If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgement we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution..”
– Babasaheb Dr B R Ambedkar in his last speech in the Constituent Assembly on adoption of the Consitution on November 25, 1949
The discrimination and atrocities against people belonging to Scheduled Castes is a fact of our socio-political life, so is the misuse of certain provisions meant to curb such evils. The policies of reservations are also not reaching to rightful groups is also a reality. It is also true that representation in the quarters of decision making, including the judiciary, is the ardent desire of the discriminated sections and through democratic means we are relatively slow in addressing it. Despite all this, what we witnessed during the recent outburst of agitations against dilution of atrocities act by the Supreme Court order is alarming for the true leagcy of Babasaheb Ambedkar.
On March 20, the apex court passed an order while hearing a petition filed by former Director of Technical Education, Maharashtra. The case was pertaining to two key issues namely, whether any unilateral allegation of malafide can be ground to prosecute officers who dealt with the matter in official capacity and if such allegation is falsely made what is protection available against such abuse. The judgement remarked against the misuse of Atrocities Act and provided with the remedial guidelines. SC organisations, pointing out the nature of atrocities against the community, gave a call for agitation against the Court order on April 2. Meanwhile, the Union Government also deliberated on legal options and decided to file a review petition in the Court.
The problem started with the Congress as a political party coming in the picture. Even without referring to the case and the judgment, the political messaging was that the Union Government has diluted the Atrocities Act and strategy was to create a stir in the BJP ruled States. The Communist groups, facing the existential crisis, fueled the agitation. The upper caste miscreants, without understanding the concerns of the SC community, also played their cards. The result was violence, injuring many and leaving 11 innocents dead. Ramai Ram, former Bihar Minister, went to the extent of demanding for ‘Harijanistan’ (Dalit land), making a mockery of both Mahatma Gandhi who coined the term ‘Harijan’ and Babasaheb Ambedkar who rejected the same in favour of depressed castes or untouchables and eventually the Constituional term Scheduled Castes.
Can a genuine follower of Babasaheb indulge in violence? Should Nehru and Marx take over the Ambedkar’s real legacy? Is it a coincidence that people like Umar Khalid share stage with Prakash Ambedkar or Sheetal Sathe, who is facing charges of abetting Naxalism, performs in Delhi and all Communist groups feature in the posters? Can there be a Muslim-SC alliance?.
The danger of misappropriation and misrepresentation of Babasaheb by Communists is the biggest danger to the Ambedkar’s legacy. The Congress and Communists always rejected and dejected Babasaheb on every count when he was alive and used his legacy to create social divisions for their political objectives. The Maoist and Naxalites are further giving it a colour of violent ‘class’ struggle. Jihadist also trying to forge a discourse of Mim and Bhim, sighting Muslim-SC alliance which Babasaheb himself rejected absolutely. The entire struggle of Dr Ambedkar was to eradicate the caste based discrimination and ensuring unity and integrity in the society with the sense of brotherhood. No sane person can favour caste based discrimination and atrocities and Babasaheb provided the most rational argument for it and provided with the democratic way out. The time is to understand Babasaheb in originality and not though interpretation of anybody. That is the only way to save the true legacy of Dr Ambedkar.