National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) statement demanding high level judicial probe, release of all innocent dalit-bahujan youth detained /arrested by Maha police, action against those fanning communal hatred:
Bhima Koregaon, widely regarded as one of the most significant historical markers of Dalit resistance against the Peshwai feudalism in Maharashtra, witnessed an unprecedented wave of popular assertion this year, with lakhs of dalits, along with social and political activists from across the country, commemorating 200 years of the uprising and joining the call to confront and defeat the Neo Peshwai of our times. Even as there continues to be varied accounts of the historicity of Bhima Koregaon, what is significant in today’s times is the inspiration to challenge and combat the right-wing ultra nationalist project imposed by the ruling party, along with the Sangh Parivar.
Visibly intimidated by the show of strength and forging of new solidarities by dalit, bahujan, muslim and other progressive sections at Bhima Korgaon, some miscreants acting to protect right wing, dominant caste interests, unleashed a spree of violence and attacked, burnt vehicles of many participants, physically assaulted numerous people, leading to the most unfortunate death of a young man. The scenario of certain right wing groups taking law into their hands, allegedly at the behest of politically influential Hindutva leaders Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote (Samasta Hindu Aghadi), was not unknown to the State Government and Maharashtra police, which should have acted swiftly and in advance to prevent the spate of lawlessness and ensure safety to the participants at Bhima Koregan and neighbouring villages. Instead an unfortunate saga of violence on the dalits unfolded.
The peaceful outpouring on the streets of Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai and Pune, by lakhs of dalits and other progressive citizens, protesting this onslaught on the right to peacefully observe the historical occasions of dalits has become yet another watershed moment in our contemporary history, when communities oppressed since centuries have stood up in the forefront against the forces that are perpetuating casteist and divisive agendas.
However, as a fall-out of their political articulation and assertion, the dalit community in Maharashtra has been targeted enmasse in the past few days. We are deeply outraged that thousands of young (even minors) dalit and bahujan men from Mumbai, Nanded, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Beed have been rounded up by the police, many lathi charged, tortured, cases foisted against them. By numerous accounts, these young men were either by-standers, participants in road-side protests or even ‘picked up’ from bahujan bastis.
NAPM demands that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra must squarely own up responsibility for having failed to contain the right-wing forces in time and allowed matters to precipitate. He must personally intervene to ensure the immediate release of all innocent youth and men arrested across various districts of the state. NAPM also demands a high level judicial probe into the incidents at Bhima Korgaon and prompt action, conviction of instigators of violence and hatred against dalits under SC & ST (PoA) Act, 1989. We register our strong opposition to any demands to regressively amend and dilute the Atrocities Act. NAPM also condemns the media trials as well as crackdown on political and cultural activists who are playing the crucial role of raising people’s consciousness on constitutional values and rights.
NAPM has time and again expressed its unconditional disapproval of the Sangh’s idea of an Akhand Bharat which seeks to dismiss the constitutional ethos, erase the histories and diversities of the marginalized and reintroduce the Manu Smriti in nefarious ways. We re-commit ourselves to the struggle for annihilation of caste, which is not and should not be the responsibility and liability of Dalits alone, but of all progressive sections of society who believe in justice and equity.
It is indeed heartening to see the upsurge and leadership of young people from dalit and other marginalized backgrounds lock horns with the saffron brigade in a politically mature and responsible way. We call upon young people of this country across castes and class, to join hands and defeat the vicious politics of the BJP and its saffron outfits. We shall continue to join forces with all like-minded groups that believe in challenging the unconstitutional vision of the present Govt that has ruined the lives of millions of working class people through its pro-corporate economic policies and resorts to casteist and communal politics to create civil strife for political gains.
- Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
- Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM
- Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and NAPM, Odisha
- Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh VyavasayaVruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre For Labour and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)
- Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
- Gabriele Dietrich, Penn UrimayIyakkam, Madurai and NAPM (Tamilnadu)
- Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, (Tamilnadu)
- Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
- Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, and NAPM, Karnataka
- Maj Gen (Retd)S.G.Vombatkere, Mysuru, NAPM, Karnataka
- Arundhati Dhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh
- Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof.Kusumam NAPM, Kerala
- Anand Mazgaonkar andKrishnakant, ParyavaranSuraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat