When Union HRD minister Smriti Irani had talked about a malicious attempt to project University of Hyderabad research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide on 17 January 2016 as a caste battle, the communists in India had been up-in-arms against the BJP leader alleging that she was not willing to address the underlying reason that had triggered off such an avoidable loss of life in the first place.
Exactly five months later, Kerala CPI(M) leaders now paradoxically want to know why the media is trying to play the caste-tag in the controversial arrest and subsequent bail of two Dalit sisters in Kannur.
It was during the beginning of the week that the sisters, 30-year old Akhila along with her one and a half year-old toddler and 25-year old sister Anjana, found themselves in the Kannur Central jail.
Their crime was that they questioned a local CPI(M) worker as to why he kept abusing their father Kuttymaakkoolil Block secretary and Dalit Congress leader N Rajan of Kuniyil House in Thalaserry using casteist slurs.
What followed was a scuffle in which both sides reported injuries. The Thalaserry police later arrested the sister-duo for apparently ‘attacking the CPI(M) party worker (also a Dalit according to many reports) and remanded them to custody.
What makes the entire incident all the more intriguing is the sub-text of casteist politics involved. Rajan had earlier been a communist party worker, but had left the party way back in 1980. Well, everyone knows that the red party has never been the forgiving kind, especially to those who change political affiliations mid-way.
Once you jump into the communist political bandwagon in the state and later want to dissociate yourself from the political violence that comes as free baggage with it–whether you like it or not- what you are actually doing is digging your own grave and providing the nails to your coffin.
Dalits in India have always been an invisible lot to us social hypocrites and even when they do register in our visual periphery, we tend to classify them as sub-humans who ought to satisfy themselves from the leftovers that fall from the master’s table, in this case, the upper caste playing the cruel master to boot.
In such a scenario, imagine a Dalit who dares to voice his or her dissent in public. The communist ideology that a modern-day communist relates to, seems more on the lines of blatant authoritarianism and unabashed abuse of power rather than an honest adherence to Marxist socialism.
According to the family, the continued harassment and physical assault on them have purportedly been going on for several years with their dalit status only serving to further exacerbate the situation.
While one cannot ignore the reality that the sisters too belong to a political family, the CPI(M) leadership has not shown an inclination to even address the concerns raked up by them against the Left party workers.
The comments coming forth from the communist top brass in the state have not been reassuring in the least, and instead of behaving in a manner suited to a people's government, the stilited reactions seem more like an exercise in covering up the inexcusable excesses of its cadre.
Political hypocrisy is palpable with even the state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan feigning ignorance in the matter and making it out to be a law and order issue, rather than a systematic abuse of power and authority by the cadre in the party stronghold of Kannur.
The party prefers to adopt a blinkered stance as in this is just another Congress-CPI(M) clash and has nothing at all to do with caste. And these are the same guys who have been shamelessly exhorting the RSS and the BJP to stop indulging in political violence in Kerala.