‘Violence’ new means of upper caste hegemony
Recently, I watched a movie titled “Narappa”. Venkatesh is in the lead role. The entire plot of the movie is based on caste system, caste crime and caste discrimination. The old rancour between upper caste people and Dalits over land acquisition, controlling water source or supply and structural dominance have been displayed in the movie. The involvement of local police, local leaders and local goons to galvanize the micro social issues into caste conflict is also presented in the movie. Many claim that the movie is based on real life incidents that occurred in Tamil Nadu during 1960s.
By ABASH PARIDA
The number of caste based violence in India is spiking up. As per a report by the National Dalit Movement for Justice, as many as 400,000 incidents of violence on Dalits were reported between 2009 and 2018.
This number is approximately 6per cent higher than the incidents of violence occurred between 2000 and 2009. Even Covid 19 pandemic could not stop the caste based violence. During the pandemic imposed lockdown, the caste atrocities and caste crimes have significantly increased nationwide. There is a publication titled “No lockdown on caste atrocities-Stories of caste crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic,” which depicts many horrific and disturbing stories of lower caste people or Dalits who are victimised by the caste dominance.
The Dalit Human Rights Defenders (DHRDNet) Network collects as many as 60 real life stories from seven Indian States such as Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Overall, the book gives a crestfallen message of how caste dynamics control the socio psychological, legal and structural aspects of society. In one of the stories like “Young Dalit voice silenced for water” a young Dalit was brutally killed by upper caste because of water issues in Gujarat. In another story “She May Never Walk Again”, a Dalit girl was raped and thrown near a water tank by ‘upper’ caste offenders. In “Beaten for being thirsty”, a young Dalit man and his mother were brutally assaulted for demanding water from a public tap in their village in Rajasthan.
“The tragic tale of an ideal Dalit youth” and “Love murdered by a caste hammer” are the stories based on honour killing. In the two stories such as “A Crime in an ambulance” and “Gang raped in quarantine centre” the vulnerable status of Dalit women is highlighted.
These real life stories are meant to find out the root cause of the caste crimes and to ensure legal justice to victims. These 60 stories emphasize the role of police, legal gaps and poor administration to control these crimes .The role of police and legal system are always questioned on their stand on caste based justice. For Example: As per prisons data, two in three prisoners i.e 69per cent and undertrials i.e 65per cent in India are from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes or Other Backward Castes.
And as per the data by National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT), out of the 125 deaths in police custody, 60per cent belong to poor and marginalised communities. We understand that caste system is an endogamous and hierarchical system with the practice of purity and pollution. Dominance is the key feature of caste system. Caste violence is one of the methods of caste dominance. Traditional form of symbolic order of dominance was untouchabilty. Now the upper caste people try to maintain their dominance in other forms like atrocities and violence.
In my personal opinion, caste based violence and atrocities are the new symbolic order of dominance by upper caste people. There is a long debate on caste discrimination and caste violence. Many scholars argue that caste crimes like untouchabilty are the form of new structural violence.
The various forms of caste based violence are murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction, robbery, arson and physical assault. Mob lynching is also another form of caste violence. Mob lynching is community based as well as caste based crime.Recently four men, including a Hindu priest, have been charged with the rape and murder of a 9-year-old Dalit girl in Delhi. According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, more than 32,000 cases of alleged rape against women were reported in 2019 only. It is true that caste violence has been increasing. The forms of violence can be defined as physical, mental, psychological, cultural, economic and political violence and so on.
Further, it is to understand that despite many acts and laws the pendency cases related to caste atrocities is high and conviction rate is very low. As per the National Crime Record Bureau, 1, 70,000 cases are pending trials in 2019. Further, 2, 04,191 cases were up for trial in 2019 and only 6per cent i.e. 12,498 cases had the trial completed.Yes, it is a fact that incidents of caste violence occur more in rural areas. But now they take place in urban areas also. The reasons like caste patriarchy, exploitation, untouchabilty, achieving political power and economic opportunities such as land or water supply are the few out of many which prompt the caste violence.
But out of these land and untouchabilty stand as the strong reasons which instigate caste conflict. Now each caste group is trying to empower itself. In the process of empowerment many castes try to subjugate and ignore others. Simultaneously, an insidious hostility is growing.
(Dr Parida is an Assistant Professor. email id – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Courtesy : The Pioneer
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