Crime against Humanity

Manas Bakshi

Mob lynching apart atrocities on the dalits and tribals are on the rise. Horrifying stories of dalit bashing are reported, mainly from the BJP-ruled state of Uttar Pradesh almost daily. Some of the recent incidents are bone-chilling.

The first one is about a Dalit woman constable named Monika Rawat. She was posted at Haidergarh PS in Barabanki district in Uttar Pradesh for the last nine months. Reportedly, Monika committed suicide on 29-09-2018 for being mentally harassed and denied leave she was entitled to. In her suicide note, she levelled her allegation against the Station House Officer (SHO) of the said PS. But no investigation had started at the time of going to the press.

The second one is about the miserable death of a youngman of 24 years, named Rajat, of the Dalit Community. He fell victim of rage of three upper caste youths who had beaten him to death on 05-10-2018. The incident took place in Nerwa area of Chopal in Shimla district (HP). It was when Rajat was driving that the three upper caste youths were honking to overtake him in a congested road but initially could not. When they overtook, they thrashed Rajat though he could leave the place unharmed at the intervention of a jawan on traffic duty along with some locals. But Rajat was again trapped near the Dundi temple and was brutally assaulted, so much so that he succumbed to his injuries at the Nerwa hospital. Though all the three accused were later arrested and a case was registered under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, it remains to be seen which way the investigation proceeds.

Not only the Dalits, the tribals are also severely victimised in a land where —from the economic offenders to social (anti-social) criminals—all are allowed a free run. And security of life is now a far cry. The next incident is of rape of a tribal woman of the Munda community. And it took place on 20-10-2018 in Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal. The tribal woman was lured out of her home in the absence of her husband—a daily wage labour. She was raped, and tortured afterwards but she escaped death norrowly with the help of a rickshaw van puller who suddenly appeared on the scene and came to her rescue. The rape victim was admitted to Dhupguri hospital on 21st October and was later shifted to Jalpaiguri district hospital as her condition deteriorated. The accused numberring two were nabbed and a charge sheet was being framed.

Instances of mental torture at place of work, physical assault in vaunting supremacy or obduracy at public place, deprivation and rape of the meek and weak are menacingly surfacing every now and then; sometimes vented in print or electronic media, and also condemned.

The incidents may be different like love jihad, lynching or, fake encounter but the appeal is the same in so far as it concerns the Dalits and the tribals and related issues.

Amid these frightening incidents came another news more shameful than shocking. It is about starvation deaths of some of the Musahars belonging to the Mahadalit community. It has happened in the first week of September, 2018 in Rakba Dalma Patti village and Jungle Khirkia village—only a few kilometres away from Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Ironically, while the Musahars have "since ages depended on rats as their main source of food" and have to  "survive on anything that is eatable" (TOI 08-11-2018), getting any work was, allegedly, a remote possibilty even being registered under MGNREGA—though UP Chief Minister has commented "our government has given jobs, ration cards and houses to Musahars". (TOI, 08-11-2018)

Undoubtedly, there is nothing new in the news of starvation deaths. In fact, a reader of Frontier (November 4-10, 2018) writes from Delhi, "At least 56 hunger deaths have been reported in India in the last four years". What is terribly startling is the fact that when such is the fate of the Musahars thriving somehow on rats and snails, day after day, the government was celebrating September as National Nutrition Month as a move against malnutrition. What a pity!

Given the scenario of the other India does anybody believe that the country is heading for an 'Ayushman Bharat' under the Modi dispensation? Had the marginalised been really taken into the purview of the much touted development strategy, minimum regard could be given to their well being. And the Musahars would not have to gobble up rats and snails or face an untimely miserable death!

Vol. 51, No.23, Dec 9 - 15, 2018