Discussions over forming political equations to challenge the BJP government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh have been going on for some time now and gradually the impact on the ground has started to show. It could be strongly felt during the Uttar Pradesh Yatra of Rihai Manch.
This realization is becoming increasingly stronger that the political anger against the BJP government has increased and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will prove difficult for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Rihai Manch is a platform created by some human rights activists who have been raising their voice over the fake encounters and incidents of repression in Uttar Pradesh for a long time, releasing the investigation reports on these cases too.
An increasing restlessness can be sensed in the Dalits-Backward castes and Muslims in the towns and villages of and around Azamgarh. The growing anger and frustration of the Dalits can be seen either in form of the Bhim Army, or in the growing popularity of the BSP. It is important to note here that the bandh on April 2 called against the Supreme Court’s decision to dilute the SC/ST Act had a very resonance in this region. This area witnessed the most lathi charges, arrests and violence against women. The wounds of the victims of this violence are still fresh and they are now looking for political alternatives.
“There are strong threads of unity binding the Dalits, backwards and Muslims in this belt. This is the reason why this area was the most affected by all the police encounters, arrests and violence.”
When this correspondent talked to Bankelal Yadav of Tarauka village, Azamgarh, he said, “I am a Yadav and was arrested for supporting the Dalits. Since then I have been supporting this movement. The anger against the BJP is rising. The way the police targeted educated and working Dalit-Yadav youths, it became clear that the entire action was motivated by caste prejudice.”
The women of Azamgarh district too were of the same opinion. Sarasvati Kumari (name changed) said, “The police beat us up ruthlessly. And it was all male police officials. There was no woman among them. We were bashed up so brutally that we are not able to walk straight even today.”
In the Pahadipatti village of Azamgarh, the youth leadership of Bhim Army is gaining ground. Supporting this tour by the Rihai Manch the young leaders of the Bhim Army put forward their own issues and focused on the release of their arrested leader Chandrashekhar Ravan.
The district in-charge of Bhim Army, Sunil Kumar Rao said, “We have a network in about every village and this will strongly reflect in the politics of the region.”
Rajiv Yadav of Rihai Manch said, “There are strong threads of unity binding the Dalits, backwards and Muslims in this belt. This is the reason why this area was the most affected by all the police action of encounters, arrests and violence.”
Gufran of Rihai Manch reaffirms this. “Till now, Azamgarh and the surrounding area was in the news mostly because of the action taken on or against Muslims, but now all the backward castes, including Dalits, Yadavas, Pasi, etc are being persecuted. This tour of Uttar Pradesh by Rihai Manch aims at raising their issues.”
Surprisingly, on the lines of M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) unity, now the possibility of D-Y (Dalit-Yadav) unity is becoming stronger in Uttar Pradesh, and this can very well challenge the BJP in this region.
The Rihai Manch yatra is passing through the areas of Poorvanchal where incidents of atrocities against Dalits-backward castes and minorities have taken place. The activists of Rihai Manch are meeting the families of the victims and are talking about their issues through press conferences. This tour, which began from Lucknow, crossed Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Mau, Balia, Gazipur, Varanasi, Bhadauhi and reached Allahabad. The tour will return to Lucknow on September 5.
During this, the important human right activists Shahnavaz Alam, Anil Yadav, Lakshman Prasad Dinesh Singh and Mangalram Ambedkarwadi have joined Congress.