Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale Wednesday announced that his party will approach the Supreme Court against recent orders directing the media to refrain from using the term ‘Dalit’ and instead to use the constitutional term ‘Scheduled Castes’ to refer to the community.
“The Union government seems to have issued the statement on the orders of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High court. In fact, it was our Dalit Panthers movement that started using the term as a mark of pride. ‘Dalit’ was used to refer to all those who are from lower socio-economical background and it is in no way an insult,” Athawale said on Wednesday.
Athawale said that decades ago when the government decided not to use the term ‘Harijan’ — coined by Mahatma Gandhi to refer to Dalits — and instead use ‘Scheduled Caste’ for official purposes it was in keeping with the sentiments of the community that didn’t like being called so.
“Earlier this year, our Social Justice Ministry too had issued orders asking government departments to stick to the term Scheduled Castes. It is alright to say that in the official written documents Schedule Caste should be used,” Athawale said.
Athawale also reacted to calls by Madhya Pradesh-based upper caste outfits for a Bharat Bandh on Thursday to protest the recent amendments by the Union government to safeguard The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “My message to all Brahmin groups saying that the Atrocities Act would be misused is: if you don’t commit atrocities against Dalits, there is no fear of the Atrocities Act being applied to you.”