The Indian government has come under attack for atrocities against Dalits. In a debate on Dalit atrocities in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) on Thursday, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh disputed claims of increasing rates of crime against Dalits in India, since Modi’s government took charge. The parliamentary debate was held after a series of violent attacks on caste grounds against Dalits over the last few months.
One of the brutal cases ‘the Una incident’ in Gujarat has triggered nationwide protests and solidarity demonstrations in several countries including the United States. The attack on four young Dalit men, who were skinning cows killed by a lion, involved mob beatings with sticks and rods for several hours. The Dalits were also insulted with caste-based derogatory words, and forced into a vehicle, where beatings continued with an iron. Human rights organisations accuse the police of complicity and involvement in the atrocities, as the police present took no action to stop the violence, and eventually locked up the four Dalit men in police custody.
Dalit activists and groups from all parts of India came to Gujarat to participate in a rally on 14 and 15 August in solidarity with the Una Dalits. Across India, so-called ‘cow vigilantes’, are spreading violence and committing atrocities against Dalits in the name of ‘protection of cows’.
In a New York Times’ editorial, President Modi is called to task “to break the shameful silence against the cow–vigilantes and reset his political compass on a course for economic justice, dignity and justice”.
The Una case, which has exposed extreme police negligence and complicity, has prompted the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the National Movement on Dalit justice – NCDHR to issue a briefing on standards for investigation and protection of victims and witnesses in incidents of caste atrocities. The briefing highlights standards and safeguards in investigation of caste atrocity cases and the steps required to be taken against the police for negligence.
A series of cases of caste-based violence in India have been reported recently. This includes the case of a gang-rape of a 20 year-old Dalit woman in Haryana by the same group of men for the second time in three years. The perpetrators were still walking around freely despite strong evidence of their crime.
Human Rights Groups criticizes Gujarat Police over Dalit Flogging (Economic Times)
Modi and India’s Dalits (New York Times editorial)
Crimes against Dalits have increased under Modi Regime: Rahul Gandhi (Times of India)
Fact finding report- Una case (People’s Union for Civil Liberties)