On 8 September around 11 am Munna Das was travelling by motorcycle through Gumhariyatand, Tisri in the Jamua district of Jharkhand. A mob of people on motorcycles came from behind, surrounded him, kicked his motorcycle, and, pointing towards the sacks loaded on the motor cycle, asked, “What is in these?” The motor cycle and sacks fell on the ground, and Munna Das himself fell from the force of the blow.
Munna Das replied that the sacks contained hides of buffaloes, bulls, and goats. Some in the mob shouted Gau Mata ki Jai (Long live Cow-Mother) and started hitting him with fisticuffs and kicks. They hit him so badly that his nose began to bleed. Munna Das tried to tell them that he was a Dalit who traded in the skins of dead cattle, and this was his hereditary trade. One of his assailants said, strip him naked and see if he is telling the truth (i.e to check if he is circumcised and therefore a Muslim). Munna Das was forced to strip naked to ‘prove’ he was not a Muslim. A little further ahead, they beat him again, and again stripped him, and threatened him with dire consequences if he went to the police to report the attack.
This incident is a classic case of an atrocity against a Dalit man – stripping naked as an act of humiliation is among the most common atrocities inflicted on Dalits. But in this case there is also a communal twist. The idea that the RSS-BJP cadres can brazenly claim the ‘right’ to strip a man to ‘check’ if he is Muslim, without facing any action from the police, is a comment on the state of India’s democracy.
When CPI(ML) came to know of this incident, Party leaders went to the Tisri thana to register an FIR, but the thanedar refused to register an FIR. On the contrary, he started threatening Munna Das, and showed him a representation from the RSS organization, Bajrang Dal demanding his arrest. The constable clearly sided with the RSS, accusing Munna of indulging in illegal work.
If the goons from the BJP were really concerned about cows and bulls, they could have agitated for an additional allowance for farmers for cattle rearing. Goondaism in the name of gau-raksha (cattle protection) is merely a ploy to tyrannise and attack dalits. Even today in most places, traditional methods are used to get rid of dead cattle, or they are left to rot. Munna Das and thousands like him have to do this work in the most inhuman conditions, and it is the governments that are supported by these same feudal and communal goons, which are responsible for this. The people baying for ‘gau raksha’ have no aim except to spread communal tensions. They, and their Parties, have no concern for the welfare of dalits, farmers, or cattle.
This is not an isolated incident in the district or the State. Earlier, in Gawan block of Jamua, people from the BJP have beaten up people in the name of ‘gau raksha’. In Ramgarh and Nirsa they are stopping vehicles transporting cattle and trying to create trouble and spread communal tension. The people they are attacking come from extremely poor backgrounds, and in every community it is the dalits who are engaged in this occupation. Along with inflaming communal passions, the BJP is using this matter for social polarisation against the poor. Farmers who want to sell cattle which are not of use are specially harassed by this ploy of the BJP. Just before the Lok Sabha elections the BJP candidate Ravindra Rai along with the entire Sangh Parivar tried to gain political mileage by creating communal tensions in Birni block on the issue of the Ramnavami flag route.
The second pillar supporting communal-social polarisation is anti-adivasi polarisation. In entire Jharkhand the BJP is making capital out of strong anti-adivasi polarisation so that it wins all the seats reserved for adivasis. With great cunning they attack the social unity of the adivasis by giving issues a ‘Christian adivasi versus Sarna adivasi’ colouring. Before the Lok Sabha elections during Christmas, they succeeded in fanning up communal hatred in Ranchi over the the issue of a statue of Mary dressed in ‘Sarna adivasi’ attire. Similarly on the occasion of Eid in July the Sangh Parivar sowed discord between communities by giving a communal colour to a land dispute. They tried to distract attention from the growing dissatisfaction of women and youth against the Modi government by the vicious propaganda of ‘love jehad’ over the case of cheating and domestic violence faced by sportswoman Tara Shahdeo.
All the ruling class Parties surrender to the BJP on these casteist-communal issues. The JVM, JMM, and the Congress are maintaining a deafening silence on the brutal attack by RSS-BJP forces on Munna Das. The entire government machinery is refusing to ensure dignity and justice for Munna Das and for the minority community, by refusing to act against the perpetrators. CPI(ML) exposed the communal ploys of the BJP and organized a dharna in Giridih as well as protests in several blocks of the district. This initiative taken by the CPI(ML) has put the BJP on the defensive in the district.