The Republican Party of India, an ally of the BJP, will move the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court directive against the use of the word ‘Dalit’ by the media, according to RPI leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale.
Mr Athawale told reporters on Wednesday that the word Dalit symbolises the struggle undertaken to give these communities their rights.
“It isn’t an insult,” he said.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had earlier suggested that the media use the word “Scheduled Castes (SC)”, in order to comply with the Bombay High Court’s directions.
“Republican Party of India will go to the Supreme Court against Bombay High Court (Nagpur bench) directive to the government to remove ‘Dalit’ word in media usage,” the party leader said.
Mr Athawale, who is minister of state for social justice, said that while he does not object to the use of ‘Scheduled Caste’ in government affairs, the term ‘Dalit’ shouldn’t be a “worrisome word” in common usage.
“I have no objection to the use of ‘Scheduled Caste’ in government works, but it isn’t fair to ban media, authors and other such persons from using the word ‘Dalit’. It should be left to them whether they wish to say ‘Scheduled Caste’ or ‘Dalit’,” he said.
The RPI leader is the second Dalit leader after BJP lawmaker Udit Raj, who has protested against the court order and the I&B Ministry advisory.
“The word Dalit is a symbol of our unity. This word has given us the motivation because of which one day our community will enter into the mainstream of the country. This word should not make anyone feel inferior and not name but their welfare should be important to us,” Mr Raj had tweeted.
The order from the I&B Ministry said that the term ‘Scheduled Caste’ should be used for “all official transaction, matters, dealings, certificates, etc. for denoting the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes notified in the Presidential Orders issued under Article 341 of the Constitution of India”.