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#MinorityLivesMatter: Is New India A Better Place For Dalits, Muslims And Women?

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TW: Rape, Caste-based violence

According to the official report of National Crime Records Bureau, from 2016 to till now, minorities are over-represented in Indian prisons which includes Dalits and Muslims in common. On an annual basis, the NCRB releases a report on Prison Statistics India (PSI). It elaborates that the lack of access to political influence and money power poses the trend.

NCRB’s report on 2019 shows 10 rape cases are reported daily against Dalit women in India. Image source: Feminism India

NCRB’s report on 2019 shows 10 rape cases are reported daily against Dalit women in India. Among that Uttar Pradesh reports 25% of crimes against people from Scheduled Caste community. Statistical data shows that every 12 minutes a crime was committed against the SC community, a total 45,852 crimes in 2019. Years are passing by and yet the increasing trend of sexual abuse, mob lynching, honour killings, caste murders are not in a declined path.

So, whom can we blame when it comes to the assaults against marginalised minorities in the country? The already constructed law or the improper law and order implementation of State and Central Government? It is absurd to realise that even in the time of pandemic like the casteist attacks are on hike.

And the Indian population sitting in the comfort zone of their home claims “don’t mix up a crime with one’s caste”. “Caste has nothing to do with the existence of attacks against minorities in India”. “Ban reservation system in India”. The list of arguments put forward by privileged casteist humans in India shows that they admire the illogical Manusmriti more than the Indian Constitution which abolishes the practice of untouchability under Article 17. Are they aware of it?

From the current heinous scenario, it is clear that caste has been liked with the act of brutal crimes. The idea of Brahmanical patriarchy which endorses the act of oppression in Indian context proved to be a greater threat to religious tolerance.

Dalit scholars and activists are coming forward to mainstream to share their plights and issues in academical agraharas. India cannot forget Rohit Vemula, the Dalit research scholar from the University of Hyderabad, and Payal Tadvi, a medical student from Maharashtra. The institutional murder of young minority talents poses a big challenge to the existence of a democratic system in India.

Recently Umar Khalid, former Democratic Students Union leader in JNU and a human rights activist has been allegedly charged with UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) for speaking up for citizens right. In short, we can conclude that freedom of speech and expression is under threat under this autocratic regime.

The violence of upper caste comes from a place of deep contempt and targeting a Dalit woman is a way of exerting power over the Dalit communities overall. Image source: NewsClick

The Hathras rape case highlights the failure of the law and order system in Uttar Pradesh. When we analyse the case, the irreparable damage caused by caste on Dalit women can be clearly sorted out. Sadly the reality of India shows that the authoritarian government system gives more protection and Y plus category security to only high-profile celebrities in the nation.

Can the readers of this article imagine Y plus category security protection to minorities in the country or women in the country? You couldn’t. It is because India relies on the religious and political framework.

In India, the caste structure remains to be overthrown. The violence of upper caste, particularly the Thakurs in UP comes from a place of deep contempt and targeting a Dalit woman is a way of exerting power over the Dalit communities overall. Historically the bodies of marginalised women have been assumed to have free access by upper or dominant castes. However, the Bahujan community, particularly the Dalit community, has been fighting against and raises in more rage to voice that it won’t be tolerated.

One can take the example of Chandrashekhar Azad of Bhim Army who is fiercely battling against upper-caste dominance. The Joint Action Committee of Ambedkarite student organisations has called for a countrywide protest on 10 October to assert minority Dalit rights and protection in the country.

Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the man who shaped the Indian constitution, was always a staunch critic against the element of Hinduism, basically, Brahmanism, which means hierarchy that highlights who is above and below. Brahmanical Hindu codes adhere supremacist values to a brahmin. In the Indian context, if minorities protest for their rights, the autocratic regime converts the act into riots.

Before the advent of Britishers, the caste system had already divided Indians. The Britishers had made use of the situation and utilised it to the maximum and exploited the Indian middle class and lower-class population by creating religious pressure all over the nation. Every invader who came to India had an upper-caste left hand to control the common people.

The upper caste perpetrators see Dalits and women as same with a narrow-minded mentality. They promote Brahmanical patriarchy and oppresses women in India. As responsible Indian citizens, whenever caste-based violence happens, we should confess our culpability. The silence and rejection from you give rises to atrocities and attacks against minorities in India.

In the movie Pariyerum Perumal by Mari Selvaraj, there is a dialogue, “Chicken shit who got in through quota”. Does this dialogue represent the oppressor’s mentality? When it comes to Dalit upper class, privileged ones know only about “reservation and merit”. In reality, the reservation has reached only to the least population of the Indian domain. It is ironical in the sense when some of us criticise the Indian reservation system and continue to apply for reservations abroad.

NCRB report officially says that crimes against women and Dalits in India are on an increasing track.

Why can’t you accept the Indian reservation? Indian academia is teaching about upper-caste freedom fighters like Jhansi Rani, Mangal Pandey, etc. but refuses to accept Jhalkaribai, Matadin Bhangi, Birsa Munda. To what extent did we learn about Dr Ambedkar? So, it is clear that Indian academical agraharas resists Bahujan contributions.

NCRB report officially says that crimes against women and Dalits in India are on an increasing track. Nature tends to be more heinous, public and brazen. The attacks are not only just about perpetrators and victims, but the crimes send a direct message to minorities in India that they are under threat. Can the Government eradicate this fearful concern of minorities in India? Generations have come forward with casteist mentality and deep-rooted Islamophobic insights. Law and order in India need to be analysed.

“The evident need for change in Law with respect to the pace of change in social crimes is necessary. Indian society doesn’t seem to have moved on from caste-based oppression and violence. We live in a country where traditions outcast laws, and consent from women is ignored. It is far time that Indian Judicial system should have the transition from the reformative theory to preventive theory.” – Advocate Raveen, from Kollam Judicial Court.

The deep-rooted caste mentality from Indian families needs to be checked. When will Indian children be capable of rejecting the thoughts injected by their parents when it is communal, casteist, homophobic, xenophobic and patriarchal? If the rejection is positive, that marks the development of a new India. Until then, vote bank politics and anarchism are going to rule Indian democratic space.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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