" Democracy was
also a great narrative and not merely a monolithic kind of democratic participation."

Pasi Ratna Shri Ram Lakhan

Pasi Ratna Ram Lakhan was born on 1st January 1956 in the village Birsinghpur, tehsil Lal ganj Ajhara, district Pratapgarh. He is the son of a technician in a cotton mills at Kanpur His mother was a simple housewife taking care of her family.

Pasi Ratna began his education in his native village, from where he completed his education upto 8th standard. He passed his High School from P.V.College, Pratapgarh. Though under financial stress, his father sent him an amount of Rs.500 every month for meeting his expenses. It used to be a large amount in those days. On noticing his dedication to his studies, the Member of the Legislative Assembly from Pratapgarh also supported him.From Rai Bareli Sarvodaya Vidyapeeth Inter College he completed his Intermediate level education. He did his post graduation in Archeology and Ancient History in 1975 from Lucknow University and got enrolled for his PhD on the topic “Religion in Mahabharat”. He also joined his LLB in 1976. He took the job of a Multi Inspector in 1974-75, while still continuing with his studies, as the financial condition of his family was deteriorating. In 1975-76 he got selected to the post of Block Development Officer which he declined to join. In 1977, he was selected Assistant Manager,in an industry. He worked on this post for a period of six months, but left it to join Uttar Pradesh Secretariat as an Upper Division Assistant in 1978. In 1981 he was selected for the post of Treasury Officer and also qualified for the All India Allied Services.He refused to join either of these. He was confident of becoming a PCS officer for which he appeared in 1982-83. The result was declared in 1987 and was appoinited Sub-Registrar when he joined the service. He was promoted to the post of Assistant Commissioner, Stamp Registration, in 2005 and is currently posted at Kausambi district headquaters.

He didn’t have to face any caste discrimination during his school or college days, as his intelligence was admired by all his teachers. But he remembers one incident. He was once invited by his principal to a feast, given by a wealthy real estate owner of Kaithoulla, Raja Mucchendra Pratap Singh. Everyone was requested to sit in a room for the feast , but Ram Lakhan the only untouchable, was made to sit outside the room all alone and have his meal.But instead of submitting himself to such dictates of the upper castes he refused to eat there.At the end when everyone moved out, people noticed his plate lying with food in it. Both his principal and Rajajee surprisingly asked him the reason for it. On this he replied that he did not want eat at a place where people discriminate on the basis of caste. Accepting his mistake, Rajajee offered his apology to him and requested him to accept the meal. Ram Lakhan did not oblige.During 1960-70, when he was studying in High School, he asked Ramcharan, a Chamar resident of Basika Purwa, who used to carry dead animals from the savarna locality, to protest against this practice. He did so because he was aware of the humiliating condition in which members of the chamar community were living. The upper caste exploited the services of the chamar women in cutting the umbilical cord of the new- born babies, but instead paying them for their services they abused them. He fought for the rights of Ramcharan and asked Thakurs and Pundits of that village to pay him his due share lest he should refuse to do their work. But the upper castes paid scant regard to his demand. Ramcharan stopped his work on his suggestion. The upper castes of the village retaliated by severing all social relations with him. At this Ram Lakhan went and told them that, henceforth Ramcharan, would be a part of his community. Now he managed food for him. On account of such daring acts the savarnas became his enemy, and made several attempts to harm him physically and even kill him. He was fortunate to escape without any harm.

He has been very vocal and aggressive in registering his protests against any kind of atrocities committed on members of the untouchable communities. He is not against physical action against the Savarnas who show any kind of disrespect to the Dalit communities, e.g. the use of filthy languages.On one occasion he was taken to the police station, but was spared by the police on knowing the facts. He was transferred by his department to another place to diffuse tension. Similarly, fighting for the cause of the Chamar and Pasi communities in his village, and showing his revolutionary fervour, he asked them to stop Begar (free work) for the thakurs of the village. He encouraged them to work for themselves and move to bigger towns and cities like Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur for work. Accepting his suggestions they stopped working for the Thakurs who were infuriated and assaulted two of the Pasis. Pasi Ratan, while studying in M.A at this time, was full enraged on seeing such atrocities being committed on the Dalit communities. He collected around him the Chamar, Pasi and other backward caste communities and attacked the Thakur locality, setting on fire the residence of the Village Pradhan, Narsingh Bahadur. On account of such activities, the police headed by Inspector Kalka Singh came looking for Pasi Ratan.On learning the entire truth behind his act of violence, they showed sympathy with him.Instead of arresting him,they commended such a valiant act of his for the well-being of the downtrodden.

Since his childhood days he a had natural inclination to social welfare activities. Whether as a child or as a youth, he always contributed towards the uplift of the depressed communities. He spends more than sixty percent of his salary for the education of the poor and downtrodden boys and girls.He believes that in order to bring about any kind of social transformation one needs literature. A large section of the Dalit population is literate but, due to unfavourable circumstances, is unable to attend meetings, seminars and conferences. Therefore, it is through literature that one can inspire and awaken them. In 1975, he wrote his first article which was published in ‘Dinman’. He wrote small booklets on several Dalit Heroes like Satan Pasi, Lakhan Pasi, Suhel Dev and Udadevi. One of his unpublished books is based on the Dalit revolution and it has been compiled from 30 lakh booklets in his own library. He exudes confidence that once published it is sure to get a place in ‘The Guiness Book of World Records’ for its unparalled volume of references. Besides writing popular booklets, Pasi Ratna also organizes seminars, conferences and meetings to discuss issues that help in elevating consciousness among members of Dalit communities.

In 1994, he set up an organization named ‘Veerangna Udadevi Smarak Sansthan’. Each year on 16th day of November, this organization commemorates the death anniversary of Udadevi at Sikandara Bagh, Lucknow, and the place where she attained martyrdom. On this day cultural programmes are organized by the members of the Pasi community and discussions are held on its problems and prepare the future course of action to deal with such problems. Another mode of remembering Udadevi on this day is to publish a souvenir named ‘Samarika’, of which Pasi Ratan himself is the editor.

He has received several honours and recognition for his contributions to the uplift of the Dalit communities. The Ministry of Railways acknowledged his efforts by presenting him with an AC First Class Railway Pass in 1997. The same year he was honoured with the title of ‘Pasi Ratna’ by a Minister of the Government of India. He has also been honoured by the speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh Government under Rajnath Singh recommended his name for the award of ‘Padmashri’. Unfortunately, he has not been awarded this honour. But he hopes that the situation of Dalits would be better in future through the efforts of the members of their communities and others who have magnanimity in them and are aware of the significance of an honourable place in society.


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