The victim woman belonged to the Bhil community and stayed in a village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. She was paraded naked by four persons one of whom was a woman.
Eleven years ago, the apex court of India delivered justice to a 25-year-old tribal woman who was paraded naked in the state of Maharashtra. The woman who got justice after 16 years had turned 40 when the Supreme Court of India on January 5, 2011, announced one year of jail to a total of four accused including a woman. “The injustice done to the tribal people of India is a shameful chapter in our country’s history”, the Court had said observing they are generally superior in character to non-tribals.
According to the reports, the victim woman belonged to the Bhil community and stayed in a village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. She was paraded naked by four persons one of whom was a woman. The victim woman was 25 when the incident took place. The Court while hearing the case said that the parading of a tribal woman on the village road in broad daylight was shameful, shocking, and outrageous.
The justices then had cited the example from Mahabharata and indicated that the accused had disrespected the Bhil woman just like Guru Dronacharya who had disrespected Eklavya because he belonged to the tribal community. They called the act of Guru Dronacharya seeking Eklavya’s right thumb as Guru Dakshina a shameful one and asked, “Guru Dronacharya had not even taught Eklavya, so what right had he to demand Guru Dakshina”.
The Court added that Guru Dronacharya favored his disciple Arjuna over Eklavya and deliberately demanded the latter’s right thumb so that he may never become the best archer. “This was a shameful act on behalf of Guru Dronacharya”, the bench reiterated.
The bench led by judges Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra also said that the tribal community deserved respect as they are the ‘original inhabitants’ of India. “The mentality of people in the country towards tribals must change, and they must be given the respect they deserve as the original inhabitants of India”, it had said. The court, while delivering the justice slated many examples from history suggesting that the non-tribal community has always been harsher towards the tribal community in India.
Guru Dronacharya had demanded Eklavya’s right thumb as Gurudakshina in Mahabharata
Dronacharya once had gone to a jungle with his disciples, the Kauravas, and Pandavas. Arjuna, who was only a child then, saw a dog with its jaws open and arrows stuck inside the mouth. Even though the dog had arrows stuck inside the jaws, Arjuna could see no signs of injuries. He then brought this astonishing sight to the attention of his Guru, who pondered who could have done it.
Later Guru Dronacharya came to know that the arrow was targeted by a tribal boy named Eklavya. He asked Eklavya to reveal his and his Guru’s identity. Eklavya said that he was the son of Hiranyadhanus of the Nishadha tribal clan who was loyal to the Magadha empire and said that he had taken archery lessons from him. He also showed him a mud sculpture with Dronacharya’s imprints on it and explained that he had taken the statue’s permission and started studying the lessons by just observing him.
Reportedly, Guru Dronacharya anticipated Eklavya to give him Guru Dakshina because he had learned lessons from him. As a result, he requested that Eklavya give him his thumb and the tribal boy did not hesitate in chopping it off.
Dronacharya was assigned as a teacher solely to train youngsters from the Kuru dynasty’s household. At that time it was also against the rule to educate anybody other than Kuru family members. Furthermore, Eklavya had learned the lessons without Dronacharya’s permission. And this was contrary to learning principles. As a result, Dronacharya requested Eklavya’s thumb, without which practising archery would be impossible. Guru Dronacharya, on the other hand, stated that he would have chastised Eklavya regardless of whether he was a Brahmin or a Kshatriya.
Also, Guru Dronacharya knew that Eklavya would always be loyal to the King of Magadha who was an enemy of Hastinapur, the Kuru dynasty. Therefore, he didn’t want his enemy kingdom to have an archer of Eklavya’s calibre.
The Supreme Court in its 2011 verdict had also slammed the state government for not appealing for the enhanced punishment of the accused. The High Court earlier had set aside the conviction of the accused under the stringent Scheduled Cases and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 stating that the victim woman was not able to produce her caste certificate.
Upset by the injustice meted out to the woman in the old case, the Supreme Court recorded, “It is the duty of all people who love our country to see that no harm is done to the Scheduled Tribes and that they are given all help to bring them up in their economic and social status since they have been victimized for thousands of years by terrible oppression and atrocities”.