A Mumbai Bandh was observed by Dalits, Buddhists and secular forces on January 3. This bandh happened after a call was given by Prakash Ambedkar against the Hindutva attacks on the people who went to pay homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives fighting the Peshwa Army in 1818 at Bhima Koregaon. There were attacks on the Dalits all over the state. One such incident came to light in Mumbai.
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Speaking to Newsclick, Sagar Zende, a social activist based in Mumbai, said that he had visited the victims who were attacked by caste Hindus in Kalyan East, Mumbai. He said that perpetrators came in hordes and attacked the areas where the Dalits lived. They destroyed whatever resembled the artefacts of that which belonged to the Dalits or the Buddhists.
In response, Dalits have filed cases against the culprits. Sagar added that “instead of catching the culprits, the police have filed counter cases against the family members who have filed the cases”. He said that seven people from the Dalit and Buddhist families were arrested which comprise of two men and five women. Currently, they have been admitted to the hospital and once they are discharged they would apply for bail, the activist added. 10 people were arrested from the side of the people who committed the violence..
In another instance, the Dalits of Gottipadu Village in Guntur District, which is nearly 60 Kms from Amaravati, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, were attacked on January 1, 2018. The dominant caste members of the village attacked the Dalit youth on the pretext that they misbehaved with their youth.
The Dalits under the banner Dalit Bahujan Front (DBF) organised a protest at the district collectorate demanding that action be taken against the culprits under section 307 of IPC along with the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and remove all the false cases filed on the Dalits. The third demand was to allow leaders to visit the victims who were injured in the attack.
Speaking to Newsclick, Mellam Bhagyarao of DBF said that early morning on January 1, 2018, four Dalit youths from Gottipadu were wishing people “a happy new year” on bikes. One of them fell off his bike at a distance from where the caste Hindus were decorating their streets with “rangoli”. Instead of helping the biker who fell down, the youth was thrashed by the dominant caste members. After getting beaten up, the youth called the other bikers, who had by then gone ahead and together countered the people who attacked him.
Next morning, around 70 Kamma caste members came and attacked the Dalit houses and eight of them, who were seriously injured, have been admitted to the hospital. The attacks only resemble what is in store for Dalits in the days to come.