Haryana and Dalit atrocity: an insider’s perspective

Shelley Dahiya

Shelly Dahiya is from Haraya’s Rohtak and is a medical practitioner New Delhi.

She can be contacted at dahiyashelley@gmail.com

News of three Dalits being crushed under tractors in Rajasthan just few months ago or more recent incident of a Dalit family forced to strip In Uttar Pradesh have not melted in air yet. But another horrific news of two Dalit children being burnt alive by Rajputs is here and this time it is in another Indian state, Haryana. Incidents of atrocities against Dalits are not new for Haryana. State has witnessed the killing of five Dalits in 2002 in Jhajjar, the burning of Dalit houses in Gohana in 2005, or the killing of two Dalits at Mirchpur in 2010 and many more incidents like that. Incidentally it is the state which I belong and more importantly, I too belong to the same Jat community; who are in most cases perpetrator of these caste based hate crimes.

There is hardly any doubt that leaving aside the issue of patriarchal setup of society (which is no way is a small issue) as a Jat , I am bestowed with certain privileges and those privileges undoubtedly shaped up certain tendencies. In spite of coming from a (self proclaimed) left leaning family, as children we were specially instructed to avoid certain neighborhoods. In my case it was the streets where Chamars (a community considered untouchable by caste Hindus) lived. Needless to say, I never entered the street. If by chance we are forced to cross that area, an unspeakable ‘terror’ gripped in mind. Expecting something unexpected was normal. And this normalization of fear unknowingly and knowingly takes a shape of pathological ‘hatred’; which in return justifies any incident of atrocity against Dalits. 2005, Gohana incident is one such incident where feudal Jats resorted on violence to teach a lesson to increasingly ‘disobedient’ Dalits. So, in many ways process of recognizing Dalits as ‘other’ start quite early and as a result all kinds of apathy looks normal, feels normal.

So, it is not surprising at all that incidents of crimes against Dalits in Haryana are increasing every year. Data of National Crime Records Bureau shows that total number of incidents in 2014 was 830, in 2013, it was 493 and in 2012, it was 252.But what is that idea that created and shaped this hatred in first place? The same people who at many times become subject of ridicule for a stereotype of being only muscleman; increasingly becoming an instrument of oppression and exploitation and proudly own and boast the same identity for which they are ridiculed . In some way, it is their belief that only this identity can safeguard their social domination and status; no matter how misguided these are. And what makes them more lethal is an economic system; which gives them an opportunity to earn easy money because of their ancestral land holdings. A resurgent Dalit population; equipped with little more education and partially better off economic situation whenever tries to come out of this statuesque become vulnerable to attack from these dominant classes ; because dominant class fear for losing their position what they have enjoyed for generations.

So, power structure of the society (eg. Khap) as a whole keeps on institutionalizing this dominance; sometimes in the name of tradition and sometimes in the name of protecting honour . Khap Panchayat, an integral part of the Haryana Society has taken a consistent anti Dalit stand. In October 2002, when 5 Dalits were lynched in nearby area of Jhajjar in broad day light for alleged incident of skinning of a dead cow; it is the Khap along with VHP, Bajrang Dal tried to shield the lynch mob in name of ‘mother Cow’. In several incidents of rape and sexual harassment of Dalit girls by dominant Jats, it is the Khap who brazenly gave justification like ‘mistake done by young boys’ and sided with perpetrators.

In Haryana society, hatred against Dalits (and increasingly against Muslims) is pleasurable for a larger dominant cast; which is coated with an elusive sense of glory, contemporary economic power and also a sense of dilemma of losing all these. All these together shape the form of Haryana politics and directly and indirectly ascertain the need for control of these ‘other’. V K Singh’s comparison of Dalit children death with stoning a dog can be seen from these perspectives of Glory( Dalits are lesser human being), economic status and also sense of danger, insecurity coming out from the relative upward mobility of Dalits and that is why there is the need for control; even with the use of physical violence.





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