Dalit Resistance And Violence

Zainul Abedin's Painting, 1971
Zainul Abedin’s Painting, 1971

From past few days we have been witnessing on our television channels or social media news portals debating over just and unjust forms of protest. But the moot able theme that underlies all these debates and news reporting is how we construe, what is Resistance? And what is Violence? A common dictionary meaning of Resistance is: the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. The opposition offered by one thing, force, etc., to another. Violence as a term according to dictionary meaning is: an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws.

In a society like ours which is sharply divided between the depressed classes and the oppressor classes, any form of protest, dissent against the dominant classes by the depressed classes will be termed as Violence. During Mahad Satyagraha speech Babasaheb Ambedkar also raised the same argument where he said that:

“We wish to carry on our movement as peaceful as we can. However, our determination to remain non-violent will to a large extent depend upon the attitude of our opponents. We are not the aggressors and our oppressors for generations should accuse us of aggression a strange thing.” (BAWS, Vol-17_1, 64)

Similar, accusations have been labelled upon every form of resistance happening in this country, whether it is the recent Maharashtra bandh call given by the depressed classes under the collective leadership of various progressive organizations led by Babasaheb’s Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar, or whether Bhim Army protests against the burning, loot, and violence over Dalits in Saharanpur, or whether Najeeb’s mother protesting on streets to find her son, or whether Radhika Vemula trying to demand justice for Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder, or whether a 90% disabled man protesting against Operation Greenhunt and loot of natural resources, or whether people protesting against lynching of minorities. All this labelling is done by the ruling class propaganda machinery so that the coercive machinery can crush the Resistance.

Babasaheb Ambedkar was well aware of the nature of the Indian ruling classes and the Colonial British Regime, thus he founded Samata Sainik Dal on 25 November 1926 with the objective of safeguarding the rights of all oppressed sections of Indian society. He also laid down the rules and regulations of SSD of which few are as follows:

Samata Sainik Dal training shall consist of physical, intellectual and military type. The Samata Sanik Dal shall organise training Camps, Schools, Clubs, Classes, Lectures, Debates, Libraries etc. and such other forms of activities as it may consider expedient from time to time.


I, a member of the Indian (Scheduled Caste) Community, entering the ranks of the Samata Sainik Dal, do hereby take an Oath and solemnly swear to be an honorable, brave, disciplined and resolute fighter in the glorious cause of the emancipation of my class from all oppression, exploitation and slavery.

It is time to understand like Babasaheb Ambedkar did that the state apparatus always protects the ruling classes interest sometimes by direct coercive mechanism and brutal force like in Kashmir, Liberated Zones created by CPI(Maoist), Working class movements like the ban on Mazdoor Sangathan Samiti in Jharkhand, framing democratic rights activists under fabricated charges through its Draconian laws like UAPA, NSA, AFSPA; brutally beating students protesting for their rights in universities all around India. Indirectly, it instigate violence through mainstream political parties goon gangs working under various names like VHP, Bajrang Dal, and other Hindutva factions to indirectly create an atmosphere of terror among the masses. It is like psychological violence perpetrated on the struggling people. The more the ruling classes get repressive economically, socially, culturally and politically that showcase its desperation to pauperize the already depressed population under the garbage dump of economic policies that only and only fulfil the interest of the ruling classes both Indian and their global Imperial masters. This is Violence which is not just coercive, but also structural and inherently systematic. It seems that time is not far when the depressed classes will demolish the headquarters like Babri Masjid was demolished on Ambedkar’s death anniversary. The more the coercive and structural violence, the more strong resistance will be forged.

Therefore, in one of his polemical editorial article Ambedkar in 1940 and nails it on the head saying: If the means of non-violence would suffice to attain an end, then there should be no need to resort to brute force. However, should non-violent means not be sufficient to achieve an end, and if the end would suffer on this account, then only a fool would insist that no other means but non-violence should be adopted…it would indeed be a sin to use brute force as a means to do injustice to someone, but there would be nothing sinful about using brute force to put an end to brute force.

Red Panther is a Dalit activist

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