India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. A lower-caste Dalit couple in Madhya Pradesh state attempted suicide after police beat them and destroyed their crops.
Videos and photos shared on social media showed police assaulting the couple along with their children, who were seen sobbing as their parents fell unconscious due to police torture. The couple was begging the police to not destroy their crops as they were in debt but the police did not listen to them.
An online video showing half a dozen police officers dragging and beating the couple with sticks to evict them from government-owned land in central Madhya Pradesh state has been viewed more than one million times.
1/ These policemen must get the same treatment from the people, watch that lady! 😡 $#!
Consider this happening to your Parents?
Only the poor is going to suffer.
— 🚧 Vikesh Tiwari 🚀 (@tvicky002) July 16, 2020
The couple consumed pesticide moments after the eviction. The couple then brought to the hospital and now in a stable condition at a government hospital in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. The police have registered a case against them for trying to obstruct public servants from the discharge of their duty.
1. मध्यप्रदेश के गुना पुलिस व प्रशासन द्वारा अतिक्रमण के नाम पर दलित परिवार को कर्ज लेकर तैयार की गई फसल को जेसीबी मशीन से बबार्द करके उस दम्पत्ति को आत्महत्या का प्रयास करने को मजबूर कर देना अति-क्रूर व अति-शर्मनाक। इस घटना की देशव्यापी निन्दा स्वाभाविक। सरकार सख्त कार्रवाई करे।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) July 16, 2020
“Giving a loan to a Dalit family in the name of encroachment by the Guna Police and Administration of Madhya Pradesh, wasting a crop with a JCB machine and forcing the couple to attempt suicide was over-cruel and over-shameful. The nationwide condemnation of this incident is natural. The government should take strict action,” said Kumari Mayawati, a Dalit political leader on Twitter.
Six police officers were suspended on Thursday and the state government has ordered an investigation into the incident.
The main opposition party in the state, the Congress, blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the police brutality.
Dalit, a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcaste — what used to be called untouchable. Bound at the bottom of India’s Hindu society for centuries, the Dalit population, now estimated at more than 300 million, has been abused for as long as anyone can remember, and the violence against them is rising.
According to the report of Human Rights Watch, most Dalits in India also continue to live in extreme poverty, without land or opportunities for better employment or education.
With the exception of a minority who have benefited from India’s policy of quotas in education and government jobs, Dalits are relegated to the most menial of tasks as removers of human waste and dead animals, leather workers, street sweepers, and cobblers.
Dalit children make up the majority of children sold into bondage to pay off debts to upper-caste creditors.