The death of George Floyd on May 25 brought many Americans to the street. Even Indian celebrities felt the urge to tweet Black Lives Matter. The fact that one can be moved by the death of a black man to police brutality in America, while staying silent on atrocities on minorities and Dalits in their own backyard shows a degree of selectivity that’d make one’s head spin.
According to the latest NCRB data which is available, India in 2018 reported almost 42,793 cases of atrocities against Dalits which included near about 800 murder cases.
Since January 2020, many cases of attacks on Dalits were reported in India even when we are fighting this pandemic. However, many of these cases got no attention from Indian celebrities – barring the activists – and no one spoke up against these atrocities.
India did not even see outrage on social media, because they did not know about it.
On the 9th of June, in Pimpri Chinchwad, Viraj Jagtap was allegedly murdered for having an affair with the daughter of one of the accused who belonged to an upper caste. He was taken to a hospital, but he died during treatment. Accused allegedly proceeded to chase Viraj and hit him with an iron rod on his head and also attacked him with a stone.
In another case in Nagpur district, another Dalit youth named Arvind Bansod allegedly ended his life by drinking poison on 29th May.
On May 27, Bansod and his friend Gajanan Raut, stopped near the gas agency and started clicking photos of the outlet. Agency owner, Mithilesh Umarkar and his two friends objected to the duo clicking photos. Later the they allegedly slapped and abused Bansod. After the incident, Bansod asked Raut to go and get petrol filled in the motorbike. In the meantime, the he went to a nearby shop from where he purchased pesticides and consumed it.
In another incidence on 13th May in Beed, 3 people from the Pardhi community were killed over a land dispute.
Although prima facie these incidences look like a land dispute. Many times, even the court does not consider the angle of caste violence and tag them as land disputes because of the lack of evidence. However, it is an open secret that many of these so-called land dispute killings happen when the ‘lower castes’ assert their right on some portion of land.
Adding to the list, in UP on 6th June 17-year-old Vikas Jatav was allegedly murdered by the four men from the upper caste after an argument over entry into a temple in the village.
On 8th June in Kerala, a 20-year-old Dalit man was seriously injured after he was attacked with a sword, allegedly by his lover's brother who opposed their relationship.
The cases just do not stop here on February 12 in Tamil Nadu, 24-year-old R Sakthivel, a resident of Karai Village, was allegedly lynched by a mob after they blamed him for flashing a woman.
On February 16, Panna Ram and 26-year-old Disha Ram were thrashed in Rajasthan for stealing money. The brutal incidence was shot, and the video went viral after which police took the action.
On 14th January, in MP a Dalit youth named Dhanprasad Ahirwar was allegedly set ablaze by his neighbours and he later succumbed to burns.
On 18th February in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district, a 20-year-old Dalit boy, Rahul Meghwal, was allegedly beaten up and his head partly tonsured forcefully by few upper-caste men for meeting female friend, who belonged to an upper-caste family.
On January 5th a girl from the Dalit community was allegedly gang-raped and murdered and her body was found hanging from a tree in Saira village of Modasa on January 5.
In many of the above-mentioned cases although, caste does not the prima-facie reason for the violence. But deep down there, behind such brutal atrocities lies the mentality that one can easily get away after doing anything against the oppressed.
Our denial of caste prejudices, unaccountability and ignorance towards these issues are adding up to the existing issues of caste discrimination and violence. These killings are not the only way of our injustice with Dalits as many tactics like social ostracism, denial of using public land are also used against them.
One can see these ‘petty’ murders reported by media every now and then, but our failure to acknowledge them shows the fact that we do not care about them.
Why because they won’t get us likes and RTs on social media? Is the purpose of speaking about injustice to get some social media cred?
Recently, when reporters asked Canada's PM Justin Trudeau about George Floyd protest and its handling by the Trump administration, he replied, “It is a time for us as Canadians to recognize that we, too, have our challenges, that black Canadians and racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day.”
Although one cannot definitely deny what happened with George Floyd was wrong, but expressing solidarity without addressing injustice in your backyard is similar to tweeting about the oppression of black people is like tweeting #IamaMigrant while refusing to help out your domestic help in times of trouble.
There are a thousand George Floyds around you. Just open your eyes and check your privilege.