ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Annihilation by Caste

Lessons from Budaun and Beyond

Budaun is not an isolated story. It illustrates the vulnerability and disentitlement of dalit-bahujan groups everywhere.

This article was earlier posted on the Web Exclusives section of EPW.

The murder of two children in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, forces us to re-examine our understanding of aggravated assault, murder, sexual assault, atrocity, annihilation by caste and structural violence that is constitutive of the rogue state – not an exceptional state, but the rogue state as the norm in a caste-ridden society. This is not an isolated story. These children were not victims of exceptional violence and brutality. Rather, routine heightened violence and torture of the worst kind are constitutive of caste society, with the condonation (indeed tacit acceptance of the necessity) of such violence written into inaction and equivocation at every level.

My raging grief is about the loss, the deaths of these children, both girls; but there are accounts of a boy killed here as well not so long ago after being brutalised; it is about the unspeakable torture they were subjected to, of which sexual assault was a part; it is about our collective inability as people committed to the annihilation of caste, to make any difference in a context where caste atrocity is at best a spectacle for consumption and speculation; where images of children who have been brutally assaulted and murdered are traded by the media in unthinkable ways and their experience negated by the rogue state. Where does one begin to roll this back?

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