The team, along with artistes, has weaved real-life stories of caste atrocities with art forms urging for swift action by police and to gain solidarity from people.

A representative image of a caste crimeImage for representation
news Caste violence Friday, October 23, 2020 - 16:28

A minor Dalit girl Chaya* from Palitana of Gujarat left her home on April 7 and never returned. When her widowed mother found her the next day near a water tank, Chaya was severely injured, raped and her bones were fractured. The police arrested a caste Hindu man but Chaya’s family alleges that many more accused are involved and cases have not been slapped against them.

The disturbing ordeal and the threat to get back the case was narrated by the mother of the survivor but still the case did not receive media spotlight, say activists. Manjula Pradeep, head of campaigns at Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), who has been helping the kin of the survivors decided to start online campaign #LockdownCasteAtrocities with 1,000 Dalit Human Right defenders to amplify the voice of the survivors. For 30 days starting from October 11, the campaign has been recounting one atrocity a day that took place during the lockdown in India with a narrative and an art form to express the magnitude of the issue.

The team along with artistes has weaved real-life stories of caste atrocities with art forms urging for swift action and to gain solidarity from people.

There are innumerable reports and unreported caste atrocities that took place during the lockdown and the team in collaboration with a citizen journalism platform Public Bolti ran the campaign to shed light. The network concentrates on the atrocities reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Talking to TNM, Manjula says, “We have decided to conduct an online campaign since the government has advised us to follow physical distancing norms. However, the caste Hindus do not follow the lockdown and the atrocities keep increasing so we have taken social media, a place with hate speech propaganda, to condemn the atrocities.”

“The police have also been reportedly hesitant to file cases under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act during the lockdown. So we urge the police to take the necessary action under the Act,” she reiterates.

Stating that the current lockdown has shown us the true picture of the caste hierarchy in the Indian society, Manjula says, “We are also looking for solidarity from anti-caste crusaders. Also we want the issues to reach young Indians so that they can understand the severity of the discrimination.”

The team also took the help of artists to visualize the ordeal.

Art and visuals to amplify voices

A video on the page starts with an advertisement of a Reverse Osmosis water purifier. The ad shows water being poured into a clean glass with a tagline 100% pure and removes impurities but the next shot narrates the story. Zooming into Rajasthan, the two-minute documentary explains the atrocity against a Dalit man who was beaten up by three Caste Hindu men for trying to collect fresh water.

 “There have been several cases that went unreported during the summer. The Dalits do not have access to the common water tank and they will have a separate area to get the remaining water. They will even be beaten up by caste Hindus for collecting water and all these issues go unreported,” alleges Manjula.

Like the two-minute documentary, various mediums of art forms including rap, painting, weaving and modern art are used to convey the atrocities.

The campaign aims to visualize the 30 atrocities with the help of artists to amplify the voices. “I think the rap song has reached so many people, music is also an art form that captures the attention of the people. Also we wanted to make the people feel and understand our pain,” she says.

Manjula also urged the anti-caste crusaders to express their solidarity with the campaign to champion against the caste atrocities during the lockdown.

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