The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos today joined millions of Indians and people of conscience across the world, in expressing outrage over the ongoing atrocities against Dalits and minorities by “cow protection” extremists in India. Recent violence in the state of Gujarat on July 11 triggered a wave of mass protests and suicide attempts by Dalit youth, only to be followed by more atrocities in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra. IAMC has called for a CBI enquiry that would cover not only the recent atrocities against Dalits but also include a full investigation into the functioning of “cow protection” groups and their near total disregard for the law.
Violence against Dalits and minorities have intensified under the BJP-led administration, whose worldview is aligned with the ideology of upper caste Hindu supremacy, known as Hindutva. While the protests continue to spread, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to make a statement, much less commit to any action.
The Gujarat protests were in response to the public flogging of four Dalit youth by a “cow protection” group, when the youth were found skinning a dead cow. The flogging was recorded by the perpetrators themselves and circulated to serve as a lesson for others. The sheer viciousness and impunity of the crime has inflamed Dalit and other “lower caste” communities.
Violence by militant groups related to cow slaughter, possession of beef and transport of cattle has assumed an organized and institutionalized character under the present administration. On the India-Bangladesh border, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had in fact instructed the Border Security Force to stop cow transport as a top priority. News reports have indicated the involvement of India’s paramilitary force in at least one instance of the killing of cattle traders , shot down while attempting to transport cattle across the border. Cattle traders often come from impoverished Muslim or Dalit households.
Although the Gujarat Chief Secretary G. R. Aloria acknowledged hooliganism in the name of “cow protection,” the role of the Sangh Parivar in granting legitimacy to such hooligans and the complicity of officials in enabling their violence needs to be fully exposed and prosecuted under the law.
“We demand that those brought to book for the anti-Dalit atrocities should include, besides the perpetrators of the crimes, those who seek to create conditions that enable and justify such violence, in the name of protecting the cow,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of the Indian American Muslim Council. “The latest round of atrocities against ‘lower caste’ communities that have endured centuries of cruelty, should serve as a unifying call to all who care about justice and the rule of law,” added Mr. Malick.
Among the anti-Dalit atrocities that grabbed international attention was the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, driven to taking his own life after a witch-hunt by officials in the University of Hyderabad and the burning alive of two children from a Dalit family in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Indian American Muslim Council has made the following recommendations: The Central administration should institute a CBI inquiry whose mandate should go beyond the recent atrocities against Dalits, and include the investigation of “gau raksha” or “cow protection” committees set up across the country; Global human rights organizations as well as international media should intensify their scrutiny of the treatment meted out to India’s Dalits and religious minorities. India is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but has been regularly cited as a country with one of the world’s poorest records on human rights.
While atrocities against “lower castes” are unfortunately common across India, Gujarat in particular is worse off than the rest of the country. The state has a mere 2.33 per cent of the country’s Dalit population, but ranks in the top half of the country in the percentage of crimes against Dalits, according to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Crimes Record Bureau. It may be recalled that intense media spin pursued by Mr. Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, touted the state as a model of development, which contributed to his party’s success in the country’s general election and his elevation to the post of Prime Minister of India.
Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information, please visit:http://iamc.com/