18 September 2020 08:21 PM

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RAJEEV KHANNA | 26 JUNE, 2020

Dalit Arguments Against the Statue of Manu in Rajasthan HC: Activists Write to Sonia Gandhi

Reportedly the statue has been at the spot since 1989


A campaign has been started from Gujarat to get the controversial statue of Manu, a mythical law-giver of Brahmanism, removed from the premises of the Rajasthan High Court.

Saying that the statue was installed by “non-state actors”, Dalit activists and representatives of several other social groups have joined with journalists, political activists and civil society organisations in calling the statue’s presence a “shame” for India and Rajasthan.

The campaign started with well known Dalit activist Martin Macwan of the Dalit Shakti Kendra on the outskirts of Ahmedabad penning an open letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi asking her to take steps for the removal of the statue, since it is her party in power in Rajasthan. Macwan sought support from various individuals and organisations for the campaign.

According to Chaturbhai Parmar of the Dalit Shakti Kendra, “Till now we have received 609 signatures in support of our initiative from across the country. This will be followed by a missed call campaign wherein people can register their support by giving a missed call on a number that would be circulated.”

Reportedly the statue of Manu has stood on the spot since 1989, often becoming a reason for discontent. Many believe Manu was the progenitor of mankind, and ascribe authorship of the religious-legal work Manusmriti completed in the early centuries CE.

Verses include: “One occupation only the lord prescribed to the Sudra, to serve meekly even these other three castes” (I-91) – “Know that a Brahmana of ten years and Kshatriya of a hundred years stand to each other in the relation of father and son; but between those two the Brahmana is the father” (II-135) – and “A good woman, desiring to go to the same world as her husband, should never do anything displeasing to the man who took her hand, whether he is alive or dead” (V-156).

The text of the open letter is as follows:

Dear Smt. Soniajee

We are writing this letter because we believe that as the President of the Indian National Congress which has the Government in power in Rajasthan, you have the required power to take a step which would prove historic in the strengthening the Dalit Movement for equality.

We are asking you to act on something which directly attacks the Indian Constitutional Values, the very humanity and which promotes the caste ideology rendering Dalits, women and the poor (referred as shudra) as impure. This caste ideology is the sole reason for continuing and increasing violence on Dalits and women. It is the duty of every Government to ensure that the values enshrined in the constitution are nurtured and protected.

In 2020, we will be celebrating 73 years of Independence, as freedom from the slavery of the British. In 2020 we will be also celebrating 70 years of the Indian Constitution which liberated India from the slavery of the Caste system and Untouchability.

In 2020 we will be also celebrating 93 years of marking the day, 25th December, 1927; when Dr. Ambedkar had burnt Manusmriti, a code/law which justified and upheld impurity of status for Dalits and Women. The resolution to burn Manu smriti was moved by Shri. Sahastrabuddhe, a Hindu Brahmin.

You would agree that the presence of Manu’s statue erected by non-State actors standing tall in 2020 in the premises of Rajasthan High Court is a shame for India and Rajasthan in particular. The Statue of Manu is also an insult to Indian Constitution as well as Dalits, women and all those who believe in equality and justice. The statue weakens the call of Dr. Ambedkar to annihilate Caste for India to grow as a Nation.

Moreover, the Law of Manu stands in total contradiction to what the Indian Constitution has committed itself to – while the latter upholds equality and fraternity, social justice and freedom, the former indulges in archaic teaching about inequality and social segregation, hierarchy and division, injustice and servitude.

That this country has tolerated this contradiction for post-Independence 73 years is testimony to our failure to live by the invaluable heritage of the Constitution bequeathed to us by Dr. Ambedkar and the Constitution-makers.

Your Party, the Indian National Congress, is dedicated to the values of secularism, democracy and removal of Untouchability. Along with bitterness of Poona pact that engaged Gandhiji as the head of Congress and Dr. Ambedkar on the issue of separate electorate for Dalits, the two great men along with all important figures of our national independence movement had one thing in common; reject in totality the practice of Untouchability.

Presence of the Statue of Manu in a public place amounts to justification and glorification of the Varnavyavastha. While we hoist the National flag twice in a year to remind ourselves of ills of slavery and the Constitution that guarantee the citizens their dignity, the statue of Manu stands in public unmoved each day.

The presence of the statue of Manu, in public place is an insult to the Indian Constitution, because the State Government of that time and the Rajasthan High Court allowed its construction and installation on March 3, 1989 after 42 years of Independence. This was despite a full bench resolution of Rajasthan High Court not to allow the same, the appeal for stay on removal of the statue was admitted by a single judge bench and the Rajasthan high Court has not been able to resolve the matter arising out of the injunction against removal of the statue for 31 years.

This open letter is to request you and Ashokjee Gehlot to take measures to ensure that the Statue of Manu is removed from the Public place in Rajasthan. We request you to do the following:

1. Pass a resolution in Indian National Congress Party and direct such resolution to be passed by the Rajasthan Congress Committee before 15th August 2020 to remove Statue of Manu from the Rajasthan High Court premises before 25th December 2020.

2. Pass a resolution in the Rajasthan Assembly to explore all constitutional means to remove the Manu statue before 25th December 2020.

3. Rajasthan Government should move Rajasthan High Court before 15th August 2020 for an early hearing to vacate the stay order on removing the Manu statue.

4. Withdraws criminal case filed against Sheela Pawar and Kantabai Ahire who expressed their protest against the statue of MANU.

We expect a response from the Indian National Congress by 15th August 2020.

Through this open letter, we are collecting the signatures of people from all strata of society who are wedded to the values enshrined in Indian Constitution to join the campaign. We will also be urging all the political parties to support, removal of the MANU statue from Rajasthan High Court premises.

CC:

1. Shri. Ashokjee Gehlot; Honorable Chief Minster, Rajasthan
2. Shri. Dr. C. P. Joshi, Honorable Speaker; Rajasthan Assembly.

Martin Macwan
Navsarjan Trust
 

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