It’s Monday morning and I look up at the mini-mouse themed wall clock right across my bed. Still rubbing my eyes I check the time.
Had the clock stopped working since 8:30 at night?
Completely awakened from my pleasant morning sleep now, I lightly move aside the curtains of the window behind my bed, as the warm rays of the sun lightly kiss me good morning.
From the angled position of the sun, I’m assured that it’s still sometime around 7 or 7:30AM and the clock had indeed stopped working since night. I still have some time in hand before I can get started for my day.
So, as a routine habit, I pick up my smartphone to scroll through the morning news and the first news that flashes on the screen is the Dalit-Maratha clash that marred an event to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.
Though the name ‘Bhima Koregaon’ sounds familiar to me, I’m still not sure of its exact location and I immediately resort to Google for a quick help. I’m surprised to find out that it’s a panchayat village located close to Pune where I stay, and I had still never heard of the place, leave apart the battle.
The reason the name sounded so familiar was because of its concurrence to the place named Koregaon Park, a happening place of Pune which I was well aware of. LOL! While a bit ashamed at the inadequacy of my historical knowledge, I get back to my phone to dig deeper into the updates about the violence.
I see a list of tweets from the general public condemning the act of violence and providing valuable insights about the battle. Makes me wonder if I was the only ignorant person about this battle that suddenly seemed to have gained popularity out of the blue.
I’m shaken out of my thoughts by the loud ring of the doorbell. As I open the door, Savita my maid, walks in blabbering something under her breath. She doesn’t even care to look up at me as she rushes to the balcony to get the broom and start with her chores.
‘What’s wrong with you Savita?’ I casually ask her and in comes the prompt reply, ‘Nothing madam; these Brahmins have for years considered us Dalits, the dirt of their soles and its high time now that they should be punished for their deeds’.
Believe me or not, but until that morning, I didn’t have the slightest idea that Savita was from Dalit community. I actually never cared to ask ‘coz all I needed was someone to help me with my daily chores as I had to attend office and Savita was good with her work.
‘Haven’t you heard about the clashes happening in our city?’ Savita asked with a look of dismay written all over her face. I was confirmed now that I was the only ignorant person on this earth ‘coz even Savita was more updated about the incidence than me.
‘Ohh! So you already knew about this battle of Bhima Koregaon?’ I asked Savita wanting to gain some more information about it.
‘Battle!! What battle are you talking about? I don’t know about any battle madam. All I know is that the Brahmins have been exploiting the Dalits for centuries and it’s time for the Dalits to rise to power now,’ Savita replied in annoyance.
My feeling of guilt was immediately gone as I realized that half or even more than half the people condemning the incidence where completely ignorant about the battle or the real reason behind the communal clashes. All they knew and believed was that the Dalits where being exploited at the hands of Brahmins and it was time for them to take a revenge.
This also justified the tweets from ignorant people that were making me feel guilty of my ignorance since morning.
In a country like ours where caste discrimination has been a sensitive subject for decades, it’s the easiest thing to provoke people in the name of caste without worrying about whether or not they are aware of the facts. There may be hundreds of others like Savita who are totally ignorant about the real cause for the clashes while unknowingly becoming advocates of the discrimination they have faced over the years and provoking riots.
And it’s not just Savita or the likes but the same holds true even for most of the activists agitating against the 200th anniversary event.
Reminds me of the age-old saying that, “Partial Knowledge is A Dangerous Thing!!”
Once again I’m broken out of my thoughts by the message alert on my phone. It’s from my HR requesting all employees to stay at home for safety reasons.
I let out a sigh of relief and for once feel grateful for such communal riots. At least, ignorant yet educated people like me who have nothing to do with caste discrimination, can enjoy a holiday in the wake of such riots!!