With atrocities against Dalits on the rise, the latest incident being Javkheda, enraged Dalit activists recently demanded stopping of the “Mahatma Gandhi Tanta Mukti Gaon” scheme, claiming that it was being used to suppress Dalits and was anti-constitutional.

Sumedh Jadhav, who belongs to the Republican Dalit Panther and played a key role in getting justice for the Bhotmange family from Khairlanji, Bhandara, said, “When the nation is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s book ‘Annihilation of Caste’, the increasing number of Dalit atrocities proves that they are still striving hard to occupy their rightful place in society. Mr Jadhav added that Bhandara, Ahmednagar, Jalna and even Satara were becoming the worst districts in terms of Dalit atrocities.

In a meeting held on Saturday, an action committee called Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti was instituted and it was decided to send a Fact Finding Committee (FFC) to Javkheda to find out what happened.

Sudhir Dhawale, member of FFC who was arrested by the Nagpur police in 2011 for alleged links with Naxalites, said, “Dalit activist and writer Uttam Jahagirdar will be the chief of the FFC while senior journalists Jatin Desai, Nikhil Wagle and Yuvaraj Mohite, IPS Sudhakar Suradkar, social activist Teesta Setalvad, Subodh More and lawyer Sushama Deshpande will be members.”

“The first step taken by the action committee will be to submit the memorandum of demand to the new chief minister at the time of swearing in of the new government,” Mr Dhawale added.

He said that the Mahatma Gandhi Tanta Mukti scheme was a farce and was being used against Dalits by upper castes as they had direct contacts with the then home minister R.R. Patil. “Even Mr Patil supported the accused in these atrocity cases. The so-called progressive state has completely failed to address the issues of Dalit and tribal atrocities. The state government has not ensured proper implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities Act,” said Mr Dhawale.

He stressed that every district should have independent courts to try cases of atrocities against Dalits and the government should appoint a panel of lawyers to attend to these cases and that “Honour killings” should be stopped and an independent law brought in to save the lives of young boys and girls.

In the past

On April 28 this year at Kharda town in Ahmednagar district, persons from the dominant caste brutally murdered a 17-year-old Dalit boy named Nitin Aage. The reason behind the killing was the fallacious sense of superiority among the upper castes.

In January 2013, a Dalit boy from the Valmiki community, who loved an upper caste girl, and his two Dalit friends were brutally killed in Sonai village from the same district.

On October 23, Jadhav, a Dalit family of three was brutally murdered. According to relatives of the family, it was possibly a case of ‘honor killing’ as there were rumors of an illicit affair between a married woman from an upper caste family and a member of the Jadhav family.