‘Still broken, still suppressed, we are Dalits’ | Pakistan Today

‘Still broken, still suppressed, we are Dalits’

  • Story of India’s lowest caste

Let us go back to 2012, when CNN published a very heart-rending rather agonising report on the painfully insulting situation the Dalits in India were facing that time. The report included the story of Dr Vinod Sonkar’s short visit to a teashop in Rajasthan. Dr Vinod Sonkar was a PhD in law and was teaching at a Delhi university that time. He told the CNN correspondent that for years he had worked hard to leave behind his childhood of poverty, abuse at school and teasing at university. By the time he had walked into that teashop, he had turned his life into a success story. As the shop owner handed him his tea, he asked him what caste he belonged to. “I am a Dalit,” Dr Sonkar said. “In that case, wash your glass when you are done,” warned him the tea-shop owner. Dr Sonkar said, “He didn’t want to touch whatever I had touched. I made it impure because I am an untouchable.” Unable to bear that insult, Dr Sonkar flew the glass across the room, straight into the wall, threw money on the counter — enough for the tea he drank and the glass he had smashed — and walked out. Now it is the end of 2018 but situation for the Dalits is still the same there. Amit, a Dalit video volunteer, says in a video message, “Being a Dalit is like you are born with a stamp on your forehead and you can never get rid of it.”  The renowned Georgian journalist Natalia Antelava once said commenting on the worst circumstances faced by the Dalits in India, “Dalits are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system and despite laws to protect them; they still face widespread discrimination in India.”

Dalit is a word of Sanskrit language. It means crushed, suppressed, smashed, broken to pieces; unfortunately the Dalits practically reflect the real meanings of this word. They are the people who are often denied the right to education and the right to employment through systemic discrimination and abuse in the Indian society. Indian society does not let the Dalits get education, particularly higher education, yet some Dalits living abroad succeed in getting education but being educated does not make them ‘honourable and respected’ in the Indian society.

According to the Hindu caste system, the Dalits are meant for doing the things of very low and cheap category. But astonishingly the upper-caste Hindus feel pride in using rather misusing the Dalit women for their brutal sexual desires. They think that sexual exploitation of the Dalit women is an undeniable right of the upper-caste Hindu men. If a Dalit woman shows any resistance in the way to her sexual exploitation, she has to face horrible consequences. Recently on 2nd of this November, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was beheaded in one of India’s southern states. According to the police her assailant belonged to a higher, majority caste. This brutally cruel incident took place in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu. The victim had rejected the sexual advances of her assailant. He got angry and in his rage and fury beheaded the young girl. Though the local police have registered a legal case against the murderer girl’s parents are very much sure that nothing would be done against that upper-caste Hindu.

Certainly this situation regarding exploitation of Dalit’s rights is one of the worst examples of human rights violations. But it is the wicked stubbornness of the Indian authorities that instead of giving the Dalits their basic rights, they are raising a baseless hue and cry over the working of United Nation’s Human Rights Council. The deputy permanent representative of India before the UN Ambassador, Mr Tanmaya Lal said in the recent session of the UN General Assembly on Human Rights Council, “Although the Human Rights Council continues to expand with an increasing number of resolutions and decisions, a greater frequency of meetings and special sessions, the effectiveness of its work however, it is not always clear though a very broad normative framework of human rights treaties and pacts has evolved.”

Certainly this situation regarding exploitation of Dalit’s rights is one of the worst examples of human rights violations

UN authorities have expressed serious reservations on the statement of Mr Tanmaya Lal in a press release on 2nd November, 2018. The press release says, “While many member states commended the work of the Human Rights Council as crucial in the promotion and protection of universal human rights, others expressed concern over its subjectivity, double standards and politicisation.” Experts are of the opinion that Tanmaya Lal’s criticism on the working of UN’s Human Rights Council was in fact a desperate reaction to the report which was presented last June by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report had referred to Indian atrocities in the valley of Indian Occupied Kashmir. The report had said, “In responding to demonstrations that started in 2016, Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries in the Indian held Kashmir.”

In response to that report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had called for maximum restraint and denounced the lack of prosecutions of Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir due to a 1990 law giving them what he called “virtual immunity”. He also insisted on formulation of an inquiry commission for the investigation of sites of mass graves in the Valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It is something very positive that UN’s Human Rights Council is well aware of the Indian atrocities in the Indian Held Kashmir but there must be someone who could take care of the millions of Dalits who are living a miserable life worse than animals in India. There must be someone who could listen to what once Dr Vinod Sonkar had said talking to the CNN, “Sixty-five years after Indian independence, we are still Dalits, still broken, still suppressed.”



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