New Delhi: A united opposition on Thursday attacked the government in the Rajya Sabha over a growing number of incidents in which Dalits have been targeted.

The upper house took up the issue in a short-duration discussion, following large-scale protests over the brutal assault of four Dalit men in Una, Gujarat, who were attacked on suspicion that they had killed a cow.

On Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was left facing the fallout after a senior party party leader from Uttar Pradesh made misogynistic references to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who is a champion of the Dalits.

Participating in the debate, Mayawati thanked fellow parliamentarians who condemned the BJP leader’s remarks.

“They have given me more motivation to fight for the rights of the Dalits. I read reports that the the BJP has removed the person from his position and removed him from the party. It would have been nice if they themselves would have filed an FIR (first information report) against him," Mayawati said.

She said that the politicization of Dalits by the BJP and Congress should stop.

Urging the government to take action in Gujarat, she said, “I want to tell the central government that this matter is serious and it is the responsibility of the central government that they have a government in the state as well and they should ensure justice."

Defending the government, home minister Rajnath Singh said in his reply to the debate that the Gujarat incident deserved condemnation.

“There is no justification for such incidents. It is hurting me also that such situations are created even 70 years after independence. We have to create moral values in people and this cannot be done just by political parties. Social, cultural and other such organizations also need to come together," he said.

Opposition parties also expressed concern on the rising number of incidents in which Dalits have been targeted since 2014.

“There have been incidents in various states and have happened for many years. But if there is a sudden increase in the number of incidents, isn’t it worrying?" said Anand Sharma, deputy leader of the Congress party in the Rajya Sabha.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn such incidents.

Initiating the discussion, senior Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said it was matter of shame that even after 70 years of independence, atrocities against Dalits, especially women, were increasing.

“It is the ideological backdrop that is confronting the Dalits today. If this is not addressed then upward mobility will stop, inter-caste marriages will not be allowed, khap panchayats will grow and ‘love jihad’ will grow," said Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

“This government came to power in 2014 and since then new avenues for Dalit attacks have come," he said.

PTI contributed to this story.

Close