India: Death of a trailblazer in Dalit literature

Om Prakash Valmiki lost his battle for life to liver cancer on Sunday, aged 63, leaving behind a literary legacy that is iconic not just for his words, but also because of what it tells us about our times.

Born at the lowest rung of the scheduled castes as an untouchable chuhda in Muzaffarnagar district of western Uttar Pradesh, he rose to occupy the highest place in the world of Dalit literature because of his powerful writings.

While Dalit literature had gained wide acceptability in other Indian languages like Marathi, Hindi came to recognise it much later. This meant that when Mr. Valmiki started writing, there were not many takers in Brahmin and Thakur-dominated Hindi literary scene for this kind of literature.

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