(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 01, 2001
Brutal Record In UP
THE month of June recorded a terrible series of atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh. In Aligarh district, five Dalits were shot down by upper caste Thakurs. Among those gunned down as a result of a trivial quarrel were three women and a ten-year old boy. A few days later, in another brutal attack in Fatehpur district, five members of a Dalit family were beaten to death with lathis. In another incident in Kusumpur village in Jalaun district, a Dalit woman was burnt alive over an election-related dispute. Such merciless killings have today become commonplace in Uttar Pradesh that is being ruled by a BJP-led government.
The extent of the systematic intimidation and oppression of Dalits in UP is unprecedented. It is shocking that UP alone accounts for more than half of the number of rapes of Dalit women in the entire country. Apart from murders, rapes, beatings and social ostracism are being practiced with impunity. Some time back, in Sarai Mohan village in Azamgarh district, an IAS officer publicly humiliated a Dalit woman pradhan and physically tortured her husband. Recently in Ghazipur district, a Dalit song-writer was beaten up and paraded naked in the bazaar. There are myriad such incidents taking place all over UP.
These atrocities and intimidation have now increased during the run-up to the state assembly elections which are shortly due. The Rajnath Singh government has given free run to the dominant upper caste interests in the villages to browbeat and terrorise those whom they have already been exploiting to the hilt.
The state administration refuses to take firm action to protect the rights of the scheduled castes and the rural poor. Even when crimes are committed in broad daylight, cases are not registered by the police. The SC/ST Commission in the state received 16,219 complaints in the year 1999-2000, which was eight times more than the figure four years earlier.
Nor does the shocking state of affairs in UP elicit any response from the Vajpayee government at the centre. The BJP seems to have consciously adopted a strategy to consolidate its influence among the upper castes and is letting the worst type of caste chauvinism to rule the roost. If any such atrocities of the Fatehpur or Aligarh type had taken place in another state, say Bihar, it would have caused a huge uproar. Union home minister L K Advani would have immediately sent a central team to assess the situation. But not in UP where the BJP is busy establishing its own brand of Ramrajya.
The union home ministry cannot shirk its responsibility of immediately initiating steps to ensure that the state government books all the offenders of such crimes. The National SC/ST Commission must send teams to all the places where atrocities have taken place. It is also essential that all the democratic and secular forces in UP unitedly voice their protest against such shameful incidents and force the administration to perform its elementary duty of enforcing the law.