The recent death of a Dalit boy after he was thrashed by his teacher for touching a pot of water in state’s Jalore area has put Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot under fire, with outrage not just from the Opposition but from his own party as well.
A student of a private school in Surana village of Rajasthan’s Jalore district was beaten up by his teacher on July 20 for allegedly touching a drinking water pot. The boy succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Ahmedabad on August 13.
From Congress colleagues in the state, to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the angered Opposition, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot is currently battling sharp reactions from all directions.
Gehlot Under Fire From Own Party; Fresh Face Off With Pilot
Congress leader Sachin Pilot, a former deputy chief minister who staged a rebellion against CM Gehlot in 2020, on Tuesday called for zero tolerance to incidents like the recent killing of a Dalit boy and called for action against local officials for an alleged lathi-charge on the victim’s family.
In veiled criticism of the Ashok Gehlot government on Tuesday, Sachin Pilot said, “We will have to instill confidence among Dalits that we stand with them. There is no other option. The government should work on the shortcomings to change the system”.
Pilot, who visited the family with a group of local leaders, said “such discrimination is taking place in our system even after 75 years of independence”, adding that it is a matter of self-introspection for all of them and that the death raises several questions.
CM Gehlot, meanwhile, in what looked like a response to Pilot, said some leaders are instigating party workers by telling them they are not being treated with respect.
Gehlot’s remarks came as one Congress MLA Pana Chand Meghwal and 12 party councillors of Baran Municipal Council submitted their resignations putting pressure on him. The councillors expressed anguish over atrocities against the Dalits and deprived sections in the state.
Gehlot made the remark while addressing an Independence Day program at Shaheed Memorial. “Some of our people, leaders instigate workers by telling them that they should be respected and honoured. It has become a ‘jumla’. Have you ever honoured and respected the workers? Do you even know what honour and respect is?,” the senior Congress leader said without taking any names. “We have become a leader from a worker by getting honour and respect,” he said.
Slew of Resignations
On Tuesday, a day after Baran-Atru MLA Panachand Meghwal’s resignation, 12 councillors in the Baran Municipal Council sent their resignation letters to Gehlot, expressing anguish over atrocities against the Dalits and backing party MLA Pana Chand Meghwal.
The Baran-Atru MLA on Monday had sent his resignation letter to Gehlot. While addressing the media, he had said, “I am deeply hurt by the death of a 9-year-old Dalit student in Jalore and I am tendering my resignation. Dalits and deprived communities are being subjected to constant atrocities and torture.”
Rajasthan | Congress MLA Panachand Meghwal resigns from Atru assembly seat in Baran dist
“I’m deeply hurt by the death of 9-yr-old Dalit student in Jalore & I’m tendering my resignation. Dalits & deprived communities are being subjected to constant atrocities & torture,” he said pic.twitter.com/v3X4XKoE2z
— ANI MP/CG/Rajasthan (@ANI_MP_CG_RJ) August 15, 2022
Ward No.29 councillor Yogendra Mehta said they sent their resignation letters in support of the MLA and against the government’s failure to protect the Dalits.
The other councillors who sent their resignation letters are Rohitashva Saxena, Rajaram Meena, Rekha Meena, Leeladhar Nagar, Hariraj Erwal, Piyush Soni, Urvashi Meghwal, Yashwant Yadav, Anwar Ali, Jyoti Jatav and Mayank Mathodia, he said.
They will submit copies of their resignation letters to the Kota divisional commissioner on Wednesday, Mehta added.
Meanwhile, the nominated councillor of the Kota’s Itawa civic body Suresh Mahawar also sent his resignation letter to the chief minister.
Opposition Comes All Guns Blazing Against Gehlot Govt
Facing the pitch raised against him by a section of his own party, Gehlot is also at the receiving end of sharp reactions from various political parties, with the BJP demanding action against the owner of the school and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati demanding President’s Rule in Rajasthan.
Launching a scathing attack on the Gehlot government, the BJP called the child’s death shameful. “When will Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra suggest Mr Gehlot to ensure justice for Dalits in Rajasthan,” the state BJP had tweeted.
BJP spokesperson and MLA Ramlal Sharma said recognition of the school should be cancelled so that discipline is maintained.
“This is first such incident where a Dalit boy died after he was beaten up by a teacher in private school for touching a drinking water pot. The BJP demands that immediate action should be taken so that such incidents do not reoccur,” Sharma said.
“Action against the school owner should also be taken and recognition of the school should be cancelled so that discipline is maintained in schools,” he said.
Party’s state president Satish Poonia said that such incidents happen when the state government and chief minister are weak.
“Incidents of Dalit atrocities have happened one after another in the last three-and-a-half years. This happens when the state government, chief minister are weak. The guilty must be punished at the earliest,” Poonia said.
BSP chief Mayawati, meanwhile, demanded President’s Rule in Rajasthan and said no amount of condemnation of this painful incident is less.
2. राजस्थान में आएदिन ऐसी जातिवादी दर्दनाक घटनाएं होती रहती हैं। इससे स्पष्ट है कि कांग्रेस की सरकार वहाँ खासकर दलितों, आदिवासियों व उपेक्षितों आदि के जान व इज्जत-आबरू की सुरक्षा करने में नाकाम है। अतः इस सरकार को बर्खास्त कर वहाँ राष्ट्रपति शासन लगाया जाये तो बेहतर।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 14, 2022
Slamming the Ashok Gehlot government, she said that such “painful casteist incidents” happen almost every day in Rajasthan. “This incident is a clear example to show that the Congress government has failed in protecting the life and dignity of people, especially the Dalits, tribals and the neglected. Therefore, it would be better if this government is dismissed and President’s Rule imposed,” Mayawati said.