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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 33 New Delhi August 6, 2016

The Lion of Gujarat Is Silent

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Fable for our Times

by Aurobindo Ghose

According to the Gujarat CID, a lion killed Najabhai Ahir’s cow in Bediya village. Najabhai informed Balu Sarvaiya of Mota village on the morning of July 11, 2016 to come and dispose of the dead cow. Whereupon, the sons of Balu Sarvaiya, a SC by caste who traditionally skins and disposes off dead cows, brought the dead cow to their village and started skinning it. Suddenly, from nowhere, members of a Gau Raksha Dal appeared on the scene and accusing the Dalits of having slaughtered the cow, started mercilessly flogging them with sticks.

The next morning the Dalits of Gujarat were out on the streets in protest. They halted the traffic, organised bandhs and some even refused to carry on their traditional occupation of disposing off dead cows. Dead cows were deposited before government offices and the houses of prominent politicians. When the Gujarat Chief Minister met Balu Sarvaiya, he said they want justice, not compensation. Dalit girls and women held a Dhikkar Rally at Vadnagar in Gujarat.

Without a visible leader like Spartacus, the revolt of the Dalits of Gujarat had begun. It was historic. The Dalits were asserting their fundamental rights to personal liberty, freedom of expression and right to occupation. This was like the Second Temple Entry movement. The annihilation of caste, which Dr Ambedkar dreamt of, had begun. The Dalit Resistance to the onging Fascism was absolutely clear and palpable.

But the Lion of Gujarat remains silent. Not even a whisper.

Dr Aurobindo Ghose is the General Secretary, Peoples’ Rights Organisation, a human rights body. He can be contacted at e-mail: g_aurobindo@yahoo.com