The Persistence of Cruelty

In Khairlanji, on 29 September 2006, 44-year-old Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter Priyanka Bhotmange were stripped, paraded naked, and raped repeatedly. Surekha’s sons Roshan and Sudhir were lynched. The entire village was involved. The four bodies were dumped into a canal. The Bhotmanges were dalit. The Bhotmanges have been forgotten. After all, two dalits are murdered every day in India.

Anand Teltumbde's Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop is now followed by an even more serious analysis of the events of 2006, in The Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and India’s Hidden Apartheid, also from Navayana.

While the caste system has been formally abolished under the Indian constitution, according to official statistics, every eighteen minutes a crime is committed on a Dalit. The gouging out of eyes, the hacking off of limbs and being burned alive or stoned to death are routine in the atrocities perpetrated against india’s 170 million Dalits. What drives people to commit such inhuman crimes?

The Persistence of Caste uses the shocking case of Khairlanji, the brutal murder of four members of a dalit family in 2006, to explode the myth that caste no longer matters. Analyzing context and crime, it seeks to locate this event in the political economy of the development process India has followed after Independence. Teltumbde demonstrates how caste has shown amazing resilience – surviving feudalism, capitalist industrialization and a republican Constitution – to still be alive and well today, despite all denial, under neoliberal globalization.

Anand Teltumbde’s analysis of the public, ritualistic massacre of a dalit family in 21st century India exposes the gangrenous heart of our society... This is not a book about the last days of relict feudalism, but a book about what modernity means in India says Arundhati Roy. I would hope to see it read by every Indian activist and also foreigners who do not see how odious the caste system is, from Samir Amin.

In our Dalit Studies section, this edition is only for sale in South Asia. In paperback, 192 pages Rs 200. ISBN: 9788189059286


This book is indeed available outside India as well- an international edition is being published by Zed Books. The Navayana edition is for sale in South Asia only.