Death of a Dalit

Many of us feel that the Reservations should be abolished. We feel that the Dalits have all used the Reservations in the past sixty five years and have progressed sufficiently and now their sons and daughters are, as developed as any other caste, are painlessly advancing using the Reservation.

Some of us feel that Dalits are a exploitative group. They use the guilt of the other castes to their favour and exploit us to their advantage. They misuse the name of Ambedkar and, worse, some of the poorer ones encroach upon the city with their slums and put up those ‘Ambedkar Nagars’ where they spoil the ‘skyline’ of the city.

Well, here’s news to you all. Yesterday, a Dalit youth in Tamil Nadu has died. Not out of illness or starvation, but because he was denied something which most of us consider basic: Love. So a Dalit may have money and government support as we all claim. But it appears that he still can’t find love.

He fell in love with a caste Hindu girl. When she married him against her parents’ wishes, her father, out of shame, committed suicide. A riot erupted in their region where hundreds of huts and residences of Dalits were burnt down leading to loss of many lives. Two political parties, one representing the caste Hindu group and the other Dalits, clashed on a different battleground. What was supposed to be an intimate, private affair between two people had become a public debate. The leader of the political party belonging to the caste Hindus went so far as to say that Hindu women have no right to marry the Dalits and Dalit men were using love as a’ tool’ to gobble up the properties and money belonging to the caste Hindus. Mayhem ensued. The girl’s mother filed habeas corpus, a legal terminology that means a writ petition that requires the authorities to produce a person in the court.

After enormous pressure from the political groups, the girl appeared in court and declared that she would like to live with her widowed mother. The Dalit and the human rights groups cried foul. They said politicians are meddling with the lives of two people. Having achieved as much, the political leader shrugged his shoulder stating it was a decision made by the girl and his party had nothing to do with it.

The media’s attention fell on the estranged couple. The girl kept changing her stance every week, first claiming she had just come to spend some time with her mother, and then stating she regrets marrying against the family wishes. The boy, obviously, was being torn at different directions. Finally, this week, she announced in the court that she does not wish to return to her husband and would like to continue to live with her mother. The next morning the body of the boy was found on a railway track. With head smashed up in to pieces.

What happened next is anybody’s guess. Enraged, the Dalit groups demanded a CBI enquiry on the death. They even refused to let the authorities take control of the body. They have already concluded that it was a murder and they flare up even at the mention that it could have been a suicide by a lovelorn boy.

Suicide or not, this incident has ensured that the caste prejudices are rewritten very strongly across the communities. For fear of consequences, in a foreseeable future, a caste Hindu girl will not dare fall for a Dalit boy, and no Dalit will ever lay eyes on a Hindu girl. Whilst one India hurtles down towards its ambition to become a superpower, another India is hurtling down towards its ancient past.

All those blaming the system, the reservation, the aggressive ‘behaviour’ of the Dalits, those who claim ‘we should show them their place’ can now rest at peace. Now that the Daltis have been shown their place, even if they turn aggressive and violent in the immediate future, it is very unlikely that they will forget their ‘place’ for a while.

Once, there was a political leader called Nehru. He stood for everything rational. He was at best an agnostic and at worst an atheist. He was for women’s empowerment. He stood for the eradication of caste and communal enmities. He strove for, and drafted various Acts towards his vision. He ensured that his vision is enshrined in the constitution which his then colleague Ambedkar, the Dalit icon, helped build.

Today, we have a political leader called Ramadoss. He stands for everything irrational and everything divisive. He is at best a rabble-rouser and at worst a rogue politician. He stands for clear caste divisions. He wants to ensure that all those belonging to his caste should only vote for him. He strives to make our constitution a mockery and our law and order a joke. He is one of the most dangerous politicians in Tamil Nadu today.

And this man has just won a battle this week!