Lynching; rape; violence following inter-caste marriages; compelling Dalits to follow norms of untouchability — atrocities on Dalits and Adivasis have been perpetuated for a long time in the country and there is no need for any survey to make people aware of such a blot on society.
However, there have been few attempts to present a comprehensive picture of such oppressive conditions even after 72 years of independence. These incidents are reported in an isolated and sporadic manner by the mainstream media and regional press, but we don’t get the big picture or the extent of the malaise.
Bhed-Bharat, brought out by Dalit Shakti Prakashan and edited by writer activist Martin Macwan, gives us an account of incidents of atrocities committed on Dalits and Adivasis in different parts of the country from 2014 to 2018.
Macwan compiles incidents and has listed them State-wise, without adding any commentary to these stories of atrocities. At the outset he explains the need to compile such a list: “The absence of such a comprehensive picture is a major reason for a weak social and political consciousness among Dalits as well as non-Dalits.”
In the preface, Macwan generates a dialogue with his readers by asking questions and providing answers. The book does not contain a list of all such incidents of atrocities but is a compilation of the news stories which appeared in national and regional media. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, from 2014-2016, a total of 1,19,872 incidents of atrocities on Dalits and 19,671 incidents of atrocities on Adivasis took place while data for 2017 ad 2018 is yet to be prepared and presented. Macwan points out that the figure does not include cases where sections of the ‘Atrocities Act’ have not been applied; it also does not include instances where people did not register complaints with the police out of fear.
The country has a large population of Dalits and Adivasis. Macwan claims that despite the ruling NDA getting good support from reserved constituencies, the number of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis has gone up in the last five years.
The book also highlights the fact that though atrocities on Dalits are reported and there is a fair amount of consciousness within the community giving rise to protests seeking justice for victims, there is no such awareness among Adivasis. The common law passed by Parliament in the late 1980s for dealing with atrocities on both the communities has not helped much in creating awareness. Macwan’s book, based on heart wrenching stories rather than data, is welcome as it may help to create an understanding about such social discrimination.
Bhed-Bharat: An Account of Injustice and Atrocities on Dalits & Adivasis (2014-2018) ; Edited by Martin Macwan, Dalit Shakti Prakashan, ₹350.