Rohit, Vanubhai

The revelations about Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi affairs have exposed Narendra Modi government's complicity in the largest bank fraud in the country and it is also clear that the BJP's self-defence is extremely weak. Trying to find petty faults with the opposition is not necessarily the best way of defending oneself. The media coverage and the countrywide repercussions they have generated are important as well as interesting; but they have unfortunately put into the backseat another event that is no less important. This is the self-immolation of Vanubhai Bhankar of Patan, Gujarat, who burnt himself to death before the office of the district magistrate on 15 February for realising the demand for land of a dalit family. The death of Vanubhai completes a circle beginning from the forced suicide of Rohit Vemula and both are, strictly speaking, cases of institutional murder. Dalits of Gujarat hitherto were utilised by the Modi administration for perpetrating the massacre of Muslims. They were also deprived of the gains that were supposed to accrue to them in consequence of a successful land reform programme. This deprivation was due to Narendra Modi's desire to give large amounts of land to the big corporate houses for the sake of industrialisation. Now, however, the tables have turned. Gujarat is now rocked by the eruption of dalit grievances that have once again caught the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on the wrong foot, reminding the people of the Unna episode. As per reports, when the BJP legislators went to meet the family of the deceased, no doubt in order to shed some crocodile tears, they were chased away by aggrieved dalit youths. The verbal promise of judicial enquiry and giving government job has apparently failed to pacify the dalits, and they want a clear directive, not empty promise. This shows that dalits are not going to meekly accept the fate that the present ruling dispensation has been trying to impose on them and they have forced the government to take note of their grievances. Quite naturally, persons like Jingnesh Mebani and AlpeshThakor have jumped into the field in order to discredit the BJP government. They can scarcely be blamed by that because they are not saints.

It is well-known that after the ascent of Narendra Modi and his party to power, repression on dalits and Religious minorities has intensified, and Narendra Modi has been striving to retain his political hold by various overt and covert means, backed by the money power of the plunderers of the country's natural resources, and the ingrained communal sentiments of the predominantly urban upper classes and castes, who want to have an India in the image of a Hindu Rastra. But he should now realise how tortuous is the path. Those media persons who have been frantically trying to defend him are now finding it increasingly difficult to do their job properly. For example, they may put forward some specious arguments in order to exonerate Narendra Modi for the flight of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, but when one comes to examine the earlier cases of Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, the miserable failure of Narendra Modi to bring them back, these arguments, along with the so-called strongman image, will be deflated like a pricked balloon. He, with the vast army of the Hindu fanatics, will in all probability launch a campaign of communal polarisation, saying, "We may be looters of the country, but after all, we are Hindus; so vote for us."

The struggle of the dalits of Gujarat is a just struggle for real democracy and Vanubhai Bhankar is a martyr to this struggle. He has laid down his life for a just cause, the cause of the downtrodden. The events following his death have shown that his sacrifice has not been in vain. The edifice of Indian fascism is increasingly showing cracks and the time is not long when it will crumble. 

Vol. 50, No.35, Mar 04 - 10, 2018