An atrocity left unpunished and a hero’s statue desecrated drive untouchable masses into the streets across India’s second-most populous state.
September 29: Four members of an untouchable family are horrifically lynched by men and women of the dominant caste in the tiny village of Khairlanji.The rape/murder of the Bhotmange family in Khairlanji village occurred on September 29, but it was only at the end of October that the story first broke in the national press, under the ironic headline “Just another rape story.” There are hundreds of atrocities against untouchables and over a thousand rapes of untouchable women officially reported every year in Maharashtra state alone. And how many go unreported? As the Khairlanji lynching itself might have. If it hadn’t been for two surviving blood relatives who secretly witnessed this public massacre, the case would never have been registered with the police: even now, no one else will talk.
November 6: After over a month of negligence by the police and inaction from the state government, mass protests by untouchables break out in Nagpur and spread throughout the district.
November 28: A statue of the Independence-era untouchable leader B. R. Ambedkar is beheaded in the city of Kanpur.
November 29-30: Untouchable youth take to the streets in spontaneous protests across the state. In Bombay large groups target public transportation, emptying buses and a train and setting them on fire.
So why did the news of this particular horror spread mainly by word of mouth throughout the region and across the state? Why this time did rage over the incident simmer for two full months before finally boiling over in an unprecedented statewide uprising of the untouchable masses that took India by surprise?....
Khairlanji and Its Aftermath: Exploding Some Myths by Anand Teltumbde (Economic and Political Weekly, March 24, 2007)
Dalits, Like Flies to Feudal Lords by Shivam Vij (Tehelka, November 4, 2006)
Village quiet after it ganged up to hack Dalit mother, 3 children by Vivek Deshpande (The Indian Express, November 8)
Khairlanji: How the Other Half Dies? (Central Chronicle [Bhopal], November 14)
fact-finding report on Atrocities against Bhotmange Family in Khairlanji by Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (VAK), a Bombay-based voluntary organization
He lives to see justice done by Meena Menon (The Hindu, November 17)
Dalit blood on the village square by Lyla Bavadam (Frontline, November 18-December 1)
A Flag Over the Dead by Dilip D'Souza (Tehelka, November 25)
Kherlanji's Strange and Bitter Crop by Satya Sagar (November 29)
Maharashtra: Dalit anger leaves 4 dead, 60 injured (rediff.com, November 30)
Dalit Rage by Smruti Koppikar (Outlook India, December 5)
The fear of democracy of the privileged by P. Sainath (The Hindu, December 8)
Khairlanjis of the past (Frontline, December 16-29, 2006)
A real agenda for Dalit liberation by Praful Bidwai (Frontline, December 16-29, 2006)