Bharat Bandh: BJP asks party leaders to reach out to Dalits
Facing heat from the Dalit community during April 2 Bharat bandh, the state BJP government and the party have extended an olive branch to the community and started a damage control exerciseUpdated: Apr 13, 2018 22:19 IST
Hindustan Times, Barmer
Facing heat from the Dalit community during April 2 Bharat bandh, the state BJP government and the party have extended an olive branch to the community and started a damage control exercise.
The BJP has directed its leaders to spend time with members of the Dalit community and spend nights in the Dalit-dominated villages, besides directing the party’s youth wing to organize community dinners with the members of the Dalit community.
The state government too is busy preparing to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanti on April 13 , in a big way to appease the Dalits.
On April 2, a nationwide bandh was called by Dalit organizations to protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling that they say dilutes the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The protests turned violent after the demonstrators clashed with law enforcement agencies.
Following the violence, police have lodged hundreds of cases against protestors in the state and arrested people allegedly involved in the violence.
The police crackdown on the community has created fear among the Dalits, activists say.
Despite tracking people who instigated the violence, police are unnecessarily harassing Dalits due to which members of community are living under fear, some of them say.
Police are intentionally registering cases against Dalits to harass them, activists say and add that investigations be handed over to an independent probe agency.
Considering the situation, state authorities say that no action will be taken against innocent people.
“Action will be taken against only those who have taken law in their hands and caused disturbance to law and order situation during the Bharat bandh on April 2,” they say.
With crack down on the members of the Dalit community, the enthusiasm to celebrate for Ambedkar Jayanti, is missing.
Every year, members of the Dalit community start preparing for the Ambedkar Jayanti celebration more than a couple weeks ahead but this year, no decision has been taken on the hosting the event.
On Thursday, Barmer district collector and police chief held a meeting with the members of the Dalit community along with the leaders of other communities and appealed to the Dalits to celebrate the Ambedkar Jayanti with enthusiasm.
Baba Sahab Ambedkar Jayanti Committee members Suresh Jatav, says that this time there is no enthusiasm among the members of the Dalit community about the Ambedkar Jayanti as a large number of people are in jail or are facing police action.
Usually members of the community used get support from the authorities for celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti, but this is the first time that authorities have called Dalits and are organizing the annual event, Jatav tells HT.
Apart from official efforts, state BJP leaders have directed the party’s youth wing to organize community dinners with members of the Dalit community.
Swai Kumawat, district president of Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, says they got the direction from the party leadership on April 10, to organize community dinners with Dalits.
He, however, refuses to comment on the reason behind the decision.
Similarly, party leaders have also been directed to spend time with members of the Dalit community.
Barmer BJP parliamentarian Col. Sonaram Choudhary, admitts that Dalit anger is a loss to the party.
Following the April 2 incident, members of the Dalit community are living in fear, he says.
Choudhary says that he met the chief minister and informed her about the ground situation in the district.
People from a specific community are harassing the Dalits by lodging false cases on them, he says.
He alleges that people from that specific community have beaten the Dalits during the Bharat bandh and set their vehicles on fire.
“I have requested the chief minister to direct the officials to take action only against people who are guilty and not to harass the members of the Dalit community, otherwise it will be a big loss for the party,” he says.
The party has given direction to the BJP MPs’ to spend a night in villages that have sizeable number of Dalit community, Choudhary says.
He further says that he himself met with the members of the Dalit community and assured them that no action will be taken against people who are innocent.
First Published: Apr 13, 2018 22:19 IST