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Dalit, Muslim groups in Bengal unite to mark Babri demolition and Ambedkar death anniversary

Around three dozen dalit and Muslim organisations based in various parts of Bengal are coming together to make this initiative successful in Kolkata on December 6.

kolkata Updated: Oct 31, 2017 18:11 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Muslims and Dalits participates in a Dalit rally in Una in Gujarat on August 15, 2016.(HT File Photo)

A number of Muslim and dalit organisations have come together to hold a mega public gathering in Kolkata on December 6 to mourn the demolition of Babri masjid and observe death anniversary of B R Ambedkar simultaneously.

This is the first time an initiative of this kind has been taken in the state. The motto, organisers say, is “to fight manuvadi and brahminical fascism.”

In Bengal, people belonging to scheduled caste (23%) and Muslim (27%) communities comprise nearly half the population.

Read: BJP can’t ignore new zeal in Dalit resistance against caste violence

“Earlier, dalits used to observe Ambedkar’s death anniversary while Muslims mourned the demolition of Babri masjid. This year, we have decided to bring all programmes under one banner and hold a single event on December 6,” said Sukriti Ranjan Biswas, president of Samya, Shanti, Sampriti Mancha (forum for equality, peace and harmony), an amalgamation of dalit and Muslim organisations founded in late 2016.

Around three dozen dalit and Muslim organisations based in various parts of Bengal are coming together to make the initiative successful.

Muslims of Kolkata took part in a rally in September and raised slogan against genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. ( Samir Jana/HT PHOTO )

Biswas - a dalit leader who mostly works among refugees from Bangladesh - alleged that politicians have always used dalits against Muslims for electoral gains. “We will foil their plan,” he said.

Organisers believe that the event will become a major step towards forging a dalit-Muslim unity in Bengal against the BJP and saffron organisations.

The BJP has been in the crosshairs of Dalit and Muslim groups across India after attacks were perpetrated by cow vigilantes groups.

Read: Kolkata emerging as a centre of protest against uniform civil code, national meeting planned on Nov 20

With the BJP being accused of being anti-Dalit - an allegation that stuck after students’ unrest across universities following the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad and reinforced by the flogging of Dalits by cow protection groups at Una in Gujarat - the party is now working hard to change the perception.

Significantly, former central committee member of the banned CPI(Maoist), septuagenarian Purnendu Sekhar Mukherjee, is one of the organisers of the event in Kolkata. Arrested in 2011, Mukherjee was released on bail in 2015.

“Initial steps towards dalit-Muslim unity were taken last year to maintain peace and harmony and defeat divisive campaign by Brahminical fascist forces. With the December 6 rally, we hope to strengthen this unity,” Mohammad Kamrujjaman, general secretary of the Mancha, told HT.

Read: Dalit-Muslim unity is historically unsustainable, says senior BJP leader

Incidentally, several organisations set to participate in the event earlier came together and took out a rally in Kolkata in support of the Rohingya Muslims. Thousands marched in the city protesting the Centre’s stand on the refugees from Myanmar.

The organisers said they have informed Kolkata Police about the event. The gathering will be held at Rani Rashmoni Road in central Kolkata.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 18:11 IST