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Raja Dhale, One of the original members of the Dalit Panther Party

Dalit Panthers is a social organization that seeks to combat caste discrimination, founded by Namdeo Dhasal and J V Pawar on 29 May 1972 in Maharashta.[2][3] The movement saw its heyday in the 1970s and through the 1980s, and was later joined many Dalit-Buddhist activists.

Dalit Panthers
दलित पैंथर
Abbreviation जय भिम
Leader Arun Kamble, Raja Dhale[1]
Bappusaheb Bhosale(Present)
Founder Namdeo Dhasal
J V Pawar
Founded 29 May 1972 [2]
Succeeded by Dalit Panthers of India
Ideology Dalit Socialism
Party flag



Untouchability is the most violent form of exploitation on the surface of the earth, which survives the ever changing forms of power structure. Today it is necessary to seek its soil, its root causes. If we understand them , we can definitely strike at the heart of exploitation. The oppression of dalits still exists despite the lives and work of our two great leaders--Jyotiba Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar. It is not only alive, it is stronger. Hence, unless we understand and give shape to the revolutionary content latent in the downtrodden lives of the Untouchables, not a single individual seeking a social revolution would be able to remain alive in India. ... The Dalit is no longer merely an untouchable outside the village walls and the scriptures. He is an untouchable, and he is a Dalit, but he is also a worker, a landless labourer, a proletarian. And unless we strengthen this growing revolutionary unity of the many with all our efforts, our existence has no future.

"Dalit Panthers' Manifesto" in The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing, Ed. Satyanarayana and Tharu

The Dalit Panthers were inspired by the Black Panther Party, a socialist movement that sought to combat racial discrimination against African-Americans, during Civil Rights Movement in the United States, which occurred in the mid-20th century. The initiative to form the Dalit Panther Movement was taken up by Namdeo Dhasal, J.V. Pawar, and Arun Kamble in Mumbai. They conceived the Dalit Panther Movement as a radical departure from earlier Dalit movements, due to its initial emphasis on militancy and revolutionary attitudes, akin to attitudes espoused by their Black American counterparts.

The Black Panther Party always acknowledged and supported the Dalit Panthers through their newspaper which circulated weekly throughout the world from 1967-1980[citation needed].

Most members were young men, some of whom were Neo-Buddhists. Most of the leaders were literary figures whose academic qualifications ranged from not having a basic education to master's degrees. The controversy over the article "Kala Swatantrya Din"(Black Independence Day) by Dhale which was published in Sadhana, the Dalit Panthers' official publication, on August 15, 1972 created a great sensation and built recognition for the Dalit Panthers through Maharashtra. The Panthers' full support to Dhale during this controversy brought Dhale into the movement and made him a prominent leader. As a result, branches of the Dalit Panther Party were established in many parts of Maharashtra, as well as other states such as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The Dalit Panther emerged to fill the vacuum created in Dalit politics, as B.R. Ambedkar's Republican Party of India had split into factions. The Dalit Panthers led to a renaissance in Marathi literature and arts. They advocated for and practiced radical politics, fusing the ideologies of Ambedkar, Jyotirao Phule and Karl Marx. Crucially, the Dalit Panthers helped popularize the use of the term 'Dalit' to refer to lower-caste communities. This manifesto issued in 1973 combines the Ambedkarite spirit with a broader Marxist framework and heralds the rise of autonomous Dalit perspective in post-Independence India.[4]

Dalit Panthers Iyyakkam in Tamil Nadu (TN)Edit

In Tamil Nadu DPI has been re-named as Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) after Thol. Thirumavalavan took over as convener after the death of Mr M. Malaichamy[citation needed].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Dalit Panther's first leap". Indian Express. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Rajawat, p. 325
  3. ^ Michael, S. M. (2007). Dalits in modern India: vision and values. SAGE. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-7619-3571-1. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  4. ^ Satyanarayana and Tharu (2013). The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing. New Delhi: Navayana. p. 55. ISBN 9788189059613. 

Further readingEdit