26th June (1927) in Dalit History – Bahishkrit Bharat newspaper announcement

26 June 1927 in Dalit History: Bahishkrit Bharat newspaper announced that those members of the Depressed classes who wanted to wash out the stigma of polluters of Mahad water tank (called Chowdar tank) and who wanted to denounce assaults on their representatives should enlist themselves at office of Bahishkrit Hitakarni Sabha in Bombay[1] (present Mumbai)

This was the time of post-Mahad agitation for the right of drinking water from a public source. Following the agitation on 20 March 1927, the orthodox, reactionary Hindus at Mahad, purified the ‘Chowdar Tank’ using a mixture of cow-dung, cow-urine, curd and water in 108 earthern pots dipped in the tank in the midst of air-rendering Mantras uttered by Brahmin priests. The orthodox Hindu is a strange fossil of humanity. To him blind irrational tradition is greater than truth. Time and tide have no effect upon his mind !

The news of the so-called purification of the Chowdar Tank lacerated the hearts of the Depressed Classes, and so deep was the on Dr. Ambedkar’s heart that he was indignant and decided to launch a satyagraha struggle for the vindication of his people’s rights. Some feared that this ‘impatient’ remedy was worse than the disease. Dr. Ambedkar, in a mood of righteous indignation, replied that mere spread of education and exposition of the scriptures would not be able to root out that age-long disease. The disease, he said, was deep-rooted and merely dressing it with bandages of knowledge or ingenious schemes would not cure it. Deadly diseases required drastic remedies.

The non-Brahmin leaders of Maharashtra, Javalkar and Jedhe, declared their whole-hearted support for the proposed struggle on condition that all the Brahmins should be weeded out from it, that the struggle should be non-violent and that it should be staged on a mass scale after convening a conference at Mahad in this connection. Dr. Ambedkar replied that the view that all Brahmins were the enemies of the Untouchables was erroneous. What he hated was the men who were possessed with the spirit of Brahminism – the idea of high-caste and low-caste – which implanted the idea of pollution and inequality. He said that a non-Brahmin filled with such ideas of highness and lowness, was as repellent to him as a Brahmin free from this spirit and sense of these privileges and unjust power, was welcome to him.

Accordingly, it was announced on 26 June 1927 in Bahishkrit Bharat newspaper that those members of the Depressed classes who wanted to wash out the stigma of polluters attached to their whole class by the Mahad hindus by their act of purification of the tank, and who wanted to denounce the act of assaults committed on their representatives should enlist themselves at office of Bahishkrit Hitakarni Sabha in Bombay (presently Mumbai). It was declared that the satyagraha struggle was to be launched under the auspices of the said institution.

In case you missed previous days’ Dalit-History posts, check these –

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