A Day To Pledge To Save Democracy, Save Constitution!
On 14th April 2018, the whole country will observe the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, the crusader for democracy, author of India’s Constitution, and fighter for equality and justice for the Dalits and for women.
But in the month of April 2018, there is daily evidence of the extreme threat to the values of ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’ that Ambedkar wanted the Constitution to represent. The April 2 Bharat Bandh against the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was met with organized brutality and violence by feudal-casteist forces as well as by the police in BJP-ruled states. Eight protesters were killed in these attacks, many injured, and thousands arrested. On the day following the bandh, organized violence by dominant caste mobs continued in Rajasthan, with homes of sitting and former Dalit MLAs being burnt down and Dalit homes and hostels attacked.
On April 10, a call by some dominant caste outfits for a countrywide bandh against reservations was largely a flop show. But even as BJP President Amit Shah declares that ‘BJP will never scrap reservations nor let anyone else scrap reservations’, reservations are already being nullified in Universities in the name of ‘autonomy’ and other Government measures.
The BJP Government in Supreme Court had avoided challenging the claim that the Atrocities Act is “misused” to file “false” cases; it had avoided pointing out that Dalit massacre and atrocity cases are denied justice because of biased and apathetic investigation and prosecution. Now, as a face-saving measure the Government has agreed to file a review petition against the Supreme Court order diluting the Atrocities Act.
In every other way also the BJP Government is attacking and curtailing Dalits’ hard-won rights. The allocations in this year’s Union Budget have fallen short by Rs 1,14,717 crores for SCs and Rs 54,676 crores for STs from the mandated requirements. The Modi Government’s failure to disburse funds over the last three years for the Post-Matric Scholarship scheme to the tune of more than Rs 8000 crore (for SC students) and Rs 3,156 crore (for ST students) has resulted in a crisis for over 51 lakh Dalit students and over 20 lakh adivasi students across the country.
Like Union Minister VK Singh earlier, another Union Minister Anant Hegde compared Dalit protesters to dogs. Hegde also openly declared that the Modi Government would change the Constitution. Meanwhile, in BJP-ruled states, serial attacks on statues of Ambedkar continue.
Even as Dalit MPs of the BJP are forced to reflect the anger of their constituencies and speak up publicly about the insecurity and violence faced by Dalits in BJP-ruled states, Modi has claimed that his Government has given the “maximum honour” to Ambedkar compared to any previous Government. Ironically, Modi’s attempts to appropriate Ambedkar while his supporters attack Dalits, is reflected by the UP CM who ordered that ‘Ramji’ be used prominently in Ambedkar’s name, and vandals who painted Ambedkar’s statue saffron in Badaun (UP) to imply that Ambedkar supported the Hindutva ideology of the Sangh Parivar. In the Sanghi imagination they not only want to paint Ambedkar saffron – they want to replace the Constitution in his hand with the Manusmriti, which is why Modi, in his article on Golwalkar, referred to Ambedkar as the ‘modern Manu’.
In Uttar Pradesh, 38 fake encounter murders have been committed by the police. The Chief Minister who boasts that criminals will be shot dead without a trial, has meanwhile decided that he and his party leaders can be declared innocent without a trial – and withdrawn criminal cases from against himself and his ministers! A young woman who complained of gangrape against an Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA from Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar (notorious for his links to the tender and mining mafia) and his men, has been denied justice for a year. She attempted suicide outside the Chief Minister’s residence even as her father was arrested by the police on a false charge, and then killed in custody at the behest of the MLA’s brother. The MLA, without any fear of arrest, is holding meetings with the UP CM and is calling the rape victim and her father ‘lowly people’. The UP CM has also withdrawn rape charges from against a former Union Minister ‘Swami’ Chinmayanand who was accused of raping a woman in his ashram.
In Kathua in Jammu, an 8-year-old girl Ashifa was drugged, tortured, gang-raped and murdered in a temple, and the J&K Crime Branch have arrested Special Police Officer and others who are accused of the heinous crime, which is even more brutal than the gangrape on a Delhi bus in 2012. Shockingly, BJP Ministers have joined the Hindu Ekta Manch in waving the Indian tricolor flag to defend the men accused of the crime, while the Bar Association of Kathua physically obstructed the filing of the chargesheet for several hours and the Jammu Bar Association threatened Ashifa’s lawyer and has called a Jammu Bandh in defence of the accused.
Meanwhile, organized anti-Muslim violence, backed by the RSS and BJP, is being seen in West Bengal, Bihar, and Assam, even as RSS outfits hold armed processions threatening violence in many other states. The BJP MLA from Alwar city Banwari Lal Singhal asked Hindu families to bar Muslim families from entering their homes, accusing Muslims of seeking to ‘lure’ Hindu daughters through ‘love jehad’ which is the toxic term used by the BJP for inter-faith love marriages.
Dr Ambedkar had warned that “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. It is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.” The BJP and RSS by attempting to destroy India’s Constitution and democracy and replace it with a fascist “Hindu Rashtra” are trying to take India towards that disaster.
Let us observe Ambedkar Jayanti this year as ‘Save Democracy, Save Constitution’ Day, by pledging to defend the values of the Indian Constitution and democracy from the fascist forces that are seeking to destroy it and impose the values of the Manusmriti on India’s common people, its Dalits, adivasis, minorities and women.