Caste-based violence : The Tribune India

Caste-based violence

Empower suppressed classes, punish criminals

Caste-based violence

Photo for representation only.

It’s a video clip lasting only a few seconds, but it perfectly exemplifies the perversion of democracy by goons masquerading as politicians and leaders. Recorded in the Kutumba block of Aurangabad in Bihar, the widely-circulated clip shows a candidate in the panchayat election, Balwant Singh, assaulting and abusing two Dalit men. Singh, who had lost the election, is heard accusing them of not voting for him despite accepting money and liquor from him. Hurling casteist expletives at them, he is seen making one of them spit on the ground and then lick it off. Singh told a news agency that he was ‘punishing’ the two men for getting drunk — he implied that they had broken the law because the sale of liquor is banned in Bihar. The Aurangabad Superintendent of Police confirmed that following a complaint against Singh, he had been arrested and would be chargesheeted soon.

The incident represents the worst of Indian culture and democracy — horrible discrimination based on caste, and buying votes to get elected to a public office. These distortions in society and the democratic system are intertwined since caste is deeply linked with economic status and opportunity. It’s a matter of concern that caste-based discrimination and violence are increasing, as data from the National Crime Records Bureau show: In 2020, a total of 50,291 cases of crime against scheduled caste (SC) persons were registered.

Even as most kinds of crimes saw a decline in 2020 due to the Covid-19 lockdown, crime against SCs rose by 9.4% over the previous year. Some activists ascribe this rise to migrant labourers — many of whom belonged to the suppressed castes and tribes — returning to their villages, leading to a rise in social tensions. Also, as individuals from the suppressed sections of society assert their rights, the privileged classes are resorting to criminal acts. Rights activists allege that the system colludes with and shields the perpetrators of such crimes. This is a blot on Indian polity. The solution lies in empowering the suppressed people and punishing the criminals.

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