Every 18 minutes, a crime is committed against a Dalit. Every day, 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered, 2 Dalit houses are burnt and 11 Dalits are beaten up. Every week, it increases some more and every month even more. Yet India is growing economically, socially and culturally. But is there a place for Dalit? I doubt.
The community since time immemorial has been the most downtrodden. Previously known as Untouchables, Depressed Classes and Harijans are today adopting the term “Dalit”. “Dalit” refers to one’s caste rather than class. The word ‘Dalit’ comes from the Sanskrit origin ‘Dal’ which means broken or ground-down. The name itself was kept to keep them oppressed.
Here are some incidents that shame humanity to treat Dalits like that:
This is not the only example. Lalpari Devi, a 45-year-old Dalit woman from Bihar was among several others. She was publicly humiliated tying to a tree and getting her head shaven. She went through all of this because she was suspected of practicing witchcraft.
Phoolan Devi: The Bandit Queen
Who isn’t aware of Phoolan Devi? She went through extreme cruelty and torture which forced her to join the dacoit clan of mallah. Eventually, she became the leader of the dacoits and took revenge of her rape by the Thakurs, killing 22 of them.
The Kherlanji Massacre
On 29 September 2006, the most gruesome incident happened to a Dalit family of four. The Bhotmange family were murdered while the women of the family, Surekha, and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public before being murdered. They were even brutally gang raped. The criminal act was carried out by attackers from the politically powerful Kunbi caste for "opposing" the requisition of their field to have a road built over it. That was it!
India is independent and free from the British rule for 69 years now but the Dalits were never independent neither will they be ever. Extreme poverty forces Dalits to take up loans and as they hold no other assets to support their debt, they commit their labour. Dalits are thus pushed into bondage without a wage obviously. However, they can’t exercise their rights or resist abuse and exploitation, as they would risk complete boycott, cutting them off from their land and employment with serious consequences like killing, torture or rape.
Most girls and women in India’s urban brothels come from Dalit, lower-caste, tribal, or minority communities. They are forced into the profession due to the bondage or abduction or poverty.
The rich or the higher society also practice sexual slavery or forced religious marriage as a part of their ritual. 93% of Dalit women are associated with the Devadasi culture which is a form of religiously sanctioned sexual abuse by the rich class.
India is definitely doing well for the Dalit community like for example schools for the poor where Dalit children sit separately from other children, Dalits are prevented from entering police stations and Public health workers refuse to enter Dalit homes. So what is India actually doing?
India is just namesaked secular and democratic, but the fact remains that it keeps people divided and we will always find reasons to discriminate.