The Opposition in Rajya Sabha on Thursday launched a frontal attack on the BJP over growing attacks on Dalits and other sections, saying a “Taliban-like attitude” was prevailing in some parts of the country and the ‘Gujarat model’ had been thoroughly exposed.
Participating in a discussion on recent incidents of atrocities on Dalits in various parts of the country, the members also said the situation in Gujarat was “explosive” as Dalits were attempting to commit suicide.
The debate came amid large-scale protests after the recent case in Una in Gujarat, where four Dalit youths were brutally beaten up in public by some cow vigilantes.
Initiating the discussion, senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav sought a ban on ‘Gau Rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes) operating in some parts of the country.
He said there was a “Taliban-like attitude” and it was matter of shame that even after 70 years of independence, atrocities against dalits, especially women, were increasing.
“Who created these ‘Gau Rakshaks’? Why doesn’t the government ban them? What is this tamasha? …. We talk about Taliban … our caste system has a Taliban-like attitude, we need to discuss that,” Yadav said.
Congress and other members joined him, saying the incident only exposes the real face behind the “Gujarat model” being propagated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Observing that the youths were joining such groups because of rising unemployment, Yadav said “in Gujarat, these Gau Rakshaks say 33 crore gods and goddesses live in the cow. Such superstitions are being spread in this country.”
Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the situation in Gujarat was “explosive” as Dalits were attempting suicide.
He warned that the Centre should ensure that the recent “shameful” incident does not turn into a communal one ahead of next year’s Assembly elections in the state. “You have talked about Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, but the situation is just the opposite.”
Patel said the real face of the Gujarat model of development was being exposed now. “We have always said that Gujarat model worked for the benefit of few industrialists. They (BJP) have always divided the society and ruled.”
Terming the situation as “very explosive” in Gujarat, he said if urgent steps are not taken to control it, then the situation might explode.
He said the centre should not have “arrogance” of having absolute majority” and steps should be taken to reach out to people. He also questioned why Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel met the victims only yesterday even though the incident had taken place over a week ago.
Senior CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury charged the government with inventing “new avenues for attacks on Dalits” ever since it rose to power in 2014.
Terming the mindset of the ruling party as “worrisome” and that of bolstering “obscurantism”, he said “I keep wondering that when it came to Dalits, there is diarrhoea of words and constipation of action. There are voluminous speeches but no action.”
Observing that India of the last two years was not the India he remembered, Yechury said cow is venerated here but absurd charges are framed against people who skin the dead cow. “New avenues of persecution and repression are brought about with Ministers comparing Dalits to dogs.”
“Last year, of the 25 students committing suicide in the country, 23 were Dalits”, he said, adding that a mindset was being created against them with some Ministers abusing them and RSS top brass seeking review of reservation policy.
Yechury said there has been 19 per cent increase in cases of attacks on Dalits in 2014 with the number touching to 47,064. Besides 1.23 lakh cases are in trial stage while conviction rate was less than 5 per cent at 5,102 as against a high conviction rate of 43 per cent in 2013.
He said it was shocking to note that in the recent case while the Gujarat government failed to provide any panel of lawyers to Dalits to defend themselves, the state government has expressed reservations against implementing the sub-plan for them saying it is very difficult.
Urging the government to encourage “spirit of scientific temper” and getting rid of obnoxious and atrocious frame of mind, Yechury it should stop promoting Hindu societal ideology where ‘khap panchayats’ prevent inter-caste marriages and manual scavenging continues.
Asking BJP to embrace a “change of heart”, he said time has come for Dalit empowerment as he also condemned a BJP leader’s attack on BSP chief Mayawati.
Derek O’Brien (TMC) too condemned BJP leader Dayashankar Singh for use of derogatory words against Mayawati and said he was deeply embarrassed over it.
On Gujarat incident, he said “Let us all venerate the cow, but then why mock the cow-worker. Superficial symbolism is BJP’s style. I think that PM Modi is trying to translate Ambedkar’s work, but sometimes the meaning is lost in the translation.”
Lashing out that how can one oppress a cow worker, he sought to know how many members in Rajya Sabha were wearing leather shoes and said 2.5 lakh people are employed in tanneries and India was a leading exporter of leather.