Dalit protests which enters its third day on Wednesday in Maharashtra lead to a heated debate in the parliament with the Government and the Congress exchanging angry accusations in the Lok Sabha over alleged targeting of Dalits.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that “anti-Dalit violence is increasing” and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the caste clashes in Maharashtra is astounding.
“He can’t stay mum! He is a ‘mauni baba’ (mute spectator) on such issues,” the Congressman said.
Kharge also said that a Supreme Court judge should be appointed for inquiry in Bhima Koregaon violence.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister and BJP leader Ananth Kumar retaliated, accusing the Congress of inflaming caste tension.
“Aag ko bujhaane ke bajaaye, bhadkaane ka kaam Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi aur Congress party kar rahi hai. Ise desh bardasht nahin karega. Congress divide and rule ki policy use kar rahe hain. Aur Sabka saath sabka vikaas karke Narendra Modi ji desh ko saath le rahe hain (Instead of praying for peace in Maharashtra, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress is applying the divide and rule policy. They have replaced the British in using the policy),” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a member of the Lok Sabha, was not present and Opposition MPs shouted slogans of “Ask him to come to the House.”
Clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups broke out on Monday during an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district.
Dalit leaders commemorate the British victory, as it is believed that soldiers from the Mahar
community — then considered untouchable — were part of the East India Company’s forces.
However, some right-wing groups in Pune had expressed opposition to the celebration of ‘British’ victory.
Incidents of stone-pelting and vandalism occurred at Bhima Koregaon in Shiroor tehsil on Monday afternoon when people were heading for the war memorial in the village, police said.
One person was killed in the protests on Monday in Pune.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a sitting judge to determine how the man was killed.
Tensions escalated in Mumbai on Tuesday with mobs, allegedly comprising of Dalit supporters, attacking buses and blocking train tracks.
A massive bandh was called on Wednesday by Dalit leaders and supporters. At least 13 buses were damaged by noon, and some trains were running late.