On Bhima Koregaon, your Janaeu was shining brightly on Republic TV: An open letter to Arnab Goswami

Written by Disha KR | Published on: January 8, 2018
Dear Mr Arnab Goswami,

Your debate #Endcastepolitics on both 2nd and 3rd of January is a perfect example of a casteist media. It’s an irony that your media, named ‘Republic TV’ tried, as always, to manipulate the whole Bhima Koregaon attack on 1st January and sided with the anti-republic feelings of the Hindu right-wing.
I have a few questions and comments for you:

Why didn’t your TV channel cover the attack that happened on thousands of innocent Dalits on 1st January – weren’t they innocent enough for you? In the debate, you mentioned that a 6-year-old Dalit boy held a stone to throw at people who troubled them. You and your right-wing panellist said that it was a jihadi element. But there were several kids of the same age and much younger kids who were attacked at Bhima Koregaon. So with what ethics do you say that this boy picking up the stone is wrong? If a child gets hit, what would be the immediate response of the child? He might hit back. Is this his fault or the people’s fault who put these children in such inevitable position that they would pick up the stone for their safety?

Mr Goswami, you would have understood if you would have covered the attack on Bhima Koregaon or at least if you would have even looked at the footages captured by Ambedkar TV, where children said how they were attacked and how they escaped the mob at Bhima Koregaon. But your channel did not cover it, obviously, because your nation doesn’t want to know our issues. Your nation is casteist. It is indeed deeply rooted in caste. Your janaeu might have been disappeared from your body, but it is much stronger and deeply entrenched in your mind despite how much you blabber about your ‘India-ness’.

Your ‘India-ness’ was clearly conveyed in the way you framed your debate and what footages you aired. Your debate seemed to just look at the attack as political instigation rather than deep-rooted casteist feeling among the upper-castes which lead to stone pelting on thousands of innocent Dalits who were peacefully walking towards Bhima Koregaon. You didn’t even once talk about the tensions which was being built in and around Bhima Koregaon prior the attack on January 1st. You as a journalist didn’t pose the right questions as usual Mr Goswami.

You didn’t question why few fundamentalist right-wing organisations opposed the celebrations of Bhima koregaon by Dalits. You didn’t question the Maharashtra government for not providing adequate security at the event. You didn’t question why stones were pelted at innocent Dalit men, women and children at Bhima Koregaon. You didn’t question the government nor did you ask the government to meet the demands of the Dalit protesters, who just demanded the justice against the attack. This should have been the issues for debate.

But instead you stigmatised Dalit protests and even called them a caste mob. You even said and aired repeatedly that your reporters were heckled by Dalit protesters. And of course, why will they not be heckled when you and your channel chose to completely ignore the need to cover the attacks on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon? Your channel was also involved in instigating rumours and false news by showing a footage of Hindutva goons vandalising vehicles of Dalits in Bhima Koregaon as the act of Dalits in Chembur. Your casteist channel, if not you, didn’t even have the media ethics to not use the false footage. You did use the footage of a man and crowd throwing stones because the person who was vandalizing the vehicle used the Buddhist flag to hit the car. If you would have been interested to actually look into to news rather than to act as a loud mouthpiece for right-wing you would have observed that the car which was being vandalized had an Ambedkarite flag. Why such blind eye Mr Goswami? Don’t our lives matter? Doesn’t our loss of property matter? Doesn’t our history matter? Doesn’t our self-dignity matter? We have long back understood that, for Your Nation, we Dalits don’t matter. Not just Dalits but Adivasis, Bahujans and Muslims – none of us matter to your nation.

And your debate which said ‘Citizens have rejected the bandh’ said much more clearly that we are not your Citizens at all. Only the so-called upper-caste Hindus are your Citizen of Ram Rajya. We would never be a citizen. We would always just be a votebank or a casteist mob. Whenever we fight back, whenever we assert, may it be through reclaiming history, through protests, through Bandh or through every day assertions in our lives –we become casteist and anti-national to you and your Nation. But fortunately and more importantly we too don’t want to be the citizens of your Nation Mr Goswami. I am very sure that Dalits, Bahujans, Adivasis and Muslims don’t ever want to be the Citizens of your Nation. Being your citizen means being oppressed under your fascist Brahminical patriarchal and casteist ideology which we would rather fight against and die than be your Nation’s citizen.

And one last thing Mr Goswami, you might how many ever time scream that you have given up caste and your caste is Indian, but your surname ‘Goswami’ will rather convey something else. You don’t even have to mention your caste Mr Goswami, your surname will do all the work. So, if you really want to give up caste then first acknowledge your caste, the privileges which came with your caste, criticize your community for the casteist oppression, attitudes and feelings in past and present and only then you can be on the path of giving up caste Mr Goswami. There is no shortcut for the annihilation of caste, neither for you nor for your Nation. If your caste has to be Indian then you have to first acknowledge your caste privileges and give up your privileged surname ‘Goswami’. That would be a first step towards the annihilation of caste.

The author is currently pursuing M.Phil in Women’s Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Courtesy: Two Circles