The All-India bandh called on 6 September 2018 to oppose the amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act (SC-ST Act) turned out to be a total failure. None of the photos from all over the country showed more than 50-60 bandh supporters. The supporters of the bandh did not upload a single picture in social media that showed a significantly large gathering of people. By around 1.30 pm, the bandh had stopped trending on Twitter. The mainstream media did try to portray there was chaos all over the country due to the protest. NDTV, Khabar.com and Aajtak used photographs to show that it was successful.
The media, not the people on the ground, supported the bandh. By attacking Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav and former minister and JDU MLA Shyam Rajak, the bandh supporters gave an opportunity to the media to report on the bandh, as by the evening, the media was left with no bandh-related story.
It is mainly the savarnas who are opposing the SC-ST Act. The backers of the bandh tried their best to enlist the support of the OBCs. The posters issued by different organizations calling for the bandh tried to portray that the OBCs were with them. Supporters of an organization called Sarva Samaj Party, which declared that it is supporting the bandh, repeatedly wrote that because the OBCs formed a major chunk of those in jails under the SC-ST (Atrocities) Act, they would come out in support of the bandh large numbers – for the savarnas knew very well that it would be impossible for them to make the bandh a success without OBC support. But many OBC organizations issued press releases and posters declaring that they were opposed to the bandh.
Many a misconception is being peddled about the OBCs. One of them is that the OBCs are the sentinels of feudalism and Brahmanism and that they are the ones behind most of the atrocities against Dalits. The savarnas were hopeful that this misconception would play to their advantage. And it was because of it that some members of the Dalit communities were apprehensive that the OBCs may close ranks with the savarnas. However, by opposing the bandh, the OBCs once again proved their maturity and sagacity.
Looking back at the 2 April bandh
The OBC organizations had not only supported the “Bharat Bandh” call issued by the SC-ST organizations on 2 April to oppose the Supreme Court judgment that made the SC-ST Act less stringent but had also worked to make the bandh a success. It was because of the support and the participation of the OBCs that the success of the 2 April bandh surpassed all expectations. On that day, more than 25,000 bandh supporters were arrested, most of them OBCs, who are still in jail.
After the failure of the 6 September bandh and the OBCs refraining from joining it, at least the Dalit intellectuals should refrain from alleging that it is the OBCs who are responsible for the atrocities against Dalits. The OBCs have always been with the Dalits. From Buddha to Kabir to Shahu ji Maharaj to Phule, there is a long list of OBC intellectuals and great personalities who worked hard for forging unity between Dalits and OBCs.
Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil
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