14 June 2021 08:40 PM



#RealIndia: Dalit Burnt Alive For Entering Temple, Muslim Lynched For Eating Beef, Woman Gangraped For Being A Woman

Are Dalits, Muslims and women in India not as important as Mark Zuckerberg or Angela Merkel?

NEW DELHI: Within a span of a week, three shocking incidents betrayed the real face of India. I’ll start with the incident that received the least attention in the media.

A 90 year old Dalit man was attacked with a pick-axe and then set on fire by an upper caste man, for trying to enter a temple in Uttar Pradesh's Hamirpur district last Wednesday. Chimma, a resident of Bilgaon, was on his way with his family to Gaya to pay his respects, as is tradition in Hindu rituals. En route, he decided to stop at Maidani Baba temple first. There, a man called Sanjay Tiwari, whom the police have identified as belonging to an upper caste, stopped Chimma. As Chimma tried to ignore the altercation, Tiwari stuck with a pickaxe, proceeding to pour kerosene over Chimma, burning him alive.

Chimma’s story is not an aberration. Dalits face routine violence in UP, as they do in other parts of India, with the incidents rarely making front page headlines. Two incidents that come to mind are: In June last year, a Dalit girl was thrashed and threatened with murder all because her shadow fell upon an upper caste man. In March before that, upper caste men set a 17-year-old girl on fire in Pattherdawa village because she wanted to pursue her studies!

Also in UP, and also within the last week, a mob lynched to death a fifty five year old man, Mohammad Akhlaq, and critically injured his son over the rumour that the family was consuming beef. To add insult to injury, our politicians have in some form or the other, excused or condoned the heinous crime.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has insisted that the murder was not communal. BJP MLA Sangeet Som has said that the UP government will pay the price for favouring Muslims. “Hindus know how to retaliate,” Som added. Former BJP MLA Nawab Singh Nagar blamed the victims family, saying “If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.” “Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?” echoed Shrichand Sharma, VP of BJP’s western UP unit. Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma even indicated that Akhlaq’s 17 year old daughter should be grateful she wasn’t raped!

The third incident this week that I would like to draw attention to happened yesterday. In Bengaluru, a call centre employee was gangraped by two men in a mini bus. The girl was kidnapped and raped at knifepoint, as the two men took turns driving the mini bus, eventually dumping her near where they picked her up from. The incident is shockingly similar to the brutal December Delhi bus gangrape, and an indication that little has changed in our country.

The above three incidents run in parallel with other developments this past week.

While the girl was being gangraped in the mini bus on the streets of Bangalore, PM Modi was discussing #MakeInIndia with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

While the elderly dalit man was being burnt to death, PM Modi was shaking hands with Mark Zuckerberg in the US.

And while Akhlaq was being lynched in Dadri, the rest of us were changing our profile pictures to a tricolour embossed photo in support of Digital India.

My point is, while the latter are all important developments, are we losing track of real India?

Why has PM Modi, who is so PR friendly when it comes to tech honchos, Fortune 500 CEOs and powerful world leaders, been silent on the murder of Akhlaq and Chimma, and on the gangrape of the call centre employee?

Are Dalits, Muslims and women in India not as important as Mark Zuckerberg or Angela Merkel?

Is real India not as important as the tricolour embossed India that we are so desperately trying to sell?

Use the hashtag #RealIndia to demand action, and real action, on the big challenges that our country faces… Challenges relating to justice, equality, and gender equity.

Let’s change #RealIndia, let’s not forget Akhlaq, Chimma and the girl in Bangalore, let’s not forget the millions of others like them.

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