Jyothi and Raj lead the way once again
On 19 August 2015, our protracted legal battle for justice came to an end in one case of Defamation, with a judgement. It is historic as this is the first conviction on a defamation suit in the history of Tumkur. The filing of the defamation case was a consequence of a planned vilification campaign against Jyothi, Raj and REDS while they were busy preparing the Adijan (Dalit) people in the rural areas for the declaration of the present Millennium as Ambedkar Era. Within a week of their foray into the villages the heavenly beings were shocked at the sound of the Adijan drums that rent the air and pierced through the dark thick clouds. The reverberation from the earth announced to them that the Adijans had risen as a people and there was no stopping of their clamour for dignity and rights. The streets of villages in Tumkur were splattered with people, drums, decorations, public meetings and community meals. Looking simple, Jyothi and Raj raised their voice to the skies against the inhuman treatment meted out to their people and the uncivilized mind-set that set in motion a form of slavery of the Adijan people. Young people began to lift Raj in their shoulders and threw him in the air to show to the caste society that their symbol of liberation had finally come. No one dared to challenge their new assertion of their own history and culture.
News spread far and wide like wildfire that the villages of Tumkur District were witnessing a social transformation that never was before. The news sent jitters in the raw nerves of the caste leaders in Tumkur city. They found a dire need to arrest forthwith the onward march of these two charismatic leaders among the oppressed people. Adijan (Dalit) liberation, an anathema till now seemed to be very near at their doorsteps. They gathered together secretly to plot a coup. One of their major efforts was to unleash a media assault on the reputation of Jyothi and Raj so that people would begin to doubt their honesty of purpose and distance themselves from the Ambedkar Era declaration. For one full month the front page of newspapers would carry one or other vilification by ‘eminent’ fellows in the district. Jyothi and Raj faced the stiffest challenge to their reputation and dignity. It was an unprecedented everyday humiliation for them, their children and colleagues.
Fighters as they are, the Ambedkar Era declaration took place in grand style with Prakash Ambedkar taking the lead in Tumkur town on 10 January 2000 and four Ministers of the Government of Karnataka standing solidly behind Ambedkar and REDS. First defeat of the anti-REDS campaigners!
But Jyothi and Raj are diehard reformers. They consulted their lawyers friends and went to court against a few selected caste leaders who were in the forefront of the attack on them. This was in 2000. The cases continued, dragged on, protracted and procrastinated. One of the cases witnessed conviction of the President of the Tumkur Brahmin Mahasabha. The punishment is one month simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10000/- That is a legal vindication. Trusted friends of Raj and Jyothi deserted them against such strong allegations instead of standing by them. But the Adijan people of Tumkur District stood with them like solid rocks of support.
The following quote is taken from the judgment delivered yesterday.
“After careful perusal of the materials available on records and as per the propositions of Jurist Black Stones that ‘Every man is entitled to have his reputation preserved inviolable’. A man’s reputation is his property. Depending upon perception of that man, reputation more valuable to him than any other property. Reputation is the state of being held in high esteem and honor or the general estimation that the public has for a person. Reputation depends on opinion, and opinion is the main basis of communication of thought and information amongst humans. In simpler words, reputation is nothing but enjoyment of good opinion on the part of others. So, the right to have reputation involves right to have reputation inviolabe or intact. Hence, in the present case the complainant, beyond all reasonable doubt proved that the accused has committed the offence punishable U/s 500 of IPC.”
At times we felt that the sting in the battle was robbed from us because of the long delay. Justice delayed is justice denied they say. But when the judgment was delivered we felt that it was worth the pain of waiting and uncertainties. There are three more cases to be completed. One of them is the former Minister in the BJP government, another is the owner of a Newspaper with wide circulation in Karnataka. But we stand by truth and not by the size of those who oppose us. Standing for truth and justice means many sacrifices and unless people like us are ready for it, the ultimate victims of dominant designs and oppression will be the Adijan people. This should not be allowed anywhere in India. As we have raised the level of dignity and development of the people, our battle will go on and on till one day the Adijan people will stand tall in India like all other people.