Responding to a call of Dalit Human Rights Movement, scores of Dalits, mostly women, gathered outside the Government Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram today to observe a token fast in protest against the atrocities against DHRM members and supporters at Varkala and other places in Kerala.
DHRM earned the wrath of various vested interests by weaning Dalits away from drugs and liquor and the enmity of the established political parties by rejecting their ideologies and in favour of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s thoughts and Buddhist philosophy.
Police has alleged DHRM members were responsible for a murder which occurred in Varkala in September and characterized it as an extremist organization.
The ‘evidence’ adduced by the police in support of the charge of extremism include: DHRM members address elders as ‘sir’ and ‘teacher’; both men and women wear the same uniform, consisting of a black T-shirt with Dr. Ambedkar’s portrait and blue jeans; and they converse in the Pali language.
The protesters carried placards which answered or challenged the charges levelled against the organization. One placard asked: ‘If E.K. Nayanar’s wife can be addressed as teacher, and Minister P. K. Sreemathi can call herself teacher why can’t we have teachers?’ Another demanded: ‘If we are extremists, produce evidence.”
All protesters wore T-shirts with Dr. Ambedkar’s portrait but not blue jeans. The women wore conventional women’s wear.
While inaugurating the protest fast, I told DHRM members that if jeans were part of the uniform adopted by the organization they should have the courage to wear them and not discard them to appease the patriarchal Kerala society.
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