Despite PM's “shoot me, not Dalits” speech, violence against Dalits continues
Mokati Elisa was found in an unconscious state, bleeding, with a battered eyebrow
begging his oppressors to let go
A mob in Amalapuram town of Andhra Pradesh attacked two Dalit brothers for skinning a dead cow on August 9. Mokati Elisa and his brother Lazar were tied to a tree, stripped and beaten by a mob of around 100 people. The latest such attack by self-styled protectors of the cow comes less than 48 hours of PM Modi's "shoot me, not Dalits” speech. While on one hand the PM appealed to his constituency to not attack Dalits, the representatives of the TDP-BJP government in AP did not even visit the victims.
Elisa managed to file a police complaint only on August 10, with the help of his 38 year-old son Chittibabu who found him in an unconscious state, bleeding, with a battered eyebrow and begging his oppressors for mercy. Both Elisa and Lazar have been admitted in Amalapuram's government hospital. While all political parties and civil society members have condemned the incident and visited the victims, the BJP-TDP government have maintained silence while denying any political group's involvement in the incident. There has not been a word on this brutal violence from Chief Minister Naidu or his alliance partners. Two people have been arrested by the police while others are still absconding. All alleged perpetrators have been booked under various sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The two Dalit brothers were called for skinning a cow that had died of electrocution while grazing. The brothers belong to the Madiga community, a Scheduled Caste that is found primarily in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The community earns its living by making leather goods.
On July 12, four Dalit youths in Una, a small town in Gujarat were thrashed with iron rods, chained to a car and dragged to a police station. The young men were also skinning a dead cow when the assaulters, members of the local gau raksha samiti, accused them of killing the cow for the purpose of selling beef and attacked them. The gruesome act was captured on video by their assaulters and widely circulated using WhatsApp and other social media channels. While slaughtering cows and selling or consuming beef is banned in Gujarat, skinning of dead animals is not illegal.
Recently, the Prime Minister condemned "self-styled gau rakshaks”, but did not declare any concrete action plan to address the increasing violence against Dalit. He also claimed that "80 per cent of all such cow vigilantes were fake” Since the BJP government has come to power, attacks on Dalits, Muslims and Adivasis have considerably increased. The comments by PM Modi came only after a massive protest march by Dalits in Gujarat, their ongoing Azadi March to Una and resistance shown in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are poll-bound states and have a huge Dalit population. Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel's resignation and the condemnation of gau rakshaks from Modi and RSS can be clearly seen as a move to woe Dalit voters and to brush up its reputation of being inherently anti-Dalit. The entire machinery of the current regime however, seems to have turned a blind eye towards minorities. For instance, the PM has still not condemned Dadri and Latehar lynchings of Muslims. This selective condemnation and timing indicates deliberate electioneering and refusal to protect minorities.