Have you come across the news that I am writing about? It appeared on page 6 of the Chennai Edition of the Indian Express yesterday (June 25). It is absolutely shocking and hard to believe. Some of the details for the report are provided by Evidence, a Madurai (TN) based NGO.
Patchirajan, 48 years old Dalit, had gone to a pump on his motorcycle to put in petrol. Just behind him came a caste Hindu named Muthu from a neighbouring village in a van. He wanted to be served first. But Patchirajan objected since he had arrived ahead of the other. Muthu referred to Patchirajan's caste and abused him and hit him with an iron rod.
That was not the end.
Muthu must have got back into his van quickly and started it because the report says that he rammed the motorcycle with his vehicle. When the Dalit fell off, the van was driven over him. That was the end for Patchirajan. He succumbed to the injuries en route to the hospital. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
Muthu has been arrested for wilful murder under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and remanded to police custody. A spokesman of Evidence asserts that in such cases the culprits should be charged under every law which can be applied and not only murder.
One of my most read blog posts is Caste System: Is Kerala still a madhouse? Visiting Kerala a century back Vivekananda Swamy felt that he had wandered into a lunatic asylum. Another relevant blog post of mine is The Caste Wall Story
One feels so sad reading such news. Centuries pass but some people do not allow certain systems to go through necessary changes. If the question ‘What is Karma?’ is asked, they would not know the answer that it is a path to reach Brahman. Are they high caste or low caste?
Corruption is bad, communalism is terrible and campaigning against such evils is really noble. But what about casteism? Chaturvarna was never meant to generate clashes between social divisions. Anyway its rigidity and significance have naturally transformed with the passage of time.
Is there some true Gandhian around to initiate a crusade? Educate the ‘high caste’ and ‘low caste’ that all of them have equal rights under the laws of India. That is unlikely because of political and other considerations. Counting the potential votes first is what matters to the netas.
But the schools can hopefully do something effective provided there is ample government support ignoring political platforms. Teach the children about Chaturveda objectively, not as part of Hindutva, but as history, as a system that has undergone transformations over the millenniums and would absorb more changes. Today there are Dalits who are not Hindus, even Dalits who are temple priests.
Will the Muslims and Christians go for their guns for teaching “Hinduism” in schools? If some netas feel that they could get political mileage they would tell the people that the subject is part of the cultural history of India and that knowing history is a basis of meaningful life.