|Part of Dalit Buddhist movement|
Gate of the renamed university and statue of Dr. Ambedkar in distance
|Date||27 July 1978- 14 January 1994|
|Location||Marathwada, Maharashtra, India|
|Goals||Renaming of Marathwada University|
|Methods||Protest march, Street protest, riot, strike|
|Result||Renamed Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University|
Namantar Andolan (English: Name Change Movement) was a Dalit movement to change the name of Marathwada University in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University. It achieved a measure of success in 1994 when the compromise name of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University was accepted. The movement was notable for the violence against Dalits.
- Background 1
- Attacks 2
Role of media, political parties and bureaucrats 3
- Media 3.1
- Political parties 3.2
- Bureaucrats 3.3
- Situation after attacks 4
- Long March 5
- Namvistar Din 6
- Legacy 7
- See also 8
- References 9
- External links 10
Namantar means name change and andolan means
Leaders after independence
Dalit events and movements
Dalit social and political parties
Events and controversies
People come to the University gate to have Darśana, which resembles to Sanchi Stupa gate and leave an offering as if University were a place of pilgrimage. In 2013, Nagpur Municipal Corporation erected Namantar Shahid Smarak (Martyrdom Memorial) dedicated to Dalits died in movement at Nagpur.
Massive crowd at Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University gate during Namvistar Din celebrations.
People dancing during the Namvistar Din celebrations at Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University gate.
School children pay rich tribute to Dr B R Ambedkar on Namvistar Din.
File:Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University gate on the eve of Namvistar Din celebrations.
People garland statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar on Namvistar Din.
Eve of Namvistar Din.
The crowd in Aurangabad during Namvistar Din.
On 14 January each year, the followers of Ambedkar throng university. The political parties, organizations based on Ambedkar’s thinking celebrate this day. Many people visit the university to celebrate the Namvistar Din, so political parties arrange their rallies traditionally. The University building and gate is decorated with lights. Many people visit the Buddhist caves on this occasion. Women greet each other by applying Nil (Indigo colour powder). This day is celebrated in other educational institutes other than Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University as well.
Marathwda region has diverse cultural and historical background so many names were suggested. Finally 'University was renamed as "Dr Bababasaheb Ambedkar Marhwada University" to pay homage to the work done by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar for the educational development of the Marahwada region.' The university name was eventually altered on 14 January 1994. The chosen form — Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University — represents an expansion of the existing name (a Namvistar) rather than complete change (Namanatar). Sharad Pawar also announced that it would be policy to encourage higher education for everyone, irrespective of caste, class, religion, and ethnicity.Moreover, the newly named university was developed with improved facilities in some departments to conceptualize the dream of Ambedkar which was one of the important parameter for the University. At the same time, the university adopted the Ajanta arch with elephants as its primary logo, reflecting the Buddhist cultural significance of the Ajanta caves.
Govindbhai Shroff was against renaming university but he requested people to accept the new name with nonviolence. Concurrently, he pressed a requirement to withdraw the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cases against non-Dalits specifically the malafide ones. Tight security was deployed on the eve of the announcement but few incidents were reported in Parbhani and Amravati. Curfew was imposed at Tuljapur and police firing was reported in Beed. Again, after renaming the university at least four Dalits were stabbed, Dalit property was set on fire and again statues of Ambedkar were dishonoured at Parbhani, Osmanabad and Parbhani. However, in Osmanabad district, at Kathi Savargaon, the renaming decision was welcomed with celebration by Maratha sarpanch in village. Similar case was reported in Lohara.
The movement became a part of Dalit literature. According to Omvedt " the upsurge, turmoil’s and frustration of the long march campaign brought the movement to a new turning point. The readiness for action shown by Dalit masses provided a demonstration of their powerful urge for revolutionary change." During Long March songs of martyrs were sung by men, women even children joined to boost this revolution. The andolan gradually turned out in Agra, Delhi, Banglore, Hydrabad where people protested by March. For 16 years many meetings were conducted, people demonstrated by March and many times they were arrested.
On 3 December there was a protest by Dalit youths who burned buses, 4 of them died in clashes with police at Nagpur. Around 12000 demonstrators were arrested at Auragabad who planned to March towards University from Kranti Chowk. Demonstrators of Dalit Panthers were arrested at Bhadkal Gate and University entrance. Leaders and activist were arrested, physically harmed, lathi charged, shot with tear gas and air firing was done to disperse the crowd. The intention of the state was to control and disperse demonstrators and keep them from anti Dalits, who formed Namantar Virodhi Group (a group opposing renaming). Most of them were freed from jails on the same evening but few refused to leave Jails to continue satyagraha. Main agenda of this Long March was to battle against caste oppression.
Non-Dalit student groups initially supported the demand to have the university renamed but did so less for reasons of dogma than for the pragmatic desire to bring the Dalit, mostly Mahar, students into the general fold. Dalit students had traditionally shown no interest in supporting such causes as lower fees and cheaper textbooks but they constituted around 26 per cent of the student population and a Students' Federation of India and Yukrant continued to support the campaign.
In 1977, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vasantdada Patil, promised that the renaming would occur and in July 1978 the Maharashtra Legislature approved it. Uttara Shastree notes that the campaign at this time reflected the desire of neo-Buddhists for an improved image and position in society, as a significant part of which they called on the symbolic ideas of Ambedkar that had preceded his rise to prominence. The University Executive Body passed a resolution to rename the University and this series of decisions was the catalyst for rioting, which began on 27 July 1978 and lasted several weeks.
Commentators such as Gail Omvedt believe that the violence was a caste war based on hatred whilst others, such as Gupta, believe that the causes were more varied. Both Omvedt and Gupta note that the violence was aimed at the Mahars and did not extend to other Dalit groups, while Gupta also notes that it was concentrated in the three districts of Marathwada — Aurangabad, Nanded and Parbhani — where Dalit registrations in schools and colleges were particularly high, and economic competition was most fierce. In particular, the centres of the unrest were urban areas, where the impact of Mahar aspirations would most deeply affect the employment, social and economic roles which caste Hindus considered to be their preserve. Troubles were largely absent from the other two districts of Beed and Osmanabad, and the spill of problems into rural areas generally was patchy. These issues of geographic and demographic targeting, according to Gupta, indicate that the real causes of the violence were more subtle than war between caste Hindu and Dalit. There were also instances of violent acts taking place under the pretext of the riots elsewhere but in fact to settle very local and personal scores unrelated to the broader causes. In contradiction to these views, Y. C. Damle maintains that the violence "specially affected the Scheduled Caste people in the villages although the agitation for renaming the Marathwada University after Dr. Ambedkar was spearheaded by Dalit Panthers and such leaders mainly in urban centres. ... In giving a call for agitation, hardly any effort was made to protect the villages or villagers."
Riots affected 1,200 villages in Maratha community and took many forms, including killings, molestation and rape of Dalit women, burning of houses and huts, pillaging of Dalit colonies, forcing Dalits out of villages, polluting drinking water wells, destruction of cattle and refusal to employ. This continued for 67 days. According to the Yukrant leader, attacks on Dalit were collective and pre-planned. In many villages Dalit colonies were burned. The burning houses in Marathwada region affected 900 Dalit households. Upper caste rioters demolished basic household items that the Dalit possessed. They even burned the fodder stocks owned by Dalits. The bridges and culverts were intentionally broken or damaged to paralyse the military and police aid in villages during the time of attacks. Upper caste mobs attacked government property including government hospitals, railway station, gram panchayat offices, state transport buses, District Council-operated school buildings, the telephone system and the government godowns, the communal property of 300 million was damaged. The Marathwada region was under siege of violence for over two years. The Dalits were wrecked economically and psychologically. Many Dalit protesters were physically injured and nineteen died including five protesters who lost their lives during the police repression.
Much of the violence occurred in Nanded district. Examples include:
- Sonkhed village: The mob burned Dalit residential area. Two women were raped and three children were killed.
- Sugaon village: Janardhan Mavde was killed along with his friends. Twenty of the injured were hospitalized. The water well used by Dalits was poisoned by a hazardous pesticide, Endrin.
- Bolsa and Izzatgaon villages: women were raped and tortured (one woman had her breast cut off)
- Yetala village: When two Dalits teachers provided information a police sub-inspector they were tortured in the Gram Panchayat office
- Pongu: Ramanbhau of Bolsa sexually tortured a female who had delivered a baby two days ago
- Samrala: A Gram Sevak, Vitthal Chaukoba was attacked by 50 rioters. He was beaten up along with his wife and their residence was burned
- Pangri: Police patil was involved in the offensive acts. This village had a common well. Dalits use to fetch water from that well so police patil threaten to harm Dalit children
- Temburni village: Pochiram Kamble, a Dalit Mang, who embraced Buddhism, was killed. He had opposed a servant ex-sarpanch for grazing cattle on his field and during the riots he was found hiding at a friend’s home. A mob chased him and burned him alive. His song of struggle "Marathwada is Burning" was sung during the Long March The elder son of the martyr Pochiram Kamble, Chandar Kamble, lost his life during the Andolan.
- Koklegaon: A Dalit teacher, local social activist, was tortured with his wife. Dalit habitations were set on fire.
- Nanded city: an attempt was made by anti-Dalits to burn a Dalit colony in Etwara. Police helped Upper caste Hindus for this attempt. However, students and women from the that locality stood with buckets of water in defence
- Deglur: Dalits from Eklare came to Deglur and asked the police for extra security in protecting themselves, but the police refused to help.
Violence occurred in Parbhani district. Examples include:
- Parbhani town: Hindu students and youth destroyed the statue of Ambedkar at Bhim Nagar
- Parbhani City: On 17 July 1978 agitators stopped buses and trains and even cut the telephone lines. The police did not intervene, and after 30 July Dalit habitations were targeted
- Adgaon Village: Dalits were threatened; cattle shed and agricultural equipments were torched
- Samiti observed similar violent incidents (like Nanded district) in Koregaon, Kaulgaon, Nandgaon, Sodgaon, Halta, Cohgaon, Nandapur and many other villages of Parbhani district
Examples of violence in Aurangabad district included:
- Aurangabad City: Non-Dalits destroyed public property by burning buses, blowing up bridges to paralyze the social life
- Aurangabad City: Many professors opposed renaming the university on the other hand Prof Desarda, a Marxist teacher, was beaten by Martha students for supporting the Namantar
- Akola Village: Mahajanrao Patil, a Lingayat, an Upper caste Hindu, helped Dalits so he was beaten badly. Police did not react after his complaint Kashinath Borde, neo Buddhist police Patil, a flour mill owner, who officially reported complaints of harassment against Hindus was targeted. His bullock cart, household goods and house were burned.
Examples of violence in Beed district included:
- Ambejogai: : Followers of Sharad Pawar were assaulted
- Beed town: Upper caste rioters attempted to burn the Muslim residences
- Madamoli: Three shops were targeted (including two Muslim-owned shops)
- Rudrapur: Huts of Mangs and Chamars were set ablaze
- Sakshalpimpari: Handicapped Dalits habitations were set on fire brutally
Examples of violence in Osmanabad district included:
- Tuljapur: Dalit women were specifically assaulted. Upper caste women helped in the torching of Dalit houses.
- Dalits were terrorised by damaging the road bridges, telephones lines and the roads connecting between Kalam and Yermala
- Dalits in Tulzapur, Savargaon, Bavi, Pthrud and Wagholi were attacked
- A group of almost 900 violent upper cast youth attacked on Dalits
Example of violence in Hingoli district included:
- Basmath: After the attacks the Tahsildar did not provide meals for the victims. Instead, he advised them to beg for it.
Examples of violence in Nashik district included:
- Nashik city: The attempts were made to garland the statue of Shivaji with footwear, to criticize Neo-Buddhists and to activate riots
- Vihit village: The statue of Ambedkar was damaged
- Vadner : The Dalit youth, Diwakar Thorat, killed brutally
Examples of violence in Nagpur included:
- The police shot, Avinash Dongre, a child, in his head when he was chanting the slogan "Change the name..." at Indora Bridge 10.
- Along with Dongre, Dilip Ramteke, Abdul Sattar, Roshan Borkar and Ratan Mendhe sacrificed their lives in Namantar struggle at Nagpur.
In Jalgot Village, Fauzdar Bhurevar was beaten and then burned alive by a mob at a police outpost. Violence was reported in Pune. Demonstrators in Mumbai were teargassed. Statues of Ambedkar and Buddha through the region were also damaged or destroyed. Dalits were banned from buying grocery items in their villages by non-Dalits and Upper caste Hindus. Particularly it affected the life of rural Dalits who worked on daily wages. The situation became worse when they had no food to eat for few days. They were physically, mentally and socially tortured by non-Dalits but the Dalits remained firm regarding renaming Marathwada University.
Role of media, political parties and bureaucrats
The regional press played a bias role during the violence. The Marathi Newspaper, Prajawani and Godatir Samachar opposed the Namantar "by giving wide publicity to the riots in the cities and suppressing news in the rural areas." According to Aurangabad daily, Marathwada the Namantar was cultural violation for Marathwada existence. The press did not publish about rural violence news. They did not report the declarations by the Republican Party of India and Dalit Panther. The frontal page of a famous Marathi newspaper published a notice for Upper caste Hindus to support the agitation. Similarly, people were urged through letters, flyers, hand-outs to join the agitation. Parliamentary committee advised to reinforce the police intelligence and communication with radios, telephones and motor vehicles in talukas. But the media intensified on allegations that the PCR Act was being misused. Bhalchandra Nemade commented "All Marathi newspapers are communal and they thrive on the so-called 'freedom of press' to serve their own aims." The chief minister of Maharashtra admitted the one-sided role of Press.
Shiv Sena, the Hindutva political party, initially declared itself opposed to the Namantar. During agitation the supporters of Bal Thackeray burnt homes of the Dalits. People were physically, harmed, including by attacks with swords. Interviewers explained that the attackers were from the Maratha community, who also burned Dalit properties in Nanded district. Supporters of the Peasants and Workers Party of India (PWP) and Indian National Congress were involved in these burnings. In the same area there were allegations of two women being raped and three children killed but no legal action was instigated. According to Gopal Guru "PWP and Shiv Sena aggravated tension in Parbhani, Nanded, Beed and Osmanbad. Congress did not show any inclination to diffuse the tension and whatever efforts were made particularly by the Congress leaders from Beed and Osmanabad districts were insufficient or localised. On the other hand, Congress leaders particularly from Latur, Aurangabad, Jalna and to some extent Beed districts identified with the Dalit cause and worked for the Dalit harmony in these districts to maintain political impression."
Many Dalits were harassed by the police as they continued to campaign for the change. The police allegedly reacted by adopting tactics such as delay and suppression of evidence. In a few villages Hindu police patils and sarpanchs of all riot affected villages teamed up with rich caste Hindu landowners to attack Dalit poor peasant and agricultural labourers. Police joined the mob in a violent way. The District Collector of Nanded was from Dalit community and was powerless when his assistant officers refused his commands. In Akola village, intentionally the police refused to lodge complains during violence against upper caste Hindus. In Nanded city the curfew was enforced during agitation. The sons of resident Deputy Collector, Home Inspector and Circle Inspector took part in riot. During restriction timings the Dalit homeguards interrupted them. A complaint was registered contrary to the homeguards. The complaints lodged by the Dalits were taken cold-bloodedly by the police. A Parliamentary committee concluded that the police were "mere spectators to the incidents" during the atrocities.
Situation after attacks
After the riots, many landlords refused to employ Dalits and even at public places such as hotels they were discriminated against. A silent boycott was created. Because of fearful environment the Dalits migrated to the cities, and did not return to their villages. The crops grown by the Dalits were set on fire. In 1985, in the Wakod village of Sillod Taluka, the standing crops possessed by Dalits on their own land were ploughed up by the Sarpanch himself. A few college teachers and academicians formed a samiti to rehabilitate Dalit victims to restore harmony to the community. Muslims of Marathwada opposed the bandhs declared by Shiv Sena. They did not close their commercial establishments to show their support for Namantar. Parliamentary committee revealed that humanitarian aid provided to help Dalits was not sufficient to recover the losses. Moreover, Samiti observed the corruption in it.
Sooner after the atrocities around 3000 individuals were brought into the police custody but victims reported that the very few were taken into the court and the remaining cases were not much faster. Even natives pressured to dismissed all cases. The parliamentary committee advised "an automatic judicial inquiry in all cases of large scale arson and looting involved of Dalits." But, the judicial inquiry was opposed by the Maharashtra government.
On 4 August 1978 Jogendra Kawade led a March from Deekshabhoomi to District magistrate office in Nagpur to rename the university. On the same day there was a meeting in Aakashwani Chowk attended by the huge student crowd. Thereafter the people were going back homes zestfully. Violence was provoked when some anti-social elements started stone pelting at transportation links. To overcome turbulence police opened fire. After this incident the Long march was declared. Dalit protestors from Delhi, Haryana, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu reached to Nagpur.
The violence caused the Dalits to suspend their campaign for a while but when a new incumbent as Chief Minister, Jogendra Kawade and caused the arrest of thousands of protesters as well as prominent leaders. According to Kawade "this was the fight for the protection of democracy and humanism".
The Long March began on a Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din from satyagraha, Jail Bharo Andolan, March. The protesters clashed with police between 25 November to 6 December. Thousands of Long March activists walking from Nagpur, Udgir and Satara were taken into custody at the boundaries of Marathwada. Thousands were arrested during staygraha struggle at their towns and cities. Protestors were lathi charged, police fired on them on the day of 6 December, the death anniversary of Ambedkar. On the same day Vidarbha was bandh observed. On 27 November, the protestors were stopped by the police at Khadakpurna River Bridge in the afternoon. Thousands of protestors started sit-in at the Khadakpurna River Bridge. They were lathi charged after 12AM in their sleep during the course many ran away and hundreds were arrested.
With the adoption of the Constitution of India in 1949, discrimination based on caste was prohibited, untouchability was outlawed and later Reservation policy to benefit those now called Scheduled Castes was established. Cultural changes were slow to come. In abandoning their old socially demeaning jobs, Dalits found themselves competing with caste Hindus for positions in bureaucracies and professions. This caused unemployment, economic uncertainty and resentment on all sides. In addition, many Mahars converted to Buddhism, following the example of Ambedkar to separate themselves from the strictures of the Hindu caste system.
Ambedkar had been born into a family of Mahars, a community who were considered Untouchables in the caste system of India. Although historically an oppressed community in Hindu society, as with all untouchable groups, the Mahars had sought socio-economic advancement and were both better educated and more politically aware than many of their fellow Dalits, such as the Chamars and Mangs. They were restricted to the lowest status roles which were associated with ritual impurity; for example, leatherwork, butchering, cleaning streets, latrines, and sewers, removal of rubbish and animal carcasses. They were not allowed to enter Hindu temples and had to live outside of villages. When the British rulers started a mass education system for Indians in 1850 upper caste Hindus required Untouchables to sit outside of class groups or they were not allowed in schools at all. Some of their work such as message delivery for government officials and employment in the army of the British Raj heightened their aspirations.
 He intended that education institutions should transcend historic differences between various communities but he failed in this goal of integration and instead the various colleges each became characterised as being specific to one or other group, such as the Scheduled Castes, the Muslims and the Brahmins..Karnataka denied education to Dalits so he worked to establish new hostels, schools and colleges in Maharashtra and caste system in India The