Athawale to appeal in SC against HC order on banning Dalit
Union minister of state for social justice and head of one of the factions of Republican Party of India, Ramdas Athawale on Thursday reiterated that he would file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order of the Bombay high court banning use of term ‘Dalit’ in official works and also in media.
Athawale, who was in Nagpur asserted that there was nothing wrong with the word ‘Dalit’ and he didn’t think it was derogatory. “All it connotes the condition of those deprived of education, social status and justice. My supporters called me and opposed the high court verdict banning the use of term Dalit. I will go for an appeal to the apex court in this regard soon,” said Athawale.
The RPI leader said that the word was in use for a long time and several organisations, like Dalit Panther, Dalit Sena adopted it because no one found it objectionable. He also pointed that petitioner Pankaj Meshram who filed the case in high court bench in Nagpur was a Buddhist. But every Scheduled Castes person may not necessarily be Buddhists.
According to him, the term Harijan coined by Mahatma Gandhi was laudable but faced public opposition as a Harijan was treated as outcast and even a ‘Hari’ part did not ensure entry into Hindu temples or use of common water source or stop discrimination. “So what is needed is change of mindset of the higher castes, there is nothing in the word,” he remarked.
On Tuesday, the Union ministry of information and broadcasting had told the media to “refrain from using the nomenclature Dalit” and, instead, use only the Constitutional term, ‘Scheduled Caste’.
Rajendra Gavai, chief of another faction of Republican Party of India welcomed the decision of the court to ban the word of “Dalit” in media and government work. “I would respect the court order and not show any dissent,” he further said.
On the Bharat Bandh called by upper castes in north India in protest against the restoration of stringent provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities (against SC/ST) Act 1989, the union minister ruled out any dilution of the law. “As a minister of social welfare, I will take all possible measures against misuse of the Act but there is no way any provision of the Act could be revoked,” Athawale said.