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

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Carnival of Atrocities

A vicarious “aesthetic” by perpetrators of atrocities against Dalits is now becoming evident.


On 10 June, a video of two teenage Dalit boys being beaten and paraded naked in a village in Maharashtra’s politically high-profile Jalgaon district went viral on social media. The boys were humiliated and assaulted just because they were found swimming in a well owned by a person belonging to one of the denotified tribes in Maharashtra. This incident, except for the social background of the perpetrators of the crime, is similar to the flogging of Dalit men by upper-caste youth in Una, Gujarat in 2016. In both cases, the Dalit corporeal body was made the object of a humiliating spectacle by filming the assault and then uploading it on social media, thereby reiterating that the perpetrators were unafraid of the legal consequences of their barbaric acts. The Jalgaon case, however, is strikingly different from the Gujarat one in that the perpetrators of the atrocity, in a strict sociological sense, do not belong to the Hindu caste system.

Expectedly, the Maharashtra government and its supporters were reluctant to see any caste element in the Jalgaon incident, although the police slapped the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 against the culprits. In fact, in an effort at damage control, the state government seems to have adopted twin strategies in order to underplay the role of caste in the incident. First, prominent members of the government and some local journalists sought to expunge the consciousness of caste from the atrocity by superimposing the element of perverted consciousness which, according to these supporters, led the culprits to commit the act of barbarism. In other words, the supporters sought to reduce the caste atrocity as a socially permeated phenomenon to an individual act of perversion. By implication, this seeks to deny the possibility of reason or purpose behind such a social crime. While it is true that the mastermind behind the atrocity does not formally belong to the hierarchical caste structure, yet he clearly borrows caste from outside because it provides a basic consciousness that adds punitive force for the intensification of rage against Dalits. This was evident in the inhuman beating that the culprits meted out to the teenagers.

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Updated On : 6th Jul, 2018
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