Sunday, June 17, 2007

Atrocities Against UP Dalits in the Wake of Mayawati's Victory:

While Mayawati is being hailed for her party's  unique
from Bahujan to 'Sarvajan', Mayawati's victory has no doubt sharpened
aspirations of dalits in UP for democracy and empowerment. However, the
weeks that have followed Mayawati's ascension to power have witnessed a
disturbing trend: a spate of assaults and atrocities against dalits.

Take the example of Mohanlalganj, barely an hour's journey away from
seat of power in Lucknow. Here, a poor and aged dalit peasant was shot
and his son as well as daughter-in-law seriously injured .Their only
was that they resisted the forcible grabbing of their land in the name
road by a rich Brahmin who also happened to be a government officer.
being pre-warned about the possibility of such an assault, police and
administration turned a blind eye.

In Raebareilly, again in the vicinity of the state capital, an old
agrarian labour was brutally beaten to death. He had refused to work
for a
Rajput landlord, since the landlord had not paid his long-due wages and
instead got him arrested on a false pretext of theft during the Mulayam
regime. Possibly emboldened by the formation of Mayawati Government he
asserted his minimum democratic right to accept or refuse an employer,
paid for it with his life. Significantly, the killers - upper caste
men, are also 'associated' with the BSP. So when the local Rajput BSP
came to the spot apparently to assert the rights of dalits, he was
maneuvering to save the main culprits, his caste-class kinsmen!

The Bundelkhand region, hit by famine and drought, is a site of
agrarian distress. In Mahoba, a village in Bundelkhand, a dalit village
Pradhan was recently tied up and brutally beaten by a moneylender
of Brahmin origin. This humiliation and violence was inflicted on him
punishment when he failed to repay the usurious interest on the loan
lent by
the landlord. Recall that such moneylenders are responsible in a large
for turning Bundelkhand into another Vidarbha, with soaring suicide
rates of
poor peasants.

In western UP too, a dalit boy was killed - ironically when hen joined
others of his community who were celebrating the victory of Mayawati .
too the 'Sarvajan' killers are yet to face any punishment.

The emerging pattern of these incidents indicates that despite the
victory of Mayawati ji`s Sarvajan politics and the miraculous 'social
engineering', the assaults on dalits continue unabated. In fact perhaps
assault has intensified because there is assertion on the part of
dalits in
the wake of their heightened expectations, while the oppressors, too,
do see
a new hope in the Sarvajan Sarkar and assert their feudal 'right' to

Liberating the state from the clutches of mafia-criminals was the USP
Mayawati in the recently held elections. Needless to say, this goal
an uncompromising battle against criminalization of politics, not just
selective gimmicks based on political convenience. The use of criminals
grab power is the basic source of break-down of law and order in the
society. And obviously the vulnerable sections of the society, the poor
the dalits, are its worst victims.

Dalit emancipation and establishing a casteless society are the
strategic goals of Mayawati . The continuing atrocities on dalits even
the wake of victory is a warning that these goals are impossible
thoroughgoing democratization of the state and society. Doing away with
forms of feudal oppression, strict implementation of SC/ST Act without
dilution, resolving land disputes through proper land reforms by
constituting a Land Commission, ensuring proper and timely wages and
the state machinery responsible for any lapse regarding atrocities on
poor are some of the minimum steps required.

Will the Mayawati govt., in its new avatar as government of the
dare to address these urgent issues of democratic reform that are the
possible bases of dalit dignity?

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