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Young Dalits waiting for a new icon in UP

May 26, 2019 03:42 IST

Jatav youth ask tough questions about surgical strikes, expenditure on statues and organising of the Kumbh festival.
Archis Mohan reports.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

IMAGE: Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo

His small earnings from a makeshift carpentry shop helped Rohit Bacha, a middle-aged small farmer in Udaychandrapur village in the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency, get his two daughters through college.

Bacha, a Dalit from the Pasi community, says his dream is to ensure his other three children, a daughter and two sons, also get a college education. It is with some pride that Bacha says his daughters are "BSc pass".

The name of his shop, 'Aashiq Furniture', is intriguing. "It is in the name of my childhood friend," Bacha says. "He is Muslim. A beautiful friendship we have," he says.

Bacha, who himself barely managed to complete high school, does not want his sons to follow him in either his trade or tilling the small plot of land the family owns.

His dream for his daughters is for them to secure government jobs.

The barely educated carpenter, more comfortable in his local dialect than Hindi, surprises again when he says the marriage of his daughters can wait.

"Unfortunately, jobs in the reserved category are declining," Bacha says, elaborating how most government jobs now get outsourced and is convinced it is part of a design to deny scheduled castes government jobs.

Bacha is mild-mannered when talking even of the most contentious of issues agitating the Dalits of UP, including the "increasing atrocities on Dalits".

 

Jatav youths of the neighbouring Ismailganj village ask tough questions about surgical strikes, expenditure on statues and organising of the Kumbh festival. They say they distrust mainstream media and only watch news anchor Ravish Kumar.

Sanjay, a 17 year old who is training to become an electrician, has taken to call himself Sanjay 'Ambedkar'.

Last year, he launched a YouTube channel -- bhimraji10inIndia. He posts clips of local events, particularly related to celebrating B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. The channel currently has nearly 1,400 subscribers and 55,000 page views.

Sanjay and his friends say their icons are failing them. He says over a hundred Jatav youths in theirs and nearby villages quit the Bhim Army of Dalit leader Chandrashekhar recently.

"He was working with people who are enemies of the Dalit cause," Sanjay says, adding how Dalit youths of his generation await a new leader.

Archis Mohan
Source: source
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