Rajinder Dushad is a vendor who spends his entire day on the streets of Patna selling seasonal fruits while his two sons work at a junk shop. On Wednesday, the eve of Ambedkar’s death anniversary, he was marching on Parliament Street here to demand from the Government what he termed was the “a life with dignity”.
“This is not the kind of life that Baba Saheb had promised to us through the Constitution. It’s devoid of dignity. His dreams are yet to be realised,” said Mr. Dushad. The Dalits are demanding that the Union Government bring a legislation to spend proportionate resources on their well-being.
Hailing the passing of the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan, the Dalit groups and leaders from the National Confederation of Dalit Organisation also urged the Centre to ensure that the funds allocated to them are only utilised for their benefit and not diverted for other development works.
Grassroot leaders from all parts of the country shared the platform with the political leaders and spoke about the reality of being marginalised and excluded on a daily basis. Prerna Kumari from U.P. narrated how atrocities against Dalit women were a frequent phenomenon and how the authorities do not take any action. Demanding that amendments be brought in the Act, she argued that “the most important thing is its effective implementation without which most of the atrocities usually go unpunished.”
Sushma from Jhansi spoke of the need to stand up for their rights. “We will struggle. We will continue to fight but we must empower ourselves to stand up and question the government.”
Senior CPI leader A. B. Bardhan and CPI (M) Polit Buro member Brinda Karat also spoke.