In the wake of 19 cases of gang-rapes of dalit girls
in Haryana in just one month, and the utter callousness with which the state
government has dealt with such criminality, the time has come for dalits to
embrace class unity in the struggle for liberation.
After the Manesar incident that exposed the unlawful labour
practices of Maruti Suzuki and other leading capitalist enterprises in
Haryana, backed by the state government, the province is once again the focus
of attention, this time for its feudal traits. There have been 19 gang-rapes of
dalit girls, one more gruesome than the other, in a single month. While the
government’s response has been lethargic, the notorious khap panchyats of the
dominant caste, the Jats, have, in a way, justified these rapes by advising
that girls should be married off before they reached the age of puberty to
avoid rapes. Important politicians unashamedly endorsed this shocking solution
in public; some of them even dismissed the rapes as basically consensual acts
turned sour. These are not one-off examples of reckless statements by some
discredited individuals; the sexual assaults and the care-a-damn attitude of
the state’s political establishment represent an abiding pattern that makes the
state a veritable hell for dalits.
Roguery of the Rich
The state of Haryana exemplifies the rapid enrichment and
empowerment of dominant farming castes in the post-Independence period; it also
epitomises the cohabitation of global capitalism and debauched feudalism. After
separation from Punjab in 1966, Haryana has remained a predominantly Hindu
state with Jats as the dominant caste. Today with a per capita income of Rs
92,327 (2011), it tops the list of the states on that score, except for Goa with
Rs 1,32,719. But the distribution of income and wealth is very unequal – the
Jats have disproportionately cornered the benefits of rapid economic growth,
and their leaders, with the privileges of power and pelf, seek to keep the rest
of the community in their thrall. The state has however emerged as one of the
country’s major centres of agriculture, manufacturing, business process
outsourcing and organised retail. Gurgaon, with its glass and metal-clad,
high-rise apartment blocks and commercial complexes, best represents the
development of Haryana. But even beyond Gurgaon, the general infrastructure of
the state surely rivals the best in the country. Nevertheless, beyond this
facade lies a state of antiquity, ruled by khap panchyats, where the incidence
of forced abortion of the female foetus is well above the national average,
where honour killings happen all too often, where incest is rampant, and where
dalits are treated like slaves, lynched and raped at will.
Recall the 16 October 2002 lynching of five dalits by a large
and violent mob on the main road outside the Dulina Police Post, near Jhajjar
town in full view of the police and several senior district officials. The
victims were accused of skinning a cow, the killers were glorified as heroes who
had avenged the death of “our gau mata”. The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader
Parmanand Giri had openly stated that those who had killed the “gau-hatyare”
(killers of the holy cow) must be honoured. The VHP President Giriraj Kishore
justified the killings, saying that “the life of a cow is more precious than
that of a human being”. Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and Sarva Khap Panchayat openly
lent support to the killers and opposed any action against them. Such is the
terror of the Jats, who take pride in their valour (read criminality), that the
then district commissioner of Jajjhar had expressed his helplessness to a
visiting team of activists of the People’s Union for Democratic Rights, saying
that no administration could function in the area without pacifying the
sentiments of organisations like the VHP, and negotiating with the khap
On 27 August 2005, 55 to 60 dalit houses were burnt
down by a violent mob of 1,500 to 2,000 Jats in Gohana with full support of
local police. On 21 April 2010, two dalits were killed in Mirchpur and their
houses set ablaze. Last year, 70 dalit families of Bhagana village in Hisar
were ousted following their social boycott by the Jats. In all these cases,
there was arrogant support for the perpetrators of crime. The khap panchayats’
honour killings, public justification of such killings by Jat spokespersons and
politicians, their passing of a resolution against the struggling Maruti Suzuki
workers’ union, and several such actions are nothing but a manifestation of the
naked roguery of the rich Jats of Haryana.
Haplessness of Dalits
Dalits live in perpetual fear of Jats in Haryana. On account
of worsening of the female sex ratio (there are just 877 females per 1,000
males, far below the national average of 940 as per census 2011) the incidence
of incest is high. But when the khap panchyats issued a fatwa against the
within-clan marriages, dalit girls increasingly became the victims of sexual
assault. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports show that the number of
rape cases where dalit girls/women are the victims has consistently gone up
from 21 in 2007 to 56 in 2011. While at the national level, the number of rape
cases wherein dalit girl/woman are the victims went up by 15% over the period,
the increase in Haryana was 167%. In September 2012 alone, there have been 19
cases of gang-rapes of dalit girls. Among these, there was the case of a
16-year-old girl who was gang-raped by a dozen upper caste men in Darba village
of Hisar district on 9 September. The rapists had filmed the horrific act and
circulated the video. Unable to cope with the situation, her father committed
suicide. Another dalit girl of the same age, who was also gang-raped in Sachcha
Kheda village in Jind district, burnt herself to death. A five-month pregnant
dalit woman was abducted and raped by two youths in Kalyat. Practically, the
gangs of bahubalis, with the patronage of politicians, can rape and kill dalit
girls with impunity. Haryana has witnessed such rape cases in several
districts, including Rohtak, Hisar, Jind, Bhiwani, Yamunanagar, Panipat,
Sonipat, Ambala, Karnal, Faridabad and Kaithal in September this year.
Unlike the dominant Jats, the dalits are poor and without
protection. They can be easily terrorised by the upper castes, which exert
pressure on the family of a rape victim not to report the matter to the police.
If the family still approach police, the latter dissuade the former and do not
easily register the case. Only under public pressure do the police seem to
register crimes against dalits and arrest the culprits. When the case is
registered, most victim families are coerced by the Jats to go in for an
out-of-court settlement, and accused of destroying the village’s inter-caste
harmony if they refuse to succumb. While the victim’s family incurs the wrath
of the powerful Jats of the village, the police do everything to weaken the
Options before Dalits
Traditionally dalits have relied on the state as a neutral
arbiter and hoped it would do them justice. The colonial state created this
hope and the postcolonial state, pretending to conduct itself as per the
Constitution, which dalits believed to be the code of Ambedkar, reinforced this
reliance. Despite persistent disillusionment over the last six decades, this
trait appears intact, perhaps for the lack of any better alternative. The state
has not only been callous; it has also itself been a perpetrator of atrocities.
In every atrocity that has come to light, the complicit or active perpetrator’s
role of the state has been evident. Besides, the state has consistently acted
against the poor of which the dalits have been a preponderant part. In recent
years, the security syndrome has come handy for the state to label them as
Naxalites and persecute them. The state is completely exposed in its anti-dalit
role. The anti-people collusion of the legislature and the executive apart,
even the judiciary – that was held in high hope – with its biased judgments,
has failed to create confidence in dalits.
The executive, the legislature and the judiciary – they never
tire of mouthing the cause of social justice – stand exposed in the manner in
which they have “managed” dalits who would otherwise have revolted. Underlying
the entire representational logic embedded in the reservation system is a
Macaulayan colonial strategy. The chosen dalit political representatives,
sarkari intellectuals, and the entire section of the middle class created by
this logic are meant to “manage” vast dalit masses. Who will then take care of
the latter’s interests? Who will do what to a Congress leader who rubs salt
over dalit wounds by saying that “90% of the girls go out of their own will”,
the state president of the Congress who dismisses the whole matter as a
“conspiracy to malign the government”, Haryana’s khaps that prescribe how girls
should dress so as not to provoke young men, the Sarva Khap Jat Panchayat that
says the age of marriage for girls should be lowered to curb the rising
incidents of rape in the state, and Om Prakash Chautala of the Indian National
Lok Dal who endorses this recommendation in a shameless manner?
The question really is what dalits should do.
Ambedkar posed this problem way back in 1936 and had come out with a
communitarian solution of merging into an existing religious community to
overcome the intrinsic weakness of dalits. He did convert two decades later,
but to a religion which did not have any such community in India. The
conversion, as could be objectively seen, made little difference to the
condition of dalits. Ambedkar’s vision of “annihilation of castes” is eclipsed
by the upsurge of sub-caste movements of dalits. His construction of “dalit” as
a quasi-class of organic proletarians stands effectively demolished. Ambedkar
is reduced to an identity icon devoid of any emancipatory content. Dalits
reflect the same cultural strands that enslaved them over millennia. If the
Jats have khaps, the dalits also have theirs; if others have their jati
panchayats, dalits have theirs, may be with a changed label. In this state of
affairs, and taking a cue from Ambedkar’s diagnosis and vision, the only option
that remains for dalits is not communitarian unity but class unity. In Haryana,
the Manesar episode shows that the young educated workers are alienated from
the khap panchayats who have condemned their struggle against exploitation.
There is sizeable progressive force, albeit fragmented in Haryana, which can
build class unity encompassing dalits to defeat the vile designs of the rapist
Liberation may sound utopian but it is surely
within reach. Haryana is the ideal land to begin the process.
We promised Thangadh
victims on 2 October, 2012 that we take legal action against the murderous
police. We have taken one step in this direction. Today Hon’ble Judge Thaker
ordered to issue notices to DG and chief secretary of state and asked them to
file affidavit in Thangadh Dalit killings. Amarsi Lakhabhai Sumara, father of
Prakash, moved High Court on non-arrest of accused police cops. Our advocates
are Dr. Mukul sinha and Mr. Iyer.
SYNOPSIS AND LIST OF
The present petition is
directed against total inaction on the part of the police authority in
arresting the accused Shri K.P. Jadeja, PSI and other accused despite order for
issuance of warrant u/s 70 of Cr.P.C. passed by the Judicial Magistrate First
Class, Chotila on 6-11-2012. In respectful submission of the petitioner, the
police officers are trying to shield the accused who happens to be the Police
Sub Inspector who killed the petitioner’s son in cold blood.
22-9-2012petitioner’s son was shot dead by
26-9-2012FIR No. 71/2012 was registered by
Thangadh Police Station.
15-10-2012 Application for
issuance of warrant was submitted by I.O.
06-11-2012 Order for
issuance of warrant was passed by JMFC.
bail application of accused rejected by Sessions Court.
Since no attempt is made
by the police to arrest the accused policemen, the petitioner has approached
this Hon’ble Court for appropriate orders.
investigation of the offense registered by Thangadh Police Station under CR No.
71 (Annexure-C) dated 26-9-2012 and others to be transferred to CBI and all
further steps be taken by CBI.
Hon’ble Court be pleased to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in
which one member should the police officer should be appointed with consent of
(C)Pending admission and
final disposal of this petition, the Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct the
police to forthwith file application u/s 82 and 83 of Cr.P.C. and proceed with
attachment of property of all the accused policemen and also take steps for
arresting them and producing them before the court of justice.
(D)Any other relief deemed
fit to meet the ends of justice may kindly be granted.
6 December, 2012, Gujarat’s fascist chief monster was challenged in a big
gathering, when he was addressing an election rally at Budhel village in
Bhavnagar. His name is Manhar Rathod, in his thirties, but fired by a burning desire,
stood up with black cloth, interrupted Mr. Modi and shouted, “jawab apo, jawab
apo” (give the answer) on issue on Thangadh killings. Modi was stunned by his
gesture and could not speak for a moment but, later, in his own cheap, despicable
style ridiculed him saying he was agent of Congress. Manhar was arrested by
police and after routine questions he was released. The news of defiant youth
spread in entire state and his mobile number was messaged through SMS and everybody
congratulated him. I talked with Manhar, who told me that he was present during last rites of three youths in Thangadh. "I am a staunch Dalit", he added.