On 14 September, a 20-year old Dalit woman lay still, bloodied with tongue out, in the middle of a millet field in Chandpa, located in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district. She was believed to be have been gangraped and then strangulated.
Two weeks later, she passed away in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. According to the doctors, she had taken serious damage to her spinal cord, which then caused a complete paralysis of all four limbs. The police has claimed that according to the forensic report, the attackers did not rape the victim.
Before dying, the victim had identified four Upper Caste Thakur men as her attackers. All of them live not very far from her modest home in Boolgarhi village. Combined with the victim’s family’s statements that they had been in the crosshairs of the village’s Thakurs since a long time, it soon became clear that this was a caste crime.
The case has attracted significant national media attention. Social and mainstream media are abuzz with shock, rage and concern. But there is also a conspicuous attempt to sideline or underplay the caste aspect of the crime. It is being widely seen as just a case of sexual violence against women, and nothing more. Even some liberals and progressives have tried to directly or indirectly obfuscate the caste dynamics of the incident.
This is despite the fact that caste-based discrimination and violence are everyday realities for millions of Indians who are forced to remain at the bottom of the social ladder by virtue of the caste they are born into. This is despite the fact that Uttar Pradesh has a long and troubling history of Thakur dominance over Dalits. Why are so many people then trying to undermine the caste-based nature of the crime or shift the burden of ‘castefying’ the incident on Dalit activists?
In this episode, anti-caste activist, scholar and hip-hop artist, Sumeet Samos, talks about the complex caste equations behind the tragic killing of the Dalit woman.
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