Recently, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) emerged as among one of the parties that voted against the CAB, a proposed legislation that seeks to pave the way for a simpler process of citizenship to the persecuted minorities in the neighbouring Islamic countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. While the BSP’s move is being seen as an effort to reach out to the Muslims in the state, the fact remains that this is actually an act of desertion by the party.
The Mayawati led party claims to be the most ardent supporter of the Dalits’ cause. However, when it had the chance to help Dalits, it voted against the grant of citizenship to the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, an overwhelming majority of whom constitute Dalits who have been systematically persecuted and harassed in Pakistan.
It is a historically proven fact that during the Partition, several Dalit Hindus had decided to stay back in Pakistan, including in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Jogendra Nath Mandal, an ardent supporter of Dalit-Muslim unity convinced the Namasudra (Scheduled Caste in Bengal) to stay in newly created East Pakistan, which is also why West Bengal did not witness a sudden shift in population to India, unlike Punjab during the Partition. However, Mandal himself left Pakistan in 1950 and accused the Pakistani government of anti-Hindu bias. The poor Dalit community though stayed back in Pakistan (both East and West Pakistan).
More than 85 per cent of the Hindus living in Pakistan are reportedly Dalits, and they have also emerged as the biggest victims of the anti-minority Islamist polity in Pakistan. They are the worst victims of discrimination, kidnapping for ransom, rapes, false blasphemy cases and poverty. In fact, the two million-odd Hindu-Dalit population in Pakistan faces extreme deprivation.
They had to stay back in Pakistan owing to their financial problems hindering their mobility and the myth of Dalit-Muslim unity, which was demolished as early as 1950 itself when Pakistan’s first Dalit minister and the face of Dalit-Muslim unity, Jogendra Nath Mandal not only had to resign but also had to leave Pakistan to live in India. The myth of Dalit-Muslim unity had thus was obliterated and it had also become clear way back in 1950 itself that Pakistan was no country for Hindus, and was even more detrimental when it came to the oppressed classes within the Hindu community. While India went on to enact strong and successful measures for Dalit empowerment, Pakistan treats the Dalits as sub-humans. They face human rights violations of the worst kind and even face slavery at the hands of feudal landlords in the inner pockets of Pakistan.
More than 75 per cent of the Hindu-Dalits in Pakistan remain illiterate and immensely impoverished. Slavery is rampant and the Hindu-Dalits mostly work as agricultural labourers, garment factory workers, or as sweepers in Pakistan. There are no visible signs of their political empowerment or social upliftment. With lack of access to basic facilities, like education and primary healthcare, Dalit-Hindus remain the most vulnerable and troubled section of persecuted minorities in Pakistan. And this does not really come as a surprise, Pakistan had always looked down upon the Hindu-Dalits and had systematically ensured that Dalits are not allowed to leave Pakistan for India. Pakistan PM Liaqat Ali had even told Indian High Commissioner “who would clean streets and latrines of Karachi if they are allowed to leave?” And now Pakistan is actually getting Dalits to carry out menial jobs in line with what Liaqat Ali had planned at that time.
During partition, Pakistan did not allow Dalits to leave for India. Pak PM Liaqat Ali told Indian High Commissioner "who would clean streets and latrines of Karachi if they are allowed to leave?"
Most Hindu refugees coming from Pak are Dalits. Those opposing CAB are anti-Dalit. pic.twitter.com/eHymf3ew74
— Divya Kumar Soti (@DivyaSoti) December 10, 2019
In fact, Pakistan has systematically debilitated the Dalit community even further. In some parts, even the land owned by the community has been taken over by the Evacuee Trust Property Board and the Enemy Property Board. There have even been cases of the dead bodies of Hindu Dalits buried in Muslim graveyards being dug out just because they were non-Muslims. The Dalits have therefore been reduced to landless slaves in Pakistan.
As far as Bangladesh is concerned, the state of Dalits was no better, and the Marichjhapi massacre captures their plight. Even after they fled persecution to India and settled down on an island called Marichjhapi, the Communist regime in West Bengal went on an absolute rampage. Many say that 5,000 to 10,000 of these Dalit-Hindus were killed. Till date, citizenship has not been conferred upon those who survived the Marichjhapi massacre.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, opposed by Mayawati and her ‘pro-dalit’ party, is meant to be a glimmer of hope to correct this historical injustice. So caught up in appeasement politics, Mayawati and BSP have ended up betraying Dr Ambedkar spectacularly.
As such, Pakistan had systematically misled and cheated the Dalit-Hindus with the facade of Dalit-Muslim unity. It took only a few years for that myth to be busted. But Dalits were not able to migrate owing to their financial constraints and since then, Pakistan has been literally treating the Dalit-Hindus as sub-humans and violating their dignity on an everyday basis. But what about those who claim to be the most ardent supporters of the oppressed classes, especially the Dalits?
By voting against the CAB, the BSP has voted against the principles that it claims to espouse and also against the ideals of BR Ambedkar which it claims to uphold. The fact remains that the biggest victims of the Partition were the Dalit-Hindus and now, the biggest beneficiaries of the amended citizenship law will also be the Dalits. The BSP, however, is Keen on appeasing the Muslim vote bank within Uttar Pradesh. It is more concerned about religious appeasement than Dalit welfare. This, by voting against the CAB, the Mayawati led party seems to have turned more green than blue.