The Criminal Tribes Act was repealed in 1952 by independent India, de-notifying these communities from the “born criminals” list. Hence the nomenclature De-Notified Tribes. However, the Habitual Offenders Act, enacted by various States soon after, followed similar registration and surveillance procedures; the difference now being that individuals and not whole communities were targeted by the police. Despite their altered legal status, the stigma stuck on. “If something is lost in a village we are passing through, we are the first to be blamed. Theft of poultry, jewellery, clothes – anything and everything – we are held culprits and imprisoned, beaten up and humiliated,” Maharaja says. “They live in a constant state of fear. Police atrocities and mob lynchings are a common occurrence,” says R. Maheswari, secretary of TENT (The Empowerment Centre of Nomads and Tribes) Society, Madurai, an NGO working for the communities’ rights. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has accorded legal protection to Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) from discrimination and violence. No such constitutional and legal safeguard exists for the vulnerable groups of DNTs and NTs, despite various Commissions and Reports advocating for it.
Viewed from the historical “margins,” the center is a fuzzy political conglomerate of class, and caste hierarchy, carceral capitalism, and entrenched heteronormative Brahminical patriarchy. Examined narratively, the center recounts the story of a single subcontinental subjectivity: the savarna, upper-class (most commonly North India), able bodied, heterosexual man. And yet, other ways of knowing and being have persisted in the subcontinent. To dismantle the politics of marginalization, we begin by displacing the center. Practices of decentering require radical intersectionality...Not rejecting existing and historical radical movements entirely, but rather turning towards them one collaborative critical eye and another towards the future, DeCenter aims for radical revisions. This is our sincere homage to the many bodies of literature--feminist, leftist, Ambedkarite, and others--that have shaped us.
"Blood Soaked streets –
That's my ground,
That's where I play around
Sound of gunshots –
That's my song,
That's my lulla- lullaby"
Interview by Rupsa Nag
"I, as Sudharak Olwe, as an entity, have no bearing. I cannot go to them as a famous person, feeling all important. I’m a commoner being allowed the privilege of their acquaintance."
Interview by Toonika Guha
"The queer community is as casteist as the society at large. To those who feign caste-blindness within the queer movement, I want to say, recognise the importance of taking everyone along."
Interview by Afrah Asif
"The Kashmiri body – a Muslim, and by extension, a traitor – is portrayed as the “other”, as harmful enemies of the nation. The Kashmiri body is doubly killable, because it is not only a Kashmiri body but also a Muslim body."
Interview by Kirti Goyal
"The farmers’ protest has woven varied kinds of solidarities within itself. Shared struggles, years of organising and alliance-building have led to it."
Report by Sweta Dash
"One of the most controversial decisions in the NEP is to make regional languages the medium of instruction instead of English until the 5th grade at least, and preferably till the 8th grade. This happens to coincide with the introduction of Sanskrit as the third language. The repercussions this would have on Dalit students has been largely ignored."
Sankul Sonawane and Preeti Koli
"As per Koyel, a lot of members from the community were being forced into cis-heterosexual marriages by families when they went back to their homes... She says there were also instances of corrective rapes and families opting for conversion therapy. Sappho was compelled to start a Crisis Intervention Centre with temporary shelters, to accommodate those who were driven out by their families."
Pragathi Ravi and Treesa Shaju
"The phenomenon of spatially ordering a city according to the circulation of surplus into a few hands makes the city a haven for the few. The cronyism of the BJP government has been reported enough for us to take note. It relegates those closest to the Municipality into an opaque blur; it appears to be an error but it is, in fact, mere design."
"Inequalities are enforced upon people. Deregulation and privatization are forced upon people. Militarization and occupation are normalized. Hate for particular groups is normalized. People are seen as entities that can be used to define majoritarian narratives. Independent voices are muzzled and journalism is dictated. These are all the features of an authoritarian state run by strongmen."
AM, Damni and Suchitra
She remembers one night when Indian security forces allegedly raided her house and took her and her sister-in-law outside. "They locked the other members of my family inside the house, leaving them there to panic and shout helplessly out of fear that the forces would rape us. Once out, we were surrounded by armed forces in their usual combat uniforms with assault rifles ready, all in an effort to bait Bilal to come and rescue us from the wrath of the soldiers,” Hameeda said.
Sheikh Saqib, photos by Zaid Bashir
"Here, on the Delhi borders, rural India has come alive with hundreds of thousands of farmers digging in for the long haul – till the union government takes back the three farm laws that the protesting farmers seem convinced are their respective and collective 'death warrants.'"
"In one of the most unique agitations, the farmers have set up small kitchens on the roads where they cook. 'We have brought our own food, wood and even gas to cook food themselves. We do not need any sort of sustenance help from the government. We have so much food here that it is easy for us to protest here for another six months,' a farmer union leader from Punjab said."
In urban areas, caste operates in a very subtle manner under the veil of modernity because the fear of talking about one’s own identity specifically in the ‘modern’ urban spaces is attached to the notions of prejudices and judgments. Such ideas not only subjugate the marginalized but also create a ‘difference’ and ‘othering’ towards their group, leading to feelings of isolation. The point is, urban areas as they are assumed to be, are not so ‘liberal’.
Apologist (I dream of being
less meek, of
revolutionary, of starting a
"Maybe the house prefers the letter?
Not having to worry about
Going out on
a sunny day, and not coming back."
"Witness, Iqbal Bano sings. Her black saree fetches fire and tyranny burns- who knows for
how long. Listen, she holds the promise like marigolds locked in the palms and breaks it
open as quietly as prayers to the river."
"While savarna artists and writers flock to justify this mind-numbing expenditure of public money over a Brahminic festival with their discourse of pseudo-feminist resistance, they unsee the devious violence that is the cornerstone of Durga Puja. When they construct “Durga” out of marginalised women’s struggles, those voices get buried by their appropriation. These artistic representations feed off the fire from the burning muscles of the labourers and subdue the flame to ensure just enough heat to relieve the privileged of their guilt and make them feel self-righteous for appreciating such art."
"The Radical Group was one of the first to break away from the notion of an aesthetic avant-garde to a political avant-garde that negotiated the presence of art rooted in the political.6 Art in India began concerning itself with issues of the community. More importantly, this also marked the point where the Radical Group broke away from figurative, narrative, and revivalist tendencies of the dominant art traditions that existed then."
Cover photograph by Nav Rahi: Effigies at Gadari Gulab Kaur Nagar. Tikri Border, Delhi 2021.