Dalits are an ignored voice

‘I can’t breathe’, George Floyd said while pleading for his life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  Minutes after the homicide of George Floyd, hashtags like #Alllives matter, #blacklives matter flooded the social media accounts of all prominent celebrities, intellectuals as well as the common people who witnessed the televised image of Floyd being choked to death. However voices are never raised for Dalits in India. Where were these self-proclaimed liberals when Dalits were targeted and killed during the riots that were systematically engineered by Urban Naxal-Jihadi forces in February 2020 in North East Delhi? 

Dalits selectively targeted in Delhi Riots 2020

One of the earliest and brutal killings in the Delhi Riots 2020 was that of Vinod Kumar Kashyap, a Scheduled Caste man in Brahampuri, Yamuna Vihar on the night of 24 February 2020.  Heart rending videos flooded the social media by 25 February, showing him being lynched by a large mob shouting ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’. Videos of the same incident show his body being dragged on the streets and thrown on ‘the other side’. His son Monu Kashyap barely escaped alive in this attack. In footage of the incident he is seen crazily trying to revive his father shaking him to find any sign of life. Within minutes a Dalit life was snuffed out by a crazed religious mob in the heart of the capital city of India. Anyone would have expected this well publicized death to cause a global outrage. There was deafening silence from all directions. 

A community man killed

Vinod Kumar Kashyap was no pushover. He was a physically strong, hard working man. He started small by doing electrical work. Saving incomes from this work he slowly built himself a house. Lately he had taken the work of a disc jockey at marriage functions and local jagrans. Every year he travelled as a Kanwariya in the annual kanwar yatra that takes place in June annually. He was a community man, and was lovingly called Bhola Baba another name for his favorite deity, Lord Shiva. 

On the night of 24 February 2020, around 10.30 pm Vinod Kashyap stepped out of the house to buy medicines for Vinod’s grandson who was ill for the past few days. His son, Monu Kashyap offered to take him pillion on a motorcycle to the medicine shop  Kalyan Medical store , next door. Though the area had been tense, the shop was barely a few meters away. All it would take was five minutes. Vinod Kashyap was unable to bear his grandson’s discomfort and wanted those medicines anyhow. 

Out of nowhere a huge stone came flying and hit Monu Kashyap and the bike on which the father and son were riding slipped. From the darkness emerged a crowd of 200 people with stones and iron rods ,shouting ‘Allah-hu-Akbar’. They surrounded Vinod Kashyap and Monu. The two were attacked repeatedly till Monu pretended to be dead and lost consciousness. So brutal was the attack that 

Vinod Kashyap died within minutes. Family members recount that Vinod Kashyap was a known face in the area. A hugely popular Hindu community leader, they suspect that he was targeted for his identity.

There are other such cases of Dalits facing the brunt of violence in the Delhi Riots 2020. Dinesh Kumar Khatik was shot dead from the roof of Rajdhani Public School. The building is owned by Faisal Farroque and was reportedly a base for rioting mobs in the area.

Sacrificed at the altar of the anti-CAA movement

One of the worst tragedies is that Dalits like Vinod Kumar Kashyap lost their lives in the hysteria generated by the anti-CAA movement in Delhi. A major part of the beneficiaries of the  Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 are Dalits and Tribals  who have been forced out of their lands due to religious persecution in Pakistan. 
They are from the most deprived Bhil(Dalit) community in Pakistan. Many from this community living in Jodhpur in refugee camps are likely to benefit from the CAA.Similar conditions are faced by the Hindu (Dalit) Oad tribe in Pakistan. It is shameful that most of these people are on the run from Pakistan to protect their women from abduction and conversion to Islam. As late as April 2020 there were reports from Sind of two girls from this tribe being abducted and converted forcibly and married of to middle aged Muslim men.

The cause of Dalits in India resonates with the concerns of Dalits in Pakistan who are being persecuted because of their religious identity. It is a supreme irony and great tragedy that Dalits like Vinod Kumar Kashyap lost their lives to violence that was engineered by leaders claiming to be upholding the rights of Dalits and working on a false Bhim-Meem premise.

About the author:

Rahul Chimurkar is a scholar of Babasahib Ambedkars philosophy. He teaches in Lakshmibai College ,DU)