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Political History of Jatavs (Scheduled Castes) in Agra, Uttar Pradesh before BSP, Part 1 ‘Pre Independent’

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Political History of Jatavs (Scheduled Castes) in Agra, Uttar Pradesh before BSP, Part 1 ‘Pre Independent’

Post  nikhil_sablania on Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:57 pm

The Pre Independent Times

One of the first actions undertaken by the Jatav Men’s Association was to lobby for the inclusion of one of their members in the State Legislative Council. Thus, in 1920, a Bohare Khem Chand was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of Uttar Pradesh, in which he served two terms. After his appointment, Bohare Khem Chand proposed in the Council that one member of his community be appointed to each district board in Uttar Pradesh. The motion was admitted, and Bohare himself was appointed to the District Board of Agra, in 1922 to 1930. He further proposed that one member of his community be appointed to every municipal board, town area, and notified area committee in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The motion was admitted and passed. Bohare was then appointed to the Municipal Board of Agra, where he served from 1926 to 1928. He also proposed, in 1926, that Jatav (or Untouchable) students should be given scholarships in all schools. However, he later withdrew this motion on the assurance that the government would favorably consider the matter. He also became a member of the Agra Central Jail Committee, the Excise Committee, and the Housing Committee of the District Board. Of even more significant was the testimony he gave before the Simon Commission Electoral Committee in 1928.

In 1945 these politics undercurrents crystallized into the formation of Scheduled Castes Federation of Agra which was linked to Dr. Ambedkar’s All India Scheduled Castes Federation.

The leadership moved steadily from indirect political influence to direct political participation. This shift was solidified by the three acts. The first was the act of civil disobedience (satyagraha) at Lucknow by Scheduled Caste federation, in which the Agra Jatavs claim to have taken an important part in terms of both numbers and leadership. According to the Agra organizer of the act of civil disobedience,

The reason for the movement was that we felt the British Raj was coming to an end and that if Congress came into control we would not have any rights because of the Congress being the party of the caste Hindus… It was this movement that was the real awakening of the Scheduled Castes. From this time on, they were really conscious of the battle that had to be fought.

The leader of the movement presented eleven demands to the provincial government in Lucknow including one for the reservation of the government jobs for the Scheduled Castes. Participation in the act of civil disobedience is still a mark of honor for those Jatavs who can claim to have marched or to have been imprisoned because of it.

The second aggressively defiant act was a parade through the streets of Agra. In it the main attraction was a wolf symbolizing the Poona Pact. The Poona Pact was like a Brahman wolf that had run wild and was devouring the Scheduled Castes. Ambedkar interpreted the Pact as a betrayal of the Scheduled Castes by Gandhi, an interpretation which was and still accepted by the Jatavs. The wolf was publicly burned, and the heat of Jatav anger was not lost to the eyes of the Agra upper caste who saw themselves symbolically consumed in the flames of long smoldering resentment.

The third event of this period was the election of 1946 to fill the reserved seat in the legislative assembly. It was this election which split the united Jatav front into. The split ran between the conservative followers of the Congress party and the revolutionary followers of the Scheduled Castes Federation. Originally, the conservatives run thing, but they have steadily decreased in popularity to the point that today the more liberal Jatavs are in command. In the 1946 election the Jatav Scheduled Castes Federation candidate, who was a former Congressman and M.L.C. (Member of the Legislative Assembly), was defeated by the Jatav Congress candidate. The Congressman won, it was said, because of the joint electoral system in which upper caste also voted for him as the Congress candidate from the Scheduled Castes. No doubt, two, the prestige of the Congress party was still high at the time and contributed greatly to the success of its candidate. Conservatives was successful again in 1952 and 1957. Defeat of the Scheduled Castes Federation candidate was undoubtedly due in part to its own internal factions, lack of organizations, and lack of money.

Part 2 Post Independent

Excerpts from the book, “The Politics of Untouchability” by Owen M Lynch
Chapter-IV, The Politics of Untouchability,Pages 78, 79, 86-89
National Publishing House
23,Darya Ganj, Delhi-110006 (India)
@1969 Columbia University Press
First India edition: 1974

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