Just a couple of days ago a violent and ugly scene was enacted in the premises of the prestigious Chennai ‘Ambedkar law college’. The problem is alleged to have started after the name of Ambedkar was dropped/deleted/ignored in some posters. Dalit students were shown in the clippings aired repeatedly on Tamil TV channels, as perpetrators of mass violence. True, about three or four of those guys beat another young man to a pulp. Sentiments have been aroused. Tears stand in the rims of viewing eyes. Angry fumes suffocate pained hearts. “how sad” croon soap watchers. Indignant and righteous fingers type letters to editors or blog if they can.
The mass reaction to this incident has now turned into sympathy for the ‘devar’ caste persons who got the beating. Even those secular,eclectic intellectuals who pretend to distance themselves from casteism feel sorry for these `devar’ boys. It is no more a sympathy for the loser in a fight. It is not just a human empathetic concern for a beaten and bruised man. It is a silent anger that ‘those’ guys have found the guts to beat ‘these’ or ‘our’ boys. It is a silent fear that screams in their minds that if these dalits are allowed to get away with this act of retaliation, then slowly they would try to come up and even sit in our temples!
Whether dalit or devar those boys had no right to gang up and beat with murderous rage. They ought to be punished. But just because those devar boys have been beaten up badly they cannot be absolved either. They were the ones who were supposed to have started the fight. There are even some visuals showing one of those devar boys running amok with a knife in hand.
I just wonder what would have been the reaction if that boy had managed to chop off all those who came to attack him? Would all these tears still flow for the dalit boys had they been killed?
The whole episode is shocking the public because the hitherto trampled dalit boys have dared to fight back. We are simply not used to seeing this. It satisfies our intellectual itch to feel sorry that dalits have separate living quarters, separate vessels to drink. We nod in apparent understanding and pseudo-sympathy that dalits have been barricaded away from mainstream by a real brick and mortar wall. We are simply used to these guys being trampled. We have become so insensitive to the casteist curse on the society that the painful screams of dalits just gets lost in the air and never registers even as a whimper in our ears. their men were made to eat shit, their women stripped, their children not allowed to play in some areas, they were not allowed to move freely, at times they werenot even allowed to take their dead to their cemetry via the shortest route. we knew all this, and we were silent. we were feeling ‘bad’! Now a group of those boys have taken sticks in their hand and beaten their opponent who had allegedly cut off one of the dalit boy’s ears. This is shocking.
Pragya and her prohit connections are not so shocking. Manmohan singhs shameless licking of bush is not repulsive. Karunanidhi’s constant political stunts are not worrying. Just the fact that dalit boys have dared to fight is shocking.
I am not like the BJP RSS gang that says godmen/whatever those goons in spiritual garb are called should be protected even if they bomb public places. I want those boys- those dalit boys to be punished. I also want people to feel that though they may have over-reacted, they reacted. It is time to think on ways to end provocations instead of crying over reactions.