November Print Issue
A talk by Meena Kandasamy on 7th Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture.
“Our memories of the Gujrat genocide in 2002 is still fresh. We cannot forget the bodies of small children which is lined up and arranged next to each other and I think there is a long history of the killing of children. If you look at the massacre in Kilvenmani that happened on christmas day 1968, 23 small children were killed. All of them were burnt to death.
In fact, it is not just children who were locked in a hut who were burnt to death but there is one episode which anybody in Kilvenmani tells you again and again and it is the episode of how one of the mothers of the child in a last desperate attempt to save the child throws the child outside hoping that somebody will save, somebody in the mob will have the humanity to save this child, but they basically chopped the baby into pieces and put the baby back in the hut and set the hut on fire. So this is the caste Hindu humanity that we have in this country.
So, when we trace the history of massacres whether it is Villupuram whether it is Bathani Tola, whether it is Laxmanpur Bathe, let us realise that the killing of children is the bottom mark that runs through each of these caste atrocities.
The Congress Party in Kilvenmani in Nagapatinam district is represented by the man who actually lynched the dalits. So, Gopal Krishna Naidu is the president of the Tanjore Congress, the chief minister of the state. At the time Annadurai, he comes and says people should forget this as they forget a feverish nightmare or a flash of lightning, this is India’s first Dravidian Chief Minister. And then Periyar a month later speaks about the event and he says wage is not something that you can demand it is something that is fixed by the market condition and he blames the communists for the act of Kilvanmani.
I personally, when I read about this case, when I read about how 44 people both men and women and children were lynched to death, I was betrayed not by what the caste hindus did but what the judgement did and I felt that the judgement was as merciless as the massacre itself.
If we revisit the undivided east Tanjore district in the immediate aftermath of what happened in Kilvenmani you will find something very interesting emerging – You will have all these landlords who go out and say things like, there will be hundred of more Gopal Krishna Naidus (he is the man who basically led this lynch mob who is a landlord ), hundred more Kilvenmani’s will continue to burn, and one of the other things they said, hundred landlords are willing to enter the gallows, hundreds of us ready to embrace the noose. And this is where the twist comes, this is the state of mind of the perpetrators of the massacre, the willingness of them to face the legal consequences about their actions but then the judiciary steps in, and not one landlord is sent to the gallows, not one is imprisoned for life, no one served a life term and on the contrary every single one of them is acquitted.
This is when Kilvenmani massacre takes an important turn as the judgement in this case marks an important moment in our nation’s history, because the courts sets a dangerous precedent. Today if a massacre of that scale happens, I think the caste hindus would go and say, no we are not going to spend anytime in jail we are going to be set free. and having to talk about not only this massacre, because Kilvenmani is not just Kilvenmani, Kilvenmani continues to happen all over India, it happens in Kilvenmani in 1968, but it happens in Villupuram in ‘78, it happens in Chundur, it happens in Karamchedu, it happens in Bathani Tolla, in Laxmanpur Bathe.
This mass killing of Dalits is something that happens again and again, and the way in which the judiciary functions is also replicated in the same manner. So when I started looking at it, you could find the whole common thread that runs through all these massacres and the first thing is, there is a large element of victim blaming, there is dismissing the evidence of the witnesses in one pretext or the other, the judiciary being completely embodied by the fate of the case, the judiciary not stepping in, and all the witnesses turn hostile because of the threats they face, the judiciary not taking any steps to protect them.
So, from time to time this judiciary might make the right noises, it can pretend that it is pulling up the government, it can express the occasional outrage, but if you look at it closer you will understand the true face of the judiciary. And I think in this context it is important for you to know, to recall a bit of Foucault, who says the real political task in a society is to criticise the working of the institutions, that appears to be both neutral and independent, to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has been exercised obscurely through the mask, gets unveiled. So that one can fight against them.
Caste System in Courts
Eighty years later when national commission for SC, ST found the ground reality, it observed that only 24 judges belonging to SC, ST against the total of 850 judges in all high courts. Out of the 21 high courts, 14 high courts do not have a single judge from SC, ST. As in 2011, when the commission published its report there is no SC, ST judge in the supreme court with a strength of 31 judges.
Making strong and committed stands against the exclusion, the commission made it clear ‘ a firm policy of dissolution judiciary is only remedy’. Governments need to change policy running with their haunting and with the haunts up to all. The judiciary should reflect and meet aspects and aspirations of the people, it cannot live in isolation and put itself outside the ambit of constitution of provisions through judicial pronouncements.
One of the highlights of this report is the manner in which it called out the judiciary for its discriminatory treatment to judges belonging to SC and ST communities. It took issues with the way the Madras High Court is been treated. Starting the story from Chhattisgarh the 17 district judges all belonging to SC, ST communities were removed when they had 10 to 5 years of service left. The commission finds out this is nearly because they are maturing for elevation of high court judges, so system was trying to prevent this.
The commission report also observes that the Bombay High Court and Delhi High Court doesn’t follow the policy of reservation in the staff employment from last 61 years. The Madras and Rajasthan High Court don’t follow any policy of reservation for SC, ST for gazetted and promotion based posts. Six decades of the appointment shows that it revolves around the few families only even among the privileged sections of the society. It could not constitute even 1% of the countries population.
In the north India, advocates belonging to this privileged sections are appointed to the superior courts in early 40s keeping the ultimate eye on the chief justiceship or justiceship of the Supreme Court. Judges from the weaker section on the other hand are invariably appointed in their 50s. So this kept out them in consideration of principles of seniority. So it’s naked imagination that merely affirmative action will radicalise the Indian judiciary overnight but it has, will no doubt changed composition. It leaves us with one last question ‘Can a Dalit judge do justice on the extinct State’s changed structure? Can even a Dalit police officer work and put a culprit to book?
In the Gokulraj murder case, the young Dalit man beheaded by caste hindus, to love a girl from the OBC. The investigating officer was a brilliant Dalit officer, Vishnupriya. She was all 27 years old of age, she came under pressure from higher officials to implicate innocent people in the case, and let go the criminal master mind of the case. Unable to bear the pressure she takes her own life. There is no doubt the Dalit judges also come in the similar pressures, similar threats. We can revisit or offvisit the attrocities spots in Chundur to see what happens when dalit is also siting in a judgement in dalit massacre.
A quote from the book published by the human rights commission ‘Dr Prabhakar Rao was appointed as special court judge, the defence council, meaning all the Reddys threaten them in open court that ‘if the Rao continues to be the judge, they stop defending their clients. So, judge can be free to continue their proceedings in their absence’.
This is the nature of the judiciary. Merely a caste hindus can deliver a caste justice on the basis of other caste hindus. Where do we begin to show our anger? When do we bring this judgement and burn them in public bonfire to show this kind of caste justice will not be carried out in our name, carried out in this constitution. How do we avenge the deaths? Will it not be the last wishes of each of these victims of each of these massacres who died in the state of unforgiven terror. The cold blooded caste fanatic police and judges betrayed them, Who made it possible for guilty to escape being sent to jail, spent time along with the murderers.
The failure of judiciary is one half of the story, when justice delivery mechanism fail, when courts stand ex-pansion and extension of khap panchayats, caste institution people are forced to take justice in their own hands. They have to pursue their own methods to get fair deal.
Let us not forget no matter how convinced the Madras High court was about his innocence and how impressed they were with waste tracks of lands he owned and the ambassador that he drove. That the fight of the heavy political clouds that ensured that the Congress party, Gopal Krishna Naidu the butcher of Kilvenmani was killed. What survives in the form of oral legend in this part that how his body hanged into 44 pieces wrapped up in farms and distributed in those who lost their families. What happened to Bramneshwar Singh, the chief of Ranvir Sena the butcher of Bihar, he was killed as well. These are the limits to justice system. These police states, caste society can’t shield these murderers from the wrath of the people. It took 12 years to avenge Gopal Krishna Naidu but on the 14th of Dec, 1980 people delivered the justice which court had failed to deliver. The case of Bramneshwar Singh, he could not survive a year after he was let out of the jail. This could not have happened if only there is properly functioning and impartial judiciary.
To the Judiciary
The systematic denial of justice to the Dalit people is a genocidal hate. I used the word knowing which not hold in any court of law but nevertheless that is no smaller word to describe the degree of hate you received against Dalits. Of course I give you the contempt that you worked so hard to earn. I speak to you because you repeatedly and systematically, purposefully failed to deliver justice. I curse you because you have allowed most fanatic caste Hindu killers to walk away without any punishment, I wish you dead because you do not treat the life of Dalits with any value or respect.
I wish you nothing. Grow on your tomb because the reverence of corrupt caste standing institution like Indian judiciary cannot keep words but the poison of worst kind. I dare you. I dare all courts in this land because you can send writers and cartoonist in the jail but the man who massacre us, sheltered and hon- oured. You killed the constitution in hourly basis , you trampled upon the rights that had people’s struggles while you forgive corporates for the loot, for the non payment of taxes to the tune of crore of rupees and turn a blind eye on Dalit people.
When the young and innocent Dalit, Adivasis and Muslim men fill up your horrible prisons you lack a grand vision of justice.
And you seat on judgements about the reservations policy you call it for a scrap, you even said that it is a privilege used against national interest. When your own ranks like India Media houses are dalits free zones. Just like Nazis used the words Jew free zones for areas claims to the jews, you want to make higher education to judiciary in this country, a Dalit free zones. Let us not forget that 14 of 21 high courts donot have a single dalit chair. Let us not forget that in the long history of Indian supreme Court only 4 dalit judges have been appointed. You have become synonyms with injustice, your pronouncements merely reflect your patriarchal misoygnist, casteist, feudal, Hindu fundamentalist, corporate apologist, state terrorist mindsets. Your judgements over the course of decades have make caste mania so they can kill a entire village of dalits without having to spend a day in jail.
To the girl from Suryanelli raped by 42 men in 40 days period, the question that you unfailingly, unflinchingly asked ‘why did she not escape when she had the opportunity ?’. The young Dalit man who survived in Chundur massacre you wonder why he got admitted himself in the hospital without informing the police. The dalit man from Bathni tolla who witnessed the murders of his family, you asked why he took time to make a complaint? This casteism, this completes heartlesness of your true face while you teach us your grand truths: upper caste man would not have raped a Dalit women, a land owning Mirasdar who also owns the car would not walk to village to set it on fire, the murderers caste mob do not have allow male survi- vors, the mob of landlords set fire a locked hut with 44 people but they did not have intention to kill.
Please keep your injustice to yourself. I do believe on revolution like comrade Anuradha Ghandy did, unlike her I do not know there is revolution which will be- gin in India but wherever it begins the revolution will replace your courts not later then by first sundown . I want to remind the courts in this country of the famous slogan “no justice, no peace” let’s salute. “