Dalit protests against the Supreme Court ruling on SC/ST act have led to widespread unrest. The Bharat Bandh protests called on the 2nd of April by Dalit organizations witnessed rampant vandalism and violence on the streets throughout North India. As many as 9 people, including an infant, lost their lives while several policemen were injured by the protesters. An ex-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Yogesh Verma has been picked up by the Meerut Police, accused of being the main conspirator behind widespread violence in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Other BJP ruled states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar too faced the brunt of angry mobs who took to the streets burning vehicles and shops. The surprising fact was that Trinamool Congress (TMC) ruled West Bengal, Congress ruled Punjab and other states such as Left ruled Kerala remained peaceful during the protests (or at least no media reports about violence emerged from these states). Punjab and West Bengal rank 1st and 3rd respectively in the percentage of Dalits in their population. 31.9% of Punjab’s total population and 23.5% of that of West Bengal’s identify themselves as Dalits. These states, however, remained unaffected. Could it be termed as a planned protest, orchestrated by the opposition parties targeting BJP ruled states?
The Supreme Court ruling to prevent the “rampant misuse of the tough provisions of the law” is intended to give courts the right to grant anticipatory bail if they find that that the complaint made was false, motivated or to harass a person. The protesters allegedly wanted the law to be reinstated in its original form. But the photographs show a different story. People who had appeared previously under the banner of the Karni Sena, have appeared under the banner of Dalit organizations as well. These paid miscreants and troublemakers were once again out on the streets obstructing daily life and engaging in violence and vandalism.
Such a mass protest across the nation couldn’t be possible without a mastermind with active participation of frustrated opposition parties. The SC ruling gave them just what they wanted, a manufactured outrage to be used in misleading the public. It is noteworthy that the SC ruling was not even backed by the BJP which is being accused of being anti-Dalit today. BJP, in reality, wanted SC to reconsider its stand on the SC/ST act. How did this very important fact miss the eyes of the protesters who came out on the streets then? How did they choose their leaders without knowing their stand on the issue? The sheer scale of the protests points toward a well coordinated move by certain political forces opposed to the government who might have joined hands to raise the sense of insecurity amongst the Dalit masses.
Amidst all this, a shocking tweet was shared by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The tweet read, “We are shocked and pained that some of my Dalit brothers and sisters have been killed and injured. We support their cause. I appeal for peace.” She however, forgot to feel any pain for the loss of the life of an infant in Hajipur, Bihar or to condemn the nationwide vandalism which was taking place. Considering the appeasement and hate mongering politics practiced by the opposition on a day to day basis, it comes hardly as a surprise.
As many of the so-called agitators stand exposed, it comes as no surprise that those who took to the streets are hooligans masquerading as Dalit crusaders. Communities across the country should be wary of becoming political pawns of divisive forces, who make a mountain out of a non-issue for political mileage. These forces have blood in their hands today.