Ahmedabad-based Dalit group, Dr Ambedkar Vechan Pratibandh Samiti, which had earlier announced to send a 16.5 feet-long soap, signifying 16.5 per cent of Dalit population in India, to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, will now send a 125 kg soap. Addressing mediapersons, samiti member Martin Macwan said the idea was to mark the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar who had embraced Buddhism with a view to fight casteism in the Indian society.
The soap is embossed with an image of Gautam Buddha whose messages, claimed Macwan, would help “Yogi clean his casteist ideologies”. “After attaining enlightenment 2,500 years ago, Buddha had taken Sunit, a scavenger, as his disciple at Kushinagar near Varanasi to protest the prevailing caste system. It is the same place, the UP chief minister recently chose to distribute soaps and shampoo before visiting the Dalits. It indicates that Yogi, under the influence of Manusmriti, wants to reverse what Buddha has done. We feel that Yogi’s casteist ideologies can be cleaned by Buddha’s message. We can fight the ideologies of saffron groups and Yogi through the ideologies of Buddha,” said Macwan who is also the founder of NGO Navsarjan. The Rs 3,200 worth soap, manufactured with the money donated by Dalit women across the state, was displayed on the premises of NGO, Centre for Development, on Thursday. The casing, in which the soap has been fitted, has been provided by Dalit Shakti Kendra, Sanand, in Ahmedabad. The embossed picture of Buddha has been designed by MICA professors, Pravin Mishra and Suman Kaur.
“It reflects an ideology promoted by Buddha to end casteism and all sort of discrimination based on one’s birth and encourage egalitarianism,” explained Macwan, a Magsaysay Award recipient, adding that the soap would be sent by parcel through Sabarmati Express any day after June 16. The parcel would be received by another Dalit group in Lucknow, which would hand over the soap to Yogi.
The samiti is currently meeting dalit MLAs and MPs of the state and submitting memorandums to them against atrocities on Dalits after BJP came to power at Centre. The samiti, through the memorandums, is questioning the Dalit leaders’ silence on the atrocities in Saharanpur and other places. The campaign will end on June 16.