9th July (1972) in Dalit History – Dalit Panthers was formed
At the meeting organised on 9th July 1972 by Dalit youths at Siddharth Vihar, Bombay, the Dalit Panther formally came into existence.
Read also – The Dalit Panthers
Source – Encyclopaedia of Dalits in India: Movements
The dominant Maratha caste, in Maharasthra had tightened its grip on important economic centers in rural agriculture – such as land development, banks, marketing federation, sugar factories – in the name of the co-operative movement. The movement was backed by the State.
This changed economic picture brought further misery to the dalits in the villages. The rich farmers and the bureaucracy controlled by them initiated a series of atrocities on the dalits. Untouchable, landless dalit labour fell prey to these atrocities. So did the worker in the dalit moevemnt, who raised his voice against them.
In cities and towns, the numbers of unemployed youth were increasing in droves aw a result of the capitalist system./ With the spread of education in the rural areas, there began to develop a class of educated dalit youth, who had hitherto been kept away from the local economic and political system. Their association with workers of the leftist movements in rural areas gave them the ability to understand the entire system.
In Bombay, Baburao Bagul and is young Dalit writer friends Daya Pawar, Arjun Dangle, Namdeo Dhasal, J.V. Pawar, Umakant Randhir, Ramdas Sorte and Prahlad Chendwankar met and had discussions for hours. The young generation was influenced by Baburao Bagul who had personally participated in the movement of dalit laboureres and who expressed himself clearly and logically.
The inaction of all factions of the Republican Party against the social injustice was conspicuous. Except for support by one or two from the party, the other leftist parties were indifferent.
Dalit writers began to realize more and ore that there was no point in merely writing provocative poetry against the injustice They had become familiar with the Black movement and literature in the U.S.A. and were greatly attracted to it.
The result was that youths Namdeo Dhasal, Arjun Dangle and J.V. Pawar took the initative and established the Dalit Panterhs in Bombay (presently Mumbai). The Dalit Panter movement was formed under the leadership of Raja Dhale as president, Namdev Dhasal as defense minister and J V Pawar as its general secretary. The Panthers observed Independence Day that year, which incidentally was the silver jubilee of Independence, as Black day and black-flag demonstrations were held at various places in Bombay. To protect their fellow dalits from violence and atrocities, they were prepared, if necessary to adopt violent strategies. Thus they chose to directly confront the oppressors.
The Dalit Panthers, embellishing the concept of dalits emancipation in their manifesto emphasized that a complete revolution was needed. ‘We do not want a little place in the brahmin alley. We want the rule of the whole land, we are not looking at persons but at systems and change of heart, liberal education etc, will not end out state of exploitation. When we gather a revolutionary mass, rouse the people out of the struggle, the giant mass will become tidal wave’ The Dalit Panthers recognized the contribution of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.
The dalits of Maharashtra got acquainted with the Panthers and the discontent of several years began to explode.