International

UK Dalits Angry at the Inauguration of Ambedkar House by Narendra Modi

London (14 November 2015): Two leading Dalit (the former untouchables) organisations have condemned the inauguration of Dr Ambedkar House in London and unveiling of the stature of the Dalit icon and one of the most prominent and widely respected fighter for India’s freedom.

Dismissing the move as a “cynical exploitation”   Caste Watch UK, one of the largest Dalit organisations, called it “a ploy to garner support of Dalits numbering over 260 million people.”

A statement issued by the anti-caste body working against caste discrimination and caste crimes, said that it finds “it abhorrent that his [Dr Ambedkar’s] memory is being used as a political tool by the Indian Prime Minister to try and confuse Dalits who are asserting their human rights in India and are also asserting the demand for equality in the UK.”

Taking a dig at British Prime Minister David Cameron the statement said, “At the Tory Party Conference this year, David Cameron declared that the Conservative Party wants to end discrimination and bring real equality in UK today! Why then, we ask, is his government still dragging its feet and not implementing the provisions of section 9(5) of the Equality Act to prohibit Caste discrimination in UK.”

The statement further said that Dalits are one of the, “most marginalised groups in India who face daily atrocities at the hands of upper-caste Hindus. Number of atrocities against Dalits has increased since the BJP has come into power. According to statistics compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), crimes against Dalits rose to 47,064 in 2014 from 39,408 in 2013. In 2012 there were 33,655 crimes against Dalits, about the same as in 2011 of arson, murder and rape.  The rate of such crimes against Dalits surpass the national average in many states.”

Highlighting the cunning and dubious method of working of Hindutva forces in India and its veiled crawling into Britain the statement said, “The BJP is the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an openly Hindu supremacist organisation. The RSS also operates in the UK through its overseas wing the Hindu Swayamsevak Samaj (HSS) which is currently being investigated by the Charity Commission for hate speech against Christians and Muslims. The HSS however continues to operate along with other Hindutva organisations in the UK, who continue to oppose UK Equality legislation which aims to outlaw caste-based discrimination in Britain. This law is essential because the virus of caste has travelled to the UK and many Dalits face caste discrimination as highlighted by the UK Government's own research. The UK based campaign for Equality led to the enactment of Equality Act 2010, section 9(5) mandating the Minister of crown to prohibit caste-based discrimination. However, the UK Hindutva forces along with upper-caste Sikh leaders continue to campaign against the law's implementation.”

Expressing the displeasure of Dalits in Britain at the warm welcome being given to Narendra Modi in Britain the statement says, “We are unhappy with David Cameron's invitation to Narendra Modi and his support for the Indian Prime Minister's outrageous act of hypocrisy in unveiling the statue of Dalit icon and great Indian leader Dr B. R. Ambedkar.”

Another Dalit organisation, DR Ambedkar Memorial Committee of Great Britain (DAMC), said that it “views the inauguration of Ambedkar House, London by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with utter abhorrence.”

DAMC President Tarsem Kaul, “It is the height of hypocrisy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is inaugurating Ambedkar House.”

Mr Kaul said, “Modi is a long-term organiser of the Hindu Supremacist paramilitary organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which models itself on the Nazi party, stands for upper caste Hindu power, and is a bye-word for attacks on Dalits and other oppressed castes”.

Mr Kaul added, “Dr Ambedkar stood for democracy, secularism, equality and justice and gave Indians a powerful constitution enshrining fundamental rights for its citizens. Narendra Modi's party the BJP, and its sister organisations like the RSS are constantly infringing this constitution with their attacks on Dalits and minority rights.”

Touching upon the injustices Dalits are subjected to Mr Kaur said, “Dalits continue to live in extreme poverty, social degradation, deprivation and remain victims of caste violence. This was the case at the time of Dr Ambedkar and is the case in present times. Nothing much has changed in this respect. Dr Ambedkar lived and died for the cause of Dalits.”

Expressing his anger at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence at the atrocities committed against Dalits Mr Kaul said, “The continuing escalation of atrocities on Dalits should be a cause for shame but Prime Minister Modi adopts silence instead of condemnation, and this has become his hallmark. The Dalits and oppressed castes in Bihar have seen through his cynical attempts to divide and rule and have decisively rejected him. This is why he is now attempting to save face and salvage his image with Dalits. This is not likely to happen since all we have seen from his party is anti-Dalit violence and certainly no Dalit-friendly development policies.”

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