Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

Dalit Revolution

2018 is the year of Dalit Revolution. Dalits have proved themselves equal to others in calling bandhs and enforcing them.
First it was in Maharashtra. On 1/1/2018 Dalits celebrated 200th anniversary of victory of Dalit soldiers of East India Company over Peshwa’s army at Bhima Koregaon on 1/1/1818. Some groups attacked Dalits who had gathered for a rally. There was stone-pelting and violence. Prakash Ambedkar called for Maharashtra Bandh on 3/1/2018 and was successful.
Then it was Bharat Bandh called by different groups. Supreme Court order on 22/3/2018 diluting stringent provisions of The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, commonly known as SC/ST Act, and stopping immediate arrests, led to anger among Dalits and many Dalit groups called for Bharat Bandh on 2/4/2018. Dalit ministers and MPs wanted central government to file a review petition in Supreme Court. There was violence in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. As per reports there were nine deaths.
Centre has filed a review petition in Supreme Court. Supreme Court refused to stay the changes.
In UP, Dalit MPs have written against UP CM Yogi Adityanath to PM Narendra Modi. BJP fears losing Dalit votes.
Bandhs are bad. Politicians and communities like Gujjars, Jats and Patels have called for bandhs and caused damage and death to people. Governments have been soft or complicit with people who called for bandhs. Sometimes state governments have called for bandhs. Such governments should have been dismissed immediately.
Dalits by calling for Bharat Bandh and enforcing it have proved they are equal to communities like Gujjars, Jats and Patels. After Modi became PM there were attacks on Dalits in the name of cow protection. Before Modi became PM there were attacks on Dalits but they did not receive much publicity mainly because there were no video clips. New Dalit leaders are emerging and some of them are openly calling for violence against their adversaries, enemies and oppressors.

Lingayats as minority

Karnataka Government headed by K. Siddaramaiah has recognised Lingayats as minority and has asked Central Government headed by Narendra Modi to recognise Lingayats as minority. Murugha Mutt’s Shivamurthy Murugarajendra Swamiji has submitted a memorandum to BJP President Amit Shah seeking minority status to Lingayats from Centre. Lingayat scholar S. M. Jaamdar said Lingayats are not Hindus. Lingayats are followers of Basava. They bury their dead. They do not have idols. They do not believe in rebirth, heaven or hell. Veerashaivas are not Lingayats.
Karnataka Government has also recognised Veerashaivas as minority.
It is election time. When Congress was in power at Centre it had not recognised Lingayats as minority. RSS does not favour minority status to Lingayats. Modi Government is in a quandary. Any decision or no decision will offend a large section of people. Votes can be lost. Dream of Congress-Free India will receive a setback.
Lingayats are about 17% in Karnataka. They do not have much presence outside Karnataka.
Article 29 of the Constitution of India is about the Protection of interests of minorities. Article 30 gives religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
In Karnataka Hindus whose mother tongue is Konkani, Tulu, Kodava, Malayalam, Tamil or Telugu have linguistic minority status and have established educational institutions.
In India Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Zoroastrians are recognised as minorities. Bahais and many tribal religions are not recognised as minorities. Ramakrishna Mission had claimed minority status in West Bengal. In 1981 Justice B. C. Roy of Calcutta High Court declared Ramakrishna Mission a minority. In 1985 a division bench of Calcutta High Court upheld that decision. The case went to Supreme Court. On 2/7/1995 Supreme Court declared Ramakrishna Mission is Hindu and not a minority.

Harjit Masih is right

Right is right even though nobody is right. Wrong is wrong even though everybody is wrong.

Truth is not a matter of numbers. Lunar eclipse takes place during full moon. Everybody saying lunar eclipse takes place during new moon does not make it true.

Sushma Swaraj was wrong about 39 Indians in Mosul and is wrong about Harjit Masih. So amount of subterfuge and convoluted and twisted reasoning can make her right.

Harjit Masih had told the government officials about ISIS killing 39 Indians. They wanted to suppress the truth. The government did not want the country to know the truth. Modi government had taken over on 26/5/2014 and it did not want bad news of the death of Indians in Mosul to be known. For long it suppressed the truth.

Harjet Masih was part of the group that was abducted in 2014 while trying to escape an ISIS attack on Mosul on 11/6/2014. After he returned to India, the government had kept him in “protective custody” as Foreign Minister had told parliament in November 2014. Harjit Masih was told family members of other Indians were angry with him. He wondered why they were angry with him.

The officers who dealt with him in protective custody lured him with the promise of a job and told him to say that the others were not dead. They told him to say I don’t know about the others and that he escaped. He was treated well while in protective custody during which he was kept in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Greater Noida.

Out of protective custody Harjit Masih went public with death of 39 Indians. Modi government hit by having cases of trafficking registered against him by the families of 39 deceased. His father died because of this tension. He had to spend six months in jail.

Sushma Swaraj had personally met the families of the abducted persons several times and assured them that the government was “fully and continuously engaged” and “every possible effort” was being made to ensure their release.

On 14/5/2015 Sushma Swaraj contradicted Harjit Masih. She said the Indians were alive. “We had six sources before. Now we have eight sources. All say Indians are alive. There is no question of not believing the eighth source.” Who was her eighth source? Narendra Modi?

All was well for Sushma Swaraj till Mosul and surrounding areas were under ISIS control. In June 2017 Iraq defeated ISIS and captured Mosul and surrounding areas. Soon it was obvious Indians were not there. There were reports that they were in Badush prison. It was found Badush prison was in ruins, destroyed after ISIS victory in 2014. No traces of Indians. Now some family members started to doubt Sushma Swaraj? They asked “Why will Harjit Masih lie?”

Sushma Swaraj started avoiding meeting family members of the dead and taking their phone calls. One MP who questioned her on this on Twitter was blocked.

On 20/3/2018 Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha announced the death of 39 Indians. Till then she had denied they were dead. Harjit Masih said the statement on Tuesday about the death of 39 Indians in Mosul confirms what he has been telling the government all along.

The family members of 39 Indians were devastated. They had trusted Sushma Swaraj even though they had heard Harjit Masih say those Indians were dead. The government knew they were dead but claimed otherwise.

BJP apologists have excuses for what Sushma Swaraj did. They can fool themselves, not others. Some do not want opposition parties to politicise the issue. Politicians are there to politicise. If politicians do not politicise who else will politicise? BJP would have done the same if it was in opposition.

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