Nine-year-old Indra, a fifth-grader from Rajasthan, was born into a caste family in a marginalized Dalit community and was punished for this “crime”.
Vika’s Parasram Meshram | Even After 75 years of independence, Dalits face atrocities in the country. Such incidents happen every day. According to government figures in Parliament, over 1.3 million cases of atrocities against Dalits were reported in the country between 2018 and 2020, with Uttar Pradesh recording the highest number of cases. Bihar and Madhya Pradesh follow. In the rest of the country, that number is relatively lower. But the reality is that the number of cases against Dalits or low castes is not decreasing but increasing. Our leaders, our governments, make promises about this, but it is only part of a tradition of empty promises. It is important to remember that only 20 percent of registered cases reach a decision. More than half of the cases disappear or remain unsolved due to social pressure.
Nine-year-old Indra, a fifth-grader from Rajasthan, was born into a caste family in a marginalized Dalit community and was sentenced for this “crime” on July 20 this year. Born of a low caste, he was not allowed to drink water from the water jug set up by the school’s supposedly feudal teacher. Unknowingly he tried to get this right and the teacher who punished Indra beat him so badly that despite the best efforts of the doctors, Indra died on August 13, two days before the independence of Amrutsav of India. Although police say they have not yet found any concrete evidence that he was beaten for this reason, some villagers and children who studied with Indra say the police are lying and being pressured.
It is hoped that the case of the “murder” of this child, who lived in a village in Rajasthan’s Jalore district, will come to a logical conclusion. But the incident of his death, which occurred just two days before Independence Day, also raises questions. The incident is shameful and it is hypocritical to say that democracy is getting stronger. It seemed the PM would mention this in his speech but his address was ‘Bolachi Kadhi Ani Bolacha Bhaat‘ (all talk and no appearances).
This event is a poignant example of the problems facing the country and society, and also reminds us that the problem of social inequality is also necessary and needs to be included in the definition of development. Unfortunately, whenever development is discussed, it is limited to food, clothing and shelter. Otherwise, our guides talk about roads, yell for toilets and tap water in every house. Yes, all these things are necessary for our development, but that is not development. Somewhere social considerations should also become part of our understanding of development.
The curse of social inequality must be lifted from our lives, which is an essential requirement for human development. The roads we must pass to get to the development highway we have chosen are neglected. dr Babasaheb Ambedkar gave us the constitution based on liberty, equality and fraternity. We must also remember that he warned that our political liberties are in jeopardy if we do not respect social liberties. He said that we have already lost our freedom through the betrayal of our own people and betrayal is not just political. The truth is that those who reject or ignore social equality are also traitors. Today, those who deceive us include those who continue to widen the gap of social inequality based on caste, religion, and Varna class.
It is true that from time to time our mentors have called for reducing social inequality, but how much have we heard and understood? It is necessary to hold the hands of the socially backward in order to stand behind them in the race for development. But beyond that, it is important to raise awareness that those whom we or the leaders of society consider backward or untouchable or inferior to us are human beings like us. To think that they are in any way inferior to us is to deceive ourselves and commit crimes against humanity.
Indra from Surna village in Jalore was punished for a crime he never committed because he was of lower caste. The criminals who killed Indra believe in social inequality. Indra’s father, Devram Meghwal, says that even in the 21st century, he has to travel miles from home to have his hair cut, as the village ‘barbers’ consider him inferior. This punishment of traveling miles for a haircut may not compare to the “punishment” Indra received, but the concept of high-low divides our society. So our society is getting weaker and weaker. When will our leadership understand this truth?
Not mentioning “Indra” in the Independence Day speech is not just a mistake. The truth is that our social consciousness is corroding. It is true that a tribal woman is our President today. We can be proud of that. It will be a symbol of empowerment, but it’s just a symbol. The sign must be true. This will happen when Devram does not have to travel miles to have his hair cut, when drinking water from the bowl of his supposedly high-caste teacher is not considered a crime for any other Indra.