Mumbai: Dalit Participants Asked To Refrain From Chanting 'Jai Bhim', Claim Harassment At Pride March

Mumbai: Dalit Participants Asked To Refrain From Chanting 'Jai Bhim', Claim Harassment At Pride March

They accused the organisers of turning an event that was meant to draw attention to the rights of homosexuals into just a celebration.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, February 05, 2024, 02:20 PM IST
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Mumbai: Dalit Participants Asked To Refrain From Chanting 'Jai Bhim', Claim Harassment At Pride March | File Pic/AFP

Participants at Saturday’s Pride March in the city reported an altercation between two groups of marchers over political slogans at the event. Marchers who describe themselves as Ambedkarite Queers alleged that members of the Humsafar Trust, a part of the Mumbai Queer Pride Collective, which organised the event, attempted to seize posters of BR Ambedkar held by them and asked them to refrain from chanting ‘Jai Bhim’.

Harshwardhan Bhaskar, a media student, said that a small group of marchers were carrying posters of Ambedkar. “They stopped us, and when we asked them the reason they said it was political,” said Bhaskar, who accused the organisers of turning an event that was meant to draw attention to the rights of homosexuals into just a celebration.

Those at the rally had been asked not to raise other political issues

Organisers replied that there was a general rule that the permissions from the police and other government authorities were for a certain cause – in this case, gay rights – and those at the rally had been asked not to raise other political issues.

However, the Ambedkarite group insisted that the event could not cut away its political purpose. “The whole march is a political assertion of rights. Ambedkarite queers exist,” said Mayura Saavi, an independent journalist who described herself as a gender-fluid queer.

“This reflects not only a poor understanding of Dr Ambedkar and his works but also a misconstrued perception of the essence of Pride March,” said Saavi. Harish Iyer of the Humsafar Trust said that he was not aware of the quarrel.

'Muslim queers face double the amount of discrimination'

“There are, for instance, Muslim queers who face double the amount of discrimination. We had told people right (about desisting from political slogans) at the beginning and everything was put in words,” said Iyer.

But Saavi called what happened at the march, ‘harassment’. “Similar to other spaces, the queer movement in India is disproportionately influenced by the so-called ‘upper’ caste and upper-class communities, leading to the marginalisation and harassment of queer individuals from scheduled caste communities,” Saavi said.

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