Rajesh, 34, was a Dalit, with usual aspirations, mixed with a tinge of idealism. Married, he was blessed with two small children. Self-respecting, conscious of his identity, he dreamed of an egalitarian, prosperous and strong India. He was not an armchair intellectual, but an activist working within the confines of the system.
Innocently pursuing his dreams, he had obviously upset the status quo in his neighbourhood and paid for his courage—with his life. He was hacked to death on July 29.
Rajesh was an RSS Swayamsevak in Sreekaryam, Thiruvananthapuram. On the fateful day, he was returning home from an RSS meeting. Suddenly a group of 15 odd armed men set upon him. His left arm was chopped off and thrown at a distance. In all, he received around 100 cuts.
After naming his killers, Rajesh succumbed to his grievous injuries. He just met a ghastly end a week ago. But his death is a just another statistic in the crime records of the country, the memory of his painful demise surviving only in the hearts of his immediate family and close comrades.
What had Rajesh done to deserve such a violent death? He had no police record. But Rajesh committed two “crimes”.
He was a Dalit, but refused to live a life of oppression and subjugation. He dared to have a mind of his own and had the audacity to nurse dreams about the country and the society and worked ceaselessly to turn them into reality. His persona represented an empowered Dalit, striving to break the mould and pursue the ideology of his choice. He was an affront to vested interests and an insecure establishment in the state that saw a threat in his existence.
Besides being an assertive Dalit, he chose to associate himself with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. To the ruling CPM dispensation in the state, any association with the RSS is sheer blasphemy. So Rajesh’s ‘’crimes’’ multiplied. In all fundamentalist creeds, blasphemy is punishable with death. And that’s what Rajesh got, in the most gruesome manner.
Rajesh is not the first such victim. Over the last 13 months, 13 such innocent men and a woman in Kerala have met a violent end. They were connected with the RSS and their killers, with the ruling CPM.
Out of these 14, four, including Rajesh, were Dalits. Vishnu, 19, from Kannammoola (Thiruvananthapuram) was hacked to death on October 7, last year. Anil, 49, also from Thiruvanthapuram, too met a violent end on December 19, 2016 and so did Nirmal, 20, from Thrissur on February 12 last.
In September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq, 50, was killed in mob violence at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh. In January 2016, Rohith Vemula, a young student of University of Hyderabad committed suicide. While his caste status continues to be debated, social activists belonging to the Left declared him a Dalit and attributed his unfortunate death to his “systematic persecution” at the hands of the BJP government, ABVP and the Sangh Parivar.
While turning Vemula’s sad death into a global propaganda tool, his suicide note, obviously the most credible document to know the reasons for his suicide, was ignored and swept under the carpet.
Rohith had said, “I always wanted to be writer: A writer of science, like Carl Sagan. At last, this is the only letter I am getting to write.” Rohith’s role model was Carl Sagan, an American scientist, and not Mao, Karl Marx or one of the naxal or CPM leaders.
A part of the suicide note which was mysteriously stuck off says, “ASA, SFI, anything and everything exists for their own sake. Seldom the interest of a person and this organisation match.” The note never became a part of public discourse that followed his unfortunate end because its contents did not fit into the narrative of the interested quarters.
In July last, Junaid Khan, 16, was stabbed to death by a mob while travelling back to his village in Haryana’s Ballabhgarh. There are two versions of the unfortunate event. The much publicised version claims that Junaid and his companions were attacked after having been accused of carrying beef and because of their faith.
An official version, however, discounted the religious angle to the incident and attributed it to the usual altercation between passengers on account of overcrowding in the train. According to daily passengers, who were interviewed by various TV channels, the fight over seats is everyday business and many a time these fights end up in violence. In the absence of proper policing, lumpen elements hold sway.
Akhlaq, Vemula and Junaid are household names in India and abroad. The Left and ‘secularists’ have succeeded in making these three names symbols of persecution of minorities and Dalits at the hands of the Sangh Parivar.
Facts have been twisted and the narrative distorted. The miserable end of these three hapless persons has been exploited to suit the ideological designs of the Left. In the process India has been painted as an “intolerant” nation.
Dalits like Rajesh, Nirmal, Anil and Vishnu who were hacked to pieces in the name of ideology, however, do not figure anywhere in public discourse. There are no candle marches, global seminars or high dramas of ‘award wapsi’ for them.
When Akhlaq was killed, India was termed ‘intolerant’ and many celebrities started feeling ‘insecure’ while living in the country.
But these ruthless murders are ‘routine’ and don’t prick anybody’s conscience. Forget the rest of India, they do not even disturb ‘God’s own country’ in any way whatsoever. Are we not only an ‘intolerant’ nation but also an insensitive one with double standards?
Former Rajya Sabha member and Delhi-based commentator on social and political issuesEmail: