As ironic and incongruous as it sounds, a kabaddi match in Gurugram played on friendly terms to promote "inter-caste unity" turned into a violent assault on the participating Dalits by the competing team of Yadavs. The Indian Express, in a report, detailed how, when the team comprising members of the Chamar and Valmiki communities started winning, the other team assaulted the Dalits, fired shots in the air and hurled abuses at them.
More than 10 people were injured and an FIR has been filed under sections 147 (rioting), 149 (offence by member of unlawful assembly), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as sections 25, 54, and 59 of the Arms Act, and sections 3, 33 and 89 of the SC/ST Act, at Sector 29 police station against eight people.
The "friendly" tournament was a competition where over 30 teams from many villages and castes participated, including Dalits, Yadavs, Jats, Gurjars, Banias, and Agrawals, the IE report added.
Unfortunately this isn't a one-off incident.
Several members of the Dalit community were severely injured when a mob attacked them at Samter village, while they were returning home after attending a protest rally in Una town of Gir Somnath district on Monday. At least 12 Dalits were injured and around eight of them suffered severe wounds. The attack came after the 10-day long 350-km foot march from Ahmedabad that culminated at the epicentre of Dalit protests at Una.
Police arrested 22 people, on charges of rioting and assaulting, in connection with the attack in which cops were also targeted. The policemen came under attack when they tried to control the violent mob that targeted the Dalits.
Some of them have also been booked for attempt to murder, said Una police inspector HG Vaghela, who was injured while trying to control the mob.
The victims claimed that the residents of Samter attacked them to avenge the arrest of 12 people of the village in connection with last month's Una Dalit flogging case. Of the 30-odd people arrested till date in the Dalit thrashing case, 12 are from Samter, located near Mota Samadhiyala, where cow vigilantes assaulted a group of Dalits for allegedly skinning a dead cow, said the victims.
On Monday, thousands of Dalits took a pledge not to remove cow carcasses and to launch a rail roko stir if five acres of land for each family was not granted by the Gujarat government within a month.
After the brutal assault on Dalit youngsters for skinning a cow carcass in Una in the Gir-Somnath district of Gujarat, members of the community staged protests in the state even as it snowballed across Saurashtra on 19 July. A policeman was killed in mob violence. State transport buses were targeted while three more members of the community allegedly attempted suicide.
Even the Rajya Sabha, on 20 July, wasn't spared from the uproar over the issue of rising Dalit atrocities in Gujarat. The Congress and BSP demanded answers from the government regarding the violent protests in Gujarat. The Lok Sabha too discussed this issue. Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge requested Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow the discussion during the zero hour. Suresh Kodikunnil of the Congress said a "Dalit-mukt Bharat" is the RSS agenda. He added that the BJP-sponsored attack is going on in Gujarat and the state government has failed to protect the Dalits in the state.
Swati Bhan writing for Firstpost observed that the widespread protests in Gujarat only meant that caste wars were back to haunt Gujarat and its political establishment.
In a series on 'what it’s like to be a Dalit in independent India' produced by Hindustan Times, PhD student Dhiren Borisa spelled out his community's lack of freedom and speaking up for themselves, which quite sums up why Dalits are being attacked in the country.
With inputs from PTI