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Dalit children burnt alive: Whither is humanity?

By Sapan Kapoor

Looking at the picture of two-year-old Vaibhav fondling his nine-month-old sister Divya one cannot help but feel ashamed of being a human. For humanity failed again on Tuesday in Haryana’s Sun Perh village near Ballabgarh when these two angels were burnt alive allegedly by members of an upper caste community, a ghastly attack that also critically injured their parents.

A police spokesman said, “Some criminals burnt a Jatav family of village Sun Perh, police station Sadar Ballabhgarh of Faridabad district when they were sleeping inside their house. Four members including Jitender, his wife Rekha and two small children namely Vaibhav (son) aged 2 years and Divya (daughter) aged 9 months were inside the room. Subsequently, the fire spread inside the room and both the children expired. Jitender and his wife Rekha also sustained burn injuries.”

Verily, as I write this piece my heart bleeds and hands quiver. I wonder how easy it is for us to write or say, “The Dalit children were burnt alive.” Burnt alive? Little children? How excruciatingly painful it must have been for them. Remember the time when you had accidentally singed your fingers while cooking your meal? It was painful, right? But how about burning children alive or shooting them dead at point-blank range?

These are dangerous times when scores of young children are butchered in a school in Pakistan, when the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi fleeing violence in Syria is washed ashore on a Turkish beach, when a 50-year-old man is beaten to a sodden pulp for merely eating beef and when two little angels are burnt alive for being Dalits in a country that boasts of being the world’s largest democracy.

There seems to be something seriously wrong with the world which has become so unsafe for children and the most vulnerable sections of the society. People are playing politics over the dead bodies of innocent human beings, as human greed for power and wealth knows no bounds. Everything seems to be fair in politics and our quest for power; the humans pull out all the stops to gratify their insatiable desire to dominate and subjugate others. But such savagery and inhumanity is extremely dangerous.

For this will only lead us to the abyss of dark ages, extrication from which will be impossible. In that chasm there’s darkness, there are the burning fires of hell, there’s the burning and scorching of the flesh; there’s foul smell. Where are we heading? Is the end of the world nigh?

It is a matter of great regret that even in the 21st century we have not been able to find a lasting solution to our social issues.

Until and unless we acknowledge the universal truth that all men and women are born equal and that they must not be discriminated against in the name of caste, creed, sex, colour or religion, we will not succeed in the establishing a just society; social justice is essential for peace and progress.

We ought to look within. In the 21st century, the caste system that negates the idea of an egalitarian India should have no place. How can a person assume superiority over others just because he or she happens to be born into a particular caste? How can a person be destined to be a slave of others just because of his colour or caste? This is the root cause of the problem in India, for this is where it all begins.

Besides, we Indians do not even realize and acknowledge how racist we are.

Such incidents remind me of India’s horrible past when Dalits were barred from entering temples. Unfortunately, we seem to be still living in the past, for a 90-year-old Dalit man, Chimma, died after he was brutally attacked with an axe and set on fire for trying to enter a temple at Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh earlier this month.

An eyewitness said the accused Sanjay Tiwari had asked Chimma and several others not to enter the temple but they refused, leading to the attack.

Alas, whenever such incidents take place the first instinct of our politicians is to take a political mileage out of a human tragedy, for that’s what they are supposed to do. Politics (duh). So be it Dadri or Sun Perh village, our great leaders at once rush to meet the victim families, assuring them of compensation, justice and above all a CBI inquiry.

The same thing is repeated time and again and nothing comes out this futile exercise. We ought to realize that we are in deep water; India’s soul is at stake. What we need is sincere soul searching, for there is something seriously wrong with a society that allows its children to meet such a terrible fate.

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