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The problem in our country is that false propaganda Is being spread that casteism is no longer in practice: Subhashini Ali

Exclusive Interview with CPIM leader Subhashini Ali

Meena Kotwal spoke to Subhashini Ali ahead of the…..

Meena: Women are rarely allowed to speak, they have to struggle for their rights.

Subhashini Ali: Thank you very much, I follow you ……. And congratulations you have received two-three awards and it is commendable that people are recognizing you and I want that your channel should attain success and people to watch it …you bring a lot of news from all over India.

Meena: Thank you very much mam … we have to talk a lot but first of all, I would like to talk about the program being held tomorrow  …. What kind of people would come there?

Subhashini Ali: See…. We have been thinking of this program for 4-5 months and the organization we have (already) …. Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch ….  we are further joined by four more organizations including  Khet Mazdoor Union and other Dalit and other  Khet Mazdoor Union unions of the Left parties. So together five organizations have organized the programand we want to show that….. oh not show but tell that …… our country got freedom and constitution was written but despite the constitution, the Dalits ….. the tribals and the backwards and the large portion of the poor has been deprived of its rights. The rights which they were supposed to get in jobs, education, and society …. They have not got. People know this but hide it.

But another thing is that after the formation of the BJP government in 2014…. We are not saying this but the government institutions are saying that atrocities on Dalits have increased. Violence, Rape, and humiliation…. on one hand, and keeping them away from jobs and prohibiting their entry into education…. So the four-fronted attack on the Dalits and tribals and others. We want to highlight that what is the reason behind this. And we believe that Bhartiya Janta Party is run by an organization .. R.S.S. which has never accepted the constitution of the country.

They declared in 1950 that they disapprove of the constitution and that the judicial system of the country should be run as per the Manusmriti. They said this very clearly and when they got a full mandate in 2014, they are rapidly implementing their Manuvadi Agenda.  they don’t say it and they extoll  Dr. Ambedkar on the outwards. But if you look at their policy and their methodology… then a four-fronted attack can be seen on the livelihood and lives of Dalits. Recently you saw that there was a lynching of Dalits in Chattisgarh on the question of Cows. The cow protection thing that they have made… people think that this is anti-minority; it may be for sure having anti-minority aspect as well; but as far as livelihood is concerned, it is the livelihood of Dalits that has been effected. Because the work of removing the skin and the work of selling the skin …. i.e. the whole business of animal and its flesh has been curbed and they can’t say anything as they would be called anti-Hindu.

Meena: This would be my question that CPI(M) is limited as they are not in power meaningfully in the country and there is a Dharm Sansad in the country and on the other hand you are organizing a program on atrocities on Dalits so do you think that people will associate with you in this way?

Subhashini Ali: We are not focusing on adding people we believe that there should be a platform where everyone comes together and fights for the rights of the Dalits. The Dharm Sansad you are talking about… Hindutva forces are doing their work but don’t we have our own agenda or not? We believe that this is not the right way to fight …. The rights which we are being deprived of. That attacks which are taking place, not only the communal attacks but the attacks which are taking place in the garb of communal attacks …… we have to make the people aware of it and we have to involve the people in it and so we have called this convention and we will give a call that the organizations which have come here should work together and that there should be no question about .. who should be the leader… the issue is big (Dalit atrocities) and we have to walk together(for it)  till where we can walk ..this is the real issue.

Meena: It has been observed that the Dalits have not been given representation in the CPI(M) what do you have to say about this?

Subhashini Ali: The first thing you should understand is that this is not a convention of CPI(M) it is not a convention of any political party and no one would speak on behalf of any political party. We invited Mr. Darapuri … you must be knowing him .. we called him but he said that he is the National President and would like to come to that position we had to disagree with him and he also understood. This is a platform for the people who are fighting for the rights of the Dalits and who wants that others should also join.

We had tried this earlier also but we were able to proceed only a little further and you must have seen that there was a very big rally on 16th September in Delhi, in which Dalit organizations and people from the Left were there but we were able to take that forward only to a little extent. So, there are a lot of issues to be raised and we are raising them. Institutional Murder of Rohit Vemula and the shabbirpur attacks and all other attacks which are happening to date… people are intervening at different places in different ways. And if we do not link the attacks to the government’s policy …we do not think that our struggle would be fruitful.

Meena: As I can see in the report.. Attacks on Women and girls …. There are 10 Dalit girls raped every day but there are cases which are not reported..

Subhashini Ali: I believe the cases are not reported ..as we saw in the case of Hathras….in December ….. September last year the state government tried to suppress the case and supported the accused from the upper caste and burned the body by pouring petrol if the voice had not been raised in her support all over the country … had there been no protest then the four accused would not have been arrested and this is not the only case and it has been seen that sustained movement is not developed and I believe that we not to raise the issue once again and when we went there we saw that the case has not moved ahead and that family is gripped by terror and are in the confines of their homes and the compensation, which the government promised, they have not received.

The problem is that the media in the country today…. And it is not that the media was very good earlier but Dalits used to get the space and the people’s movement and struggle used to get the space ….but like in the Farmers movement, which ran for a year … how much coverage did it get in the media … mainstream electronic media was abusing ..so the struggles of people have no space there.

Mainstream media does not even follow these incidents so we cannot say that people are not doing anything …. People are doing at their level. What is needed is that we align ourselves with their efforts and this should not happen that those who are making efforts we criticize them that why are not doing this and why are they not doing that because there is no space left for opposition.

Meena: In Social media also, we have seen that issues are being raised on the basis of caste and there is one educated section of the society that is not raising the issue even there, leave alone on the ground. So does caste takes precedence over the issue over there also?

Shubhashini Ali: The problem in our country is that false propaganda Is being spread that casteism has finished now and the biggest custodians of caste themselves want to spread this lie that caste discrimination does not take place and that the caste system no longer exists. In a survey, which came recently, it has been found that 90% of the people working in media are upper caste and OBCs are less represented and Dalits even less. So it becomes inherent that the issues of Dalits do not come to the fore.

But we cannot forget that Pragya Mishra of UP…. The one who keeps moving with the mic she was the one who went to Hathras and raised the issue and then there is one Neha Dixit. So you cannot say that the upper castes are entirely callous, yes but the issue of representation remains, and we want that every section should get representation, but this is not the only problem but the bigger issue is that the comprehensive attack on the people fighting against the casteism by the people who want to sustain it (caste system) we are not able to understand that how sharp that attack is they don’t spare any opportunity to attack. So, we need to be attentive to it and we won’t attain anything by criticizing each other.

Meena: The other issue which you are going to raise is Reservation and Land Ownership.. so what is the need of reservation… as we can see that everything is being privatized?

Shubhashini Ali: Reservation is important as if the reservation is done away with then not a single Dalit would get employment in the public sector … and I believe this very firmly and they will not get space in the institutes of higher education and why am I saying this? ……. Because their quota has not been filled I will talk about the reservations later but the places where the reservation exists even there the quota is not being filled on the pretext that there are no people available …. Only 100…150…200….300.. people are to be filled and you are not getting even that and why are you filling by lateral entry… where you can find Dalits you are hiring upper castes from outside there are many posts lying vacant and you have managed to fill only the vacancies of Safai Karamcharis and if there is such kind of mentality then Reservation is the need of the country and is crucial for the whole society and not only for that deprived section.

It has been proved worldwide that the more inclusion you do of different social groups, and ethnic groups in jobs and education, and other works of society the more your society will grow and the more you narrow down these spaces the farther your society will move from development. So when it has been proved then the people who are opposing it, the educated and the intellectual on the grounds that the development is stalled because of this they should understand that this is crucial for development and they should also join the cause.

Meena: Have the Dalits got representation in CPI(M), in the decision-making bodies, and in the higher posts?

Subhashini Ali: We admit that our structure is not as inclusive as it should be and we have tried to rectify this and we also do not believe in tokenism in this. We believe that for this representation is important, training is important and giving responsibility is important and bringing them to a responsible post is also necessary and we believe even today that we have failed to do what we were supposed to do but we have improved from the earlier situation and in many states, we have a strong OBC presence like in Kerala, where the representation of Dalits is good. But there are some states where this work has not been done and we can see the shortcomings and this has also affected the Left Movement and therefore for our movement it is important to rectify this [underrepresentation].

Meena: You have just arrived from Himachal and you are mostly on the ground and wherever there is an issue of rights Subhashini Ali can be easily seen there …

Subhashini Ali: Let me tell you something about Himachal that there is a sizeable Dalit population around 26 to 30% (of the total population) but the backwardness, atrocities, and the Manuvadi ideology can be seen clearly over there. Even today there are lots of temples where there are boards with Shudron ka praveshvarjit (Entry of Shudras prohibited) … meaning where is the constitution… where is the law ..

Meena: Despite this (as everyone says) there is no untouchability …

Subhashini Ali: this is what I am saying. There was a movement recently in which[ the people] said that we will burn the constitution and burn the SC/ST act and we want to implement the Manusmriti. There was a proper movement, which included the people of both parties, who exchange power. But they are clearly able to see that there is a strong resentment and anger against the BJP government but[at the same time] the people are also thinking of an alternative and although they will vote for the person winning but they will not remain silent either.

Left has increased its work and we also have one MLA over there and may there will be more this time and our interventions and activities on the issues of Dalits have increased a lot. In the movement of the burning of the constitution etc, our lone MLA stirred the Vidhan Sabha on the issue and said that if you (the government) allow it to continue then we will also galvanize the masses and will combat them on the streets… so the government had to intervene and said that stop this burning, etc (of the constitution). And I think that the Dalit issues are coming to the fore in the political scene there and it has to be seen that to what extent the next government is pressurized that they reform their policies.

The biggest problem today is that the section which is adversely impacted by the policies of the government, a large section is a supporter of the government’s policies because of religion, hatred, or not being able to understand anything[confusion]. So what is our work? It is to convince the people that this is happening and we are ready to fight and you also come.

Watch this video of the interview:

[Story Edited By Pratikshit Singh]

Meena Kotwal
Meena Kotwal
Meena Kotwal - Founder, The Mooknayak

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