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Devyani Khobragade: Why are human rights and dalit rights activists not speaking up?
Devyani Khobragade, the eye of storm between India and US at the moment, belongs to Dalit community. Bringing in the matter of 'caste' in cases where an entire nation has been humiliated may seem inappropriate to many, however the surprising silence of human rights activists and Dalit Social workers in the country in this case raises question.

President of Bahujan Samaj Party, with a considerable size of Dalit following, Mayawati had already raised the issue while debating in the Parliament. Also, a citizen journalist on Merinews, Mr. Ratan Sharda, has pointed out on the silence of the human rights activists over the issue. (Read here: Strange case of Devyani Khobragade and response of Human Rights activists)

Why the rights activists are tightlipped and the Indian Govt. fighting a lone war against US? In the given backdrop, I tried talking to a few prominent human and Dalit rights activists to find out what they think about the issue. Below are the excerpts.

Udit Raj, Chief of Justice Party: Human Rights activists are prejudiced in this case. Most of them are from upper caste and hence they are not coming out to support Devyani on this issue. It has always been like this. So when there is a high profile rape case like the ‘Nirbhaya episode’ you will find human right activists on the streets, but hundreds of Dalit girl gets raped every year and there are no human rights protest. Same is happening in Devyani’s case. America thinks that, they are the superpower of the world and that makes them to do whatever they want to. There needs to be a fitting reply given to them.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Rights Activists:

We should not bring the issue of ‘Dalit’ here at all. If you do, then we should view it in the light that the Indian Govt. took proactive steps to counter the undignified steps of US towards a Dalit lady from India. This is the first time that Indian government is very proactive in taking up the case of Devyani, an Indian diplomat, in a foreign land. Though I feel the steps taken now, should have been taken even earlier but still it is doing good.

MC Raj, An eminent Dalit Rights Activist:

Devyani being a dalit can also be a reason for the entire incidence to happen. From what has conspired, I see a strong chance of some internal members of Indian consulate in New York playing dirty tricks in collaboration with the US officials and if this is true the reason can be Devyani’s backward class. Indian NGOs working in the domain of human rights will not like to get involved in a fight between Indian Home Ministry and a nation that hosts a lot of their patrons. They stand a chance of losing Foreign Contribution Regulation Act number and so they doesn't want to antagonize the home ministry of India.

But whatever, I think Indian Govt’s current reaction to the entire incidence is ‘knee jerk’. Though many are lauding it as a brave action, I feel it is a very disproportionate reaction by the government, as there are other diplomatic channels to handle it.

Prof. Vivek Kumar, a Dalit Scholar and Professor of Sociology in Jawaharlal Nehru University:

This case has nothing to do with caste discrimination. It is not proper to see Devyani’s identity as a Dalit and I do not see a upper class and lower class conflict here. In fact that is exactly why Dalit Rights activists stayed away from this issue. However it is a strong case of human rights violation. But then, the apparently vocal civil society in India thrives on foreign funding. So they cannot go against the nation which is funding them. If they do anything against it, there will be a total futuristic blackout for the NGO's.

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