London Institute of South Asia held a seminar on “Religion, terrorism and caste oppression in South Asia” on 25 August 2016 at Institute of Advance Legal Studies, University of London, Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DR.
Speakers eloquently put forward the case of Dalits and the seminar was successful in sending a powerful message to all. Dalits like the Palestinian and Kashmiris cannot be ignored. In fact in each case the brutality and insensitivity of state is preposterous. In case of Dalits there is no territorial or geopolitical contender thus the onus directly rests on India and the world community. The speakers highlighted that caste discrimination in India is certainly the worst form of apartheid and the plight of nearly 300 million Dalits is the greatest human tragedy and the world conscious has to wake up to this gigantic abuse of human rights in the history of the world.
'Dalits', meaning the 'historically broken people', the 'Untouchables' and the outcastes of the Indian Caste system, which is sanctified by religion and reinforced by political forces in particular by Prime Ministers Modi’s BJP and RSS.
The seminar has succeeded in internationalising the discriminatory practices of caste. The panellists emphasised that it was our duty, an abiding obligation to humanity to take it up at the UN and other human rights forums to expose the forces that have so cleverly perpetuated this class oppression for almost 2000years.
The seminar was addressed by eminent scholars Prof Kancha Ilaiah, Robert Gallimore, Eugene Culas, Clive Hambidge, VT Rajshekar. London Institute of South Asia would like to thank these scholars and especially those who came from across the oceans to give us their informed views and our participants for attending this very important subject. London Institute of South Asia would also like to thank our contributors, volunteer supporters, and members of LISA. Our special thanks to RUSI, Amnesty International, Voice of Dalit International (VODI), Dalit Solidarity Network, and Dalit Freedom Network for their inputs and support. Thanks to all of you for supporting Dalits and thank you all for supporting humanity.
In his closing remarks Saeed Ismat the Chairman of London Institute of South Asia (LISA) summarised the event :
“It is not all gloom and doom - a revolution, however, is hopefully in the making, especially in the universities, against caste oppression. There are different alliances that are taking shape between Muslims and Dalits, this was highlighted at a recent seminar at SOAS organised by South Asian Solidarity Group and then we witness emerging alliance between Marxist and Dalits. For the first time, Dalit students and the communist-affiliated student unions that have been facing the brunt of the right-wing onslaught are making common cause. This alliance against the saffron upsurge has prompted the main left parties such as the CPM and CPI and the smaller Marxist-Leninist outfits also to do a rethink and make the Dalit cause a significant plank of their new strategy to revive flagging political fortunes.”
“As for Modi himself it is doubtful if the Dalits could ever trust him. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had said publicly that Dalits were like mentally retarded children. In contrast to Modi Gandhi had called them “Children of God”. For good measure he added that the Valmiki (a Dalit community) was involved in manual scavenging as it was a “spiritual experience’’. What a great Spiritual Experience it must be Mr Modi- bless you- you definitely need to undergo this “spiritual experience” urgently. If you perform manual scavenging for one week you shall be blessed with that great spiritual experience and you shall become a better leader of the biggest democracy in the world.”