On Tuesday 14th July 2020, afternoon, a Dalit farmer couple was brutally beaten by the police for resisting an anti-encroachment drive in Madhya Pradesh’s Guna District. A couple of hours after the bulldozer began destroying the soybean crop on their land Rajkumar Ahirwar and his wife Savitri consumed pesticides in protest and are in hospital, where the district administration said that they are out of danger. This video of police brutality went viral and provoked outrage over allegedly assaulting against the Dalits.
Six policemen including a sub-inspector and two women constables were suspended on Thursday (July 17, 2020). The suspension followed the transfer of Guna’s District Collector S Viswanathan and Superintendent of Police Tarun Nayak late on Wednesday. While the district administration claim that the land was meant for building up a government college, and the state government already released Rs.12 Crore to begin the construction a year ago. A local strong man, Babbu Pardi encroached on the 45- bigha plot and rented it out to Ahirwar and their relatives for farming illegally. They had taken the land on the loan of Rs.3 lakh from Pardi to grow crops on the land.
Tarun Nayak, Guna Police Superintendent said in an order, of a copy of which has been submitted to the Hindustan Times that, “An ugly situation was created due to Rajkumar and his wife Savitri consuming pesticide during an anti-encroachment drive initiated by the revenue department on July 14. Sub-Inspector Ashok Singh Kushwah was sent to maintain law and order. However, a video that went viral regarding the use of force by the police team. Hence, the police personnel who were present on the spot are being suspended given their suspected role in the use of force.” The police personnel also assaulted Ahirwar’s brother, Shishupal. Ahirwar’s mother, Geeta Bai said that “We repeatedly requested the police team to let them stay until they harvested their crop but the police did not listen to them, they abused and beat them.”
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted; “The Guna SP and Collector have been removed, and inquiry has been sought into the incident. I am confident that action will be taken against all those who are responsible for this heinous act.” On Wednesday (July 15, 2020) Scindia again tweeted and said; “Guna incident is unfortunate. I had a discussion with CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and requested him to take action against insensitive and irresponsible officials. Taking a serious note of the incident the CM has ordered shifting of Guna Collector and SP.”
Despite laws to protect them, the Dalits are always suffered and they have to face widespread discrimination all over the country.
Crime against Dalits
More than 160 million human beings in India are considered as “Untouchables”- people who are taunted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure and less than human. Statistics compiled by India’s National Crime Records Bureau in the year 2000 mentioned that around 25, 455 crimes were committed against Dalits. Every hour two Dalits are assaulted, every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered and two Dalit homes are torched.
There are a random sampling of crimes that have been the headline in many mainstream Indian newspapers which tells their story as “Dalit boy was beaten to death for plucking flowers”; “Dalit tortured by cops for three days”; “Dalit ‘witch’ paraded naked in Bihar”; “Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool”; “7 Dalits burnt alive in caste clash”; “5 Dalits lynched in Haryana”; “Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked”; “Police egged on the mob to lynch Dalits.” “Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls.” They are posted for the lowest designated jobs and they live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped inhumanly by upper-caste Hindus seeking to show their status in the society. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighbourhood is a life-threatening offence. Dalit women are hard hit. They are frequently raped and beaten by the upper- caste. A 42- year old Dalit woman was gang-raped and then burnt alive after she, her husband, and two sons have been held captivity and tortured for eight days.
Many of these crimes go unreported due to fear of reprisal, intimidation by police, inability to pay bribes demanded by the police, or simply by the knowledge that the police will do nothing. In the province of Bihar, local Dalits are retaliating, committing atrocities also, some non- aligned Dalits are frequently caught in the middle, and become victims of both groups.