Chinnaiah Jangam

ChinnaiahPh.D. (2005), Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Thesis Title: “Contesting Hinduism:  Emergence of Dalit Paradigms in Teluga Country 1900-1950″.

M.Phil (1997), Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

Dissertation Title: “Dalit Intellectual Discourse in Mordern Andhra: A Study of Gurram Jashua (1895-1973)”.

M.A. (1995), History with specialization in Modern India, University of Hyderabad, India.

B.A. (1993), History, Economics and Political Science from A.P. Residential Degree College, Nagarjuna Sagar, Nagarjuna University, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Caste and Collective Violence: A Study of Atrocities on Dalits in India

The rapid rise of the Dalits (or untouchables) in the Indian political landscape in the last decade has been showcased as the triumph of democracy at the grassroots’ level. Ironically the Indian civil society at the grassroots level has also been witnessing the rise of atrocities against the asserting Dalits across India. On July 17 1985, eight Madiga (sub-caste among Dalits) men were chased and butchered and their three young girls raped by the caste Hindu landlords (Kammas) in Karamchedu village in Andhra Pradesh. Also on August 6, 1991 ten Malas (sub-caste among Dalits) were brutally killed by Reddy landlords in Tsundur village in Andhra Pradesh. As recently as September 29, 2006 members of one Dalit family at Khairlanji village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra were lynched and murdered and their two women were paraded naked and raped before the murder because they resisted the attempts of the caste Hindus to take over their land for laying public road. Incidents of Karamchedu, Tsundur and Khairlanji mirror the larger picture of growing violence against Dalits in post independent India. Dalits in rural India endure violence, rape and humiliation as everyday reality. As the rise of political consciousness and growing education among Dalits have empowered them to assert their rights as equals, the caste Hindu society continues to deny them the entitlement of basic dignity and equality as humans. Most importantly, caste Hindus use violence as their prerogative to impose their domination and control over the social, economic and political structures. Focusing on the two incidents at Karamchedu and Tsundur, this paper argues that appearance of Dalits in the Indian public sphere has been seen as a threat to the power and privileges of caste Hindus. While tracing the roots of growing assertion among Dalits to colonial and postcolonial developments in Indian subcontinent, the paper also highlights the specific nature of violence inflicted on Dalits. Even though the Constitution of India (ironically drafted by Dr.B.R. Ambedkar, an untouchable himself) guarantees equal rights to all and the Indian state and its apparatus are supposed to protect the fundamental rights of all its citizens, in most cases it has remained a silent spectator to the growing violence against Dalits. Therefore this paper further complicates the role of Indian state and its neutral and secular role to understand the cultural and ideological roots that are entrenched within the Hindu ideological consciousness which thereby interpret the atrocities against Dalits as a part of the caste Hindu social process rather than violation of fundamental human rights of its citizens.

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