Arrest of Activists: Time To Ask Some Serious Questions

activists arrest

A few serious questions have been raised about the arrest of activists. People are talking about their caste and connections and suggesting that ‘India’ is ‘waking’ up because of their castes, as most of them are savarnas or brahmins but I think it is a generalisation without understanding the realities.

Yes, a number of them may be well connected with caste class privileged but many others too have that privileges and the important thing is how you use it. If your power and connections are only used to promote yourself then it is of no use but if you are using it for people’s benefit then nothing wrong. You cant blame people for being born at ‘certain’ places. Important thing is to judge them from their acts and work history, not really with one day event.

That most of them have vision in contradiction to what we call capitalist democracy but I am sure people like Father Stan Swamy who is around 83 years age does not belong to that. He has been persistently and diligently working with the adivasis of Jharkhand, training them for human rights, identity and dignity issues.

There are various kind of discussions going on on these arrests which indicate our caste, class, ideological locations.

There are those who make that these people are the ‘greatest’ that despite being born as ‘brahmins’ or ‘savarnas’ or ‘American passport’ or citizenship, they are working for the ‘poor’. This is the most patronising statement but then media enjoy it. It wants to project as if there was no struggle for Dalit/Adivasi identity and right except for these ‘revolutionaries’. This is simply filthy. Despite all my support for their wrongful detention and arrest, I would condemn such statement as denigrating the historic struggles and movement of the Dalit Bahujan Adivasi identity for centuries. It is like saying that if these people were not there, Adivasis or Dalits would have died. Suddenly, all have woken up. The courts are ready to listen to things in mid night, passing order. We are told about their greatness and being privileged but the same class does not show any keenness to defend Prof Sai Baba who is 80% physically challenged and need to be protected. Chandra Shekhar Azad Ravan is also languishing in jail and yet nothing happened to him. Of course, there is other side of the story as how many of the Dalit Bahujan leaders who are blaming others, really stood for Chandra Shekhar Azad and attempted his release. Political parties kept their mouth sealed and their supporters were blaming him for being part of the BJP’s sinister agenda. So sad but that is the reality, the dirty world of our politics.

The second kind of people in this debate is those who claim to represent Bahujans and suggesting all these people are just planted by the Sangh to make the brahmins heroes of the Dalit Bahujan movements. These kinds of people are paratroopers who want to be leaders of vast Dalit Bahujan masses without working with them. They wish to be at top just because they are born there without understanding that aspiration for leadership happen among all and it has to be gained and not given on a platter. Manywar Kanshiram’s worked so hard, devotedly and diligently when he went around, cycling, sitting on floor and creating a new fauz of committed karykartas. Yes, most of the people he trusted were not English speaking urban elite class but mostly hard working karykartas, it is those who devoted their life for him, for his mission and not those who cant walk a kilometer in the sun and just theorise the things. You can not become leaders just by decrying others with their caste identities. You will have to work and stand with people. Nobody can decide their birth but should be judged based on their work. As I decry people’s attempt to denigrate the historical movements of the Dalit Bahujan identities, I am equally uncomfortable with those who use too simple and generalised terms to describe people. Truth is much bigger than these simplifications.

The third is the Sanghi sponsored class which is actually afraid of Ambedkarism but using Naxal bogey to denigrate the Ambedkarite legacy. To remain in power, BJP and the Sangh has no strength to fight with people on ideological grounds hence they wish to criminalise all the movements and make us believe that everything need to be handled administratively or in clear terms through ‘danda’. So all the intellectuals who differ with Sangh Parivar and their brand of politics are termed as anti national and then handed over to police. Go for selective leakage, humiliate and intimidate them through the police and get it justification from likes of Arnab Goswami on the TV channels.

These are times when we need to support and extend our solidarity with like minded people without trying to impose our leadership on people. The brahmanical elite in this country has ‘experts’ on various fields and that will survive them as long as other communities do not have the similar experts in the field of law or media. So, let us have those people who want to serve with their expertees to the Bahujan masses but they should not think that they would now lead the political battle of Dalit Bahujan masses and all questions of identities are ‘over’. This will be stupid for anyone to think about that though we are witnessing a few of them are trying to give us indication that they have ‘progressive’ Dalits with them. So, left and ‘progressive Dalits’ will join hand to defeat ‘brahmanism’.

Better not to define people. Like nationalist Muslims, nationalists verses Maoists, Progressive is a much abused term to denigrate the Dalit Bahujan movement as if all the issues of identities are criminals. However, we must not ignore the important issues emerging from these arrests yesterday and stand up in support of human rights.

  1. The first issue is of the power of a state police to arrest people from other state. Shouldn’t it happen through the state police or local police station whose jurisdiction the accused reside? How come the police from a state come and bring document in their own language which none of the people understand. Can police from india intervene in any other country. You will only have to write to them and wait for their action. Why cant this be honored in India ? Where is the state autonomy ?

  2. Can the police violate our right to privacy even if we are suspect or accused. If a person is an author or writer, can the police be allowed to take all the stuff from his home, humiliate his family. Why cant the police present the charges on the people. What is police looking from their laptops. I can tell that if police check the laptop or personal information of 125 crore Indians, all of us would be declared as criminals.

  3. Since the matter is in Supreme Court, it must not confine the issue of such arbitrary arrest to these five individuals. Enlarge or broaden the petition and give specific guidelines to police and the state in relations to such arrests. Provide specific charges and have solid information before arresting. A name in a letter or a photograph with some one, or your friend on facebook or your participation in a particular programme does not indicate you to be a party to a crime or supporting to an activity. It is important that court create these guidelines unambiguously as state power is brutal and expert in making people criminals.

  4. Court must instruct clear guidelines about reporting or broadcasting things in these matters. When Patna High Court can ban media from reporting about the Muzaffarpur cases, why cant the court stop anchors to throw mud at people. While the court have not even seen charges, channels have already declared them criminals. It must be stopped.

We have very challenging time ahead. we can throw this issue in a jumla or take them seriously as Indian state is protecting brahmanical interest at the moment. We must stand together on all the incidents of violation of human rights of people and individuals but at the same point of time all those who are fighting today must understand that movements are there and people at their own level struggling hence it would be good to respect that diversity of the people’s movement. Let us not try to impose leadership on people through an emerging crisis which will not be accepted by people. Fighting for people’s right is essential and respected as long as those with privileges do it in all humility and not with an intention to discredit and hijack the leadership of various struggling identities.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]

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Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]

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