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

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Atrocities amid Celebrations of Independence

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The judicious, just, and fair application of the law by the institutions of the state is the hallmark of a functioning progressive, constitutional democracy. The promotion of a law-based behaviour is a constitutional obligation in order to avoid old structures putting its tentacles back over the institutions of justice. Without this, the caste, religious, patriarchal, and homophobic cultural bigots get a free run to twist the democratic working of the state. Sadly, when looked at from the margins, the Indian state, in the best-case scenario, is and has been paralysed by these bigots and, in the worst case, has terribly failed in its endeavour in protecting the democratic rights and dignity of the lower castes in India. The treatment of the lower castes, tribals, Muslims, women, daily wage labourers and, recently, even the farmers has been a testament to that.

The weeks leading to independence give no break to the daily reports of caste and religious violence and atrocities. Two brutal caste atrocities occurred in Maharashtra in August and September 2021 raising questions about the real face of the government in the state. The denial of democratic rights of lower castes and the normalisation of caste-based violence and its validation by the state machinery are not new in India. The first case occurred in Malewadi village of Solapur district whose member of the legislative assembly (MLA) and member of Parliament (MP) both are from Dalit communities. Here, the upper-caste man from whose farm a road to the village cremation ground passes denied passage to the funeral procession of a visually impaired Dalit man. This visually impaired man was also the brother of the Dalit sarpanch (elected village head) in a majoritarian upper-caste-dominated village. He was elected to the sarpanch post because the seat was reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates. This SC sarpanch had dared to lodge an atrocity case against this upper-caste man when the latter had beaten up a Dalit family in the village earlier. The election of a Dalit sarpanch in a majoritarian upper-caste village through political reservation is a real setback to the socially dominant castes in the village. This incident took a new turn when Dashrath Sathe (the sarpanch) decided to burn his brother’s body in front of the village panchayat office after he was denied passage to the cremation ground. Sathe refused to bow down to the upper castes’ pressure who demanded dropping of those old atrocity charges in return to allow the passage of his brother’s dead body to the cremation ground. He refused this condition and instead chose to burn the dead body of his brother in front of the panchayat office.

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Updated On : 22nd Aug, 2022
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