Rising Atrocities on Dalits in BJP-Ruled Himachal Pradesh
February 19, 2019
An RTI activist and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Kedar Singh Jindan of Bakras village of Sirmaur district was brutally murdered on September 7, 2018, reportedly by upper caste people of the area, by crushing him under a Scorpio Jeep. Jindan, an advocate by profession, had exposed through several RTI petitions, the alleged loot of certain upper caste people who had denied the benefits of government schemes meant for weaker sections of the society.
As Newsclick had reported earlier, the upper caste people were furious with Jindan as he was proving to be a thorn in their eyes by raising issues of dalit exploitation at the hands of upper castes and fighting against caste discrimination by organising the weaker sections.
Even though Jindan’s wife had held a press conference in the state capital Shimla and demanded a CBI probe, it was only after pressure was built on the local police by mobilisation of dalits that the police arrested the accused.
In another case, a dalit youth from Kullu district, Lal Singh, was beaten by a mob allegedly on instigation by upper caste members of the management committee of a local deity for the accidental falling of a “holy flower” in his lap. He along with his friend had gone to attend a religious ceremony at Thati Bir area when the incident occurred.
The people claiming to be followers of the deity not only asked the mob to teach the youths a lesson for touching “the holy flower, being untouchable from a lower caste,” but also snatched Rs. 5,100 from them as a fine after the assault.
The case came to light on January 15, 2019, after a video showing the beatings of the youths went viral and Lal Singh registered an FIR in the police station. However, the local police delayed action against the culprits for several weeks. Again, it was only after the issue was highlighted by the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Morcha (DSMM) that police arrested the four accused under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on February 8, 2019.
Raising these incidents in the HP Assembly during the Budget Session, Rakesh Singha, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI[M]) MLA from Theog, told the state assembly, “Though BJP government in Himachal Pradesh always commits to follow the principles of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, they have failed to act promptly in dealing with the criminals involved in atrocities against the weaker sections of the society.”
Exposing the caste bias and indifferent attitude of the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh, Singha lambasted the state government for not taking firm and prompt action in dealing with criminals involved in Jindan murder case.
Several Cases Go Unreported
Jagat Ram, state convenor of the DSMM told Newsclick that several incidents where dalits were severely injured after being beaten up by upper caste mobs in various parts of the state have occurred, yet these incidents don’t appear in newspapers or local news channels as they are hushed and the police refuse to lodge complaints.
“There are so many incidents. Recently a dalit woman was beaten up near Solan because her cattle entered government land. She bore seventeen stitches on her head. Another incident where a youth was nearly beaten to death by upper caste youth took place in Nerwa, when this dalit boy’s car overtook the car of these upper caste youth,” Jagat Ram told Newsclick.
Responding to Singha's charges, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said in the Assembly that, “The state government is acting with all firmness to deal with the accused involved in crimes against the weaker sections and committed to maintaining law and order situation with firm hands.”
However, Jagat Ram called this a bluff by the government. “Atrocities on dalits in the state have risen since the time BJP has come into power. These are just fake assurances given by the CM when this issue was raised by Mr. Singha in the Vidhan Sabha. The truth is that they are not even ready to file cases against perpetrators and we have to fight to get the cases registered under the SC/ST (PoA) Act.” he told Newsclick.
He further added, “If the government was so firm in taking action then those accused would not have the nerve to do such atrocities on dalits, repeatedly. This government is hopeless and the government is just promoting these atrocities. This is quite a sad state as casteist unrest is finding a place in Himachal so rapidly.”
First published in Newsclick.
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