken. These are a few of the countless caste-based violence in the past month.
We saw numerous celebrities of the west stepping out of their comfort zones and standing shoulder to shoulder with the protestors while Indian celebrities selectively posted on social media about matters which do not possess a threat to their privilege. Several instances of heinous crimes against Dalits go unnoticed and never reach the mainstream Manuvaadi media. They are often busy praising the far-right Prime Minister, finding ways to communalize issues, and never dare question the power holder in our ironic democracy.
Despite this constant fatal series of violence against Dalits, only a few complaints are registered under the SC/ST Act. When will the lives of Dalits finally matter in India? When will the courts where Manu still stands strong serve justice? When will our Prime Minister, who theatrically washes the feet of the marginalized speak against the violence inflicted upon them, or hold a press conference for a single matter?