(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 12, 2001
Unite To Eliminate This Scourge
THE inhuman cruelty of the caste system is, once again, brought home by the gruesome murder of a 20-year old boy and an 18-year old girl at village Alinagar Ka Majra in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. In broad daylight and in full public view, the girls parents and the boys brother and sister-in-law supervised the hanging to death of these two, who were in love with each other and wanted to get married. The law of the land confers on them the legal right to do so. But, then, why were they prevented from doing so, and that too by murder? Because one came from a Brahmin family and the other from a Jat family.
Elsewhere, during this week, in a Mumbai court, a 26-year old widow narrated how her parents murdered her husband and in-laws because she dared to marry, against her parent's wishes, a person from a lower caste!
This is, unfortunately, the real India! Notwithstanding the legal provisions of our constitution, the lofty declarations and assurances provided by this secular democratic republic that there shall be no distinction amongst people on the basis of caste, such debasement of human life continues to take place.
The animosity, intolerance and hatred nurtured by the caste system find their expression continuously in various forms. The worst forms of social oppression continue to take place against the Dalits. Their plight has not substantially improved despite the reservation policy. Even this measly concession is intensely opposed by the upper castes. But in the incidents noted above, what we see is a display of rabid intolerance even amongst the non-Dalit sections according to their caste gradation.
That such a travesty of human dignity continues in India in the 21st century and the third millennium is not unconnected with the rise of communalism in our polity. The obverse of saffron communalism is its unfiltered endorsement of the caste system, and the efforts to strengthen the supremacy and maintain the hegemony of the upper castes in India's social order. Not content with spreading communal poison against religious minorities for political benefit, they have also adopted the notorious policy of "social engineering," i e, wooing different caste groups for electoral benefit by generating hatred and fratricide amongst different caste groups. The current manoeuvres of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, in the run-up to the forthcoming assembly elections, is a case in point. This has already begun to take its toll in the form of murderous attacks on Dalits in various towns of western Uttar Pradesh.
It is, therefore, not surprising, in fact entirely to be expected, that this BJP-led Vajpayee government should outrightly reject the demand of various Dalit organisations and of the CPI(M) that India must seek to enlarge the agenda of the coming UN conference against racism to include caste oppression, particularly against the Dalits. Hindu communalists justify this under the specious argument that caste oppression is an internal matter of India. Factually, too, this is incorrect. Such social oppression exists in varying degrees in various countries of the world where Indian communities are settled.
Further, even if it were an internal matter, the refusal to discuss it at an international forum cannot but be an attempt to justify the perpetuation of such social oppression. It is precisely such perpetuation that the communal forces want. The Vajpayee government is earnestly implementing this agenda.
Caste oppression and hatred is a scourge that has to be eliminated. But this cannot be done through compartmentalised struggles. The struggle against economic exploitation, which is intensifying as a result of the new economic reforms, and the struggles against social oppression that is aggravating as a result of political manoeuvring, have to be integrated into a mighty struggle against the present socio-economic and political order. The economic empowerment of the Dalits and other oppressed castes must form the axis for building this mighty people's movement.