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Abstract 78

“Caste and Outcasts: Casteism and Disability as Horrors of Post-Independent India in

Real and Fictional World”

Mr Atolanto Ghoshal, Postgraduate Student, Department of English, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

This paper attempts to examine the plight of the people of lower caste in post-independent India and the violence committed upon them from two totally different perspectives. The paper considers two different time periods, two different types of violence committed upon the Dalits of two different Indian states in both fictional and real world. It closely observes the character of Langar in Shrilal Shukla's (1925-2011) novel Raag Darbari (1968) and attempts to portray the sorry state of a Dalit individual in post-independent Nehruvian India during 1960s. It also traces the event of infamous 'Khairlanji Murders' of 2006 to show the physical violence committed upon the Dalits after nearly 60 years of independence. It also tries to connect the real and fictional world using the element of disability: Shukla's fictional character, Langar gets his name as well as his identity from being disabled as the novel mentions, "People called him Langar- the Lame one." On the other hand, Sudhir, one of the victims of the 'Khairlanji Murders’ was partially vision-impaired which made him an easy prey for the lynching mob.

Shrilal Shukla situates Langar in an imaginary village, Shivpalganj which has been used as a microcosm of Nehruvian rural India in Raag Darbari. As a bureaucrat, Shukla has seen Uttar Pradesh and rural India from close vicinity and has applied his knowledge and experience to capture the negativities of the caste system. Caste politics became important in India after independence and especially, caste is still an important factor in the electoral politics of Uttar Pradesh. After independence, government introduced caste-based

reservation, but rural India mostly was not aware of these benefits. The fiction shows that the government was trying to eradicate the discriminations based on caste as Shukla mentions, "Gandhi and Nehru are not the names of castes, but the names of individuals. This is a simple way to rid the country of the caste system."

Langar is a representative of Dalits in Raag Darbari who on one hand, faces identity crisis because of his disability, and on the other hand, suffers a lot for the unjust social oppression. Unlike Langar, Sudhir faces physical violence in the real world as a disable, and his family is brutally murdered in the early decade of 21st century. This paper attempts to show that the type of oppression and the place of occurrence may change but the Dalits always stayed at the receiving end of violence as Anand Teltumbde comments, "Capitalistic modernity, the republican constitution, neoliberalism and globalisation, all have failed to prevent the persistence of casteism."

Both the real and the fictional incidents indicate towards what Meena Dhanda has mentioned as "unmasking the unethical operations of caste." Raag Darbari focusses on the issues regarding caste discrimination ironically and satirically, but the plight of Langar is prominent who suffers the most in the novel. But the shameful incident of 'Khairlanji Murders' tracks the event of physical violence in the Dalits in a place which was one of the fortresses of the Ambedkarite Movement. The paper will attempt to draw parallels between the apparently non-serious plight of Langar and the very serious plight of Bhotmange family as four members of that family were brutally killed by the lynching mob consisted of Dalit haters. Both these instances show the use of derogatory terms for lower caste people, especially for Dalit disables. These also show the futility of existing laws to prevent the caste atrocities. Both the real and fictional events show the involvement of power and politics in caste which lead to social, psychological and finally physical violence against the Dalits- Foucault's idea of power can be related to it. Langar's not getting the copy of document from

the Tehsil office and the panchayat's 'veto' against the proposal of Bhotmanges' house show the inability of local administrative bodies to prevent caste discrimination. Teltumbde mentions, "they (Bhotmanges) accumulated enough money to be able to afford to build a house, the village panchayat did not sanction it." Apart from caste atrocities, I will also focus on the issues faced by disabled Dalits in post-independent India by bringing in Langar and Sudhir who belong to fictional world of 1960s and real Maharashtra of 2006 respectively, and thus I will show the discrimination persisting in the society.

Keywords: Caste, Dalit, Disable, Violence, Real, Fictional, Post-independent.

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