A Dalit couple was killed on 28th of July in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Allegedly, an upper-caste, grocery shop owner, murdered the duo following a heated argument over a pending payment of Rs 15 (22 Cents) for biscuit packets purchased a few days ago.
Incidents like these have marked an upward trend in the violence against the Dalits in the country. The recent Una incident, where a few Dalit men were beaten by cow vigilantes, and the one that happened only hours ago, only point out towards the growing intolerance in the country, over the garb of secular values enshrined in the constitution. But why is there a sudden hike in interest in the crimes against the Dalit community in popular media? Is the media and the opposition highlighting and giving attention to these crimes more? Does it have anything to do with the ruling BJP government at the centre?
In 2013, RSS leader Jagdish Prajapti, in a small town of Gujarat, set a great example of social harmony by throwing a goodwill dinner for everyone in the village. Even though the upper-castes resisted the move in the beginning, the adamant nature of Mr. Jagdish to bow to any demands for a separate dinner led to both communities dining together. Not only that, the communities ended up repeating the same incident once again, in the recent past. However, this incident did not elicit a huge response from the media channels of the country.
The question then is, why does the media highlight the negative incidents involving the Dalits and the Upper Castes, and quite conveniently chooses to ignore the positive aspects of the government’s policy towards them? The media seems to be ignoring the Start-Up India scheme for the SC and ST entrepreneurs started by the Modi government to empower the Dalits and the tribals. Clearly it appears that no one is talking about the initiative and the opposition specially seems to be highlighting those incidents where a Dalit person is killed by an upper-caste person and not vice-versa (It could be argued that such incidents do not benefit the politician during elections, and won’t even make news).
The plans of the certain section of the left-wing NGOs and intellectuals along with the media supported and funded by left leaning politicians and missionaries seems to be crystal clear with a view to detach the Dalits from the Hindu society and make the BJP appear as villain to the harmonious existence of the dalit community. The media seems to be benefiting from the silence of Mr. Modi, as he is caught in a dilemma, as to whether he should condemn these incidents and anger the voter base of hard-liner Hindus, who helped him to win the general elections, or not, appearing ignorant of the atrocities against the Dalits, and losing the Dalit voter base. Consequently, he chooses to stay silent.
While these incidents are a reminder of our not so changing attitude towards the Dalits especially in the rural areas, where the caste-system still seems to be intact, the media seems to be highlighting the negative incidents and ignoring the positive aspects of the government initiatives towards the Dalits, creating an anti-BJP/RSS sentiment.
The governments needs to change the mindset of the people by creating an awareness campaign. Though the government has brought in recent amendments in the Prevention of the Atrocities on Dalits and Tribals Act by enhancing the punishment to those who commit the crimes against them, these reforms would not reap results if the people aren’t made aware about them.