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Archives for : Caste Discrminination

Ambedkarites Raise Black Flag as Narendra Modi Visits London’s Ambedkar House


Prime Minister tries to “steal the limelight” from London’s first open air Ambedkar statue

LONDON, UK: April 19, 2018 — Followers of Mulnivasi civil rights champion Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, who recently inaugurated London’s first open air statue of their icon, unfurled black flags and placards featuring photos of recently killed Indian minorities to greet Indian Prime Minister during his visit to Ambedkar House in northwest London.

Ambedkar’s statue was unveiled at Ambedkar House on April 14, the Mulnivasi leader’s 127th birthday. Ambedkar lived in the house from 1920-23 while obtaining his doctorate at the London School of Economics and studying for the Bar course at Gray’s Inn. “It was a joyous occasion for us to celebrate Babasaheb here, where he spent years as a student,” says Jeram Patel, a Patidar activist from Gujarat. “It was an opportunity to demonstrate how Ambedkarism is a philosophy relevant beyond the narrow geographical confines of the Indian subcontinent.”

“We decided to raise the black flag to Modi after it came to light that he would try to steal the limelight by staging a secondary inauguration ceremony of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue during his UK visit on April 19,” says Ambedkarite activist Shekhar Bodhakar.

Hoisting black flags, Bodhakar and Shri Kant Borkar stood at the entrance to Ambedkar House. They lined the sidewalk with placards featuring photos of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M. M. Kalburgi, Gauri Lankesh, Rohith Vemula, and Asifa — all photos were captioned “Who Killed?” Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, and Lankesh were Indian intellectuals assassinated in recent years. Vemula was a Dalit student driven to suicide after being suspended from university for peaceful protests.

Placards featuring photos of those killed under Hindutva

Placards featuring photos of those killed under Hindutva

Modi has faced relentless protests by a wide range of Indian diaspora communities during his multi-day visit to the United Kingdom. On April 18, he presented to a pre-screened audience of about 1500 at London’s Central Hall in Westminster, remarking, “Mahatma Gandhi made the struggle of freedom a people’s movement. I am making development a people’s movement.” Meanwhile, outside, protestors outnumbered the audience as they flooded Parliament Square.

After the event, reports The Wire, Modi “went about garlanding Gandhi’s statue in Parliament Square and inaugurating B.R. Ambedkar’s house.” The Prime Minister’s garlanding of Modi was similarly protested by another group of protestors but for a different reason. “Gandhi was a caste apologist, an anti-black racist, and a sexual predator on members of his own family,” says Sikh activist Simran Singh Bhinder. “When Modi groveled before an idol of his hero, Gandhi, we raised the black flag.”

Bhajan Singh, Founding Director of Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI), heartily congratulates the protestors. “Bodhakarji is a giant of a man with courage harder than steel,” says Singh. “Babasaheb Ambedkar stood for the annihilation of caste, while Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are the most prolific purveyors of caste, oppression, and brutalization of the marginalized — especially Mulnivasi Bahujans — which India has seen in generations. It’s rank hypocrisy for Modi to celebrate Ambedkar.”

“Dr. Ambedkar warned that India is a land possessed by inequality in social and economic life,” remarks OFMI spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “India is a democracy, yet Ambedkar argued that the fabric of Indian society is fundamentally anti-democratic because, through the caste system, it denies the principle of one person, one value. Modi follows the ideology of Hindutva, which says only Hindus have value; Ambedkar refused to die a Hindu and converted to escape caste. Hindutva is the ideological enemy of Ambedkarism.”

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The Nava Peshwai Terror against the Dalits and State Repression


by- Women Against Sexual  Violence



WSS condemns the wave of state repression following the peaceful

commemoration of the Ambedkarite community on the 200th anniversary of

the battle of Bhima Koregaon. The most recent wave of repression is a

set of raids without a warrant conducted simultaneously at 6 am on 17

April, 2018, upon the homes of Kabir Kala Manch activists Rupali

Jadhav, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Gorkhe and Dhawala Dhengle

in Pune; Republican Panther activists Sudhir Dhavale and Harshali

Potdar in Mumbai; and Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling and

Delhi-based CRPP activist Rona Wilson. Rupali and Jyoti are also

members of WSS and staunch feminist activists.


January 1, 2018 marks 200 years since the battle between the Peshwas

and the British fought across the banks of the Bhima river in the

village of Koregaon, close to Pune in Maharashtra. The British

regiment consisted of a large number of soldiers from the Mahar

community. Their fight against the Peshwas was commemorated by

Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as a historic blow dealt to the

notoriously casteist Peshwa regime. It has since then been observed

annually on January 1 by Ambedkarites all over the country who gather

at the monument erected by the British at the site that bears the

names of the soldiers martyred there to pay their respect.


On the evening of 31 December, 2017, a broad platform of activists

came together as the  Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan and

organized an ‘Elgaar Parishad’ in Shaniwarwada, Pune, to protest

against Nava Peshwai, the new forms and systems of caste

discrimination and Hindutva fascism emerging today. They planned to

later proceed to Koregaon to salute the martyrs. The spontaneous

mobilization at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018 was even larger than

usual because of the 200th year anniversary, and as always, was

conducted peacefully and in an orderly manner. Moreover, many members

of the Elgaar Parishad and some invited speakers could not even

proceed as planned due to security concerns.


The reaction of right wing organizations and the state to immediately

file legal charges against some members of the Parishad and speakers

at the event, as well as mass arrests of Dalits in and around Pune

demonstrated the new face of Peshwai. The ensuing saffron violence

simply proved what the organizers were focusing on which is that there

is a Nava Peshwai or Brahmanical Hindutwa rule in the country today.

This was an attack on a community’s claiming of history that portrays

the caste reality in a grave light complicating a simple anti colonial

narrative. Crowds of individuals brandishing saffron flags were

captured on video attacking people near the memorial, and in the

ensuring violence one person, Rahul Fatangale, died while three people

were injured. There were media reports stating that stones were

pelted, cars bearing Ambedkarite signs were burnt, and the Buddhist

Panchsheel flag was stamped upon; however most media outlets did not

cover this and reported these as generic clashes without

contextualizing them. The violence is thought to have begun in the

village of Vadhu Budruk where some people vandalized the tombs of

Shivaji’s son Sambhaji, and that of Gaikwad, a Dalit man who is said

to have defied Aurangzeb’s order to provide the last rites for

Sambhaji when he was killed by Aurangzeb. Violence then spread to

several areas in Maharashtra and mass arrests were reported, including

arrests of people from the Dalit community who were peacefully

traveling to and from Bhima Koregaon.


Following this, a peaceful Maharashtra bandh was called for by Prakash

Ambedkar and endorsed by Dalit, OBC, Muslim and Maratha groups across

the state, naming the divisive politics of Hindutva as its target and

proclaiming the unity of all these groups. It was observed on a mass

scale on January 3 throughout Maharashtra, unprecedented since the

Ramabai Nagar police firing in 1997, with peaceful sit-ins and marches

throughout. However, at several places, there were mass arrests of

peaceful protesters, with around 5000 arrests all across Maharashtra,

especially in Aurangabad, Nanded and Mumbai. While the police claim

have only arrested “miscreants”, reports say that some arrests were

made of people in their homes, and many of the arrestees include

minors. This repression was barely reported in the media, which chose

instead to focus on the inconvenience caused by the bandh. This

casteist media blackout reflects the manuvadi nervousness in the face

of a growing and increasingly confident Dalit assertion, as well as

fear that just as is in the past,  Marathas, OBC and Muslims had

united in this commemoration and stood against Nava Peshwai. For

example, Sambhaji Brigade, a Maratha organisation actively

participated in the campaign as well as the protests following the

violent attacks by Hindutwa forces. A few days later an FIR under

sections 153A, 505(1), 117 and 34 of IPC was filed against the

organizers and speakers at the Elgaar Parishad at Bhima Koregaon.

Meanwhile it must be noted that both the homes of Surendra Gadling in

Nagpur and Rona Wilson in Delhi were searched without a warrant based

on a court order relating to the FIR filed against Elgar Parishad

organizers, despite neither having been named in the FIR. This

suggests that the FIR is being used as an excuse to attack activists.


Media reports suggest another 5000 people have been booked in cases

across Maharashtra! It is a matter of great concern and irony that

serious cases under the Amended Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe

(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 2016 and inciting violence and

rioting, filed against Brahmin right-wing ideologues have been not

acted upon, while so many thousands of people from marginalized

communities have been booked and arrested in a draconian manner.  For

example, one of the men accused of fomenting the violence, Sambhaji

Bhide, has still not been arrested despite a case being booked on

serious charges of rioting, attempt to murder and sections of the

SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and Arms Act. The other accused,

Milind Ekbote, was arrested after a prolonged mass mobilization and

legal battle in which his multiple applications for anticipatory bail

were denied at the Sessions and High court level, and his interim bail

from the Supreme Court was only canceled after he repeatedly refused

to cooperate with the investigation. In fact, the seizure of pen

drives, hard drives and laptops by the police has had the effect of

depriving the activists of all the video and other forms of evidence

they had amassed indicating the involvement of Sambhaji Bhide in

fomenting the violence at Bhima Koregaon. Along with the attack on

Ambedkar press, the dilution of the SC/ST atrocity act, the mass

violence and incarceration of men from dalit communities after

the nation-wide Bharat Band mobilization, and the state

sanction for rapes perpetrated and justified by BJP MLAs, these can be

read as a clear strike against the survival and self determination of

historically marginalized castes and communities, with impunity

guaranteed to the perpetrators.


Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression condemns this

crackdown and the role this state repression has played in

unilaterally repressing the communities struggling against casteism,

while giving a free hand to the Nava Peshwai right wing forces that

have incited violence and instigated divisive politics against

marginalized communities.


We demand:

  1. An end to the state repression and a withdrawal of the FIR lodged against the

activists who organized or spoke at the Elgaar Parishad, and an end to the use of

the related court order being used against activists not even present at the Parishad.

  1. A high-level investigation into the widespread violence organized

against dalit, OBC and muslim communities in the aftermath of the

Bhima-Koregaon commemoration.

Immediate action must be taken against Sambhaji Bhide upon serious

charges of rioting, attempt to murder and the SC/ST Prevention of

Atrocities Act.




April 2018

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Dalit police officer in UP quit job to protest dilution of SC/ST Act

Former police officer BP Ashok (left); Ashok’s letter entitled “Ab nahi to kab? Hum nahi to kaun” (If not now, then when? If not us, then who?), sent to President of India and Governor of Uttar Pradesh

Protesting the dilution of SC/ST Act, a UP-cadre Dalit police officer Dr BP Ashok, sent his resignation letter to the President, stating he was hurt by the Bharat Bandh where many Dalits were killed

On the day of the Bharat Bandh on April 2, as Dalits protested the dilution of stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by a Supreme Court judgment, a Dalit police officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, Dr BP Ashok, created a flutter when he sent his resignation letter to the President of India. Ashok said he was hurt by the day’s incident in which a few youngsters lost their lives and a dozen others, including cops, were injured.

“The decision to resign was not spontaneous. I have been contemplating for many years as to why caste equations come to play at work. When a certain government is in power, a particular caste is subjugated while during the term of the next government, another caste becomes the victim. In almost all the cases, Dalits always remain at the bottom of the caste hierarchy,” said Ashok.

In his letter he raised seven demands that included stay on dilution of the SC/ST Act, representation of women in government service, representation of SC/ST, OBC and women in judiciary, an end to the interview system in government recruitments and a special law to make a casteless society.

“This decision was not easy. I love my job. My father was a policeman too, so I opted for police services whereas I could have opted for the SDM’s post. I know once my VRS application is accepted, I will have to relinquish police dress and this thought is not very comfortable,” he said.

The announcement took many bureaucrats by surprise because Dr Ashok is known in police circles for his integrity and has received multiple awards. Colleagues tried to reason why he is calling it ‘quits’.

BP Ashok: “The decision to resign was not spontaneous. I have been contemplating for many years as to why caste equations come to play at work. When a certain government is in power, a particular caste is subjugated while during the term of the next government, another caste becomes the victim. In almost all the cases, Dalits always remain at the bottom of the caste hierarchy”

His detractors called this resignation a ‘drama’ to gain entry into any political party. They argued that had Ashok been serious, he would have sent his resignation to his supervisors and not to the President of India, as only IPS officers need to send their VRS or resignation letters to him and Ashok is a state cadre officer.

“I know some people saying that I did this (resignation) at the behest of some political party. But the fact is I am an apolitical man. During Mayawati’s regime, I was under suspension,” he said.

“The biggest bane in India is the caste system. Have we progressed the way we should have since Independence? No, we have not. With every successive government our strength has depleted because we were out to placate various castes. Sometimes it is Yadavs, sometimes Brahmins and other times it is Dalits,” he said.

“Why can’t we have a casteless society where we will be known by our first name. Once we start dropping our surnames our caste identities will be lost and we will be equal,” he said. “If our Prime Minister can order culling of high denomination currency notes he can also declare that no one should use surnames. This will make all equal. If this happens we will not need SC/ST Act,” he said.

The 50-year-old Ashok has completed his doctoral research on Buddhism. He has had conversations with noble laureate Amartya Sen at events and has even delivered lectures in the UN.

He had also sent a letter to President and Governor titled “Ab nahi to kabHum nahi to kaun” (If not now, then when? If not us, then who?) pleading that caste should be declared illegal.

Source- National Herald

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Mahrashtra Police harasses Advocate Surendra Gadling ,Dalit and Kabir Kala Manch activists in the name of ‘Search operations’ #WTFnews

IAPL condemns harassment of Advocate Surendra Gadling ,Dalit and Kabir Kala Manch activists in the name of ‘Search operations’

In a shocking development, the Pune (Maharashtra) police today, April 17, 2018 at around 6.00 a.m. conducted simultaneous searches at homes of prominent activists in Maharashtra namely Sudhir Dhavale (Dalit activist, Republican Panthers), Harshali Potdar (Woman activist, Republican Panthers), Ramesh Gaychor, Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe, Rupali Jadhav and Dhawala Dhengle (all Kabir Kala Manch activists) in relation to the violence that ensued on the day of bi-centenary celebrations of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on January 31, 2018 and the subsequent bandh.

The Pune police also conducted a search at the Nagpur home and office of Surendra Gadling, a People’s Lawyer practicing there.  His computer Hard disk, DVDs and other e-storage devices were seized by the police. Surendra Gadling is the General Secretary of the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) and has been an active member since its formation in 2004. He has, since the last three decades, been litigating cases of those marginalized in the Indian judicial system, especially Dalits, tribals and workers from various backgrounds. He played a significant role in defending those incarcerated in draconian laws of TADA, POTA and UA(P)A including that of Sudhir Dhavale, Prof. G.N. Saibaba and also in defending rights of tribals arrested by the police under fabricated FIRs. Adv. Gadling has also fought for the rights of dalits in numerous atrocities such as the Khairlanji massacre. He himself has been resisting the anti-people stance of the state as a Human Rights activist and People’s Lawyer and due to this popularity, has even contested Bar Council elections for Maharashtra and Goa.

On December 31, 2017, an Élgaar Parishad was organised in Pune commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon wherein the Peshwahi rule in Maharahtra was defeated. The Elgar Parishad was organised with the stated objective of fighting Brahminism and Fascism i.e. the neo-peshwahi. The program was hugely successful and attended by thousands from across the state. However on January 1, 2018 the following day, those commemorating the event were attacked by a mob carrying saffron flags and instigated by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. These two right wing activists are closely connected with the ruling BJP and the Sangh Parivar and this attack was part of a pre-meditated plan.

Following this attack, the dalit community and sections from the Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Muslim communities participated in a State wide Bandh calling for the arrest of Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote. The police, rather than arresting these two instigators of the violence, retaliated by conducting massive combing operations in Dalit bastis and arbitrarily searching homes and arresting up young men. Thousands of people were detained illegally. FIRs  under sections 153A, 505(1), 117 and 34 of IPC were registered against activists including Sudhir Dhavale, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaychor, Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and also against Jignesh Mevani (an elected Gujarat MLA) and Umar Khalid (a student leader) for participating in the Elgar Parishad.

Instead of taking strict and timely action against the inciters of the violence that ensued in Bhima Koregaon, the state machinery has sought to target activists and lawyers who are fighting regressive trends in the society. As for Advocate Gadling, his harassment is a clear case of targeting him for his persistent defence of numerous Rights activist and those arrested in fabricated cases. Gadling’s name was not even mentioned in the FIR, wherein the Pune Police have sought action. Being a dalit lawyer and activist, seems to be the rationale for making him a ‘natural’ target of the Pune FIR.

The Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) condemns the search conducted in the home and office of Advocate Surendra Gadling. Such search is nothing but an attempt to prevent Advocate Surendra Gadling from performing his professional duties, and representing clients targeted by the state, and such action amounts to interference with the administration of justice. IAPL also condemns the searches and harassment meted out to other activists and stands with them in this difficult hour of state hounding.  IAPL declares that such searches are for the sole purpose of distracting people’s attention from the real culprits of the Bhima-Koregaon violence.


Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj

(IAPL, Vice President)

Adv. Ankit Grewal

(IAPL, Joint Secretary)

Adv. Arun Ferreira

(IAPL, Treasurer)

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10 Ambedkar quotes that show why the BJP can’t co-opt him

A BSP worker paints the newly constructed statue of BR Ambedkar in blue in Badaun
A BSP worker paints the newly constructed statue of BR Ambedkar in blue in Badaun| PTI

Bowing before a statue is not enough to erase Ambedkar’s ideas, deep-rooted as they are amongst Dalits across India.

The BJP thinks it can resolve its rupture with the Dalit community by bowing before Ambedkar.

The symbolism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving respect to Ambedkar, saying that Ambedkar is one of the guiding forces for him and his party, is no doubt powerful. But the Ambedkarite movement is not just about Ambedkar’s statue. Like Hindutva, Ambedkarism is an ideology. Through the Dalit movement, this ideology has deep roots.

The centrepiece of the Dalit movement has been the spread of Ambedkar’s ideas through leaflets, booklets, NGOs, political parties, caste associations, and organisations of Dalits working in the public sector and the government.

Hindutva ideologues often use Ambedkar’s critique of Islam to appropriate him. Yet that is of little use to Dalits who see Ambedkar in his totality as the leader who showed them the way out of caste oppression with the slogan, “Educate, Agitate, Organise” against caste.

Here are ten quotes from Ambedkar’s writings that give a glimpse of why the BJP can’t appropriate Ambedkar with hollow symbolism:

1) “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. It is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.”

2) “Hindu society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. Each caste is conscious of its existence. Its survival is the be-all and end-all of its existence. Castes do not even form a federation. A caste has no feeling that it is affiliated to other castes, except when there is a Hindu-Muslim riot. On all other occasions, each caste endeavours to segregate itself and to distinguish itself from other castes.”

3) “In India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

4) “People are not wrong in observing Caste. In my view, what is wrong is their religion, which has inculcated this notion of Caste. If this is correct, then obviously the enemy, you must grapple with is not the people who observe Caste, but the Shastras which teach them this religion of Caste.”

5) “The Hindus criticise the Mohammedans for having spread their religion by the use of the sword. They also ridicule Christianity on the score of the Inquisition. But really speaking, who is better and more worthy of our respect–the Mohammedans and Christians who attempted to thrust down the throats of unwilling persons what they regarded as necessary for their salvation, or the Hindu who would not spread the light, who would endeavour to keep others in darkness, who would not consent to share his intellectual and social inheritance with those who are ready and willing to make it a part of their own make-up? I have no hesitation in saying that if the Mohammedan has been cruel, the Hindu has been mean; and meanness is worse than cruelty.”

6) “Hinduism is the greatest obstacle to Hindu unity. Hinduism cannot create that longing to belong which is the basis of all social unity. On the contrary Hinduism creates an eagerness to separate.”

7) “Strange as it may appear, Mr Savarkar and Mr Jinnah instead of being opposed to each other on the one nation versus two nations issue are in complete agreement about it. Both agree, not only agree but insist that there are two nations in India—one the Muslim nation and the other Hindu nation.”

8) “The Touchables, whether they are vegetarians or flesh-eaters, are united in their objection to eat cow’s flesh. As against them stand the Untouchables, who eat cow’s flesh without compunction and as a matter of course and habit.”

9) “This attitude of keeping education, wealth and power as a close preserve for themselves and refusing to share it, which the high caste Hindus have developed in their relation with the lower classes of Hindus, is sought to be extended by them to the Muslims. They want to exclude the Muslims from place and power, as they have done to the lower class Hindus. This trait of the high caste Hindus is the key to the understanding of their politics.”

10) “Though I was born a Hindu, I solemnly assure you that I will not die as a Hindu.

News: Opinion, Politics, Policy, National Security, Economy, Global Pulse, HoaXposed | ThePrint

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To make their voices heard, Dalits need to protest 365 days a year

Unless the constituency demands their fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going patronise a stepfatherly treatment to the Dalits


Members of various student organisations express solidarity with the Dalit Student Rohith Vemula. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and assert a responsive strategy, their life will be doomed to failure and untimely death.
Members of various student organisations express solidarity with the Dalit Student Rohith Vemula. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and assert a responsive strategy, their life will be doomed to failure and untimely death. (Hindustan Times)



There is a growing crisis of faith among Dalits regarding their rights in a country marked by social, juridical, economic, and political injustices. It is in this light that we must debate the raison d’être of Dalit domicile in a country under a Brahmin-Baniya supremacy. Every action of the caste society against Dalits brings their very their existence into question. This is manifested through the restriction of Dalits from ownership of land, industries and resources. Repeated ostracisation, mass violence, lynching, and intimidation are inflicted on Dalit minds and bodies to remind them of their non-belonging in India’s caste society.

The nation as an abstract consciousness is used by the ruling castes to deny all opportunities to the Dalits. Nationalism is used as an ambush strategy to hit the Dalits hard. There is a physical and institutional marginalisation of the Dalits. Cancelling of scholarships, incremental increases in fees to prevent Dalits from entering the citadels of educational institutes, non-fulfilment of reservation policies and overlooking the sub-component plan in the Budget presents to us a dismal picture for Dalits.

The current situation in India is oppressive and unbearable for the Dalit constituency. Social media is toxic and is reflective of an Indian society addicted to the ugly messages on Twitter feeds. Every Dalit, tribal and minority assertion is taken as an affront. Trolls are the new lynch mobs on social media.

The landownership for the community is the lowest in the country. Only 9.23% land is owned by Dalits, according to the NSSO Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India. Dalits have to become much more fierce in their demand for land. Since they don’t own land, they have no place to call their own. Because of this caste India becomes a confused space to articulate genuine critical conversations around Dalit existence.

Dalits needs to amplify the voices of reparation that remain unpaid. The radical demands which stir a practical output would put the oppressor in defensive mode. Unless the Dalit constituency demands its fair share and refuses to bow down, the State order is going continue with its stepmotherly treatment towards the Dalits. The issues of class, gender, religion, sexuality, colonialism and xenophobia have to go along with the contestations of caste violence.

The Dalits need to devise new strategies and move out of their imposed caste margins. Otherwise, their struggle will remain confined to fighting the caste order embedded in the caste system by further pushing themselves into deep-caste caves.

Dalits need to take the situation into their own hands. They need to form local groups to defend their rights and push for justice. Such groups could be legally-educated and politically-informed. Youth cadre need to push for solid unification and raise the issue of dignity in rural-urban geographies.

An action needs to be responded to with an action. The courts time and again have shown to the Dalit community that they are the victims and will continue to do so as long as the Brahminical structures are in operation. Unless Dalits move away from the personality of victimhood and formulate a responsive strategy, their lives will be doomed to failure. They need to revisit their tendency of begging for justice.

Dalits need to protest 365 days a year in the neo-liberal Brahminical state. In the sagacious words of Malcolm X, “Let the black man speak his mind so that the white man really knows how he feels… Once you put the facts on the table, it’s possible to arrive at a solution.” The Dalits need to record their dissent and disapproval without which their democratic existence will cease to be.

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Is Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar  a threat to the nation?

Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar

The young man in jail clearly poses a political threat to dominant castes and to the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh. But is he a threat to the nation?

Christening the group ‘Bhim Army’ was arguably a mistake. It provided a handle to the police and the Government to go after the members and charge them with sedition. The irony is that the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat got away by saying that RSS volunteers were better trained than the Army and could be mobilised in far fewer days than the regular Army.

Fresh out of college, Chandrashekhar and a friend, Vinay Pratap Singh, were looking for jobs when they realised that the Dalit community needed education.


They set up the ‘Bhim Army’ which runs 350 free schools for Dalits in Western Uttar Pradesh. The word ‘army’ was a misnomer and irked upper caste men no end. Things came to a head when Chandrashekhar put up a board in his native village. It read: “The Great Chamar of Dhadkauli welcomes you’. The Thakurs promptly smeared the signboard with black ink.


The Dalits stood their ground and asserted their right to put up a board. In May last year the Dalits and the Thakurs clashed in Saharanpur. Thakurs first objected to a statue of Ambedkar saying that his finger was pointing towards a road used by Thakur women! The administration played along by denying permission to install the statue. Weeks later when the Thakurs took out a boisterous and aggressive procession on the same route to celebrate the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap, Dalits objected and asked if they had permission from the administration.

The altercation escalated from verbal exchange to violent clashes. Dalit houses were torched and in retaliation motor cycles used by Thakur youth were set on fire. By all available accounts Chandrashekhar was not present anywhere near the place of occurrence. But while Dalits protested police action, Chandrashekhar was booked for inciting violence. On June 8, he was arrested after 23 cases were filed against him.


Five months later, the Allahabad High Court granted Azad bail in all the cases. But within hours of the High Court order, UP government slapped the draconian National Security Act (NSA) on the Dalit leader, keeping him confined to the prison. On January 23, 2018, the government extended his detention under the NSA. “The government has communicated no reason for the extension of Azad’s detention. They just said they had proper grounds to impose NSA,” said Pradeep Narwal, Convenor of Bhim Army Defence Committee. “If Baba Saheb Ambedkar were alive today, BJP would’ve invoked NSA against him as well,” added a despondent Narwal.


The young man in jail clearly poses a political threat to dominant castes and to the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh. But is he a threat to the nation? Could he be held for sedition? Could the police have detained members of the Karni Sena which unleashed violence in Rajasthan and parts of western UP over a film?

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Omprakash Valmiki’s ‘Joothan’ is 21 years old , and now available in Marathi

Joothan is 21 years old today. But as Mangesh Bansod’s Marathi translation shows, the nation is more divided by injustice than ever.

Growing up Dalit in Uttar Pradesh

By Ramu Ramanathan

Joothan is finally available in Marathi. On the eve of Dr Ambedkar’s 127th birth anniversary, there was a low-key book release of Omprakash Valmiki’s autobiography in Marathi at Mumbai University’s Kalina campus. Ushta, the Marathi translation by Mangesh Bansod, has been published by Lokvangmay Griha.

When Valmiki wrote his searing autobiography Joothan 21 years ago, he was known as the greatest living Hindi author most people had never heard of. The book acquired cult status.

Translations, play-film adaptations followed, and it was also included in the MA course in universities in India and overseas. But no translation of the book in Marathi was available.

This is surprising when one considers the years Valmiki worked in an ordnance company in Ambernath and later in Chandrapur. As poet and confidante Loknath Yashwant from Chandrapur says, “Omprakash Valmiki was shaped by Maharashtra and its Ambedkar-Dalit politics. In Uttar Pradesh, he was exposed to the conventional narrative epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was only Rama and Krishna and the Hindu gods. It was in Maharashtra that he grasped the importance of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the contribution of the Dalit Panther movement, and the tradition of the Dalit autobiographies in Marathi.”

It was Valmiki’s longstanding belief that an author is at his best when he writes what he cannot write, or is not supposed to have written. That’s how Joothan was penned. The village of Barla, in Muzzafarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh, was not the sort of place from where you would expect one of the finest Hindi authors to emerge. Even in the era of the progressive Hindi writer, the Chura community was considered an ‘extra’ to the main cast. When you read Joothan, the experience is nearly impossible to describe in a sentence or two. The motif is untouchability.

And unlike Premchand or Amritlal Nagar’s sagas, this is an untouchable’s fight for self respect and human dignity. Valmiki’s essayistic meditations about his brutal past make for a personal mythology to counter the epic mythologies of how the Churas were tyrannised by the upper castes. One would assume Valmiki had not made the sale of his book an easy task. The book is a bleak read. And yet, Joothan broke all records. Which is why, Yashwant says he was very disappointed that there was no translation of the book in Marathi. He used to joke, “You boast that Marathi is the language of Dnyaneshwari to the progressive modern thought of Phule’s Gulamgiri and Dr Ambedkar’s essays. And yet no translation of Joothan. Why?”

The quest for a translator began. But litterateurs were deterred by the dukkar (pig-eating episodes), plus the dehumanised conditions in a living hell. On cue, two translations were abandoned. On 17 November 2013, Valmiki passed away. He was 61.

Which is why, Bansod’s translation is important. As Sunil Yadav, perhaps the most educated safaikamgar in the BMC with a BCom, BA (Journalism), MA and M Phil under his belt, said, he had received calls from members of the safaikamgar community from the interiors of Maharashtra wanting to buy a copy of the book. After all, this was their song — about education, enlightenment and rights.

Photo journalist and Padmashri Sudharak Olwe spoke about why the book resonates even today. He said that we live in a country where we have delegated the collection of our s**t to the other. The other is invisible. He appears at 5 am to collect our garbage, sweep our streets, clean our gutters, enter the sewage canals, inhale toxic gases, load and unload the garbage trucks, and offload more than 12,000 tonnes of ‘s**t’ on the dumping grounds. Olwe, whose photo essays have depicted this world, said nothing has changed for these communities in the past few decades. The collection of garbage remains the responsibility of “a specific caste and a specific community”. Even if you offer a lakh or two lakh as monetary remuneration to an upper caste person, this job will be spurned.

As the evening progressed, other memories were narrated. And like Joothan, these anecdotes, angry or tragic little stories within the story — all seemed digressive, but quite like the methodical obsessiveness of Valmiki’s self-interrogation, everything became crystal-clear. Like Valmiki, speaker after speaker searched the farthest reaches of his memory for clues, hidden meanings, insults and tortures that might have been forgotten. The digressions turn out to be clues. And the clues pointed to one thing: the scourge of untouchability in the 21st century.

Dalit Panthers co-founder Arjun Dangle, said during his appreciation of Valmiki’s body of work, “Joothan is a must-read for all those who uphold the varna system and believe in the Hindu caste system of graded inequality. Also, all those people who want to cancel caste-based reservations, I would request them to stay for only one day in the basti that Omprakash Vamiki describes in Joothan.”

As one exited with a copy of Ushta, one wondered why this country has not buried the thousand years of inhumane practises. We boast that we possess the technology to leapfrog into digital India, but the same technology has not bettered the safety equipment of the safaikamgar. There has been no decree by scientists to modify the broom. As Valmiki said in his famous talk, “Mainstream politicians say Dalits should be made a part of the mukhyadhara (the mainstream). But the mainstream is rotting. Why then, should our people be part of such a rot?”

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Birth Anniversary of Dr Babasaheb B.R. Ambedkar: Wild India at her Worst Savagery

Saturday 14 April 2018by A K Biswas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s impassioned statement on Sunday, August 7, 2016 could have done a sea of good in placing India’s tens of thousands of Dalit and tribal people in a zone marked by high security and dignity: “If you want to attack, attack me, not Dalits.”1 He further resolved about one-and-a-half year ago, as quoted by the media, as saying: “We should put a full stop to it. You can shoot me rather than target the Dalits.”2 Every word uttered in public space by the Prime Minister of India should assume biblical significance and ramification for his government and those ruling the States and UTs irrespective of their political hue. Sadly, the aforesaid appeal did not. This has rather driven a sense of cynicism among the Dalit and tribal communities. They now nurse a feeling that even their Prime Minister cannot be taken on his face value! His utterances were calculated for public consumption, not for official action or initiatives as desired.

To speak plainly, this is a bad lesson and a deplorable realisation for the vast unsophisticated, inarticulate and credulous masses of the country about his government. Security and protection of administration and justice elude them as ever. They will henceforth not believe their Prime Minister nor will they take him at his face value. The Prime Minister has forfeited his goodwill among the poor and innocent people, who are exposed to atrocities, discrimination and violence and denied of justice.

How and why so? Pradeep Rathod, 21, had bought a horse about two months ago. He was threatened ever since by some of his co-villagers, reportedly Kshatriyas, of dire consequences. He was told peremptorily to sell off the noble animal. He did not. The disobedience did not perhaps go well with the proud community. Pradeep and his father, Kalubhai Rathod, rode to and fro their farm. So, he was killed soon.3 alongwith the gruesome consequences as threatened. The horse too was hacked into pieces like his master. This occurred in Timbi village in Umrala tehsil, district Bhavnagar, Gujarat.

The Prime Minister’s goodwill about “we should put a full stop to it (killing)” does not carry an ounce of weight in the backyard of his stable, does it? The Wire has reported with banner headline, “One Year on, ‘There Is No Justice’ for Una Flogging Victims”. No elabo-ration or elucidation is warranted as to how serious even Gujarat is about the Prime Minister’s sacred desire of protecting and securing the vulnerable Scheduled Castes and Tribes. They were promised action within two months. All the accused are bailed out by now and expectedly will cast a malefic influence at every layer of administration, politics, not to speak of the judiciary to the detriment of justice for the victims. A global audience had a unique opportunity to watch the flogging of five Dalit youths at Una of Gir Somnath district in presence of the Gujarat Police in attendance as curious onlookers. They did not intervene. That something as primitive a spectacle as flogging of five persons tied in one pack could publicly be committed again in the very backyard of the Prime Minister’s stable is simply eyepopping and incredible! This occurred on July 11, 2017 after the Prime Minister declared the holy crusade favouring protection for the Dalit and tribal. This has undermined his standing not only in the eye of the people of the Republic that had solemnly resolved long ago to secure to them inter alia justice, equality and fraternity assuring not only the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation but also of the global audience. What is today at stake is the very “unity and integrity of the nation”. The proud and the privileged can show apathy and neglect for the Dalit and the tribal who account for 300 million, if not more. The tragic lesson of history unfolding in 1947 leading to the partition of India did not guide the countrymen. The untouchables, who converted to Islam in the face of unprecedented discrimination, deprivation, injustice and oppression, provided the much-needed majority of the population over the Hindus. (‘Is partition and Pakistan a Hindu gift to Jinnah?’

The Upper House of the Indian Parliament was told on July 26, 2017 that atrocities against the SCs in Gujarat saw a rise to the tune of 31 per cent—from 1009 cases in 2015 to 1321 in 2016. The national record of atrocities against SCs showed an increase of six per cent—from 38,564 in 2015 to 41,014 in 2016. In terms of number of cases, with 10,457 cases Uttar Pradesh topped the list of cases, followed by Bihar (5701), Rajasthan (5134), Madhya Pradesh (5123) and Andhra Pradesh (2343) in that order.4 In 2012, The Daily Mail, October 7, shamed the Haryana Chief Minister thus: Hissar Police Range, with no fewer than 94 rapes, topped Haryana’s ignominious list, followed by the Karnal (92), Rewari (89) and Rohtak (87) Police Ranges, which covered former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s home town.5

The State of Gujarat seemed to travel in the same boat of shame with Haryana sans the international media glare as above. An RTI query revealed that rape of Dalit women registered 500 per cent increase since 2001 in Gujarat over the last 13 years, reaching the highest level in 2014, higher by 500 per cent since 2001.6 During this interregnum Narendra Damodar Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The discredit for the state of affairs cannot, therefore, be apportioned on anybody else.

The international media is pretty focused and has been building the country’s image as a savage nation that cannot protect with humanism the dignity of its autochthonous citizens who aggregate in millions. A decade ago, the American Congress as well as European Parliament had passed critical resolutions, highlighting India’s grossest failure and appealed to the government for securing dignity and protection to the Dalit and tribal communities as enshrined in our Constitution. Our country-men had perhaps little knowledge about such a development in those countries simply because it was a shame for them to highlight a blame harped on India. A Hindu representing Britain in the European Parliament had opposed the resolution because she felt the culture at her ancient home was under attack though the resolutions were drawn up on the basis of official documents. The Indian media dominated by similar elements share the same sentiments.

A columnist in a national English daily of the country recently analysed the plight of Dalits’ injustice and observed that “India has over 180 million Dalits. A crime is committed against a Dalit every 15 minutes. Six Dalit women are raped every day. Over the last 10 years (2007-2017), there has been a 66 per cent growth in crime against Dalits. Further, data from the National Crime Records Bureau, on which the Supreme Court based its recent judgment that sought to protect public servants and private citizens from arbitrary arrests under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, show that the rape of Dalit women has doubled in the last 10 years. The figures represent only a tip of the iceberg since most Dalits do not register cases for fear of retaliation by the higher castes. Even if a case reaches the court, the most likely outcome is acquittal due to caste biases at every stage.”7

The Dalit and tribal communities continue to live under a thick blanket of caste prejudice and persecution, marked by bigotry resulting in atrocities, injustice, indignity and discrimination from one end of India to the other. Their education, which alone is capable of their emancipation, has become their chosen target. Any Dalit or tribal student with promise or potential invariably invites the ire and hatred of the upper-caste students, teachers and administrators. The plight of Rohith Vemula has been experienced by many Dalit and tribal students of the AIIMS, IITs, IIMs, Central Universities, IISCs, engineering, management and medical colleges of national repute and this has been testified again and again over the decades. Yet their persecution has not stopped.

Employment in the government sector has dried up with lakhs of openings remaining vacant across the board under the Central or the State governments and their autonomous bodies or attached offices. On top of the same, reservation in jobs stands threatened facing abolition. Interestingly, the political reservation, I have very strong reasons to believe, will continue as it is critically useful. The SC and ST representatives rarely stand up to publicly promote and/or defend the causes of the communities/tribes they are supposed to represent. They are mortally afraid to speak and uphold their rights and dignity for fear of incurring the displeasure of the upper castes who are numerically superior to the SCs and STs in every constituency. With overzealous actions and utterances, if any, favouring their own constituencies, no SC or ST can hope to win elections with the growing number of unhappy upper-caste voters. The social construction of India is such that no action to benefit the reserved communities is possible without instilling ill-feeling in or rubbing the feathers of the upper castes. They take strong umbrage at everything calculated to help the underdogs move upward or live with dignity.

In the Kasganj district of UP a case for taking out a Dalit marriage procession, fearing opposition from the dominant castes, has reached the Allahabad High Court. The opponents of the Dalit barat feel their dignity would be undermined if such a procession was allowed. A Dalit with a moustache, an upper-caste pride and exclusive privilege, drives them into murderous rage. A Dalit youth was brutally killed in the temple town of Shirdi in Maharashtra over his mobile ringtone of a song on Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar.8 A Dalit has been murdered, yet again, in Gujarat because he saw the garba dance. In the Hindutva theatre, this is perhaps an unpardonable offence to invite death of the Dalit intruder. On October 2, 2017 Jayesh Solanki, 21-year old Dalit, reported BBC, was killed ‘for watching a Hindu celebration’. In the end, therefore, we can conclude that any Hindu can use any issue, any flimsy ground, to harm, hurt even murder a Dalit. They block his avenue for upward mobility and finish his career remorselessly.

A 20-year-old Dalit woman from Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district has alleged that she was gang-raped for months and forcibly made to abort her five-month-old foetus, which she brought wrapped in a bundle to the Superinten-dent of Police’s office in her desperate effort for justice. The Superintendent of Police, Rajesh Hingankar, said several cases have been registered against Neeraj Pandey, his brother Dheeraj Pandey and their accomplices, Prem Singh and Rajkumar, and Sapna Pandey, a nurse who helped in the abortion. “Cases under rape, kidnapping, criminal intimidation, SC/ST Act [Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989], Arms Act and other sections have been registered against the accused,” Hingankar said.9 Sub-Inspector R.P. Tewari, however, reported a Bengali daily of Calcutta, found many discrepancies in the victim’s statement!

The Supreme Court has displayed admirable concern for the innocent people being harassed and arrested under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in its recent verdict on April 2, 2018. The Apex Court is not against the special Act. But with a grand caste axis in place, as in the case of the Satna Dalit girl, seeking justice could not convince the police with her bag of aborted foetus about the crime committed against her by Neeraj Pandey, Dheeraj Pandey and their accomplices, Prem Singh and Rajkumar and Sapna Pandey, who would benefit with a Sub-Inspector of Police like Tewari there. Such instances are not few across India to frustrate justice for the SCs and STs. The country’s custom, practices, social institutions place certain sections in a high pedestal against punishment. They take advantage of the same against the struggling millions whose upward mobilisation they strongly hate and detest.

A greatly concerned Greek-French writer and thinker about the sharp decline of the Hindu strength, Maximiani Julia Portas (September 1905—October 1982) under a pseudonym Savitri Devi Mukherjee, known as the priestess of Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, issued a stern warning to the Hindus 1939:

“It is for social reasons, and, practically, for social reasons alone, that thousands of Hindus have abandoned the Hindu fold.” The social reasons identified by her were three at work which, during the last centuries, were the cause of an enormous numerical loss for Hindudom:

1. The denial of elementary social rights to the majority of Hindus.

2. The strictness of social rules, within the Hindu fold (resulting in the too-easy out-casting of transgressors).

3. The refusal of the Hindu fold to re-accept those who wish to come back to it, not to speak of those who may wish to join it, without themselves or their forefathers having belonged to it before.

“Unless and until these three main causes of disintegration are removed, Hindudom will not be able to face the increasing dangers to which it is exposed. And, if it cannot remove these sources of weakness, Hindudom, in spite of its value, will ultimately be crushed. This is the bitter truth that must be spoken, and understood at once and now; tomorrow might be too late.”10

No sane counsel instils any sense in them. On the contrary, they have discovered hundreds of ways to harass, humiliate and incarcerate the Dalit and tribals.

In the face of relentless and savage perse-cution the latter have, with their backs to the wall, demonstrated their unflagging deter-mination and commitment through their all-India protests on April 2, 2018 how strongly they detest discrimination, hatred, injustice, marginalisation and apathy. At least nine persons were killed and hundreds injured on Monday (April 2) in violence across several States during a nationwide bandh against the alleged dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Nobody should see politics in it. The victims of India’s social, cultural, political and economic harrow running over them would no longer hesitate to sacrifice their life for their own uplift and mobilisation. This is but only natural. If a calm sea turns turbulent, the waves become devas-tating.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar has become a convenient tool or a symbol for grabs to the political class for use against warring opponents. None has demonstrated real commitment to his objective and philosophy and reform in every aspect of the society to move forward. The Dalit and tribals are an extremely neglected and discriminated lot and the country will rue for this in the long run. If the country develops leaving them at the base, the base will remain weak, brittle and vulnerable to sustain the weight and onward march of the glamorous edifice. With a vast discontented population in a state of marginalisation is decidedly the most serious danger for India. Let the rulers not be blind to see the consequences of such a danger in future.


1. The Times of India, “PM Modi slams attack on Dalits: ‘If you want to shoot, shoot me…’” August 7, 2016. The Huffington Post, dateline Hyderabad, August 7, 2016 “If You Have To Shoot, Shoot Me, But Not My Dalit Brothers”.

2. The Hindu, August 7, 2016.

3. Indo-Asian News Service, March 31, 2018, “Dalit Man Killed in Gujarat For Riding Horse, Say Police”.

4. News, October 6, 2017, “Gujarat Among 5 Worst States in Atrocities Against Dalits”.

5. The Daily Mail, ‘Haryana’s rape shame: Registered cases show two women are attacked in State every day”’, October 7, 2012.

6. The Indian Express, March 8, 2015.

7. Faizan Mustafa, “Sending the wrong signal: SC order in SC/ST Act” in The Hindu,March 29, 2018.

8. The Hindu, ‘Dalit youth killed for keeping Ambedkar song as ringtone’, May 22, 2015.

9. Hindustan Times, April 5, 2018, ‘Madhya Pradesh: Dalit woman alleges rape, brings aborted foetus to SP office’.

10. Savitri Devi, A Warning to the Hindus, Calcutta 1939, p. 81.

A retired IAS officer and former Vice-Chancellor, B.R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar, A.K. Biswas, Ph.D, is a social anthropologist and commentator

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ICDR Condemns Police Brutality against Peaceful Demonstrations of Dalits in India

Condemns Police Brutality against Peaceful Demonstrations of Dalits in India

Washington, DC, April 4, 2018–  International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR), a global policy advocacy organization, along with hundreds of its associates strongly condemns police brutality against peaceful demonstrations collectively organized by Dalit Organizations, Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes (SC/STs) and Other Backward Communities (OBCs) around India on Monday, April 2, 2018. The purpose of the demonstrations was to protest against a recent ruling on the SC/ST Act, known as the Anti-Atrocities Law, and other pending matters that violate constitutional obligations, in order to ensure inclusive governance, equality, dignity and social justice.

ICDR President and human rights advocate DB Sagar expressed his frustration over the use of ‘exclusive force’ against the peaceful demonstrations by the police and government of India. He noted that ICDR is speaking out in solidarity with the Dalit Rights Movement of India and stated that ‘the government of India should address the demands of the organizers and resolve them through constitutional procedures.” He also urged the government to undertake an independent investigation of police brutality and provide justice for victims and their families.

Dalit Rights leader Ashok Bharti said, “There has been no action from the government to curb atrocities against Dalits and tribals. On the contrary, some issues are unresolved and new issues are arising because of government inaction and the judiciary’s unfair role, resulting in the breach of constitutional rights.” Mr. Bharti demanded, “We want the complete overhaul of the judiciary so that it is as representative as Indian society. A minimum percentage of SCs, STs, OBCs and women must be established for representation in the higher courts.” “Courts must call upon the National Commissions for SCs and STs for cases related to SCs and STs,” he said, adding that “Parliament should also take note of the fact that the judiciary is often overstepping its role in matters of legislation and creating new laws that breach constitutional rights.”

According to ICDR representatives, police used exclusive force in many states during the demonstrations, which have resulted in at least ten deaths. ICDR is concerned about the safely of Dalit Rights leaders who have been facing security threats.   (

ICDR commends the government for filing a review petition in the Supreme Court against its attack on the SC/ST Act. ICDR supports the plans of Dalits and tribals to hold a “Million Leaders March” in Delhi in September 2018, if the government fails to resolve these matters.

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