Bangalore: At a time when atrocities against Dalits have increased all around, as a ray of hope, dalits, with dreams of an egalitarian society, displayed a firm unity at the National College grounds, Bengaluru on 6th December, the Parinibbana Day of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar.
Different factions of Dalit Sangharsha Samithi that has a place of significance of its own in Karnataka’s cultural history, made a show of strength by coming together on the same stage.
The “Dalit Cultural Resistance – Massive Unity Convention of DSSs” organised by the ‘Aikya Horata Chalana Committee of Dalit Sangharsha Samithis’ (United Struggle Convening Committee of Dalit Sangharsha Samitis) instilled new hopes among dalit masses. Over 40 thousand dalits who had come from all corners of Karnataka sounded off a war cry against the BJP governments’ anti-dalit policies.
The National College grounds literally overflowed with people. People came to Bengaluru from even very distant districts hiring buses and other vehicles. There were people inside the grounds, on the compound walls around it and the streets around the grounds. The slogan of “Jai Bheem” resounded throughout the ground, intermittently all through the event. Dalit organisations, which came together on the same stage after decades, pronounced the importance of unity.
Ms. Ramabai Ambedkar Teltumbde, the grand-daughter of the Architect of the Indian Constitution Babasaheb Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, inaugurated the convention.
Senior journalist Indudhara Honnapura made preliminary remarks: “The dalit movement has made big achievements during our times. The ideas that we spread through struggles have kindled self esteem in the hearts of lakhs of dalits. The word Dalith does not mean untouchables alone, all the suffering people of the land are dalits. DSS has fought for the sake of all distressed. It is 50 years since dalit movement took birth. The slogans that dalits gave out have become the governments’ programmes. We pride on all these”, Indudhar reminisced.
“This is a land that has grown sharing its food. But we are seeing to what condition the country has descended. Our culture, our food, our jobs, dress, everything is being snatched away. They are deceiving us right in the name of the Constitution itself. The scholarships of dalit students are being discontinued, but lakhs of crores of rupees of the big capitalists are being waived. Withholding the statistics the rulers are claiming that there is no poverty at all. Babasaheb burned the Manusmruthi and created the Constitution. But today the Sangh Parivar is bringing into force the same Manusmruthi and the almanac (panchang) and so on under the very nose of the Constitution. They are committing violence, atrocities in the name of Ramarajya. Those who question are jailed. They put Anand Teltumbde in jail for more than two years. The RSS and BJP people are the real traitors”, Mr. Indudhar fumed.
“Today dalits have come on to the streets. The governments’ policies are also a reason for the organisations coming together. Today the leaders of ten organisations have joined hands. This will not end here, many more organisations will join this process in the coming days. We will include all the secular organisations, and will keep out those who stand by the Manuvadis and are against the Constitution.” Alluding to the future, Indudhar warned, “If we do not unite, we will all suffer the worst form of hell.”
Speaking on the occasion, Justice H.N.Nagamohan Das, retd. Judge of the Karnataka High Court said: “Saluting Dr. Ambedkar is not enough. Developing arrogance about Ambedkar will not help, we need to develop the correct knowledge about him; that means the knowledge about the Constitution.”
“The Babri Masjid was demolished on the day of Ambedkar’s Parinibbana. A lie is being wilfully circulated that Ambedkar did not write the Constitution. It is the Constitution that has built this country. The Constitution written by Ambedkar is the sole reason why we are all able to participate directly or indirectly in the democratic institutions”, Justice Das said.
“We have made several achievements in these years after the Constitution came into force. Likewise there are problems also. Prices are rising every day, UAPA is being imposed on anyone who questions the government. Encounters are committed. PTCL Act is becoming irrelevant. Privatisation is increasing, and so on”, Das said.” “The government has agreed to raise the reservations, but the vacant posts are not filled. When this is so, what is the use of increasing the reservations?” he asked.
“Only pro-people agitations are a solution for the people’s problems. The government does not hear if we speak separately. Dalit organisations should unite based on ideology. Ambedkar’s path alone should be our ideological foundation. We should safeguard the Constitution. We are at a juncture where we are losing whatever we had achieved”, Mr. Das said.
“If communalism triumphs we will have to live shutting our mouths. Today they are saying that Muslims cannot do business around the temples. Tomorrow they will prohibit dalits from selling coconuts, flowers etc. in the vicinity of temples, beware!” he warned.
Mr. S. Mariswamy, retired IPS officer, speaking on the occasion said: “In any country, governments, however cruel, will at least make a pretence of providing justice. But even this is not happening in our country. Mr. Modi has conducted a road show even on the day of voting on his way to the polling booth. He has given out the message that ‘rules are only for you not us’. He has decided that the country can be ruled through injustice. He has decided that the people are fools, they will not object”, Mr. Mariswamy regretted.
Farmer leader Mr. Badagalapura Nagendra spoke on the occasion. “The state is killing the Constitution every minute. People are being deceived chanting the name of Dr. Ambedkar. They are selling the country. A ploy is set in motion to impose a uniform culture. It is only when the farmers, dalits, workers, women and youth take up struggles unitedly that this country can be saved” he opined.
Senior dalit leader N. Muniswamy extended ‘lal salaams’ to the ‘blue army’ that had assembled from all corners of the state. “We need to remember the two main enemies that Babasaheb Ambedkar has mentioned. One is Manuvaada, the other capitalism. DSS remained splintered for 17 long years. Now we are uniting. The other organisations are also joining in the coming days”, Mr. Muniswamy was happy and hopeful.
Another senior dalit leader Mr. Mavalli Shankar electrified the gathering through his scintillating words – “Your footsteps have purified the streets of their sins and liberated Basavanagudi from the curse that had gripped it.” “It is we who have built this country. Today Babasaheb is not with us physically, but he lives through the Constitution. We need to save the Constitution” he urged.
“The Buddha’s revolution was thwarted through deceitful means during Pushyamitra Shunga’s rule. The Buddh Dhamma was sent out of the country. But Babasaheb brought Buddha back. Now the Manuvadis have begun ghost pranks”, Mr. Shankar criticised.
Pointing at the display sign that depicted all the infamous brutal atrocities and mass murders of dalits in the country in the past 50 years or so and speaking in a sarcastic tone, Mavalli said: “They say ‘Kashmir Files’. But look at the Dalit Files here. And where did the Bilkis Bano file go?” “Kangana Ranaut gets ‘Z plus’ security while dalits have no security whatsoever here” he let out his anger.
“They say that they will prohibit cow slaughter. Do Modi or Bommai rear cows in their houses? You killed dalits just because they touched the water? However much you bury us we will rise again. We are the progeny of Babasaheb”, Mr. Shankar thundered.
“We are not ‘deshdrohis’, we have not taken up guns, but the RSS-wallas brandish guns. This ‘shani santaan’ (progeny of evil) has to be wiped out. We are descendents of Ekalavya, even if our thumbs are cut, we still use bows and arrows. We are the ones who have built this country”, he said.
“You have given EWS reservations to the powerful castes. Does reservation belong to your forefathers? We should not swear at Modi, but curse the dalit MPs who have become slaves of BJP”, Mr Shankar did not hold back his rage.
Dalit leader Mr. Lakshminarayaya Nagavara objected to the proposal to amend the PTCL Act. “We do not need your bundles of lies”, he said.
Dalit activist Gangamma said: “The need of the hour is to put aside individual interests and work unitedly. We need to stay together leaving aside the caste feeling. The dalit youth should pay attention to self employment also and should struggle for government jobs too.” “The chariot of struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar should be taken forward” she pleaded.
Expressing satisfaction that the organisers had gained success more than they expected, senior dalit leader Mr. N. Venkatesh, who presided over the function, said: “We need to study centuries of our history and surge forward as Babasaheb has said.”
“Dalit Sangharsh Samithi has its own history. As a cultural organisation we have led the DSS politically also. Several leaders of the land including Prof. B. Krishnappa have built and nurtured the organisation against all odds and challenges. They have devoted their entire life for the cause of struggle”, he outlined.
“You should adopt all forms of struggles and struggle with sincerity and morality. We are prepared to visit every village, every taluk. Let us continue the struggle to achieve our demands. Let us overthrow both Brahminism and capitalism”, Mr. Venkatesh called.