A mob of around 200 people belonging to dominant castes attacked Dalits in a village of Odisha on August 26. In the Ainlasari Village in the Puintala block of the Balangir district in Odisha, the mob came to the Dalit Basti in the morning, vandalizing homes, throwing stones, and assaulting people, with many suffering severe injuries. Attackers also damaged people’s belongings and vehicles and used derogatory language against Dalits.
Part1- A mob of dominant caste men brutally attacked Dalit locality (26,aug) in Ainlasari village of Balangir Dist, Odisha. #DalitLivesMatter@Naveen_Odisha @odisha_police @DGPOdisha @spbalangir @PMOIndia @NarasinghMishra @BhimArmyChief @Mayawati @KanimozhiDMK @RahulGandhi pic.twitter.com/dM24BymRj2
— Biswa Kumbhar (@Biswabhusankumb) August 28, 2020
In footage uploaded by Biswa Kumbhar, and shared by anti-caste rapper Sumeet Samos, the mob can be seen walking into the locality holding what seem to be sticks and flags, shouting at people, entering people’s houses and pulling people out of their houses.
The Ambedkar Students Association of Pondicherry University released a statement where a Dalit woman, who is head of the locality, narrated the incident.
She wrote that in Ainlasari village, Dalit women had been facing harassment at the hands of the dominant caste men every time they stepped out of their homes. Teenage girls and newlywed women were explicitly being targeted. They lodged numerous complaints to the ward members and the head officials, but no action was taken against the harassers.
When they reached out to the Sarpanch recently, he told them to do whatever they want regarding the harassment and to “stop disturbing him”. The women then, faced by this complete inaction of the authorities, decided to go to each of the harasser’s homes and report their actions to their family members and relatives. However, the family members of the men blamed the women instead and didn’t listen to them.
On their way back to the Dalit locality, which is located outside the Ainlasari village, some of the dominant caste men stopped them and threatened them against informing their family members about the issue. They were around 200, while the Dalit women were just 20 in number. So the women stood in front of them in order to protect their men and requested them to not instigate violence.
After the incident, the women went to the police station to file a complaint. When a notice was sent to them by the police, the dominant caste men along with a few women from their community, came to the Dalit locality and started attacking their homes. They pulled people out of their homes and beat them with bastons and rods. Many of the people are hospitalized now. Victims include Keshava Nanda, Birendra Nanda, and Bikhari Kumbhar who suffered fractures and severe injuries, and Shrabana Kumbhar whose head was injured.
All the violence took place in the presence of the Sarpanch, who did not intervene. It is clear that the violence was a response to the Dalit women raising their voice against the exploitative actions of the dominant caste men, and refusing to let it go in spite of pressures from administrative leaders. The local government officials, rather than protecting the Dalit women and community and holding the perpetrators accountable, ignored their complaints. The mob that perpetrated the violence, along with all those officials who enabled the harasser’s behaviour and ignored the Dalit women’s complaints, should be held accountable.