In a major campaign, as many as 11,000 villages will light a lamp on November 26 to “honour and protect” the Indian Constitution, which is allegedly under great duress today. As part of the campaign, spearheaded by Martin Macwan of the Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust, Gujarat, he has also sought support from all sections of public for the removal of the statue of Manu from the premises of the Rajasthan High Court.
Covid surges and other hurdles curtailed the planned conclusion of the campaign on August 15, 2021. However, in a “new’ and “urgent” circumstance,Macwan has issued a fresh call to “protect and honour” India’s secular constitution on November 26, Constitution Day, the day that Dr BR Ambedkar presented the draft Constitution to the people of India.
Contending that India’s secular constitution is being pushed to “darkness”, a campaign call claims, “Almost every pillar of democracy has been weakened or even removed altogether.”
Meanwhile, two diaspora groups, Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), California, and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), New York, have lent their support to Macwan’s campaign, which includes garnering lakhs of ‘missed calls’ in India. A joint AKSC-HfHR petition In the US, which has gathered 5,000 supporters, seeks to light a lamp on November 26 to honour the Constitution and say “no” to Manu on court premises.
The petition, floated by Raju Rajagopal of HfHR, and distributed though the Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre (PMARC), insists that “a public statue of the author of the infamous Manusmṛiti has no place in India’s pluralistic society”, adding, “We support the call for the removal of Manu from the premises of the Rajasthan High Court.”
The petition says, “We stand united in sending a message across the world that caste bigotry and violence against Dalits must end. We shall light a lamp on November 26, 2021 to honour and protect India’s secular constitution”, pointing out, Macwan, “recently wrote an Open Letter to India’s Congress Party demanding that it order the immediate removal of the statue of Manu, considered to be the author of the Manusmṛiti, from the Rajasthan High Court.”
The petition argues,”The Manusmṛiti is unarguably one of the vilest treatises among the body of Hindu scriptures. Many commentaries have been written about it and we will not repeat them here. Suffice it to say that it lays out detailed varna/caste rules and specifies consequences and penalties for trespassing them, including the misfortunes that may befall in one’s next birth(s). It also contains the most horrific and graphic descriptions of the prescribed treatment of the forebears of today’s Dalits.”
It recalls, ‘In America today, a major effort is underway to recognize that confederate monuments aren’t merely historical in their intent, but serve as continuing reminders to Black America of the daily discrimination that they still face. The George Floyd protests and the resonance of the Black Lives Matter among all Americans has energized calls for the removal of all such monuments.”
“It is in the same spirit”, the petition says, “India must forthwith remove the statue of Manu, the most visible symbol of centuries of caste discrimination and atrocities on the basis of one’s birth. Most certainly, the author of the Manusmṛiti does not belong in a place dedicated to defending India’s constitution, which promises equality under the law to every citizen of India.”
Seeking more signatures, the petition, forwarding the List of Initial Signatories of the Open Letter to the Congress Party from every State of India and from the US, says, “It is high time that each one of us who cares for India’s democratic and constitutional values does our part, however small it may seem, to end the caste system and its cruel vestiges.”
It points out, “It may be worth noting that it was a small act of courage by a Belgian teenager, in front of the statue of King Leopold II that resulted in the current King of Belgium sending his ‘deepest regrets’ to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the “suffering and humiliation” his nation inflicted while it colonized the region over a century back.”
Also seeking support the missed call campaign that is underway by calling 9823157779 (India) the petition quotes Macwan for the support he received from diaspora groups for signing the letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for removing the statue of Manu. A copy of the letter has been forwarded to the Rajsthan chief minister and the Rajasthan high court chief justice.
“A total of 609 people signed the letter. We are updating the list as more than 150 signatories have just joined in”, says Macwan, adding, “To ensure that this movement becomes widespread and reaches to many more especially the rural communities, we launched the missed campaign” whose update suggests “more than 20,00,000 people” have supported it.
This story first appeared on counterview.net