PATNA: A prominent Dalit leader in Bihar Ramai Ram has kicked up a fresh controversy by making a demand for “Harijanistan” (separate state for Dalits).
Ram holds the distinction of winning Bochaha assembly seat in Muzaffarpur district for the ninth times and right now he comes from rebel JD-U leader Sharad Yadav camp.
The development comes shortly after the Dalits held nation-wide protests over a Supreme Court ruling which said the arrest of an accused under the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is not mandatory and a recourse to coercive action would be taken only after preliminary inquiry and sanction by competent authority. Dalits describe the ruling as dilution of some of the provisions meant to protect them.
“Constitutional rights of Dalits are being snatched from them and their dignity and honour hurt. Dalits cannot live in the country as a second-class citizen. We will demand Harijanistan,” Ram told newsmen on Wednesday. Expressing anger he said nine dalits were killed in police firing during the nationwide protests on Monday.
According to him, Dalit icon BR Ambedkar too had sought for “Harijanisatan” for all-round developments of deprived community after India got independence. Although his demand was not met yet the Dalits were provided with special rights, he claimed.
“But now the special rights for Dalits in the Constitution are under threat and they are being discriminated all over. It won’t work anymore,” Ram asserted.
As per 2011 census, Dalits constitute a significant 16 percent of Bihar’s 104 million populations and holds the capacity to decide the fate of a government in the state. With a high level of illiteracy and poverty gripping this community, the dalits, however, have always been exploited by the political parties on one pretext or the other.
This is for the first time here that demand for “Harijanistan” has come from Bihar. Prior to this, demand had come to form separate states of Mithilanchal (comprising some district of north Bihar’s Mithila region), Seemanchal (comprising some bordering districts in the east) and Magadh comprising some districts of southern Bihar’s historic Magadh region.