BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay has been seriously injured in an attack on him outside a temple in Congress ruled Uttarakhand. The incident occurred last Friday outside the Silgur Devata temple in Pokhri village, Chakrata tehsil, when Tarun Vijay and his companions were pelted with stones and assaulted by an unruly mob. Police have arrested 4 people thus far for this attack.
The whole issue is related to a religious ceremony organized to mark the installation of the idol at the Silgur Devata temple, which started on Friday and was to conclude last Sunday. Temple priests were expecting a crowd of around 10-15,000 people from far-flung areas for the culminating ceremony on Sunday, but due to the uncertainty generated by the incident only 150 people turned up. This incident throws up certain interesting observations –
- Coverage in national media has been relatively muted, compared to the outrage over the horse Shaktiman who got injured during a BJP protest in Uttarakhand. If the situation had been reverse (i.e. a Congress MP murderously attacked in a BJP ruled state), we would probably have had even international media like New York Times, Guardian etc going on and on by now about how ‘dissent and opposition voices are being suppressed under Modi’s rule’. This incident again shows that it is the victim’s identity and the location where the event occurs that drives our selective outrage puppets in media and civil society. Showing solidarity with a BJP MP is just not on the agenda for media. Especially when the incident raises serious questions on the law & order situation in a Congress ruled state.
- A BJP man fighting for Dalits is anathema for our fiberals in media. On the surface, the issue seems related to Dalits being denied access to the Silgur Devata temple. And hence to the casual observer (which comprises most journalists) it would appear that Tarun Vijay was attacked by casteists who opposed his support for Dalit temple entry. Now, reporting this angle would destroy the painstakingly built secular-liberal lie that Hindu nationalists & hence BJP are upper caste reactionaries who want to perpetuate all the social evils that are currently prevalent in Hindu society. The truth is exactly the opposite – Veer Savarkar, arguably the tallest exponent of Hindutva and Hindu nationalism, was a crusader against caste discrimination and strongly advocated abolishing caste divisions in Hindu society…much more than Gandhi did. These are some of Savarkar’s statements on caste –
- “Both chaturvarnya and caste divisions are but practices. They are not coterminous with Sanatana Dharma (*lit: timeless code, though the word Dharma is virtually untranslatable). The practice of caste division arose from a tectonic change in the practice of chaturvarnya. As the Sanatana Dharma did not die due to this tectonic change, so too it will not die if the present-day distortion that is caste division is destroyed.”
- “No one should ever think that a certain Hindu caste is high or that another is low. The notion of high and low will be determined by overt merit of individuals. Every Hindu child has but one caste at birth- Hindu.“
There is an alternative version of the incident which only Uttarakhand locals on social media and Hindi media is reporting. It appears that there is no ban on entry of Dalits in the Silgur Devata temple or any of the other temples present in the region. The whole issue was needlessly politicized and escalated. As per this IndiaFacts article by Alok Bhatt, an Uttarakhand native –
“Now, coming to the particular issue of attack on Tarun Vijay, it is important to look into the role played by Daulat Kunwar- a BSP politician and the convener of ‘Aradhana Gramin Vikas Kendra Samiti’ in the whole issue. Kunwar, on the pretext of fighting for the Dalit rights has been spearheading a political campaign titled ‘Jaunsar Bawar Parivartan Yatra’ for months now. He came into limelight in September 2015 when his move to force his entry into the Lord Kukurshi temple at Gabela was opposed by local Dalits of the village itself. Noteworthy is the fact that 60% of Gabela’s total population comprises of Dalits and Ghengu Ram- the ex-sarpanch of the village and a Dalit, blamed Kunwar for politicizing the issue. Since September 2015, Kunwar has been in the news every other month.
The present issue is related to the newly opened Silgur Devta temple at a village called Pokhri in Chakrata. As per local newspapers, Kunwar along with Tarun Vijay participated in the ceremony organized to mark the installation of the idol at the temple. The claim by Vijay himself of having attended the ceremony confirms the fact that there is no ban on the entry of Dalits into temple.
As per the eyewitness accounts, the crowd erupted after one man accompanying Kunwar’s group insisted on playing Dhol-Damau (traditional Pahari instrument) as soon as his group started carrying the palanquin of the deity. The locals objected, saying that instruments can only be played in the honor of the deity and not for any leader. However, as drummers started playing the instruments at their insistence, that same man flashed V sign. Enraged at this, locals became violent and erupted.
While the police investigations will reveal the complete details behind the attack, it is not difficult to conclude that the attack- though completely unjustified- was more a result of provocation by the Kunwar’s aide than any caste considerations. The sense of enmity that the locals have against Kunwar since the Gabela incident further added to the provocation. Chakrata locals perceive Kunwar as a person, who is trying to gain political mileage out of an issue that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Incidentally, a report from The Tribune newspaper regarding the Gabela incident corroborate the version reported by Alok Bhatt in his IndiaFacts piece. The Tribune report says –
““We have no objection to the Dalits entering the Gabela temple and performing rituals,” Jitender Sharma, gram pradhan, said in a letter.Dehradun District Magistrate Ravi Nath Raman said the matter was needlessly politicised at the behest of some people and politicians.
“The temple is open for all and there is no bar on any person belonging to a different caste or religion,” he said. Any efforts to disrupt the peace and sanctity will be sternly dealt with, he added.”
BSP is an ally of Congress in Uttarakhand, and the politics being played by Kunwar appears to have the tacit backing of state HM and Congress leader Pritam Singh. Congress tactics of divide & rule to stay in power are well known, and they are backed by the communists and missionaries who share the common goal of preventing a unified Hindu society at all costs. So it seems quite possible that caste fault lines are being deliberately raked up to get political mileage. And this would not be the first time when a caste angle is given to an incident where none exists.
There can be no denying that discrimination against Dalits exists in various parts of the country. But there can also be no denying that significant reform has taken place, initiated from within Hindu society, to eradicate the menace of caste discrimination. Hindu social practices keep evolving with time. But certain vested interests in politics, media and civil society actively seek to foment caste hatred and discord, as their entire raison d’etre would collapse if Hindus were to unite both socially and politically.