Letters and Editorials 7490 Views

Kashmir contemplates Dalit dilemma

Muhammad Yasin Malik, Kashmir’s popular politician and head of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was invited by Tamil nationalists, fighting for their rights, in Cuddalore in northern Tamil Nadu. (Times of India: May 19, 2013). Addressing a large gathering, in spite of hurdles and impediments from law enforcing agencies , the Kashmiri leader spoke of Tamil Eelam (Home land), and a goal so much cherished and loved by Tamil populace, a birthright that has been denied to them for a long time. Malik further said, he regretted that India failed to intervene to stop genocide of Tamils in the island nation of Sri Lanka. He also urged the people to join the protest against countries indulging in racial discrimination and genocide. The commonalities of inhuman treatment, discrimination and subjugation shared by Kashmiris and Dalits are widespread and in essence comprehended in clear terms to put emotions in the words like "Dear Kashmiris, we Tamils stand with you; down with Indian hegemony".

Some sections of the press reported from Madurai (May 27, 2013) that to make some political gains in upcoming elections; a debate on how to counter the ‘anti-Dalit psyche’ sought to be created by some political parties; for example, using instances of love marriages involving Dalit boys to whip up emotions. An attempt is also being made to pit the poor people of different castes to fight against one another, a deliberate act against the Ambedkarite principle of ´annihilation of caste´.

India’s obsession with Kashmir, a costly affair financially staking internal security and the flak it receives on international level, makes it compromise the "national interest" precipitating internal political crisis. Embarrassed Sri Lankan government bailed out by India and Island nation’s friends and sympathisers on international level of a strong UN Resolution, the move that outraged the Tamils in India and around the world forcing the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) to quit the coalition that triggered a serious crisis for the government. Observers believe that India’s support of UN Resolution against Sri Lanka would have opened the door for a similar reaction on India’s role in Kashmir.

Times of India on January 29, 2013 reported that Ashis Nandy, an Indian sociologist lashed out at Dalits with derogatory remarks saying "Dalits were most corrupt" at Jaipur literature festival. The matter initially intervened by police, an eyewash was hushed up and the issuance of another political line "a bad statement was made with good intension" had the cooling effect. Law enforcement personnel, as reported, often refuse to document, investigate and respond adequately to Dalits’ complaints.

On February 23, 2010, Dalits joined by intellectuals protested against cow slaughter ban by government claiming that consuming cow meat was their right. They were shouting anti-government slogans and organised a protest by cooking and eating beef in public. The government led by BJP (Bharitya janata Party) at federal level intended to deprive Dalits of bread earning jobs of buying, selling and consuming beef, and export of skins, bones, hides to other states or countries.

To register their grievances, a large rally was held (June 13, 2007) by Dalits in Bannappa Park, Bangalore for eradication of social evils. The issues focussed were Dalit rights, caste oppression, untouchability, overall improvement of living condition of Dalits and more importantly retrial of the accused in the brutal massacre of seven Dalits burnt alive at Kambalapalli in Kolar district on March 11, 2000 and eradication of prevailing inhuman devadasi system. In Hinduism, devadasi lasses ´married´ to deities, are dedicated to worship in the service of the deity or a temple for rest of their life.

Arundhati Roy, social activist, a philanthropist and a humanitarian on January 28, 2013 underscored the need to punish Indian military and paramilitary forces for the heinous crimes they committed in Kashmir stressing the point that India will suffer for what it did in Kashmir. During a debate at Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi she stated "Troops and paramilitary forces were involved in various crimes including custodial killings, disappearances and rapes". To continue its occupation in Kashmir, India has made its forces immune from every law there, she added. Human rights activist Kartik Markotla said deliberate silence of India against the alleged human rights violations committed by troops in Kashmir was unfortunate and the role of national media had been partial and irresponsible.

Dr Vithal Rajan reportedly commented on Kashmir imbroglio (The Hindu, October 9, 2010) saying "The first question to ask is, do Indians need Kashmir? The answer clearly is a resounding ‘No'! There are no resources of any kind from Kashmir, the supply of which is crucial for our well-being. If Indian troops are out of Kashmir, would it jeopardise the security of Indians? Not really. The mountainous barrier between the Kashmir Valley and India is a better defensive line to guard than the present long untenable frontier of the Line of Control. The people there do not consider themselves ´Indians´ and wish all Indians to go to the devil, perhaps unjustly, but that is the end result of poor governance, high-handedness, cruelty, and a bankrupt diplomatic policy."

Dr Rajan further said that "If India wishes to be considered a good second to China, it should not fritter away its resources on nuclear weapons, aircraft carriers, or Commonwealth Games. India should use its scarce resources where they are most needed, to help people raise themselves out of poverty. Since everyone else in reality has been fishing in Kashmir's troubled waters, let India make the security of the Valley an international issue which requires international guarantees from everyone else, the U.S. and NATO, China, Pakistan, Russia, and all other nearby neighbours. Let India insist on deploying U.N. Peace Keeping Force."

Muslims of Kashmir and Dalits shared a common ground at: www. truthdive.com/2011/10/14/dalits-and-kashmiri-muslims-similarities.html