It’s true we love to discriminate against Dalits but use them as cosmetics when it comes to vote-bank politics. The deep-rooted hate and disaffection in society can be attributed to various reasons but none can deny its existence.
My experience in Uttarakhand showed as much — I am not a Dalit, but the so-called high-caste people, all educated and belonging to upper rich classes, tried to kill us by pelting stones like the Taliban do, just because we wanted to enter a temple with Dalits. An illiterate labourer working for the PWD road construction team saved us, gave his woollen chaddar, and offered his mobile to organise help. I asked the stone-pelters, till when will you stone these Dalits?
If they refuse to enter the temple then what will you do with your gods, imprisoned in the hateful caste-moulds of the arrogant Hindus? If they convert to another religion and build their mosques and churches in front of your ‘high caste only’ temples, then what will you do? The plot is much deeper, to use words like ‘cow vigilantism’ to divide Hindu society and thus weaken the national social fabric. A section of media is helping to fan hatred against Hindus.
But who is concerned about it?
RSS, Gayatri Pariwar, Swaminarayan sect and many others have done a lot to end discriminations against Dalits. The largest number of intercaste marriages is held within RSS families. Still a lot remains to be achieved. Our high caste Hindus may accept a marriage with a non- Hindu but there have been a number of incidents when a boy from so-called low caste was brutally hacked to death when he married a girl from the so-called high caste. Shankar and Kowsalya’s marriage in southern Tamil Nadu is one such case.
Dalits do not need protectionist attitude or a hypocritical guardianship. They demand equal rights and want to walk shoulder to shoulder. That’s missing. The matrimonial advertisements appearing each Sunday in various newspapers are a testimonial to our ugly, perverted caste choices.
The present scenario certainly points towards a Dalit awakening all over India. It must happen, and it should be supported. But with caution, so it doesn’t fall prey to Islamists and de-Indianised Leftists. They have no sympathies with Dalits but use Dalit wounds to attack Hindus and fragment the society.
The use of cliches like cow vigilantism and gleefully hyping Dalit-Muslim alliance against Hindus was a ploy used by the British before Independance to divide Hindus and encourage their conversion to Christianity. Same is being repeated today by sham secularists to weaken Hindus. No Hindu supports hooliganism in the name of cow protection. Those who are concerned to protect cows — as was Mangal Pande, the hero of 1857’s war of independence, who got furious seeing the British using cow fat for cartridges — must work to implement what the constitution has asked us to do for cow protection. They must report the wrongdoings to the law enforcing agencies and no one must be allowed to take the law in their hands.
There can be no Hindu awakening without including Dalits as partners of our social agenda.
Politicisation of Dalit pain is a sin against the nation. Those who visited Una were silent on Uttarakhand and Karnataka, because they didn’t see any political benefit going there or speaking about it.
We need a consensus, like GST that brought all parties on one page, to fight the atrocities against Dalits and punish the perpetrators of such atrocities severely.
Even in media, we find a meagre one percent of Dalit/tribal representation. None of the Dalits we find are editors, bureau chiefs or even a channel MD.
Education, reservations, and new awareness have brought a sea change in thinking amongst Dalit youngsters. It must be saluted and supported. They have to get their rights and demolish the arrogance of the so-called high castes. India needs a new Dalit leadership, vocal, assertive and non-compromising. The high caste glasshouse must be broken if Hindu society is to be saved from the self-defeating attitudes of discrimination.
The writer is a former Member of Parliament, and was editor of the RSS journal Panchjanya from 1986 to 2008.