Interview – Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi
The situation of the untouchables from what it was in the 1947 has changed in theory as we look at it today. However, this change is negligible. The change in the approach by the upper caste towards the lower caste has also changed. In the past, I am told, that if anyone from the lower caste some 40 years ago breached the unwritten law of caste hierarchy, the person would be beaten up in public. Now the person will be shot and the village burned down and the women raped. Yet we say that there are laws in place in India which prevent such atrocities from happening. It is a big joke.
Say, for example, before a few years there was no law to punish crimes committed against the people from the lower caste. Now we have a law. The people who need to enforce this law are still the upper caste and those from the lower caste who are into law enforcing agencies are a small minority. The excuse is the members from the lower caste are not qualified on the ground that they are physically unfit, and do not have enough education. How on earth can these people be ever fit, if they starve for almost half of their life, if they are denied admission to schools and if their parents will have to engage in bone breaking work in remote areas and the children are also expected to work with their parents even if they are six or seven years in age. How can one expect a person from such background compete with the physique of a person form the upper caste who is fed with the best food and is privileged to get better education? Those who are lucky to somehow to get appointed in the police or other offices are either appointed at the lowest possible position as peons or cleaners and in the police as constables. They are just there to survive and are under the threat of their superior officers who are also corrupt to the root. Soon, to survive these persons also will become corrupt and would do no good to the community they come from and will not even help their own family. Several of them get converted to other religion so that they will be no more be associated with their original caste or community. So it is possible, that many of such converts would never show any sympathy to the members of their former community.
There is considerable amount of conspiracy, nationwide, against the lower caste. This was evident from the nationwide spell of destruction of statues of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. It is an irony that he is the father of the Indian Constitution and also a dalit who fought his way in the caste ridden society. The destruction of Amebkar statue happened in several places in Uttar Pradesh also. In one such incident, which happened in Piyari village, the people from the lower caste tried to fight against those who came to destroy the statue. To their surprise they found that among those who came to destroy the statue there were police officers also. The people from the Dalit caste faced them with sticks and tried in vain to prevent the distraction. The result was that the local police registered a case and a counter case. One against those who came to destroy the statue and one against those who tried to prevent the destruction. Of course when the police registered the case, they conveniently avoided those from the police department. The case was filed in a local court. However, soon to the surprise of the upper caste they found that the judge was from a lower caste, which is a rarity. Without notice to anyone involved in the case, the case was soon transferred to another court.
To transfer the case it need to be done with the sanction of a superior court. So it means that the superior courts also in a way connive with the upper caste. Nothing better could be expected from a place where in the recent past, a District Judge who replaced another District Judge who was on transfer, before occupying the chair used by his predecessor, who also happened to be from a lower caste, conducted some religious ceremonies in court to purify the chair occupied by his predecessor and also washed the chair with the water from the river Ganga, which is believed to purify the chair. Such is the judiciary in this country. Now you tell me how in such a country changes are possible?
Regarding the police in this place, particularly in Varanasi, even though there are a few hundred cases which I have brought to their notice about atrocities committed against the members of the lower caste, none of these cases were registered under the law which is implemented to punish people committing such acts, the Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act. In January this year in Hinauti village of Chandauli district a group of people from the upper caste committed rape against a young lady belonging with Nut (Dalit) community on the ground that one of them had breached the caste hierarchy. After a great effort on the part of victim and her family members, FIR was registered against accused person, but soon after family members of accused persons began to give threatening and made pressure to withdraw the case. In such whole situation police did nothing, but when human rights organizations including AHRC highlighted the matter through urgent appeal and media, then police come to their sense and took action against perpetrators. There are hundreds of similar incidents.
When one person from the upper caste commit a crime, whatever it may be, after trial the person who committed the crime is punished. However, when it comes to the lower caste the entire community is punished. The punishment is not by the court, but by members from the upper caste and the crime is not theft or murder. It could be anything from polluting the village well by draining water from it or washing in the pond thereby polluting the pond or even walking in the road while an upper caste was using the same road. The punishment is instant and often carried out by gangs of upper caste members by burning down the houses of the lower caste, beating the residents and often molesting or raping their women in public. In one such incident which happened in Narkati village when a similar upper caste police raided the village a five year old girl cried out loud since she was afraid of strangers. Her name is Anjali. These people who saw her crying did not spare her. She was also beaten up by police men when she was five years old. A complaint was lodged with the NHRC. Indian People’s tribunal headed by Justice Sukumaran was reported to UP Government. But no action has yet been taken. There is no law and there is no rule of law for these people.
The current trend is to charge anyone and everyone alleging that the person is a Naxalite. Even children aged from 9 are charged with offences allegedly of having involved in Naxalite activity. This happens with the knowledge of the court. Currently the Ram Nagar juvenile court has ordered detention of nine such children. If the police are corrupt, the judiciary is impotent also aid the police and other caste Hindus. It is general attitude of local police to make allegation against the men belonging to Dalit community as a suspect of “Naxlites”. But simultaneously they ignore the men of upper caste belonging to Shri Ram Sena, which is a private army of upper caste land lords Hindus.
It is very easy for anyone to say that we have constitution, laws, police and wonderful courts which passed beautiful judgments in the past. But what I stated above are the real facts and the real India. This is what I can say from my limitted experience from one state in India and this country have a few dozen more states and 1 billion people.
Interview of Lenin by Mr. Bijo Francis of AHRC,Hong kong