Bring down, brick by brick, the Hindutva fascist brahmanical-patriarchal edifices on which stands the farce of this democracy!
The brutal rape and murder of a 27 years old Dalit law student, Jisha at her home near a canal in Kerala’s Ernakulam district has inexorably exposed the much hyped social and political culture of a State, high up in the literacy index, but which in practice is misogynist and casteist and where in reality the lives of Dalits and other oppressed castes do not matter. The “God’s Own Country” has long since been one with “Devil’s Own Men” for women and hence the accusation and attack on migrant labourers for all of its problems ranging from theft to rape and murder only reveals its entrenched xenophobia. But Kerala is no different from the rest of this country when it comes to discrimination against Dalits and other oppressed castes.
And hence to anyone raising the question of why this emphasis on Jisha’s or Delta’s Dalit identity, the answer is that the Hindu Brahmanical forces in this country have always legitimised the historical and cultural logic behind atrocities directed against Dalit women. Thus while the rape and cover-up of the murder of a 17 years old Delta in Rajasthan is symptomatic of how our institutions have turned into torture camps for Dalits, the social boycott faced by Jisha and her family for bearing a Dalit identity pinned the safety of their lives on a pen camera which Jisha normally wore whenever her mother went out for work. But no pen camera or call recorder on her phone could save Jisha from the brutality of a society that sees the violence on Dalit women as an outcome awaiting them for being “sub-human”.
It is only on account of being considered as beings whose lives and property have no value or legitimacy that the Kerala police refused to take any action on a complaint filed by Jisha’s mother, months before her murder, citing threat to the lives of both her and her two daughters. It is only on account of a normalization of the all-pervasive violence that Dalit women endure both in their families and in the outside world that for five days after this ghastly murder and rape of a young Dalit woman no local media outlet reported the incident and no police case was registered. Well, this is not surprising in a country where a school student is raped by her own school teacher and later mercilessly murdered in connivance with the school administration to hush up the crime.
It is not surprising in a country where angered by her efforts to prevent a child marriage in her own family,a Dalit social worker in Rajasthan, Bhanwari Devi, was brutally gang-raped by upper caste men only to be acquitted later by the courts. It is also not surprising in a country where the upper caste landlord army in Bihar, Ranveer Sena, even after unleashing a number of major massacres of Dalits and oppressed caste people including at Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Shankarbigha, Miyanpur, Ekwari and Khairlanji between 1994 and 2006 butchering some 144 men and children and raping and murdering over 100 women and boasting about their actions on camera are still let scot free by the “law of the land” for lack of evidence. Hence it is important to talk about how patriarchal notions of power and authority in our society are not just masculinised but also caste-ised to make it a readily available resource to further the violence against women in general and Dalit women in particular. Dalit women are the victims of both caste based violence rampant in the society and also of the violence reproduced by Dalit men who conform to the patriarchal caste order.
Jisha, Delta, Nirbhaya and the number of other women tortured and murdered in this country on a daily basis are not just the victims of exploitation and torture for as long as we have written records of social organization and family life but are also inspiring reminders of the need to question the Mata in Political Hinduism’s concept of a Bharat Mata, who not just personifies a Hindu imagination of India but is also blind to the violence against women unleashed by its bhakts as a weapon in its all-out war against the minorities and the oppressed. One wonders as to how and why the Mata would be tolerant to the integral linkage of gender politics, sexist imagery and sexual violence in the Hindutva project of the Sangh.
So, struggles like Justice for Jisha, Justice for Delta are all crucial struggles in the way of combating patriarchy, annihilating caste. These are crucial struggles in the way of bringing down, brick by brick, the Hindutva fascist brahmanical-patriarchal edifices on which the farcical democracy stands today. They are also stepping stones for the establishment of that real democracy which would be free of any and every form of oppression.