The last two weeks have been challenging, painful and taxing either mentally, physically or both. But it was reassuring to see so many people come to stand up and against CAA & NRC after the silence over Kashmir and the Trans bill. Dalits in 2019 have also offered many such moments of rebellion, protests and flipping off fascists who practiced rampant casteism both in the ministry as well as in reputed institutions. Here is a list of some of the anti-caste moments of 2019 in India.
1. The Social Media Outpour In Support For Dr Payal Tadvi
There is an ongoing criminal case over the death by suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi which was instigated by the casteist harassment from three of her seniors at Nayar Hospital where she was pursuing her MD. Three of her seniors – Hema Ahuja, Ankita Khandelwal and Bhakti Mehare, harassed Dr Tadvi which was corroborated by statements from 30 people. Social media support and outcry for quick action against the accused helped get swift action, and their medical licenses were suspended.
The solidarity extended across the country for Dr Tadvi was reassuring, it was also a reminder of Rohit Vemula’s institutional murder, and all other Dalit minority students killed in the hands of the casteist system.
2. MLA Mekathoti Sucharitha, First Dalit Woman Minister In The Cabinet AP
MLA Mekathoti Sucharitha, the first Dalit woman minister to be selected in the Cabinet in Andhra Pradesh is just one of the wins in 2019. In March 2019, Chandra Shekhar Azad announced his candidacy to contest against PM Modi and it wasn’t a war but a battle call. But the disheartening facts are Dalits in UP is why the Modi government made it across the line in 2019 elections. The Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Indian National Congress should evaluate why they are losing the Dalit votes now.
Dalits aren’t voting for BJP here, but the politicians they’ve been voting for have changed alliances to BJP. While ET blamed Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) for eating away INC’s votes in the Maharashtra elections, it is a reminder to the Congress to mend its casteist ways, because they won’t win elections without the Dalit voters.
3. Women’s Collective: Educating, Agitating And Organising
All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) and The Blue Club (TBC) jointly organised a two-day event called Dalit Women in ‘Media and Politics’. A series of speeches made by Dalit women about politics, Dalit women in politics and the need for representation of Dalit women in politics is available here.
Dalit women came together to discuss their role in the country’s politics, their representation in media which took the discussion beyond the obvious need for representation. This two-day conference in January is a part of raising Dalit women’s collectives and groups trying to Educate, Agitate and Organise.
4. Numerous Dalits Stepping Up To Report Cases Of Atrocities
There has been a rise in atrocities and casteism against Dalits in the country. News reports of cow vigilantes lynching, beating up and harassing Dalits and Muslims is rising. Between 2016 and 2019 (till June 15), 2008 cases of harassment against Dalits were reported with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). This rise in numbers is worrisome, but it’s also promising that Dalits are filing cases and reporting caste instigated violence as it is.
The double murder of Dalit farmers in Bagalkot and the victim’s family marched to the DC’s office with the dead body seeking justice, is a powerful example. Another report from Alur, Hasan district of Karnataka was when a local upper-caste family murdered a man and falsified a case against them to keep their silence. These are just two cases where Dalits resisted and fought themselves, a rising trend that built into a mammoth.
5. Fighting Brahminism One Meal A Day
Food can signify both caste and class location of a family based on the meat they eat or don’t eat. ISKCON across most parts of the country has the contract for food distribution in Anganwadi’s. Anganwadi’s in Orrisa have denied serving eggs in the meal, but the government stepped up.
They’ve denied serving meals with onions and garlic in Karnataka, propagating a brahminical tradition of food. In Karnataka, the government didn’t step up, and the Anganwadi’s have held their ground. Fighting to not let the brahminical practices take over one’s own culture has been crux in Dalit struggles and movements.
Also read: Sant Ravidas And His Fight Against Casteism
6. Bhim Army At Jama Masjid Against CAA And NRC
Bhim army over the years has been an active participant of various protests against casteism and undemocratic policies of the government. Chandrashekhar Azad, president of Bhim army, was arrested for reportedly instigating violence at an NRC and CAA protest. He surrendered outside the Jama Masjid in Delhi, on 21st December.
Azad rose to fame in 2017 when a case under the National Security Act (NSA) was booked against him. He was in jail for a year, and the case was then withdrawn. Azad, along with 90 others, was arrested after a massive protest in Delhi, against the demolition of a temple dedicated to the poet-saint Ravidas. Azad has been working and fighting as an Ambedkarite even before the country noticed him.
7. Manual scavenging: A Fight We’re Fighting In 2019!
Manual scavenging and temple entry, are part of Dalit upliftment conversation in India since Independence; sadly it’s still a relevant problem. In the first six months of 2019 alone, over 50 people have died due to manual scavenging. Manual scavenging, temple entry, harassment/ bullying, and caste-based atrocities are a daily struggle for many Dalits. Deaths due to manual scavenging hasn’t reduced, but the fight against manual scavenging hasn’t stopped either.
These are just some of the many incidents of rebellion and protest against the changing casteism and its fascist tides. 2019 has seen numerous fights, protests and modes of art (movies, literature, art) as acts of resistance while fighting against caste. Maybe the new decade will change the country and its old fascists? So let’s educate, agitate and organise, so that 2020 is ours for the better.
Featured Image Source: IndiaTimes