What does Jai Bhim mean to you? Let us know in the comments!
This episode tells the story of Shantuben from Hajipar village. Shantuben’s family is the only Dalit family in entire village. Shantuben’s struggle and fight against the system expose the caste based discrimination in Indian administration system.
Today in Dalit History we bring to forefront a contemporary anti-caste struggle of Dalitbahujan Muslims in India –the Pasmanda Movement. “Pasmanda” is a Persian term meaning “oppressed” in and encompasses those who make up more than 80% of the total Muslim population in India – Dalit and backward castes Muslims.
The Pasmanda ideology first took shape as a social movement in the 1990s in the state of Bihar. It challenged the authenticity of a monolithic Muslim identity in India by underscoring the existence of three Muslim caste-groups; Ashraf (upper castes), Ajlaf (middle castes) and Arzal (lower castes).
It asserted that although Islam does not recognize hierarchy based on birth, in practice, caste has persisted within these communities for centuries. The realities of the low caste Muslims like Julahas (weavers) and Lalbegi (scavengers), existence of caste-based endogamy and the Ashraf domination in Muslim religious forums and leadership were beginning to be seen as unacceptable. Pasmandas demanded the political space, discourse and power that had been historically denied to them.
With the formation of two key organizations; the All-India United Muslim Morcha in 1993 and then the All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz in 1998, the Pasmanda movement was ready to break Ashraf hegemony. The main goal of these organizations was the constitutional recognition of affirmative action for Pasmanda communities .
Under the Government of India Act of 1935, a list or schedule was drawn up of castes that were recognized as extremely backward. These castes had both Hindu as well as Muslim members and provisions were made for their collective socioeconomic upliftment. However, in 1950 a presidential order was passed according to which these special benefits would be available only to those Scheduled Castes who professed to be Hindu. With one stroke of the pen, non-Hindu Scheduled Castes were henceforth denied the benefits that the 1935 Government of India act had provided for them.
The work done by the Pasmanda movement has quickly spread from Bihar and has so far convinced the assemblies of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh have all passed resolution supporting the demand for inclusion of Christian and Muslim Dalits among Scheduled Castes.
Although anti-caste struggles are not new to the Muslim communities in India, the Pasmanda movement is working with a rapidly shifting political landscape. Its has expanded its resolutions from affirmative action advocacy to forming socio-political alliances with other Bahujan communities as well as extending support to labor and strengthening the policy framework for Pasmanda women.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, on 11th April 2016 said, “next month, I will rise in the House to offer an apology to Sikhs for the Komagata Maru incident.” Komagata Maru was ship that sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 1914, carrying 376 people, mostly Sikhs, were denied entry to Canada. Ship had to return to Calcutta, where a few people were shot dead by British and rest were jailed.
So, almost 100 years later, Prime Minister of Canada has offered apology.
World War – I ended in November 1918 and people from Punjab who fought in that war (mostly from lower castes) came back to homes. They decided to pay homage, say thanks, offer prayers at Golden Temple, Amritsar for keeping them alive at World War-I. These lower caste people were stopped by Sikh Jathedars (clergy) from entering the Golden Temple.
As described by Dalit writer, Gurnam Singh Muktsar, to protest this inhuman behavior and not letting lower castes to enter Golden Temple, lower castes (Dalits) decided to gather at Jallianwala Bagh and stage a protest against caste discrimination.
Sikh Jathedars could not digest that Dalits organising protests for equal rights. At that time, head of Golden Temple was Giani Arur Singh, grandfather of Simranjit Singh Mann who is president of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
On 13th April, 1919 when Dalits were protesting against the inhuman behavior of Sikh leaders, on the directions of Jathedar Arur Singh, General O’Dwyer opened fire on people who were protesting at Jallianwala Bagh. In Jallianwala Bagh massacre thousands of people died.
Later, Jathedar Arur Singh invited General O’Dwyer to Golden Temple and honored him not only with Siropa but also offered him Turban and Kirpan. Jathedars even declared him a true Sikh despite O’Dwyer being a smoker! (In Sikhism smoking isn’t allowed.)
Since then, every year people gather at Jallianwala Bagh and Sikh leaders give lengthy speeches. It’s almost 100 years since Jallianwala Bagh massacre, where 1000s of lower caste people were butchered. No apology has even been issued from Golden Temple management nor a decision to honor General O’Dwyer been revoked. Sikhs are happy with Canada’s Prime Minister apologizing for Komagata Maru. I would ask when Sikh Jathedars (Golden Temple Management) will apologize for Jallianwala Bagh massacre?
Celebrating Dr. Ambedkar’s birthday at United Nations. Good. I don’t have any problem with it. He should be recognized. I support that and support those organisations also working behind it.
2030 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by UN without any reference to millions impoverished and excluded due to caste discrimination.
We should be outrageous against this discrimination. It’s important to recognize Dr. Ambedkar but more than that it’s important that caste discrimination ends in India. What I believe is we should focus more on putting pressure on United Nations to work on ending caste discrimination. We need to set our priorities rights if we want to achieve our targets.
And I pity those organisations also those don’t have any clue that SDGs 2030 don’t include ‘caste discrimination’ but are commenting on this. Which SDGs UN is talking about? SDGs those don’t have any reference to millions impoverished & excluded due to caste?
If UN hasn’t recognized caste discrimination to be ended in 2030 SDGs then which inequality UN is combating? UN has always fooled people on the name of combating inequalities, stop fooling & end caste discrimination.
You should also not forget that ‘Untouchability – Dignity For All’ episode of Satyamev Jayate show on 8th July, 2012, Actor Amir Khan didn’t even mention Dr. Ambedkar’s name and here is his yesterday’s speech.
In this speech, Osho higly praises Dr.Ambedkar and speaks on the injustice done to Dalits (Untouchables) in various fields. He says that there was no one equally intelligent to Dr.Amedkar in his time as far as constitutions were concerned. Osho also remembers the Poona Pact and criticizes Gandhi over his suicidal fast in order to achieve his goal. He calls the Gandhi’s fast as blackmail. Listen to know more.
On first or second Saturday coming after the Hindu New Years Day (Gudhi padawa), the devadasis, who are mostly dalitbahujans, were openly sexually enjoyed in public, about hundred years ago. This is now replaced by another tradition called “Okali”, which was in vogue till 1987. It is a festival like ‘Rang Panchami’. The young boys from higher castes assemble around a pool of coloured water in front of town temple. Young devadasis in the town stand in front of them in a row, and each receives a sari, a choli and a flower garland. The coloured water is poured over the devadasis who appear virtually naked as the cloths given to them are very thin, scanty, delicate and transparent. The boys play with the bodies of devadasis as they like, doing everything just short of sexual intercourse. All assembled enjoy the scene. This happens in the name of god ‘Bili Kallappa’. [Uttam Kamble, Sugawa, p. 81]