Celebration Turned Outrage in Pune
The nation witnessed yet another standoff between Maratha groups and Dalits in Pune, which then spilled to Mumbai, as violence erupted when a large number of people gathered at the ‘Jaystambh’ (victory memorial) in Perne village to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The battle is still considered as one of the most momentous events in the history as it marks the victory of the oppressed against the upper-caste establishments of Marathas.
Ever since some right-wing groups in Pune expressed disagreement with the celebration of the ‘British’ victory, the outburst between the two groups started, followed by pelting of stones, damaging and setting ablaze of public property. As of now, cases against two Hindu right-wing leaders have been registered by the police for allegedly orchestrating the violence which caused the death of a 28-year-old man.
From Kilvenmani massacre in Tamil Nadu, 1968 to the recent Pune violence, India holds the long list of caste-related violence like Laxmanpur Bathe Carnage in Bihar, 2008 caste violence in Rajastan, 2011 killings of Dalits in Haryana, 2012 Dharmapuri violence, 2016 Saharanpur violence in Uttar Pradesh etc which shook the public. Though various laws are being passed to protect the deprived, Dalits are one of the major sections in the social strata being affected by the fire of caste conflicts.
The problem is not with law but lack of political will shown by the leaders to implement them at both national and state level. Upliftment and advancement of the minorities is a matter of concern during elections. However, providing access to their rights and privileges seems to be undelivered promises that are least cared about.
Records show that a crime against Dalits happens every 15 minutes in India and six Dalit women are raped every day. Similarly, 66% hike in Dalit atrocities in the past ten years 2007-2017 have been reported depicting the ground reality of the so-called ‘developing country’. The recent India Human Development Survey data for 2011-12 shows that over 27% of Indians admit to practicing untouchability, despite the practice being illegal. This proportion is highly likely to be an underestimation. Although, more than thousands of caste-based crimes are filed every year in India yet, no perpetrators are punished which indicates repressive caste system and social hegemony which are still in existence.
Hostility and intolerance are not the tools to wipe out the caste discrimination from its roots, but a socio-cultural transformation has to be carried out across the country. It is not a matter of raising the wall against discrimination but bridging the gap between society’s mindset towards the minorities.
By: Thamanna Abdul Latheef C