The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gujarat has come to showcase a recurrence of man’s inhumanity to man, with the state government doing little or nothing to ensure the dignity and rights of the individual. The atrocities perpetrated on Dalits by cow vigilantes at Una some months ago has been reinforced, this time within the precincts of a district jail ~ a state entity. Calculated malevolence alone explains the deliberate mockery of the jail manual. Dalit prisoners have been barred access to the water plant. To make it close to the bone, they have been barred access to one of life’s essentials and incidentally on the 125th anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.
The crime, committed at Amreli district jail at the behest of the upper castes among the inmates in cahoots with the jail administration, is no less heinous than the flogging of Dalits for allegedly skinning cattle, not to forget the mayhem at Dadri over suspected consumption of beef. A more startling instance of what the legal fraternity calls “intense upper caste tyranny” is difficult to imagine. It thus comes about that a Dalit undertrial ~ Parmar by surname ~ was denied the use of the earthen pitcher when he desperately needed to quench his thirst. Instead, he was directed to the tap in the toilet. Many others languishing behind bars have suffered a not dissimilar humiliation. Gujarat bears witness to a societal spin on intolerance and the caste divide is no less pronounced inside the jails. From Una to Amreli, the withers of the administration remain unwrung in the season of such supposedly weightier issues as paper currency and plastic notes. In the event, India and the Dalits are going through the worst of both worlds. The RO (reverse osmosis) plant, installed precisely to provide safe drinking water, is reserved for the upper castes. Those lower down the societal pecking order have to make do with water that is unfit for consumption and in horribly unhygienic conditions.
Horror of horrors, the discrimination and/or upper caste tyranny is not confined to the consumption of potable water. As reported in this newspaper, the other forms of persecution by a group of 20 to 25 upper caste prisoners can take the form of washing their clothes and utensils. Nay more, waking them up at 2 in the night and ordering them to massage their legs. Even the slightest unwillingness can lead to an assault so severe that the Dalit may not be able to stand and walk for days. There are reportedly many other jails like Amreli where denial of fundamental rights goes hand in hand with physical torture and worse. Complaints to the jail authorities have yielded little or no response. Which confirms misgivings that upper caste tyranny is perpetrated in connivance with the jail authorities. Exemplified in the process is a micro-study of societal injustice.