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'Dalits can't be above law under any circumstances' (Interview with Bala Chowhan)

'Dalits can't be above law under any circumstances' (Interview with Bala Chowhan)

Publication: The Asian Age
Date: October 2, 2009

Introduction: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's grandson, Anand Teltumbde, feels that while there is social prejudice against dalits in the country, there are some 'uplifted dalits' who abuse the law. In an interview to Bala Chowhan, he said that these uplifted ones don't raise their voices when the rights of ordinary dalits get trampled, but are very loud if caught committing misdemeanors. Excerpts:

Q.: Are dalits above the law?
A.: There is no denying the fact that there is social prejudice against dalits in this country. But that is applicable to ordinary dalits. To extend it to the highly-placed people like Chief Justice Dinakaran or any one of his ilk is simply ridiculous.

No, dalits cannot be above the law under any circumstances. The sad part is that ordinary dalits crave for proper application of law and those who already lifted themselves up seek to abuse law. The latter are parasites to the dalit cause and need to be rather condemned by dalit masses for maligning them with their misdemeanour.

Q.: Should there be a separate law for dalits? What about the judiciary? Can the dalit card be used to protect "corrupt" and "criminal" elements?
A.: No. The judiciary in this country already enjoys hallowed status and is therefore expected to demonstrate high moral standards in their conduct. To bring in the dalit card to protect the corrupt and criminal elements is just not accepted.

I tend to think that high-statured dalit individuals, who have been rewarded by the establishment for their pro-establishment (and in implication anti-people) attitude, should be isolated from the constitutional protection lest they should bring the entire constitutional structure itself to disrepute.

Q.: Has the dalit vs upper class issue been over-politicised to protect a certain class?
A.: Yes. Certainly the class operates in this. Buta Singh coming to the rescue of Chief Justice Dinakaran is a glaring example of class seeking shelter under caste.

These people hardly raise their voices when the basic human rights of ordinary dalits get trampled day in and day out in this country.

But they would scream shrillest if they are ordinarily caught for their misdemeanour.

In fact, these high-class dalits have been variously the exploiters of the dalit masses. Even in Dinakaran's case, the controversy is being seen as not between dalit and non-dalit, but between the landed dalit and the landless ones. He has grabbed much of the common land and deprived his own community people from using it.

It is high time dalits recognised that there is a parasitic layer formed above their community which does not have anything to do with them than exploit their privileges. The caste idiom prevents them in realising it but the sooner they do, the better it would be.

Q.: Where are we heading? Was this envisaged by our Constitution makers?
A.: No. The Constitution makers did not envisage such developments. In hindsight, we can fault them for not foreseeing such developments. But no Constitution can provide for crooks' ingenuity. The Constitution rather is based on the representational logic.
It expected that if some people of these historically deprived castes are represented in the state apparatus, the latter would be oriented to take care of their interests. But it missed out on one thing. The character of the state cannot change by the influx of some individuals in its structure.

Moreover, the individuals have various vulnerabilities and could even undergo class transformations. These are subtler matters, but the bottomline is that this expectation was belied.

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