NEW DELHI: In the heart of Lutyens Delhi, Marching from Mandi House to Parliament Street hundreds of activists, scholars and members of the Dalit community sounded the poll bugle demanding the defeat of Manuvaadi forces and the BJP government.
Even as 90 years have passed since the regressive Manusmriti was first downed by Babasaheb Ambedkar, violence against the community has gripped India.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a total of 40,774 cases were registered in the year 2016 under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and other sections of law over alleged crimes against SCs and STs. The conviction rate in cases of alleged crimes against STs, the conviction rate was 20.8 per cent, and in case of SCs, the conviction rate was 27.2%.
Ramchandra Dome, general secretary of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, which organisaed the march, said, “The march is in protest of the casteist and communal oppression faced by Dalits all over India.” In recent times, especially the last four-and- a-half years of the Narednra Modi government, the atrocities and oppression faced by the Dalits have seen a steep rise.
Shedding light on the nature of the violence experienced by the community, Ramakant, an activist from Meerut said, “The most visible spike in violence against the Dalit community can be noticed in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, members of the community carrying pictures of Babasaheb in a wedding procession were brutally attacked by upper caste men. The extent of the polarisation in our society is such that the smallest of our assertions are seen as threats to the upper caste identity.”
Speaking to Newsclick, Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), said, “ The Constitution that India is proud of was a result of the efforts of visionaries such as Ambedkar, who envisioned a fair society for our country. In reality today, the most marginalised communities, especially the Dalits, have increasingly become vulnerable. It is under this government that men from the Bajrang Dal, the RSS have completely sidelined the values that were held sacred in the constitution.”
The DSMM march saw participation from across the country, including Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu. The protestors demanded that the alleged false cases that had been registered against the protesters who participated in the country-wide protests on April 2, 2018, be taken back.
Sounding the poll bugle, Subhashini Ali, member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), addressing the march said, “The days of the BJP government are numbered. There is a reason why we chose Delhi for the assertion today, because this march should be seen as a warning signal to the Modi government ahead of the 2019 polls. The next six months are crucial for all of us and we will do everything to ensure that the BJP government with its Manuvaadi agenda is ousted.”
Savitri Gautam, who was attending the march, said, “There is only one way to break through this oppressive system, the way suggested by Baba Saheb Ambedkar is our collective assertion of identity. At this point in time when caste is alive and thriving, the assertion of that identity is the most crucial.”
She said, “The political atmosphere in the country is such where those committing atrocities are enjoying impunity of the government. The RSS and the BJP have collectively declared that they want Manusmriti to dictate the law in this country and not our Constitution and we will not let that happen at any cost.”