The tragic burning of 2 Dalit kids, the emotive Dalit issue and the BJP cluelessness
There are conflicting views appearing on how the 2 Dalit kids were burned to death in a small Faridabad village in Haryana while they slept inside their house along with their parents. The prevalent view is that it’s a caste war between the lower caste Dalits and the upper caste Thakurs. This quarrel has been going on between the two families for more than three years and in fact the father of the kids was charged with murder due to a squabble over a mobile phone being thrown into a sewage. Someone threw the petrol from the outside before setting the insides of the house on fire.
The other thought is that maybe husband-and-wife got into a fight (the husband is an alcoholic) and in a fit of uncontrollable rage, the wife doused herself and the kids with petrol and then set themselves on fire. Then the husband decided to use this opportunity to turn it into a lower caste-upper caste scandal so that his own crime gets blunted. A Zee TV crew showed live how it was not physically possible to throw petrol (or whatever inflammable material was used) from the window. Even the bed on which the kids were sleeping was burned partially while the kids had been totally burned, which is not possible.
Irrespective of how the kids tragically died, the controversy was bound to snowball into a political-caste flashpoint due to the ongoing Bihar elections. Both political parties and the media continuously scour the skies of the country like vultures to spot such opportunities for political mileage. Let it be a lower-cast-upper-caste issue or a Hindu-Muslim issue or a Hindu-Christian issue, these political parties and media persons blow them out of proportion to show how various communities are in constant danger of being run over by the most villainous community on the Indian subcontinent — the Hindus in general and the upper caste Hindus in particular.
Upper castes, lower castes, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Budhists and people from many other religions have been living in the country for centuries. There is a great chance that one of your neighbours is from one of these communities. People fight with each other. Neighbours fight with each other. Tomorrow if a Muslim throws garbage from his or her balcony and the garbage falls in front of the house of someone who lives on the ground floor and also happens to be a Hindu and then they get into a fight and if the fight turns ugly, instead of remaining a neighbourhood issue, it metamorphoses into a communal issue.
Similarly, if 2 families or 2 people get into a fight and they belong to different castes, even if the issue is highly personal, it becomes a caste-conflict and if it doesn’t become a caste-conflict issue on its own, the politicians and the media make sure that it becomes one. If the police, consisting of Hindu policemen, arrest a Muslim thief and then beat him up (the police can be nasty everywhere) it again becomes a communal issue or gets twisted into one.
In the Faridabad Dalit-kids-burning issue nobody really knows what happened. People are believing in the words of a murderer, to be frank. Since this controversy, seemingly, puts BJP on the back foot merely because it is the BJP government in Haryana, it will be milked by all the opposing political parties and their media henchmen and women. Even if it is a simple family feud that has got nothing to do with caste conflict, it will be turned into a caste conflict by vested interests. There is nothing new in that.
There is also nothing new in the way the BJP is handling the situation. It’s, as usual, clueless. To make the matters worse, its senior ministers are publicly saying stupid things like what General VK Singh said: “Not Government’s Fault If One Stones a Dog: VK Singh on Dalit Children’s Killings” (subject to verification due to its source, NDTV). I mean, who would in his or her right mind say such a thing, especially while holding such a prestigious post? To be frank, you will find only a BJP minister being capable of scoring such a self-goal. Even if he didn’t mean that, why did he have to bring dogs and Dalits under the same platform and cause his party immeasurable political damage?
Note: As usual, General VK Singh’s statement has been totally twisted, this is what he said:
But then again, why use words and phrases that can compromise your situation?
Caste issues are very emotive and sensitive in our country. Entire political regimes have been created out of the issue whether you talk about Mulayam Singh, Lallu or Mayawati. These dynasties have been entirely carved out of the sensitive caste issue. The BJP shouldn’t tackle with this side of the Indian politics as an afterthought or a side note.
Whether it is the minorities or the lower castes, the BJP needs to develop a style guide. Every ministers should know what to say and what not to say and how to react in case such situations arise. All sorts of shady politicians are visiting the aggrieved Dalit family and even out-of-business politicians like Mayawati are giving clarion calls. Why create such a vacuum that begins to be filled by undesired elements?
What if it is a simple criminal issue? Even if it turns out to be a damp squib in a couple of months, maximum mileage will be drawn by the media and the political parties. Unfortunately, in our country, it is not about reality, it is about political and ideological mileage. This is something the BJP needs to understand and put a strategy in place accordingly.