Already facing high anti-incumbency due to its nearly two-decade long rule in Madhya Pradesh, back-to-back incidents of atrocities against Dalit and tribal communities seem to be adding to the woes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the poll-bound state.
While the incidents of atrocities against the down-trodden communities have already made headlines across the state, what is more worrying that the cases are being reported from one particular area — the Vindhya region — causing more headache to the BJP with elections are just four months away.
Frequent cases of atrocities in Vindhya region — an upper-caste-dominated area comprising districts such as Chhatarpur, Satna, Rewa, Sidhi and Singrauli — are creating resentment against the Shivraj SIngh Chouhan-led BJP government.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 24 out of the 30 seats in the Vindhya region, while the Congress bagged the remaining six.
The latest incident of atrocity was reported from Chhatarpur district where a Dalit youth alleged that his face and body were smeared with human excreta by a man belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.
Notably, Chhatarpur comes under the Khajuraho Lok Sabha constituency which is represented by state BJP chief V.D. Sharma, while Chief Minister Chouhan also belongs to the OBC community.
Notably, this was not the first incident when a Dalit was beaten up or tortured by people belonging to the upper caste in Chhatarpur district.
Several incidents have been reported from this particular area wherein wedding processions taken out by Dalit families faced the wrath of upper caste people, forcing them to even take police protection while taking out ‘baraat’.
In September last year, a 35-year-old Dalit man was attacked by a group of youths belonging to the Thakur community for merely sitting on a chair.
On June 23, a Dalit father-son duo was allegedly thrashed with sticks and paraded with garlands of shoes around their necks in Rewa district.
Another such incident was reported only a couple of days back in which a tribal man was thrashed up by men belonging to upper caste in Rewa.
In a shocking incident that took place in November 2021, the hand of a Dalit daily-wage labourer was chopped off allegedly by his upper caste employer after he asked for his pending wages.
In August 2022, a Dalit woman sarpanch was beaten up by bullies in Satna. Even those who tried to intervene were kicked and punched by a group of upper caste people.
In the same month, a 16-year-old Dalit girl student was allegedly thrashed by an upper caste teacher for sitting in the front row of the class in Singrauli.
Probably the most shocking incident of atrocity, which sparked nation-wide outrage, was reported from Sidhi district last month when a person named Pravesh Shukla was filmed urinating on the face of tribal man. Shukla is known to be close to sitting BJP MLA Kedarnath Shukla.
Taking damage control measures after the pee-gate, Chief Minister Chouhan washed the victim’s (Dashmat Rawat) feet at his residence in Bhopal, while the state government invoked the National Security Act (NSA) against Shukla whose house was demolished.
Notably, the BJP won all the eight Assembly seats in Rewa district and four out of seven in Satna district in 2018. Sidhi and Singrauli have seven seats, six of which were won by the BJP in 2018.
With elections nearing, the Congress leadership has launched a scathing attack against the BJP over the incidents of atrocities against Dalit and tribal people.
Soon after the latest incident in Chhatarpur came to the fore, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, who belongs to the Dalit community, and Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath had slammed the BJP government and demanded strict action against the accused.
Kharge also questioned BJP’s slogan ‘Sabka Sath – Sabka Vikas’, terming it as a ‘PR’ exercise.
“BJP’s ‘Sabka Saath…’ is a PR stunt confined only to advertisements. BJP is shattering Babasaheb Ambedkar’s dream of social justice every passing day. We demand strictest action against the culprit in the Chhatarpur incident,” Kharge tweeted on Monday. –IANS