What issues did the Dalit Panthers address?

In Indian society, the word Dalit clearly indicates for backward and lower classes, whereas the fact is that no particular caste or class is included in the Dalit class. Dr Ambedkar played a very important role for the improvement of the Dalits. When in 1971, Indian Republican party was disintegrating in Maharashtra, another organization called Dalit Panthers emerged over there under the leadership of Raja Dhale and Namdev Dhasal.

Dalit Panthers was a militant organization of educated Dalit youths. Babu Rao Bagul, E.P. Soukamble gave direction to Dalit policies through their literature and art work and biographies. Dalit Panthers explicitly challenged caste system and Brahmanism.

Dalit Panthers rose following issues for the development of the Dalits:

1. The Panthers aim was to unite the Dalit community and to bring them into their fold.

2. According to the manifesto of the Dalit Panthers, Dalit word includes scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, new Buddhist, economically backward workers, women, landlords, poor peasants and all those who were being exploited.

3. According to Dalit Panther’s manifesto, the main problems that dalits faced are lack of food, water and shelters, jobs, land and their unequal social status and atrocities on them.

4. According to them their problem could be solved by acquiring economic and political power.

5. Liberalization of scheduled caste is possible only with a basic change in the system through revolution.

6. They opposed the anti-dalit policy of the government.

7. Namdev and Dhale formulated a program for the betterment of the dalits in February in 1974 and this program is also known as the ‘Last Struggle’

8. Dalit Panthers described shiv sena fascist Hindu organization.

9. Dalit Panthers had concentrated on the problem of Dalit women, land disputes and retailing the Shiv Sena activities.

10. They demanded Dalitism. It was a demand for separate village settlements for Dalit where there could e no exploitation by superior people.

11. Dalit Panthers have full faith in constitutional methods.

Conclusion - No doubt Dalit Panthers played an important role for the betterment of Dalits in Maharashtra, but Dalit Panthers did not succeed in achieving their aims because of their disintegration in a short period. Some of its leaders left to join left Movement whereas others joined Congress.