Kausalya was barely 21 when her husband Sankar – who belonged to the Scheduled Caste – was hacked to death in a public place, right before her eyes.

2017 belonged to the struggle of Dalits and the hero was Kausalya
Voices Caste Tuesday, January 02, 2018 - 18:24

With a media and polity overwhelmed by those who would like to deliver a two-hour long speech but never ever visit a Dalit's dilapidated house that was ransacked by people driven by caste hate, the man of the year can only be from the rich and affluent part of society.

For most Indians this is routine. They will never see someone from the marginalised strata, who was struggling to keep the dignity of their life and existence, being honoured.

Every thing, every decision, every post allocation must necessarily happen at the conditions and whims of the people who are the real decision makers and do not necessarily belong to the caste considered 'low'. They give, they protect, they take up guardianship of Dalits, and announce it from the roof tops.

The arrogance of the rich and sickeningly patronising people is shown in their 'large-heartedness', their commitment to bring the castes considered 'lower' into the mainstream and the advertised visits to the homes of Dalits.

Nothing more can be said about it.

Kausalya would have attracted the attention of the 'dharma rakshaks' if she had threatened to convert. But she didn't do that.

So no one visited her, consoled her or said 'we stand with you'. The elections were nearing, politicians were too busy, hence no one helped her.

Kausalya was barely 21 when her husband Sankar – who belonged to the Scheduled Caste – was hacked to death in a public place, right before her eyes.

The culprits, her own family members, were arrested, thanks to media outcry and Kausalya was taken into state protection.

Just recently the court gave a judgement – death sentence to her father for plotting the murder of a person he hated because, in spite of being a Hindu, he was belonged a Scheduled Caste.

Kausalya had to swallow her tears.

It was a night soaked in sadness, in tears and silence. Her family, which had given her life, was sentenced to death by a court hearing the case of her husband's brutal killing. She had to decide which side she would choose to live with the rest of her life – in fact life had just begun for her.

She chose the world of Sankar, her slain husband, and decided to continue her fight against discrimination, against injustice against the Dalits, against violence, and the deafening silence of the high and mighty in the public sphere who run the show and who cry glycerine tears for the marginalised and the downtrodden.

She refused to yield under the pressures of the rich and the politically connected, and searched and found a small job to sustain her struggle and also to financially help Sankar's family.

A hundred people arrogantly fashioning themselves as the saviours of religion and womanhood won't have done that what this lady – who is just 22 – has done. She has shown the world that if you have that fire of trust and commitment to values given to us by Dr Ambedkar, you can stand tall and fight back with strength.

In times like these, when atrocities on Dalits are seeing a rise and with that the silence in political, religious and social circuit is getting louder and louder, it is this unusual fighting spirit that gives rays of hope and sounds of victory to the marginalised.

She was not born a Dalit, she chose to marry one and fought back against everyone who became a hurdle in her path to decide her own future.

Women don't need patronage or guardianship or the encouragement of the male-dominated society. They simply need the power to decide.

That's never given.

Andal, the great saint-poet, did just that. She refused to yield and walked on her chosen path. Kannagi did that. She never yielded and fought back.

Dr Ambedkar started a journal in 1930 called Janata – meaning the people. He later changed the name to Prabuddh Bharat (Enlightened India). Kausalya's struggle will enlighten India in a positive way. Hence, I am happy to declare her the woman warrior of 2017.

Best of luck Kausalya, you are a change-maker.

Also read: ‘Will fight until there’s a law against caste killings,’ says feisty Kausalya

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