Jharkhand¿s oppressed dalits and the media

IN Regional Media | 09/09/2002
Jharkhand¿s oppressed dalits and the media

Jharkhand¿s oppressed dalits and the media

By Ramdev Bandhu

For hundreds of years the dalits have been living with adivasis in Jharkhand. Many dalit castes are offshoots of original adivasi castes. In many ways the dalits of this region are more exploited, disgraced and condemned than the adivasis. But whereas the media constantly focuses on the latter, they give precious little attention to the former.

Their significant role in the freedom struggle cannot be denied. They fought against the British along with upper caste feudal lords. Reality is that dalits were not direct slaves of the British they were slaves of the feudal lords and feudal lords were slaves of the British, so that is to say that dalits were slave of slaves. And still they sacrificed themselves in the freedom struggle. But their sacrifice in the freedom struggle was not even recorded in writing by either scholars or journalists. We have also done a study on "Contribution of Jharkhand¿s dalits in the freedom struggle" which remains unpublished. After independence also more or less feudal, semi-feudal, exploitation and oppression is continued.

Chatra and Palamu are two such districts here where maximum feudal exploitation existed. The dalit population is also more in these districts. In Chatra the dalit population is about 32 percent and in Palamu it¿s about 26 percent. Feudal tyranny has made their life hell. Along with unpaid jobs and bonded labour, sexual harassment of women was prevalent. Wherever dalits were, they were exploited and today extremism is rising out of that exploitation. Those who have been exploited have taken up arms for their freedom. It¿s their compulsion they have no other choice. Government and administration have not been able to free them from oppression and exploitation.

When Jharkhand¿s struggle for separate state from Bihar was in progress dalits saw opportunity for their own freedom in the emergence of a separate state. The adivasi revolutionary heroes waged a struggle for the separate Jharkhand state and dalits gave their full support to it. Separate state here was the ambition, hope and expectation of the adivasis, dalits and other oppressive groups. But in only one and half or two years all the expectations and hopes from the newly created Jharkhand state have died. The dalits have been left completely aghast.

Where do dalits go now? What do they do? Firstly they sacrificed themselves for independence of the country and secondly they saw their future in a separate Jharkhand state, but they got nothing. For freedom some people chose to become leftist or extreme leftist and some chose religion of Christianity, Islam and Buddhism but it did not bring any specific results. Dalits of this place are in some particular transgression situation. Neither print media nor the electronic media is ready to raise these questions. Media is anti dalits. There is not a single dalit staff reporter in newspapers, which are published from Jharkhand. Most journalists are non-Jharkhandi. They have not been introduced to the basic feeling of Jharkhand. In govt and administration participation of dalit¿s is much less.

Dalits have also suffered quite a loss from past 10 years with the continuing liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation processes in our country. Employment is almost finished. Education is getting costlier. Studies in government schools are not very good. Some school don¿t even have teachers. Necessary health facilities are also not available. Dalit is a hard working community. They have the art, skill and expertise. But their skill and art was never recognised as art and neither their labour was respected.

In this age of globalisation dalit has reached on the edge of complete destruction. He is forced to migrate to other places with family also for earning livelihoods. Government development

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