Dalits and Muslims protest
Dalit groups protest against SC-ST Act (L) and Muslims protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (R)
Text Size:

There is a deep rot and monumental failure of imagination on part of a section of the political class advocating the Dalit and Muslim unity.

Much has been written about the debate around the recent changes in Indian Citizenship law. Arguments, both in favour and against the amendment, have expectedly missed the Dalit dimension that forms a fundamental part of this legislative alteration.

The opposition has been unsuccessfully toying with this idea of Dalit-Muslim unity for a long period of time now. With today’s announcement of having a permanent Dalit member in the Sri Ramjanmabhoomi Tirth trust, they would face another blow. What the opposition clearly fails to understand is that the Dalits are culturally, socially and politically the most important ambassadors of Hindutva on the ground.


Also read: BJP claims CAA helps Dalits. But lives of Jogendra Nath Mandal & Ambedkar say otherwise


Dalit plight in Pakistan, Bangladesh

And yet, there are attempts to misguide the Dalit community on the recent changes in the Citizenship Amendment Act. More than 80 per cent of Hindus in Pakistan are Dalits. The status of Hindus in both Pakistan and Bangladesh is an open secret. They are subjected to the worst forms of discrimination. Their plight was also highlighted by the International Religious Freedom Report released by the US State Department in 2011.

“In much of lower Sindh, Dalits constitute up to 70 per cent of the agricultural workforce. According to Khurshid Kaimkhani, a Left activist from Sindh, and author of what is probably the only book on the Pakistani Dalits, local landlords prefer to employ Dalits instead of Muslim because the former are less vocal and more docile. Hardly any Dalits own any land, he says, and they are entirely dependent on the landlords for their survival. There are no special government development schemes for Dalits,” observes Yoginder Sikand, who has authored several books on Islam, in his article Pakistan’s Forgotten Dalit Minority.

The mass exodus of Dalits from Pakistan to India has been a constant phenomenon. Only in 2013, then Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot assured support to a number of illegal migrants who came from Pakistan. Congress party on multiple occasions in the past has expressed support to the illegal migrants from neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh on account of religious persecution.

Richard Benkin, an independent Human Rights activists, claims that the population of Hindus in the five-decade-old history of Bangladesh has come down from 30 per cent to less than 3 per cent.

It was a Dalit from India whose intervention and leadership led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Gary Bass, a former American diplomat and the author of The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, has called Babu Jagjivan Ram, the then defence minister in the Government of India, as the most hawkish minister of defence. The efforts of Babu Jagjivan Ram are deeply recognized by the government of Bangladesh, to the extent that he was awarded the highest civilian honour of the country. However, the condition of Dalits in rest of the subcontinent barring India is completely paradoxical to what Jagjivan Ram would have imagined.

The Calcutta carnage was followed by the ‘Noakhali Riot’ in October 1946. There, Hindus including Scheduled Castes were killed and hundreds were converted to Islam. Hindu women were raped and abducted. Members of my community also suffered loss of life and property.” wrote Jogendra Nath Mandal, Minister of Law and Labour to Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Mandal is forgotten in the annals of history, primarily owing to his decision to join the cabinet of Pakistan. Considering the educational backwardness and social predicament of Dalits and Muslims, Mandal probably forged a chimaera of Dalit-Muslim unity, much before both Mayawati and Asaduddin Owaisi were born.


Also read: The Mayawati era is over. Bye Bye Behenji


Support from Dalit leadership

Mayawati, who is arguably one of the tallest leaders from the Dalit community across the nation with a substantial share in the votes, has also not been against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Jitan Ram Manjhi, former Dalit Chief Minister of Bihar also cancelled the rally he was scheduled to address along with Owaisi against the amendment. Ram Vilas Paswan, who is part of the NDA government, has given sufficient statements in support of the amendment. When the established Dalit leadership in the country is not opposing the amendment, then the misadventures of Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan will have little implications, as he is clearly not representing the sentiments of the community.

Many minority leaders and journalist from across Pakistan and Bangladesh, requesting anonymity has admitted to the atrocities faced by them in everyday interactions. Religious extremism has deep roots in rural and urban segments of both the countries and the socially, politically and economically deprived sections among the Hindus have welcomed the positive changes in the citizenship Act in India.

With the CAA now enacted, Dalits will have an option to return to the life of dignity and respect in India.

The author is an Assistant Professor at Patna University and Visiting Fellow, India Foundation. He is a member of the state executive committee, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, BJP’s youth wing, Bihar. Views are personal.

ThePrint is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on politics, governance and more, subscribe to ThePrint on Telegram.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

20 Comments Share Your Views

20 COMMENTS

  1. No political party is for the Dalit,it’s only for the vote bank.even if the entire lot from Pakistan and Bangladesh repatriate their condition is not going to be better if not worst. If we have to believe where & what’s the answer for Bhima Koregaon.

  2. The article gives a link to a “claim” that Hindu population in Bangladesh has come down from 30% to 3%. But when the linked site article doesn’t say any population percentage of Hindus in Bangladesh. It only says that 80% Hindu are Dalit in Pakistan and there they are being treated very badly. Well, Dalits are not even treated good even in India.

  3. Today’s chant is “Savitri waali Azadi/Fatima waali Azadi” (read up on who these mostly forgotten women were) – so today, the resistance is (a) women-led (b) leaning left (c) for learning and scholarship (as opposed to blind-belief and anti-knowledge) and (d) for dalit-muslim unity. Only RSS says otherwise.

  4. Ambedkar said :The Muslim invaders, no doubt, came to India singing a hymn of hate against the Hindus. … Its (Islam’s) growth is so thick in Northern India that the remnants of Hindu and Buddhist culture are just shrubs. Even the Sikh axe could not fell this oak. Sikhs, no doubt , became the political masters of Northern India, but they did not gain back Northern India to that spiritual and cultural unity by which it was bound to the rest of India before HsuanTsang.”

    On Muslim caste system, he said: Islam speaks of brotherhood. Everybody infers that Islam must be free from slavery and caste. Regarding slavery nothing needs to be said. It stands abolished now by law. But while it existed much of its support was derived from Islam and Islamic countries… The existence of these evils among the Muslims is distressing enough. But far more distressing is the fact that there is no organized movement of social reform among the Musalmans of India on a scale sufficient to bring about their eradication. The Hindus have their social evils. But there is this relieving feature about them—namely, that some of them are conscious of their existence and a few of them are actively agitating for their removal. The Muslims, on the other hand, do not realize that they are evils and consequently do not agitate for their removal. Indeed, they oppose any change in their existing practices. It is noteworthy that the “Muslims opposed the Child-Marriage Bill brought in the Central Assembly in 1930, whereby the age for marriage of a girl was raised to 14 and of a boy to 18 on the ground that it was opposed to the Muslim canon law. Not only did they oppose the bill at every stage but that when it became law they started a campaign of Civil Disobedience against that Act. Fortunately the Civil Disobedience campaign of the Muslims against the Act did not swell and was submerged in the Congress Civil Disobedience campaign which synchronized with it. But the campaign only proves how strongly the Muslims are opposed to social reform.”

    • First school for girls started by Savitribai Phule in Fatima Sheikh’s house. Hindus threw stones at Savitribai when she went to teach. RSS opposed Hindu Code Bill which raised age of marriage.
      Upper caste Sanghis keep soiling your chaddis.

  5. What a Hollow article. Mayawati has indeed opposed CAA. Only Leaders of your Choice cannot be called ESTABLISHED leaders. Also without Anti CAA protest a Dalit won’t be made trustee. And when did you ever allowed Dalits to protest for anything. Your target to demean Muslims and end Reservation has gone far far away and you know it. Strong Muslim opposition will continue to force you to appease Dalits with a heavy heart.

  6. Shekhar Guptaji,

    Two or three people are being allowed to spoil the otherwise sober content of your news site. Dilip Mandal, Guru Prakash and another one person are needlessly being allowed to peddle their “dalit-angle” imaginary grievances.week after week. Are other human beings of India free from grief and agony? We never get to hear the troubles and grievances of other Hindu people.

  7. ”Many minority leaders and journalist from across Pakistan and Bangladesh, requesting anonymity has admitted to the atrocities faced by them in everyday interactions.” Most Indian newspapers are silent on this in the fear of losing their secular credentials.

    • Opposition to CAA, if there must be any, must be on economic grounds. We simply can’t afford to feed and shelter a few more million people.

      But what a lot of pro CAA people ignore is the danger of NRC lurking in the background. NRC will be a disastrous exercise on all grounds – politically, economically, socially. It will leave a 50,000cr sized crater in our already weak fiscal situation. It will also impact the poorest and weakest of society the most – the ones without any documentation.

      The protestors now need to leave and focus on thwarting NRC – if it is ever implemented. That is the real danger. CAA isn’t something any rational person can or should oppose on political grounds

  8. ”Richard Benkin, an independent Human Rights activists, claims that the population of Hindus in the five-decade-old history of Bangladesh has come down from 30 per cent to less than 3 per cent.” But this newspaper never says a word why this happened. They are more worried Bangladesh will get angry with India.

    • you mean East-Pakistan tolerated so many Hindus for decades, then they migrated to India the moment secular Bangladesh was created (yes janab, Bangladesh was secular at birth)?

  9. The very thought of Dalit-Muslim unity makes Sanghis soil their chaddhis! That is why stooges and trolls try hard to spread the lie that it is a charade.

    • A lot of Muslims ancestors were Dalits or low caste Hindus. And Mayawati and other taller leaders are not opposing the CAA. And the real support for this law will reflect in 2024 elections.

    • Go and ask Jogendra nath mandal family. SCs have Indic names not Arabic name. I know your hatred for Hindu but remember this India not Arabia, The arabic religion has to leave this country.

      • Who made you the owner of India? Didn’t Hindutvawadis lick British bottoms? It was Secular Muslims and Hindus who fought in Azad Hind Fauj. Manuvadis should get out of India. They betrayed the country when it needed them most. 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here