The Indian American Muslim Council, 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.
Four Dalit youth were thrashed in Gujarat on July 11 by cow protection group when they were found skinning a dead cow. Their public beating triggered a wave of mass protests and suicide attempts by Dalit youth followed by more atrocities against Dalit by cow protection groups in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Taking growing atrocities under the pretext of cow protection into account, 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. It has also called upon global human rights organizations as well as international media to intensify their scrutiny of the treatment meted out to India’s Dalits and religious minorities.
Violence against Dalits and minorities has intensified under the BJP-led administration, whose worldview is aligned with the ideology of upper caste Hindu supremacy known as Hindutva.
In a statement released to the media, IAMC questioned Modi’s silence over the issue, “While the protests continue to spread, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to make a statement, much less commit to any action”.
“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”, IAMC said adding, “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”.
IAMC also said that mere acknowledgment of hooliganism in the name of cow protection by the Gujarat Chief Secretary G. R. Aloria is not enough and 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 Umar Malick, President of IMRC.
“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,” Malick added.
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.
The atrocities against “lower castes” are unfortunately common across India and Gujarat in particular is worse off than the rest of the country. Prime Minister Modi hails from Gujarat and had projected it as a developed state during his extensive poll campaigning in 2014 election.
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.