Social activists, writers and members of the Dalit community are upset at the ‘raw deal’ meted out them by the state government, which completed two years in office on December 27 last year. They say atrocities against Dalits and their children have increased under the BJP rule.
The Qoli Samaj says that no MLA belonging to the community among Dalits in Himachal has been given a ministerial berth or a representation in state public sector undertakings.
There were two Cabinet ministers belonging to the Scheduled Caste community — Col Dhani Ram Shandil and Prakash Chaudhary — in the previous Congress government but the present government has completely ignored the Qoli Samaj, which is bound to impact the 2022 state Assembly elections, Dalit representatives claim.
Qoli Samaj feels ignored
“Dr Rajesh Saizal, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, represents the Ramdasi community and there is no minister from the Qoli Samaj in the government,” says a BJP leader. Various organisations of employees, and teachers and political groups have expressed support to the community for its upcoming meet to voice their concerns, he adds.
Uttam Singh Kashyap, state president of HP Qoli Samaj, says, “We are upset that Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur did not attend our function at Kunihar on November 16 and 17 last year. Also, the state government has not given representation to the Qoli Samaj in the Cabinet, boards or corporations”.
Kashyap, a retired Senior Accounts Officer from Accountant General Office, Shimla, shows the copies of resolutions submitted to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister. He says, “Dalits constitute 29 per cent of the population (Qolis 8 per cent) in Himachal and there are 17 Dalit MLAs. The Qoli Kalyan Board has not been rationalised and the Scheduled Castes Commission constituted by the previous Congress government was dissolved”.
“The Chief Minister’s Office did not convey to us Jai Ram Thakur’s inability to attend the function nor any BJP MLA was allowed to attend it, though we had invited all of them,” claims Kashyap. The Kunihar convention was presided by Akhil Bharatiya Qoli Samaj president Kanwarji Bhai Bavalia, a minister in the BJP government in Gujarat. “Ours is a non-political organisation. This meet was organised after three years and we had a lot of hopes from the Chief Minister,” he adds.
Kashyap says, “We felt hurt when we came to know that the Chief Minister travelled by air to attend the Kashtriya Sabha function at Gwalior and the Himachal Brahman Kalyan Parishad function in Kangra”. He adds, “A Dalit woman leader was insulted on stage in Sirmaur. An FIR was lodged against the guilty leader but it is a pity that no action has been taken against him. In fact, over 95 per cent of all cases of atrocities against Dalits are dropped under pressure”.
No Dalit as BJP chief
He says that the BJP has never elected a Dalit as the state party president while the Congress has had four Dalit party presidents — Chaudhary Piru Ram (Mandi), KD Sultanpuri (Solan), Gangu Ram Masafir (Sirmaur), and Kuldip Kumar (Una).
This time, Dalits were hopeful that Birender Kashyap, former Lok Sabha MP from Shimla, or Vinod Kumar, a young Dalit leader from Nachan in Mandi who won the last elections by the highest margin of 16,000 votes, or Ram Singh from Kullu, a BJP general secretary, or HN Kashyap from Shimla, who scarified his HP administrative service job for the party, would be appointed as the party president or given a place in the government,” he adds.
Kids face discrimination
Also, Dalits and their children continue to be discriminated against in mid-day meals in government schools and they are not allowed to enter temples on one pretext or the other by persons belonging to higher castes, says SR Harnot, a Dalit poet and writer of Himachal. “There is an atmosphere of fear and the Chief Minister should perform his Raj Dharma of ensuring justice to Dalits in Himachal,” he says.
Former BJP president Satpal Satti says, “The BJP elects the party president on the basis of merit and the President of India is a Dalit. The Chief Minister may not have attended the function of the Qoli Samaj due to his busy schedule. Dalits get their due share in the power setup in the BJP. Personally, I feel the Chief Minister or ministers should attend only functions of the government or the party and avoid functions organised by any sabha or samaj”.
CPM’s Dalit Shoshit Mukhti Sabha, which had staged a statewide protest last year, says atrocities against Dalits are on the rise in Himachal under the BJP rule. “The law for Dalits has been diluted as the BJP is not favourably inclined towards them,” says Jagat Ram, secretary of DSMS.
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