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Bathani Tola bloodshed, Ramabai massacre, Una flogging: 11 July marks undelivered justice and collective trauma for Dalits

11 July 1996: In response to Dalit wage workers’ demand for a pay raise, a Bhumihar Brahmin landlords’ group in Bhojpur, Bihar’s Bathani Tola killed 21 Dalits. This included a man, 11 women and nine children. 

Memorial to the Victims of Bathani Tola Massacre

The members of Ranvir Sena set the village on fire, and carried on the onslaught for almost three hours. Their main motive was to deter any future resistance. Despite a series of atrocities in different parts of India, the culprits have been acquitted every time citing ‘lack of evidence’.

11 July 1997: In Mumbai’s Ramabai Nagar, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue was desecrated with garlands of sandals. It was followed by protests by agitated followers, and open firing by police in response. 10 Dalits were killed and 26 seriously injured in the incident. 

Image: Frontline cover ft. Ramabai incident

Manohar Kadam, an SRPF sub-inspector who ordered the firing resulting in homicide, was sentenced to prison under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code. The high court however later revoked the sentence and released Kadam on bail. 

Sub-inspector Kadam had a proven record of caste-based prejudice in multiple other cases, which motivated the exorbitant use of force. 

The then Shiv Sena-BJP coalition government had Manohar Joshi as the Chief Minister.

11 July 2016: Seven members of a Dalit family were thrashed by cow vigilantes in Mota Samadhiyala village of Una municipality in Gir Somnath district in Gujarat. They were skinning a few dead cows when a group of vigilantes in two cars came and physically assaulted them.

Image Source: PTI

Large scale protests were held in different parts of Gujarat the next day of the incident. Thousands of people blocked the state highway, occupied Trikon Baug and demanded justice for four people who were taken to Una, tied up in cars and beaten up with rods, pipes and knives by the cow vigilantes. The video of the assault was circulated on social media.

Almost two years later, the survivors of the Una incident were attacked again by one of the cow vigilantes who was out on bail. Some of them had sought bail on the grounds of being students.

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