Protesters burn effigies near Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on Monday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Protesters burn effigies near Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on Monday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Bharat Bandh brings India to a standstill: 3 reasons why Dalits are angry

Several Dalit groups had called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday, demanding restoration of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to its original form.
UPDATED ON APR 03, 2018 10:49 AM IST

Nine people were killed in clashes on Monday as Dalit groups – angered over an alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act – carried out protests across several northern states, even as the Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its recent judgment in the matter.

Clashes with the police, attacks on buses and government property, and blockades of trains and roads were reported across states including Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Bihar.

Read: Bharat Bandh: What happened where during Dalit protests

The Bharat Bandh showed that there is severe resentment among the Dalits over several issues. Here’s a statistical look at what ails the community:

1) Objective look

The conviction rate has come down at a time when the share of false cases under this category has gone down. So, there could be objective basis for a perception that the state is not doing enough to ensure justice in such cases.

2) Social discrimination

Atrocities against Dalits are not isolated events. Caste-based discrimination is ingrained in Indian society. A 2016 survey conducted in Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai shows that a disconcertingly large proportion of non-Dalit people (or their families) admitted to practising untouchability, which is explicitly forbidden by law.

3) Insecurity among educated youth

That the socio-economic condition of Dalits has improved over time is true. But this advance has also created aspirations and hence insecurities. Statistics from a 2016 CSDS-Lokniti survey among 15-34 year olds shows the feeling of being discriminated on the basis of caste was bigger among graduate Dalits than in the community as a whole.

A cocktail of growing feelings of denial of justice, persistence of caste-based oppression and heightened sense of discrimination among educated Dalits, rather than conspiracy theories can help understand what led to these protests.

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