On the day of the Bharat Bandh on April 2, as Dalits protested the dilution of stringent provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by a Supreme Court judgment, a Dalit police officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, Dr BP Ashok, created a flutter when he sent his resignation letter to the President of India. Ashok said he was hurt by the day’s incident in which a few youngsters lost their lives and a dozen others, including cops, were injured.
“The decision to resign was not spontaneous. I have been contemplating for many years as to why caste equations come to play at work. When a certain government is in power, a particular caste is subjugated while during the term of the next government, another caste becomes the victim. In almost all the cases, Dalits always remain at the bottom of the caste hierarchy,” said Ashok.
In his letter he raised seven demands that included stay on dilution of the SC/ST Act, representation of women in government service, representation of SC/ST, OBC and women in judiciary, an end to the interview system in government recruitments and a special law to make a casteless society.
“This decision was not easy. I love my job. My father was a policeman too, so I opted for police services whereas I could have opted for the SDM’s post. I know once my VRS application is accepted, I will have to relinquish police dress and this thought is not very comfortable,” he said.
The announcement took many bureaucrats by surprise because Dr Ashok is known in police circles for his integrity and has received multiple awards. Colleagues tried to reason why he is calling it ‘quits’.
BP Ashok: “The decision to resign was not spontaneous. I have been contemplating for many years as to why caste equations come to play at work. When a certain government is in power, a particular caste is subjugated while during the term of the next government, another caste becomes the victim. In almost all the cases, Dalits always remain at the bottom of the caste hierarchy”
His detractors called this resignation a ‘drama’ to gain entry into any political party. They argued that had Ashok been serious, he would have sent his resignation to his supervisors and not to the President of India, as only IPS officers need to send their VRS or resignation letters to him and Ashok is a state cadre officer.
“I know some people saying that I did this (resignation) at the behest of some political party. But the fact is I am an apolitical man. During Mayawati’s regime, I was under suspension,” he said.
“The biggest bane in India is the caste system. Have we progressed the way we should have since Independence? No, we have not. With every successive government our strength has depleted because we were out to placate various castes. Sometimes it is Yadavs, sometimes Brahmins and other times it is Dalits,” he said.
“Why can’t we have a casteless society where we will be known by our first name. Once we start dropping our surnames our caste identities will be lost and we will be equal,” he said. “If our Prime Minister can order culling of high denomination currency notes he can also declare that no one should use surnames. This will make all equal. If this happens we will not need SC/ST Act,” he said.
The 50-year-old Ashok has completed his doctoral research on Buddhism. He has had conversations with noble laureate Amartya Sen at events and has even delivered lectures in the UN.
He had also sent a letter to President and Governor titled “Ab nahi to kab? Hum nahi to kaun” (If not now, then when? If not us, then who?) pleading that caste should be declared illegal.