In the May issue of Liberation, we had reported on the assault on dalits at Ramgarh village in Gautam Buddha Nagar (Dadri, Uttar Pradesh), and CPI(ML)’s initiatives to secure justice.
On 25 April, a Protest Meeting was held by local youths under the banner of RYA, calling for a struggle to ‘Defend Land, Demand Dignity’. The protest meeting faced difficulties because the gram pradhan from the dominant caste pressurised local landowners to deny permission to use their land for the meeting. However, the local youths, organised under RYA, refused to admit defeat and managed to hold the meeting on public land. The site of the protest meeting was decorated with red flags, and there was a large turnout of dalit youths as well as women form Ramgarh as well as neighbouring villages.
The meeting was conducted by Brahm Jatav, RYA activist, whose decision to file an FIR against grab of panchayat land allocated for dalits, led to the attack on dalit homes in the village. Brahm Jatav recounted how he had also helped file an FIR when a local landowner beat up a dalit youth for refusing to lift the carcass of a buffalo calf on his shoulders.
Other youths who addressed the meeting were Vikas, Tejvir, Raushan, and Virpal. Two issues were central to the meeting – the failure of police to arrest those responsible for the massive assault; and the failure of district administration to take action against the 7-foot high illegal wall that encircles the dalits’ land.
Three ex-pradhans of Khap Kheda, Pali, and Ramgarh, affiliated to the BSP, came to speak at the meeting. Their refrain was that the meeting was trying to ‘provoke’ dalits in the village. They tried to play down the organised caste violence against dalits by terming it to be a ‘quarrel within the family’ that they offered to sort out. While one such BSP representative was speaking, a dalit youth in the audience got up to ask, “So we shouldn’t even put up any protest or resistance when they grab our land and beat us up?” One youth, when he spoke, said that it was true that the SP Government was not acting against perpetrators of violence on dalits. But in Ramgarh’s case, he asked, why had the Dadri MLA Satbir Gujjar and the Gautam Buddha Nagar MP Surendra Singh Nagar – both from the BSP – not intervened to ensure action against the assailants and against the grab of dalit land? Brahm Jatav’s mother Shakuntala, herself badly injured, and Prakashi, who has a rod in her arm due to a bad injury, spoke of how women are daily being subjected to casteist and sexist abuse by the dominant castes.
The meeting was also addressed by the Pradhan of the neighbouring village of Bhogpur, Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, Delhi State Committee members Mathura Paswan and Aslam, Comrades Upadhyay, Shivji Singh and Chandrabhan Singh from CPI(ML)’s Noida city committee, and Kavita Krishnan, Central Committee member of the CPI(ML).