Remembering young Raja Dhale: The uncompromising fiery orator

Raja Dhale passed away today. Here, using excerpts from his former colleague J.V. Pawar’s book, ‘Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History’, we try to piece together a portrait of the man who infused life into the Dalit Panther

The Dalit Panther movement came up as a response to the atrocities against Dalits, the ‘Untouchables’, all over India, to which both the government of the day and so-called representatives of Dalits, the leaders of the Republican Party of India, were turning a blind eye. The RPI leaders were in fact busy squabbling and ingratiating themselves to the ruling Congress party. According to J.V. Pawar, in his Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History, Raja Dhale nurtured Dalit Panthers after it was birthed by Namdeo Dhasal and him in the early 1970s. Dhale was in his early thirties then. Pawar paints a portrait of a man who was a fiery writer and orator, yet sensitive and magnanimous. People attended Dalit Panther meetings just to hear him speak. He wasn’t drawn to power but to justice. On reading Pawar’s references to him, one cannot help but be impressed with his personality.

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