Do Really Dalit Lives matter too?

By Mayura Choudhari

The world is facing the Pandemic, locked down in their homes, trying to survive, helping or not helping needy, critisizing or prasing the government, managing poverty or working and earning from home; our life styles have definitely changed a lot. What doesn't change is the "HATE", discrimination, may it be based on religion, race, caste or gender people are not yet ready to learn compassion, to admit that other's lives too matter.

After George Floyd's murder in US, a wave of resistance rose against the inhuman practice of racism. Blacks, Whites and Browns, everybody is protesting against it. We can witness a huge gathering of people on streets in solidarity with Floyd and standing firm against racism. India also is much vocal about the incident and is actively tweeting with hashtags Black lives matter. While all this is happening, India besides lockdown, is engaged in its regular casteism. And as usual no savarna rage is seen against it, unlike the Whites protesting in America and other places.

Recently on 27th of May 2020, an atrocious murder took place in Nagpur district of Maharashtra.

Arvind Bansod, a Schedule Caste youth and an Ambedkarite social activist from Pipaldhara village, Narkhed Taluka in Nagpur district was murdered by Mithilesh aka Mayuresh Umarkar, an owner of Gas agency at the village and an active worker of the Nationalist Congress Party, a major political party in Maharashtra presently ruling under an alliance with Congress and Shiv Sena. The village Pipaldhara comes under constituency of NCP leader and the current home minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh.

The circumstances of Arvind’s death are clearly evident of conspiracy and murder. Yet, the Police is trying to shape it as a suicide and mainstream media also reported the same without detailed investigation.

Advocate Soniya Gajbhiye from Nagpur who has taken up the case, spoke to the family of Arvind and understood the incidence in detail.

Arvind Bansod, 30, was the eldest son of the family with 2 younger brothers and father. His mother passed away 6 years ago. He had completed MA and was preparing for Public Service Exams while working as a social activist. He was very intelligent and smart, told villagers.

27th May 2020 turned out to be the darkest night for him. Arvind went to the ATM with his friend Gajanan Raut. Later they approached the nearby petrol pump and clicked some photographs of the board of the gas agency by Mayuresh. It has been told that he has taken the photo to contact the agency for purchasing a gas connection.

While he was clicking the photographs, the accused, with his 3 other friends came and debated them for taking photographs. Accused started beating them and abusing with castiest comments. He said,

“Tu kya dalito ka neta banne ki koshish kar raha kya… tu Mahar hai, hamare pairon ke niche rahega, tum log bas gulami karo, zyada neta banane ki jarurat nahi”,

“Are you trying to become the leader of dalits… you are Mahar, you will be under our feets, you people only serve, no need to become a leader.”

The accused snatched away the mobile from Arvind and left. Arvind got up and asked his friend Gajanan to get the petrol filled while he get his mobile phone back from the accused.

After filling petrol Gajanan returned to the spot, he saw that Arvind was lying in front of the gas agency and a bottle of pesticides was fallen besides him on the floor.

When crowd gathered, Mayuresh, the accused, picked up Arvind in his car, also took the pesticide with him in the car. When Gajanan asked to come along, Mayuresh refused to let him go with them. Then they took Arvind to the Hospital. Where is died two days later.

The accused presented entirety different story about what happened after the fight which the police also is putting forward. As per their narrative, Arvind went to the nearby medical store and bought pesticide and consumed it himself.

A big question here arrives that, how did the accused got to know about this ? Why did he took the pesticide bottle while taking Arvind to the hospital and why he denied Gajanan to come along?

Gajanan immidiately went to Arvind's home and informed his family. Then they approached to the police station.

The officer on duty PI Dekate refused to register a complaint saying that Arvind isn’t dead yet and he will take action in case he dies. For two consecutive days no action was taken by the police and no FIR was filed despite the repeated requests by Arvind’s family.

On 29th May 2020, at 8 am Arvind took his last breath. Gajanan went to the police station to inform and this time also the report was not taken.

Finally around 4.30 pm the same PI, Dekate registered FIR under section 306 and 34 Indian Penal Code for Abetment of suicide.

But no complaint was registered under the charges of Atrocity and Murder. When asked about CCTV footage, police denied to provide information saying that the CCTV isn't working.

Police did not even take the statement of Gajanan as an eyewitness. When asked, they replied that they did not felt the need to take his statement.

While accused are out on bail, till now no improvement has been shown by the police and the PI Dekate has not been co-operative, there is a demand to change the investigative officer. The concerned people are approaching various social organisations to come in support.

Meanwhile, Ambedkarite youth from Nashik staged a silent protest to demand action in the case duly following guidelines of social distancing.

They were stopped and arrested by the police on the ground of violating social distancing rules. They are charged with Sections 188,269,270, BPA135, A, B, C, C, 2,3,4.

Nothing surprising, Its not new that whenever Ambedkarite youth came out for justice or raised their voice, they were always been suppressed by framing under fake allegations.

On 7th of June, Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Mr. Nitin Raut tweeted to look into the matter and bring justice to the victim and his family, while mentioning the trending hashtag #Dalitlivesmatter and #justiceforArvind

Will Arvind get justice in a country where the Constitution has given in bold letters like Central Equality, Freedom, Brotherhood, Justice?

And while we are talking about Justice for Arvind Bansod another casteist murder happened in Pune, a 20 year old boy Viraj Jagtap got killed for loving a girl out of his caste.

There are many such cases of atrocities and casteist violence that go unreported. The few that are reported remain pending in the courts for years but no justice has been achieved.

At this point, where the world agrees and raised voice for Black lives matter, don't Dalit lives matter too?

Mayura Choudhari is a co-founder of The Colourboard.


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