By Syed Zubair Ahmad
In the last three decades or so the RSS managed to lure members of so-called lower castes into its fold and skilfully used them to target religious minorities, particularly Muslims, during periodic communal riots. But, for a change, the nefarious tactics did not work in the recent riots in northeast Delhi as evidences show negligible participation of Dalit youths in the violence “orchestrated by hyper nationalists leaders” of Hindu right wing.
Various researches, coupled with independent data compiled by several organisations, observe the members of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Dalit and Tribal communities remain at the forefront in riots against Muslims.
With the saffron outfit’s frontal organization Bagranj Dal having mass base in SC/ST and OBCs, the participation of the communities’ youth during communal violence has been an open secret. One can remember sword wielding images of Ashok Mochi, the face of Gujarat riots, up against Muslims. Of late, however, Mochi became the epitome of Dalit-Muslim unity.
While in recent past many Dalit leaders from right wing groups, including BJP, were pushed forward to spew venom against Muslims, this time so-called upper caste members remained at the forefront in the anti-Muslim tirade. Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma and their ilk were seen on ground.
Remarkably, the riots in northeast Delhi broke on the same day when Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, a Dalit rights leader, called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ to protest the citizenship regime. On his call, a large number of people, mainly Muslim women, occupied a portion of the road near Jaffrabad Metro which was used by BJP leaders “an excuse” to issue threats in front of one of the top ranking Delhi police officers.
Advocate Aftab Fazil, a social rights activist, said that the members of Dalit community understood the ploy of Hindutva forces. He added that members of Dalit community largely remained neutral in areas like Welcome, Maujpur, Khajuri Khas, Gonda Chowk – all locations having significant Dalit population. In past several riots, Dalits were at the forefront, but this time their participation was negligible, he observed.
“Generally, Dalits remained neutral. This is a very positive development. Sustained campaigned by Muslim and Dalit leaders ensued the change in their behaviour. They (Dalits) are no more illiterate and uninformed community. They have realised that Muslims are not their enemy. The enmity between Dalit and Muslim communities will decrease with rising awareness,” said Maulana Sajjad Nomani Nomani, who has been working for Dalit-Muslim for over two decades.
“There is no direct Dalit-Muslims conflict on ground. Most of the community members remained neutral. Yes some Dalits were used by local leaders in northeast Delhi violence,” said Dalit leader Engineer DC Kapil who had contested from Deoli assembly constituency.
However, many people believe that it was Gujjar community who played major role in violence. This assumption got acceptance among Muslim community as the violence occurred in Gijjar area, which cannot be ruled out.
On February 1, Kapil Gujjar went to the Shaheen Bagh protest site and fired two rounds ahead of Delhi assembly elections. But leaders of Gujjar community had a different opinion.
“Gujjar as a caste didn’t involve in the violence against Muslim community. No prominent Gujjar community leader subscribes the communal ideology. Of course, some are politically motivated. But Gujjar as a caste has never been brought up in anti-Muslim ambiance,” said Vijendra Kasana, a Supreme Court advocate and leader of Gujjar community.
It was mainly the members of Gujjar community who fought along side Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar against Britishers in 1857, Gujjars sold their land to Muslims in entire North-East Delhi. We are facing discrimination and like Muslims we are also deprived and marginalized community,” Kasana added.
“Certainly, Dalits were not used this time as foot soldiers by the RSS during NE Delhi riots the way they were used in past. Although they were lured and told to keep looted items with them, yet their involvement was negligible. That’s why RSS had to bring attackers from UP. RSS can mobilize people on a short notice, the example of JNU violence is before us, said Prof. Shamsul Islam who is credited to have written several books on RSS.
There has been considerable increase in the number of RSS Shakhas in North-East Delhi in the last few years. They are trying to bring Gujjars into their fold and many Gujjar leaders also joined the BJP, said Islam.