Who is safe in Rajasthan?

Our country is now confronted with strange contradictory facts- on one hand, we have a Dalit president and on the other, we have Gena Ram’s family committing suicide

Who is safe in Rajasthan?

Bhanwar Meghvanshi

A Dalit constable in Rajasthan police, Gena Ram got fed-up with the constant harassment by his own department and was forced to commit suicide, along with his family. Gena Ram’s family was being harassed for two years in a fake theft case, despite a closure report having been filed in the case twice. The third time when the case was re-opened, Gena Ram was asked to pay a bribe of ₹5 lakh to hush up the matter.

Exasperated at the constant harassment, Gena Ram, his wife, daughter and son first consumed poison and then hung themselves. Before committing suicide, Gena Ram’s family posted their suicide note on social media, in which they clearly mentioned the names of the persons responsible for their constant harassment and torture.

Gena Ram, a Dalit and a constable in Rajasthan Police, was harassed to the extent that his family and himself were left with no option but to end their lives by committing mass suicide. As soon as the news came out in public, thousands of protestors took to streets at various locations.

Protestors also gathered at the mortuary and staged a dharna. About two thousand people continued sitting outside the mortuary for hours in biting cold, demanding action against the accused. Only after the Rajasthan-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government assured protestors that an FIR would be filed against the persons mentioned in the suicide note could the final rites happen on Jan 23.

The fire, however, continues to burn alive. At the time when last rites were being performed, Dalit and human rights organisations were demonstrating outside the police headquarters demanding action against the culprits.

This is not the first incident in the state, involving a person being harassed because of being a Dalit. What’s brazen is that such a thing happened to serving cop. What hope could others have?

Gena Ram posted the six-page suicide note on social media, in hope that the accused are not allowed to go scot-free.

Every such incident upsets us, makes us restless, we go out on the streets and run campaign against them, we welcome those who join us in these campaigns and criticise them who don’t. The enquiry, court hearing, challan, decision or agreements go on for a few days, but we are back to square one at the end of every such cycle, like we are back again on the streets demanding justice in yet another incident. The streets have become virtual battlefields for justice over the last 2-3 years.

Nobody can live in peace. The number of university students committing suicide has also increased- Rohith Vemula is not the only case in point. We have lost dozens of students like Vemula, Delta Meghwal, Muthu Krishnan, Ravindra Meghwal.

Why is it that the murderer of Phoolan Devi continues to roam free, while the leader of Bhim Army is languishing in the prison under NSA? Are we unable to gauge that casteism and feudalism is at its peak in Rajasthan?

This unfortunate incident in Nagaur, Rajasthan, is not just a case of a Dalit family’s suicide, it is and incident of the death of our collective consciousness, it is the latest example of the systematic and fatal harassment of the system. Our country is now confronted with strange contradictory facts- on one hand we have a Dalit president on the other, we have Gena Ram’s family committing suicide.

I deeply empathise with the family of Gena Ram, angry at him at the same time. He should have opted for a struggle instead of committing suicide. He should have written a declaration of war against these forces instead of a suicide note. What he conveyed through his death, should have been roared as he lived and persevered. Why didn’t he share this pain with others? Although a few, there are still some people who are living in true sense of the word. Why did Gena Ram die? People who are responsible for his death, should have died.

I do not endorse the path of self-destruction. I have a keen interest in fighting and struggling and confronting all these forces. We should not be weak. We must fight till the last breath, without being exhausted or depressed. If we do not fight, then our coming generations will be ruined. So, it is better to fight it out instead of committing suicide.

The writer is a journalist working on the concerns of Dalits and gypsy tribes in Rajasthan

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