(The Asian Independent)
By- Shekhar Bodhakar
The “Avarna Untouchables” and other minorities are not insensitive, unconcerned and non-committed towards their own rights and obligations. However, many are not aware about dead (ineffective) minority movements and they must not fall in the trap believing that the movement they are committed to has all the answers to all minority issues. They need to stop being “Party Bhakts” and “Leader Bhakts” staying away from hero worship.
Seeds have now been sown for the new “Save Untouchable Lives” or “Untouchable Lives Matter” (ULM) movement, WHICH IS NOT A PART OF other Bahujan, Moolnivasi, Ambedkarite, Minorities, Religious or Social movements and must be kept independent of them so that ALL these movements, who claim to be representing the minorities, may willingly come forward to support this common movement.
Why the oppressed communities, especially untouchables, may not be motivated enough to create that buzz?
They need to do some honest introspection on the whole population, introspection on collective and holistic consciousness and conscience of the untouchable community.
POINTS TO PONDER:-
Do they consider killings or atrocity incidents just as statistics and not as human beings? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Do they consider that it’s only a few cases per day or week and don’t consider the loss of lives in a months, years or decades? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
The SCs and STs are divided into thousands of sub castes. So when killings or atrocious incidents occur against people from different sub castes, DOES IT cause concern or botheration to members of other sub castes or it simply doesn’t matter to them since it’s a feeling of otherness & not of oneness? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Do they have swallowed EGO and selfishness which clouds their psyche and as a result don’t see what is happening around? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Since they have been subjected to such heinous and brutal treatment for centuries together, they have become immune to it, they are okay with it – it’s tolerable to them? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Are they spiritually and morally dead and have no energy or fire left within? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Do they consider that their numbers are over 30 crore and so a few thousand killings or atrocities here and there don’t matter much? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Do they operate on emotionality rather cognition? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Do they treat their fellow brothers and sisters belonging to other sub castes with equality, fraternity and solidarity? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
Is fragmentation, division and compartmentalization prevailing or not? Who is creating them, internal or external agents? THEY NEED TO INTROSPECT
And the introspection list continues.
Are the “THEY” by any chance “YOU”?
THERE NEEDS TO BE A CENTRALIZED UNTOUCHABLE LIVES MATTER (ULM) MOVEMENT
As far as agitation of the two movements, Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Untouchable Lives Matter (ULM) is concerned, there is one major difference. This difference (explained below) is also the reason why ULM is the more appropriate name for the movement instead of DLM (Dalit Lives Matter). For similar reasons, using the terms SC, ST, OBC & Minorities should also be avoided.
Considering what is at stake, there is a need to be specific and not to be too concerned about being politically correct. Let’s be honest, the following is what we really mean in privacy, don’t we?
“Atrocities on UNTOUCHABLES”!
We need to acknowledge the fact that practice of untouchability is outlawed in the Indian Constitution but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Untouchables exist and their concerns need to voiced and voiced loudly -extremely loudly!!
Even though the “untouchable” victims of atrocities are the actual dalits as per the dictionary definition of the word, calling them dalits w.r.t. kick starting the ULM movement could be counter productive as it would unnecessarily divert attention towards identity politics and not stay on killings of untouchables. Nor is the suffering/dieing victim concerned with religion or politics. S/he doesn’t care about anyone’s religious or Dalit or Bahujan or Moolnivasi politicized movements and political parties. They may also see the “Neo-Dalit” as not really being the “Oppressed Dalit” since many such dalits (now called Neo-Dalits are not REALLY dalits as per the dictionary definition) are leading luxurious lifestyles in safe surroundings and so, according to the poor ‘victims of atrocities’, are less likely to take the ULM movement seriously.
The ULM movement need to be PURELY what it says, concerned only with Untouchable or ex-Untouchable Lives.
(NOTE: Calling someone black is not politically correct either but it’s perfect to raise awareness about specific Black issues. It goes straight to the heart of where it matters and is to the point. So is the word ‘Untouchable’).
Many human rights activists are of the impression that the ULM movement is not likely to cause a similar buzz to the BLM movement, as the Untouchables are not united due to caste differences. The problem is not that the Untouchables are divided on the issue of atrocities (It’s not a political issue that we need to unite them). By continuing to say such things, the experts continue to put negative messages of disunity in their subconscious. THE UNTOUCHABLES ARE ALREADY NATURALLY, UNITED IN THIS MATTER OF LYNCHINGS AND OTHER ATROCIOUS ACTS. That is not to say they are not divided on other social and political issues. Untouchables are untouchable and they suffer the most.
We mustn’t dilute this fact by including OBCs & other minorities. As an example, the Blacks are not weakening their movement by diverting attention from atrocities on Blacks to atrocities on Hispanics and native Americans or any other minority group. Instead, they are being supported by these minorities as they have similar issues.
The ULM movement needs to emulate the BLM movement in that it is purely a non-political non-religious secular movement. It is rightly, only concerned with and focused on ONE outcome, ‘Social Justice for the Blacks’; whereas the ULM movement is often religified and “partyfied” with some already popular social or political leader, making it “A PART OF” the larger movement.
If ULM is to be politicised, it MUST NOT be done from the outset. We have to wait for the right time. We must wait for it to first gain sufficient strength. A social revolution must be firmly grounded before it becomes an effective political revolution.
In reference to the ULM movement, ONLY talk about atrocities on untouchables. Nothing else. BLM activists never make political or religious statements. Learn from them. “Black” is all encompassing. It encompasses all Blacks. So is “Untouchable” encompassing all Untouchables.
Don’t even think of uniting the myriads of castes (subconsciously you would be thinking about political unity). Don’t even talk about caste. Only refer to them as Untouchables who are seeking justice and safety. THAT’S IT. This should surely raise some eyebrows in the mainstream media, regardless of whether it chose to respond or not. THE UNTOUCHABLES WILL UNITE (if movement kept pure of other interests). Why wouldn’t they? Don’t untouchable lives matter to them?
ULM is bound to fail if ANY current, social or political, organization starts saying they are taking the lead. It must be totally independent of them because the danger is:
If heads of one particular established group is seen to be taking the lead then other organizations may not support them. In fact, they may even go against the “leading” group as there is known open rivalry amongst even human rights groups. Only if ULM is kept independent, individuals from all human rights groups and parties will support it. Maybe it could become a platform where thousands of Ambedkarite and SC ST organization of all sizes can come together. This can only happen if the stalwarts of this purely secular movement ONLY focus on atrocities on untouchables without any other label. Not even the Ambedkarite or Bahujan, Mulnivasi, Dalit, Buddhist, Ravidassia, Valmik etc labels should be used. This could (or should I say “WILL”) easily happen if ULM is not centralized from the outset.
Why I say no existing organisation should be allowed to take the lead
Ayodhya (and EVM, CAA, 10% EWS Reservations, Bharat Bandhs etc) are good examples. We all want the same results but at the same time, we also want to show that we (our organization) are the ones taking the lead in such matters.
Why isn’t there ONE “save Ayodhya” movement?
I’m not saying the existing popular bodies should have united in this Ayodhya issue, which is a brilliant but idealistic idea. I’m saying an independent non-political save ‘Ayodhya movement’ should have been created which would have been supported by all “concerned” bodies. Let’s not make that mistake with the ULM movement. Centralise the movement with branches.
The Republicans or Democrats or Communists or the Nelsonites or Kingites or Malcolmites, or Amnesty Internationalites or other Human Rights organisations are not the ones taking the lead in the BLM movement. It’s run by Blacks supported by Blacks from all these socio political backgrounds. Same should be with the ULM movement.
Call it the “Acchut Lives Matter” movement if that’s a better catch-phrase in terms of emotionally charging people.
If the ULM movement goes international, it will be easier to resonate it to the Blacks and with Black issues if the word “Untouchable” is used (The foreigners understand this word too).
As an example, those who have started a global movement to get Gandhi statues removed, would find it easier if the word untouchable is used as in,
Gandhi was a racist and the casteist, the greatest enemy untouchables ever had in modern India.
I believe the Blacks will be more than ready to support the ULM movement on the international stage but it’s not going to be much use if their brethren in India are not going to take the lead.
(Anti Caste Activist)
These are the author’s personal views on how best to internationalise and raise awareness about ”Atrocities on Untouchables’. You may have different ideas but that’s okay as long as something positive comes out of it.
TWITTER:- (@AvarnaShekhar): Shekhar Bodhakar