A letter by well-known Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan, signed by over 600 concerned citizens, including scholars, writers, teachers, activists and journalists, has asked for Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s intervention to remove the statue of Manu from the Rajasthan High Court premises.
Insisting that this should be done before December 25, 2020, the anniversary of the day when Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar burned copies of Manu Smriti, the letter says the statue, installed by non-state actors, is a matter of shame for India and for Rajasthan in particular.
It says, “The statue of Manu is an insult to the Indian Constitution as well as Dalits, women and all those who believe in equality and justice. The statue weakens the call of Dr Ambedkar to annihilate caste for India to grow as a nation.”
Text of the Letter:
We are writing this letter because we believe that as the President of the Indian National Congress, which has the government in power in Rajasthan, you have the required power to take a step which would prove historic in strengthening the Dalit movement for equality.
We are asking you to act on something which directly attacks the Indian Constitutional values, the very humanity and which promotes the caste ideology rendering Dalits, women and the poor (referred to as ‘shudra’) as impure. This caste ideology is the sole reason for continuing and increasing violence on Dalits and women. It is the duty of every Government to ensure that the values enshrined in the Constitution are nurtured and protected.
In 2020, we will be celebrating 73 years of Independence, as freedom from the slavery of the British. In 2020, we will be also celebrating 70 years of the Indian Constitution, which liberated India from the slavery of the caste system and untouchability.
In 2020, we will be also celebrating 93 years of marking the day, December, 25, 1927, when Dr BR Ambedkar had burnt Manu Smriti, a code/law which justified and upheld impurity of status for Dalits and Women. The resolution to burn Manu Smriti was moved by Sahastrabuddhe, a Hindu Brahmin.
You would agree that the presence of Manu’s statue erected by non-state actors standing tall in 2020 in the premises of the Rajasthan High Court is a shame for India and for Rajasthan in particular. The statue of Manu is also an insult to the Indian Constitution as well as Dalits, women and all those who believe in equality and justice. The statue weakens the call of Dr Ambedkar to annihilate Caste for India to grow as a nation.
Moreover, the law of Manu stands in total contradiction to what the Indian Constitution has committed itself to – while the latter upholds equality and fraternity, social justice and freedom, the former indulges in archaic teaching about inequality and social segregation, hierarchy and division, injustice and servitude. That this country has tolerated this contradiction for post-Independence 73 years is testimony to our failure to live by the invaluable heritage of the Constitution bequeathed to us by Dr Ambedkar and the Constitution-makers.
Your party, Indian National Congress, is dedicated to the values of secularism, democracy and removal of untouchability. Along with bitterness of the Poona Pact, that engaged Gandhiji as the head of Congress and Dr Ambedkar on the issue of separate electorate for Dalits, the two great men along with all important figures of our national independence movement had one thing in common: reject in totality the practice of untouchability.
The presence of the statue of Manu in a public place amounts to justification and glorification of the ‘varnavyavastha’ (caste system). While we hoist the national flag twice a year to remind ourselves of the ills of slavery and the Constitution that guarantees the citizens their dignity, the statue of Manu stands in public unmoved each day.
The presence of the statue of Manu, in a public place, is an insult to the Indian Constitution, because the State Government of that time and the Rajasthan High Court allowed its construction and installation on March 3, 1989, after 42 years of Independence.
This was despite a full bench resolution of the Rajasthan High Court not to allow the same, the appeal for stay on the removal of the statue was admitted by a single judge bench and the Rajasthan High Court has not been able to resolve the matter arising out of the injunction against removal of the statue for 31 years.
This open letter is to request you and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to take measures to ensure that the Statue of Manu is removed from the public place in Rajasthan. We request you to do the following:
- Pass a resolution in Indian National Congress and direct such resolution to be passed by the Rajasthan Congress Committee before 15th August 2020 to remove Statue of Manu from the Rajasthan High Court premises before 25th December 2020
- Pass a resolution in the Rajasthan Assembly to explore all constitutional means to remove the Manu statue before December 25, 2020
- Rajasthan government should move Rajasthan High Court before August 15, 2020 for an early hearing to vacate the stay order on removing the Manu statue
- Withdraw criminal case filed against Sheela Pawar and Kantabai Ahire, who expressed their protest against the statue of Manu
We expect a response from the Indian National Congress by August 15, 2020.
Through this open letter, we are collecting the signatures of people from all strata of society who are wedded to the values enshrined in Indian Constitution to join the campaign. We will also be urging all the political parties to support, removal of the Manu statue from the Rajasthan High Court premises.