A leading Indian english daily ‘The Hindu’ reported a news with title “Governor meets Kovind, to reach Chennai today”, here Kovind, the President of India, referred by his name, the Governor who is reporting to the President of India referred by his title. Same with a religious head who has got arrested in a murder charge by Tamilnadu police has been addressed by his title. What do you call these?
The above examples are just tip of the iceberg, where the discrimination so normalized that most of us won’t even able to recognize. Even in these days, it’s been openly showed in a prime news paper proves that even if you are occupying the top most position of a country and you belong to Oppressed Caste, you can’t escape from caste discrimination.
An honest Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Chhattisgarh, Prabhakar Gwal, a Dalit, got terminated for executing this duty honestly. He is very straightforward and forcing Police to follow the protocols and exposing their illegal arrests of Adivasis in Sakuma District, Chattisgarh and ruled against the sitting BJP MLA. This is a classic example how privileged uses their caste privilege to influence and manipulate the system, he was victimized executing his duty honestly. If a Judge can be harassed by an MLA, then think about the normal person who doesn’t have any way to stand up against the system. The Judge Prabhakar Gwal has been fighting the legal battle for more than a year against his termination.
Here is another one, even a school kid who is able to do well academically can’t escape the cruel caste based violence. A 13 yrs old Dalit student got beaten up by the Oppressed caste classmates, his fault is, he has scored more marks than them, he has been enduring this beating for about an year and he has been reporting to the School Principal who didn’t take any action at all. Just happened that Video got leaked, otherwise that poor kid would be still going through all those beatings. I’m not sure how many of innocent kids are treated inhuman way just because they are born into Oppressed caste, just do google, you would find so many news and articles of other cases to. The class Teacher and the school Principal are supposed to take action, but they didn’t. After the video went viral both of them got transferred, the sad part is, there is so much outrage in social media for the those officials transferred, but people didn’t even understand the pain of the school kid who got beaten up mercilessly for more than a year.. How would we feel when one of our relative get beaten up like that. So even a authority failed to take action on injustice meted out to a Dalit student are still supported by non-Dalits. Where does the decent media coverage and public condemnation for these atrocities against Dalits?
When whole Tamilnadu busy in protesting against jallikattu ban early this year, a 17 year old Dalit girl from TamilNadu, Nandhini, was raped, brutally tortured by her estranged boy friend and along with his 3 other friends, belonged to an oppressor caste, dumped her alive in a well. After 2 weeks, her decomposed body was found by the villagers. If the police had acted on the day her parents reported the missing, she could have been saved. The news media didn’t cover this injustice until the people and a political party Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) protested by calling out a shutdown. Even then many elites in TV debates were criticizing the victim’s relationship with estranged boy friend, as usual like finding fault with the dress of sexual assault victims. How many of us at least condemned this heinous murder in social media?
There is Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 (PoA) which is also known as the SC/ST Act or simply Atrocities Act. About 47,064 cases filed in 2015 across India under this act. Pathetically just 5102 cases got conviction which is just 11%. What happened to remaining 89% cases?. Even in so called “progressive” state like TamilNadu, the conviction rate is very low. Just 88 convictions out of 1546 cases filled under PoA. Again what happened to those remaining cases? Do you know the reason?. The cases were diluted intentionally to weakening the arguments, in most cases were registered with large holes so they can be easily argued to either lower the sentence for oppressor or get judgement in favor of oppressor. Often the judiciary system and police take the side of oppressor caste. Even the most horrible crime like Khairlanji Massacre in Maharashtra were a Dalit family was brutally murdered after the women in that family were paraded naked and sexually assaulted for standing up against the oppressor caste people. In this case, the death sentence of the accused were reduced to life due to the intent wasn’t proved. And for registering a case itself, the Dalits has to engage in protest and agitation, that’s reality.
All these incidents involving from a first citizen of a country , President of India, to a poor village girl in Tamilnadu are just few examples how caste discrimination is manifested in different forms. Instead of pretending that caste discrimination does not exists in India any more, it is very important for the entire society to call this out whenever happen, so that the oppressors wouldn’t get courage or even think over next time before acting discriminatory. If you don’t do this today, then we the Indians in United States or elsewhere doesn’t have any right to complain about the racism to Indian diaspora experience in western world.
“Caste cannot be abolished by inter caste dinners or stray instances of inter caste marriages. Caste is a state of mind. It is a disease of mind. The teachings of the Hindu religion are the root cause of this disease. We practice casteism and we observe Untouchability because we are enjoined to do so by the Hindu religion. A bitter thing cannot be made sweet. The taste of anything can be changed. But poison cannot be changed into nectar” – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
T.S. Elancheran, City of Tracy, California.