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In Photos: 50 Years On, Legacy of Dalit Panther Continues to Rouse Ambedkarites

Dalit Panther, which rose in revolt against the atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra, was founded in 1972.

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Dalit Panther was a militant organisation of Dalit youth, founded in around June-July 1972 in Mumbai. The organisation was a reaction to the numerous atrocities committed against Dalit men, women and the community as a whole in the country and the inability of the State to give justice in these cases.

Whenever a caste crime took place, the Panthers would visit the victims, console the family, offer them legal counselling and also pressure the police and the government to act against the culprits. They also organised numerous meetings, protests and rallies in Mumbai, especially in localities where there was a concentration of Dalits, to raise awareness and in response to various issues.

Most of the Panthers were in their 20s and were active in Marathi literary circles. Many of them, such as Namdeo Dhasal, have left a lasting imprint on Marathi literature.

Dalit Panther, though short-lived, attracted a lot of attention from political establishment, media and civil society. The two top leaders – Raja Dhale and Dhasal – very soon became well-known names in Maharashtra. However, these two leaders gradually grew apart and developed unbridgeable differences. After the publication of Dalit Panther's manifesto in 1974, the animosity between the two leaders reached its peak and eventually led to the split in the organisation. By 1975, the glory days of the Dalit Panther were behind it.

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Topics:  Maharashtra   Dalit Activism 

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