Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The peculiarity of human society everywhere in the world is that it is ruled over by a person or a group. The ruling person or group is called a Government where rule of Law prevails. Where rape of Law continues, the land is held to be ruled by the Satan. Keradagarh in Orissa’s Kendrapada district cries to know as to who rules over the land.
Before going to that intricate issue, let us first see why there is the need to know of this.
Had there been no rape of Law, the need to know this would never have arisen.
Hence which Law has been raped?
The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and The Orissa Temple Entry Act, 1948, have been raped under patronage of the government, allege deputy director S.K. Naskar and research officer D.N. Palchaudhury of The National Commission for Scheduled Castes after concluding a spot survey in Keradagarh where Scheduled Caste people have been subjected to atrocities by members of the upper Castes like the Uchha Jaati Vikash Parisad (Council for development of Upper Castes) and the Priests of a Jagannath temple standing there as a citadel of caste apartheid.
But we will concentrate on the Special Law made to stop such atrocities.
“Despite various measures to improve the socio-economic conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, they remain vulnerable”, with this official admission begins the Statement of Objects and Reasons of this Special Legislation namely The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989, hereinafter called the Atrocities Act.
The Statement goes on confessing,
“They are denied number of civil rights. They are subjected to various offences, indignities, humiliations and harassment. They have, in several brutal incidents, been deprived of their life and property. Serious crimes are committed against them for various historical, social and economic reasons.
“When they assert their rights and resist practice of untouchability against them or demand statutory minimum wages or refuse to do any bonded or forced labor the vested interest try to cow them down and terrorize them”.
Depicting practice of much such oppression, the Statement confesses that the existing Laws “like Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the normal provisions of the Indian Penal Code have been found to be inadequate to check these crimes. A special legislation to check and deter crimes against them committed by non-Scheduled Castes and non-Scheduled Tribes has, therefore become necessary”.
Therefore this Special Legislation makes it mandatory under Section 3 thereof that
“whoever not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view” (Sec3(1)(x) or “denies a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstruct such member so as to prevent him from using or having access to a place of public resort to which other members of the public or any section thereof have a right to use or access to” (Sec.3(1)(xiv), “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine”.
But at Keradagarh these atrocities are perpetrated on the members of the Scheduled Castes by non-Scheduled Caste people and the Government of Orissa is not implementing this Law specifically framed to prevent such atrocities. Therefore the question arises as to who now rules over Orissa.
The perpetrators of these atrocities have not only raped the Law there, but also have raped Jagannathism in the guise of worshiping Sri Jagannatha.
Of course raping Jagannathism in the guise of worshiping Jagannatha is an old practice of the priests who act as stooges of the perpetrators of social slavery designed by Aryan imperialism.
Aryan assault on Jagannatha
When our Motherland was subjugated by invading Aryas, those exploiters, as a class, had reduced the overpowered Indian Tribes to slavery and had designed a caste structure wherein they were designated as impure persons (untouchables) to whom salvation was shown attainable only through total surrender to the commands of their masters described in scriptures as Dwijas i.e. the members of the Upper castes. This system of exploitation was made perpetual by denial of right to read scriptures, to perform penance, to enter into temples or to observe asceticism, which, according to the scriptures that they had contrived, were the gateways to salvation. So acceptance of these denial-commands of the Upper Caste people without any question was the only way to salvation granted to the untouchables.
Buddha, born in Orissa’s Kapilavastu, presently known as Kapileswar near Bhubaneswar, (wrongfully depicted as in Nepal) was the first scientific revolutionary to have organized the untouchables to form Samghas of their own on the basis of democratic centralism and collectively defeat caste exploitation. He, eager to save Orissa’s Tosala democratic culture from Aryan autocratic invasion, rushed from Orissa to Magadha and organized the tribes there to resist the expanding Aryan Autocracy. Under his guidance the Tribes organized their own Democracies against Aryan Autocracy and clipped its spread in its heartland. Ajatasattu’s failure in overpowering Bajjian Tribes as recorded in history testifies this matchless political phenomenon. Till finally the Kalinga war gave the Magaddhan Asok a chance to hoodwink the tribal democracies by fleeing from Orissa on being converted into Buddhism, Aryan Autocracy had been kept clipped by the Bouddha Samghas and Orissa’s original culture of complacence and peaceful pursuit of democratic way of life was kept in tact. So the grateful people of Orissa through their Buddhist guides like the Siddhacharyas of Chaurashi (famous as Chaurashi Siddhacharyas), who belonged to the now extinct monastery in that name on the Prachi basin in Orissa, had equated the Tribal Jaganta-tha, meaning the torso of the mother that stood for the universal force of productivity and protection with Buddha, the philosopher and the protector and eventually Orissa’s king Indrabhuti christened Buddha as Jagannatha deriving the word from the said Jaganta-tha.(Sri Jaya Devanka Baisi Pahacha, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Bharata Bharati, 2005).
So Jagannatha being Buddha became the ultimate leader of Orissa.
Aryan Autocracy that thrived on Caste apartheid could not be stable in Orissa because of the impact of Jagannath Buddha on the people. Aryan Autocrats were non-Oriyas and they were attacking and capturing portions of Orissa and trying to establish dynasties. But the people being Buddhists, their caste culture had no acceptability and this is why there were so many dynasties replacing one after another in Orissa.
Then attempts were made to transform Jagannatha from Buddha to Bishnu, specifically to non-Oriya Krushna. And to execute this design as many as 10,000 Brahmins who were non-Oriyas were imported from out side Orissa by a non-Oriya king of Keshari dynasty. They were allotted freehold lands at different parts of Orissa and their settlements were styled as Shasana that stood for administration and they were imposed on the subjects as the priests who were the only ones entitled to worship the deities and the feudatory kings were instigated to establish Jagannatha temples in their respective estates and engage these priests to worship Jagannatha not as Buddha, the beloved son of Orissa soil, but as Krushna of Dwaraka and thereby to destroy the casteless character of Jagannathism.
History of Jagannathism is a history of battle between Aryan attempt to promulgate caste apartheid in Jagannatha temple and Oriya endeavor to defeat that design. The story of defeat of the caste supremacist Balaram and his obedient follower and younger brother Krushna of Dwaraka origin in the episode of the untouchable woman Sriya is an Oriya way of proving the unacceptability of caste culture.
Many Vedic preachers, who basically were caste supremacists like the Samkaracharya had camped in Puri and tried to sow seeds of caste apartheid in the guise of philosophical sermons. Even the Adi Samkaracharya and his disciple Padmapada’s statues were arbitrarily kept on the Ratna-Simhasana of Sri Jagannath, the Brahmins worshiping them along with the Deity, forcing the people to accept Jagannatha as Bishnu. People of Orissa, history has witnessed, threw away those statues of Samkara and Padmapada and dismantled all his authorities in the matter of Sri Mandira. And till date Samkaracharyas have no control over Jagannatha system. Having thus failed to usurp Sri Mandira of Puri for the caste supremacists, the exploiters as a class have established Jagannath temples in different parts of Orissa through Feudatory Kings and Zamidars with a motive to dilute its casteless culture and thereby have succeeded in bonding innocent people to social slavery by promulgating caste apartheid.
Keradagarh was no exception. Construction of a temple there and consecration of Jagannatha statue therein was a part of the caste supremacist design.
When the Country was under foreign yoke and the Zamidar of Kanika comprising Keradagarh was hand-in-glove with the powers that had subjugated our Motherland, it had flourished. The exploited people, declared as untouchable by the exploiter class, were made to accept that they are inferior creatures born only to serve the Upper Caste Masters and to inscribe this in their psyche permanently, they were banned to enter into the temple proper and to remain satisfied with the permission to see the temple through peep-holes made on the surrounding wall for that specific purpose.
Like in Kanika, everywhere the untouchable people had by experience gathered that as long as they are not free from the autocratic rulers and their foreign patrons, this social humiliation would not end.
Freedom fight was against caste supremacy
In order to end this humiliation they had joined the freedom movement. Therefore we find majority of martyrs of our freedom struggle belonged to the lower Castes.
Their contributions to our freedom movement were so massively immense and incomparable that after independence their mouthpiece Babasaheb Ambedkar was the Nation’s natural choice for drafting the Constitution of our Country notwithstanding presence of many legal luminaries in the Constituent Assembly.
So our freedom was a contribution of the people who had wanted caste apartheid to end.
But there was no dearth of caste supremacists in the Constituent Assembly. The caste supremacists have a common creed. They support private property. Lest this creed be opposed to, the first Prime Minister of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was adamant to be addressed as Pundit Nehru or Punditji in consonance with his Kashmir Pundit linage and in whose cabinet caste supremacists were the heavyweights, had ensured that the Constituent Assembly remained free from presence of the Communists by banning the Communist Party of India, the party that had led the country into independence after all the Congress leaders had gone into British prisons after 1942 and had made the highest sacrifice in heroic battles against the British. In absence of the protectors of proletariat interest, i.e. the Communists, Indian Constitution could not be saved from the trap of private property and right to property became a fundamental right. This has provided the most congenial climate to spread of all sorts of corruption in the country and has helped public money looters becoming awe inspiring rich and has eventually, but unnoticed, transformed our democracy to a plutocracy.
So the country has become a citadel of caste supremacists. As has been shown supra, caste supremacists thrive on scriptural fundamentalism and monopolistic handling of religious holdings. To them, assertion of lower caste people to have access to religious places or temples is anathema. Therefore whenever any member of the communities held by them as untouchable, enters or wants to enter into a temple, the caste supremacists subject him/her to various indignities. Giving an account of to what brutal extent these indignities are devised, the Atrocities Act in its Statement of Objects & Reasons even admits, that,
“there has been an increase in the disturbing trend of commission of certain atrocities like making the Scheduled Caste persons eat inedible substances like human excreta and attacks on and mass killings of helpless Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and rape of women belonging to Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes”.
All these atrocities are being perpetrated on Scheduled Caste people in Keradagarh under the umbrage of Orissa Government.
Two years ago, in November 2004, four Dalit women were brutalized for having entered the temple. Orissa administration has failed to act on the Atrocities Act.
Their constitutional rights to equality so inhumanly trampled and their protests against the atrocities not paid attention to by the Government, the Dalits of Keradagarh decided en masse to enter into the Jagannath temple in November last year. The caste supremacists instantly organized to obstruct the Dalits.
An advocate, Akhya Kumar Mallik, filed a public interest petition in the Orissa High Court seeking protection for Dalits when they enter the temple.
But to use the Court for prolongation of upper caste hegemony, a Brahmin by caste Raghunath Padhy filed a petition in the high court seeking maintenance of status quo.
In response, a division bench comprising Justice I M Quddusi and Justice N Prusty, put a ban on the entry of people into the temple, barring the priests and the staff, pending final verdict. This was meant to eliminate a climate of immediate confrontation. Dalits, honoring the interim order, shifted their entry schedule from November 09 to November 26, 2006. But the caste supremacists continued their design to cow down the Dalits by declaring through Sheshadev Nanda, the Brahmin leader of Uccha Jaati Vikash Parisad, that notwithstanding what the High Court says, they will never allow the Dalits to enter into the temple and in his support upper caste leaders from outside the area also started camping in Keradagarh.
It is surprising that instead of taking the caste supremacist provocateurs to task under the Atrocities Act, the Police Chief of the District, Shatrughna Parida lost no time in airing his intent to have a compromise. A compromise on Fundamental Rights? In whose interest Mr. S.P.?
However, the High Court ruled that the Hindus had the right to enter any temple, irrespective of caste. The administration, afraid of the powers of the Court, could not dare to help the caste supremacists when strengthened by the High Court verdict, hundreds of Dalits entered the temple on December 14, 2006.
But rape of Law became most savage immediately thereafter as the head priest of the temple Madan Mohan Panda locked up its gate and stopped worshiping the deity declaring that they have been desecrated by the entrance of the untouchables into the temple. The impasse continued for 60 hours and the caste supremacists cultivated emotional wrath amongst non-scheduled caste people of the locality against the untouchables by instigating the upper caste people to observe fasting as a penance against lost of purity of the temple by the dalits’ entry.
This is a clear instance of offenses categorized under Sub-Section (1)(x) and (1)(xiv) of the Atrocities Act as quoted supra. The offenders are known. The Law has made it mandatory that a minimum punishment of six months imprisonment with fine is an unavoidable must under the Atrocities Act, which is a special legislation promulgated to prevent these specific offenses. But administration of this Act rests with the State Government. On the other hand, the Act, making the punishment mandatory, has given no scope for non-prosecution. So it is a must for the Government of Orissa to prosecute the persons who tortured four Dalit women over their entry into the temple in 2004 and who in 2006 closed the door of the temple and stopped the rituals there asserting that entry of the Dalits into the temple following the High Court verdict desecrated the Deities. The state is also bound to prosecute the Upper Caste leaders who organized caste supremacists against the Dalits in Keradagarh. The Act has not left any option open for the Government to desist from prosecution. Therefore, if the Government fails to prosecute the offenders, who are known fellows, the concerned functionaries must be held as abettors in the crime and prosecuted against accordingly.
Responsibility of the High Court
The neo Nazi-Raj in Orissa seems to be siding with the caste supremacists who have unleashed atrocities on the Dalits of Keradagarh. By arranging that the Dalits can at best view the deities from a corridor constructed for that purpose in stead of the nine holes available to them earlier, the administration has tried to kill the spirit of the High Court verdict. If this corridor arrangement is not nullified, it will go on making a mockery of the High Court ruling and also go on reminding the victims that they are untouchables and destined to stay so for ever. To this the High Court should not stay a mute witness. Eyes and ears of the judiciary must not always remain closed to what is happening in the locality. Therefore, Orissa High Court should take up the matter under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and ensure that the Atrocities Act is administered against the caste supremacists of Keradagarh and there abettors in Orissa administration.
Otherwise the cry of the victims of Keradagarh caste apartheid to know as to who is or are at the helm of affairs in Orissa – The Government or the Satan? – would go on unabated and that would not be congenial to whatever semblance of democracy we still feel existing.