ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lynchings in Bihar: Reassertion of Dominant Castes

The recent lynching of so-called thieves in Bihar is in reality the killing of dalits by the dominant castes, who find themselves sidelined by the present state government and want to reassert themselves. There is no organised protest because unlike in other parts of the country, dalits here have never had a strong political organisation of their own.

According to the 2001 Census, dalits account for 15.57 per cent of Bihars population. But irrespective of this, dalits do not have any place in the social, economic, political and cultural life of Bihar. It is this social reality which goes to establish that the dalits of Bihar are excluded and marginalised. In a state where casteism, feudalism, patriarchy and communitarian allegiance are highly active and interlinked, they become victims of the social order.

The level of discrimination that dalits are subjected to can be gathered from the following saying that is popular in north India: Chamar ko chahey apna desh ka pradhan mantri banado, magar hamarey mathey par chadkar chamar ko gaon ka mukhiya banovogey tho parinam bura hoga (You may make a dalit the prime minister of the country, but if you attempt to make a dalit the president of our village council, there will be serious consequences). It is this mental makeup of the dominant castes of the landed gentry that continues to provide basis for the oppressive and repressive caste system. But this mindset does not come from thin air, it is the product of an oppressive and exploitative social structure in Bihar.

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