Taking legal aid to the grassroots – P.L. Mimroth

(Asian Independent)

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

In the early years of 1990s, India saw a political turmoil as V P Singh government unleashed Mandal Commission report and a social and political unity among the Dalit backward community started building up at different levels. The protests against Mandal commission reports in the cities of North India were actually not against the OBCs but against the Dalits. The general understanding was that the government is giving too much to Dalits. It is they who got the affected most socially because the fight became visible because of the Dalit groups taking up the streets. There was not much visibility of the OBC leadership on the ground. In subsequent years, Ambedkarites such as Mr Mimroth organized human rights defenders, lawyers and activists to engage in fact findings and fight cases in the courts to get the people justice.

In 1992, Dalits faced one of the biggest violence in Kumher village of Rajasthan where 19 Dalits were brutally burnt to death by the upper caste villagers. There was a national outrage but yet the work was very difficult as the state was Rajasthan where caste forces had been very strong and feudalism still dictated the politics. One man, dedicatedly worked to get justice to the people of Kumher through his legal activism by bringing number of well-known former Judges, lawyers and civil rights activists and seeking their interventions on the issue and he is Shri P.L.Mimroth who founded Center for Dalit Rights, in Rajasthan. Shri Prabhati Lal Mimorth, as he is known, was born on April 10th, 1039 in village Biwai, District Dausa of Rajasthan. He graduated from Delhi University and then did his LLB from Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Since 1959 to 1985, Mr Mimroth worked with Northern Railway and took voluntary retirement to take up the legal practice to defend Dalit rights on the inspiration of Justice V R Krishna Iyer.

He started practicing at the Central Administrative Tribunal’s Principal Bench in Delhi as well as Delhi High Court as well as Rajasthan High Court in Jaipur, since 1987. Mr Mimroth then became an active member of various organisations dedicated to civil liberties, social justice and human rights. He served in the bodies of various organisations such as Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, CECOEDECON, Amnesty International India as well as member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan,

He has been one of the founder members of the One of the founder member of National Campaign of Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and remained its Co-Convener till August 2005. Presently heading the Center for Dalit Rights based at Jaipur (Rajasthan) Mr Mimoth was also the Vice-Chairman of Legal Aid Society Delhi and actively associated with Delhi based Society of Depressed People for Social Justice (Regd.) in the capacity of its Honorary General Secretary since its inception. He has been co convener of National Campaign for Dalit Human Right as well as its convener in Rajasthan.

He has been instrumental in conducting various study tours in the villages of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana states with a view to assess and identify the problems and hardship of the rural poor communities. He also organized public hearings, seminars and lectures in Delhi and Rajasthan on the plights and the problems of the down trodden and rural population on their exclusion and access to justice which were attended and addressed by the distinguished reformists, Jurists, Politicians, Govt. Functionaries, Ministers and Social workers like Justice Mr. Rajendra Sachher, Justice Mr. V.R. Krishna Iyer, Justice Mr. A. Vardarajan, Late Shri. N.H. Kumbhare MP and eminent human right lawyer Govida Mukhoty, Justice Mr.K. Ramaswamy, Justice N.L. Tibriwal and Justice V.S. Malimath.

One of his deep interest areas is related to monitoring and implementation of SC-ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and for that he has been actively organizing training workshops, lectures etc to create awareness to the Dalit Human Rights defenders, other social activists and civil society about the provision of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, Rules 1995 and Protection of Civil Rights Act.

Mr P L Mimroth activated the issue of Dalit Rights in Rajasthan when none were doing the same. Center for Dalit Rights was formed and it has helped a large number of people and created young lawyers to fight for the community rights. The issue of Chakwara where Dalits were denied entry to drink water, was successfully fought by CDR under the guidance of Mr P.L. Mimroth.

In this conversation with Mr Vidya Bhushan Rawat, he shares his struggles of life, the Dalit movement, the caste violence in Rajasthan as well as his broader vision about the Ambedkarite movement. Kindly listen this conversation with him and understand not merely the vital facts of Kumhare violence as well as Chakwara case but also the cause behind them and why it is still very difficult for the Dalits to get justice unless there is a political will and strong social movement.

For detail please listen to the conversation and do let us know about your comments on the same.

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