Around 500 savarnas turned up at a police station in Rajasthan on 6 September 2018, the day of the Bharat Bandh, to file an FIR against Dalit social activist Prahlad Meghwal for sharing with a WhatsApp group a report published by Forward Press.
Members of the Brahmin community filed a complaint at the Chhoti Sadri Police Station in Pratapgarh district, Rajasthan, against Prahlad Meghwal, a Dalit lawyer, alleging that he was using social media to peddle a piece of fake news. The news report in question was about a case that has been registered against 20 people under the SC/ST Atrocities Act in the Alappuzha district of Kerala. The report said that during the floods in the southern state, savarnas did not eat food cooked by Dalits and refused to share their food with them at a relief camp, because of which separate cooking arrangements had to be made for the savarnas. The Brahman Sabha of Chhoti Sadri claimed that Meghwal was spreading this report as part of a conspiracy to defame the Brahmins.
This writer had filed the report, which also said that a Brahmin family initially refused to board the boat of a Christian and when they did agree, it was on the condition that the boat did not touch them. The report is based on facts.
Meghwal says, “I am a Dalit by caste and a lawyer by profession. I am also an activist. I had shared the Forward Press report with the WhatsApp group while tagging a post against reservations. The report contained all the facts, yet a complaint was made against me.”
Prahlad fears he may be lynched
Meghwal says the members of the Brahmin community who accuse him of spreading fake news, are associated with the ruling party. The district spokesperson, a general secretary and a party worker are among them. Ghanshyam Menaria, president of the Brahman Sabha, led the complainants. Now, having come under pressure from the Brahmins, the police are harassing him. “I am staying away from home. The cops are visiting my place. They are putting pressure on the police to arrest me as soon as possible. Mob-lynchings are taking place in different parts of the country and I fear that I too may become the victim of a lynch mob,” he said.
Meghwal says that he is being targeted because he has been raising his voice against the oppression of Dalits for the past four-five years. “I have been pleading their cases in the courts and that has antagonized the savarnas. They want to mount pressure on me. I have exposed many a case in which the savarnas were involved. On the pretext of the Bharat Bandh, a complaint has been registered against me. It is a conspiracy.”
According to Meghwal, in his village Karunda, in 2015, savarnas had opposed the cremation of a Dalit in the village cremation ground. When the kin of the Dalit went to the cremation ground to collect his ashes on the third day, there was none to be found. Prahlad had raised the issue and that turned the village’s savarnas against him.
Efforts to contact Praveen Tank, who is in charge of Chhoti Sadri police station, over the phone, proved futile. Pratapgarh Superintendent of Police Shivraj Meena said he would seek information on the complaint from Tank. It may be mentioned here that many south Indian journalists have also written about the inhuman behaviour with Dalits in Kerala’s relief camps.
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