Brahminism persecution in Democratic India.

DALITS/ SCHEDULED CASTES – 2011

January to December 2011

Compiled By∗
Human Rights Documentation

Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road, New Delhi – 110 003, (India)

Caste war over burial ground in AP village

Caste war among villagers at Basampalli in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh has led to denial of final rites for a Dalit farmer, whose body has begun to decompose awaiting cremation for the last two days. Potla Ganganna (65) belonged to the Namdhari sect, considered lower rung even among the Dalits. After his death on December 30, his relatives took the body for cremation to the graveyard on the outskirts of Basampalli, but had to return without performing the final rites as the land was occupied by upper caste villagers. The relatives then tried cremating Ganganna’s body at another graveyard, where people of another Dalit sect—Modikallu—took offence saying the cremation ground was closer to their home and a Namdhari funeral rites, noisy by tradition with sounding of drums and bells ringing, was a bad omen. Tension broke out between the Namdharis the Modikallus, which led to the police being brought in to control the violence. According to the village heads, the issue cropped up because the prime Panchayat land, allotted for the graveyard, has been encroached upon by upper caste political leaders. But according to the Dalit elders, there was always friction between the Dalits and the upper caste in the village, especially during festivals and over water woes in the parched summer season. As the warring goes on, the body of Ganganna, lying in his shanty for the last two days, has begun to decompose, posing severe health risks to both upper and lower castes alike. (Deccan herald, 03/01/2011)

Dalits pay the price for supporting BJP

HUBLI: Hundreds of innocent dalit families residing in Harijankere of Antur-Bentur village of Gadag district were ostracized from the village. All for supporting a BJP candidate in the just concluded ZP/TP election. Dalit families who spent a chilly night in a temple on the outskirts of the village on Saturday night after being ostracized alleged that their only fault was that they stood by the BJP candidate as he helped develop the temple in Harijankere. Gadag district minister C C Patil has said that he will hold talks with the upper caste people to establish a favourable atmosphere in Antur-Bentur village. Speaking to The Times of India, Patil said that he also visited the village on Sunday evening to assess the situation. However, the villagers were being treated as untouchables in the village even before the polls. Now the ostracism has been given a political twist. “We have been denied water, entry into temples and hotels after the election. Finally, we were ostracized from village. Besides, we were allegedly attacked on Friday night, forcing us to leave the village,” a member of the family rued. “I will hold a meeting with the upper caste people in this village tomorrow to bring the situation to normalcy and to establish conducive atmosphere in the village,” the minister assured. Of the 11 GP members, 8 GP members including dalits joined BJP which might have annoyed anti-social elements, minister Patil said. Without mentioning Congress, he said that some youths who are miffed with dalit families for supporting BJP have allegedly attacked them. As dalit families sought protection, we deployed adequate police in the village, Patil added. He also promised to make alternate arrangements to supply ration to the dalit families in the village since shops were closed due to the tension in the village. Left with no other options, more than 100 dalit families including children, women and aged spent their night on the premises of temple on Saturday night. They have lodged a complaint with the Gadag rural police seeking action but in vain. When the families were not allowed to enter the village on Sunday morning too, they held a dharna near the temple demanding action against those who ostracized them from the village. Police then rushed to the village and convinced the dalits to go back to their houses. Speaking to the Times of India, Chandru Hadimani, Kanakamma Sandimani, Basavaraj Machhigudda and others said that some upper caste people belonging to a particular party were waiting to take revenge against them for their close association with the BJP candidate. “We appreciated his help in helping us repair the temple,” they echoed. Untouchablity still prevails here from many years, they claimed. Ravikumar Nayak, Gadag SP, said that dalit families have already lodged a complaint. “After we promised them to look into the matter and to take necessary action, they got back to their houses. We are maintaing a vigil on unruly elements who try to disturb peace,” he added. (TOI, 03/01/2010)

This is a collection of previously published news and views from the print as well as the electronic media, whose reference marked at the end of each news items. Department of Documentation and Library (DDL) of the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi neither claims to the veracity of the facts in the news nor subscribes to the views expressed.

Punia: SC-ST panel can probe backward girl rape case

LUCKNOW: Reacting to cabinet secretary, Shashank Shekhar Singh’s statement at that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had no right to investigate the Neelu rape case as the girl was an OBC and not the SC or ST, Punia said that the commission was well within its rights to probe the case. Once the principal secretary to Mayawati, Punia said that the commission was empowered under article 338(10) of the Constitution to investigate cases of atrocities against the backward castes including the OBC. Taking a pot shot at the cabinet secretary, Punia said that Singh was acting like a BSP spokesperson. “He is a government functionary. If at all he wishes to act like a BSP spokesperson, then he should first resign,” Punia said. The Congress MP from Barabanki, termed Shekhar’s allegations as highly offensive and misleading. Addressing a press conference earlier in the day, Shashank Shekhar had said that Punia was indulging in petty politics regarding the case. He said that Punia’s demand of a report from the state government was not under the purview of the commission, since the victim was an OBC. TOI, 03/01/2011)

UP among states with high rate of Dalit atrocities: Punia

Uttar Pradesh is among those states where the percentage of atrocities on Dalits is ”higher”, NCSC Chairman P L Punia said here today. Punia said that UP did not cooperate with the Commission when it sought a report over the recent incidence of rape of a minor Dalit girl and even questioned the authority of the Commission to do so. While he did not give any figures, Punia said the percentage of Dalit atrocities in Uttar Pradesh was higher. “They do not consider addressing the grievances of Dalits as priority,” he said. Punia said the UP government had taken objection to his intervention in the rape case stating that the Commission was not entitled to seek a report in the case as the victim belonged to a socially backward community. “I told the state administration that it should look into the constitutional provisions before raising such objections,” National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Chairman said. “The local Superintendent of Police later submitted a report to the Commission stating that rape charges were not proved in the medical reports,” Punia said. He also questioned the delay in taking action against the BSP MLA who allegedly raped the girl, when BSP has already suspended the MLA from the party. Punia said a false case of robbery was registered against the minor girl and she was still in jail. He alleged that large funds meant for the welfare of Dalits were diverted in UP. “Rs 1500 crore from the special component plan for welfare of Dalits was diverted to construct five medical colleges. We have nothing against medical colleges. They are needed, but funds from general budget should have been utilised for that purpose,” he added. Referring to Maharashtra, Punia said the state has specific welfare schemes meant for Dalits, scheduled castes and tribes, but said that there were administrative delays in implementation. (Deccan herald, 05/01/2011)

Sending New Year card proves fatal for Dalit youth

In a land where falling in love is a crime in the eyes of the society and youngsters are frequently killed for being in love, sending a New Year card to his lover proved fatal for a Dalit youth. The incident occurred in Uttar Pradesh’s Jat-dominated Muzaffarnagar district, infamous for incidents of honour killings, about 500 km from here. Twenty-five-year-old Bobby was shot dead by a girl’s family members on Wednesday after they came to know that he had sent a New Year greeting card to her, according to police sources here. Affair Sources said that Bobby, who lived in the neighbourhood of the girl in Shazadi village in the district, had an affair with her for the past few years. The members of their family, however, had no inkling about it. Bobby, in an apparent bid to express his true love for the girl, sent her a New Year greeting card. The card had the photographs of Bobby and the girl, the sources added. Unfortunately, the greeting card fell in the hands of the girl’s two brothers Salim and Yusuf. Enraged over the incident, the duo confronted Bobby and his family members in the village on Wednesday morning and had heated exchanges. In a fit of rage, Salim, who carried a countrymade pistol, shot at Bobby killing him on the spot, sources said. Bobby’s brother Bhishma and mother Amoli also suffered bullet injuries and were being treated at hospital. The culprits managed to flee from the spot, police said. A hunt had been launched to nab them. Many lovers have been killed in the past in the state, especially in the Jat-dominated western region. The caste panchayats have already declared that they will, under no circumstances, allow love marriages. (Deccan herald, 06/01/2011)

Rape accused UP MLA may face heat from scheduled castes body

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes may soon send a team to UP’s Banda district to get a detailed report on the rape of a minor Dalit girl allegedly by BSP MLA Purshottam Dwivedi. The move comes after Lucknow Superintendent of Police Anil Das sent a preliminary report about the incident to the NCSC office a few days ago. “We may soon send a team to Banda for a detailed report about the alleged incident. Depending on the contents, we may also recommend his arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity Act),” NCSC chairman P L Punia told PTI. He said that in the absence of a national commission for OBC, the NCSC was empowered to probe atrocities on people of backward communities as well. His comment come after the Mayawati government raised objections to the NCSC taking cognizance of the alleged rape case and blaming Punia, a former close aide of the UP chief minister, for it. The Commission was of the view that unless such matters are taken seriously, offenders think they can get away with the crime. Meanwhile, the Congress in UP has alleged that despite the local court directing that an FIR be lodged in this connection, nothing has been done so far. The Opposition party on Thursday demanded the suspension of the Banda SP, alleging that an impartial inquiry by the CB-CID cannot be conducted till he was holding the post. The 17-year-old victim was allegedly raped by the BSP MLA of Nareni in Banda in December last year. After the girl threatened to file a complaint against him, he levelled charges of theft against her. (IE, 10/01/2011)

Deprivation among Dalits remains high

A series of papers presented at the national seminar on ‘Dalit households in village economies’ painted a grim picture of deprivation among Dalits in rural India. These papers, based on a series of village studies since 2004, pointed to Dalits’ relatively poor access to official sources of credit, their lack of command over assets and amenities, and lower levels of employment and income. Commenting on the papers, Abhijit Sen, member, Planning Commission, pointed out that the value of these village studies — conducted by the Foundation of Agrarian Studies (FAS) and other researchers — was enhanced by the fact that they were not aimed at finding out how Dalits were faring exclusively in socio-economic terms. Instead, the extent and nature of deprivation among Dalits was being demonstrated as a part of a study of agrarian relations in the country, in which caste played an important role. Drawing on data from all the village surveys conducted by the FAS, Vikas Rawal, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, pointed out that ownership of land accounted for an overwhelming proportion of the value of assets among Dalits as well as non-Dalits. There is “a huge disparity” in the levels of landholdings between the two social groups, he observed. Madhura Swaminathan, Professor-in-charge, Social Sciences Division, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, and Shamsher Singh, a research scholar at the ISI, demonstrated the inequality, in terms of access to basic amenities such as housing, water, sanitation and electricity, faced by Dalits. Based on “pooled data” from surveys of 12 villages in five States, they pointed out that about one-fourth of Dalit households lived in kutcha houses and 30 per cent lived in “single-room structures”. “There appears to be a strong statistical association between caste and access to the basic amenities,” Prof. Swaminathan observed. Pointing out that public intervention “[did] make an impact,” she said the provision of homestead plots for Dalits was “central” to any programme aimed at improving their quality of life. Venkatesh Athreya, advisor, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, pointed out that the village surveys filled a serious gap in the data required for studying agrarian relations in India. V.K. Ramachandran, Professor at the Sociological Research Unit, ISI, Kolkata, said, “Caste not only matters, but is right up there as a major explanation for inequality.” Another paper, drawing on official data sources, provided an account of how Dalits’ access to official credit sources has declined since liberalisation. The seminar, which concluded on Saturday, was organised by the Sociological Research Unit at the ISI. It was supported by the ISI, the Indian Council of Social Science

Research and the Foundation of Agrarian Studies. (Hindu, 09/01/2010)

UP among states with high rate of Dalit atrocities: Punia

Uttar Pradesh is among those states where the percentage of atrocities on Dalits is “higher”, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman P L Punia said. After taking over as NCSC Chairman in October 2010, he visited states like UP, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Maharashtra among others. But complaints of atrocities on Dalits is maximum in UP and most of these cases go unreported, Punia told reporters here. The NCSC Chairman was in the city to participate in programme organised for Scs He alleged that the funds under Special Component plan for dalits in UP have been diverted by the ruling BSP government in the state to open five medical colleges. After UP, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh figure among those states where atrocities on Dalits is high. He said that NCSC has its offices in 12 states and the rights body has asked the Central government for funds to set-up offices in eight more states. (IE, 11/01/2011)

UP govt denying 23% quota to SC: Punia

VARANASI: Alleging that the UP government had failed to provide the prescribed 23% quota to scheduled castes in government services, chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) PL Punia claimed it was also misutilising the funds meant for the dalit. Talking to media on Monday evening, Punia said as per the ratio of the scheduled castes in the total population of the state, a provision had been made to reserve 23% seats in government services. However, in class-I only 12% seats had been filled with SC candidates while in class-II and class-III the situation was no better as 15% and 17% seats respectively had been given to the SC candidates. In class-IV, the state government had claimed that 34% seats had been given to SC candidates, said Punia. But, he said there were orders not to include the figures of safai workers in the reserved seats of this class and the state government had included them in the same 34%. “If the figures of safai employees are separated from this 34%, it can be found that the state government has not ensured the implementation of the orders in this class as well,” Punia claimed. Misutilisation of funds reserved for dalit population in the Special Component Plan (SCP) was also a cause of serious concern for the NCSC chairman. He said the Delhi government had spent Rs 748 crore of SCP in the preparations of the Commonwealth Games despite the fact that the fund should have been utilised for dalits only. The fund was spent in works like flyover construction, stadium and road construction as well as gardening, he said. After the commission took a serious note of it, he said, the Delhi government returned the fund. “The UP government is also misutilising this fund,” said Punia and added SCP fund was being spent in creating five medical colleges in the state at Jalaun, Kannoj, Saharanpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Banda. The SCP fund was also being used in homoeopathy hospitals and in increasing facilities at animal husbandry department. He said how was the dalit population going to be benefited by that? “It should be made clear whether only dalit students would be admitted to those medical colleges or only dalits would be treated there,” he pointed out. Punia said report of the UP government had revealed that there had been an increase of 24% in cases of atrocities against dalit in 2010. He said provisions had also been made to provide compensation to dalits in cases of crime committed against them but the Mayawati government was not showing any interest in giving compensation to the victims. He said his UP visits had irked the chief minister as he created awareness among dalits about their rights. Punia also delivered a special lecture on social cohesion and national development organised by the social science faculty of Banaras Hindu University on Tuesday. He said the commission had taken a serious note of the suicide committed by Laxman Prasad of Jhansi after humiliation by Rakhi Sawant in a reality show of a television channel. He said that she had been summoned by the commission and a notice had been served upon her. Punia also attended a camp organised by the Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights in Badalpur to create awareness among the scheduled tribes on Tuesday afternoon. (TOI, 12/01/2011)

Dalit woman resists rape, set ablaze in Punjab

MANSA (Punjab): A dalit woman was set on fire in Punjab’s Mansa district after she resisted the attempts of an upper caste farmer to rape her. The woman died on Sunday morning. The accused, Sandeep Singh, was booked for murder but he is absconding, said police. Singh and the woman lived in the same village. Her husband is a tailor while she worked as a farm labourer. On Friday evening, when she was alone at home, Singh barged in and attempted to rape her. The woman fought hard to resist him. Singh then poured kerosene on her, set her ablaze and ran away. On hearing the women’s cries, neighbours rushed to her help. Her family members took her to a Bathinda hospital. ”Her condition was grave and she was shifted to Baba Farid Medical College at Faridkot,” her husband said. She died of burn injuries on Sunday morning, said Behniwal police post head Rajinder Singh. Police are looking for Singh. (TOI, 17/01/2011)

SC/STs missing in pvt sector jobs: India Inc’s first caste census

The first-ever caste census of India Inc’s human resources has revealed that the proportion of Scheduled

Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees in the private sector in some of the most industrialised states of

the country hardly reflects their strength in the general population of those states. The only exception is Tamil Nadu, which ranks number one in industrialisation and employment (by number of factories and persons, according to the Annual Survey of Industries 2008-09). SCs/STs account for almost 18 per cent of the industrial workforce and 20 per cent of the state’s population. In sharp contrast are some of the other most industrialised states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal, which show a sharp mismatch between SCs/STs as a percentage of the total workforce in the private sector and as a percentage of the states’ total population. Living under the constant threat that the government may reserve jobs in the private sector as part of its inclusive growth agenda, the Confederation of Indian Industry, the country’s largest industry chamber, undertook a caste census of its members spread across 22 states and Union territories. Covering 8,250 members of the CII, together employing 35 lakh people, it gives a flavour of the manpower mix in India Inc. SCs/STs, for instance, make up 19.1 per cent of Maharashtra’s population but their share in the private sector human resources is only 5 per cent. In Gujarat and Karnataka, SCs/STs are just about 9 per cent of the staff strength, but account for 22 per cent and 23 per cent respectively of the state population. The survey, in a nutshell, reveals that companies in the least industrialised eastern region, where jobs are far and few, have the highest percentage of SC/ST employees. So, in Bihar — which ranks a distant 17 as per the Annual Survey of Industries 2008-09 — they together constitute a fourth of the total workforce, whereas they form just 16.6 per cent of the state’s total population. Chhattisgarh is a shade better, with more number of factories, but here too, half of the total workforce comprises SCs/STs, compared to them making up 43.4 per cent of the population. The private sector in the western region comes as a surprise. Maharashtra, the hub of India Inc, is second only to Tamil Nadu in terms of industrialisation and employment. CII members in the state employ 20.72 lakh people in the state, almost 57 per cent of the total employee base considered in the survey by the chamber. But SC/ST proportion in the workforce is one-fourth of their percentage in the total population. In Madhya Pradesh that ranks 11 in industrialisation and workforce, SCs/STs account for 11 per cent of the private sector’s total staff strength, less than a third of their strength in the state’s population. States in south are an exception. The private sector in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala has on its rolls a remarkably high percentage of SCs/STs. Tamil Nadu — where the politically driven Dravidian movement significantly empowered the backward castes — is distinct because it also ranks number one in terms of the number of employees and factories. SCs/STs here account for 18 per cent of the workforce in CII’s member companies, and 20 per cent of the state’s population. In Kerala, for entirely different reasons such as 100 per cent literacy, the percentage of SCs/STs in the private sector is higher than their share in the population. In the north, Delhi and Haryana buck the general trend, where the gap between SCs/STs at work and their representation in the population is significantly higher. The CII survey of the private sector’s manpower mix in Chandigarh, Punjab and Rajasthan shows that SC/ST proportion there is 25-50 per cent lower than their strength in the total population. (IE, 19/01/2011)

Mahapanchayat rejects govt assurance on CBI probe

JIND: There seems to be no early end in sight to the ongoing impasse between Jat protesters and the Haryana government as its two-day long efforts to pacify the agitators have not borne any fruit. The maha panchayat which is spearheading the agitation turned down the government’s assurance of recommending for a CBI probe to the Centre in the Mirchpur caste violence case on Tuesday. According to information, the talks resumed between the action committee of the Maha Panchayat and the government side on Tuesday morning after which Jind deputy commissioner Abhay Singh Yadav handed over a fax message from the state government indicating the government’s intention of recommending a CBI probe into the matter. Following this, a delegation led by president of the Sarv Khap Maha Panchayat, Rajbir Dhanda, returned to the people sitting on dharna on the railway tracks for consultations on the government’s assurance. Dhanda later told TOI that the 12-member action committee after consultations with the protesters refused to call off their agitation on a mere assurance. We can’t trust the promises and want the government to act to fulfill our demands. We have made our intentions clear on day one and we will not budge from here until the government actively addresses our demands,said Dhanda. Meanwhile, Suresh Koth, convener of the maha panchayat declared that they had decided to intensify their agitation from Wednesday onwards when they would block a national highway in the state. I can’t disclose right now as to which highway would be blocked but we have decided to step up our agitation as the government does not seem to be in a mood to lend an ear to our demands,said Koth. DC Yadav told mediapersons that a meeting between the district officials and the protesters was held in a conductive atmosphere and that he had conveyed to them the government’s willingness for recommending a CBI inquiry into the Mirchpur violence case. According to sources, PWD and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala who had held talks with a delegation of the Maha Panchayat on Monday too was likely to hold another round of discussions with them in a bid to resolve the stand-off. Thousands of protesters have been sitting on dharna on the railway tracks on the JindFerozpur railway section near Jind railway station for the last three days in support of their demands comprising a fresh probe into the Mirchpur violence case in which two Dalits were burnt alive. They are also demanding the return of the 98 accused in the Mirchpur case to a Hisar jail from the Tihar Jail in Delhi and shifting of the trial of the case from a Delhi court to the Hisar court. (TOI, 19/01/2011)

Scheduled caste panel to serve notice to UP govt

LUCKNOW: The National Commission for Scheduled Caste has decided to serve notice to UP government for alleged irregularities in the probe into the Dr Vinod Arya murder case. Dr Arya posted as chief medical officer with Family Welfare Department was shot dead a few metres away from his house in Sector 14, Vikas Nagar just in front of Rani Laxmi Bai School on October 27 last year, while he was on a morning walk with his pet dog. “We have taken a note of the complaint alleging irregularities and politicisation of the probe of dalit health officer Dr Vinod Arya’s murder in which people have been falsely implicated and real culprits are at large,” NCSC Chairman PL Punia told TOI over phone. He said that a number of irregularities have been committed in the probe due to which commission would also get the matter probed by its own team. It has come to the notice of the commission that those named in the case were not involved in the murder of the health officer and contrary to rules the probe of dalit officers murder is being probed by junior officers instead of deputy superintendent of police rank officers. On December 12, police arrested two persons Vijay Dubey and Ajay Mishra, allegedly involved in Arya’s murder. The two were identified as sharpshooters who accompanied Sudhakar Pandey, claimed by the police to be the main executor of the crime. “The conspiracy to kill Arya was hatched by mafia Abhay Singh,” additional director general Brij Lal had then said. The Samajwadi Party, with which Abhay is said to be associated, later submitted a memorandum to Governor BL Joshi alleging that he was being framed in the case. Besides, a joint delegation of Faizabad unit of Congress, RLD and SP submitted a joint memorandum to the Governor on the same issue. The NCSC will wait for the reply from the UP government in this regard, Punia said. (TOI, 20/01/2011)

CM mute spectator to SC, ST atrocities: MLA

In a bid to strengthen the SC and ST rights, the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDJM) in association with the Odisha Manabika Adhikar Surakshya Abhiyan (OMASA) organised a State-level consultation with the MLAs and civil society organisations on National Coalition for Strengthening the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and Rule 1995 here on Thursday. Presiding over the meeting, Chairman Bhajaman Behera said the Act is a step forward in enabling the SCs and STs to gain justice for the atrocities meted out to them by the non-Dalits and allegedly the negligent State Government. He demanded that the Government should enhance the punishment to the culprits by amending the law and added that the atrocities on the Dalits should be discussed on floor of the Assembly so that the Act could be more effective. National campaign on Dalit Human Rights secretary general Prasad alleged that enforcement of the law remains very dismal with the conviction rate of less than five per cent while it needs to create a National Coalition for amendments in the law and making it more effective. Talsara MLA Prafulla Majhi alleged that the Dalits in 25 districts of the State are living in a state of humiliation through atrocities while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik remains a mute spectator. The inadequate investigating officers are further adding to the woes as the number of cases are piling up while due disposal of the cases and punishment to the perpetrators linger, he added. The CM does not want to stop atrocities as the vote bank politics would get hampered by eliminating the caste system, Majhi also alleged. Former Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain said political parties have become redundant to work for the interests of the Dalits and sought that the MLAs should raise the question in the Assembly. He also alleged that the State-initiated Operation Green Hunt has unleashed fear, stress and pain on the Dalits and added that irrespective of political parties, the MLAs should protest the Government’s inefficiency on guaranteeing the Dalits with their Constitutional Rights. Among others, OMASA advisor Ajay Singh, MLAs Adikanda Sethy, Subarna Nayak, Ramachandra Hansda, Surendra Parmanik, Devi Prasanna Chand,

Ramamurti Motika and former police DG John Nayak were present. (Pioneer, 21/01/2011)

NCSC asks state govt. to arrest Banda DM, SSP

Turning the heat on the Bahujan Samaj Party government the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has issued directives to the state government to take action against the district magistrate and senior superintendent of police of Banda. Chairman NCSC PL Punia said that the commission has written a letter to the state government on Wednesday to take action against the DM and SSP because they failed to protect a 17-year old Dalit girl. “We propose that FIRs should be lodged against these officials and both of them should be arrested,” Punia told ‘The Pioneer’ on Thursday. It is for the second time that the commission has written a letter to the state government regarding the Banda rape case in which a BSP legislator from Naraini (Banda) Purshottam Dwivedi is involved. The government is yet to react to the first letter that was written almost a week back. “The government is bound to reply to NCSC’d queries. They are bound to do so. If they do not heed to our advise, the country’s Constitution has given us enough powers to deal with the issue,” Punia said. Led by Punia, other members of the NCSC met the victim Sheelu in her village to learn her side of the story. He stayed there for three hours and met the family members of the rape victim too. “The girl is traumatised. She needs rest. The issue is being politicised by the Samajwadi Party but this will do no good to the girl,” Punia added. (Pioneer, 21/01/2011)

Dalit officers feeling alienated in Maya raj?

Dalit officers in Uttar Pradesh are feeling increasingly alienated in the Mayawati government and some of them are even angry with their “own” government. The anger of dalit officers has welled up to such an extent that about a dozen of them, some retired, met at a private dinner two days ago and discussed the issue threadbare. “This was supposed to be “our” government but this time, it is the brahmin officers who have completely influenced the chief minister and barring a few, all dalit officers have been sidelined,” said one dalit officer who has remained sidelined since the past two years. Another officer who faces a similar fate said, “With dalit officers kept out of the chief minister’s favour, there is no one to protect the interests of the dalit community in the government. Even though the chief minister has formulated schemes for dalits, the benefits are not reaching the target groups because the upper caste officers are showing laxity in implementation.’ The recent removal of additional Cabinet secretary, Netram from his post and Chandra Prakash from the post of IG Lucknow, has clearly sent out wrong signals among dalit bureaucrats. “Both these officers were removed on recommendations of brahmin bureaucrats and their mentors. This kind of action has a demoralising impact on dalit officers who, in any case, get shunted to inconsequential postings in non-BSP governments,” said the officer. According to sources, the biggest reason for the growth of BSP and the popularity of the chief minister during her first three regimes was the sincerity of dalit officers towards the government. If the officers are to be believed, the success mantra of the BSP lay in the hands of dalit bureaucrats. Talking to this correspondent on condition of anonymity, a retired dalit officer who attended the dinner meeting said, “We went out of their way to ensure good governance and protection of dalits in Mayawati regimes. It is because of this that dalits felt safe in the BSP rule and the state machinery was extremely responsive towards the deprived sections of the society. This time, the chief minister has been locked up in an ivory tower and her inaccessibility is the biggest advantage that some upper caste officers are enjoying.” It is noteworthy that senior dalit officers — all of them now retired — fell out of Mayawati’s favour one by one. (AA, 21/01/2011)

Punia assures victim mother-daughter duo of help

KANPUR: Chairman of the National Commission for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe PL Punia on Thursday met the mother and daughter duo who were allegedly fabricated in a theft case by the Fazalganj police when their employer Shalini Gujral, the owner of a beauty-parlour, failed to force them into flesh trade. Punia claimed UP had been witnessing atrocities against the SC/ST and weaker section, and said the Mayawati government had not been able to take appropriate action. Referring to Banda’s Sheelu and Kanpur’s Divya cases, he said cases of atrocities against dalits and weaker section had escalated in the state. “Atrocities against dalits and weaker section under the chief ministership of Mayawati, (who is) a dalit herself, has increased,” Punia said while talking to media on Thursday. Merely suspending a police official was not good enough, he said. The government should lodge an FIR and terminate the service of the police official who had “implicated” them in the false case, he claimed. He said the Commission had taken a serious note of the incident and would deal with it strictly. Punia visited Dwarikapuri house of the victims and met their family. He assured them of all possible support from the Commission in their resolve for justice. (TOI, 21/01/2011)

Hall of shame: Dalit woes take centre stage

JAIPUR: In ‘Hall of Shame’, a Jaipur Literature Festival session, writers Chandra Bhan Prasad, Meena Kandasamy and Patrick French discussed ways by which Dalits were identified and excluded. “There is no caste’ gene,” said French. “Despite bans on inter-marriages, no exclusive caste-based genes developed among Indians. So, there’s no scientific basis for castes.” Kandaswamy responded. “The concept of ‘upbringing’ is used instead. If I poured water clumsily into a jug, my awkwardness would be explained by my ‘Dalit upbringing’.” Prasad commented that methods to ‘identify’ Dalits were used by nonIndians too. “When I visited Durban with a delegation, foreigners came to have pictures taken with ‘the Dalits’.” Kandaswamy said she initially didn’t use a Dalit writer’ tag. “When I translated a Tamil Dalit writer, people got suspicious. They enquired, Are you a Dalit?’ was asked constantly, I started saying, yes.” She remembered how insulted she felt visiting the editor of a prominent newspaper down south. “He only spoke to the politician accompanying me with this translated book. He asked him, “Is she a Dalit? She speaks good English.” To the packed hall, Kandaswamy continued, “Indians are always in denial about the caste distinctions they make.” Prasad felt economic liberalisation was changing mindsets considerably. “Earlier, people lived by social markers like sacred threads,” he said. “Now, they are switching to economic markers. Mobile phones, money, cars are becoming more important than caste or colour.” Kandaswamy disagreed, pointing out Dalit villages in the south made prosperous by Gulf earnings. “Despite their wealth, no-one is willing to marry them or make them friends. Instead, they get attacked by the police acting with Brahmins. Caste emancipation is much more political than economic.” Remarking how he had never heard of inter-dining’ before he read Gandhi who disapproved, French said, “Ambedkar didn’t fit the Congress Party’s version of history written after 1947. He was never mentioned. Today, he exists widely but as a statue. He is used as a political symbol but not explored as a writer, a thinker, which he was like Orwell, deeply passionate and very direct.” Prasad enquired, “How many people here have invited a Dalit home to dinner? That is a marker of how we view caste today. After a few drinks, people confide they think Dalit guests would mix soda in wine, demand meat, laugh loudly.” The audience responded by laughing loudly, moved by indignation over injustices old and new. (TOI, 23/01/2011)

Dalits driven out of violence-hit Alwar village

Dalits driven out of Husaipur village near Bhiwadi in Alwar district of Rajasthan after a violent attack by the dominant Meo Muslims of the region this past week are unable to return to their homes because of a “reign of terror” reportedly prevailing in the area and a Minister allegedly extending support to the aggressors and trying to protect the accused. The houses of Dalits were set on fire and their belongings looted and destroyed in a daylight attack allegedly by Meos on January 19 following an exchange of fire between the two communities, in which a Meo boy, Zahid, was killed. The dispute started when a hen was crushed under the wheels of Zahid’s tractor. A fact-finding team of the Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR), which visited Husaipur on Monday, found that almost all houses of Dalits in the small village were destroyed and ransacked, their belongings including cash and jewellery looted and their cattle taken away by the assailants. CDR director Satish Kumar said here that only a few Dalit women were staying in the ransacked houses, while all the male members of the households had fled to avoid reprisal by the dominant Meo community and victimisation by police. Police have arrested five Dalit youths on charges of Zahid’s murder, but have not acted on the FIR lodged by Dalits. Dalits in the village, belonging to the poor Meghwal community, have small land holdings which are not enough for their sustenance. Even as there is a heavy police deployment in the area six days after the clash, the dominant Meos are allegedly threatening Dalits and not allowing them to come back to the village or repair their damaged houses. While estimating the losses at about Rs.50 lakh, the CDR noted that the district administration had so far not undertaken any survey to assess the damage or provide relief to the victims, which was mandatory in such instances under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “The mob torched the houses in the presence of police,” said Mr. Kumar. The team members were shocked to find that State Medical and Health Minister Aimaduddin Ahmed Khan – elected to the Assembly from Tijara constituency in which Husaipur falls – attended the burial of Zahid, but did not deem it fit to visit the nearby Dalit locality to observe the damage or offer any kind of assistance to the victims of violence. “This act of Mr. Khan gives credence to the suspicion among Dalits that he is supporting the aggressors and trying to shield those named in the FIR,” said Mr. Kumar, while affirming that Dalits were terrified by the reported political connections of the accused. However, senior District Congress leader and Municipal Councillor in Bhiwadi, Omar Mohammed, told The Hindu that Mr. Khan had met some Dalit victims and assured them of the State Government’s assistance during his visit to Husaipur. (Hindu, 26/01/2011)

Thanks to NAC, scavenging abolition gets priority anew

Action plan should be finalised to end scourge before March 2012 A plan of action should be finalised within a month or so with the target of ending the pernicious practice of manual scavenging within the 11th Plan period that ends in March 2012, sources in the Social Justice Ministry said. This was the key outcome of a two-day consultation meeting which concluded here on Tuesday. Jointly organised by the Ministries of Social Justice, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, and Urban Development, and attended by officials of 11 State governments, experts and a host of civil society groups, the consultation was triggered by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) directing the government to tackle the issue on a war-footing. Four groups were set up during the consultations — the first discussed the scope and methodology of a fresh survey of manual scavengers; the second, amendments to the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act of 1993; the third discussed revisiting the self-employment scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, and designing an education and skill development programme for their children; and the fourth discussed drawing up a Plan of Action for the States to provide total sanitation, including conversion of all unhygienic latrines and mechanisation of cleaning of drainage and sewerage systems. Follow-up by Ministries The sources in the Social Justice Ministry said: “The ideas that have emerged during the group discussions will now be pursued by the Ministries concerned with the object of producing a plan of action very soon. The ideas thrown up by groups one and three will be followed up by the Social Justice Ministry, the second by the Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry, and the fourth by the Urban Development Ministry.” In the past too, the government has set and missed deadlines to eradicate the curse but this time, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik told TheHindu, “Rehabilitating manual scavengers is our Ministry’s topmost priority. We have requested the State governments to make public announcements so that anyone still engaged in manual scavenging can come forward and report [his or her situation] at the district headquarters, so that no one is left out.” Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand have requested Central funding for conversion of 2.4 lakh dry latrines. This, Mr. Wasnik said, made it clear that the scourge has yet to be wiped out. Citing figures provided by the Safai Karamchari Andolan, which says there are still 4,833 manual scavengers in 14 States, Mr. Wasnik said the governments concerned had been told to immediately find them alternative occupations. Though discussions have been on for a while, the push came after the NAC shot off a letter on November 9 last, urging the Centre to coordinate with all State and local governments and Central government departments, including the Railways, to abolish manual scavenging by the end of the 11th Plan period. The NAC suggested a new survey in every State and Union Territory of dry latrines and manual scavengers; the demolition of all dry latrines; the rehabilitation in modern marketable skills of all manual scavengers; and a special programme for education of their children. The NAC also said it would monitor the progress of abolition of manual scavenging on a quarterly basis. On Monday, Mr. Wasnik told the meeting that the government — through the National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents during 19922005 — succeeded in rehabilitating 4.28 lakh of the 7.70 lakh manual scavengers and their dependents who had been identified in 1992. In 2007, a new ‘Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers’ was launched to rehabilitate the rest of them. But that task remains unfinished. (Hindu, 26/01/2011)

Columnist found guilty under SC/ST Act, gets bail

A sessions court here on Thursday held newspaper columnist Anish Trivedi guilty under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment. Mr. Trivedi, however, got bail when he went in appeal. “[Mr. Trivedi] was given six months [imprisonment] and fined Rs. 25,000 under Section 3 (1) (x) of the Act for insulting members of the Scheduled Caste,” public prosecutor S.B. Dukhande told The Hindu. In his April 30, 2006 article, ‘Children of a lesser god’, a copy of which is with The Hindu, Mr. Trivedi wrote that government-owned companies were languishing in comparison to their counterparts on the other side of the coin because they were manned by the “children of reservation.” He also cast a slur on the Scheduled Castes. (Hindu, 28/01/2011)

Post office is out of bounds to us, say Dalits

Seventy five-year-old Bailu has never set foot in the post office in her village in Betlhangady taluk for fear of being thrown out. Dalits of Melanthabettu village, located about 6 km from Belthangady, say they are denied entry into the post office and are forced to carry out transactions from outside. Elderly Dalits of the village are forced to wait outside the office for their pension, often in the hot sun. “They will come outside and give us the money, or give it to someone else who hands it over to us,” said Sunanda (name changed). The post office is located in the Gumpoli area of Melanthabettu in a separate building on the residential premises of the postmaster. When The Hindu visited the post office, Mutti, 75, was there to collect her pension. She had to squat outside for several minutes in the sun before she was told to collect the money. Similarly, Sunanda and her friend Priya, who had to buy inland letters, waited outside. “I don’t know about the older generation, but we are a little educated. We feel bad when we are made to wait outside while others are let in. We (Dalits) and people from the other castes believe in the same bhootas and gods,” Sunanda said. “We don’t want this practice to continue,” Priya added. Dalits form nearly half the population in the village, said Somappa, an autorickshaw driver and member of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkarvada). “If we try to enter the post office, they block the door,” he said. Postmaster G. Ravindra denied the allegation that such treatment was meted out to Dalits in the area. “It [the post office] is a part of our house. There is no separate room. In villages, it [post office] is in the house itself. We let them inside up to a point, but the rest of it is our house. We can’t let everyone inside our house,” he said. However, the Dalits said that for the past three years the post office had been functioning in a separate building a few metres away from the house. Convener of the taluk unit of the DSS (A) Sanjeeva said when such discrimination prevailed in an office of the Union Government, one could imagine the plight of Dalits in the rest of the country. He said the DSS condemned the practice. (Hindu, 28/01/2011)

‘UP tops in crime against Dalits’

Accusing the Mayawati Government of “cheating” Dalits, National Commission for Scheduled Castes Chairman P. L. Punia on Thursday alleged that the community was facing “maximum” exploitation and harassment under her regime. “In spite of the fact that the UP Government is headed by a Dalit, 90 per cent of the complaints (of atrocities against the Dalits) are from the State,” Mr. Punia told reporters here. A former IAS officer and a Congress MP from Barabanki in UP, Mr. Punia had worked as Principal Secretary in Mayawati Government. He alleged that instead of providing security to Dalits, the BSP Government was shielding the culprits involved in crimes against them. “The Commission will not keep mum to the crimes against Dalits and will ensure justice by taking suo motu cognisance of offences against them,” he said. Criticising the State over the issue of corruption, he said: “Every government post is for sale here and every appointment, government or party related, is done only after the demanded amount is paid.” (Hindu, 28/01/2011)

Honour killing: Teenager murdered in Haryana

BHIWANI (HARYANA): In a suspected case of honour killing, a 17-year-old youth, a student of 10+2, was found murdered in the fields of Jui village of Bhiwani district on Wednesday night. From the condition of the body it was clear that the youth had been brutally tortured by giving him electric shocks, while some parts of his body were found to have been severed. Anup Kumar, son of Pawan Kumar, a resident of Haluvas village in Bhiwani district had reportedly been abducted from outside his house about a fortnight ago. The police who have registered a case of murder against unknown persons, suspect that his friendship with a girl of the same village, who is also from the same cast could have been the reason behind his brutal murder. The police sources said that they had gathered crucial evidence about the involvement of the girl’s family and had been questioning two suspects in the case. According to information, Anup, had gone missing from his house on January 9. His family suspected that he was abducted by some youths of the girl’s family. The police have registered a case under section 365 (kidnapping) of the IPC against unknown persons in the case and started investigation. When the police retrieved the call details of his mobile phone, it was revealed that he had got a call from a family member of the girl on the day he disappeared from his house. Anup’s body was found in the fields of Jui village, about 20 km from Haluvas village. Bhiwani SSP Ashvin Sainvi said it seemed to be a case of murder as severe injuries were found on the body. “The body has been sent to the post- graduate institute of medical sciences at Rohtak for post-mortem. A case of murder has been registered,” the senior superintendent of police said. (TOI, 28/01/2011)

Mirchpur violence: Dalits leave village fearing Jat threat

MIRCHPUR (Haryana): Nearly a dozen Dalit families have left this village in the last 15 days as last year’s violence in Mirchpur has come back to haunt them. It was here that a 70-year-old and his physically- challenged daughter were killed in an attack by the dominant Jat community. The fear of violence from Jats, who have over the past 12 days staged protests demanding the release of those arrested for the incident in April 2010, looms over Dalit families here despite repeated assurances from the state government and police. “The state government has failed to punish the culprits accused of an arson attack on Dalit families in April last year. The government is playing votebank politics and does not want to offend the Jat community as they are in a majority in Haryana,” Gulab Singh, a Dalit resident of Mirchpur village, said. Around 300 Dalit families, among the most socio-economically marginalized people, live in Mirchpur. “We have lost all faith in the police and the government. Leave aside the question of staying in Mirchpur, we do not want to live anywhere in Haryana. We make an appeal before the government to rehabilitate us somewhere outside this state,” stated Singh. Mirchpur village in Hisar district hit the headlines last year when some people from the dominant upper caste Jat community set fire to a row of houses belonging to Dalit families. A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physicallychallenged daughter were killed in the April 21 arson attack and at least 18 houses were destroyed. Around 150 Dalit families were driven out of the village, about 300 km from Chandigarh, and their homes were torched. “We are still getting threats from Jats. They are pressurising us to take back our complaints,” Sheela, another Dalit, who is camping outside Mirchpur village with her family, said. “The government is not doing enough for our security and we have decided to leave Hisar district. Our children are also afraid of working in places where they have Jat colleagues.” “We are afraid caste violence will raise its head in our village again,” said Sheela. In the Mirchpur violence case, 98 Jat youths were arrested and are in jail in New Delhi. The trial of the case was shifted to New Delhi in December following the directions of the Supreme Court. Jat community members have staged widespread protests in various parts of Haryana, demanding the release of the arrested youths and shifting of the case back to Hisar. “If the Jats claim they are innocent, then why are they demanding the shifting of the case from New Delhi to Hisar. We want our government to take a stern stand,” asked Sheela. Ved Pal Tanwar, a representative of the Non-Jat Association, Haryana, said, “So far the state government has failed to ensure the safety of the Dalit families of Mirchpur. They have given only verbal assurances of safety and jobs, but actually nothing has happened. They are left with no option than to leave Mirchpur.” “We have made staying arrangements for nearly a score of Dalit families outside Hisar district as they are afraid of the Jats. We are planning to launch a widespread campaign to save the rights and dignity of Haryana’s Dalits,” said Tanwar. Police in Hisar, however, deny any Dalit migration from Mirchpur due to a threat from Jats. “We have deployed a heavy police force in the village to provide security to Dalits. There is no threat from any community and Dalits must be migrating because of some other reason,” said a senior police official. (TOI, 28/01/2011)

Caste-based ragging in Bihar

”What is your ‘phylum’?” This is possibly one question you will have to answer if you get admission in any of the medical colleges in Bihar. ‘Phylum’ in loose medical parlance denotes caste. The ‘degree of ragging’ will depend on your caste, notwithstanding the official claim that no ragging takes place in Bihar colleges. Barely 17, Sunny Kumar Roshan, a first year MBBS student in Patna Medical College (PMC), learnt it the hard way. Only when the ordeal became unbearable, he committed suicide in the state capital when the nation was celebrating Republic Day. Though the college authorities and his seniors deny the ragging theory, his father Kameshwar Rai insists that Sunny was upset because of his seniors. “He had told me about ragging incidents, and also that some senior medicos had asked him to cough up Rs 1,200 as chanda (donation) for Saraswati Puja,” said the distraught father. “Though the apex court has put a blanket ban on ragging, it’s still prevalent in the state,” admitted a senior medico, refusing to be identified. “If you belong to the upper strata of the society, you may be let off. But in case you are an OBC or extremely backward class, then you may have to bear the brunt of ragging,” he said, but clarified further, “No one gets physical. That is for sure.” Sunny, from a backward community, could possibly have been a victim of this system. This is precisely why Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has taken up the issue seriously and asked the PMC principal Dr N P Yadav to get to the bottom of the matter. Dr Yadav, however, denies that Sunny was ragged and hence committed suicide. “Sunny had joined the college seven months back. If at all he was ragged, how could it continue for so long,” said the principal. But since Nitish is personally monitoring the case, the principal has set up a seven-member inquiry committee. The probe panel will find out whether the boy was ragged. If yes, who were the culprits? Thirdly, it will also identify which senior medicos had asked for Rs 1,200 as donation for puja. The inquiry committee has been asked to submit its findings within ten days. (Deccan herald, 31/01/2011)

Dalits on indefinite strike

HISAR (HARYANA): Days after the end of the protest by Jats over the shifting of the trial as well as the accused in the Mirchpur violence case from Haryana to Delhi, now 80 Dalit families who fled Mirchpur when the Jat agitation started are holding an indefinite dharna outside the mini secretariat here. The families are living in the camping site provided by Gair Jat Sangathan at a farm house near Hisar. “Who would take care of them? Who would hear their voice as their number is quite less as compared to the Jats,” said Sangathan president Ved Pal Tanwar. Suresh Balmiki, one of the persons sitting on dharna while talking about the plight as well as the demands, said, “They (Jats) have used pressure to make the government accept their demands. But who would guarantee our safety and security? We want that the accused in the Mirchpur violence case are punished.” Satyavan Balmiki who left Mirchpur along with wife Reena and two sons, Pankaj and Devendar said, “We feared that we would be attacked by the Jats. Give us work and social security.” DC Yudhbir Singh Khyaliya said, “We are gathering information about their demands and would then take a decision.” (TOI, 30/01/2011)

Dalit girl raped by three, sold for Rs 50,000

AHMEDABAD: A 24-year-old girl was abducted and raped by a group of three persons in Amraiwadi. She was then sold for Rs 50,000 to a prospective groom in a village of Amreli. The girl was abandoned by her husband and in-laws last week when they realised that she was not from the same caste. The victim was sent for medical examination after she filed a complaint with the Amraiwadi police on Monday. The Dalit girl, a resident of Baliyanagar in Amraiwadi, used to work as a skilled labourer at Bharti Estate near Rabari Colony. As per her complaint, she was abducted by a co-worker Manu Vankar who took her to an isolated spot in Bhuriyo Rabari’s autorickshaw. There she was raped by Vankar. Later, one Lagha Bharwad also violated her modesty. According to police, the gang held her captive for more than six months at different places in Ahmedabad district and elsewhere where she was repeatedly raped by Vankar. Then they took her to several villages to pass her off as a prospective bride. They finally struck a deal at Jambuda village in Amreli district where they got Rs 50,000 and forced her to marry Gabhru Rabari. “Vankar had told Gabhru that the girl was an orphan and has been in their care since many years,” said M S Sindha, inspector of Amraiwadi police station. Soon after the marriage in November, 2010, Gabhru noticed his wife’s behaviour suspicious and when he confronted her, the girl told him her tale of woes. Furious, Gabhru tried to hunt down the trio who had duped him but in vain. He then left her near her residence in Amraiwadi last week. The girl later lodged a complaint with Amraiwadi police. “We have sent the victim to Civil Hospital for clinical examination. The case will subsequently be transferred to the city’s SC/ST cell for further investigation,” said Sindha. (TOI, 01/02/2011)

Maya reinforces dalit agenda to counter Cong

LUCKNOW: An aggressive Congress trying to make inroads among dalits and backwards has made chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati reinforce her dalit agenda. Last week, the BSP government decided to reserve 70% seats for candidates belonging to scheduled castes (SC) and 15% seats for other backward classes (OBCs) in 50 government industrial training institutes (ITIs) and four government medical colleges to be set up at Jalaun, Kannauj, Saharanpur and Ambedkarnagar. Now, Mayawati has directed officials concerned to expedite the implementation of dalit welfare schemes and conduct on the spot verification of whether the benefit has reached the target group or not. The emphasis is laid on schemes like free housing for poor dalits under the housing scheme launched in the name of her mentor Kanshiram, Rs 400 per month to the poor who do not have below poverty line card or any other certificate which makes them entitled to welfare schemes meant for poor and downtrodden and implementation of the Forest Rights Act which provides ownership rights to tribals on forest land. The CM has instructed officials that the people at grassroot level should get the feeling that government is working for them. The move to reserve 70% seats for SC in ITIs and medical colleges is aimed to blunt the allegations by National SC and ST Commission chairperson PL Punia that the money given to the state under special component programme is being misused by the BSP government. Punia as a bureaucrat was close to Maya at one point of time but after retirement joined Congress and won Lok Saba elections from Barabanki by getting substantial dalit votes. Congress has now appointed Punia as chairman of the commission with cabinet minister status to woo dalits. Punia has been troubling the BSP government in state by raking up issues like rise in atrocities on dalits. He has been personally visiting the places from where crime against dalits are reported. As a counter, Mayawati has also issued instructions to deal strictly with any incident of atrocity on dalits. Senior officials such as commissioners, district magistrates and district police chiefs have been warned that they would be held responsible for any laxity in the implementation of the government policies and schemes for dalits. Maya also made it clear that only a dalit would succeed her as chief minister of UP, in case she goes to Centre or post fells vacant due to some other reason. The BSP government had already announced reservation (21% for SC and 2% for ST) in allotment of construction contracts upto Rs five lakh in all government departments. She wants that all work related to dalit welfare schemes and projects should be implemented by July this year so that she can publicise it thoroughly before next assembly elections in April-May 2012. Though dalit form BSP’s core vote bank, it had played brahmin card to win 2007 assembly elections. It came to power with absolute majority through its dalit-brahmin-muslim combination. BSP also got ample support of most backward classes (MBCs). However, poor performance in 2009 Lok Sabha polls has made Maya revert to her dalit agenda for 2012 state assembly elections. Taking a head start in comparison to other parties, she has shortlisted around 200 candidates and remaining will be selected soon. Total assembly seats are 403. (TOI, 01/02/2011)

Dalits, upper castes face-off on temple entry

Uthapuram, a nondescript village near Madurai that became infamous over an ‘untouchability wall’, is in news again — this time following tension between Dalits and upper caste Hindus over a temple where the backward community is denied entry. The Muthalamman temple, built and maintained by upper caste Hindus, has always been out of bounds for the Dalits, and has been the cause of skirmishes between the two communities. A portion of the wall was demolished following protests by the Dalits led by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), a CPM-backed outfit, sometime back. The Dalits had then demanded that the temple be thrown open to everybody. But the community that owned the temple had opposed the suggestion. Taking up the cause of the Dalits again, the TNUEF and the CPM have demanded that the temple doors should be thrown open to the backward castes and also announced a temple-entry agitation on Monday. After the Marxists took up the issue, the upper castes formed another group to ‘protect’ the temple, leading to tension in the area. The district collector issued prohibitory orders in Uthapuram village and the surrounding areas. A large contingent of police was deployed to prevent any untoward incident. Despite warnings and requests from the district administration, the party cadres, local Dalits and activists on Monday tried to forcefully enter the temple. Hundreds of people led by party MLA K Mahendran tried to enter the temple premises but were prevented by the police, resulting in a scuffle. Over a hundred people were arrested. (IE, 01/02/2011)

Dalit woman attacked over burial ground dispute dies

A 55-year-old-Dalit woman who was injured in an alleged petrol bomb attack by a group of caste Hindus in Koozhaiyanur village in Theni district died at the Government Rajaji Hospital here on Tuesday evening. Chinnayi, who was attacked following a dispute over access to burial ground on Thursday, had suffered 60 per cent burns. The dispute over access to burial ground was on for quite sometime in the village and on December 22, 2010, the caste Hindus of the village had organised a meeting which was presided over by the panchayat president, in which, Revenue Inspector Kodangipatty, Inspector of Police Palani Chetti Patty and Sub-Inspector of Police Veerapandi participated. In the meeting, it was decided that the Dalits should not use the common burial ground and even if there was a dispute they should refer it only to the revenue authorities and police and decide on the place of burial. Meanwhile, on January 2, when an elderly Dalit person died, the Dalits of the village decided to bury him in the common burial ground meant for Hindus, but the dominant castes objected to this and attacked them. The Dalits staged a protest, following which the government authorities organised a peace meeting. However, the dominant caste members did not allow the Dalits to bury the deceased in the common burial ground. The body had to be buried in Dalits’own land. Tension between the Dalits and caste Hindus had been brewing for sometime and on January 27 a group of caste Hindus attacked Chinnayi by hurling petrol bombs, in which she suffered injuries. Raja (35), son of Chinnayi, lodged a complaint with the Veerapandi police who registered cases against Rasu Thevar, Damodaran, Markandan Singam and Dhanasekaran under Sections 147, 148, 436, 307 of IPC and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 3(1)(10), 3(2)(5) and were arrested. Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, Evidence, visited the village and found that discrimination on the basis of caste was rampant. A. Kathir, executive director, said that the State Government should provide Rs.10 lakh as compensation for the family of the deceased and demanded that a team of National Human Rights Commission should visit the village and assess the ground reality and give recommendations to the government for follow-up action. (Hindu, 02/02/2011)

Dalits demand judicial inquiry into attack by Meos

About a fortnight after the houses of Dalits were ransacked, looted and set on fire in Husaipur village near Bhiwadi in Alwar district, the police are yet to arrest those responsible for the mayhem and ensure the return of Dalits driven out of the village allegedly by the dominant Meo Muslims. A sick Dalit woman staying in a damaged house has since lost her life reportedly under the impact of the cold. The Dalits have charged State Medical and Health Minister Aimaduddin Ahmed Khan – elected to the Assembly from the Tijara constituency in which Husaipur falls – with shielding the accused. The lack of action by the district administration against the “politically well-connected” accused has baffled not just the Dalits, but other civil rights activists here as well. Meos allegedly launched a daylight attack on the Dalits belonging to the poor Meghwal community on January 19 following an exchange of fire between the two sides, in which a Meo youth, Zahid, was killed. The dispute started when a hen reared by a Dalit family was crushed under the wheels of Zahid’s tractor. While the police have arrested five Dalit youths on the charge of Zahid’s murder, the assailants who torched Dalits’ houses and looted their belongings including cash and jewellery are still at large. Tension prevails in Husaipur with the dominant Meos allegedly threatening the few Dalit women and children, who are putting up in the village under the police protection. Hundreds of Dalits staged a demonstration at Tijara on Monday demanding a judicial inquiry into the ransacking of their houses amid what they described as the ruling Congress leaders’ support and protection to the aggressors. In a memorandum handed over to the authorities, they demanded stern action against the police and district officers for their “inaction”. Jaipur-based Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR) patron P. L. Mimroth, who visited Husaipur on Sunday to attend a meeting between the two sides arranged by the administration, told The Hindu here that the Dalit men belonging to the 13 Meghwal families in the village were scared of returning because all of them had been named as accused in the case of Zahid’s murder. Sunday’s meeting ended abruptly without any result as a crowd of five-dozen Meos allegedly threatened the Dalit representatives and swore to take revenge for the murder of Zahid. Mr. Mimroth, who met Alwar Collector Ashutosh Pednekar, said extremist elements seemed to be dominating on both the sides and the Sangh Parivar elements were provoking Dalits in the region. With the administration having failed to take any step for Dalits’ rehabilitation, Meos are reportedly organising caste panchayats in the nearby villages such as Khedi, Karenda, Kharkadi, Sarey Kalan, Chaupakni and Chauksi and issuing “open and unrestrained threats” to Dalits. Mr. Mimorth said while the Dalit youths – Rajvir, Bishan, Vikram, Sanjay and Babulal – arrested in the murder case, who too had sustained bullet injuries, were yet to be medically examined and provided with treatment, the case against Meos registered on Dalits’ complaint had been “deliberately made very weak” by inserting mild and irrelevant charges. It was only on Monday that some relief in the shape of food and clothes was provided to the Dalit families, 12 days after the violence. . (Hindu, 02/02/2011)

CPI(M) holds Dalit Christians’ meet

Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has called for initiating measures for solving the problems faced by the Dalit Christian community who in spite of being at the receiving end of social and economic backwardness on account of being Dalits have found themselves without any social or economic support for being Christians. Inaugurating a Dalit Christian convention organised by the party here on Wednesday, the first of its kind by the CPI(M) so far, Mr. Vijayan pointed out that a section of the Dalit community had converted to Christianity on the basis of the ideals propounded by missionaries as they were fed up with the untouchability practised in the Hindu society at an earlier period. (Hindu, 03/02/2011)

Govt turning blind eye to exodus of Dalits from Mirchpur: Dalit body

Haryana Valmiki Yuva Mahasabha, an organisation representing Dalits, today alleged Haryana government was turning a blind eye to the exodus of fear-stricken Dalits from Hisar district’s Mirchpur village “During the past nine days, most of the Dalit families have shifted from there but the government has turned a blind eye and they have not stepped in to stop this. The Dalits have been forced to shift to other places in Hisar and elsewhere because of sense of insecurity and persistent social boycott and ostracisation,” Mahasabha’s President Sanjeev Gharoo said here. He led a delegation of Dalits and submitted a memorandum to Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia here to bring to his notice the problems being faced by Dalits at Mirchpur where a Dalit man and his daughter were burnt to death last year allegedly by upper caste members. Gharoo said they had brought to the Governor’s notice the alleged discrimination being meted out to Dalits in Mirchpur. “Meeting their daily needs has become difficult for the Dalits who are still left in Mirchpur because of the social boycott at the hands of the dominant community. We cannot tolerate this grave injustice being meted out to us, with the government remaining a mute spectator,” he alleged. (IE, 03/02/2011)

Dalit oppression result of myriad years of caste system

Violence against Dalits is the outcome of thousands of years of subjugation due to the existence of the caste system. But the situation of Dalit women becomes more vulnerable due to the intersectionality of caste with gender. The oppression against Dalit women becomes multiple and is manifested through extreme forms of atrocities committed against them by non-Dalits and violence by the Dalits. After the framing of the Indian constitution, very few laws have been enacted to protect the rights of Dalits. One of the laws whereby some relief is given to the rights of the Dalit women is sec 3 (1) (X1) and 3 (1) (X11) under prevention of atrocities against SC and ST Act, 1989. There are certain sections under Indian Penal Code (IPC) for the protection of women in general, where Dalit women are also covered. Some of the important sections relating to gender violence under the IPC are sec. 304B (dowry death), sec. 306 (abetment to suicide) sec. 354 (assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), sec. 376 (rape), sec. 498 A (punishment for subjecting a married woman to cruelty). Apart from the IPC sections there are no stringent laws for the protection of the rights of women. A law to protect women against domestic violence has been enacted in 2005, but it does not impose any punishment to the accused. Gujarat as an independent state is celebrating 50 years of its existence and the prevention of atrocities Act enacted on January 30, 1990, has completed 20 years. The population of Dalits in Gujarat as per the National Census of 2001 is 7.01 % of the total population. While boasting about its development and progressiveness, the government of Gujarat also needs to be questioned on the grounds of implementation of laws and sections for the protection of Dalits and Dalit women’s rights. As per the fifth report of the National Commission on SC and SC of1998-1999, Gujarat stands second i.e. 62 cases per one lakh population, in terms of volume of crime against Schedueld Castes, just after Rajasthan. Navsarjan, an organisation dedicated to the upliftment of Dalits, has been addressing the issues of social justice and rights of Dalits and Dalit women in particular for more than 20 years in Gujarat. Through the legal aid programme, we provide legal aid, moral and social support to the survivors and victims of caste and gender based violence in Gujarat. Navsarjan has dealt with and is working on several cases of extreme forms of violence against Dalits and Dalit women. One of these cases was the multiple rape of a female Dalit student in the Patan PTC College. Although the six accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, in the judgment, the court removed the sections under the Atrocity Act, its stand being that the rape survivor was raped by a non-Dalit and Dalit accused so it won’t fit in as an atrocity case. There are several cases of rape of Dalit girls and women being handled by Navsarjan in the past few years and are being highlighted in the media, but in how many cases is the criminal justice system ensuring that the accused are punished under the law? A case of sexual trafficking of a Dalit girl who was kidnapped from the primary school in Bavla and sold off at many places is going on in the Ahmedabad Sessions court for more than one year, but due to weak criminal justice system, the survivor is still awaiting justice. Another case of gang rape of a Dalit girl who was studying in the 12th grade in a high school in Limbdi town is pending in the Limbdi Sessions court. The rape survivor has sent an application to the state legal department for appointment of Nainaben Bhatt as special public prosecutor, but the state is denying appointing her without giving any valid reasons. The recent cases of gang rape and trafficking of young Dalit girls and women set off alarm bells to the vulnerable position of Dalit women in the state. Ultimately the question to the state is, “Is there an effective criminal justice system in place to ensure safety and dignity of the Dalit community and Dalit women especially”? The time has come when Dalit women should be recognised as a distinct social group rather than classifying them under the general women or Dalit category. Accordingly the state should evolve and implement a specific focus andprogrammes on Dalit women’s rights within the broader framework of the Dalit and women’s empowerment agenda. (DNA, 02/02/2011)

Dalit teen slashed with axes in rape bid

Three persons attacked a 17-year-old Dalit girl with axes on Saturday evening, inflicting multiple injuries during a rape bid in Fatehpur district. According to reports, the victim Savita (name changed) resides at Udrauli village under Bindki Police Station. She, along with her friend Chaya, had gone to attend nature’s call outside the village. One Shiv Om, of the same village, had caught hold of her and she raised an alarm when he began to drag her away. Hearing the commotion, Shiv Om’s two accomplices — Hari Shanker Pasi and Ram Ratan — reached the scene. The trio caught Savita while Chaya managed to flee. They allegedly raped Savita and later attacked her with axes, inflicting deep cut on her head, arms and chest. When Chaya told Savita’s family about the incident they rushed to the scene. Seeing Savita’s father Badlu and horde of villagers, the three accused fled. Savita was rushed to district hospital Fatehpur and was given primary aid. Seeing her condition as serious, the doctors referred her to Halot Hospital in Kanpur. Special DG (Law, Order & Crime) Brij Lal on Sunday said a police team led by the Fatehpur SP had visited the crime scene. He said Pasi was arrested while efforts were on to track down the others. Lal further said Savita said another man, identified as Nambari, was also with the miscreants. Lal said an intensive probe was being conducted and the accused would be dealt with an iron hand. He added that the ADM and Circle Officer had been asked to gather further details from Savita. (Pioneer, 07/02/2011)

Dalits attacked, houses ransacked in Virudhunagar

Some people belonging to the upper caste have allegedly attacked Dalits and ransacked their houses at Tamaraikulam area in the district, according to police on Sunday. Cases have been registered against 46 people in connection with the case, police said, adding 10 Salits were injured during the incident which happened on Saturday. The incident took place in Tiruchuzhi Block following a dispute over the erection of flag posts of Dalit-outfit Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), they said. Some people belonging to upper caste attacked Dalits, including women and children, ransacked their houses and took away valuables including some jewellery, they said, adding the houses damaged in the incident included that of the Tamaraikulam Municipal vice-president. Police said VCK partymen had pasted posters against the “caste Hindus” of Tamaraikulam and nearby Thachanendal that had opposed the erection of the flag posts. “People’s Watch”, an NGO, alleged the two-tumbler system still existed in the village, wherein Dalits and upper caste people are made to use different tumblers in tea shops and eating joints. They also demanded compensation for the Dalits affected by the attack. (Hindu, 06/02/2011)

File a complaint, Dalit activists urged

He was responding to DSS leader S.P. Anand when the latter brought up the issue during the monthly grievance reddress meeting of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people conducted by the district police. Mr. Rao said the Deputy Commissioner had initiated action. He added that the police would take action under the SC/ST Act if the activists filed complaints. An officer of the police station concerned said he had visited the spot and the postmaster said that the post office was a part of his house. The members of the DSS, including several Dalits from Melanthabettu, objected to this. Mr. Rao said he was yet to obtain clarification from postal department about what qualified as a post office. Mr. Anand brought up the issue of a murder of Rajappa in Bantwal taluk in 2008. Mr. Anand said even after three years, the case had not been solved. Mr. Rao said the case was still open and sought the help of activists who might have more information. A unique feature of the meeting on Sunday was the special number set up for persons from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to phone-in and speak to the officials. Several callers used the helpline, which had been started after a gap of a few years. Other issues that were brought up during the meeting included the issue of showcasing “bhootaradhane” as entertainment.

(Hindu, 07/02/2011)

Free multimedia course for SC/ST youth

The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) will conduct free training courses for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) youth in Tamil Nadu from February 21. The month-long training programme will include digital non-linear editing (AVID or FCP) and multimedia. The income limit for youth joining the course has been set at Rs. 2 lakh per annum. The age limit is 18 to 35 years. SC candidates who have converted to Christianity are not eligible to join the course. The interview will be conducted at the offices of the NFDC functioning from the Co-optex warehouse buildings, No. 350, Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai, on February 14 and 15. Candidates should have cleared Plus Two and be unemployed. They should bring original mark sheets, community certificates, transfer certificates, ration cards and income certificates. Attested photo copies of the certificates and three passport size photos should also be produced at the time of interview. The course, which is thoroughly job-oriented, is intended to meet the growing demands of satellite TV channels, video and film studios, said D. Ramakrishna, deputy general manager, NFDC. The course is sponsored by Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation Limited. (Hindu, 07/02/2011)

Gujarat HC allows rape victim to abort fetus

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court allowed an 18-year-old dalit rape victim to terminate her 15-week pregnancy so that the poor family does not face “innumerable mental, physical, social and economic problems in future.” Last year, the same judge, Justice A S Dave, allowed a dalit family to terminate a minor girl’s pregnancy in a similar case. The victim belongs to Deodar taluka in Banaskantha district. She was allegedly abducted on September 28, 2010 and was illegally confined till December 5 by accused Amratji Thakor. He repeatedly raped her in captivity. The girl’s father had lodged a police complaint, but the accused is still at large. Her medical examination on December 17 revealed that she was six weeks pregnant. When local doctors refused to abort the foetus after hearing that she was a rape victim, the family approached the HC mid-January seeking abortion under the Medial Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. The court sought opinions of medical experts before allowing the abortion on Tuesday. The court wants the foetus preserved for future DNA testing to nail the accused. “There is no bar for termination of pregnancy in case of a rape victim. Keeping in mind the best interest of the girl and her parents and likely consequences and innumerable mental, physical, social and economic problems if pregnancy is not allowed to be terminated, this court has come to the conclusion that the present case falls within the parameters of Sections 3 and 4 of the MTP Act,” the court said. The HC directed the civil surgeon of Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital to ensure that a gynaecologist and obstetrician were involved in the process. And if they thought the abortion would harm the girl, they could reconsider, the court said.

(TOI, 10/02/2011)

Names of officials neglecting crimes against Dalits to be made public

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes, headed by Congress MP P.L. Punia, will soon be making public a list, of officials from Uttar Pradesh who had neglected, slackened on, or not taken cognisance of crimes committed against Dalits in the State. The Commission’s first step was to write to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, drawing their attention to the rapidly rising graph of atrocities against dalits. The Commission’s Vice-President, Rajkumar Verka, said on Thursday that the object of publicising the names of civil servants and policemen who were not being pro-active in taking action on complaints coming in from dalits was to tell them: “Don’t be pressured into not taking action because the crimes have been committed by legislators belonging to the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party.” He was referring to the case of the dalit girl who was raped by a BSP MLA and then imprisoned by having a false case registered against her. Evidently, Dr. Punia, who once served as Principal Secretary to Mayawati when she was Chief Minister, had decided to take the battle into the heart of Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls next year. The Commission’s actions come even as Congress general-secretary Rahul Gandhi, visiting dalit rape victims in U.P., continues to criticise Ms. Mayawati for the deteriorating law and order situation in U.P.. U.P. will not be the only State to face the Commission’s scrutiny — the next will be the Congress-ruled Haryana, another State in which the plight of Dalits is dire, as the incident in Mirchpur last year demonstrated. Dr. Verka said efforts would be made to bring succour to dalits across the country. In the last four months, 568 crimes against Dalits in U.P., and 348 from Haryana, had come to the Commission’s attention. Most of the cases related to murder, rape, land grabbing and atrocities by the police, he said. Asked whether the Commission was targeting U.P. alone, he denied it, pointing out that the Commission had taken the Congress-ruled Delhi government to task for shifting Rs. 4,000 crore, earmarked for dalit welfare, for the Commonwealth Games, and the Congress-ruled Haryana government for shifting Rs. 3,400 crore to other expenditure heads. He added that Rs. 6,000 crore in U.P. and Rs. 2,600 crore in Punjab had similarly gone astray. (Hindu, 11/02/2011)

Communal violence in Rajasthan village forces dalit exodus

HUSHEYPUR (RAJASTHAN): A mournful silence welcomes visitors to Husheypur village in Alwar district, 265 km from Jaipur. For more than 20 days, men of the 40 Dalit households are missing and their women live in fear of attacks by the village’s Muslim community. On January 19, a minor scuffle between the two communities turned violent. Zahid Khan was shot dead by a group of Dalits after he ran over a chicken with his tractor. A spat led to a bloodbath between the communities that have lived together for over a century. Men from the Muslim community ransacked and set on fire Dalits homes. The families fled and only elderly women with their children, who had also fled, returned last week. SP Mahesh Goyal said a committee had been formed from representatives of all communities to resolve the tension. ”We are in touch with the Dalits who have fled the village and members of the other community. We have provided enough security at the village and the Dalits should be back in a day or two,” he said, adding that those who fled are the accused in the firing incident. Haaji Kallu, the victim’s father, says, ”From administration to social activitists, whoever comes here, asks us to maintain peace. We want peace but how will I raise five grandchildren… Administration gave ex-gratia to those whose houses were ransacked but no one asked me if I need anything,” he says. Kamla Devi, whose house was also attacked, said, ”We were never a part of the violence, yet we were targeted. They looted the cash and jewellery I had saved for my daughter Suman’s wedding in May. I feel helpless, it would be easy just to strangulate my daughter and commit suicide.” (TOI, 11/02/2011)

Dalits told to unite to achieve political power

The Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha on Sunday gave a clarion call to SCs, STs, BCs and minorities to unite to achieve political power for themselves in the State. The post-Mandal commission political situation in many States saw ‘Bahujans’ attaining political power in many States. But the political hegemony of ‘two politically dominant communities’ continued unhindered in Andhra Pradesh for decades, Dalit intellectuals analysed at its State conference here. Presiding over the conference, its founder Kathi Padma Rao, a prolific writer of Dalit literature, underscored the need for a ‘grand alliance’ among SCs, STs, BCs and minorities to achieve political power and get their due in allocation of State’s resources. He exhorted the participants to take a vow not to succumb to electoral malpractices including ‘money and liquor. Electrifying atmosphere prevailed at the conference when the participants in unison asserted: “Let us elect our own leaders. Let us decide our own destiny. Let us work for realising the goals set by Father of the Constitution Babasaheb Ambedkar.” Articulating the demand for division of the State, Prof. Ganta Chakrapani impressed upon the ‘Bahujans’ that, “it will be relatively easy to achieve political power in a smaller State.” Dalits were in the forefront of movement for Telangana State, he said adding division of the State would bring more opportunities for Dalits and pave the way for ‘Jai Bahujana Andhra’. Protracted struggle Recalling the unity among Malas and Madigas at the time of Tsundur and Karamchedu massacres, Dalit research scholar Visharadhan said when politically dominant communities were alert to achieve political power, Dalits were in a relaxed state. “We need to unite and wage a protracted struggle to achieve political power,” he said. The conference was attended by among others by Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha president Chintapalli Guruprasada Rao, Kula Nirmoolana Sangam president K. Ramdoss, All-India Dalit Rights Federation national convener K. Ananda Rao and families of victims of Tsundur and Karamchedu massacres. (Hindu, 21/02/2011)

‘Welfare should reach Dalits directly’

Development of the downtrodden will be sustainable only if welfare reached them directly, said former

Secretary to the Prime Minister K.R. Venugopal. Only if the allocations made for the benefit of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes were spent totally, without leaving any unspent balance, would they help, he told a round-table here on Sunday. He said if allocations were to lead to their logical results, care must be taken to see that the SC-ST Special Component Plans were implemented in toto. This could be done only when pressure was built on the political leadership, he said, adding that strong political will was essential in enabling mechanisms to ensure that the allocation would be spent on what it was intended for. B. Venkat, general secretary, Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Labour Union regretted the ‘development untouchability’ that was present all over the State and country. He said the union was close to completing a survey about the physical conditions of people in ‘Dalitwadas’. It revealed that in over 50 per cent of habitations, the Dalits were deprived of approach roads, water supply and streetlights, while in 80 per cent of them, there was a felt need for cemeteries to bury the dead. P. Venkateshwarlu, convener, Development Sub-Committee in the Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) that organised the round-table, said only a united struggle could achieve the desired results. Conspiracy Korivi Vinay Kumar of the Dalit Bahujan Front said it was just not discrimination that was the result of the lack of progress for the SCs and STs but a clear conspiracy to deprive them from their due. Among others who participated were Sriram Naik, State Secretary, AP Girijan Sangham and D. Prabhakar of the Struggle Committee Against Caste Discrimination. (Hindu, 21/02/2011)

AG briefs CCPA on quota for Dalit Christians, Dalit Muslims

Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati on Monday briefed the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on the long-standing demand by Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims that they be given reservation, the way Dalit Buddhists are, as per the 1950 Presidential Order. The briefing was given in the context of a Public Interest Litigation petition pending in the Supreme Court: at the last hearing, it asked the government whether the fact that Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims are deprived of the benefits of reservation did not amount to hostile discrimination under Article 14. The government will have to either justify upholding the 1950 Presidential Order or accept the Ranganath Misra Commission recommendation of reservation for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims. Government sources said the special briefing was given as “many complicated legal issues are involved” but currently “no decision was called for.” However, the government will have to deal with the matter sooner rather than later, the sources said, as a decision will impact on the promised caste census: at present, there are no authentic figures for the various castes. Taking a decision on a quota for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims is complicated by the fact that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has said if reservation is given to these two groups, it should not be from the 15 per cent meant for Dalits — it should be a separate quota. The existing position on reservation at the national level is: 27 per cent for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 15 per cent for the SC (or Dalits) and 7.5 per cent for the Scheduled Tribes. The three categories together account for 49.5 per cent, and till now, the Supreme Court has ruled that reservation should not exceed 50 per cent. Clearly, therefore, a decision one way or the other will open a can of worms. The members of the CCPA, which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony. A special invitee at the meeting was Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khursheed. (Hindu, 22/02/2011)

Girl’s father kills lover, throws body in river

KAPURTHALA: In a case of honour killing, the father of a girl allegedly killed her lover, who was from a so-called lower caste, and threw his body in river Beas, early this month. The accused, who has been arrested, reportedly told the police that he killed the boy to “save the honour of his family”. The girl belonged to Jat community while the boy was from Valmiki community, which made the affair unacceptable to the girl’s father. According to police sources, the victim, Sandeep Singh, 20, of Choladha village, who was a cop in Punjab police and a promising Kabaddi player, had gone missing on February 6. He was to fly to Malaysia for a kabaddi tournament on February 14. Later his family learnt that he was kidnapped by the girl’s father Balwinder Singh of neighbouring Lakh Waryan village. The girl, Karamdeep Kaur, is a student of BA part-II, while the youth had given up his studies after plus two. “Sandeep was preparing for his tournament when he went missing. We kept searching him, but failed,” said Balkar Singh, uncle of the youth. He said that Sandeep and Karamdeep, who were class-fellows, had been having an affair since their school days. “When Balwinder was rounded up and questioned on Monday he confessed to his crime,” said SHO, Kabirpur, Narinder Pal Singh Aujla. He said that efforts were on to search for the body. Call details of Sandeep’s mobile phone revealed that the last call made from his phone was to the girl’s cell phone. (TOI, 22/02/2011)

Dalit atrocity cases reviewed

In deference to wishes of dalits, district Collector Kantilal Dande on Wednesday promised to ensure a day’s wages and transport charges whenever dalits were called for investigation in connection with cases registered under SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. The Collector, who chaired the SC/ST Vigilance and Monitoring Committee meeting, also promised to reimburse medical expenses incurred by “victims” at private hospitals when they could not access government hospitals. The Collector, who reviewed the status of various cases sub-division wise along with SP C.S.R.K.L.N. Raju and others , directed them to ensure that investigation was completed within the stipulated time. He directed them to take up with forest officials the alleged harassment of tribals eking out a living from bamboo products in Diguvamitta near Yerragondapalem. The SP disapproved conduct of marriages in police stations. Officials revealed that of the 437 atrocity cases registered in the district, chargesheets were filed in 122 cases, while 226 cases were closed after it was found during probe by police that they were frivolous. Punishment was awarded by courts in 18 cases. (Hindu, 24/02/2011)

Scholarship to SC, ST students increased

Measures to provide amenities in Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe colonies and increase in scholarship and food allowance provided to SC and ST students are among the highlights of the 2011-12 budget under Social Welfare head. The budget promises Rs. 300 crore for providing amenities at SC and ST colonies across the State at the rate of Rs. 1 crore per colony. The annual scholarship for students up to Class 7, who are not residing in hostels, will be increased from Rs. 75 to Rs. 250 and for those who are studying in Class 8 to Class 10 from Rs. 100 to Rs. 500. This will benefit 25 lakh students. Food allowance for students in SC and ST hostels has been hiked from Rs. 650 to Rs. 750 for pre-matric students and from Rs. 750 to Rs. 850 for post-matric students. Allocation for development of backward classes has been hiked from Rs. 606 crore last year to Rs. 760 crore. (Hindu, 25/02/2011)

Discrimination against Dalits prevalent: study

Caste discrimination practised against Dalits does not spare even Panchayat presidents, reveals a study done in select districts of Tamil Nadu. The study conducted by Evidence, a Madurai-based organisation, in 213 Panchayats across 12 districts in the State has come up with its findings on myriad forms of discrimination experienced by Dalits under various categories. The survey was carried out in Madurai, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Sivagangai, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Salem, Namakkal, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Coimbatore and Tirupur. Forty-five Panchayat presidents from nine districts have given testimonies of discrimination, the survey reports. The discrimination takes the form of demand for appointment of Caste Hindu writer, refusal to cooperate with the Panchayat president, obstructionist tactics by the Caste Hindu Ward members and Panchayat vice-president to stall conduct of affairs and harassment of women Panchayat presidents. The 198-page report reveals an exhaustive account of various forms of discrimination and how they assume universality under certain categories. These include discrimination in temples, atrocities against Dalit women and discrimination in processions, burial of the dead and in offering services such as hair dressing and laundry to the Dalits. With a few exceptions, almost all villages witness such discrimination. Discrimination in temples varies from restrictions on entry to bar on touching the temple car rope and participation in festivities or allowing processions to go through Dalit colonies. According to the report, 104 villages out of the total villages surveyed recorded the practice of two-tumbler system, revealing 49 per cent prevalence. Among them, 14 out of 22 villages in Coimbatore, 14 out of 24 villages in Dindigul, 13 out of 21 in Salem, 13 out of 17 villages in Virudhunagar, 11 out of 17 villages in Thanjavur and seven out of 13 villages in Madurai, recorded the practice. In Nagapattinam, the study carried out in 16 villages in Vedaranyam reveals the prevalence of two tumbler system in Kodiakkarai, Vedananagar, Ayyakaranpulamirandamsethi, and Siriyankadu. Of the categories, discrimination was negligible only in Government Hospitals and PHCs. (Hindu, 07/03/2011)

Dalit activist thrashed in Rajasthan for seeking information under RTI Act

Hot on the heels of the gruesome murder of NREGA activist Niyamat Ansari in Jharkhand, a Dalit activist was severely beaten at the panchayat’s social audit meeting at Bamanor village in Barmer district of Rajasthan over the week-end for seeking information about employment guarantee works under the Right to Information Act. Sarpanch Ghulam Shah and his accomplices allegedly attacked activist Mangala Ram with an axe and thrashed him, breaking both his legs, at the Gram Sabha at panchayat building, where the government-sponsored social audit of works was in progress, on Thursday. A profusely bleeding Mangala Ram was rushed to the local Community Health Centre. Mangala Ram, 33, had sought information a few months ago on the details of all public works sanctioned and carried out between 2001 and 2008 and the works sanctioned under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme since 2006 in Bamanor village. On being supplied with incomplete information, he questioned the panchayat functionaries. According to the State unit of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Ghulam Shah has been occupying the post of Sarpanch for a long time and his family has controlled the panchayat office for about 20 years. He was reportedly annoyed by the repeated questioning of the Dalit activist. Mangala Ram sent two applications to the Barmer Superintendent of Police during the past six months alleging that the Sarpanch and his associates were threatening him ever since he has asked for information. On February 28 last, he sought police security fearing that he might be attacked. The Dalit activist went to attend the social audit meeting, presided over by headmaster Ghevar Singh Chaudhary – who is also in-charge of the Gram Sabha – and attended by Ghulam Shah, cluster in-charge Arjun Singh and other panchayat members on Thursday to seek clarifications about his queries. While the audit was in progress, the Sarpanch allegedly abused Mangala Ram and attacked him with an axe. Three persons who tried to save him were also injured. He was first taken to the CHC, from where he was referred to the government hospital at tehsil headquarter Dhorimanna situated 20 km away and later to a hospital in Jodhpur. PUCL State general secretary Kavita Srivastava said since Mangala Ram’s condition did not improve, his family preferred to admit him into a private hospital at Deesa in Gujarat. Even though a case has been registered in connection with the attack on Mangala Ram, police have so far not arrested Ghulam Shah. The PUCL, in a memorandum submitted to Chief Secretary S. Ahmed, has demanded that Section 307 (attempt to murder) of I.P.C. and relevant provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, be applied immediately to the FIR. Civil rights activists staged a demonstration near Albert Hall in Ramniwas Garden here on Sunday demanding that Ghulam Shah and other accused named in the FIR be arrested without delay and the State Government bear the expenses of medical treatment of the victim, besides giving him financial assistance of Rs.1 lakh as well as the government job. Activists also pointed out that this act of the Sarpanch should be construed as misconduct in the discharge of his duties. “The incident took place while the statutory Gram Sabha was taking place. It was clearly done to silence any questioning related to diversion of funds which a social audit exposes,” pointed out Satish Kumar of the Centre for Dalit Rights. The demonstrators said the brutal attack by Ghulam Shah on the activist amounted to misconduct under Section 38 (1) of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, for which an inquiry should be ordered under the Act and the accused should be suspended forthwith. Ms. Srivastava said the two cases of Niyamat Ansari’s murder and attack on Mangala Ram depicted a pattern where individuals fighting for better implementation of MGNREGA and RTI Act have been brutally targeted by vested interests. “While this is proof that both the legislations are instrumental in challenging the existing power structures, there is [an urgent] need to support and protect citizens in their anticorruption efforts.” (Hindu, 07/03/2011)

Casteist remark against Dalit can’t be compromised: SC

Calling a Dalit by his caste is a serious offence that cannot be condoned even if both the accused and the complainant arrive at a compromise, the Supreme Court said today. A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said the only way of ending the feudal mentality of those insulting the Dalits would be by sending them to the jail so as to act as a deterrent for others. “The only way is to send you to the jail. This is modern age. The days of feudalism are over,” the bench said while refusing to compound (close the case by way of fine) the dispute as sought by counsel S D Dwaraknath In the instant case, Arumugan Servai, Ajit Kumar and nine others of Samayanallur village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district were sentenced to six months imprisonment for calling a neighbour Paneeselvan “parayan”(a slang for Dalit). The Madras High Court had upheld the sentence, after which they appealed in the apex court seeking quashing of the sentence on the ground that both the parties to the dispute have reached a compromise to ensure caste harmony in the village. The apex court however, turned down the plea for quashing of the case registered under relevant sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 on the ground that it was not a compoundable offence. “How can you call a man a chamar or other names just because he is poor? It is an offence which is not compoundable. Even if you have reached a compromise, we cannot reduce the sentence because there is no provision under the law for compounding the offence,” the bench said. The bench rejected the plea of the counsel that the court, using its extraordinary powers under Article 142, can pass an order for quashing the sentence even if the law does not provide for it. “We can’t reduce the sentence. It (special powers) does mean we can break the law,” the bench remarked. Article 142 grants extraordinary powers to the apex court to pass any order in the interest of justice. The apex court said the accused cannot insult people and get away with it. “People of India must change their way. If there is a minimum punishment, you have to undergo it. You can’t insult people,” the bench said. The bench then posted the matter for final disposal after six weeks and said it would hear the case only on the merits of the allegations. (Deccan herald, 08/03/2011)

`Raghuvansh calls for reviving ‘Chamar Regiment’

Former Union minister and RJD vice-president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh on Monday demanded reviving “Chamar Regiment” to boost the morale of Scheduled Castes in the country. Speaking during the zero hour in the Lok Sabha, he said, “The (Chamar) regiment was formed by the British during the Second World War, but they abolished it after the completion of war. The regiment was in place during 1942-46. It is not that this is going to be something new. When there are nine regiments named after different communities why not the 10the regiment after this community. There are crores of people of the said Scheduled Caste in the country, it (the regiment) will boost the morale of this community that they also have a role in the security of the country.” Raghuvansh persisted with his demand using the word “Chamar” despite repeated caution against doing so from the chair. Speaking later, he said, “My notice for raising this matter was approved. My notice did use the word Chamar, so how can I be barred from using that word while raising this matter in the Lok Sabha.” “I will appeal against expunging parts of my intervention during the zero hour,” Raghivansh added. (IE, 08/03/2011)

Mirchpur Dalit killings: Name those who led stir after accused booked, SC tells Haryana govt

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Haryana government to identify the persons and organisation responsible for holding demonstration in December last against booking of some upper caste people in connection with the Mirchpur Dalit killings case. A bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly also directed the government and the Railway Board to spell out steps taken by them to recover financial loss caused following the 11-day stir organised by 12 khap panchayats. “Who are the persons behind it? You must tell us the names of the persons and the party who were behind all these agitations. There must have been some kind of political backing behind it,” the bench said while granting two weeks’ time to reply. Not impressed by the response of the state government that cases have been filed, the court said, “Forget about cases. We know what happens after case is registered. State must tell us who is responsible for this (agitation).” Villagers had been protesting the booking of 98 members of their community in the case relating to the killing of 70-year-old Tarachand and his physically challenged teenaged daughter Suman at Mirchpur village in Hisar on April 21 last year. Demanding a fresh probe into the Dalit killings, upper caste people of Mirchpur and adjoining villages had brought the rail and road traffic to Delhi via Jind to a grinding halt earlier this month. On the last hearing the state government had informed the court that loss of Rs 45.92 lakh was caused to the transport department due to agitation and Rs 90,000 were spent by forest department in removing 3130 trees which were uprooted by protesters.

(TOI, 08/03/2011)

Dalit activist leaves hospital alleging negligence by doctors

Dalit activist Mangala Ram from Bamanor village in Barmer district — who was brutally attacked recently for seeking information under the Right to Information Act — left Sawai Man Singh Hospital here on Tuesday, a day after being brought from Deesa in Gujarat and admitted to the poly-trauma ward for treatment at the State Government’s expenses. Mangala Ram, 33, was severely beaten up at the village panchayat’s social audit meeting on March 3 allegedly by Sarpanch Ghulam Shah and his accomplices, who took exception to his applications under the RTI Act seeking details of all public works sanctioned and carried out between 2001 and 2008. He sustained injuries in head and arms, and his legs were broken in the attack. Following protests by civil rights groups, the police have registered a first information report against Mr. Shah, while Barmer Collector Gaurav Goyal has provided financial assistance worth Rs. 25,000 to Mr. Ram. On the instructions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the victim was brought from a private hospital in Deesa and admitted to SMS Hospital here on Monday. Mr. Shah and other accused named in the FIR are yet to be arrested. Dalit groups here point out that the Sarpanch enjoys considerable clout in the region and has been occupying the office for 22 years. He had allegedly threatened Mr. Ram several times when he raised the issue of incomplete information and demanded follow-up on his applications. Mr. Ram left the hospital on his own on Tuesday while alleging that doctors in the poly-trauma ward were not attending to him properly. His fractured legs were bandaged with a heavy dressing and the hospital’s orthopaedic surgeons were yet to take a final decision on his surgery. “Doctors told me yesterday that surgery would be needed for [treatment of] serious fractures. But they started saying this morning that a plaster would set my legs right,” Mr. Ram told The Hindu lying in an ambulance after leaving the hospital. He left for Palanpur in Gujarat, where he said the surgery of his legs would be performed shortly. The Dalit activist, who rested briefly at the house of an acquaintance in the city, said he suspected that the doctors were neglecting him “on the instructions of the political set-up” because he had contested the panchayat election last year as a rival candidate against Mr. Shah. “Everyone in our village knows that the Sarpanch has [high] political connections. He can easily influence the hospital machinery here.” SMS Hospital Medical Superintendent L.C. Sharma, when contacted, said since there was a difference of opinion in the orthopaedics department about the course of treatment for Mr. Ram, the hospital administration offered to appoint a medical board. “The board would have decided if the plaster would suffice or the surgery on legs was immediately required.” Dr. Sharma said Mr. Ram and his relatives were insisting that the Deesa hospital’s opinion in favour of surgery be accepted here. “Even though we sought some time and facilitated his telephonic talk with [social activist] Ms. Aruna Roy, Mr. Ram was adamant on leaving. He gave us in writing that he is not willing to undergo our treatment.”

The Centre for Dalit Rights, which has taken up Ram’s case, was dismayed that he had left Jaipur within a day. Gopal Ram Verma of CDR said the activist’s presence in Jaipur would have helped in putting pressure on the State Government for dealing with the threats issued by dominant sections to “ordinary people who dare to question them” through the RTI queries. “The brutal attack on Mangala Ram depicts a pattern emerging in the rural areas of Rajasthan. Individuals fighting against corruption in public life are routinely threatened and implicated in false cases by those having [vested] interests,” pointed out Bhanwar Meghwanshi of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan. In view of the sensitivity of the matter, two teams of the State Human Rights Commission and the Directorate of Social Audits have visited Bamanor village to verify the facts. The State’s Dalit activists leaving for Shillong to attend the Third National Convention on RTI beginning on Thursday also plan to raise the matter vigorously at the national level.

(Hindu, 09/03/2011)

Mirchpur dalit murders: HC notice to Selja for ‘threatening’ accused

Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja has been issued notices by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a petition that has accused her of “forgery, criminal intimidation, fabrication and hatching a criminal conspiracy”. The petitioner, advocate B S Chahar, has alleged that Selja, who was “instrumental in instigating leaders and members of Balmiki community against Jat leaders in Mirchpur case”, tried to save herself from a litigation by pressuring the undertrials and forcing them to sign “blank non-judicial papers”. Chahar had approached the HC on behalf of two accused in the case seeking bail. A few days later, complaints signed by the duo, Dalbir Singh and Ajit Singh, were sent to the HC, alleging that they had not engaged Chahar. Following this, the HC directed the Jail Superintendent to record their statements and find out the authenticity of the complaints. In their statements, they submitted that they had not sent any such complaint and wanted Chahar to be their lawyer. Meanwhile, Selja moved the court, seeking removal of her name from the petition filed by the duo. It was allowed by the court. After the report of the Jail Superintendent, Chahar on Thursday filed a petition against Selja, oath commissioners from whom unsigned judicial papers were allegedly obtained and the then Jail Superintendent who allegedly acted at Selja’s behest to obtain the signatures of the two undertrials. Chahar has requested the HC to direct the Haryana government to register an FIR against Selja, oath commissioner, Jail Superintendent for forcing the undertrials to sign blank non judicial papers and level false allegations against him (Chahar). (IE, 11/03/2011)

3 Barmer cops suspended for keeping Dalit in illegal custody

JAIPUR: Three policemen, including the in-charge of Sindhari police station in Barmer district, were on Thursday suspended for keeping a dalit man in illegal custody and severely beating him up. The victim, identified as Jabarnath, alleged that the cops threatened to implicate him and demanded a bribe of Rs 15,000. Jabarnath sustained injuries and is currently undergoing treatment. Barmer SP Santosh Chalke said the victim was a suspected of theft and was summoned to the Sindhari police station.He added that Sindhari police station in-charge and two other constables have been suspended till completion of a probe into the incident. However, Jabarnath said that he was called to the police station on March 2 and kept there for six days. “No case was registered against me. Two constables of the police station demanded Rs 15000 to release me. When I could pay them the money, they let me go after six days but only after severely thrashing me,” the victim said. Jabarnath said that he was taken to a hospital after he went home with injuries on his body. Earlier, Dalit rights activists in the state had created an uproar after a Dalit RTI activist was beaten up in a village of same district. Dalit families of Husheypura village in Alwar district and Chandpur in Bharatpur district had fled from their houses after they were attacked by members of another community over petty disputes. (TOI, 11/03/2011)

Dalit activist commits suicide

Owing to alleged pressure from the police and some politicians following his son’s elopement with an ‘upper’ caste girl, Dalit leader B.T. Sampangi (53) allegedly committed suicide late on Friday. His body was found hanging from the ceiling of the Dr. Ambedkar Community Hall in Bommanahalli. Ironically, this was the same hall where he had delivered several speeches to mobilise members of his community against caste-based oppression. In a suicide note, Mr. Sampangi said he took the extreme step because of constant harassment by the Madivala police, a local BBMP councillor and his supporters who were hounding him for whereabouts of his younger son, Anand, who had eloped with a girl from the Reddy community. Mr. Sampangi belonged to the Scheduled Caste Holeya community and the councillor is said to be related to the girl’s family. According to R. Mohan Raj, State convener of the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti. Sampangi’s family was facing social boycott in the area and were feeling threatened by the behaviour of the ‘upper’ caste people in the neighbourhood as well as some political goons.

(Hindu, 21/03/2011)

Honour claims two lives in Sirsa?

SIRSA: In a shocking incident raising suspicion of honour killing, 21-year-old boy and his 18-year-old girlfriend died mysteriously in Bajekan village here on Sunday. Adding more to the mystery, families cremated the bodies without any inquest proceedings. And, more surprisingly, notwithstanding the fact that the families as well as policemen, including Sirsa SP Satinder Kumar Gupta, have confirmed these to be unnatural deaths, police are yet to act for the want of any complaint. Deceased have been identified as Sonu son of Banwari Lal and Mamta Rani, a resident of village Bajekan. According to information Sonu was a student of polytechnic college in Moriwala and the girl was a student BA-I in Bajekan village. Sources said both Sonu and Mamta had been in love for past the two. As their parents had accepted their relationship, Mamta was sent to her maternal uncle’s house. As the circumstances in which the two were found dead could not be ascertained their families claimed that they had consumed poison. “It is case of suicide and even we have not received any complaint yet. If anybody makes complaint in this direction, the police will take strict action against the accused,” said Satinder Kumar Gupta, SP Sirsa. He, however, chose to keep mum as to what stopped police in taking action against those cremating the bodies without getting post-mortem conducted. (TOI, 22/03/2011)

Revelry turns sour as Jat, Gurjars attack Dalits

ROHTAK: Holi revelery turned sour on Sunday when a group of upper caste revelers attacked a group of Balmiki youths in Balham village of Rohtak district. A group of youths from the Jat and Gurjar communities were passing through the area where the Balmiki community lives on Sunday when some youths who were in an inebriated condition reportedly passed comments which did not go down well with the Balmikis, who objected to it. The sources said that this led to a verbal duel which soon took a violent turn as the two groups clashed while raining blows and attacking each other with lathis. The police informed that five Balmiki youths who were injured in the clash were rushed to the PGIMS Rohtak. The injured have been identified as Mukesh, Jai Bhagwan, Anil, Naresh and Manjit who are undergoing treatment at Rohtak. The SHO of Kalanaur police station Hari Singh informed TOI that a case under sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (causing hurt) and some other sections of the IPC has been registered against nine persons from the Jat and Gurjar communities on the complaint of Amit Kumar, a Dalit. “The police have started investigation into the incident and a police team has left for the PGIMS Rohtak for getting statements of the victims,” the SHO said. “The incident appears to have taken place as some of the youths were in an inebriated condition. The accused have not been arrested so far”, the SHO stated. (TOI, 22/03/2011)

Nine bonded labourers rescued

Nine bonded labourers, all from a Dalit family, were rescued from a brick kiln in Hosahoodya village on the outskirts of Chickballapur on Wednesday. Kadirappa (60) of Bogenahalli in Gudibande taluk, his wife Gangamma and their sons, daughters and sons-in-law were allegedly working as bonded labourers from the past one year at the brick kiln belonging to one Narayanaswamy. Mr. Kadirappa’s daughter Ramalakshmi (13) and son Gangaraju (14) were among the rescued. After the intervention of Jeeta Vimukti Karnataka, a NGO working for the cause of bonded labourers, officials rescued the labourers and issued them release certificates on Wednesday. Chickballapur Assistant Commissioner Vasanth Kumar told presspersons that the zilla panchayat would immediately release Rs. 1,000 for each labourer and subsequently chalk out measures for their rehabilitation. Mr. Kadirappa said they were manhandled and their women folk ill-treated at the workplace. Loan “After the working hours, the owner used to lock us inside a room,” he claimed. Mr. Kadirappa had reportedly taken a loan of Rs. 20,000 from Mr. Narayanaswamy and he was unable to repay it. When the labourers expressed their desire to go home, Narayanaswamy allegedly threatened them that they would meet the same fate as that of the “Orissa labourer,” Mr. Kadirappa claimed. A few months ago, a bonded labourer from Orissa was allegedly murdered at a brick kiln in Chickballapur taluk. Official sources said that two of Mr. Kadirappa’s relatives, who were working at the kiln, had managed to escape to Andhra Pradesh two days ago. Efforts were on to trace and bring them back to Chickballapur. A case has been registered with the local police station. (Hindu, 24/03/2011)

There shouldn’t be difference on basis of caste: Wasnik

Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mukul Wasnik, while addressing the 15th meeting of committee for review of implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, said effective steps will have to be taken with collective efforts to curb the offences of untouchability and atrocities against the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes communities. Mr. Wasnik, who was here during the weekend, said there should not be any difference on the basis of castes and other considerations, and added that the implementation of Act envisaged for social justice and empowerment of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes needed to be implemented strictly. He said the benefits of various schemes to the

Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes should be ensured in the right perspective. He further said that Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes students should get scholarships under various schemes in time to enable them continue their studies. Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment D. Napoleon said massive campaign should be launched to eradicate the social bias against the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes. He appreciated the role of State in doling out various schemes for the empowerment of these communities. Himachal Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Sarveen Chaudhary urged the Union Minister to implement the Pradhan Mantri Adarsh

Gram Yojna in the entire State. The scheme is presently being implemented in just two districts in the State. Ms. Chaudhary said that according to the 2001 Census, the Scheduled Caste population in the

State was 24.72 per cent of the total population. So far in the State, 56 castes have been included in the Scheduled Caste list. She said all Acts pertaining to their welfare were being implemented effectively in the State, and added that the cases filed under these in the State were negligible. The Minister also claimed that the State Government had increased the allocation under Scheduled Caste Component Plan, from 11 per cent to 24.72 per cent, to ensure the speedy the development of the Schedule Castes concentrated villages since 2008-09. She said that the Government had made provision of Rs. 816 crore under the sub-plan for the year 2011-12 and added that 3,901 villages, comprising 40 per cent of Scheduled Caste population, would be provided basic infrastructure facilities. The representatives of Centre for Mountain Dalit Rights, a NGO from Palampur, fighting for minority and Scheduled Caste rights, also met the Union Minister. (02/05/2011)

Stress on holistic approach to Dalit liberation

South India has the largest number of oppressed people in the world, according to A.M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Chennai and president of the Tamil Nadu Catholic Bishops’ Council (TNBC). Releasing the Dalit Bible Commentaries (DBC) at a function organised in connection with the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Centre for Dalit/Subaltern Studies (CDS) at the Bishop’s House here on Saturday, Rev. Chinnappa said that in no other part of the world there are so many oppressed persons as in South India. Tamil Nadu is the State where casteism is most prevalent in India, followed by Andhra Pradesh. The attempt of the Dalit Bible Commentaries, namely Deuteronomy and 1 & 2 Samuel Commentaries, is to lead the people from darkness that casteism symbolises, into light. The Archbishop said that the Dalits constitute the root of theology, and therefore, the task of liberation of Dalits should be taken up after integrating the different theologies. Any attempt at Dalit liberation should not only involve the oppressed people but also the oppressors, to have a holistic approach towards the goal of Dalit liberation, he said. Rev. Chinnappa honoured James Massey, Director, CDS and author of 1 & 2 Samuel Commentaries, and Monodeep Daniel, author of Deuteronomy. I. John Mohan Razu introduced the commentaries. The guests received copies of the commentaries from the Archbishop. Rev. Y. William, Church of South India Bishop of Vellore, released the Leviticus and Numbers Commentaries. Rev. P. Soundararaju, Catholic Bishop of Vellore and Chairman of TNBC Commission for Youth, welcomed the gathering. (Hindu, 02/05/2011)

Himachal BJP tries to win over dalits

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told reporters here on Sunday that his government was setting up community centres named after Dr B.R. Ambedkar in every Assembly segment. “All these community centres will have a seating capacity of 1,000-2,000 persons and will be built on a similar design. Besides, villages having a dominant dalit population will be provided drinking water facilities and solar light systems,” he said. Mr Dhumal, who was here to attend a party programme, said that since tourism was an important sector of his state’s economy, he had initiated the home-stay programme in the rural interiors. “We will be providing housekeeping training to the local people who have an additional room and toilet and no commercial charges for electricity etc. will be taken from them. The programme is designed to take tourists on routes other than known places like Shimla and Manali,” he said. The Himachal government had also decided to provide a free night stay to couples having a girl child. “If anyone stays at our hotels for two days with their daughter, the third night will be a free gift from the girl child to the parents,” the HP chief minister said. Mr Dhumal said that his government was working towards releasing a book containing tales of love, honour, courage and even haunting spirits related to various villages. (AA, 02/05/2011)

Dalit body’s demo flays atrocities in State

The National Confederation of Dalit Organisation (NACDOR) staged a demonstration before the Secretariat, headed by it president Ashok Mallik here on Monday, against the allegedly deteriorating law and order situation in the State and several attacks on the Dalits across the State. NACDOR also demanded before the Chief Minister for the correction of Sahar, Kabari, Saar and Soura to Sabar and similarly, Mehetar instead of Mehentar so that those people could reap the benefits of reservation provided to the STs and SCs respectively as per the Constitutional provisions and also help preventing land mafias from rampant land-grabbing. The demonstrators also demanded allocation of homestead land to the landless Dalits and tribals and also allotment of the agricultural land they have been cultivating for decades in a time-bound period. Their demands also included withdrawal of false cases lodged against peaceful Dalit and tribal demonstrators on March 21 and punishment to the concerned police officials under the Atrocity Prevention Act, inquiry and punishment to the culprits, who killed an innocent Dalit boy Raja Patra (12) in the BRPL company premises at Joda in Keonjhar district, justice to destitute girl Dipika Barik, a victim of conspiracy and murder bid by a so-called social worker with dubious background allegedly shielded by the Commissionerate Police. The demonstrators further alleged that neither any enquiry nor any action has been taken by the police on Dipika’s FIR, vide Mahila PS case no 157 (3) and Sahid Nagar PS case no 87/2011. Among others, Kailash Mishra, Latipur Raheman and Debaraj Naik were also present. (Pioneer, 03/05/2011)

Jan Lokpal Bill Is anti dalit says Mayawati

Calling the Draft Committee for Jan Lokpal Bill as anti dalit, the state unit of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said rejecting Chief Minister Mayawati’s demand to include a dalit in the committee shows anti-dalit mentality of its leaders. Spokesman of the party said that the way Swami Agnivesh, member of the Draft Committee, rejected CM’s demand shows that the members were not willing for uplift of the downtrodden. “The BSP supports Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign because it believes in corruption free society. In the same time the party also believe in social equanimity and therefore Chief Minister Mayawati had demanded inclusion of a dalit in the committee. And this is a justified demand,” the spokesman said. He said that the BSP government was committed to wipe out corruption from government working. “The Lokayukt is doing a good job and the government has acted as per his advise. Besides, the Government keeps record of every penny spent. Therefore, allegation of corruption levelled by members of the draft committee were false,” he said. (Pioneer, 03/05/2011)

A village where dalits can’t wear footwear or ride bikes

MADURAI: Villur, set in a typical agrarian backdrop with about 1,200 households was once a peaceful village that was until the dalits challenged the diktats of the upper caste’ Thevars. For dalits of Villur, about 50km from Madurai and the scene of violence on Saturday night, buying a motorcycle was a sign of extreme luxury just few years back. But only after they managed to buy one they realized that the bigger challenge was riding it down the neatly laid Kaliamman street in the village that leads to their colony. When G Thangapandian (27), a dalit youth, decided to challenge the caste diktat that dalits should not ride motorcycles on Kaliamman street, it ended in a brutal attack on his house by a mob of over 500 persons, including women armed with broomsticks. “If I am alive now it is because of this grill gate,” pointed out G Murugan, Thangapandian’s brother. The gate was damaged in several places. “The mob tried to break open the gate with boulders, but left later on Saturday night,” said Murugan, fear still evident on his face. The dalits, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and economic status of the more influential Thevars, obeyed the diktats they did not wear footwear and they did not ride bicycles or motorcycles on

Kaliamman street. “We are served tea in different tumblers and we are not entertained in the barber

shops in the village,” said Murugan’s father Guru. The village has been a witness to the worst forms of caste discrimination, as even schools have become a platform for such practices. “My non-dalit classmates would demand that I address them as Ayya.’ If I call them by their names they would abuse me with filthy words and threaten me,” said M Palani, who just completed his Plus-Two in the higher secondary school in the village. It all started about ten years back when the family of Thangapandian, who owns a seven-acre land beside a poclain vehicle, questioned the restrictions imposed on dalits. “His family was immediately ostracized,” said Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front secretary K Samuel Raj. In fact, the ferocity of the attack by the non-dalits, when they surrounded the Villur police station when the Madurai rural superintendent of police Asra Garg was inside on Saturday night, shocked even police personnel. “I have not seen such violent mob behaviour. We managed to escape their attack only because we had fire arms,” said a police official. Despite Garg opening fire in the air to disperse the mob, 12 of the total 14 people injured during the violence were police personnel. The SP’s vehicle was also damaged. “We have arrested 50 persons so far and are in the lookout for 150 more,” said Asra Garg. Police officials say that the caste discrimination has social, economical and political facets and needs to be dealt sensitively. “To start with we will begin with strict law enforcement,” said a senior police official. “Police see caste discrimination as a law and order problem. But it goes beyond that. A detailed study should be done on caste discrimination and untouchability in Tamil Nadu. The government should launch a campaign to spread the message that untouchability is not only an offence, but also a sin,” said A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a NGO. (TOI, 03/05/2011)

Dalits agitate for restoration of burial ground

Over 100 dalits laid a siege to the Prakasam Bhavan here on Tuesday, seeking restoration of their burial ground in Edugulapadu village near Thuravagunta on the town outskirts. The agitators, including a large number of women, refused to leave the place and waited till late in the evening for return of District Collector Kantilal Dande who was away from the town, seeking his intervention to settle the matter. They also submitted a memorandum to Superintendent of Police C.S.R.K.L.N.Raju seeking justice for them. The community elder B. Abraham said “we have been using the land as burial ground since the days of our ancestors. We were prevented from entering the burial ground by some people who claimed to have purchased the land on Monday. We want the Collector to restore our burial ground to us”. Taluka Circle Inspector M. Lakshman said the trouble started when a group of dalits who were prevented from performing funeral on Monday by those who had claimed to have purchased the land close to the Chennai-Kolkata highway. “We intervened and paved the way for conduct of funeral”, he added. Meanwhile, on a complaint from the one Madanmohan who had said to have purchased the land, the Madipadu police had registered a case against the group under IPC section 324(causing hurt with lethal weapons) read with IPC section 34(acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

(Hindu, 04/05/2011)

Three in custody for bid to disrupt Dalit wedding

JAIPUR: Tension prevailed at a Bhilwara village after members of another community tried to disrupt marriage rituals of a Dalit bride. The police took three men into custody and lodged a case of atrocities on Dalits against 100 others after they tried to stop a horse being part of a procession. The procession continued under police protection. Police said the incident occured at Alagwas village in Kareda police station area. “Parasi, a scheduled caste (SC) girl, was to marry on Thursday. Her family were performing a ritual called “Bindori” on Wednesday night in which a horse was to take part,” said a police officer. When her family members reached a temple in the village, Gujjars started a protest. The father immediately informed the police following which a team went there. “The presence of police initially did not make an impact. We tried to sort out things peacefully, but they kept protesting against the ritual, we took three men into custody for disturbing peace,” the officer added. “We provided security to the family members until the rituals were performed,” the officer said. Parsi’s father Asuram feared that Gujjars could create a problem during marriage. “Additional force has been deployed to maintain law and order,” the officer said. It is the second such incident in the village in the past three years. In 2009 also, Gujjars had forced a groom to get down from his horse. (TOI, 06/05/2011)

Fergusson College student among 6 young Dalits held for Naxal ‘links’

The Bhosale family may still find it hard to believe that their brightest and most educated member, attending one of the country’s topmost colleges, Pune’s Fergusson College, is accused of being a Naxalite. Siddhartha Bhosale, a Master’s student in Economics, who also took the entrance exams for becoming a Class I government officer, was one of the six alleged Naxalites arrested by the the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) near Chandwad in Nashik on April 29. All the six are Dalits and the five arrested with Bhosale are young Dalit women, three of whom are graduate students. The seniormost is Angelo Sontakke, wife of Naxal leader Milind Teltumbde, who was allegedly behind the February 2009 attack in Gadhchiroli that killed about 15 policemen. The other four: Sushma Ramteke alias Shraddha Gurav, arrested from Pirangut in Pune; Mayuri Bhagat (23) alias Jenny; Jyothi Chorghe (19) and Anuradha Sonule (23), all arrested from the Shivajinagar area of Pune. Naxal literature, cash, a laptop, cellphones and other items were seized from the suspects. Bhagat, a native of Chandrapur, is a graduate in Arts who shifted to Mundwa in Pune to work with Sontakke. Chorghe and Sonule, also Arts graduates, stayed in a small room in Bhosari and allegedly worked as couriers for the group’s activity. Bhosale, from Ahmednagar, lives in a small, rented house in Bhagyoday Nagar, Kondhwa, in Pune. Police said he was trained in Gadhchiroli by top Naxal operatives and was assigned the task of recruiting youngsters from Pune and Nashik into the Maoist fold. Bhosale’s arrest and his brief, police said, has underlined their suspicion that the Maoists are targeting colleges and institutions in urban areas to recruit young cadres from Dalit or backward classes. “It was a huge shock for us to when we got to know about his arrest. He was a very sincere student, he used to read lot of books. He also took the competitive examination of MPSC (Maharashtra Public Service Commission),” said his elder brother Chandrakant, who works as a peon in a village school. “He was a very active young man and never tolerated injustice,” his brother told The Indian Express. “We could make out from the way he talked that he was strongly against corruption. But he never just thought of Dalits or backward classes. He was concerned about the welfare of all. It was unbelievable when police told us that he was linked to Maoists.” Said Chandrakant: “We are four brothers staying together in our rented house. He used to stay out for a few days but not for long. He used to contact us on phone when he would be away from home. We found he used to stay with friends or relatives. We never questioned him as he is the most educated among us and we believe he would never do anything wrong.” His younger brother Sagar said that they belong to the Mahar caste, a backward community. Investigators believe that Bhosale was “indoctrinated” to join the Naxals and trained in Gadhchiroli a few months ago. He is also believed to have been paid to recruit youngsters. Not without reason. Ravindra Kadam, DIG (Anti Naxal operations), said that the Naxals’ “Golden Corridor Committee” was set up to target students and labourers in industrial centres of Gujarat and Maharashtra, especially in cities like Pune, Mumbai, Thane and Nashik. Police said they are exploring how these young men and women are linked to the Golden Corridor Group and how far this network spreads. (IE, 07/05/2011)

SC/ST teachers allege discrimination

As many as 163 teachers, who are part of the Karnataka State Government Honorary Primary School

SC/ST Teachers’ Association, gathered at Bannappa Park here on Monday to protest against the “discrimination” by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education. The teachers complained that their services had not been confirmed despite 24 years of service and alleged that the honorarium they received was lower than the regular teachers. The SC/ST honorary teachers were also denied other benefits, they claimed. (Hindu, 10/05/2011)

TN village asks dalits to pay up more for tea

CHENNAI: A couple of weeks ago, when a group of dalits from R Palakuruchi village lodged a complaint with the police, alleging practise of the ‘double-tumbler system’ in the village, the non-dalits reacted in a strange way. They hiked the rate of tea served to dalits in village stalls. The tea stalls started charging dalits Rs 7 for a glass of tea, costing just Rs 4 for a non-dalit. Since most of the tea-stalls are run by nondalits, the dual price system has dealt yet another blow to the dalits who have been facing oppression in the remote areas of Tamil Nadu for long. However, K Gowri, sub-inspector at the Ulagampatti police station, where the complaint was lodged, claimed he was not aware of any hike in the price of tea for dalits. “We have to investigate and see whether any shop is selling tea at a higher rate to dalits,” he said. However, activists say the reason behind hiking the rate of tea is simple. If you hike the rate, no dalit will come and have tea. “The poor dalits can’t afford to have tea by paying seven rupees. So instead of saying ‘no’ to serving tea to them, the shopowners have hiked the charge,” says T L Ramu, activist and municipal councilor of S Puthur. While every shop in R Palakuruchi keeps five ‘steel’ tumblers each for serving tea to dalits, the non-dalits are given tea in glass tumblers. “We are not allowed to sit on benches. We have been facing discrimination for a long time, but with this special rate for tea, its has reached another level,” he says. It all started on April 26 when a group of dalits complained to the police about the practise of ‘double tumbler system’ in the village. Out of vengeance, the non-dalits allegedly assaulted and tortured two dalits — Manimuthu and Ganesan — after tying them with a rope. A case was also filed in this regard and they were later rescued by the Ulagampatti police. The decision to hike the rate for tea followed soon after this incident. “We have arrested two people in connection with the assault case. We also called people from different groups and a warning was also issued,” sub-inspector Gowri said. “It’s high time the concerned collector visited the place and ended the discrimination. Already, the two-tumbler system is prevalent in many places. Now the issue has become more serious with the hike in the price of tea served to dalits,” said K Sundar, an activist based in Sivagangai. (TOI, 10/05/2011)

Dalit man killed, body hanged on tree

A Dalit man was killed and his body hanged from a tree by some persons in Ballia district, the police said here on Wednesday. The victim’s wife had alleged in her complaint that brick kiln owner Ram Badan Singh and three others killed her husband. According to the police, Rajmohan — who worked at the kiln — had been pressurising Ram Badan for payment of wages, due to which the brick kiln owner killed him.

Ram Badan has been arrested and efforts are on to nab the others, they said. — PTI (Hindu, 12/05/2011)

Congress Dalit workers resent over party’s office-bearers list

Punjab Congress ‘dalit’ workers plunged into resentment for not getting an optimum number of seats in the list of party office-bearers approved by the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “There is no scope left for dalit workers in the party. Though 34 were reserved for the dalits in the State, we did not even get that in the newly formed team of State Congress office-bearers and district presidents,” said a veteran leader while talking to The Pioneer. In Punjab, 42 per cent of population belongs to the Other Backward Classes and Schedule Caste. But the list formation is done on the basis of ‘super class category’ where dalits have alleged discrimination. During the last president ship of Mohinder Singh Kaypee, six district presidents and two each as general secretaries and vice presidents were of SC category, and the team comprised with total 28 dalit members. But this time only one-one seat has been given for general secretary (Aruna Chowdhary) and vice president (Jagjit Singh). Chowdhary Santokh Singh from Jalandhar (Rural), Jagdarshan Kaur from Moga and Malkit Singh Dakha from Ludhiana (Rural) were only three successful dalit candidates who have been accommodated as district president. The Congress, which is known for the dalit serving party and talks about 30 per cent of reservation of women even failed to give good share of women in the list. Only three women got place in the list of 25 district presidents and eight general secretaries. Besides this, family member of the former Chief Minister Beant Singh has failed to get any seat in the team of Captain Amarinder Singh. In another surprising change, Amarinder’s son, Raninder Singh, who was earlier general secretary, is now an executive committee member, along with MLAs Sunil Jakhar and Ripjit Brar in the 33-member committee. All the new vice presidents Kewal Dhillon, Lal Singh, Jagjit Singh, Rana Kaypee, Sukhjinder Singh Sarkaria and Rana Gurmit Sodhi and other general secretaries OP Soni, Gurjit Singh Rana, Arvind Khanna, Harminder Jassi, Ramesh Dogra and Aruna Chowdhary are said to be Amarinder loyalists. According to the list, the district presidents are Jugal Kishor Sharma, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Dharam Pal Agnihotri, Arun Walia, Santokh Singh, Harjit Singh Parmar, Sunder Sham Arora, Satbir Singh Palli Chakki, Sukhbinder

Saini, Gurdaas Girdhar, Ashok Kumar, Narinder Singh Bhaleria, Jagsir Singh Gagowal, Jagdarshan Singh, Subhash Grover, Jagjit Singh Dhaula, Anup Singh and Surinder Gupta. The important list of PCC office-bearers have only two members from camps other than Amarinder’s Vikram Singh Bajwa, who is CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal’s son-in-law and Fateh Singh Bajwa, younger brother of MP Pratap

Singh Bajwa have been made general secretaries. (Pioneer, 12/05/2011)

Traders jam road after Dalit bandh call

SIRSA: Disorder prevailed here on Thursday, when members of Dalit community gave a bandh call in the city on Thursday. They did so to protest against the murder of a youth from the community. There were incidents of looting and damage to shops. All that led to the affected traders also blocking the national highway-10 for an hour. The murder had taken place in Bani village on May 1. Angry at the protesters` action, Heera Lal Sharma, president of Haryana Vaypar Mandal said, “Why are we targeted every time? Even the police kept mum when miscreants were damaging shops. We demand that city SHO Maha Singh be transferred and proper compensation be given to the affected shopkeepers.” After the jam on NH-10, a situation of traffic chaos emerged near the “Lal Batti Chowk” in 43 degrees celsius temperature.

Many people had to wait for an hour there. Talking about action on the part of cops, DSP (headquarters) Puran Chand Panwar said, “We have arrested four miscreants and impounded one bike. Situation in the city is normal now and shopkeepers opened their shops late in the evening. Heavy police force deployment in the city to maintain law and order situation. We are in process of identifying miscreants who were involved in looting and creating disturbance. We will arrest them soon,” he added. In the May 1 incident, Mukh Ram, 28, was shot dead by members of a group of youths due to an old enmity. The assailants also attacked him with sharp weapons mercilessly. The deceased was going to the Surewala village in his car. Two days after the murder, vice-chairman of National Commission of SC Cell, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, met the family of the deceased. He also gave a seven-day ultimatum to the district administration as well as police department to nab the accused. Ellenabad DSP Ravinder Kumar, who is also investigating officer of the Bani murder case, said they had already arrested five of the accused. However, protesters said that two accused in the case were still at large. The bandh was to continue from 9am to noon on Thursday. Dalit leader Veer Shanti Swaroop said, “We give five days to police department for arresting all the accused. If police fail to do that, we will take the protest to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.” On its part, the administration has announced Rs 12 lakh compensation to the family of the deceased besides government job to a relative. (TOI, 13/05/2011)

Cabinet panel to study Bill on caste certificates

The State Government on Wednesday constituted a three-member Cabinet panel to examine the proposed special legislation to regulate issuance of caste certificates relating to SC, ST and Backward Class people. The issue, which was a major item of the agendas at the Cabinet meeting, could not be addressed due to lack of consensus. As the draft on the special Bill amending the existing Act envisages withdrawal of authority from the MLAs and MPs to issue caste certificates and to vest it with the SubCollectors and Tehsildars, a majority of the Ministers objected to the provision. They said that there should be some sort of mechanisms under the existing dispensations to ascertain the castes before the issue of certificated by the elected representatives. Accordingly, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik directed setting up of a ministerial committee under the chairmanship of the SC and ST Development and Backward Class Welfare Minister Lal Bihari Himrika to examine the Bill in detail and to make necessary recommendations. Chief Secretary Bijay Patnaik told reporters that the committee includes Law Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh and Health Minister Prasanna Acharya. The panel would submit its report within one month so as to enable the next Cabinet meeting to discuss and approve the legislation to be introduced in the ensuing session of the Assembly. (Pioneer, 18/05/2011)

Centre mulls special Mahadalit category

In a step which can have a major bearing on Dalit politics in the country and challenge Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s undisputed hold over her caste people, the Centre is likely to carve out a special Mahadalit category and include them in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) segment. The proposal is expected to come up for discussion before the Union Cabinet on Thursday. Sources said the Mahadalit category will consist of those sub-castes from Scheduled Castes which are economically, socially and educationally most backward in comparison to others and are landless, homeless and have symbolic representation in Government jobs. The Congress feels that creation of this Mahadalit category will deal a body blow to UP Chief Minister Mayawati and other Dalit leaders. This proposal mooted by the Rural Development Ministry could become part of the BPL census exercise once the Cabinet gave its seal of approval. An official of the Rural Development Ministry said there was need to reach out to the most backward and poorest section of Dalits and this move will ensure their empowerment. For the first time in 2007, NC Saxena committee report on Below Poverty Line methodology talked about the need for giving especial attention to Mahadalits and stressed that they be automatically included in the BPL list. Expressing happiness over the Centre’s move, Saxena told The Pioneer that “this will come as a big relief for hundreds of thousands of Dalits.” On who will be identified as Mahadalits, Saxena said, “those who are poorest among the poor and most backward among the backwards.” Saxena said Mahadalits are present in large numbers in States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Assam. Bihar is the first State to treat Mahadalits as separate category. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s revolutionary step helped him isolate his political rival Ram Vilas Paswan in a big way. Saxena said that while the States will have flexibility to include certain Scheduled Castes in Mahadalit category, but they will have to ensure that the BPL sealing fixed by the Planning Commission is not breached. He said his committee had also recommended exclusion of ‘well-off’ castes from the list of BPL. Sources said the exercise to identify people below poverty line will go hand in hand with caste census and be part of it. The Cabinet on Thursday is likely to decide on the methodology and agency to carry out this exercise. The Government will like to complete it before September to take political advantage in the next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand. Incidentally, hundreds of villages have been identified under Prime Minister’s Adarsh Gram Yojna, of which 25 are in UP. In such villages, half of the population consists of the Mahadalits. In October last year, the NAC had suggested inclusion of particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PTGs), the Mahadalit groups, households headed by single women or disabled persons or a minor, destitute households which are dependent predominantly on alms for survival, homeless and bonded labourers in the priority group for coverage under the Food Security Act. (Pioneer, 19/05/2011)

Apex panels for ST, SC sub-plans reconstituted

Apex committees for reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the sub-plans of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes have been reconstituted with the induction of several MLAs and MLCs. The reconstitution effected on Saturday followed approval by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is the chairman for both these committees. The committee on ST sub-plan has five MLAs and three MLCs as members. The MLAs are M. Bhatti Vikramarka (Madhira constituency), Arepalli Mohan (Manakondur), P. Rajanna Dora (Salur), G. V. Seshu (Kondepi) and P. M. Kamalamma (Badwel). The names of the MLCs are M. S. Prabhakar (Hyderabad), Sudhakar Babu (Kurnool) and Bharati Naik (Nalgonda). Similarly, the State-level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee on implementation of the Atrocities (Prevention) Act for SCs and STs has also been reconstituted, with eight MLAs and three MLCs as members representing SCs and STs. The MLAs representing SCs are K. Sridhar (Wardhannapet), V. M. Abraham (Alampur), S. Jayamani (Parvathipuram), Dirsam Padma Jyothi (Thiruvur), K. Murali Mohan (Rajam) and Labbi

Venkatswamy (Nandikotkur). Those MLAs representing STs are Rega Kantha Rao (Pinapaka) and Nimmaka Sugreevulu (Palakonda). The MLCs from SCs are M. Prabhakar (Hyderabad) and Sudhakar

Babu (Kurnool). The committee has only one MLC from STs that is Bharati Naik (Nalognda). (Hindu, 23/05/2011)

Lovers meet grizly end in Moradabad

In yet another case of honour killing, a man killed a youth when he caught him in a compromising position with his daughter in Moradabad on Sunday morning. As per reports, the victim identified as Manoj Saini (20) of Sitapuri village under Hayatnagar police station fell in love with a girlidentified as Pooja- also of his village. When their love affair became talk of the town, Pooja’s father Om Prakash Sani restricted her movement. He also reportedly threatened Manoj with dire consequences. Early in the morning on Sunday, Om Prakash caught the lovelorn duo red-handed in a field. The incensed father shot dead Manoj and Pooja with country made pistol and fled the scene. Hearing the gunshots, villagers rushed to the field and found the couple lying in a pool of blood. They rushed the duo to private hospital also intimated the police about the incident. The lovers were profusely bleeding and they were declared brought dead on arrival. A huge police force reached the spot, to conduct investigations and prevent any untoward incident. The police launched a massive manhunt for Om Prakash and caught him finally from the out skirts of the village. Locals claimed that Om Prakash accompanied by Durga Das, Hari Om and Amar Singh descended on the field and killed Manoj and Pooja. “Om Prakash got a whiff of Manoj and Pooja’s presence in the field and he decided to end the chapter forever. He accompanied the said persons and killed the duo,” the police sources said. Manoj’s father Nanhe Saini lodged an FIR against Om Prakash, Durga Das, Hari Om and Amar Singh. The police have registered a case and efforts are undearway to track down other named persons. The local police have sent the bodies for post-mortem. The incident sent shock-waves through the police department which is grappling to counter the menace after the stern directive of the apex court to prevent such incidents. Meanwhile, in another case of honour killing, family members of a girl reportedly had shot their daughter along with a youth after finding them in a compromising state in Kushinagar on Thursday. The man identified as Dara Yadav, a native of Pargan Chapra hamlet of Ramkola in Kushninagar, was employed as a driver by Narpat Shukla, residing in Bihuli locality of Ramkola. A month back, Narpat Shukla, sacked Dara after he came to know that he was in love with his daughter Surabhi Shukla. (Pioneer, 23/05/2011)

‘Local bodies’ spending of fundsfor Dalits not up to the mark’

Gram panchayats and municipal bodies which fail to spend 22.75 per cent of the budgetary allocation earmarked for welfare schemes of Scheduled Castes and Tribes will now face stringent action. Addressing a review meeting on the implementation of welfare schemes in Bangalore Urban and Rural districts here on Monday, Social Welfare Minister A. Narayanaswamy said the Government would not release funds to local bodies, which fail to spend the special allocation for Dalits. Officers who fail to implement welfare schemes will be booked under The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989, he added, with the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell playing a role in tracking down such cases. This followed revelation that more than 12 gram panchayats in the two districts had spent less than 30 per cent of the total funds and five had spent zero per cent of the allocation for welfare schemes. Speaking to presspersons after the meeting, Mr. Narayanaswamy said poor spending of the 22.75 per cent reserved for SC/ST welfare was common across the State. The Minister, who reviewed construction of homes for the homeless under the Ashraya scheme, said that construction of thousands of houses was pending in Bangalore Urban and Rural districts. He ordered for a review of the works and their competition at the earliest. (Hindu, 24/05/2011)

MP govt sticks to discriminatory ’97 rule

The BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government continues to stick to a 1997 order which discriminates between the general category government officers and staff on the one side and those belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward communities on the other when it comes to holding an officer accountable after departmental inquiry. The controversial order, issued on November 12, 1997 and signed by the then chief secretary K.S. Sharma, was being enforced continually by four successive state governments, including the present regime headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. This issue was raised prominently and serious concern was expressed regarding the “highly demoralised” government work-force belonging to the general category by serving and retired bureaucrats, who attended a seminar organised by the Madhya Pradesh chapter of Indian Institute of Public Administration in the state capital recently. The order in question, which was passed by the state general administration department (GAD) to address the issue of “discrimination against officers and staff belonging to the SC/ST and other backward communities”, categorically goes on to emphasise that leniency and special consideration should be shown towards the government staff belonging to the reserved category. In service related matters, the officers and staff belonging to the SC/ST and other backward communities, should be let off in the first instance after advising them to improve their working, the order goes on to say adding a warning should be issued only if they fail to improve. (AA, 24/05/2011)

2,000 Dalits embrace Buddhism

Nearly 2,000 Dalits embraced Buddhism at a function organised by the Karnataka Baudha Maha Sabha, and Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkar Vada) here on Tuesday. The initiation of the Dalits into Buddhism took place under the guidance of Buddhist monks Manorakhit Bhanteji, Lobsana, and Tenguru. The initiation function was held as part of 2,600th birth anniversary celebrations of Gautama Buddha. The Dalits came in a procession from the Ambedkar Bhavan to Sri Narayanaguru Sabha Bhavan, where the initiation function was held. Chief convener of the Samiti Mavalli Shankar told presspersons that Buddhism taught compassionate living. The teachings of Buddha kept people away from bad desires. It was a known fact that priests following the Vedic religion had driven out Buddhism from the country. But the architect of Constitution B.R. Ambedkar was among those responsible for the revival of Buddhism in the country, he said. On the comment of Vishwesha Tirtha of Pejawar Math that Buddhism had little to offer to Dalits, Mr. Shankar said he did not object to their thoughts as they were free to express themselves in a democracy. The swamiji should realize that by giving “Vaishnava Deekshe”, the lot of Dalits could not be improved. There had not been any change in the lives of Dalits in 60 years after Independence. Hinduism stood on the basic premise of caste. The heads of maths did not want to remove casteism as they feared that this would destroy Hinduism. “If Pejawar seer wants, let him embrace Buddhism, but we will not accept his Deekshe”, Mr. Shankar said. President of Prajna Vedike Krishnappa, eminent persons T. Murugeshi, Kantappa Alangar, Bellubbi Nandakur, office-bearers of the samiti Rohitaksha, Byadarahalli Prakash, Sundar Master, Kempanna Kamble, Ningaraj Mallady, and Hovappa Master were present. (Hindu, 25/05/2011)

Govt drops move to divide dalits into sub-groups

NEW DELHI: The move to divide dalits into sub-groups seems headed for cold storage, amid indications that the Centre is apprehensive of the political consequences of the proposal which has polarized the volatile community along sub-castes. The social justice ministry has recalled its earlier proposal to amend the Constitution to facilitate division of the SC list as per wishes of some states. It will now seek the views of states on the entire issue. This is set to put off the sensitive move by a few years. The subcategorisation of SCs was mooted as a solution to the grievance that powerful dalit communities had cornered reservation benefits disproportionately to their population. The division of SCs into sub-groups, with each bloc assigned a fraction of the 15% dalit quota, would ensure better distribution of benefits, it was argued. Cabinet sources said the social justice ministry has proposed that the Centre consult the states on the sensitive issue and then hold discussions with political parties to hammer out the way forward. This is an about-turn from the earlier proposal which said that Article 341 of the Constitution should be amended to enable states to seek division of the SC list in their territory. The proposal said a state assembly could pass a resolution seeking sub-categorisation and send it to the Centre for Parliament’s assent. A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had in 2004 struck down subcategorisation in Andhra Pradesh, forcing the state to ask the Centre for a constitutional amendment to overrule the apex court order. For an issue which has polarized the supposedly homogenous SCs into stronger and weaker blocs across the country, the Centre now wants to tread carefully lest it be caught between the warring factions. Sub-categorisation is seen to harm stronger SCs like Chamars in the north and Malas in Andhra Pradesh because they enjoy claim over the entire 15% quota for dalits. The subcategorisation would limit the bloc to a fraction of the 15% quota earmarked for them. Dalit activists have dubbed it a ploy to pit SCs against each other and break their consolidation under identity-based political platforms like BSP. The National Commission for SCs, chaired by PL Punia, has also been strongly opposed to the move to amend the Constitution. It said, “Instead of dividing SCs, the state government (AP) should devise proper mechanism to empower the poorest of the poor among SCs through special schemes aimed at their social, educational and economic empowerment,” it said. (TOI, 26/05/2011)

Scheduled Castes commission to summon district magistrate, police chief over Bhatta-Parsaul violence

The battle of Bhatta-Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater NOIDA area, where violence raged recently over the contentious issue of land acquisition, promises to get bigger. On Thursday, the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes decided to summon the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police of Gautam Budh Nagar district, where the twin villages are located, to seek a report on the plight of the Dalits who were victims of the alleged police violence. NCSC chairperson and Congress MP Panna Lal Punia, who paid a five-hour visit to Bhatta-Parsaul and Accheypur on Thursday, told The Hindu that he would not just be summoning the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police but also intended to file several cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, as about a dozen “required immediate intervention.” Mr. Punia said that in the recent violence in western Uttar Pradesh — highlighted after Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Rahul Gandhi visited the area, but subsequently denied by the State government — “a large number of Dalits and OBCs have been affected.” “During my visit today [Thursday], I discovered that the women were too scared to speak for fear of reprisal from local police — especially the CO — and the SDM,” Mr. Punia said. “I learnt that last [Wednesday] night, the villagers received a visit from the police: they were told not to say anything to us.” The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police had expressed their desire to accompany Mr. Punia — who was Principal Secretary to Mayawati in her last stint as Chief Minister — but he told them that he preferred to make the journey on his own, as only then would the locals feel “free to speak their mind.” Clearly, Mr. Punia’s visit — and the promised action by the Commission — will fuel the continuing battle between the Congress and the Mayawati-led BSP government, as they fight for political space in the State ahead of the Assembly elections due in 2012. Mr. Punia’s visit also comes a few days after Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot was arrested in the district while attempting to go to the violence-hit villages on May 22. “The situation is very grim… at least 22 villagers with no criminal records have been booked on serious charges, including murder, while no proper legal recourse is being provided to them by the government,” Mr. Pilot had said, accusing the police of terrorising the locals, and demanding a judicial inquiry. Earlier that day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced financial assistance to 110 persons from Bhatta-Parsaul and Accheypur who were injured in the violence. The announcement, interestingly, was repeated on May 23 by the new Group of Ministers on the media. Mr. Punia’s visit also comes in the wake of a visit to the violence-hit villages by the National Human Rights Commission, which will submit its report soon. (Hindu, 27/05/2011) Priest, son held for beating Dalit boy

A 17-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly slapped by a temple priest for touching the vibuthi (sacred ash) plate in the temple in Mettupalayam on Saturday. The boy, a resident of Govindasamy Nagar, went to a Vinayagar Temple in Mettupalayam. After offering prayers, he took vibuthi from the plate kept near the deity and smeared it on his sister’s forehead. The priest, Jambunathan (49), and his son, Sugavanam, objected to it and allegedly slapped the boy. Based on a complaint filed by the boy’s father, the Mettupalayam police have registered a case and arrested Jambunathan and Sugavanam. Both were remanded to custody. They have been booked under Sections 294 (B) (using filthy language) and 323 (assault). (Hindu, 30/05/2011)

NAC wants new law to end practice of manual scavenging

The National Advisory Council headed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has recommended enacting a new legislation to end the practice of manual scavenging, liberating those involved in handling human excreta and providing them livelihood. The new law should be passed as the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 has failed to eradicate this dehumanising practice even after 18 years its enactment, NAC said. Under the law livelihood rehabilitation should be implemented within three months of identification and liberation of manual scavengers, provide a BPL card to their families, special housing scheme house and education facilities for their children with scholarship up to 12th standard. However, for those engaged in sewer and railway workers liberation could take a little longer but not more than 5 years from enactment of the law as it will be dependent on technological change which will render the occupation humane, dignified and safe, and avoid any direct human contact with excreta. Meanwhile, NAC has demanded expeditious notification of Social Audit rules of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. It has also suggested establishing a Mission in the Rural Development ministry and Technical Support unit for central employment council. It suggested that States be provided technical support through Resource Groups on various aspects of the implementation of the MGNREGA like Payment of Wages,

Transparency and Accountability, Grievance Redressal, Planning, Natural Resource Management, Convergence, and expanding the category of permissible works. The NAC has constituted three new working groups to discuss issues relating to Dalits, gender and sex ratio and social security for unorganised workers. (Pioneer, 30/05/2011)

Dalit grooms asked to get off from horses in Raj

Tension prevailed in a Rajasthan village after two Dalit grooms were allegedly asked to step down from their horses outside a temple by some upper caste men. Jagdish Barwa, who is from Barva community, had sent his two sons to a temple on horses to offer prayers before the marriage procession in Dolar village yesterday. However, some upper caste men from the village objected over this and asked the two brothers, Chotmal and Ramhate, to get off from the horses about ten feet away from the temple, SDM (Keshoraipatan) BL Verma said. The father, however, insisted on taking the grooms to the steps of the temple on the horses only. This led to an heated argument between the two parties. The police force deployed there following a request by Barwa pacified the two parties and brought the situation under control. Later, the villagers complaint that one of the grooms was not eligible for marriage as he was underage. After the verification, the younger brother, Ramhate, was stopped from marrying as it was found that he was 20-years old. (IE, 28/05/2011)

Seven Dalit families flee from village

KANPUR: Seven Dalit families of Hasnapur village in Ramabai Nagar fled when they were attacked by the members of upper caste on Saturday. Tension prevailed in the village. Police and PAC personnel were deployed. The incident was result of eve-teasing with womenfolk of the Dalit families by the members of another community in Hasnapur village. When a group of Dalits, led by Narkul, met SP Ashutosh Kumar and apprised him of harassment of their women and girls by the upper caste men, the houses of Dalit families were stoned and damaged on Friday night. “A team of police including SO Rura Saligram Verma visited Hasnapur. Many families have fled the village. Despite policemen assurances only a few have returned,” said Ramai, a native of Thakuran Gadhewa village. Verma said that the cops are providing assistance to the victims. Munna, a resident of Hasnapur said: “They attacked us and stoned our houses before misbehaving with women and girls. Many sustained injuries in the attack. I have no other option and left the village. Some policemen came and assured of safety, I returned on

Saturday. But many others have still not returned.” Kumar said that action would be initiated against those found involved in harassing women and girls of Dalit community. “We have deployed force there to maintain peace at all cost,” he added. (TOI, 29/05/2011)

SC/ST officials can’t write ACRs of juniors: HC

AIPUR: State government officers belonging to scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) —likely to be reverted in light of a Supreme Court order that disapproved of their promotions on basis of quota — have been temporarily debarred by the Rajasthan high court from writing the annual confidential reports of their subordinates. The order came on a bunch of petitions filed by one Rajeev Garg of the state public works department and others.The petitions were based on a Supreme Court order of December 7, 2010 that conditionally denied the benefit of reservation in promotions to state government SC/ST employees. The SC had last year upheld a Rajasthan HC order striking down the state government’s notifications to grant reservation in promotions and consequential seniority to SC/ST employees, a bunch of petitioners informed the Rajasthan high court. It was argued before the single bench of justice M N Bhandari that the February 5, 2010 HC order categorically held that no reservation was permissible in promotions in the state services since the Rajasthan government had failed to fulfill the conditions laid down by the Supreme Court in the M Nagraj Case judgment on the Constitutional provision of reservation in promotions in October 2006. The HC also struck down the state government’s notifications of December 28, 2002 and April 25, 2008. The state government then filed a special leave petition against the HC order, but SC dismissed the government appeal on December 7, 2010. The petitioners argued that the reserved category officials who had been promoted before December 7, 2010 in the PWD and other departments were now due to be reverted. (TOI, 01/06/2011)

Vigilance panel for SCs, STs to be formed soon

MANGALORE: A state-level monitoring wing under the ministry of social welfare to analyze the proceedings and decisions taken at the district-level review meetings of vigilance committees on SCs and STs will be constituted soon, said A Narayanaswamy, minister for social welfare. The wing will also assiduously follow up on actions initiated by officials in implementing various welfare measures and schemes for the benefit of the community, he noted. Chairing a review meeting of social welfare departments of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts here on Saturday, the minister expressed displeasure at below par progress achieved by various government agencies in implementing schemes and utilizing funds meant for welfare of dalits and backward classes. Officials not measuring up to the task will be disciplined. Each district has to send committee meeting proceedings to the wing, he said. Officials of civil rights enforcement squad have been vested with powers to visit all those government departments that have a statutory obligation to spend 22.75% of their income on welfare of SC/STs. Disciplinary action will be initiated against those who have failed to utilize more than 50% of funds allocated for welfare of SC/ST community and those who have neglected or ignored the well-being of the communities, the minister said. Taking note of the failure on part of urban local bodies and panchayati raj bodies in the two districts to utilize funds set aside for the upliftment of weaker sections of society, Narayanaswamy instructed officials to ensure that the funds are utilized within the given fiscal year. It has become a norm for most officials to carry over the amount to the next fiscal without making any serious efforts to identify beneficiaries for scheme and this will not be tolerated, he warned. The government will shortly introduce biometric system in Moraji Desai and Kittur Rani Channamma residential schools. “This system will be made compulsory to the staff in these institutions as well as senior officials including DC, CEO and Social Welfare Officials who are required to visit the institutions periodically. Details such as time of entry and exit will be registered. It will help us in observe the movement of officials and staff,” he added. Irked by the apparent negligence of Damodhar Naik, the in-charge district manager of Dr B R Ambedkar SC/ST Development Corporation, Narayanaswamy directed the managing director of the corporation to submit a report and placed the official under immediate suspension. He also directed police to arrest S R Patalappa, ITDP district coordinator, since suspended and on the run, for allegedly misappropriating Rs 86 lakh of government funds. (TOI, 06/06/2011)

Midday meals cooked by dalits go waste

NEW DELHI: A dalit chief minister in Mayawati has not changed the deep-seated caste bias in schools of Uttar Pradesh. In 40% schools of Shahjehanpur, Badaun and Pilibhit districts, teachers do not taste the mid-day meal food and students refuse to eat it since the cooks belong to lower caste. The rot in MDM in these three districts is not confined to caste bias alone. It has also been found that in schools of urban areas of these three districts roti and green vegetables are never given, in 80% schools there is difference between the number of actual students present in the class and the number of students who are shown to be availing of MDM. Also, in most of the schools in urban areas there are no utensils. In rural areas of these districts, MDM supplies of 95% of the schools are kept at the pradhan’s house from where they are brought to the school every day for cooking. The report on three districts was prepared by Lucknow University’s department of education. It was discussed, along with another report on Maharajganj district, in the MDM’s Project Advisory Board meeting last month in the HRD ministry. The Centre has now asked the UP government to look into the matter and send a report by July 31. The report said that in the three districts upper primary school children take less mid-day meal than those in the primary sections because the “upper primary children belonging to general category are more aware of caste system and do not like to take mid-day meal prepared by SC cooks”. The report said in 10% schools of rural areas of these districts, village pradhans do not give the required quantity of food grain for cooking mid-day meal. It also said that in 95% schools of these districts children bring their own utensils. Also, non-iodised salt is used in 5% of schools and 30% schools used wood for cooking mid-day meals. Another report – prepared by GB Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad, and Lucknow University – based on a survey of 110 schools of Maharajganj district said that MDM was not served in 50% of the sample schools. (TOI, 07/06/2011)

Dalit boy roughed up

In the latest instance of caste discrimination in the vicinity of the Malaimariamman temple in Vedaranyam, a Dalit boy was roughed up for tugging at the temple car rope at the temple car procession. This occurred in the aftermath of failed peace talks in the area a fortnight ago when caste Hindus refused to let the idol be taken in procession through the dalit colony en route to the temple. A week ago, the thornykattu karuvel(Prosobis Julieflora) had also been dumped in a panchayat pond after it was found that dalit boys had taken a dip in it, despite warnings. A petition was filed on behalf of the District Bonded Labour Relief and Vigilance Committee, but no action has been taken. The temple and its vicinity is no stranger to such instances of discrimination as evidenced by the well that was sealed with a concrete slab in 2004 when it was found that dalits had refused to heed instructions and drew water from it to bathe after the tonsure ritual. Dalits in the area complain that often, those who are party to the conflict also become judges who try to resolve the issue. Officials continue to carry the baggage of caste loyalty, feels M.K.Subramaniam, a Dalit and a worker in Chettipulam library (Hindu, 09/06/2011)

Caste tag: case against school

The police have registered a case against the authorities of St Agnus English Medium LP School, Muttuchira, after Class I students were asked to wear identity cards providing their caste identity among other details. According to the police, the case has been registered against a letter written by the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the District

Superintendent of Police in this regard. The case has been registered under Section 31 (X) and Section 32 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act. The case refers to the incident in which the students of Class I were given identity cards with their caste details on June 1. The new entrants were then photographed along with the head of the institution. A few of the parents had complained to the Education Department authorities. School authorities maintained that this was done to ensure that eligible students received their due welfare benefits. A departmental inquiry was instituted after the issue came to light. A representative of the Nation Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes also visited the school. However, the issue was settled locally resulting in a situation where there was no one to press the complaint. (Hindu, 09/08/2011)

Dalits enter temple near Pollachi with protection

The agitation was led by State Convener of Adi Tamilar Viduthalai Munnani, Ravikumar and State Secretary of Untouchability Eradication Front Perumal. Over 50 workers, including women and children entered the temple in protest against discrimination of the Dalit community denying them temple entry. Special puja Special puja was also held. Agitators asked the government to eradicate discrimination of Dalits and to take stringent action against twin-tumbler system and 67 forms of atrocities on SC/ST. Over a hundred police personnel led by the Deputy Inspector General of Police G. Venkataraman, and Deputy Superintendent of Police Muthurasu were on bandobust duty to prevent untoward incidents. Revenue Divisional Officer of Pollachi A. Alagirisamy and Tahsildar M. Ravichandran were also present. The members of the listed community hailed the Government for ending the discrimination and paving the way for their entry into the temple. (Hindu, 13/06/2011)

Man held on charges of assaulting Dalit boy

The Annur police on Monday arrested P. Damodaran (33) on charges of abusing and assaulting a Dalit boy and preventing him from fetching water from a common facility citing his caste. According to police, A. Vasanthakumar of Nallichettipalayam preferred a complaint stating that Damodaran abused, assaulted and prevented him from fetching water at Kurukiliampalayam on Monday. Based on the complaint, the police investigated into the charges and registered a case against Damodaran under sections 323 (causing hurt), 506 (i) Criminal Intimidation of Indian Penal Code read with 3 (i) (x) of the Prevention of

Atrocities on SC/ST Act. The accused has been remanded in judicial custody. N. Easwaran, secretary of Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, in a complaint to the District Collector alleged that there had been practices of discrimination against Dalits in Nallichettipalayam, Achampalayam, Akkarai Chengapalli, Allikaran Palayam and Kurikiliampalayam in Annur area. The petitioner said that in these particular pockets the practices of twin-tumbler at tea shops existed. Dalits were not permitted to use the Anna Renaissance common burial ground or enter hair dressers shop. They were even prevented from fetching water from common facilities, he said. (Hindu, 14/06/2011)

Village ostracises dalit for being a witness in murder case

TIRUCHI: A Dalit was allegedly ostracized from his village near Tiruchi for presenting himself as a witness in a murder case involving a local DMK functionary. M Palaniandi, a DMK union secretary and key accused in the murder of N Purushothaman, had allegedly threatened N Karunanidhi of K K Nagar near Somarasanpettai to turn hostile in the case. A villager went around drumming the `tandora,’ announcing the decision of the village bigwigs to ostracise Karunanidhi on Sunday. Purushothaman, also a Dalit was hacked to death by a gang in 2007. Palaniandi and his brothers were cited as key accused in the case and were arrested. But he was granted bail nine days later, inviting criticism from Madurai bench of Madras high court that ordered the investigation be transferred to CB-CID. However, all the witnesses began to turn hostile. Karunanidhi claimed that Palaniandi pressurised him to turn hostile and as he declined to do so, the village ostracised him. On Monday, Karunanidhi submitted a petition to Collector Jayashree Muralidharan alleging that few influential men in his village who passed the diktat also threatened other villagers with similar fate if they did not boycott him. Jayashree forwarded the petition to the superintendent of police S Nizamuddin. Police said they had already received the information about the alleged ostracism and were investigating. (TOI, 14/06/2011)

Mayawati wants PM to pay attention towards dalits of Mirchpur village

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and Chief Minister Mayawati has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drawing his attention towards the plight of Dalits of Mirchpur village of Haryana who are being deprived of their basic rights despite an order of the court. In her letter, she said that many national commissions take undue interest in happenings of Uttar Pradesh but “astonishingly they are silent on the plight of these dalits in Congress-ruled states.” “The Chairman of National Commission for Schedules Caste P.L. Punia belongs to Haryana. But he does not have time to go to Mirchpur. He is more interested in visiting UP villages than meeting aggrieved dalits of his native state,” Mayawati wrote in his letter. She said that two members of dalit families were killed in a violence in Mirchpur on April 21. The court ordered that these families should be provided help but this judicial intervention was ignored. When the aggrieved family members went to Hissar on Monday to meet senior officials they were beaten up. “This incident shows that Congress-led Governments are not serious about the welfare of the dalits. This is the reason why incidents of atrocities on dalits is high in Congress-led states,” Mayawat said. She urged the PM to use his influence to provide help and relief to the dalit families of this Haryana village. (Pioneer, 15/06/2011)

No creamy layer requirements for SC, ST candidates: CCB

The Central Counselling Board has clarified that there is no creamy layer requirement to be satisfied by candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the allotment of seats reserved in the 30 National Institutes of Technology, five Indian Institutes of Information Technology, 13 Central Funded Institutions and 23 State Financed Institutions. In response to the report, “Counselling Board will go by Central List of OBCs,” which appeared in these columns on June 16, G. Srinikethan, a professor of the NIT-Surathkal and Coordinator of the Board, said candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes should produce the latest caste certificate issued by a tahsildar or an additional district magistrate or any other designated authority. The caste of the candidate should be notified as an SC or an ST in the amended Government of India Act, 1956. The creamy layer requirement, Mr.

Srinikethan said, applied to candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes. As per the October

2008 directive of the Department of Personnel and Training of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, children of the families with an annual income of Rs. 4.5 lakh or above for three consecutive years will come under the creamy layer and will not be entitled to the OBC reservation benefits. Mr. Srinikethan said candidates seeking seats from the OBC quota should not belong to the creamy layer. The caste of the candidate should be on the State- and Union Territory-wise Central Lists of the OBC announced by the National Commission for Backward Classes. (Hindu, 17/06/2011)

NAC writes to Govt. on need for new law to end manual scavenging

The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) has written to the Manmohan Singh government on the issue of manual scavenging: in a letter dated June 9, it has made out a case once again for a new law to end manual scavenging. The letter points out that in a resolution on October 23, 2010, the NAC had expressed its anguish at the official failure to end manual scavenging in the country and that Ms. Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thereafter on November 9, 2010, requesting him to take steps to end this demeaning practice in a time-bound manner. The letter notes that after the issue was taken up at the highest levels in the government, Dr. Singh wrote to Ms. Gandhi on May 9, 2011. In his letter, he had reiterated the government’s “determination to completely eradicate this abominable practice in a very short time” and had said that the employment of SC/ST persons to handle excreta would be made an offence under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. Noting all this, the NAC’s newest letter says there is still need for a new law as the Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, has failed to eradicate this dehumanising practice even 18 years after its enactment. The NAC has, therefore, recommended to the government that it enact a new law with the following features: the immediate demolition of dry latrines and liberation of those manually handling human excreta in dry latrines, together with a full rehabilitation package. For those engaged in sewers and railways, liberation can take a little longer but not more than five years from the date the law is enacted. livelihood rehabilitation to be implemented within three months of identification, with a guaranteed Below Poverty Line Card to all families in which one or more member is engaged in manual scavenging, a special housing scheme for liberated persons and education package for children from these families including free education with fellowships up to XII Standard. *for sewer and railway workers, liberation should come from technological changes which will render the occupation humane, dignified and safe, and avoid any direct human contact with excreta. guarantee that no person who is employed at the time the Act comes into force in casual, contract or regular employment, will be terminated; instead s/he will be confirmed in regular employment. (Hindu, 17/06/2011)

LPG connection for SC,ST families in BPL category

The State Government will sanction LPG connections to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families living below the poverty line at the earliest. A decision to this effect was taken at a review meeting of the Social Welfare Department on Monday. Minister for Social Welfare A. Narayanaswamy presided over the meeting, which discussed the development works taken up for the benefit of SCs, STs. Briefing presspersons after the meeting, Mr. Narayanaswamy said 10,000 families would get the connections in 15 months. Deputy commissioners would be directed to identify the beneficiaries, and connections would be given in phases. Mr. Narayanaswamy expressed displeasure over the delay in the construction of houses for the poor. It was pointed out that many of the Asare houses for flood victims in north Karnataka had not been handed over so far. The Minister instructed officials to construct around 8,000 houses under the Vajpayee housing scheme for SC, ST families living below the poverty line. A sum of Rs. 10 lakh each would be given to all town panchayats and municipal bodies to develop infrastructure in areas dominated by SC, ST families. On the functioning of vigilance committees in the districts, Mr. Narayanaswamy said the Deputy Commissioner should convene the meeting of the committee once in three months. Grant

Every year, the Social Welfare Department provided a grant of Rs. 5 crore to the Directorate of Civil

Rights Enforcement Squad (CRE), but the cells confined their activities to checking caste certificates. He said the cells should play a more proactive role. “Officials of the CRE Cell can review the progress of work and the use of funds under the special component plan. They can also complain against officials of departments that fail to implement programmes,” he said. The Minister said that officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police of CRE Cell should visit all departments and review the progress of schemes meant for SCs, STs and submit a report. Representatives of nearly 190 municipal bodies, except the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike attended the meeting. (Hindu, 21/06/2011)

MP seeks justice for Dalit farmers

Even as the government was saying that wet lands were not being allotted for industries, the officials were acquiring fertile lands on the pretext of industrialisation in Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore district, and the farmers were thrown on roads. “This is an example on how the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) allegedly cheated the SC and ST farmers by forcibly taking their lands for setting up a cement brick manufacturing industry. Though the industry requires less than five acres for setting up the unit, the officials forcibly took some 40 acres from the Dalit farmers”, said the Tirupati MP Chinta Mohan, who visited the village on Monday. According to the MP, the farmers were enjoying the assigned land on the bank of Swarnamukhi river, in Jyotsulavari Kandriga village in Ozili mandal in the district for the past 50 years. Recently, the brick industry management along with some officials met the farmers and said the land was allotted for the brick manufacturing unit. When the farmers refused to give their lands, the industry officials brought some policemen to the village and threatened to file cases against them. They allegedly took the thump impressions of some farmers on empty bond papers and said the land was acquired for the industry. The MP who was moved by the farmers’ plight met Collector B. Sreedhar on Monday and submitted a representation. Speaking to ‘The Hindu’, a farmer Gadi Venkataiah, who lost land in Jyotsulavari Kandriga village said the brick industry management took our lands with the help of police. The MP threatened to launch an agitation. (Hindu, 21/06/2011)

A dip of dignity for women scavengers

For 60-year-old Choti Parochia, once a manual scavenger and an untouchable, a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganges in the temple city of Varanasi and prayer at the historic Kashi Vishwanath Temple here on Monday meant a liberating experience. Ablution: Women scavengers from Rajasthan taking bath in the

Ganges in Varanasi . DH photoCondemned to a lowly existence of a manual scavenger, the holy dip by Choti amidst women from the upper caste was akin to salvation. A mother of six and grand mother of eight children, Choti was part of a group of 203 women manual scavengers brought from Tonk and Alwar districts of Rajasthan, by Sulabh International, an NGO engaged in building public toilets across the country. The women had darshan at the temple after taking bath in the holy Ganges and then dined with the Brahmins and sanskrit scholars of Kashi(the old name of Varanasi) on Monday. “People in Tonk used to call us bhangi (those cleaning bucket toilets and who carry night soil on their heads) and detested us, no one wanted to talk to us,” Choti. Most women still believe manual scavenging can’t be abolished completely in the near future. “Those, whose excreta was cleaned by us, used to offer us water from a distance and used to throw chapatis so that they might not be touched by us,” said Gora Parochia, Choti’s neighbour at the Kali Paltan locality of Tonk town. These women used to get a meagre two to five rupees from each of the houses. “We could barely earn Rs. 50 a month,” they told Deccan Herald.Choti and Gori quit the profession in 2007. They are now engaged in activities like preparing pickles, papad and operating beauty parlours. And when these 203 women emerged from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and chanted “har har mahadev” and raised their hands to the cameras, their happiness was palpable. “I had never imagined that I would get an opportunity to have a bath in the Ganges, have darshan at one of the Jyotirlingas and dine with the pandits of Kashi,” said Kalpana, also from Tonk town. Similar were the feelings of Rani, Shankuntala, Kamli and Munni. To their surprise, the Brahmins served them a lavish North Indian lunch, amidst chanting of vedic mantras and blowing of conch shells signalling the end of a miserable era. The NGO founder, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak said: “It’s a big challenge. Those who are engaged in scavenging must be rehabilitated and this practice must be abolished altogether.” According to an estimate, there are still about one lakh scavengers in the country. “It is prevalent in UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and some other states,” Pathak said adding however, that no effort had been made to ascertain their exact number. Despite its abolishment in 1993, the shameful practise of manual scavenging still prevails in the country. (Deccan Herald, 21/06/2011)

Dalit woman panchayat chief “faced discrimination”

The Dalit (Arunthathiyar) panchayat president, P. Krishnaveni of Thalaiyuthu panchayat in Tirunelveli, who was brutally attacked by a gang recently, had repeatedly filed complaints with the police officials and district administration citing caste-based discrimination but the administration failed to act, says a factfinding report. A fact-finding team, comprising members of Confederation of Federations of Elected Presidents of Panchayat Government, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry; Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Presidents of Panchayat Government; and Dalit Panchayat Presidents Federation of Tamil Nadu, visited the village twice and spoke to the villagers, members of gram sabha and a few officials. The report, which was released here on Tuesday, says that Ms. Krishnaveni had been facing discrimination right from the day of her announcement to contest elections. She was not allowed to sit in the chair that was allotted for the elected president. Since May, 2007, she had filed 12 complaints with the police and district administration about the discrimination and on her right to function independently but no action was taken. The fact-finding team has found that Ms. Krishnaveni had to seek the help of District Collector to execute her duties as the vice-president had been thwarting all attempts made by her to work independently. There were reports that the vice-president and his supporters usually disrupted the proceedings of gram sabha meeting and she had to seek police protection to conduct meetings. Irrespective of caste affiliation, she had functioned in an unbiased way, stated the villagers. She had taken many decisions in a bold manner which had invited the wrath of a few sections of the dominant castes. The team also came to know that Dalit presidents belonging to 125 panchayats in the district were subject to one form of discrimination or the other. The State Government should ensure legal and administrative safeguards and guarantees enshrined in the Constitution. State and district administration should intervene immediately and provide non-discriminatory and atrocity-free political environment for the chiefs to function independently and effectively. The report concluded that panchayat presidents belonging to Dalit communities and women in particular were still being discriminated against. (Hindu, 22/06/2011)

Dalit beaten to death following petty issue

A Dalit was allegedly beaten to death following a quarrel on a petty issue of filling petrol in a station at Tiruchendur in Tuticorin district. Pakshirajan (48) of Keezhanalumoolaikinaru, who came in his twowheeler along with Kumar (33) to fill petrol was reportedly beaten with an iron rod and ran over by a van by Muthu of Kulasekarapattinam. A field report done by Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, Evidence, says that on June 14, Pakshirajan had gone to a petrol station located on the Tirunelveli road. While waiting to fill petrol, Muthu came there in a van and shouted at him to leave way for him to fill petrol. But Pakshirajan, who came first, did not allow him following which there was a quarrel between the two in which Muthu had allegedly abused Pakshirajan by his caste and attacked him with an iron rod and ran over him. Pakshirajan, who was admitted to the Government Hospital in Tiruchendur, died, and the Tiruchendur police registered cases under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2)(5) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The NGO claimed that this was a murder done with a caste motive and the investigation should focus on this aspect. The police should not close the case as an occurrence of previous enmity or personal reasons. (Hindu, 22/06/2011)

Shame! Manual scavenging continues in KGF

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS: Over the past six months, six persons have died in Kolar Gold Fields, 100km from Bangalore, due to illnesses contracted from manual scavenging. This was revealed by a fact-finding study conducted by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Social Justice Organisation. That manual scavenging exists under the shadow of the glittering IT capital, is shameful. Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an end to this practice; on Monday, the Karnataka High Court directed the government to file an action plan to eradicate it. The scavengers’ life is miserable. Geetha B lost her husband G Babu and brother-in-law GS Nagaraj, 45, both safai karmacharis. Her husband died on April 5 and her brother-in-law on Oct 10, 2010. Law and parliamentary affairs minister S Suresh Kumar visited KGF on Tuesday and promised them rehabilitation and new jobs. Just one hour after his visit, at least six safai karmacharis from Kennedy Telugu Lane, near Oorgaum, went to nearby Henry’s Lane to clear a sewage pit – without protection. (TOI, 22/06/2011)

Haryana fails to set up State Scheduled Castes Commission

In the backdrop of atrocities on Dalits in Mirchpur last year and recent incident of lathicharge on non-Jat and primarily Dalit communities in Hisar leading to the death of a woman, Haryana Government’s failure to constitute a commission for the community has raised eyebrows in the State. Despite a proposal, State Scheduled Castes Commission or Minority Commission for the State is yet to start functioning to address the grievances of these communities. Despite nearly 20 per cent of the State population being Schedule Castes and a population of 25 lakh from the minority community, the State Government is shying away from constitution of a body to safeguard interests of these groups. Mooted twice by Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, the proposal concerning setting up of a Minority Commission and Scheduled Castes Commission independently in Haryana has not been approved by the State Government, which has said that there was no necessity to set up such constitutional bodies separately. While the neighbouring State Government of Punjab has both the Commissions, the Haryana Government is overlooking the same since long. “A proposal regarding the constitution of Minority Commission and Scheduled Castes Commission was sent to the State Government but it has disapproved the same,” said a senior official of the Haryana Government while talking to The Pioneer. The official, requesting anonymity, said that the State Government has rejected the proposal of setting up of two separate bodies for the welfare of SCs and minorities recently. “If set up, such constitutional body will certainly ensure the safeguard of rights of such groups,” he added. The official said: “At present, the complaints and grievances of Dalits and minorities are being registered with the Social Justice and Empowerment Department. Undoubtedly, there is a need to have a separate commission to look into the grievances of these groups. Also, minorities and SCs form a major part of the population in the State.” In the Mirchpur village of Hisar district, some members of the dominant Jat community set 18 homes of dalits ablaze, leading to the death of two Dalits — 17-year-old Suman and her 60-year-old father Tara Chand. The Mirchpur incident was a reflection of longstanding and deep-rooted acrimony between Dalits and Jats.

Violence against Dalits has a history in the State with cases like torching of Dalit houses in Salwan, Karnal in 2007; mobs looting and burning the Balmiki basti in Gohana, Sonepat in 2005 and, the lynching of five Dalits in Jhajjar in 2002 were reported in the recent past apart from the Mirchpur incident. (Pioneer, 23/06/2011)

Manual scavenging: Centre told to take action in 2 months

Deprecating an affidavit filed by the Union Housing Secretary, the Madras High Court on Thursday said if the Centre fails to amend the law to prevent manual scavenging in two months, it will be constrained to direct the personal appearance of any of the high dignitaries, be it, from the PMO Secretariat or other departments. Passing further orders on an application in a contempt petition, the First Bench comprising Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S.Sivagnanam also directed the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to follow up the matter with the Centre. On the next date of hearing, August 22, he should file an affidavit stating the steps that would be taken by the State government for compliance of the court order. Posting the matter for August 22, the Bench issued a caution that by that time if necessary amendments were not made, it would be constrained to direct personal appearance of any of the high dignitaries, be it, from the PMO Secretariat, Housing Department or the Ministry of Law and Justice. Earlier, A.Narayanan of Virugambakkam had filed a contempt petition seeking to punish the officials for not complying with a High Court order of 2008 on eradication of manual scavenging. On June 16, the Bench had directed the appearance of the Union Housing Secretary before the court on Thursday and file an affidavit on the steps taken to enact an appropriate law to totally ban manual scavenging and when the law would be implemented. When the matter came up, the Union Housing Secretary, Kiran Dhingra, was not present. Her affidavit was filed in which she submitted that the Housing Ministry had taken all possible steps including the drafting of amendments to the existing law, “Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) Act” to widen the definition of manual scavenging to cover cleaning of sewers, drains and tanks. In its order, the Bench observed that the Additional SolicitorGeneral submitted that actually he was of the impression that the case has been posted for June 29 and therefore, proper steps had not been taken. However, the Joint Secretary in the Union Housing Ministry appeared in person with the Secretary’s affidavit expressing Ms.Dhingra’s inability to come to the court. The affidavit said inter alia that after the Chairperson, National Advisory Council, had sent a letter to the Prime Minister recommending appropriate amendments to the law, the Prime Minister himself was monitoring the situation. “We deprecate such affidavit filed by the Secretary.” The court observed that it was really surprising that for the last six months it had been issuing directions for necessary amendments to the Act in order to prevent manual scavenging, but nothing had been done till date. If amendments are not made, court will order personal appearance of high dignitaries (Hindu, 24/06/2011)

Dalits shift children from school at Villoor

The Government Higher Secondary School at Villoor from where 10 Dalit students, fearing caste discrimination, obtained transfer certificates and moved to a nearby school at Kalligudi.— Photo: S. James Dalits of Villoor village fearing psychological intimidation, bullying and problems in future have withdrawn their children from the Villoor Government Higher Secondary School near Tirumangalam in Madurai during the last two days and admitted them at the nearby Kalligudi Government School. V. Ramakrishnan (38), a farm hand belonging to the Dalit Pallar (Devendra Kula Vellalar) caste in Villoor,

East Street, toldThe Hinduhere on Thursday that close to ten Dalit families in the village have got their Transfer Certificates from the school following pressure from their children that they have been abused and bullied by their fellow dominant caste students. “During the break, while playing and after school hours when the teachers are not around they ask us to call them asAyyaand not use words likeDeyorAelay,” this was the major complaint that our children made in the recent past, he said. These complaints became a regular feature so we decided to shift my son Karthiselvan to the Government Higher Secondary School in Kalligudi where he has joined eighth standard. K. Veerammal (32), said that her son Karuppasamy had been abused by the fellow students and this had affected him psychologically so we decided that enough is enough we do not want unnecessary troubles that would jeopardize his education. M. Palaniammal, wife of G. Murugan said that the prevailing situation in the village was the reason for them to shift their daughter Balamani out of the school to Kalligudi where she is now studying eighth standard. Balamani’s father G. Murugan is one of the affluent Dalits in the village and it was his brother who was abused for riding his vehicle on the street where Dalits were not allowed to ride two wheelers but get down and push them. V. Murugan, agricultural worker, took both of his sons M. Muthupandi and M. Muniyandi from the school and has admitted them in a hostel in a Government school at Kovilpatti. Agnimuthu, a migrant labourer working in the construction sector at Coimbatore took his son Ajith Kumar from the Villoor School to the Kalligudi School. Alagammal wife of Muniappan said that problems are there, “but we have taken our children because we are shifting to Kalligudi soon.” Kaliappan, son of Irulappan, farmer, was also shifted to Kalligudi School. Muthukrishnan who had passed Class VI has been shifted to a government school in Krishnankoil. School authorities when contacted said that this is a sensitive issue and we have warned everyone in the school that there shall be no discrimination. They termed these transfers as a usual affair and cannot say more on that. (Hindu, 24/06/2011)

Dalit labourers attacked

Four Dalits were injured in an attack by a group of caste Hindus following a dispute over selling land to a private windmill at Kallathikulam under Alangulam police limits in Tirunelveli district on Monday night. A 16-year-old Dalit boy A.Esakkimuthu, G.Kanagaraj, Arumugam and Murugan who were working as construction workers were attacked with deadly weapons including a gun by a 15-member gang. Esakkimuthu had sustained a bullet injury on his left foot and Kanagaraj’s four fingers on the right hand got cut by a sickle. Kathirvel of Sivalarkulam is a land broker who had brokered between a private windmill company and the Dalit landowner Rayammal. Muthu alias Anthony (deceased), father of Rayammal had 120 acres of land in Kallathikulam. He portioned his 120 acres of land giving 40 acres each to his two sons Deivendran and Yagappan and then divided the remaining 40 acres to his four daughters 10 acres each. During 2010, Rayammal’s siblings Bagyam, Gnanammal and Anthonyammal had sold their lands to the Suzlon windmill. Rayammal refused to sell her lands and it was during this time, the windmill had tried to purchase her land. Land broker Kathirvel has approached Rayammal and had asked her not to talk to the buyers directly as they would quote a lower price. Meanwhile, Kathirvel had approached the windmill and quoted a much higher price for which the windmill authorities had stated that they would directly talk to Rayammal. On June 20, when the workers came in a lorry transporting machineries of the windmill near Rayammal’s lands, they were stopped by Kathirvel and his men and were attacked. Alangulam police have filed cases under sections 147,148, 294(b),324, 326, 307, 506(2) of Indian Penal Code and 25(1)(A) Indian Arms Act and 3(2)(5) of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. Alangulam police have arrested M. Chandran alias Chandramohan

(39) of Mullikulam, P. Anand alias Vellaibatcha (28) of Sivalaarkulam, S. Saravanakumar (26) of Sivalaarkulam, S. Murugaiah alias Mangala Murugan (48), Sathish and A.Kathirvel. Madurai-based nongovernmental organisation Evidence visited the village and did an enquiry and claimed that Dalits have become easy targets for both land brokers who misquote prices and confiscate their lands and for private companies who are doing the same on a larger scale. The organisation also demanded action against the private windmill for employing an under aged boy. (Hindu, 24/06/2011)

“Land issue pertinent to emancipation of Dalits”

Despite the existence two special laws to protect the Dalits — Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Protection of Civil Rights, 1955 — Dalits seem to be victims of various forms atrocities, said S.Viswanathan, Readers Editor,The Hindu. Addressing a State-level consultation on land and resource policy for Dalits, organised by Evidence, a Madurai-based human rights organisation, here on Saturday, he said that the Land Reforms Act and Land Ceiling Act which were brought to remove the unequal land relations had not been achieved even after 60 years. The Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961, was aimed to reduce the concentration of land in the hands of a few, to end disparities among landholders and ensure a just and equitable redistribution of land. The major reasons why the Land Ceiling Act failed to acquire more land for distribution was the advance public announcement about the proposed Act, which gave enough time for many big landlords to circumvent the law through fictitious transfers of land. There was no will on the part of the State to implement the Act. Trusts were formed by zamindars and lands were diverted by those means. In the recent past, it was the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme that had given a great economic relief for the Dalits and other deprived sections of society in the rural areas. Citing economist Sukhdeo Thorat’s arguments that the government should bring in Equal Employment Act, he also talked about the need to create opportunities for Dalits in private sector and the media. Land question remained pertinent to the emancipation and empowerment of Dalits. An economic survey done by William Goudie and the Wesleyan Christian Missionaries during the late 1800s in Madras Presidency found that Dalits were living in the most inhuman of conditions with high levels of oppression and submitted a memorandum to the British government to allot lands to the Dalits to improve their socioeconomic condition. The speakers at the consultation appreciatedThe Hinduand said that it played a prominent role by espousing the cause of social justice which continues till date. As early as the 1800s,The Hinduhad played a prominent role in representing the Dalit cause. It was during 1891, civil servant J. H. A. Tremenheere, the then Collector of Chingelpet, argued that the government’s emancipatory policies had not led to the social and economic elevation of the Depressed Classes (Dalits). In this regard, he seemed to have been influenced by a report that had been published inThe Hinduon 7

August 1891. There was a discussion in the Letters to the Editor column on the condition of Dalits. The British government approved Tremenheere’s demand and enacted a law in British Parliament to distribute land to them to improve their socio-economic conditions. The Government of Madras passed the Government Orders 1010 and 1010A dated 30 September, 1892 to specify that lands would be assigned to the depressed classes. Once the G.O. was published, the panchami lands were reserved and a few were assigned. It was estimated that a total of 3.20 lakh acres had been gifted to the Dalits by the British Government in all the districts of Tamil Nadu. Land rights and education were the two important things that the late Tremenheere emphasised but both still seem to be at large, said, A. Kathir, executive director, Evidence. K. Samuel Raj, general Secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), said that one has to remember Dr.Ambedkar’s words here: Is it because that he is a Dalit, he has no lands at his possession or since he has no lands at his possession, he is a Dalit? Ambedkar was an intellectual who believed that there was a thin line which separated caste and class. Speaking on the current scenario in the Chennai metropolis where the Dalit population seemed to be declining, it was later found that they were pushed to the margins of the city because of the urbanisation process. TNUEF was engaged in uniting the entire splinter Dalit organisations to fight on this issue. (Hindu, 27/06/2011)

Dalit youth beaten to death

Peace prevailed in Amrawali Khera village of the district on Sunday where a Dalit boy was allegedly trashed to death on late Saturday night. Earlier there were reports of tension over the death of the youth. In the morning, the family members and other people of the deceased gathered here at local civil hospital refused take the dead body expressing their dissatisfaction over the postmortem. The kin also demanded `10 lakh as compensation and a Government job for the member of the family seeking strict action against the guilty persons. The villagers also sought another postmortem of the dead body. Subsequently, a panel of doctors held another postmortem in the evening. Jind Superintendent of Police (SP) Ashok Kumar said, “After the second postmortem, the family members agreed to take the body when they were assured that their demand would be forwarded to the State Government for the

consideration. Now the conditions are peaceful.” 20-year-old Pradeep, a Dalit boy, working as a servant in the house of the accused persons, was allegedly thrashed on late Saturday night. He was allegedly peeping inside the bathroom where lady of the family was taking bath. A case has been registered at Pillukhera Police Station against Karan Singh Rajesh and other family members under Indian Penal Code (IPC) and SC/ ST Act. “We are investigating the matter, no one has been arrested so far,” said Gurdial Singh, Station House Officer.(Pioneer, 27/06/2011)

Dalits lay siege to Panchayat office in Kalipalayam village

A group of Dalits Kalipalayam village laid siege to Panchayat office on Monday alleging they were not enumerated as ‘Scheduled Castes’ despite them possessing all documents to substantiate their claim of belonging to the community. They resorted to the agitation after their representation to the district administration was not looked into “properly”. K. Sundaresan, panchayat member, said the discrepancy in enumeration was noticed during the ward realignment process in 2010 in which each of the three wards were bifurcated to form six wards. “The data on the government gazette released in the ward bifurcation process stated that only 59 Dalits are there in Kalipalayam village against the actual figure of 900,” he said. In the Lok Sabha and the recent Assembly elections itself, more than 450 people from the community cast their votes, he added. (Hindu, 28/06/2011)

No takers for Ranchi’s SC/ST police station

Despite bring one of the oldest police stations of the city, the special station meant to deal with cases relating to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe members is in bad shape with barely any manpower and hardly any cases being registered. The ground in the front of the police station resembles a cattle stable and the officer in charge (OC) can be seen feeding pigeons with barely any assignments to take up his time. The officer, Bhikhari Ram, says the response of the people towards the station that was set up in 1982 is feeble. “Sometimes we get to lodge as much as seven cases in a month. But there are months when only three to four cases are registered,” he says. Ram has even issued a letter to the Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police, Praveen Kumar Singh, asking for an increase in the number of personnel deployed at the station. Currently, the police station functions with a total of five personnel: one subinspector, one assistant sub-inspector, one constable and two home guards. Ram said that this number of personnel is adequate for running a police station successfully. However, the station works under a deputy superintendent of police who also doubles up as the investigating officer for the cases lodged in the police station. Ram says that a drop in number of atrocities against members of the SC/ST is another reason for the drop in the number of cases they register. “People have become more conscious about tribal issues. These days there is not as much violence directed at the SC/ST communities as before so we get lesser number of cases,” said Ram adding that, “We first try to verify the facts and figures of the complaint and then only lodge an FIR. But even for this purpose we need to increase the number of police personnel.”, he says. He added that at first, they try to go through a counseling session with the involved parties because in most of the cases, it is the members within a family that is at dispute. But to organise a proper counseling session, he says that a specialized counseling team is required. The OC claims to have highlighted this issue in his letter to the SSP saying that most problems can be solved amicably with parleys without the need for intervention by law enforcement agencies. SSP Singh, however, said that the Ranchi SC/ST police station is in a far better position than other such police stations in State. Presently, all the 24 districts have each of an SC/ST police station. (Pioneer, 29/06/2011)

Dalits prohibited from using public well

Kodikulam, a village located under the foothills of Yanamalai (elephant hill) near here, is a gifted place. It boasts of an age old public well that provides tasty water round the year. People from far and wide throng the place with cans and drums to fetch the water home. But the Dalits of the village cannot dare even to go near the well. “The SCs (Scheduled Castes) cannot go beyond this point,” says a 61-year old farmer, A. Akkniveeranan, pointing to a distance of about 150 metres away from the well. “They (Dalits) can ask any of us to fetch the water for them and we will oblige. But they cannot do it on their own. This practice has been there for ages and it cannot be changed,” he adds with no shilly-shallying. The caste Hindus of the village, occupied predominantly by people belonging to Kallar and Moopar community, do not hesitate to talk about the discrimination of Dalits even to journalists. The well has been associated with four small temples built close to it and religious sentiments were given as a reason to keep the Dalits away from it. “They (Dalits) will not be spared. Honeybees will sting them if they try to go near the well,” says Packiam, an aged widow. Concurring with her, 26-year-old P. Suresh, a construction labourer, says: “The youngsters of our village will be in these temples all round the clock. Some of us even sleep here in the nights to prevent anyone from defiling this holy place.” The well is surrounded by trees that are home to thousands of honeybees. Strangers must be careful while nearing the well as they might suffer a sting or two. The villagers have intentionally left the honeycombs untouched as it serves their purpose of discriminating the Dalits. “The bees do not sting us and we will not allow anyone to clear the honeycombs,” says C. Karuthapaiyyan, a 19-year-old youth. A lawyer practising in the Madras High Court Bench here and residing at Othakadai near here says that he and many of his neighbours fetch water from that well for drinking. They travel in two-wheelers to the village, which could be accessed either through the Government Agricultural College or from the Madurai-Chennai four-lane, and bring the water filled in cans. “Once when I had gone there, some children asked me if I could give them some water to drink. I asked them why they don’t take it themselves. They said they were not supposed to go there. Then, I understood and felt very sad for the poor children. This atrocity is being practised there for ages and nobody is able to raise their voice for the fear of earning the wrath of the dominant caste,” he says seeking anonymity. (Hindu, 30/06/2011)

80 SC/ST govt. college lecturers denied promotion, National Commission told

Of the several complaints received by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Thursday, a major one was on denial of promotions to 80 government college lecturers from lower castes for the past 10 years, Member of the Commission, Latha Priyakumar, has said. 32 pleas This was among the 32 petitions received by the commission at the Collectorate, Ms. Priyakumar said. The other major ones included denial of group-housing and crematorium facilities to the SC/STs by the upper castes. Team The Commission headed by Mr. P.L. Punia has three members, and Ms. Priyakumar represented south India. The petitions were received from the affected people and an organisation working for SC welfare in the district, in the presence of E. Dasarathan, director of the State office of the National Commission, and Collector, C.N. Maheshwaran. A meeting was also convened to hear the grievances from the NGOs and associations of SC/STs. Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Priyakumar said there were many complaints received from different quarters regarding violence against SC/STs. Regarding the demands and other grievances of the oppressed, a review meeting with the officials had been convened on Friday morning at the Collectorate. The meeting at the Krishnagiri Collectorate was attended by C. Prakasam, District Revenue Officer, R. Jeevarathinam, Personal Assistant to Collector (General), Venkatesan, District Adi Dravidar Welfare Officer, and Meenakshi Sundaram, District Manager, TAHDCO, among others. (Hindu, 01/07/2011)

Dalits’ organisation to protest against atrocities

The Bharatiya Dalit Varg Sangh has decided to launch Dalit Bachao Andolan against the atrocities on the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. In the first phase of the agitation on the death anniversary of Jagjivan Ram on July 6, a national level dharna would be staged at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. According to the figures of National Crime Record Bureau of Home Ministry, 53,286 murders, 1, 20,855 rapes, 27,035 kidnapping, 19,168 arsons, 11,824 loot and dacoity cases and 20,85,314 other criminal incidents and 23, 20482 incidents of atrocities have taken place against Dalits between 1947 and 2009. Giving this information at a Press conference, the president of the Sangh Sudhir Mandelia said that the State Governments and Central Government are not serious to check the atrocities against Dalits. The role of 130 MP’s of Dalit class and two commissions has been disappointing. Every party has got the opportunity to rule the country, but there has been no difference in the position of atrocities. The Bharatiya Dalit Varg Sangh, which has played important role in the freedom movement, has now decided to launch a countrywide agitation against the atrocities. The Sangh has raised important questions through this agitation. First question is to the RSS and BJP if Dalits are Hindus then why Hindus ill-treat the Dalits. Second question to the Congress if the high and mighty feudal has increased their control in the party, has it not made the policy of Dalit protection weak. Because these people have changed the ‘Congress Ka Hath Garib Ke Sath’ and now it has changed to Congress Ka Hath Sabke Sath. Third question to Bahujan Samaj Party that why in Uttar Pradesh where Dalit rule are above all in the country in the matter of atrocities. Fourth question to the Prime Minister, after coming to power after 20 years, a package of 600 crore was given to riot victims of 1984 why are Dalits are deprived of this sentiments. Other questions were made to president of India, Media, Gandhians, commissions, MPs, judiciary and social justice ministry to give their answers. The Sangh put forward five demands, which include that the Prime Minister should himself take over the responsibility of Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, atrocities should be declared national problem, anti-atrocities laws should be amended and strengthen with in six months and others. (Pioneer, 04/07/2011)

It never stops in UP: 2 cases of honour killing in 24 hours

Notorious for gruesome crimes, western Uttar Pradesh registered two incidents of honour killing from

Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar in the last 24 hours. In Saharanpur, Nagma (21) of Kallan Heri hamlet of Badgaon police circle was having an affair with a local youth which was opposed by her parents and especially her elder brother Nadeem. The love-lorn girl had even been warned by her brother to end the liaison or face dire consequences. Undeterred by the frequent threats, Nagma however continued with the affair. On learning that his sister had not acted as per his diktat, Nadeem stopped Nagma from going outside the house. This resulted in a heated exchange of words between the siblings. Refusing to fall in line with her brother’s orders, a resolute Nagma tried to sneak out of the house to meet her boyfriend on Sunday afternoon. This incensed Nadeem who whipped out a country made pistol and fired at Nagma. When her younger sister Nazia (17) tried to save her, she suffered bullet injuries and succumbed on the spot. Unfazed by hi sister’s death, Nadeem once again trained his pistol at Nagma and fired from close range killing her on the spot. Reacting to the staccato of gunshots, the neighbours rushed into the house only to find the two sisters lying in a pool of blood. Nadeem fled the scene soon after the crime. The locals informed the police and the bodies were sent for autopsy. A case was registered and the police launched a manhunt to arrest Nadeem. In a similar case in Muzaffarnagar, Tahira (18) of Paladi village of Shahpur police circle was having an affair with her neighbour Hamza Qureshi (22). Her family members were against the affair as the youth was from a lower caste. The family members threatened the couple to end their affair or face dire consequences. On Sunday evening, Tahira and Hamza were found with serious wounds all over their person inside the jungles of Aliyarpur area in Mansioorpur police circle. The police rushed the injured to the District Hospital where Tahira was pronounced dead upon arrival.

(Pioneer, 05/07/2011)

Dalits’ temple entry: NCSC summons DGP, CS

The National Commission for Scheduled Caste has summoned the State’s DGP and Chief Secretary on July 18 to explain the position regarding the ban on Dalits’ entry into certain temples in the State and the Government’s action in eliminating this age old discrimination. Commission chairman PL Punia is reported to have stated this in Patna on Sunday. Punia himself was allegedly denied entry into a temple at Ranapada in Puri district on June 25. Stating that Dalits are not allowed to enter the temples’ vicinity, he said that on getting such complaints he personally went there for verification. At the Ranapada temple premises, there is a barricade with a board saying, “Dalits not allowed beyond this and they can pray from this point,” he said He said that after declaring that he and some others accompanying him are Dalits, he removed the barricade and went ahead. There was an iron railing and the room there was locked. Similar practice is rampant at several other temples in Odisha. The commission has decided to hold a hearing and the DGP and the Chief Secretary have been asked to appear there, Punia said. He said the commission has powers to take action in such cases. When a Secretary level official of the Union Ministry of Social Welfare did not turn up for a hearing of the commission, a warrant of arrest was issued and the official was arrested and brought before the commission, he recalled. Punia said he is travelling across the country for an awareness drive and to learn about the State Governments’ actions and schemes to safeguard the interests of the Dalits. (Pioneer, 05/07/2011)

Dalits prevented from drawing water from well

MADURAI: Dalits of Yanamalai Kodikulam village have been prevented from fetching water from a well by non-dalits to protect the ‘sanctity’ of the well. For decades, dalits of the village, have not been allowed to use the well, the only source of potable water in the village, about 12km from Madurai. The district collector U Sagayam heard the plight of the Dalits on Monday and assured that the problem would be set right in 10 days. Ward member of Kodikulam panchyat, M Premkumar told TOI that more than 200 dalit families reside in Indira Nagar, but there was no proper drinking water facility in the area. So dalits are forced to depend on the well located near the Malaisamy temple. But the non-dalits prevent them from going near the well, saying the water would get polluted if they came anywhere near it. President of the Kodikulam panchayat, S Santhana Lakshmi Sathish Babu, a non-dalit herself, denied the allegations. She said government officials had recently enquired into the issue and found the allegation to be baseless. Malaisamy, a non dalit from the village, said it was their right to prevent dalits from drawing drinking water from the well. Madurai SP Asra Garg said a police team would be sent to the village on Tuesday to investigate the matter. He said police protection would be provided to dalits. (TOI, 05/07/2011)

“V-C posts elude Dalits”

Despite constituting 20 per cent of the State population, Dalits have no representatives when it comes to the Vice-Chancellorship in the 24 universities in the State. A Federation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) Associations said that this was a surprising fact to note as there were many Government Orders passed reserving seats for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes in many departments in higher education, but has not been implemented properly. In Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Dalits were given adequate representation; there were at least two Vice-Chancellors from SC/ST communities in these States, said K. Purushothaman, general secretary, Madurai Kamaraj University SC/ST Employees’ Welfare Association. The association made a representation to the Chief Minister and the Governor to look into the issue at the earliest and appoint members belonging to the

SC/ST category for the vacant posts of VCs at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Mother Teresa Women’s University and Madurai Kamaraj University. Their petition to the Chief Minister said that there were many erudite, qualified and experienced persons from the community. (Hindu, 07/07/2011)

Call to end manual scavenging

Safai Karamchari Andolan, a grass roots movement of conservancy workers, and People’s Movement of Social Justice, a human rights organisation working among Dalits and tribals in Madurai, have demanded immediate action to end manual scavenging in Rajapalayam taluk of Virudhunagar district. Both the organisations are engaged in exposing this inhuman practice in the State. P. Satya, organiser, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Madurai and Southern Districts, toldThe Hinduthat they had done a survey which showed that, apart from Seithur town panchayat, manual scavenging existed at Krishnapuram, Sundararajapuram and Watrap in Virudhunagar district. “We took adequate efforts and have put an end to the practice at Mamsapuram and Koomapatti. We are planning to the meet the Collector with all the details soon.” I. Pandian of People’s Movement of Social Justice said that instead of spending money on technologies that could remove humans from direct contact with the excreta of others, the local government relied on human beings from these caste to bear the social costs. Kuruvan (60) of Krishnapuram panchayat has been doing this work for the last 50 years; his wife K. Leela also is doing the same job for 30 years. P. Sabarimalai, P. Ganesan, Vairavan (Arunthathiyars) and K. Gurusamy and his wife Palaniselvi (both Kuruvars) are also engaged in the work at Krishnapuram. They all said that they did not want their children to continue this job. Their recommendations include filing a case by the Collector against the Sanitary Inspectors and the town panchayat officials under Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 for employing sanitary workers for manual scavenging. The workers shall be provided adequate compensation under the 1993 Act. The Collector shall take immediate action under the Act, to demolish the ‘dry latrine’ existing near “Ekkala Devi Temple Street” beside the water tank at Seithur. Tamil Nadu Government shall conduct a survey to identify dry latrines and the practice of manual scavenging and take efforts to abolish and ensure rehabilitation of manual scavengers. The National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Scheduled Castes shall take suo moto action and appropriate steps to ensure justice to the victims.

(Hindu, 07/07/2011)

Caste revelation breaks marriage mid-way in Bhiwani

BHIWANI: In a sudden twist of circumstances, two grooms had to return without brides as the marriage was aborted at the nick of time, when the castes of families, both bride and groom, was found different at the time of taking marriage vows in Karu village of Bhiwani district on Sunday. According to information, situated turned chaotic at the marriage venue, which was the house of Ashok Kumar at Karu village, as soon as the priest declared the gotras and castes of the grooms who had arrived to marry Ashok`s two daughters. The two sides came to blows and later turned to the middleman Jai Singh and gave him a good thrashing. Jai Singh had come to Ashok with the offer to marry off his daughters Kajal and Karishma with two sons of Rakumar, Surajmal and Dilbagh, resident of Rohilla locality in Bhiwani. Jai Singh allegedly concealed the caste of Rajkumar, who belongs to Dhanak community while Ashok Kumar is

from different scheduled caste community. Someone from among the marriage guests however, informed the police about the development and Tosham police station SHO Umed Singh arrived on the spot. The SHO said both the parties cooled down after some time realizing that it was the middleman who mislead them. “The two sides decided to dispose off the matter in the presence of the police. The groom`s family gave Rs 30,000 as compensation to the expenses incurred by the brides` side in the arrangements and parted ways”, he said. (TOI, 08/07/2011)

HC seeks report on burning of dalit huts in Dindigul

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has directed the state authorities to produce the report of the inspection conducted by village administrative officers and the tahsildar on the burning of 84 houses belonging to dalit villagers at Paralipudur’ Dindigul district. Passing orders’ the bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam directed that the report submitted to the collector be submitted to the court. The case has been posted for further hearing after two weeks along with the writ petition filed before the Madurai bench. The matter relates to an incident that occurred in the village in February 2011′ in which members of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) hoisted their party flag at the village tank. This move was objected to by the upper-caste Mutharaiyar community’ who hoisted their own flag at the same site. While the VCK flag was soon removed’ it was alleged that Mutharaiyar community flag was found with a string of footwear around it the next morning which ignited the ire of the community. They reportedly barged into the dalit settlements and set the huts ablaze along with livestock and vehicles. According to advocate P Pugalenthi’ the petitioner in the case’ the counter-affidavit filed by the government said that 72 houses were affected of which six were fully burnt and 19 were half-destroyed . The court wanted to know what was the relief granted to the villagers and directed state authorities to submit the report’ he added. (TOI, 11/07/2011)

Home dept intervenes to offer justice to Dalits

JAIPUR: In a first ever move of its kind, the state home department recently took up 31 cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes, offering relief to the victims. Most of the cases were registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The move followed a study by the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and the Jaipur-based Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR) over two months on the plight of state Dalits. The study also looked into the role of statutory bodies such as the State Human Rights Commission, Commission for Scheduled Castes, Women’s Commission and the State Assembly’s Committee on Welfare of SCs in providing relief in these cases. The study’s conclusion that the commissions have failed to provide constitutional safeguards or redress grievances of Dalits made the state government sit up and take notice. It was then that the home department approached the CDR and requested it to provide details of 31 specific cases submitted earlier to different commissions, forums and the government departments concerned. No Dalit in these cases has got relief. (TOI, 11/07/2011)

Dalit boycott by Muslims leaves Gujarat’s Sanand village edgy

For 500 odd dalits in Andej village which has a population of over 5,000, buying 1 kg rice is a 30 km return journey.This is despite the fact that there are a dozen odd shops in the village laden with all the goods they need. The tragedy is that they are refused even a rickshaw ride, though they have money to afford one! The social boycott of the dalit families here by the dominant Muslim community, has made life miserable for them. The Muslim boycott of the backward communities started on July 1 after a scuffle between two groups in which a dalit was left with a fracture in the left hand. The injured man lodged a police complaint under the Prevention of Atrocities Act against those who had assaulted him. This upset the majority population of the village. It was soon followed bya verbal fatwa warning the auto-drivers of the community that they would be fined Rs2,000 if they ferried a dalit community passenger. The gorcery shops followed suit. Andej has some 700 Muslim and 100 dalit families, includingShenwa, Valmiki and Rohit communities. There are around 40 Patel families in the village too. Since July 1, 2011, the 100 backward communities including Dalits have been boycotted by the Muslims of the village and are allegedly not allowed to purchase anything from the public market. They are also not allowed to use the local transport system which is dominated by Muslim auto-drivers from the village. The 100 families are forced to use other means of transport which are much most costly. The village has around 15 Shenwa and 60 Rohit community families. Both these communities are considered backward even among the Dalit communities. “We are not allowed to purchase anything from the local market,” Shankar Shenwa

told DNA. “They (Muslims) have announced a penalty of Rs2000 on any Muslim driver who allows us to sit in his vehicle,” Shankar added. The scuffle that led to the atrocity case and the boycott took place after Shankar’s brother, Manu Shenwa, was accused of stealing stones meant for some construction work in the village being carried out by one Hussain Khokhar.”Khokhar came to my house, asked me about the stones, and then started beating me. Later other people joined him,” Manu told DNA. He said that Khokhar, along with five other people, had assaulted him and fractured his left hand. An atrocity case was eventually filed by Manu. This precipitated a boycott of all the backward communities of the village by the majority Muslim community.Fatu Rehmu, sarpanch of Andej Gram Panchayat, was not available for his comment but, her husband, who handles all the activities of the panchayat, told DNA that it was true that the Muslim auto-drivers were boycotting the backward communities. “But they are doing this because they do not want any conflict between the two communities. It is best to avoid people from these communities if there is a possibility of conflict,” he said. However, he denied that members of the backward community were being prevented from purchasing anything from the local market.Suresh Jadhav, a local Dalit activist, told DNA that when they tried to intervene and sort out the matter, Muslim families said that they would do so only on the condition that the atrocity case was withdrawn. (DNA, 12/07/2011)

‘50% of poor in India are SCs’

NEW DELHI: Fifty% of the poor in the country belong to the scheduled castes, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has said in a study. The report was submitted by the NCSC to the Prime Minister and the law minister in support of its recommendation for reservation in admission and promotion for SC students and employees, officials in the Commission said. “In view of these facts, the Commission highlights the importance of reservation in admission of SC students as well as reservation in promotion of SC employees,” it said in a release. The report further states that there is a literacy gap of 10.69 per cent between SCs and other castes and dalits in many parts of the country were still subjected to social and economic discrimination. NCSC chairman PL Punia has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to issue directions for initiating action in view of the recommendations of the report, it said. Punia has also written to UP chief minister Mayawati requesting her to provide reservation in admission in private unaided professional colleges in the state without any legal hurdles, the release said. (TOI, 13/07/2011)

13-year-old Dalit girl raped for two days in UP (2)

SULTANPUR(UP): In yet another rape case in Uttar Pradesh, a thirteen-year-old Dalit girl was sexually assaulted for two days in Kudwar area here, police said. The victim was held captive for two days at a tubewell and raped by two youths from where she escaped this morning, SP Govind Agarwal said. The girl, a resident of CSM Nagar, had gone to Sultanpur to purchase some medicines on July 12, where she met the two persons who took her to the tubewell and raped her, Agarwal said. Efforts are on to arrest the accused, he added. (Times of India 14/7/11)

20-year-old dalit girl assaulted, gang raped (2)

AHMEDABAD: Two men allegedly raped a 20-year-old dalit girl, who had come to the city seeking a livelihood. Police arrested six people including a woman and the two men who the girl accused of raping her on Friday night in Sola area. Sola police told TOI that Savita (name changed), who is from Amreli used to work with a city-based film production company till four months ago. She was out of the job for the last four months because of a severe back pain and had been staying with her sister in Amreli. Her father died two years ago and her mother remarried leaving her to fend for herself. (Times of India 17/7/11)

Five States to initiate review of protection of Dalit rights (2)

A recent study on the role of statutory institutions in protection of Dalit rights in Rajasthan, which prompted the State Government to take action in 31 cases of atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes, is proposed to be replicated in five other States in the country. Civil rights activists and Dalit victims of violence and discrimination highlighted the study’s findings and deliberated on the specific instances investigated by it at an impact assessment meeting here over the weekend. Victims narrated accounts of atrocities and provided details of action taken as a result of the study. The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) and the Centre for Dalit Rights had jointly conducted the study which looked into the role of statutory bodies such as the State Human Rights Commission, Commission for Scheduled Castes, Women’s Commission and the State Assembly’s Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes. Addressing the meeting, PRIA’s Delhi director Manoj Rai said similar studies would be undertaken shortly in five States – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka – where there is a “high prevalence” of crimes against Dalits. The interventions made in Rajasthan would serve as the benchmark for the study’s replication in the five States, he added. CDR patron P. L. Mimorth said the frequency of crimes against Scheduled Castes in the State had increased over the years. These cases involve murder, rape, denial of access to public places, encroachment on land allotted to Dalits, untouchability and physical assault. The participants noted that the PRIA-CDR study had made a tremendous impact on the State Government. Though the cases discussed in the study had previously been referred to different Commissions, forums and Government departments, the victims had not been given any relief. Lakshman Singh Jatav from Bharatpur said the case of his daughter’s gang-rape and her subsequent suicide, which was earlier hushed up, has since been reopened and the accused arrested. Financial relief of Rs.50, 000 has been provided to his family. In a horrifying case of a Dalit woman beaten up and murdered at Nadbai in Bharatpur district, orders for action were given by the Chief Minister’s Office, after which the anticipatory bail application of the accused was rejected and they were arrested. Financial relief of Rs. 75,000 has been provided in the case, said Meethalal Jatav. Most of the cases analysed and investigated in the study were registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Home Department has taken up 31 cases with the authorities concerned and given relief to most of the victims within a span of six months. PRIA State coordinator Krishan Tyagi said the statutory bodies should be held accountable for their work, and their style of functioning should be changed to bring in “more transparency”. He said the sharing of experiences by the victims had proved the utility of the study. (The Hindu 18/7/11)

Mayawati in bid to win support of Pasi community (2)

In a bid to win support of Pasi community (a dalit sub caste) in coming assembly elections, Bahujan Samaj Party president and Chief Minister, Mayawati on Sunday assured to give community members their due share in administration and politics. The Chief Minister discussed problems of community with Pasi leader, Ramlakhan Pasi at her residence in a meeting in morning which lasted for two hours.

Mayawati appointed Ram Lakhan Pasi zonal co-ordinator of BSP’s ‘bhaichara committees’ of Lucknow, Faizabad and Allahabad divisions where Pasi electorates are in sizeable number. Mayawati instructed him to work within Pasi community for ensuring party’s victory to power in coming election scheduled in 2012. The Chief Minister assured Pasi leader to take prompt action on five point charter presented in the meeting and said, soon she would make some announcements regarding welfare of the community. As a representative of community Ram Lakhan Pasi, in charter stressed on five demands including renovation of Bijli Pasi fort in Lucknow, announcement of public holiday on September 16, the martyr day of Pasi icon Uda Devi, inclusion of biography of both Pasi icons in school syllabus, prime postings for Pasi officials in government departments and adequate share to Pasis in the politics and administration. Later in day addressing a conclave of Pasi community organised in Sahkarita Bhawan, BSP state president and Panchayati Raj Minister Swamy Prasad Maurya said, the renovation of Raja Bijli Pasi fort would be done by the government after party returns in to power in assembly election in 2012. While other parties were indulging in mere lip service for upliftment of dalits and poor people only BSP was bringing change in their lives through its good governance in UP, he said. Several BSP leaders including party MP, Jugal Kishore, former Mayor Dauji Gupta, Ram Lakhan Pasi and UP state SC/ST commission chairman Mahadeen Gautam addressed the conclave. (Pioneer 18/7/11)

Govt to act tough against safai karmacharis (2)

Lucknow: With ‘karamcharis’ taking rest in their homes subletting ‘safai’ work to others, the state government has decided to act tough against such ‘safai karamcharis’. A Government Order to this effect was issued on Tuesday asking district magistrates to take strict action against truant bonafide safai karamcharis. The order was issued following bureaucrats logged in their inspection reports that ‘hired’ people were carrying out ‘safai’ of revenue villages. The pradhans and lower level village officers confirmed emergence of this new trend where Safai Karamcharis outsource safai work in villages. “There is no caste bias in sub-letting their job. Earlier, it was believed that only upper caste safai karamcharis

had sublet their work to others including dalits. Inquiry showed that people from other castes had also adopted this new phenomenon,” a senior official in Chief Minister’s office told The Pioneer here on Tuesday. Issuing the fresh GO, Principal Secretary, Panchayati Raj, BM Meena directed all the district magistrates to ensure that cleaning of drains and roads of revenue villages were carried out on regular basis. The order specified that the work should only be done by state-appointed Safai Karamcharis. “Regular inspection of their work should be carried out by Gram Panchayat Adhikari and Gram Vikas Adhikari. In case of negligence, action will be taken against these two official as well as the Safai karamchari,” Meena said. The State Government had appointed around one lakh Safai Karamcharis last year. They were appointed in all the 52,034 revenue villages. (Pioneer 20/7/11)

Dalit woman assaulted, paraded naked in Jajpur (2)

Jajpur: A 23-year-old Dalit woman, Anganawadi worker, was beaten up and paraded naked through Manapur village under Kuakhia police station in Jajpur district on Wednesday by some upper caste people. An FIR was filed by Ramesh Mallick, the brother of the victim on Wednesday against Tushar Samal, Baidhar Nayak, Kaliprasana Samal, Loknath Panda, Sukanta Sahoo, Rajkishor Das, Amar Samal, Sankarsan Parida and other upper caste persons in Kuakhia police station, informed Inspector -in-Charge of Kuakhia PS. “We filed a case against all the nine upper caste persons under sections-354, 323,294, 506 and 34 of Indian Penal Code and Section- 3 of SC and ST (Atrocity Prevention) Act, 1989 on Wednesday. All the accused persons managed to flee from the village. The police are raiding their hideouts to arrest them and are also investigating the case”, said the IIC. The victim sustained serious injuries on her body. She was initially admitted to the Kuakhia community health centre (CHC). But, later she was shifted to SCB Medical in Cuttack. Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) of Rasulpur block Kusum Lata Kar said “The injured Anganwadi worker has been managing the Anganwadi centre honestly since last three years. But some unscrupulous persons of the village have been opposing her”. A Dalit leader Harihar Mallick visited the village and met the victim woman in the hospital. They also met the police officials and demanded the arrest of the attackers. (Pioneer 21/7/11)

Minor Dalit girl gang-raped, murdered in Alwar (2)

ALWAR: A 17-year-old dalit girl was gangraped and brutally murdered in Sadar police station area of Alwar district on Wednesday night. The girl was stragulated by at least four men who have been arrested.

The accused had dumped her body on railway tracks after murder. Police said the victim, a resident of Jatiyana village, had gone out with her cousin in the evening and was returning home when she was intercepted by a person wearing a ‘burqa’ (veil). “The woman told her that she was scared of something and requested her to accompany her to her house. She told the girl that the house was nearby,” a police officer said. The officer said that the victim sent her cousin home and accompanied the woman. “During the interrogation of the four men, who have been arrested for the crime, it came up that one of them had pretended to be a woman. Soon after the girl started accompanying him, three others came there,” said the officer. He added that the girl soon realized what was happening and tried to attract the attention of others by crying for help, but they gagged her with a piece of cloth. They took the girl to a forest area and raped her one by one. “Fearing that the girl would tell someone about the incident, they strangulated her and then dumped her body on the railway tracks,” the officer added. He said that they threw the body on the tracks thinking that the death would be considered an accident after it would be run over by a train. However, some animals dragged the girl’s body from the tracks. Meanwhile, the family members of the girl launched a search when she did not return home and informed the police after they could not find her. “The body was traced about five hours after the murder. Some passers-by informed us late Wednesday night following which a team was rushed there,” said the officer. The police have arrested four men – Iqbal, Mushtaq, Foji and Mussaddi. Interrogation of them is going on. Tension prevailed in the village after the news of girl’s death reached them.(Times of India 22/7/11)

Punjab: Atrocities against SCs; NCSC hits out (2)

Chandigarh: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) today hit out at the Punjab government for “rising” atrocities against Scheduled Caste people. After a meeting with state government officials, NCSC Chairman PL Punia said atrocities against SCs in the state were on rise. The cases of atrocities against SC families increased from 97 in 2009 to 118 in 2010, he said. Punia said the state had not even held a meeting of the State Vigilance and Monitoring Committee to monitor atrocities against SCs in the last five years. “The committee should hold a meeting every six months but the state government did not conduct such exercise during the last five years,” he said. Punia pointed out that SC families constitute 31 per cent of total population in Punjab as per the latest census. He accused the state government of diverting funds meant for uplift of SCs out of the state annual plan. (Zee News 22/7/11)

Aarakshan is anti-Dalit: RPI chief (2)

Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athavale Sunday said his party will not let theatres in Maharashtra screen Prakash Jha’s upcoming release Aarakshan” if the movie does not change its “antiDalit” stance. “The film seems to be trying to put a divide between Dalits and the others,” Athavale told IANS. The RPI chief’s threat comes a day after the National Commission of Scheduled Castes (NCSC) also termed the film “anti-Dalit”. NCSC had earlier asked Prakash Jha to screen the film for a panel before its release Aug 12. According to Athavale, the panel’s chairman N.L. Punia wanted to ensure that the film does not misrepresent the constitutional stand and laws on reservation. “But the screening did not take place. We will wait for the film to release and then protest against it if it promotes an anti-Dalit stand,” Athavale said. “Aarakshan”, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, is about reservations in the Indian education system. Khan plays a Dalit teacher. The censor board has cleared the film with a U/A certificate. (Times of India 25/7/11)

Youth held for raping mentally-challenged girl in Kendrapada (2)

Kendrapada: The Pattamundai police on Saturday arrested a youth on the charges of sexually abusing a 24-years old mentally challenged Dalit girl six months back at Balipatana village. Inspector- in-Charge of Pattamundai police station Rashmi Ranjan Sahu said Biswanath Das , a resident of Balipatana village under Pattamundai PS allegedly sexually abused a 24-year old Dalit girl , Katrina (name changed) of the village six months back in a lonely place . The youth had also threatened the girl not to disclose about this matter to anybody else she would face dire consequences . But the matter came to the limelight, when the mother of the girl came to know about the pregnancy of Katrina. On Friday, the victim girl’s mother lodged an FIR at Pattamundai against the accused. The arrested youth was sent for medical examination and on Sunday he was produced in the JMFC court of Pattamundai under Section 376, 506 of IPC: 3 SC and ST Prevention of Atrocity Act. The arrested youth was remanded into jail custody after his bail petition was rejected by court, informed the IIC. (Pioneer 25/7/11)

CPI seeks justice for Dalit families (2)

The CPI wanted the government to take steps to register the agriculture land at Serilingampalli on the city outskirts which was handed over to Emaar Properties. In a letter addressed to Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, CPI State secretary K. Narayana said the government forcibly acquired the land which was under the possession of Dalit families and handed over to the rich. Action was not being initiated against the firms which were trying to sell the land given to them for development. (The Hindu 26/7/11)

Diversion of SC, ST funds deplored (2)

Various dalit organisations on Monday decided to spearhead protracted agitation to put an end to diversion of funds allocated for betterment of SCs and STs by the Union and State governments to other departments. Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub Plan ‘Nidhulu Sadhana Iakya Karyacharana Committee State convenor B. Danam, speaking at the committee Prakasam district meeting here, said, “only through protracted struggle we will be able to get justice.” CPI Legislature party leader G. Mallesh promised all support to the dalits in their struggle to press for spending at least 16.2 per cent of all funds for SCs development and 6.6 per cent funds for STs development. CPI(M)-led All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) State general secretary B. Venkat alleged that in spite of formation of the Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub Plan, funds allocated for dalits and girijans were being diverted for other projects such as beautification of Hussainsagar lake, Jalayagnam, and Outer Ring Road project.

(The Hindu 26/7/11)

Khairlanji massacre survivor Bhotmange denies remarriage (2)

NAGPUR: Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the sole survivor of the Khairlanji massacre in Bhandara district, has denied that he has re-married. Sheela, the woman living at his house is only a domestic help. “All reports in media about his re-marriage are part of a conspiracy to defame and demoralize me,” he said. Bhotmange addressed a press conference flanked by Republican Panthers activists Ravi Shende and Sanjay Jeevne. Presenting a strong case on his behalf even before he could interact with reporters, they alleged that reports of Bhotmange’s marriage were part of a upper-caste conspiracy to undermine the Dalit movement to bring justice to Bhotmange who had suffered immensely having lost all four members of his family. On September 29 in a mob attack by the villagers in Khairlanji in Mohadi taluka of Bhandara district, 100 km from here, Bhaiyyalal’s wife Surekha, teen-aged daughter Priyanka and two grown-up sons Sudhir and Rohan were lynched. Bhaiyalal survived as he hid himself at a nearby place. While eight persons were awarded life imprisonment in the case by the high court, an appeal against it is pending in Supreme Court. “There is no evidence of me having got re-married. I employed Sheela to do household chores. I was not keeping well for last few days and my friends and well-wishers advised me to hire a domestic help who could run the house for me while I went to work and took care of the court case matter,” said Bhaiyalal. He went on further to accuse a Mararthi private news channel of manipulating the news and forcing him and Sheelabai to sit together for capturing visuals on camera. “When the journalists visited my house I denied having got into wedlock with Sheela. But they would not listen,” said Bhaiyalal. Interestingly, Sheelabai is from Nagpur and agreed to work for him for a monthly salary of Rs 700, he said. She was staying at her sister’s place at nearby Fulmogra, and commuted from there to Bhandara and Nagpur, he said. “These mediapersons turn a blind eye to the celebrations at Khairlanji when the accused visit the village on parole. Some people have been floating rumours about Bhotmange’s remarrriage for last two years. They are now active again, just before the scheduled hearing of the appeal in the apex court next month and before the fifth anniversary of the dastardly attack at Khairlanji. September 29 is observed as `Smruti Divas’ at the attack site,” said Jeevne. (Times of India 26/7/11)

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit woman raped, stabbed (2)

Basti, Uttar Pradesh: In another setback for the Mayawati government, and adding to the long list of rape cases, a Dalit woman was raped and stabbed barely 50 metres from the DIG’s residence in the Basti area of Uttar Pradesh. After raping her, the three men repeatedly stabbed her on the terrace of a government quarter in the district. One of the main accused Ajay Chaudhary is the driver of a senior government officer, who stays in one of the quarters. The woman is critical, and is being treated in the district hospital. Police have lodged a case of rape. “Poonam mentioned that somebody misbehaved with her. There are a few blade marks also on her. A case of rape has been registered and we have constituted teams to look for the accused,” said Rajesh Modak, SP, Basti. (NDTV 26/7/11)

National Commission for Scheduled Castes panel back to Delhi on a bitter note

LUCKNOW : The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NSCS) panel on Wednesday returned back to Delhi on a bitter note. Before the panel left, its chairman and Congress MP, PL Punia said, despite obstacles being put by Mayawati government the commission would enhance its efforts to ensure justice to dalits facing atrocities in Uttar Pradesh. On Tuesday the panel was denied holding meeting with dalit students of Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU), who had complained of caste bias and discrimination by university administration, on pretext of ongoing admission work there. Despite the university administration had announced a holiday at campus, Punia along with panel members met students and took serious cognisance of their problems. On Wednesday NCSC panel visited Divisional Railways Manager (DRM) office in state capital and held a public hearing involving dalit employees of Railways. Besides Punia took part in District Monitoring and Vigilance Committee in Barabanki from where he is an elected member of Parliament. Talking to “The Pioneer” Punia said, since the state government was unconcerned with the problems being faced by dalits it tried, with all its might, to put all kinds of hurdles to prevent us from holding meetings with them so we could not know about the atrocities being perpetrated on them. The NCSC panel was denied accommodation at state guest house, the administrative officers were held from meeting with us and even vehicles were not provided to us which should be given under protocol. The panel members were pressed to hire taxi for their movement in state capital and were even left without any security, he said. Pointing at ill intentions of state government he said, the government was misguiding in saying that due protocol was provided to members of constitutional panel. In fact the government created a situation of confront to prevent the NCSC from performing its duty. However legal action will be initiated against all those including vice-chancellor of CSSMU who tried putting obstacles before NCSC panel during its visit. (Pioneer 28/7/11)

‘Media pays little attention to the issues of rural Dalits’ (2)

Mumbai-based Anand Teltumbde is a leading scholar-activist who has written extensively on issues related to caste, class, imperialism and globalisation. In the second part of an interview with Yoginder Sikand, he talks about the Dalit media, the influx of NGOs and the impact of Dalit capitalism on the movement. How do you assess the role of the Dalit media in raising and communicating these issues which you feel Dalit groups have failed to take up? There is not much of a Dalit media actually. There are several small magazines and periodicals run by Dalits all over the country. Some of them do raise valid issues faced by Dalits, but many others are simply tails of this or that political group. This connection may not be always visible but it does exist in terms of direct or indirect support coming from these sources. During the last decade, a curious development took place in Maharashtra in this regard. Some Dalits started daily papers, one after another. Today, there are at least half a dozen full-sheet daily papers run by Dalits in Maharashtra. They do satisfy rhetorical need of having our own media. One does not know how their economics is managed, however, given that newspapers basically run on advertisement revenue, which is largely absent in their case. The content analysis of these newspapers does not indicate that they have significantly contributed raising the live questions of Dalits or catalysed any movement around it. They just meet the identitarian need of having ‘our’ own media. I do not know whether a media owned and operated by Dalits could really be called a ‘Dalit media’. Most Dalit papers reflect the concerns and interests of their readership — the ‘reservationist’ middle-class — and that is why they deal mainly with religio-cultural issues, besides, of course, reservations. They pay little attention to the issues of rural Dalits. Many of them are averse to taking up economic issues or to considering the need for a contextually-rooted class-cum-caste analysis of Indian society. Basically premised on the identity of Dalits, they often ignore other issues. The media reflects to some degree the state of our intellectual activism. The tragedy is that we have few organic intellectuals who can articulate the concerns and interests of the Dalit masses. Instead, we have a whole lot of cut-and-paste intellectuals whose only task, it seems, is to rehash what others have written before them, refusing to engage in any creative intellectual work. The Dalit media eventually mirrors it. Rediff: News 3/8/11)

National SC/ST Commission sends summons to Leela Samson (2)

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has issued summons to Leela Samson, chairpersons of the Central Board of Film Certification, to appear before it on August 8 in connection with the upcoming Bollywood movie Aarakshan (Reservations). Commission has called Ms. Samson to examine whether the movie violated any provision of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act,

Sameer Bhujbal, MP and son of prominent Maharashtra OBC (other backward caste) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, said in a press statement on Tuesday. Dalit and OBC leaders have already demanded a preview of the film which is slated to release on August 12. They have warned of action if the stand in the movie is found to be anti-reservations. All India Mahatma Phule Samata Parishad has called for a peaceful protest depending on the film content. (The Hindu 3/8/11)

Samiti seeks sites, amenities for Dalits (2)

The Karnataka Pradesh Dalit Jagruti Samiti has urged the Mysore district administration to provide sites and amenities to Dalit families of Tayur village in Nanjangud taluk of Mysore district. In a memorandum submitted to the district administration, a copy of which was released to presspersons, convener of the Mysore unit of the samiti M. Prabhu and other office-bearers complained that the residents did not have access to proper roads and hospitals. They urged the district administration to purchase 4 acres of land in the north of the village to carve out sites for 150 Dalit families. Housing schemes such as Ashraya, Ambedkar and Indira Awas should be introduced in the village, they said. A separate ration depot should be sanctioned for the village. Dalit families should be given direct loans from the Social Welfare Department and the B.R. Ambedkar Development Corporation, they said. Besides, every house in the village should be provided toilets under the Total Sanitation Campaign, the samiti added. (The Hindu

4/8/11)

Minor girl raped; one arrested (2)

A 13-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by a 33-year-old man on Tuesday. The victim has been admitted to the Kottarakara taluk hospital. The man was arrested by the Pooyapally police. The police said the accused, Ratheesh, was a relative of the girl.The girl had been staying at Ratheesh’s house since one month as a help to his wife who was delivered of a child. Ratheesh works as an autorickshaw driver at Mannadi. (The Hindu 4/8/11)

After 4 years of stir, Kerala Dalits yet to get homes (2)

Kochi: Four years have passed since the Sadhujana Vimochana Samyuktha Vedi, an organisation of Dalits and Adivasis, started their ‘agitation of tolerance’ among the hills of Chengara in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district demanding land for home and to cultivate but indications are that their efforts might not turn fruitful anytime soon. According to the Vedi leaders, there are 2,736 families living in the shacks put up in the “agitation land” in the rubber estates run by Harrison Malayalam Plantation Limited among the Chengara hills. A new Congress-led Government has taken over the State’s rule from the LDF, but that has not given the Vedi workers any new confidence. “Somehow, the ruling class seems to be reluctant to consider indigenous people as citizens of this country,” complained Sukumaran, a Dalit agitating in Chengara. “In 2009, the then LDF Government had offered land to some of us but what they were given were rocky waste lands. Still, there is no word about the rest of us,” he said. About 7,000 families of Dalits and Adivasis from all over Kerala had launched their epic struggle in Chengara on August 4, 2007 demanding five acres of land and Rs 5,00,000 for each homeless family. The then Government, led by octogenarian Marxist VS Achuthanandan, allegedly took an antagonistic attitude towards them right from the beginning. Though the police, restricted by a High court order not to use force, had tried to evict them from the rubber estates but the Dalits successfully resisted the move by threatening to commit suicide by hanging from the rubber trees and setting themselves ablaze. As the struggle won national attention, the then Government was forced to invite the Vedi leaders for talks. Leading rights activists from all over the country visited the Chengara hills to declare solidarity with the Dalits even when the stir created tensions locally. Trade unions of major parties even manhandled the agitators accusing them of causing disruption to their jobs as rubber tappers in the plantation. Left leaders even described the agitators as LTTE agents, pawns of imperialists and rubber thieves and at one stage Achuthanandan threatened to send “police with teeth and claw” to deal with them. However, after several rounds of dialogues, the Government and the agitators came to a settlement on October 5, 2009 and the strike was withdrawn partially. As per the settlement formula, one acre of land each was to be given to the Scheduled Tribes families, half-an-acre each to the Scheduled Caste families and 25 cents of land each to the other poor in the Chengara camp. The Government also promised to provide them with houses worth Rs 125,000 to ST families, Rs 100,000 to SC families and Rs 75,000 to the other poor. A Government survey among the agitators in Chengara had found that a total of 1,739 families were there in the agitation camp, and among them 1,432 families were qualified for the rehabilitation package. The agitators also included, as per the survey, 27 Adivasi families, each of who was to get one acre land and Rs 125,000 for housing. It was later proved that the Government had not planned properly for the rehabilitation of the Dalits and Adivasis of Chengara. Those who were rehabilitated in Kasaragod and Idukki districts found that the lands they had got were not arable. Also, no steps were taken to ensure the delivery of the other helps promised to them. At the same time, there was no word on the rehabilitation of the remaining families in the Chengara agitation camp. This forced the Vedi to resume the agitation demanding home and land to the families left out in the earlier package. The Vedi is now planning to intensify the agitation as the new Government’s response to the issue is said to be lukewarm. (Pioneer

5/8/11)

No inequalities now (2)

Chandrabhan Prasad: In the Marxian lexicon, inequality is fundamentally about the gap between the income and expenditure. The World Bank goes by the same criteria. In that sense, the two are similar. The Planning Commission in India also follows a similar pattern when it comes to measuring the wellbeing of the people. India, even today, is a caste society. Therefore, what is applicable in order to measure well-being of class societies does not hold water for a caste society. It is another matter that this society has developed cracks now. In his seminal work Annihilation of Caste Dr Ambedkar cites many instances of inequality that most people will find it difficult to read. The year — November 1935, the place Zanu, a village in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Having found financial independence, a few Dalit women were spotted fetching water in metal pots. The Hindus took an offense and assaulted the women for their imprudence. In April 1936, a similar incident took place in Chakwara district, Rajasthan. A Dalit went on a pilgrimage. Elsewhere a Hindu son took his parents on a pilgrimage — Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri, and Rameshwaram. Though there is not much information on what happened probably because of lack of information, a pilgrimage means that a good son should take his parents on a tour of the charon dham. Whether the Dalit son took his parents to all the four centres or just one temple is not important. What is important is that the son took his parents as per the custom and organised a dinner where he invited all his relatives and other Dalits in the village. There is nothing strange about this ritual. After all it is a custom in caste Hindus to organise such dinners after returning from a pilgrimage. Then why did the Chakwara Dalit dinner catch the media’s attention? The Dalit family were good hosts and served ghee — a food item that is usually eaten by people of the higher caste. Dr Ambedkar wrote: “While people were eating their food, Hindus in hundreds, armed with lathis reached the house of the Dalit, threw all the food and chased all the people away.” “But no one in the village though that eating ghee was something that only the higher caste was allowed…Hindus of Chakwara thought,” wrote Dr Ambedkar. Though the incident happened almost 80 years ago, instances where Dalit grooms were stoned because they rode horses are not too uncommon in badlands of West UP, Haryana and North Rajasthan. This is similar to the three tumbler system that exists at the tea stalls in villages of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. (I had written about it in my previous column). These incidents establish that economic indices are inadequate in measuring inequality. More importantly, economic inequality creates class divide and is all about accessing or unable to access good things in life. Social inequalities forces humiliation. Zanu and Chakwara stories are not based on class divide but are caste based which is forced on the Dalits humiliating them. Sadly, most scholars have a very narrow view of the caste order — what is pure, impure, what is higher case and lower. But these are ideological and organisational issues that the caste order is based on. However, not much is known or debated upon about the functional aspect of the order. The caste order is not only about hierarchies, it involves other aspects of life as well. It rides and survives on hierarchies which miss our intellectual discourses on caste in general and Dalits in particular. So we have caste ordained food hierarchy, dress hierarchy, language based hierarchy, and the most fundamental of all — occupation hierarchy. During a visit to my ancestral village recently, I was a witness to a near complete collapse of food hierarchy. To cut a long story short let me give two examples to explain. First, no one cultivates millets anymore. That means, irrespective of what caste a person belongs to, everybody is eating wheat, rice, pulses and vegetables. It is another matter that the upper caste is eating a better variety of the produce. After making several enquires, I came to the conclusion that farmers in my village have started to grow crops that give a higher yields. Though there are some farmers who cultivate crop that gives a lower yield but that is for personal consumption. But one thing is certain, no crop irrespective of its yield has a caste stamp on it. Earlier, millet was only eaten by Dalits. Now it is something that the cattle eat. Second, pork is no longer considered a food that only Dalits eat. A butcher that I spoke with said that 50 per cent of his customers are non-Dalits. Post 1990, within two decades of liberalisation, food hierarchy has collapsed. Food Hierarchy is now a thing of the past. The question is why did food inequality not end before? Post 1990, India’s massive industrialisation and urban expansion attracted a many illiterate and school drop Dalit youth migrated to cities in search of work in factories, industries and truck drivers. They just didn’t bring back money to their homes, they also brought with them urban lifestyle. This lifestyle is egalitarian as far as basic food is concerned. (Pioneer 6/8/11)

IG’s ‘caste’ remark snowballs into controversy (2)

KAKINADA: A senior IPS officer has landed himself in trouble over his alleged remarks on the increasing number of SC/ST atrocities cases. The reported comment by Visakhapatnam range IG Vinay Kumar Singh that a lot of SC/ST cases were fake drew strong reactions from several dalit sanghams who demanded action against the officer. Earlier on Friday night, 17 dalits were arrested and remanded to judicial custody for obstructing his vehicle and shouting slogans against him when he was on his way to Anaparthi. Trouble had started when the IG, during his visit to Anaparthi police station on Thursday, told the cops to be wary while dealing with caste-related cases. Singh said that caste colour was being given even to minor incidents and demonstrations were being staged without much provocation. He urged the cops to be on guard against such fake atrocity cases. These remarks kicked up a controversy in Anaparthi the next day during the IG’s visit. He was gheraoed, his vehicle was obstructed and slogans were raised against him by SC activists. Condemning the arrests, Amalapuram MP G V Harsha Kumar said that the IG’s action was uncalled for and demanded immediate release of the dalit activists. MLC

George Victor said use of force on peaceful protesters was unacceptable. (Times of India 7/8/11) Directive to Collectors on Thevar Jayanthi procession (2)

The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday directed Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram Collectors to conduct a peace committee meeting to solve differences between different caste groups over the route to be taken by residents of 12 villages in Tiruchuli taluk of Virudhunagar district for the annual Thevar Jayanthi procession on October 30. A Division Bench of Justices P. Jyothimani and M.M. Sundresh ordered that the meeting could be held at the Virudhunagar Collectorate and the court should be informed of the outcome within two weeks. The interim order was passed following a public interest litigation petition filed by individuals belonging to the twelve villages claiming that the police officers were forcing them to take a circuitous route. Arguing for the petitioners, their counsel W. Peter Ramesh Kumar said that it was not fair on the part of the police to ask the aged and women to walk for about 100 kilometres rather than taking the shortest route of just 25 kilometres. Claiming that there had been no instance of law and order problem in the past, he said that it was the duty of the police to provide necessary protection. Then, Mr. Justice Jyothimani intervened and said that the court should not interfere in matters related to law and order problem as the policemen were the best ones to take a decision on those issues. “Just one stone throw will spoil the whole show,” he said. Agreeing with him, Mr. Justice Sundresh added that the best of the police force in London itself was not able to manage the ongoing riots there. Later, the judges asked the Special Government Pleader K. Mahendran to inform the Collectors about the proposed peace committee meeting and the necessity to attempt for a peaceful solution to the issue. According to the petitioners, they had been taking out the procession by foot usually through Tiruchuli town, Panaiyur, Sethupuram, Anaikulam, Muthuramalingapuram, Mandalamanickam and Kamuthi. However, the police changed the route and asked the participants to go through Tiruchuli town, Tamilbadi, Ramalinga Mill, Kalloorani, Reddiyapatti, Mandapasalai, Kanavilakku and Kamuthi and hence the present case. On Wednesday, M. Dhanushkodi (65) of Muthuramalingapuram Pudur filed an intervening petition in the case claiming to be the representative of Dalits in his village. He opposed the writ petition on the ground that there could be a law and order problem if the procession was allowed through his village. (The Hindu 11/8/11)

Dalit minorities hold big rally in Gajapati (2)

The oppressed minority communities of Gajapati district have demanded their inclusion in the scheduled caste category and the right to get reservation. In a big rally on August 8 attended by about 10,000 dalit Christians and Muslims from different block areas of the district took out a procession from the Parla bus stand to the District Collector’s office chanting slogans in support of their demands. Leaders of both the communities including a few Left party leaders spoke at the meeting sharply criticising Government’s apathetic attitude towards the Dalit Christians and Muslims in granting them SC status and due reservation in various fields for which they have been fighting since August 10, 1950 when the Dalit Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and the Sikhs were denied the SC status. The leaders demanded the Central Government act keeping the Supreme Court’s order in view and announce its decision. They also threatened to intensify their stir in case the Government continues with its present attitude. The rally was jointly organised by the National Coordination Committee for Dalit Christians, the National Council of Dalit Christians and the Odisha Regional Commission for SC, ST and OBC. Former Zilla Parishad member

Thomas Michel, Mukim Khan, Mohmed Firoz Khaliq, bishop SC Naik, father BK Naik, reverend Sovlon Pani and others were leading the procession. All participants wore black badges protesting injustice meted out to them in free India. (The Pioneer 12/8/11)

Govt lacks sincerity on Dalits’ temple entry: Congress (2)

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Cell chairman Ripunath Seth on Thursday alleged that the State Government have no sincerity in creating conditions for entry of SC and dalit people into the Jagannath temple. SC and Dalit Congress State unit convener Bankanidhi Behera and former Minister Ganeswar Behera reacting to a news that the State Government has prepared a strategy to nullify the traditional restriction on SC and ST people in entering the temple premises, said the State Government had shown no interest for the uplift of the SC and the dalit sections of the society during the 12 years of its tenure. They said the Government suddenly woke up when the National Commission for SC/ST asked for a report on the issue of temple entry. “Many Ministers, MPs and other political leaders are also found using disparaging words irritating the SC and dalit communities,” they alleged. “Public awareness and strong implementation of law can eradicate the practice untouchability from the society. If it continues, the OPCC SC and Dalit Cell would take to the streets across the State,” the leaders cautioned. (The Pioneer 12/8/11)

Derogatory remarks in Aarakshan: Commission (2)

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the Censor Board have come to a stand-off over Prakash Jha’s new film Aarakshan which deals with reservation and commercialisation in education. The Commission, which viewed the film earlier this week, said certain dialogues in the film were “derogatory” and “objectionable” to Dalits and asked the Censor Board to order changes. However, the Board, which granted the film a U/A certification, said it would defend Mr. Jha’s right to free expression. “While the overall theme of the film is not objectionable, it is loaded with anti-Dalit and anti-reservation dialogues,” said NCSC chairman P.L. Punia. He pointed to a scene where two businessmen remark that they don’t want their children to study with those from Dalit communities “who stink” and have no manners as particularly “humiliating”. He said rather than condemning such an attitude, Bachchan’s character merely replied that he would not take two sets of classes for Dalit and non-Dalit students. Other characters mock the concept of reservation for Dalits, comparing it to alms, and claiming that Dalit students should be shining shoes rather than pursuing their studies. “The film ridicules the rights given to the underprivileged by the Constitution,” said Mr. Punia. However, Censor Board chairperson Leela Samson said there was no question of reviewing its certification. “When you show a certain situation, you must show reality as it is … [These dialogues] are nothing new when you consider the abuse hurled in everyday dialogues in this country,” she said. “I don’t think the film is anti-Dalit.” The Amitabh BachchanSaif Ali Khan starrer had come under fire from Dalit groups and politicians even before the Central Board of Film Certification, better known as the Censor Board, cleared the film. However, on Tuesday, the Mumbai High Court refused to ban the film, observing that “the only appropriate authority who has a right to judge a film is the Censor Board” adding that the filmmaker’s fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression could not be restricted. Mr. Jha, who organised the screening for the NCSC after the Court’s ruling, said he had not received any instructions from Mr. Punia, adding that everyone was free to air his or her observations on the film. Scriptwriter Anjum Rajabali said the film should be seen in totality. “It takes the issue of casteism, an old wound, head on and in doing so it has to echo different prejudices and biases present in our society for years,” he said. “Only then an active debate is possible. People could have objections with dramaturgy or the inability of the film to hold attention but as far as the issue of reservation is concerned it is fairly debated. The film goes beyond reservation to show how it has led to commercialisation of education.” Mr. Punia said that he would not fight with the Censor Board if it refused to make the cuts or delay the film’s release. (The Hindu 12/8/11)

Dalit Bahujana employees stage dharna (2)

Ongole: Scores of members of the Andhra Pradesh Electricity Dalit Bahujana Employees’ Welfare Association staged a dharna in front of the Prakasam Bhavan in support of their five-point charter of demands. The agitators, including its district president S. Ananda Rao and secretary K. Kottaiah, came in a procession on the arterial trunk road raising slogans demanding filling of backlog vacancies in the posts reserved for SCs and BCs. Leading the protest, its State general secretary J. Anjaiah sought application of the rule of reservation in the case of outsourced employees. They demanded an immediate end to the alleged harassment of contract workers by higher officials in the department. They also wanted earned leave and other benefits to those recruited on contract basis. The protesters, who have come from various divisions, including Chirala, Kandukur, Markapur, and Kanigiri, submitted a memorandum to district Collector Kantilal Dande listing their demands. (The Hindu 12/8/11)

Fruits, not milk, to be offered at K’pada temple (2)

KENDRAPADA: Due to the ongoing trouble that erupted on Saturday between the Dalits and the priests of Beruhan village over pouring of milk offered by some Dalits on the Shiv Ling at the local Mukteshwar temple, the rituals at the temple were suspended on Sunday as the priests skipped their responsibility in a couple of temples in the village. The deities were left without bath and also fasting on the day, said Beruhan Sarpanch Giridhari Rout. Tension prevailed at Beruhan under Marshaghai police station on Saturday when some Dalits, who had gone to the local Mukteswar temple to worship Lord Shiv on the occasion of Rakhi Purnima, were, as per existing tradition, denied by the priests when they offered milk to be poured on the Shiv Ling. It led to squatting by the dalits in front of the temple in protest with the priests leaving the temple in a huff.On Sunday, a police team visited the village in order to take stock of the situation. Later, the police organised a meeting with an aim to settle the matter by inviting the dalits and priests of the village. The matter was solved following a unanimous decision that only fruits will be offered as offering at the temple and the priests will not receive milk or water either from the hands of upper caste people or from the dalits to pour it on the Shiv ling. The daily rituals will resume as usual from Tuesday, said SDPO Pradipta Kumar Routray. If sources are to be believed, the priests have decided to leave worshipping the deities in the village temples. (Pioneer 14/8/11)

Government has increased funds for welfare of SCs, STs: Acharya (2)

Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharya said on Monday that the State Government had given more funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the State in the past three years. He was speaking after inaugurating a hostel for students of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes built at a cost of Rs. 33 lakh under the Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) at Adiudupi here. He also distributed cheques to beneficiaries from the Koraga community on the occasion. Dr. Acharya said there was a significant increase in the allocations for Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP). A sum of Rs. 3,359 crore and Rs. 1,344 crore were provided for SCP and TSP, respectively, in 2010-11. But this allocation had been increased to Rs. 4,633 crore for SCP and Rs. 1,867 crore to TSP in 2011-12. Food allowance to SC/ST students had been increased to Rs. 650 for pre-matric students and to Rs. 750 for post-matric students in 2010-11. But this was found to be inadequate. Hence, the food allowance was again increased to Rs. 750 for pre-matric students and Rs.850 for post-matric students in 2011-12. There was an upswing in the facilities provided for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in Udupi district this year. As many as 34 youths from the Koraga community were given autorickshaws, while 29 youths were provided cars (taxis) in the first half of this year. Autorickshaws and cars had been provided to increase employment opportunities for the Koragas, he said. Raghupati Bhat, MLA, president of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat Katapady Shankar Poojary, president of the Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) Kiran Kumar, vice-president Bharati Chandrashekhar, Deputy Commissioner M.T. Reju, Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat Prabhakar Sharma, ITDP officer Urmila, and city municipal council Commissioner Gokuldas Nayak were present. (The Hindu 16/8/11)

Allow Dalits to construct houses on allotted site’ (2)

Salem: Members of Ambedkar Makkal Iyakkam here staged a demonstration on Tuesday urging the district administration to allow Dalits to construct houses on the site at Ariyakoundampatti, for which they have pattas. The members said that during 1986, when M. G. Ramachandran was the Chief Minister, house site pattas were issued to 47 families of inter-caste marriage couples and Dalits at Ariyakoundampatti. But since then they were not permitted to use the land. They alleged that a few caste Hindus in the area were not allowing them to construct houses on the land till today. The members pointed out that they had represented their cases to the district administration umpteen times but nothing had materialised so far. For the last 25 years, the Dalits had been denied their legally entitled lands. They wanted the administration to restore the lands to the beneficiaries. Salem district president A. Annadurai led the agitation in which Dalit activists among others took part. (The Hindu 17/8/11)

Dalit movement stages stir (2)

Thiruvannamali: The Dalit Liberation Movement (DLM) staged a demonstration here on Tuesday demanding quick action by the police in filing a charge sheet in a case relating to alleged swindling of scholarship money meant for SC/ST students, who were studying in Danish Mission Higher Secondary School here, during 2005-2009. Speakers at the demonstration held in front of the RDO’s office said a joint director of Adi Dravidar Welfare conducted an inquiry in August 2010 in the school based on a petition submitted by the DLM alleging that the then headmaster and a couple of teachers had swindled scholarship money meant for Hindu Adi Dravidar Students. Following the inquiry, the District Adi Dravidar Welfare Officer filed a formal complaint with the Tiruvannamalai town DSP on August 24. “After four months’ delay, the Tiruvannamalai town police registered a FIR under Section 420, 468 and 477(a) of the Indian Penal Code but the accused were not arrested as they got conditional anticipatory bail. “But, a demand to book the accused under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in addition to the IPC Sections went unheeded and they are yet to file the charge sheet in the court even after several months,” S.Karuppaiah, joint general secretary of DLM, said. (The Hindu 17/8/11)

Social boycott of Dalits in Theni district alleged

Madurai: A section of caste Hindus at a village in Theni district is alleged to have called for “social boycott” of Dalits over public address system following the arrest of two persons on the charge of attacking a farm worker in a mango grove. According to Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, which sent a fact-finding team to Thangammalpuram village in Andipatti taluk of Theni district on Wednesday, the problem started when two caste Hindu youth, P. Arjunan and K. Karthik, approached C. Velmurugan (35), a Dalit farm worker, for free mangoes from a grove on August 14. When Velmurugan asked the duo to approach the manager of the grove for free mangoes, he is alleged to have been abused. When Velmurugan and the manager, Eswaran, complained to a relative of Arjunan they are alleged to have been attacked. Later in the night, they went to the Kadamalaikundu police station for filing a complaint. But the police asked them “to go for compromise.” Since a case was not registered, a group of 70 Dalits went again to the police station on August 15, where they found around 50 caste Hindus waiting. This led to a tense situation and the Kadamalaikundu police registered a case under Sections 294 (b) and 323 r/w 3 (1) (10) of the Indian Penal Code against Arjunan and Karthik and remanded them to custody. Following the arrest, the caste Hindus are alleged to have made a call for social boycott of Dalits through a public address system fitted to an autorickshaw. Residents were asked not to hire Dalit farm hands and drinking water supply was disconnected to Dalit houses for three days, it is alleged. The Dalits were asked not to come to the bus stand or buy things in local shops. The Executive Director of Evidence, A. Kathir, appealed to the police to file a case against caste Hindus of Thangammalpuram under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for giving a call for social boycott. In a statement issued here on Friday, he wanted the Collector and Superintendent of Police to visit the village and provide additional police protection to Dalit families. (The Hindu 20/8/11)

“Dalits should assert their rights” (2)

Chennai: Instead of suppressing their identity, Dalits should openly reveal it and assert their rights so that they could transcend social barriers, said Ruth Manorama, convener of the National Federation of Dalit Women (NFDW). Addressing a workshop on human rights for Dalit women lawyers here on Saturday, Ms. Manorama, winner of the Right to Livelihood Award, considered the ‘alternative Nobel Prize’, said though some advocates tended to hide their identity due to the hostile environment they were working in, it was not necessary. “We know how much Ambedkar could achieve, despite being in a hostile environment,” she said, and added that the purpose of the workshop was to develop leadership among Dalit women lawyers. “It is not just about developing their capacity and skill as lawyers, but also about creating solidarity among Dalit women lawyers for bringing in changes in the lives of Dalit women and their community,” she said. Ezhil Caroline, State convener of the NFDW, called upon the lawyers to play a supporting role in aid of struggling Dalit women and build a link among them to oppose all forms of discrimination. (The Hindu 22/8/11)

Ostracism of Dalits in Nayakanur to be probed (2)

Hubli: Minister for Social Welfare and Prisons A. Narayanaswamy said that an inquiry will be conducted into the incident of Dalit families ostracised in Nayakanur village recently. An officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) will carry out the probe. Mr. Narayanaswamy visited Nayakanur village along with the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Jagadish Shettar on Sunday. The Minister said that action would be taken under the Goonda Act against those who were involved in atrocities against the Dalits, and those who provoke such incidents in the State. Assuring the ostracised Dalits all help and cooperation, Mr. Narayanaswamy asked them not to panic. Going on to describe the development works to be taken up by the Government in the Dalit colony of the village, Mr. Narayanaswamy said that the Government has released Rs. 50 lakh development grants of which Rs. 25 lakh would be utilised for developing roads, Rs. 20 lakh for underground drainage works, and Rs. 5 lakh for the construction of the community hall. The Minister instructed Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain to identify land to be distributed among the Dalit families here. Besides, financial assistance through Dr B.R. Ambedkar SC/ST Development Corporation will be provided to the educated Dalit youth to take up selfemployment initiatives. Mr. Narayanaswamy said that shifting of exploited families cannot be the solution for the problem such as ostracism. He said that the Government wants communities to share a cordial relationship to build a peaceful and united society. For the purpose, the Government is committed to provide all facilities. Other communities should support the exploited communities to join the mainstream society, he said. Mr. Shettar said the officials concerned were instructed to take action immediately after Dalits were ostracised in the village, and police protection was also provided to the aggrieved families. Mr. Narayanaswamy and Mr. Shettar performed bhoomi puja for infrastructure development works at the Dalit colony. Pralhad Joshi, MP; Shankar Patil Munenakoppa, Navalgund MLA; Veerabhadrappa Halaharavi, Hubli-Dharwad East MLA; Devaraj Urs Backward Classes Development Corporation

Chairman Ashok Katwe; Social Welfare Department Commissioner Naveendas Singh; Deputy Commissioner Darpan Jain, and Superintendent of Police R. Dileep were among those present on the occasion. Members of the district unit of the Rajya Adijambava (Madiga) Sangha staged a ‘rasta roko’ near Shalawadi Cross on Sunday demanding the arrest of Andanigouda Patil and others who allegedly ostracised Dalit families at Nayakanur village. They submitted a memorandum to the Ministers urging them to take steps to confiscate the properties of Mr. Anadanigouda. They said the Government should rehabilitate Dalit families by giving them land, financial assistance, besides other facilities. (The Hindu 22/8/11)

‘Administration lacked mindset to rehabilitate landless dalits’ (2)

Bhubaneswar: Ramakant Mallick and his fellow villagers in Bilasahi hamlet under Bari Tahsil in Jajpur district are fortunate to have shelter over their head. But, the moment they step out from their house to reach nearest main road, they confront mountain of hurdles on daily basis. “We don’t have an approach road to our village. The landmass that connects our habitation belongs to upper caste families. They don’t allow us to step on their land,” alleged Mr. Mallick participating in a public hearing on dalit land issues. The public hearing was organised by the Orissa Dalit Adhikar Manch. He said, in rain days, the condition is atrocious. People travel on a raft made of thick banana stalks. Children often discontinue their education as there is no road connecting the habitation. “Concrete road under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojana was perhaps sanctioned for our locality. But the road ended about 700 metre away from our habitation,” he said. While inhabitants of Bilasahi suffer on mainland, situation is worse for about 45 families in Mahisa Brahmpur inside the Chilka Lake. The 32 decimal of land distributed among eight Scheduled Caste families by the State government in 1980s now houses 45 families. The original eight families were brought to do odd jobs like ferrying bridegrooms and brides in shoulder-carried palanquin and agricultural operation. Now the extended families are deprived of basic livelihood option like accessing Chilka water for fishing. Several dalit families from different corners of the State narrated that although country achieved freedom 65 years ago, they were yet to taste what freedom was all-about. They felt like living in 18th Century period when caste was determining factor. Speaking on the occasion, renowned social scientist Manoranjan Mohanty said governments land distribution policy for landless dalit caste people turned out to be a big failure. The administration lacked the mindset to rehabilitate landless dalit caste people, he said. Mr. Mohanty called upon people to stake their claims on their rights as approach of governance had undergone a change from charity and welfare to rights. Retired bureaucrat Livinus Kindo, retired senior cop Surendra Nath Swain and A.V. Swami, member of State Planning Board, heard agony of dalitvillagers. (The Hindu 22/8/11)

NCSC plays politics, backs Rahul claims (2)

New Delhi: In a carefully orchestrated move intended as a face saver for Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) — has inexplicably revived the controversy by demanding prosecution of the guilty cops accused of rape at Uttar Pradesh’s BhattaParsaul village. In a major embarrassment to Rahul, allegations of rape at Bhatta-Parsaul village was dumped as farce by the UPA Government in Parliament based on the report of National Commission for Women, another Central body. The move ostensibly comes after seven rape victims from the village approached the commission with affidavits claiming they were raped by policemen during the farmers’ protest against acquisition of their lands in Bhatta-Parsaul. NCSC Chairman PL Punia said that a letter in this regard has been written to Noida Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) to register a first information report (FIR) in the case and launch investigations against the cops based on the affidavits filed by the alleged rape victims. According to Punia, one of the Commission members Latha Priyakumar had met the complainants, given them a patient hearing after being satisfied by their testimonies wrote to the State police for a fresh probe into the allegation. The letter written by Priyakumar has further demanded that the investigation of the case be handled by a woman police officer. Interestingly, the Bhatta-Parsaul rapes were given a burial in Parliament on August 12 when the Centre came out with an official denial of the allegations. The issue had raised tremendous political heat in the poll-bound State of Uttar Pradesh after the first charge was levelled by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, following his visit to the affected village. Gandhi had categorically said that women in the villages were raped by policemen and several burnt bodies were found in the village. But the Government’s Women and Child Welfare Department put a quietus on the controversy. Minister Krishna Tirath, handling Women and Child

Welfare, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha stated there was no “confirmation” of any rape in Greater Noida villages in Uttar Pradesh. Responding to a question in this regard, she said, “An inquiry committee constituted by the National Commission for Women (NCW) visited the Bhatta-Parsaul villages in Uttar Pradesh on May 12, 2011. No specific case of rape has been confirmed by the inquiry committee.” Besides, a detailed report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the same allegations was submitted to the Centre lately. Though reports suggested that the contents of the report denied the specific allegations of rape, the commission later issued a clarification that the matter was under consideration before the members of the commission. With the intervention of NCSC, it is the third such Central body linked with protection of disadvantaged sections of society, to go into the controversial set of allegations. The commission has decided to monitor the progress of its letter as the case would be heard by the panel next in the first week of September. (The Pioneer 22/8/11)

SC/ST panel chief too asks members to stay away (2)

New Delhi, August 24, 2011: After the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid asked Muslims to stay away from Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, Udit Raj, chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, issued similar diktats. He asked Dalits, tribals and Other Backward Communities (OBCs) to keep away from the ongoing agitation. “The movement is trying to subvert the constitution drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar. The attempt is to make a super government over the elected government,” Raj said. He also questioned Team Anna on why there was no representation of Dalits, minorities or OBCs in the core group. “Apart from the demands, which are extra-constitutional and undemocratic, it is surprising that there is no representation of backward communities in the campaign. We would ask Dalits and others not to participate in Anna’s protest,” the chairman said. The confederation said they would submit a Bahujan Lokpal Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee which is scrutinising the government version of the bill at present. While the structure of the Bahujan Lokpal Bill is not clear yet, Raj demanded reservation in membership of the lokpal committee. The organisation is also holding a ‘Save Constitution’ rally in the Capital on Wednesday. (Hindustan Times 24/8/11)

Dalits come out against Anna Hazare’s fast (5)

NEW DELHI: Contrary to the general enthusiasm over Anna Hazare’s fast over Lokpal bill, the dalits have struck a divergent note, warning that the government should not accept the Gandhian’s demand against parliamentary processes, saying it would set a dangerous trend and make backward classes vulnerable. With the war of wits between Hazare’s camp and the Centre entering a decisive phase, the unease felt by the dalit groups since the Gandhian sat on fast spilt out in the open. Dalit activist Udit Raj, who was denied permission for a rally against Hazare, said the protestors’ demand to “sidestep” the constitutional process was a threat to democracy. He said his group would write a more caste-wise inclusive ‘Bahujan Lokpal bill” and send it to Parliament for consideration. Raj’s attack only reflected the general wariness among backward classes contrary to across-the-social-divide resentment against graft. Dalit intellectuals said the possibility of mass mobilisation forcing a “set of solutions” on the Centre against constitutional processes raised fears that affirmative action could be a victim of similar techniques. According to the activists, a precedent of government bowing to street power on the corruption issue could put their position in danger because dominant social sections were just as opposed to job and educational reservation. Memories of the stir against OBC reservation starting from Mandal Commission in the 1990s to education quota in UPA-1 are fresh in their minds. Vivek Kumar, sociologist in JNU, said, “Crowds don’t lend legitimacy to any cause. That is a dangerous argument.” Hazare cuts an elderly Gandhian figure but it has not deterred dalits from dissenting because of their touchy relationship with the Constitution delivered by their first icon, B R Ambedkar. The dalits argue that affirmative action survived for six decades despite pan-Indian ‘savarna’ anger because of constitutional safeguards. Any indication that basic provisions of the statute could be reopened would sound the death knell for SC quota in jobs and education, they argue. Kumar said, “If dalits have achieved anything, if you see any diversity today, it is because of the Constitution, Parliament and bureaucracy. You cannot discredit the Constitution.” Dalit writer Chandrabhan Prasad explained, “SCs see everyone questioning parliamentary process as villain. The scepticism started the day he questioned the integrity of electoral politics.” Common Concern, a

group of dalit intellectuals, met on Tuesday and expressed opposition to corruption in sociological terms. “Dalits face corruption not from bureaucracy but from civil society where caste system is the biggest oppressor. And this civil society wants to overturn the Constitution which has given us respite from caste system,” was its refrain. The criticism told when Hazare on Tuesday dwelt on problems of SCs/STs in his address but said his village Ralegaon Siddhi presented a picture of social brotherhood. (Times of India

24/8/11)

Kerala Dalit land stir ends (2)

Thiruvananthapuram: The Sadhujana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi, an organization of landless Dalits and

Adivasis, on Wednesday decided to call off its more-than-four-year-long agitation in the rubber estates of

Chengara in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district after the Government agreed to allot 25 cents of land each to 1,000 families living in the agitation camp. At the talks on Wednesday between Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and the leaders of the Vedi, the Government also agreed to provide inhabitable land for the 1,495 families who were rehabilitated by the former LDF government in October, 2009. There were complains that most of the lands allotted to them were unfit for living or cultivation. According to the understanding on Wednesday, 1,000 families still living in the agitation camp in the rubber estates run by Harrison Malayalam Plantation Limited among the Chengara hills would be allotted 25 cents of land each within a month. However, the Vedi leaders said that they would not leave the agitation camp till the promised lands were practically allotted. A decision was also taken to appoint a joint panel to examine the lands given to the 1,495 families by the former government. The agitators were promised that livable land would be given to those whose allotted plots were found useless. More than 7,000 Dalit and Adivasi families had started their “struggle of sufferance” on the Chengara hills on August 4, 2007. The Dalits had started their agitation demanding five acres of land and Rs 500,000 for each homeless family. The then government, led by octogenarian Marxist VS Achuthanandan, allegedly took an antagonistic attitude towards them right from the beginning of the stir. Left leaders had even described the agitators as LTTE agents, pawns of imperialists and rubber thieves and at one stage Achuthanandan even threatened to send “police with teeth and claw” to deal with them. However, after several rounds of dialogues, the government and the agitators came to a settlement on October 5, 2009 and the strike was withdrawn – partially. As per that settlement formula, one acre of land each was to be given to the Scheduled Tribes families, half-an-acre each to the Scheduled Caste families and 25 cents of land each to the other poor in the Chengara camp. The Government also promised to provide them with houses worth Rs 125,000 to ST families, Rs

100,000 to SC families and Rs 75,000 to the other poor. A government survey among the agitators in Chengara had then found that a total of 1,739 families were there in the agitation camp, and among them 1,495 families were qualified for the rehabilitation package. The agitators also included, as per the survey, 27 Adivasi families, each of who was to get one acre land and Rs 125,000 for housing as per the then formula. It was later proved that the government had not planned properly for the rehabilitation of the Dalits and Adivasis. Those who were rehabilitated in Kasaragod and Idukki districts found that the lands they had got were not arable. Also, no steps were taken to ensure the delivery of the other helps promised to them. (The Pioneer 24/8/11)

Dalits consider Anna’s anti-graft agitation “upper caste”(2)

New Delhi, Aug 25: This was not one definition that Gandhian Anna Hazare expected for his anticorruption campaign, when certain Dalit and backward communities called Anna’s anti-graft stir an “upper caste” endeavour. The snub from the oppressed classes of society have dimmed the spirits of Team Anna who have strived to fight the common evil of corruption that affects all sections of the society. The cause of this sidelined feeling among the Dalits is likely to have caused by the apparent anti-politician feeling generated by Anna Hazare as well as the association with Arvind Kejriwal with the Youth for Equality. This particular group was behind a major anti-reservation agitation in the AIIMS. MPs from the Dalit and OBC category called the Anna Hazare-headed agitation an “attack on the supremacy of Parliament and the Constitution”. The MPs called the effort a move to undermine the Constitution, a comment that was slammed by BJP’s Hukumdeo Narain Yadav, JD-U president Sharad Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan. This anti-Anna rhetoric comes soon after Dalit leader Udit

Raj of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations marched along with 500 activists from Jantar Mantar to India Gate protesting Anna’a agitation. Raj has been quoted as saying, “Anna must clarify his stand on several issues before he speaks about the Jan Lokpal Bill.” The Dalit activists who marched on

Wednesday called Anna’s protest an “upper caste movement that has little to do with the oppressed classes of society.” There was also considerable criticism for Anna’a proposed Jan Lokpal Bill when Dalit supporters claimed that the bill excluded NGOs, media and the corporate sector from the Bill’s ambit. Team Anna also faced criticism from other quarters, like Narain Yadav, a Lok Sabha MP from Bihar who expressed irk after the weaker sections of society was avoided in the BJP parliamentary party meeting on the Lokpal Bill. JD-U president Sharad Yadav, on the other hand stated in Parliament that corruption was directly linked to the caste system, he said, “No law can prevent corruption that is inherent in Indian society because of the caste system. Unless there is social justice, corruption will continue to plague the system. When the drains are flowing with sewage, how will sprinkling a bit of DDT help? You need to clean the drain.” (One India.in 25/8/11)

Dalits boycott meeting after being made to wait by tahsildar (2)

Mangalore: Dalit activists walked out of the monthly meeting organised at the taluk level here on Wednesday after being made to wait for nearly an hour by the tahsildar. The monthly review meeting for schemes meant for the development of Scheduled Castes was scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and was to be chaired by the Assistant Commissioner of Mangalore. Members of the Dalit organisations had started arriving at the taluk panchayat well before the stipulated time. Around 11.30 a.m., a few people demanded to know why they were being made to wait. Taluk Social Welfare Officer Reddy Naik tried to pacify them saying that the tahsildar Ravichandra Naik would arrive shortly. After another 15 minutes, the murmurs grew stronger with several people saying they felt humiliated. Gurupura Pirka, a member of the Dalit Abhivridhi Samiti, said: “We drop everything to attend these meetings. Why do we have to keep waiting like this?” Soon after, all the members of the Dalit groups walked out of the panchayat office and raised slogans against officials who did not come to the meeting. Mr. Naik’s efforts to pacify them went in vain. Even as they raised slogans, the tahsildar arrived and walked into the building without even glancing at the protesters. This made the gathering more furious. Shankuntala, a member of the samiti, said: “He did not even spare us a glance and went inside. We will not come inside now.” Several others demanded that the tahsildar should come outside and explain the delay. Soon Mr. Ravichandra Naik came and apologised saying that he had been deputed to go to Ulaibettu for a spot inspection on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner. “I did not go to attend personal work, it was on official duty that I went, which caused the delay,” he said. However, the protesters were not willing to be mollified. They pointed out that neither the Assistant Commissioner of Mangalore nor the Assistant Commissioners of Police were present and walked away. Mr. Ravichandra Naik told presspersons that Assistant Commissioner Prabhulinga Kavalikatti had asked him to chair the meeting. Asked what the Ulaibettu spot inspection was and whether it could not have been put off, he said he had been asked to go to the spot by the Deputy Commissioner. He said it would be recorded in the proceedings that the Dalits had boycotted the meeting. Among the people who had come to discuss their problems were a group of migrants from Koppal district. They had been living on land belonging to the railways at Yekkur and had been victed from that place. After that they shifted to Mudipu where the panchayat officials asked them to leave the spot in 10 days, said a member of the Dalit group. Now, they did not know where to go, he added. (The Hindu 26/8/11)

Dalits rally against Anna at India Gate, traffic hit (2)

NEW DELHI: A group of about a thousand Dalits on Wednesday gathered at India Gate and marched to Parliament Street to protest against the Jan Lokpal bill proposed by Anna Hazare and his team. The protesters, led by Indian Justice Party president Udit Raj, under the banner of “Samvidhan Bachao” (Save Constitution), shouted slogans against Team Anna and said they would not allow anyone to “tinker” with the Constitution. The protesters blocked traffic on the India Gate roundabout for half an hour saying they won’t allow anyone to pass till there was some communication from the Prime Minister. Udit Raj said, “I have been writing to the Prime Minister to get an appointment but we never got a chance. On the other hand, ministers in the government go to the airport to talk to Ramdev and they are negotiating with the Anna team. We are denied because we are Dalits.” He said they are against the bill on corruption, pointing out that “no SC/ST member is part of the panel which is not giving any priority to the minorities.” Lashing out at the bill proposed by Anna and his team, Udit Raj alleged that the Jan Lok Pal bill has been designed in a manner which would enable it to target Dalit and Muslim officials. The protest march resulted in long snarls around India Gate. Similar jams were reported on Ferozeshah Road, Barakhamba

Road and all roads close to Connaught Place and Mandi House. (Times of India 26/8/11)

Why pay for public tap water, ask residents of Dalit colonies (2)

Bangalore: Opposing water charges levied on the piped borewell water supplied by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to residents of Dalit colonies in Yelahanka Satellite Town, members of the Dalit Sangarsh Samiti (DSS) on Thursday staged a protest near Yelahanka Mother Dairy Circle. Shouting slogans against the BWSSB and demanding the withdrawal of bills to these colonies, the protesters also blocked the Doddaballapur Main Road for a short while and laid siege to the BWSSB office in Yelahanka. D.V. Veerabhadra Gowda, convener of Bangalore North taluk, alleged that the BWSSB was charging for water supplied through public taps. “Although we do not have individual connections, the board has given bills ranging between Rs. 1,800 to Rs. 2,000 to those whose houses are close to the public taps,” Mr. Gowda said. This concerns residents of Ambedkar Nagar, L.B.S. Nagar, Jaibheema Nagar, Jaiprakashnarayan Colony, Tirumala Nagar of Yelahanka Satellite Town and Maramma Layout, Kondappa Layout, Chikkamuniyappa Garden of Yelahanka Old Town. Clarifying that the bills were raised for piped borewell water supplied to those who had taken the connections, a senior BWSSB engineer said it was charged at Rs. 50 per month from November 2008 onwards. Representatives of the affected areas been called for a discussion at Cauvery Bhavan on September 3, the official added. (The Hindu 26/8/11)

People urged not to employ manual scavengers (2)

Hassan: K.B. Krishnamurthy, member of the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis, has appealed to the people not to hire manual scavengers to clear soak pits as it attracts punishment under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. He was talking to presspersons here on Thursday. Mr. Krishnamurthy said that manual scavenging had been banned in the country, and municipal bodies and panchayats had been instructed to use vacuum machines to clear pits. People engaged in manual scavenging were being rehabilitated under the Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers. However, he pointed out, the scheme had not been implemented effectively in many States. In Karnataka, funds allotted for it was not spent properly and Rs. 20 crore was returned to the commission. The implementation of the scheme was based on a survey to identify manual scavengers. The survey was incomplete, and many people, who would have availed themselves of benefits, had been left out. “Recently an incident of manual scavenging came to light in Kolar Gold Fields. I visited the spot and came to know that an entire colony was not included in the survey,” he said. The commission had ordered a re-survey and instructed officials to take reports of manual scavenging seriously. Mr. Krishnamurthy also interacted with representatives of various pro-Dalit organisations. Jayaram of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti raised objections on the working hours of Safai Karmacharis. He said that Safai Karmacharis were asked to report for duty at 5 a.m. and they could return home only in the afternoon. The present work schedule was affecting their health and they were not able to take care of the educational needs of their children. Mr. Krishnamurthy said he would discuss the issue with other members in the commission. (The Hindu 26/8/11)

UP: Dalit woman raped, murdered in Rampur district (2)

Rampur: A Dalit woman was allegedly murdered after being gang-raped in Shabhad tehsil of Rampur district, around 60 kilometres from here, police said. The victim’s half clad body was recovered from a field on Wednesday, they said, adding, the post mortem report has revealed that she was murdered by strangulation. Neeraj alias Geeta, wife of Sanjeev, who was a state appointed ‘Asha’ in the village, was returning along with her husband after a medical check up, when six persons, equipped with fire arms, abducted them. The miscreants looted mobile phones of the couple besides Geeta’s ear rings, they said, adding, the group later tide Sanjeev with a tree, before raping her. As soon as the report of the incident reached divisional and district headquarters, Inspector General Police MK Bashal visited the site. (Zee News 26/8/11)

Govt may mandate procurement from Dalit-run firms (2)

NEW DELHI: The Centre is set to make it compulsory that 4% of its annual purchases be made from the units run by dalits and tribals, in what will be its strongest bait for classes which hold the key to political battles at the Centre and states. The 4% purchase quota proposal from ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) is part of the policy that 20% of government procurement be done from MSMEs. Preferential procurement has been an early poll promise of UPA and its delivery after seven years in power is set to be seen through the prism of Uttar Pradesh elections where Congress is vying with dalit czarina Mayawati to recapture some political space after decades in wilderness. Activists have believed that mandatory purchases from dalit units would boost entrepreneurship among poor classes with assured state clientele and without the fear of competition from entrenched businessmen. The demand gained ground in the new economy where job quota was shown to have limitations of reach. The quantum of business available for dalit entrepreneurs may be big. An OECD estimate had suggested that government purchases amounted to 30% of GDP, thereby making business of Rs 94,000 crore available for dalit units. But even by the lower estimate based on Centre’s spending pattern, Rs 25,000 crore may be available to units set up and run by SCs and STs. This year, the Centre budgeted to spend around Rs 12.5 lakh crore, of which defence spending and interest payments add up to Rs 5 lakh crore while subsidies are estimated at Rs 1.4 lakh crore. So, procurement by MSMEs would be around Rs 1.2 lakh crore. It is not a small figure going by Centre’s first tentative steps after years of reluctance in the face of strong lobbying over the years. A sub-committee of the cabinet committee on dalit affairs in UPA-1 had recommended that 30% of government purchases be made from SCs/STs. The inspiration for purchase quota comes from Digvijay Singh regime in MP where it formed part of state policy after Bhopal declaration. The move, at once part of affirmative action plan, is bound to attract attention of social justice observers. For Congress, it would be a way to blunt the criticism among SCs/STs after failing to extend the frontiers of job reservation to private sector as promised in UPA-1. Its proposal for 5% quota in private enterprises which availed government funding met with lukewarm response and has been put in deep freeze. If enacted now, Congress could use it as a weapon to contrast its achievement with the work done by Mayawati regime for dalits, a segment Rahul Gandhi has been trying hard to woo from its first choice BSP. Congress needs big ticket decisions to back its chances in April polls in UP and is working hard on a clutch of measures including a new land acquisition bill. (Times of India 1/9/11)

Manual scavenging continues in parts of Karnataka: Study (2)

Bangalore, Aug 31: Manual scavenging is still practised inparts of Karnataka and pathetic and inhuman condition prevailed in these social groups, a research study on the lives and problems of Safai Karmacharis has revealed. The study carried out by Research Scholar K G Gayathridevi of Centre for Ecological Economics and Natural Resources of Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, has revealed that manual scavenging has not been totally eradicated and those engaged in it are yet to be fully rehabilitated. According to the study report, released to the media here today, field studies conducted in Gulbarga and Tumkur Districts–two fast growing urban centres of the state–have revealed that the heinous system is thrust upon very poor and migrant scheduled caste families, forced to pursue this occupation, debunking a theory propounded by a section of sociologists who argue that nonSCs and non-Bhangis are attracted to get into such activities. While in the North India, it is the Bhangi Community who are the safai karmacharis by caste and profession, in Karnataka a numerically small subcastes of the Mehtars and Mangarodis, found in Gulbarga and a few other districts, are those who are exclusively employed as manual scavengers. (New Kerala 1/9/11)

Dalit leaders to meet Singhvi with their Lokpal draft (2)

NEW DELHI: There is now a fourth Lokpal draft that the standing committee may need to consider. A delegation led by Udit Raj, chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, will meet Abhishek Singhvi, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice to hand over a copy of the Bahujan Lokpal Bill – their version of the legislation for an anti-corruption ombudsman. The bill, according to Raj, will address issues of corruption pertaining specifically to the socially deprived classes. “The most important demand that we are making is that there should be representation of dalits, minorities and backward classes in the Lokpal to ensure that socially victimized are not made victims in this. We are also demanding that embezzlement of funds meant for uplift of dalits, backward classes and tribals should be included in the ambit of corruption. Huge amounts of money are released for schemes like the Special Component Plan and the Sub-tribal Plan which is misutilised, embezzled or returned unspent,” Raj said. He demanded that the Bahujan Lokpal Bill too should be looked at by the panel before pronouncing its recommendations on the Lokpal draft. Dalit activists and some sections of Muslims have been upset with the Anna Hazare movement because of lack of representation from the communities and they even held a protest rally at India Gate during the fast. To counter this perception, Team Anna chose a dalit and a Muslim girl to help Hazare break his fast on Sunday. “The existing versions do not take into account issues pertaining to dalits and minorities. That is the lacuna that we hope our bill will fill,” Raj added. (Times of India 2/9/11)

BSP leader Mohammad Aslam arrested (2)

Lucknow: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mohammad Aslam was finally arrested from Ghaziabad on Monday afternoon. He was accused for instigating a dalit woman for self immolation after teasing and slapping her in Bara Banki. He will be now brought and produced in local court at Bara Banki on Tuesday. Briefing the media persons here on Monday afternoon, Special Director General of Police( Law and Order, Crime) Brij Lal said that Aslam was arrested by cops of Sihani Gate police station in Ghaziabad this afternoon. However, he denied that he was a BSP leader. Brij Lal also ruled out charges of teasing the girl as alleged by cousin brother of the victim in his FIR lodged with Fatehpur police and said that the girl set herself ablaze on her own and it was only case of instigating her to do so. ” We have asked the police officials to investigate into the teasing of the girl, who is in critical condition in a hospital in the state capital” he said. Reports said that Mohamed Aslam, whose wife is the village pradhan and he himself is the district Panchayat member, was sitting during a panchayat meeting at Sihali village under Fatehpur police station on August 29 last. He slapped victim Munni Devi for giving shelter to another woman Rani Devi, who had escaped from her husband Bajrangi’s house about two years back and eloped with one Hansraj Lodhi returned about a fortnight back. Munni Devi, who left the panchayat sustained critical burn injuries after she tried to self-immolate herself. She is now being treated at the Trauma Centre at Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University in Lucknow. Munni Devi, during her dying declaration before a magistrate had claimed that she took the extreme step on her own and no one should be held responsible for it. However later her brother Surendra Kumar accused BSP leader and member of the District Panchayat, Mohmmad Aslam. Earlier Aslam claiming himself innocent named a BJP leader of the district and said that he instigated the family members of the woman to file FIR against him.” The BJP leader is trying to malign my political image in the district,” he alleged. (The Pioneer 5/9/11)

Banda rape case: SC gives last chance to UP Govt to respond (2)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today gave a last opportunity to UP government to file reply on a petition seeking a judicial probe into the alleged rape of a Dalit girl by Banda BSP legislator Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi. A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha granted two weeks time to the Home Secretary of the state and Superintendent of Police of Banda to file reply saying that they will have to personally appear before it in case they fail to do so. The court passed the order on a public interest lawsuit filed by advocate Raja Ram and Irudaya Nathan seeking an independent judicial probe into the incident, allegedly involving the BSP legislator and his aides. The petitioner have alleged that the authorities had committed a grave error by foisting false cases against the victim, who was a minor and was entitled to protection under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. They alleged that the magistrate, in violation of the JJ Act, had sent her to jail, while she should have been sent to a juvenile care centre. “A magistrate is not empowered under the Act to try the case of a juvenile. The magistrate, who had the theft case filed against the juvenile, had to follow the Act regarding grant of bail of juvenile,” the petitioner had said. The petitioner alleged that the police and judicial officers were trying to protect the MLA. Initiate enquiry showed that the juvenile ws sent to jail instead of being produced before the competent authority as required under the Juvenile Justice Act. The 17-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by Dwivedi in Banda on December 10 and 11. The girl had escaped from his residence on December 12 when the MLA allegedly attempted to rape her again. The girl, however, was arrested in connection with an allegedly false case of theft lodged by the legislator’s brother against her. 48-year-old Dwivedi was later arrested from Banda. The apex court had on January 17 agreed to consider a plea for a judicial enquiry into the alleged rape case. (The Pioneer 5/9/11)

Suicide by Dalit students in 4 years (2)

Madurai: Eighteen Dalit students in premier institutes of higher education in India committed suicide in the past four years after they underwent traumatic experiences of being victims of caste-based discrimination. The documentary film, ‘Death of Merit,’ talks about suicides of Dalit students studying in reputed institutions of higher education across India. The film was screened at People’s Watch here on Friday. It portrayed three cases of student suicides; the first case was that of Bal Mukund, a Jatav (Chamar) Dalit from Kundeshwar in Uttar Pradesh, the first Dalit from the village in 50 years to enter an elite institute like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi. The whole family, including his mother and sister, had toiled hard to pour all their earnings to support Mukund. Mukund, a topper all through his life, had scored 82 per cent in Class X; had won the International Mathematics Contest and cleared the IIT and AIIMS entrance examinations but chose AIIMS as he had the dream of becoming a doctor. For Mukund, urban life and its myth of being caste-free space and questions of anonymity were mere terminology. He was taunted every now and then by the faculty and fellow students just because he was being born a Dalit. “How could Chamars become doctors? You have come here only because of quota, you cannot go ahead” were the usual comments that chased him in classrooms, hostels and canteen. The film shows interviews of his parents and sisters, aunt and uncle. He tried to change his name as Srijan Kumar to escape caste. He repeatedly talked on phone about caste and settling down abroad but before that depression made him commit suicide in March 2010. Jaspreet Singh, a Dalit by birth and a student from Chandigarh, ended his life unable to bear the insults and taunts thrown at him at the medical college library. Unable to overcome the loss of her elder brother, his sister, a student of Bachelor of Computer Application, also committed suicide, heartbroken at the injustice done to him. The suicide note recovered from his coat pocket charged his head of the department with deliberately failing him and threatening to fail him over and over. Seven months later, after the National Commission of Scheduled Castes intervened; a three-member team of senior professors re-evaluated his answer sheet and found that he had in fact passed the examination. NCSC’s intervention only made the police file the FIR under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Jaspreet of Government Medical College, Chandigarh, was an excellent student throughout and had never failed in any subject until he reached the final year. His elder sister, father and mother that Dalit students in institutions like this should be given proper support system to tackle discrimination. The last case in the documentary was that of Manish Kumar of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorke, who was alleged to have committed suicide jumping from the fifth floor of his hostel. He hailed from Muzaffar Nagar and was a bright student. Both his father and mother had found that their son was a victim of caste abuse by fellow students and complaints to the authorities went in vain. Even after he shifted out of hostel the taunts did not stop. He went into depression and finally was found dead after he allegedly committed suicide by jumping from a building. The documentary filmmaker Anoop Kumar had a discussion with the viewers and explained that 80 per cent of the suicides in all the seven IITs were of Dalits and none of these institutes had a grievance redressal mechanism to address caste based discrimination. R. Thirunavukkarasu, Assistant Director, Institute of Human Rights Education, said that caste-based discrimination in classrooms was very subtle and complex in nature. “It’s a kind of an experience that many could not easily understand the intricacies and dynamics of how it functions, unless and until one faces it.” The Post-Mandal Commission agitation era did provide a lot of opportunities for the entry of Other Backward Classes in many spheres of higher institutions inviting large-scale protests and demonstrations. Elite higher educational institutions had always been a hostile and discriminating space for most of the oppressed communities and the practice of discrimination had almost become part of their culture. Documentaries and short films like these could initiate a larger debate on these complex and sensitive issues of discriminatory practices at institutions of higher learning. Pandian of Dalit Foundation said that the documentary was made by Insight Foundation, started in 2003 by Anoop Kumar of Uttar Pradesh and a group of Dalit and Adivasi students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Anoop Kumar had to discontinue his engineering course in Kanpur due to caste discrimination by his professors. He later completed his undergraduation through correspondence and joined JNU for higher studies. (The Hindu 5/9/11)

Police reluctant to register complaints, say Dalit activists (2)

Mangalore: The issue of police ignoring and refusing to register complaints given by Dalits dominated the monthly meeting organised by the district police on Sunday. Kusappa from Puttur said the police had been unwilling to register a case when a Dalit man was beaten up at Addebailu in Sullia taluk a few months ago. He said although they had brought it to the attention of the Assistant Superintendent of Police Puttur, it had not yielded results. Superintendent of Police Labhu Ram said that unless they inquired into the incident, they could not give a reply to the allegation. He said he would let them know in the next meeting. Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B. Krishnappa Sthapitha) Krishnananda said this instance clearly showed that the police did not register cases brought by Dalit people. Mr. Ram assured him that he would look into the incident. Another man spoke of an incident that occurred within Bantwal Rural limits in which a Dalit man had been assaulted over a land dispute and even after it became clear to the police that the disputed land did indeed belong to the Dalit man, the police had registered a complaint against him. “What was the need for a second complaint?” the man asked. A woman said that she had lodged a complaint at the Mangalore Rural police station against a man who had cheated her of Rs. 1.5 lakh on the pretext of securing a job. She said that she wanted to know what happened to her complaint.

At Kotehitlu in Uppinangady, Puttur taluk, a degree college was being managed from a building which was actually an Ambedkar Bhavan, said Somnath, former president of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat. He said that although they had requested the college authorities to vacate the building, the latter refused to do so stating that the college had spent thousands of rupees on developing it. Balakrishna, a teacher, said that there were no basic amenities in a Dalit colony in Chelur, Bantwal taluk. The road to the colony had been encroached by people belonging to other castes, making it impossible for them to move about. Although they had brought it to the notice of the tahsildar who had ordered the encroachers to remove the illegal construction, it had been two months since they heard from the officer. Scheme inconsistencies Ramesh Naik from Belthangady told Mr. Ram that there were inconsistencies in a scheme of the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Development Corporation involving the sanctioning of borewells to persons from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. He said the actual measurements of the borewells significantly differed from the measurements recorded in the bills for 135 borewells sanctioned in the taluk. He said that these should be investigated. Mr. Ram said that he would take the necessary action. Several Dalit activists requested the Superintendent of Police to direct officials from other departments to be present at the meeting called by the police. (The Hindu 5/9/11)

Proportionate representation for Scheduled Castes in polls (2)

Madurai: The local body elections scheduled for October would be free and fair and there will be 12 Returning Officers for the 100 wards in the Madurai Corporation, said S. Natarajan, Corporation Commissioner. Addressing an all party meeting here on Friday to discuss local body poll preparations after the extension of Madurai Corporation wards, he said that the Government Order had been passed on the increase in the number of wards but the classification of wards into general, and reserved categories for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes and women had not been finalised. The city boundaries would be expanded by including the municipalities of Avaniapuram, Anaiyur and Tirupparankundram; town panchayats of Harveypatti, Tirunagar and Vilangudi, and 11 village panchayats, thus taking the total number of wards from 72 to 100. There would be 1,119 polling stations for the 100 wards with an average number of 1,200 voters in each polling station. Every station would have facilities such as ramps for differently abled people in accordance with Election Commission of India guidelines. If there were any anomalies in the facilities, it would be rectified soon, he said. Answering a question on whether electronic voting machines (EVM) would be used or ballot papers, the Commissioner replied that it had not been decided. But all the party representatives unanimously demanded EVMs. Clearing the doubts on reservation of wards for local body polls for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Commissioner said that proportionate representation would be followed, based on population of the SCs and STs. “It will not be on the basis of constitutionally-guaranteed 19 per cent reservation for SC/STs.” On the basis of the density of population of SCs, wards would be reserved on a descending order. Since there were no Scheduled Tribes in substantial numbers within the city, there would be no wards reserved for STs, he said. In the case of women, not less than one third of seats had to be allotted for them and it could roughly come to 34 wards with two reserved for SCs. R. Annadurai, MLA, Madurai South, enquired about the number of Assembly constituencies coming under South Zone and the official concerned said that three segments formed part of South Zone, Tirupparankundram had 6 wards, Madurai West 9 and Madurai Central 10. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam representative opined that the possibility of having an additional zone should be taken into account. CPI (M) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi representatives shared their opinions on the proximity of polling stations. R. Sundararajan, MLA, Madurai Central, P. Salaimuthu, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Corporation Council leader, and M. Ganesan, Communist Party of India (Marxist) council leader, among others, participated in the discussion.

(The Hindu 10/9/11)

Caste-based inequity hampers access to rural infrastructure (2)

New Delhi, Sept. 10: Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minority habitations have limited or no access to public infrastructure, according to National Infrastructure Equity Audit conducted by Social Equity Watch — a non-Governmental Organisation. There is continued presence of deep-rooted castebased inequity in the distribution and availability of infrastructure , says the audit. These findings will be presented to the Planning Commission before the Twelfth Plan is finalised, Mr Tom Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Participatory Practices (Praxis), said while releasing the report here on Friday. Access to public infrastructure by different social groups was surveyed in 124 Gram Panchayats

(GP) of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Orissa and Rajasthan covering 1,000 caste and religious habitations. There are many SC/ST habitations that are still officially uncovered, says the audit. Over 60 per cent of GPs surveyed had no health centres, schools, panchayat bhawans and post offices located in SC/ST and minority areas. In many instances where infrastructure is present, the service provider is from an upper caste. The SC/ST and minority communities rated the access to services much lower than their G/BC counterparts in the same habitation. “The caste dynamics in the village then play out to ensure that lower castes are denied access to them,” said Mr Thomas. During the 11th Plan, of the total estimated investment of Rs 13,82,846 crore for infrastructure, 13 per cent was to be spent on rural areas . “Given the overall lack of infrastructure facilities, the burden of shortage is borne by these marginalised social groups,” says the survey. “The task ahead is to monitor the location of new infrastructure in such a way that the existing equity gap can be filled over the years. This would be crucial for scarce resources, such as drinking water and newer infrastructure such as internet kiosks,” Mr Thomas said. The public infrastructure surveyed include anganwadis, health centres, drinking water, primary health centre, community centre, panchayat bhavan, road, PDS, post office, secondary school and telephone and information kiosks. The first phase of the audit was conducted over three months this year. Phase-II of the survey is expected to gauge the access to infrastructure in urban spaces. (HBL 10/9/11)

UPA govt set to make 4% of its yearly buy from dalit-run firms (2)

NEW DELHI: The Centre is set to make it compulsory that 4% of its annual purchases be made from units run by dalits and tribals, in what will be its strongest bait for classes which hold the key to political battles at the Centre and states. The 4% purchase quota proposal from ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) is part of the policy that 20% of government procurement be done from MSMEs. Preferential procurement has been an early poll promise of UPA and its delivery after seven years in power is set to be seen through the prism of Uttar Pradesh elections where Congress is vying with dalit czarina Mayawati to recapture some political space after decades in the wilderness. Activists believe that mandatory purchases from dalit units would boost entrepreneurship among poor classes with assured state clientele and without the fear of competition from entrenched businessmen. The demand gained ground in the new economy where job quota was shown to have limitations of reach. The quantum of business available for dalit entrepreneurs may be big. An OECD estimate had suggested that government purchases amounted to 30% of GDP, thereby making business of Rs 94,000 crore available for dalit units. But even by the lower estimate based on Centre’s spending pattern, Rs 25,000 crore may be available to units set up and run by SCs and STs. This year, the Centre budgeted to spend around Rs 12.5 lakh crore, of which defence spending and interest payments add up to Rs 5 lakh crore while subsidies are estimated at Rs 1.4 lakh crore. So, procurement by MSMEs would be around Rs 1.2 lakh crore. It is not a small figure going by Centre’s first tentative steps after years of reluctance in the face of strong lobbying. A sub-committee of the cabinet committee on dalit affairs in UPA-1 had recommended that 30% of government purchases be made from SCs/STs. The inspiration for purchase quota comes from Digvijay Singh regime in MP where it formed part of state policy after Bhopal declaration. The move, at once part of affirmative action plan, is bound to attract attention of social justice observers. For Congress, it would be a way to blunt the criticism among SCs/STs after failing to extend the frontiers of job reservation to private sector as promised in UPA-1. Its proposal for 5% quota in private enterprises which availed government funding met with lukewarm response and has been put in deep freeze. If enacted now, Congress could use it as a weapon to contrast its achievement with the work done by Mayawati regime for dalits, a segment Rahul Gandhi has been trying hard to woo from its first choice BSP. Congress needs big ticket decisions to back its chances in April polls in UP and is working hard on a clutch of measures including a new land acquisition bill. (Times of India 12/9/11)

SC orders CBI probe in Banda rape case (2)

New Delhi, September 12, 2011: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the CBI to probe the alleged rape of a dalit girl by Banda BSP MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi in December last year. A bench of justice Aftab Alam and justice RM Lodha stayed the court proceedings in the case in Banda and directed the Uttar Pradesh Police to hand over the investigation to the agency. The court passed the order on a PIL filed by advocates Raja Ram and Irudaya Nathan seeking an independent probe into the incident, alleging that impartial investigation was not possible in the case as the ruling BSP legislator and his aides were involved. The state government did not oppose the plea for CBI probe and agreed to hand over the case to the central agency. The petitioners alleged that the authorities had committed a grave error by foisting false cases against the victim, who was a minor and was entitled to protection under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. Alleging that the police and judicial officers were trying to protect the MLA, they alleged that the magistrate, in violation of the JJ Act, had sent her to jail while she should have been sent to a juvenile care centre. The 17-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by Dwivedi in Banda on December 10 and 11 last year. The girl had escaped from his residence on December 12 when the MLA allegedly attempted to rape her again. The girl, however, was arrested after alleged false charges of theft were levelled by the legislator’s brother against her. 48-year-old Dwivedi, who was later arrested from Banda and suspended by Mayawati’s party, denied all the charges.(Hindustan Times 12/9/11)

Police firing on Dalits: Toll rises to seven (2)

Paramakudi (TN): With two more persons succumbing to injuries at a hospital, the death toll in the police firing on a stone-pelting mob of Dalits, who indulged in violence following detention of their leader John Pandian, has risen to seven, police said today. Two persons identified as Teerpukani and Vellaichamy succumbed to injuries late last night. Officials have suspended bus services to the rural areas in the sensitive districts, including Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar as a precautionary step. Additional police reinforcement have been brought from Tiruchirappalli, police said. Violence broke out yesterday after news spread that Pandian had been detained at Tuticorin en route to Paramakudi when he was on his way to pay homage to Dalit leader Imanuel Sekar on his death anniversary. Police used tear gas and batons before firing at the crowd at Paramakudi. Several people and police officials, including DIG Sandeep Mittal and SP Senthil Velan and DSP Ganesan were injured in the stone pelting. More than 15 vehicles were set ablaze in the violence. Police said they had arrested 57 persons in Tirumangalam and more than 50 in Paramakudi for indulging in violence. Local Dalit leaders blamed police for not making proper arrangements to manage the huge crowd expected for paying homage to the Dalit leader. However, defending the police firing, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had yesterday blamed some people for disrupting law and order “for their own political gains.” “The protesters indulged in large-scale violence and torched police vehicles. Police opened fire in self defence and to protect public property”, Jayalalithaa, who announced Rs one lakh compensation to the next of kin of those killed, said. Meanwhile, Ramanathapuram District Collector N Arun Roy said normalcy was returning and situation in most parts of the district was peaceful today. A holiday was declared for all educational institutions in the district today, he said. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been promulgated in the district and caste leaders would not be allowed to enter into the district in view of the tense situation, he said. Public properties worth Rs two crore had been damaged in the violence. Thirty buses and 15 police vehicles had been damaged in the arson and stone pelting. Some level crossing gates and signal lights were also damaged, he said. Meanwhile, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) leader Vaiko has demanded a judicial probe into the police firing. He also met some of the injured in the violence at the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai. About 150 members of Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam observed fast in Theni condemning the firing on Dalits. They also demanded action against those who were responsible for the firing. (Pioneer 12/9/11)

DU student alleges caste bias (2)

NEW DELHI: A final-year student of MA sanskrit at Delhi University has alleged that she has been denied the option of studying astrology as part the course because she is a dalit. The girl, Sarita Pawar, filed a complaint with National Commission for Scheuled Castes and Scheduled Tribes last month alleging that the head of department, Mithilesh Chaturvedi, did not arrange for classes in jyotish because he was biased against her. “Five of us had opted for jyotish as an optional subject. As a rule in DU, a teacher has to be provided by the department concerned if at least five students want to study a particular subject. When we requested the department for the same, we were told that there was no teacher available for the course. Later, others were threatened due to which two of them did not pursue the matter further,” said Pawar, a resident of Nangloi. She said, “When I went to meet the HoD, he told me that people from my caste cannot study that subject. I even sent an email to the vice-chancellor complaining against the discrimination. But no action was taken.” She said that the commission has written to the department on September 5 asking for an explanation within 15 days. “In fact, the department had last year allowed just one student to pursue jyotish. What has gone wrong now?” she asked. However, Chaturvedi denied having received any notice from the commission and alleged that the student’s version was not true. He said that no student can be discriminated against on the basis of caste. “The student has been motivated by some people who want instability in the department. We can’t deny an academic option to any student on the basis of caste. The option of jyotish cannot be provided to her only because there are three students interested in it. No student has been threatened. In fact, we already have many SC and OBC students pursuing research in jyotish,” said Chaturvedi. He said that last year, the only student pursuing jyotish as an optional subject was attending classes on South Campus. (Times of India 13/9/11)

Dalit leader released, seeks probe by SC judge into firing (2)

TIRUNELVELI: As sporadic incidents of violence were reported from some parts of southern Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, police released Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam founder P John Pandian, whose detention on Sunday sparked violence at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district leading to police firing in which seven people were killed. Soon after his release, Pandian told reporters at Vallanadu in Tuticorin district that the probe into the firing should be conducted by a sitting Supreme Court judge. He alleged that the clashes were instigated by certain officials with vested interests. The Madras high court on Tuesday admitted a habeas corpus petition alleging unauthorized detention of Pandian and issued notice to the government. In Rajapalayam, an attempt was made to derail a train while more than half a dozen buses were damaged by miscreants who hurled kerosene and petrol-filled bottles at the vehicles in Ramanathapuram and Theni districts. A concrete sleeper was found placed across the railway track in the Murambu-Paraipatti section near Rajapalayam. The presence of the sleeper was noticed only after the Podhigai Express heading to Sankarankoil from Rajapalayam station rammed into it around 8am and came to a screeching halt. Fortunately, none was injured. (Times of India 14/9/11)

“Firing, bid to suppress Dalit assertion” (2)

MADURAI, September 15, 2011: The Paramakudi police firing was State-sponsored, brutal murder of six Dalits and an attempt to suppress and oppress the democratic form of Dalit assertion in the State, said John Pandian, founder president, Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), here on Wednesday. Tension prevailed at Government Rajaji Hospital during his visit to meet those injured in the firing and rioting at Paramakudi and Chinthamani near Madurai. Mr. Pandian clarified that there was no relation whatsoever between the murder of a 16-year-old Dalit boy, Palanikumar, on September 9 and the violence. He was arrested after two days, on September 11, at Vallanad in Tuticorin. “I was allotted time between 3.p.m. to 5.p.m. to pay my respects at the memorial of Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran but was later illegally detained saying Section 144 Cr. P. C. has been promulgated prohibiting me from entering Ramanathapuram.” Strongly condemning the police report, he said that it was an effort to communalise the events by trying to link it with wall graffiti. He demanded that First Information Report be filed against Rajesh Das, Inspector General of Police, South Zone, and K. A. Senthilvelan, Deputy Commissioner, Adyar (who was on deputation) under Section 302 and Avaniapuram (Madurai) Inspector Gajendran under Section 307 of the IPC in relation to the firing. The TMMK, All India Devendra Kula Vellalar Munnetra Sangam and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi will organise peaceful protests till further action is taken against these officials, he said. “VCK chief Thol. Thirumavalavan is a comrade in our struggle and it is not today that we are working together, but have been doing it for long,” Mr. Pandian said. The party would take up the issue with the National Human Rights Commission and the National Scheduled Caste Commission. The firing happened because a few “casteist” police officers “orchestrated” the violence. A sitting High Court Judge should conduct an enquiry and a fresh post-mortem should be done on all the bodies as there were reports that there were deaths due to torture. Earlier, VCK general secretary Chinthanai Selvan, along with members of the VCK and TMMK, met the injured victims. The TMMK leader said that observing Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja was a democratic practice that was happening for years. During the last few years it was observed with great pride on the part of Dalits. (The Hindu 15/9/11)

Karnataka ‘pathetic’ in dealing with cases against SC/STs: Study (2)

Bangalore: The performance of the Karnataka government in discharge of its duties under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities Act) was “pathetic” as it stands sixth in the country as far as crimes against SCs and STs are concerned, according to a report. The overall conviction rate for the crimes against SCs and STs in 2010 was five per cent and seven districts had zero per cent conviction rate during the same period, the Karnataka State Report on implementation of SCs and Sts (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the State in 2010 said. In Tumkur, which is one of the 15 districts declared by the government as an area prone to atrocities against SC/STs, 101 cases were disposed off in 2010 without a single conviction by the special court, the study said. The undivided Gulbarga district and Bangalore city top the number of cases reported in the past three years, it said, adding that Mandya has seen a surge in number of cases reported and is second highest in 2010 with 87 cases (39 cases in 2009 and 29 cases in 2008). Meanwhile, Energy Minister Shobha Karandlaje gave a call today to provide emotional support to SCs and STs to bring them to mainstream after releasing the report here. Karandlaje said that she would suggest to the government to implement the recommendations made in the report. The recommendations include setting up of exclusive courts to deal with such cases, judges with the right aptitude and understanding and time-bound completion of trials (within a year). Though the government is supposed to prepare an annual report on implementation of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the State, it had not done so for the past three years, the study said. The government is also supposed to hold half-yearly review meetings but only one such meeting was held in the last three years, instead of six meetings, the study said. Hassan and Chickballapur are additions in the top ten districts with the maximum atrocities against SC/STs. After a steep increase in such incidents, they take their place alongside districts such as Bangalore, Gulbarga, Bellary and Mysore, which consistently feature in the top ten, it added. “Awareness should be created regularly and systematically to school and college students on the Act and Ambedkar Jayanthi should be used to conduct debates and other programmes to highlight the Act,” Opposition leader in Legislative Council, Motamma said. A group consisting of organisations and individuals working on human rights and RTI in Karnataka namely, Anti-Corruption Forum (ACF), Buddhist League, Karnataka Dalit Mahila Vedike (KDMV), National Campaign for Dalit

Human Rights (NCDHR), OpenSpace, Rural Education and Development Society (REDS) and Sanchaya Nele compiled the report. (The Financial Exp. 16/9/11)

Dalits, Muslims smell a rat in Congress move (2)

Mumbai | Agency: DNA: The proposed Prevention of Communal and Violence Bill is being pushed with an objective to check communal violence across the country. But the Dalits and minorities, who are often soft targets of communal violence, are sceptical about the Bill. They are wondering if it is a ploy to polarise the system instead of tackling the root cause that triggers unrest in the society. “I have apprehensions that the Bill would make any difference to Dalits and minorities. It sounds alright on the paper. But what really matters is its implementation,” said Dalit writer Arjun Dangle. He cited the example of Atrocities Act, which the Congress introduced in 1989. “Is it being implemented in letter and spirit? The cases of atrocities against the Dalits are rising every year,” Dangle said. He alleged that efforts are being made by the Congress government to further dilute the Atrocities Act. “When it came into existence, it was a nonbailable offence. But later, bail was granted. Now, they have set up a ‘tantamukti’ scheme where panchayats attend to the disputes. Do you think a Dalit will ever come forward to lodge a complaint against an individual representing the majority community?” The statistics provided by the Ministry of Social Justice show the rate of conviction in cases against Dalits and minorities are dismal. Even if cases are registered, it does not come to a logical end. Or a person who lodges the complaint is often forced to withdraw the case following prolonged harassment. A senior Muslim leader in the Congress said the bill once implemented is likely to foment further polarisation among communities. “If the prejudice is among the agencies, which implement the Bill, then the entire purpose of getting justice is defeated.” (DNA 19/9/11)

Dalit slum-dwellers in Delhi to get free flats (2)

New Delhi, Sept. 19: Slum dwellers from SC and ST communities in the city will be eligible for flats costing a little over Rs 3 lakh virtually free, with the Delhi government as well as the Centre deciding to bear the expenses. A Cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dixit, decided to waive Delhi government’s share of Rs 60,000 for each dwelling unit if an SC or ST family gets a flat built under Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojna. “The Delhi SC and ST Commission will pay the amount on behalf of the families from these two categories. The Central government and the land owning agency will also make their contribution,” Ms Dixit said, adding that the SC and ST families will get the flats almost free. Ms Dixit said Delhi government would start allotment process of nearly 5,000 low-cost flats to slum dwellers by next month and out of the total allotees, SC and ST beneficiaries will not have to make any contribution to the government. The Chief Minister said the government will start allotment of around 7,000 flats by December. Officials said government will shift select slum clusters to the newly built flats and if there was any SC and ST families in the selected slum cluster, then they will get the flats free of cost. The government had earlier decided to begin the process of relocation of 33 slums by allocating low-cost houses to eligible families as construction of 9,660 flats have been completed and another 5,168 are nearing completion. Out of total applications, the government has found 42 per cent from these selected slum clusters eligible. Around 15,000 families are currently living in these 33 slum clusters identified for relocation in the first phase, out of which around 10,000 families had applied for allotment of flats. Out of the total applicants, 6,738 were found eligible. Delhi has around 685 slum clusters, out of which 56 have come up on Delhi government land. Slums have come up on land owned by various other agencies and departments including railways, NDMC, CPWD, MCD, Cantonment Board and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board. Following the city Lokayukta’s rap on Ms Dixit in July this year for “misrepresenting” facts about low-cost houses, the Delhi government had announced that it will expedite the process of allotment and decided to take a series of measures, including sale of land, to collect funds to construct more flats. The flats ready for distribution are located in Baprola and Bawana area of the city. Officials said the approximate cost of each flat, which will be distributed in October, would be Rs 3.34 lakh, out of which the Centre’s contribution would be 1.19 lakh and contribution of the land owning agency would be Rs 93,000. (Business Line 19/9/11)

Dalits appeal for reopening of temple (2)

Tirupur: The Dalits from Vellakoil block, who have been fighting for their rights to enter the Uthamapalayam New Mariamman temple without any discrimination, have appealed to the State Government to open the temple immediately in the wake of legal issues that got resolved recently. A meeting convened by Uthamapalayam temple entry agitation committee on Sunday evening had passed a resolution asking the government to constitute an endowment committee for the temple at the earliest. The Committee convener S. Karuppaiah told The Hindu that though the bylaws formulated by Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department stipulates the formation of such endowment committees for all temples coming under its control, the rules were not followed in the case of the Uthamapalayam temples. He said that instead of forming endowment committee, the cash and jewellery of the original Mariamman temple that was taken over by HR & CE in 1962, were transferred to the control of a private trust flouting all laws. “The trust should be dissolved and the temple reopened by ensuring that every Dalit could offer prayers without being humiliated,” he added. The meeting condemned the police firing on Dalits at Paramakudi recently. (The Hindu 20/9/11)

“Dalits being denied space in mainstream politics”

Madurai: It has become common to depict Dalits as a class of violent people and, by coming up with such contrived ideas, they are being denied space in mainstream politics by ruling parties and the administration, said Thol. Thirumavalavan, MP and president of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, here on Tuesday. Addressing a protest meeting, he said that the Paramakudi police firing exemplified this. It was an annual event in which Dalits gathered in huge numbers to pay respects to one of their iconic leaders, Immanuel Sekaran. During this event violence was unleashed against Dalits saying they had turned unruly. This was one of the most gruesome attacks against Dalits in the history of Tamil Nadu. The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had tried to give a caste colour to the episode, which was nothing but State-sponsored violence against Dalits in the name of law and order. Claiming there was “anti-Dalit stand” among officials and rulers, Mr. Thirumavalavan said there were several instances of human rights violations in the incident like the police targeting Dalit activists and attacking them brutally. He condemned those leaders who spoke of Tamil nationalism but did not vociferously oppose the barbaric attack on Dalits. No matter who was in power almost all police firings that took place in the history of the State were against Dalits. The VCK saw a larger conspiracy behind the police brutality. There was a feeling among a few top-ranking officials and rulers that the attempts to celebrate Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja should be thwarted because it had become a mass event equivalent to that of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar’s guru puja and could become a government function or rallying point of Dalit assertion every year, he said. The report given by the police and read out by the Chief Minister in the Assembly was false and an attempt to divert public attention from the police attack. He thanked the members of the Mukkulathor community, who maintained calm and did not get provoked by such “false remarks and statements” made by the Chief Minister, terming the attack a clash. The VCK demanded Rs.10 lakh compensation for each of the families of the dead, Rs.5 lakh for families of the injured and CBI inquiry, “as we have a history of all the commission reports appointed by the State justifying police action against Dalits.” He demanded the shifting of the injured persons to private hospitals as there was no adequate medical care provided at the Government Rajaji Hospital here. All police personnel involved in the event should be booked under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and Rules 1995. (The Hindu 21/9/11)

Paramakudi incident has cast a shadow on police, says Paswan (2)

Lok Janshakthi Party president Ram Vilas Paswan has said that the Paramakudi firing incident is a fit case for initiating criminal proceedings against the police officers concerned. He was on a tour of Paramakudi and surrounding areas on Tuesday to get first-hand information about the firing, which claimed the lives of six Dalits. Terming the police action “atrocious” and “inhuman,” Mr. Paswan said though he had come across many incidents perpetuated against Dalits in different parts of the country in the past, the Paramakudi firing was one of the most terrible attacks. The victims were pointedly fired at above their chest. The indiscriminate attack had cast a shadow on police of Tamil Nadu, which he regarded as a pioneering State as far as social justice was concerned. He demanded that the police officers concerned be booked under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The case should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation and an exclusive court established to complete the trial in six months. Complimenting The Hindu for its balanced coverage of the incident, Mr. Paswan said that he had met the President Pratiba Patil a few days ago and presented a petition along with the reports carried by The Hindu to seek her intervention in the matter. A high-level meeting of the Dalits and Minorities National Front had been convened at Nagpur on September 28 to discuss the issue. Mr. Paswan said that the government should announce compensation of Rs.20 lakh each to the kin of victims and Rs.5 lakh to those injured. Besides, at least one person from each victim’s family should be given government job.

(The Hindu 21/9/11)

Police firing, result of ‘anti-Dalit bias’ prevalent in State machinery, says fact-finding team (2)

Madurai : Paramakudi police firing is a result of an “anti-Dalit bias” among police and government officials and a few belonging to dominant castes, who are unable to digest the economic mobility and assertion of the Dalits, says a fact-finding report. A fact-finding team, comprising civil rights activists and intellectuals from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, visited Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram and Madurai on September, 19 and 20 and met the family members of the deceased and injured at hospitals, government officials and general public to inquire about the police firing and subsequent attack in which six Dalits were killed and many injured. The team said here on Wednesday that casteist forces among the State machinery and certain sections of the dominant castes did not like to see Dalits getting organised and celebrate Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja in a big way. The team found a letter circulated by Aappa Nadu Maravars Sangam, Mudukulathur, asking its members to take efforts to prevent Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja which was getting attention equivalent to that of Muthuramalinga Thevar’s guru puja.

Against this background, a Dalit school boy, Palani Kumar of Pallapacheri, was murdered on September 9, following which five members were arrested. But the Chief Minister cited a wall writing with objectionable words against Muthuramalinga Thevar in Thevar-dominated Muthuramalingapuram and Dalit-dominated Pacheri as the reason for the murder. But Muthuramalingapuram was a village where Dalits could not walk with their footwear on. How could a Dalit boy walk up to the ration shop in the middle of the village with ease to make wall a writing on a seven-foot-high wall, they posed. The team found that among 28 Dalit students at Mandalamancikam Government High School 23 got their transfer certificates and moved to another school because of caste animosity during 2010-11. Eyewitnesses at the riot torn area and youth who sustained bullet injuries said that tear gas shells and water cannons, which were mandatory, were not used before resorting to firing. They also said that the policemen started to attack after abusing them by their caste names and this showed the casteist attitude among the state machinery. The fact finding team condemned the Chief Minister’s statement justifying the police firing in the Assembly which reflected an “anti-Dalit” outlook. The CM should retract her statement because it had given an impression among the Dalits that there would be no room for justice for them, the team said. While demanding a CBI inquiry into the firing, the team sought the suspension and booking of cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against police officials Sandeep Mittal, Deputy Inspector General, K. A. Senthil Velan (Deputy Commissioner) and Sivakumar, Inspector. Families of the deceased should be given a compensation of Rs.10 lakh each, along with a government job. Dalit villages in and around Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram lacked proper basic amenities and had been neglected for long. The government should provide them basic facilities. Government should also provide details of how many among the policemen and revenue officials in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram and surrounding areas were Dalits and other dominant castes to assess the situation sociologically. Immanuel Sekaran’s anniversary should be announced as a government function and the road leading to his memorial widened. The team said that government should take efforts to sensitise government officials on issues related to caste and inculcate democratic and constitutional values among them. The team was led by writer A. Marx of People’s Union for Human Rights. (The Hindu 22/9/11)

CBI registers case against BSP MLA in Banda rape case (2)

New Delhi | Agency: PTI: The CBI today registered a case against BSP MLA Purushottam Dwivedi and four others in the alleged rape of a minor Dalit girl in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh in December last year. The Supreme Court on September 12 had directed the CBI to take over probe into the case as allegations were levelled that Dwivedi being a ruling party MLA used his influence in the administration to dilute the probe. “On the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against a Uttar Pradesh MLA and four other private persons U/s 376, 354, 323, 504 and 506 of IPC relating to a case in Banda (UP) in which a minor was allegedly raped.The case was earlier registered by the local Police and later was investigated by CB-CID of UP,” CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said here. The sections relate to rape, assault for outraging the modesty of a woman, voluntarily causing hurt, intentional insult and criminal intimidation. The 17-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by Dwivedi in Banda on December 10 and 11 last year. The girl had escaped from his residence on December 12 when the MLA allegedly attempted to rape her again. The girl, however, was arrested after allegedly false charges of theft were levelled by the legislator’s brother against her. Dwivedi, 48, who was later arrested from Banda and suspended by Mayawati’s party, denied all the charges. The apex court had passed the order on a PIL filed by advocates Raja Ram and Irudaya Nathan seeking an independent probe into the incident, alleging that impartial investigation was not possible in the case as the ruling BSP legislator and his aides were involved. The state government did not oppose the plea for a CBI probe into the case and agreed to recommend handing it over to the central agency. The petitioners alleged that the authorities had committed a grave error by lodging false cases against the victim, who was a minor and was entitled to protection under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. Alleging that the police and judicial officers were trying to protect the MLA, they alleged that the magistrate, in violation of the JJ Act, had sent her to jail while she should have been sent to a juvenile care centre. (DNA 22/9/11)

15 convicted, 82 acquitted in Mirchpur Dalit murder case (2)

New Delhi: Fifteen people have been convicted and 82 acquitted by a Sessions court here in the much talked about Mirchpur killing case in which a physically challenged girl and her septuagenarian Dalit father were charred to death in neighbouring Haryana. In the ghastly incident of caste violence that rocked Haryana on April 21 last year, a mob belonging to the dominant Jat community had also burnt down 18 Dalit houses. Three of the 15 have been convicted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. They had set fire to the house in which Tara Chand and his daughter Suman had taken refuge. Six persons have been held guilty of setting other Dalit houses on fire and six others have been convicted for unlawful assembly and stone-throwing. In a major relief to the accused, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau on Saturday ruled that the serious charges of murder, rioting, looting and criminal conspiracy could not be established beyond reasonable doubt. Narnaud Police SHO Vinod Kumar Kajal, who was one of the accused in the case for allegedly exhorting the mob to burn down Dalit homes and alleged negligence of duties under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, was acquitted as the charges against him could not be proved. The Supreme Court had ordered shifting of the case from Haryana to Delhi last December following apprehensions whether a fair trial would be conducted in the neighbouring State. There was also fear for the safety of witnesses and lawyers appearing in the case. A total of 68 prosecution witnesses including Tara Chand’s wife, 44 defence witnesses, and one court witness – son of Tara Chand whom neither the prosecution nor the defence wanted to rely on — were examined. The trial against one person was separated after he absconded. Another five juvenile accused are to be tried by a Juvenile Justice Board in Hisar. The arguments on sentencing are listed for September 29. (The Hindu 24/9/11)

Dalits allowed to fetch water from well (2)

ONGOLE, September 27, 2011: The CPI(M)-led Kula Vivaksha Porata Samiti under the leadership of its district secretary A. Malyadri brought the plight of the dalits to the notice of the Collector. On the orders of the Collector, Pamur revenue and police officials rushed to the village and ensured access to dalits to the well. The dalits, including 35 women, happily fetched water from the well. KVPS Pamur Division Secretary K. Malyadri said the dalit families were forced to sit with their pots for long and were provided water. Evictees’ demand Dalits of remote Verayapalem village in Darsi mandal under the aegis of the CPI(M)-led Kula Vivaksha Porata Samiti staged a dharna in-front of the Prakasam Bhavan here in protest against their eviction from their houses by lower level revenue officials. Leading the protest, A. Malyadri said the dalits had been living in government waste land for over 20 years and had been provided ration cards and voters identity card. The dalits along with CPI(M)-led Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Workers Union district secretary P. Hanumantha Rao pressed for action against the Mandal Revenue Officer concerned. They submitted a memorandum to Additional Joint Collector Ch. Mohan Rao, who directed the lower level officials to provide them alternative land. The dalits also pressed for sanctioning of five houses under Indira Awas Yojana for five dalit families whose houses had been burnt in a fire recently. Dalit students under the aegis of the Bahujana Students Federation staged a dharna in-front of the Prakasam Bhavan to press for action against a B.Ed college which had allegedly collected more fees from students. The students, led by Federation state convenor D. Charavaka, alleged that the management of the college near Kandukur had forcibly collected from students even the ATM cards and withdrawn scholarship amount of Rs. 4,200 each meant for them. (The Hindu 27/9/11)

‘Stop the drama of visiting Dalit houses’ (2)

MANGALORE, September 28, 2011: The swamijis of all maths should stop the “drama” of talking about social reforms when they have not initiated a single concrete step to bring about the change they speak about, Seer of Nidumamidi Math Veerabhadra Channamalla Swami said on Tuesday. To a question during an interaction organised by the Journalists’ Study Centre, he strongly criticised Sri Vishwesha Thirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Math and seers of all maths who “talk about social change but do nothing about it”. He urged the swamijis to “stop the drama” of visiting Dalit houses or washing the feet of Dalits, which would not bring an end to their social or economic problems. Although he had “great respect for Pejawar swamiji’s concern for society”, Nidumamidi swamiji was critical of his actions with regard to Dalits. . “For half a century, he has spoken about social change, but has not managed to solve even a single fundamental problem of Dalits,” the swamiji said. In a region where ajalu paddhati was practised, Pejawar swamiji had not said that it was “wrong”. Similarly, he had remained silent about “made snana” which was a “de-humanising” practice, the practice of making Dalits carry night soil on their head, the problems of davadasis and prostitutes, Nidumamidi swami said. “Let alone taking steps to address social problems of Dalits, have any of the swamijis even agreed that all people from Dalits to Brahmins have been created equal and that they all have the same rights?” the swamiji said. There was a time when “religious institutions were pro-people but in our times, that is not the case”. Maths today unite only to further a communal agenda or work for their caste groups, but not to work for the social, economic, political, or national interests of all people. Although religious heads have supported political power historically, in a “healthy democracy” it was imperative that the “immoral nexus” between religion and the ruling class ended and each functioned independently of the other. The swamiji said he had been saying for the last 20 years that “not all, but a majority of religious institutions” received money earned illegally and were being run by ill-gotten wealth. No religious leader had declared that ill-gotten wealth should not be donated to their institutions. The former Tourism Minister G. Janardhan Reddy donated a crown that cost over Rs. 40 crore to Tirupati temple in 2009, but even though there were demands to return the crown after his arrest, the temple refused saying that offerings could not be returned, the swamiji said. To a question on how he resolved his personal conflict with the math system, the swamiji replied that he had rejected the system completely and taken up teaching. . He said that he entered the math to bring about social change. To this effect he had appointed Dalits as priests, arranged inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, visited houses of people of all castes and faiths, and organised awareness programmes. (The Hindu 28/9/11)

Impartial probe will be held: Justice Sampath (2)

Paramakudi: Justice K. Sampath, who heads the Commission of Inquiry appointed by the government to probe the Paramakudi firing on September 11, said here on Wednesday that he would hold an impartial inquiry into the incident, which claimed the lives of six Dalits. Speaking to The Hindu here, Mr. Justice Sampath said the commission would discharge its duties and responsibilities to bring out the truth. “I have an open mind. I don’t act on assumption or perception,” said the retired Madras High Court judge. Stating that he had visited the spot at Paramakudi and the Immanuel Sekaran Memorial, Mr. Sampath said he

had met the family members and relatives of those killed in three villages, including Veerambal and Sadayaneri. He could not visit other three villages. He sought the cooperation of the people and said that this would enable him to probe the matter in detail and understand their views and grievances. Asked about his opinion about the police firing, Mr. Sampath said he had not formed any opinion on it. He heard the views of all sides, particularly those affected. The police also expressed their views. It was only a preliminary visit and the formal recording of statements would be made in due course. The commission had gathered views from all sides on what happened that day. It was not possible to come to any conclusion or opinion at this stage. Asked how the panel would continue its proceedings in the backdrop of opposition among the affected people, Mr. Sampath hoped that the situation would improve. They would cooperate with the commission. Later, Mr. Sampath enquired with V. Arun Roy, Collector, Ravikumar, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mahesh Kumar, Superintendent of Police, and others for the second day on Wednesday. (The Hindu 29/9/11)

DSS holds protest in Chitradurga (2)

Chitradurga, September 29, 2011: In support of its various demands, the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) took out a rally and staged a dharna near Onake Obavva Circle here on Wednesday. In a release, the DSS mentioned several demands related to the development of the district and schemes related to the welfare of Dalits. The release demanded that the Government expedite works on the Upper Bhadra Irrigation Project, as it was a lifeline for the people of the drought-prone district, and urged the State Government to get environmental clearance for it from the Union Government immediately. With regard to the prevailing drought-like situation in the district, owing to which over Rs. 450 crop loss has been estimated by the Agriculture Department, the release urged the Government to declare the district drought-hit to provide relief to farmers. Alleging that the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was not being implemented properly, the release demanded that the Government ensure the effective implementation of the law by taking stern action against offenders. The release also urged the Government to effectively implement the land ownership scheme framed under the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Development Corporation and the SC/ST Development Corporation. The samiti demanded that the Government construct more hostels for SC/ST students in Chitradurga with adequate infrastructure. Stating that several Dalits had not been given houses under the Ashraya scheme, the release urged the District Administration to provide houses to some 75 Dalit families in the locality of Sadiq Nagar. The release also urged the Government to provide title deeds to several slum-dwellers in the city. The release said the slum dwellers had demanded that the Government handover the title deeds, but no steps had been taken to meet their demand, the release added. (The Hindu 29/9/11)

‘Dalits, tribal people being denied their due’ (2)

HYDERABAD, October 2, 2011: Speakers at a meeting convened by the Left parties here on Saturday on SC, ST Sub-Plans said that the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the State were still being subjected to social and government discrimination. Respecting them properly was the prerequisite to the effective implementation of the SC, ST Sub-Plans effectively, they felt. The speakers suggested booking of criminal cases against the officials who fail to spend or divert the allocated funds of the Sub-Plans to bring some accountability. State secretary of the CPI (M) B.V. Raghavulu said Dalits and tribal people were being deprived of even basic amenities as the government was not allocating the prescribed 26 per cent funds to SC/ST Sub-Plans. Even the allotted funds were not being spent and instead diverted to other programmes. Insufficient allocation of funds and not spending even the lesser allocation was an insult to the government itself as it was a constitutional provision, State secretary of CPI K. Narayana said. He suggested Dalits and tribal people to question their elected representatives and mount pressure on them to spend at least the allocated funds first. He gave a call for ‘Chalo Assembly’ protest on the issue during the winter session of the Assembly to highlight the issue and build pressure on the government for proper implementation of the Sub-Plans. Venkat Reddy of MCPI (U), B. Veeraiah of CPI (ML), K. Venkateswar Rao of ML Committee, Muralidhar Deshpande of Forward Bloc, V. Janaki Ramulu of RSP and others spoke at the meeting. The meeting adopted several resolutions demanding the government to spend the allotted funds through nodal agencies, carrying forward the unspent funds and bring in a special legislation for proper implementation of the Sub-Plans among others.(The Hindu 2/10/11)

‘Dalit communities in State made huge progress’ (2)

KALPETTA, October 3, 2011: A.P. Anil Kumar, the Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes has said that the economic position, standard of living, and other development aspects of the Dalit communities in the State was much better compared to the rest of the country. Inaugurating the State-level ‘social solidarity fortnight’ observance at the panchayat community hall at Mananthavady in Wayanad district on Sunday, Mr. Anilkumar said the State had achieved the progress by implementing various development schemes in a time-bound manner. Mr. Anil Kumar added that though the Kerala had set a model for the other States in this regard, the condition of the tribal people continued to be dismal in many aspects, especially in protecting their rights and economic status and in education. A collective attempt was needed to uplift the marginalised sections to the mainstream, the Minister said. The government had given prime importance for providing education to the children who belong to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and ST) as social equality could be achieved only through education, Mr. Anilkumar said. The district had a huge tourism potential and the United Democratic Front government was planning to implement a comprehensive project for the district to tap this, the Minister said. P.K. Jayalakshmi, Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes and Youth Affairs, presided over the function. Gold medals were awarded to SC and ST students who secured A + in all subjects in the SSLC examination and first rank in the medical and engineering entrance examinations conducted in 2011, at the function.(The Hindu 3/10/11)

Pachery’s Dalits to boycott civic polls (2)

RAMANATHAPURAM, October 4, 2011: The residents — all Dalits — of Pachery village, part of the Mandalamanickam panchayat, where a boy was murdered allegedly by a group of caste Hindus recently, have decided to boycott the local body elections. They have cited police failure to arrest the remaining accused (other than the five already arrested) in the murder case and denial of access to a road by caste Hindus. The decision comes amid allegations that the president and vice-president of the panchayat have been ‘selected’ through ‘auctioneering’ at a price of Rs.15 lakh. Though two ward members can be elected from Pachery village, part of the Mandalamanickam panchayat, no nominations have been filed. The process is over and there will be no representation from the village in the panchayat. The boycott decision was taken at a ‘village meeting’ held at Pachery recently, to protest continuous “harassment and torture” by caste Hindus and failure of the government in addressing their grievances. Though the Mandalamanickam panchayat, which has eight villages (hamlets) under its jurisdiction, has been categorised as reserved, the Dalits of Pachery allege that the caste Hindus have been following illegal and undemocratic methods of selecting a ‘puppet’ candidate from another Dalit community, which has very few in numbers in the entire panchayat. (The Hindu 4/10/11)

Banda ‘rape victim’ examined at AIIMS (2)

New Delhi: More than a fortnight after the CBI took over the probe into the alleged rape of a minor Dalit girl at Banda in Uttar Pradesh involving a BSP MLA, the medical examination of the girl was carried out at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), here on Monday. The girl was allegedly raped by Purshottam Dwivedi in Banda on December 10 and 11 last year. The Supreme Court on September 12 had directed the CBI to take over the probe as allegations were levelled that Dwivedi, being a ruling party MLA, used his influence in the administration to dilute the investigation. “The case was registered on the directions of the Supreme Court. The CBI registered a case against a UP MLA and four other private persons under Sections 376, 354, 323, 504 and 506 of the IPC relating to a case in Banda (UP) in which a minor was allegedly raped,” said a CBI official. The agency is trying to reconstruct the scene of crime along with the examination of forensic evidence collected by the local police. Said a CBI official, “The need for a medical examination was felt as sleuths thought of seeking a second opinion on the nature of injuries suffered by the victim.” The 17-year-old girl had escaped from the MLA’s residence on December 12 when he allegedly tried to rape her again. The girl was arrested after false charges of theft were allegedly levelled by Dwivedi’s brother against her. From the jail, she moved the local court, alleging rape and other criminal acts by the MLA and his men. On the court’s order, a case was lodged on January 12. The medical examination, more than a month after the incident, ruled out rape. (Indian Express 4/10/11)

Dalit woman given witch tag, beaten up (2)

Bhilwara, October 04, 2011: In a repeat instance of atrocity on scheduled castes, a Dalit woman was described as a witch, beaten and paraded half-naked in a village in Bhilwara district last week, the police said on Monday. Rani (name changed) of Phulia Khurd village, about 70 km from Bhilwara, said in her

FIR filed on Sunday that four villagers entered her house on September 27, dubbed her a witch and beat her up. In Bhilwara in the past six months this is the third incident where a Dalit woman has been beaten up and branded a witch. “The villagers – Gheesu Jat, Chothu Mali, Balu Mali and Godu Mali – insulted and tortured me. They wanted me to leave the village,” she told media persons in hospital. She has injuries on her head and hands. “A couple of days ago they harassed me on the road and threatened me to leave the village. I am scared. How can I live in such a place where people are after my life?” she asked. Acting station house officer Shahpura Fatah Lal said the victim’s son had filed an FIR, naming the four accused. The son said his mother was cooking when the accused broke the door and started beating her. “They assaulted her and tore her clothes. Then they paraded her half naked in the village.” (Hindustan Times 4/10/11)

Dalit beaten up, threatened rape over land claim (2)

AJMER: A Scheduled Caste woman in Nasirabad block of this district alleged on Wednesday that two men from Bubaniya village – Shankar Singh Rawat and Surajmal Rawat – and others abused and tried to outrage her modesty when she was working in the field. “They came in a group and abuse me using casteist slurs and threatened to rape me, they dragged me to a nearby mines area and beat me brutally,” said the victim Savitri. The bone of contention is a six bigha plot. The land touches the boundaries of Shankar and Suraj’s fields. “They wanted to occupy my agriculture land. Earlier, they had claimed I am sitting on a government land, I called in the revenue inspector and he showed me the limits of my agriculture land, now they claim that they have purchased the land from government, so I must vacate it,” said Laxman, husband of Savitri. (Times of India 7/10/11)

27 held for ‘attacking’ Dalits (2)

Kakinada: The Amalapuram police on Sunday arrested 27 people from the fishermen community in Pichukallanka village of Atreyapuram police station limits on the charge of attacking 12 Dalits residing in Dowleswaram. The fishermen were charged with indulging in arson – targeting a house and a cattle shed belonging to the SCs on October 7. Superintendent of Police C.M. Trivikrama Varma, said differences cropped up between the two groups over the issue of sharing the fish and prawn seed that is available in Godavari waters near the Dowleswaram barrage. They were arrested by the police and cases were registered against them under the provisions of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (The Hindu 10/10/11)

Advise people not to practise untouchability, Pejawar seer told (2)

Hubli, October 11, 2011: State convenor of Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti Laxminarayan Nagavar said that the visits by Vishvesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Math to the localities inhabited by Dalits would not yield any results unless he convinced members of the community he leads, to stop practising untouchability. Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, Mr. Nagavar said that the Pejawar seer was visiting the ‘Dalit keris’ (streets inhabited by Dalits) to meet the persons who were actually victims of untouchability. “What the seer should have done instead is to meet his own community members who still practise untouchability against Dalits”, he said. Even after over 60 years of Indian independence, the practice of untouchability was prevalent in many places. “Organisations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP) chanted the ‘unity mantra’ before demolition of the Babri Masjid. But when it comes to untouchability, they forget the Dalits”, he said. Mr. Laxminarayan Nagavar said Buddhism advocates humanity and that was the reason why B.R. Ambedkar followed it. To mark the 55th anniversary of the acceptance of Buddhism by B.R. Ambedkar, a State-level convention will be organised at the Ravindra Kalakshetra in Bangalore on October 23. Writer U.R. Ananthmurthy and socialist ideologue Ravivarma Kumar will be among those who will take part in the convention. Playwright Chandrashekhar Kambar, who won the Jnanpith, would be honoured on the occasion. Mr. Nagavar said that along with the along with the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, Karnataka Rajya Dalit Vidyarthi Okkoota and Karnataka Rajya Dalit Mahila Okkoota would be coordinating the event, which was likely to attract over 2,500 persons from across the State. (The Hindu 11/10/11)

Dalits organise protest (2)

Srikakulam, October 11, 2011: Dalit families on Monday organised a protest in front of MPDO’s office demanding that they be issued pattas as all of them were living in Adivarampeta for the last 30 years. They said they were approaching revenue officials and public representatives for the last few years but could not get concrete assurance over the issue. They alleged that the revenue officials were trying to remove their houses under the guise that they were illegally constructed on government lands. CPI(M) leader Panchadi Paparao threatened that dalit families would intensify their agitation if they did not get a favourable response from the officials over the issue. (The Hindu 11/10/11)

‘Officials failed to give succour to Dalits’ (2)

BANGALORE: Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Motamma on Tuesday alleged that the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police of Gadag have failed to solve the difficulties of Dalit families in the district where upper caste people have boycotted them for more than two months.

Speaking to reporters here, Ms. Motamma said that Chikka Manchaiah, a Dalit of Kirugaval village in Malavalli taluk, was attacked on Sunday by two men with razors for daring to enter “Sringar Hair Dressers” owned by them asking for a haircut. Mahadev and his father, Mari, are absconding since the complaint filed by Manchaiah with the police, she said. She said that the two men first refused to cut Manchaiah’s hair but later agreed to his request. A quarrel broke out among them and Mahadev deliberately slashed Manchaiah’s face, Ms. Motamma said. She said that cases of untouchability continued to occur and the Government had failed to act against the offenders. Ms. Motamma criticised the Sub-Inspector of Police in Kirugaval for saying that it was not a “serious offence”. Ms. Motamma said that in Gadag, there was no semblance of administration as top officials had failed to lift a Dalit boycott for over two months in Nayakanur. (The Hindu 12/10/11)

Attacks on Dalits condemned (2)

MYSORE, October 12, 2011: The Dalit Hakkugala Horata Samiti, has condemned the spate of recent attacks on Dalits. In a press release, it condemned the recent attacks on Dalit places of worship by ‘upper caste’ groups. It also condemned Sunday’s incident in Kirigavulu of Malavalli taluk in Mandya district where a barber refused to attend to a Dalit man and then cut off his nose. The samiti said that attacks on Dalits and other minorities had increased due to the Government’s apathy in punishing the guilty. — Special Correspondent (The Hindu 12/10/11)

Mayawati inaugurates Rs.684 crore Dalit park (2)

Noida: With rose petals, prayers and thousands of people looking on, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Friday inaugurated a Rs.684 crore park dedicated to the Dalit cause in this satellite town adjoining the national capital.With statues of 24 elephants, the symbol of her Bahujan Samaj Party, and of Dalit icons B.R. Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram and of herself, the 82-acre Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden has been a subject of massive controversy. Thousands of people had gathered since morning to watch Mayawati inaugurate the park on the outskirts of New Delhi, with many political observers saying that it was a move aimed at the assembly elections next year. Unmindful of the criticism that she has received for the park with some describing ut as monumental folly, Mayawati touched down in a helicopter at 4.50 p.m. in Film City in Noida. As TV cameras captured the moment, a beaming Mayawati went around the premises. Buddhist monks chanted prayers. Unusually, her parents Ramrati and father Prabhu Dass were with her. Traffic in and around Noida came to a standstill. Police officials said they had a tough time in controlling the surging crowds.(Pioneer 14/10/11)

Dalits push their version of Lokpal bill (2)

NEW DELHI: A representative of Dalit organisations Saturday sought support for their version of the antigraft bill, claiming that the Jan Lokpal bill drafted by Team Anna “will disturb the constitutional balance”.”The Jan Lokpal bill wants the executive, the judiciary and the legislature should report to the Lokpal. This will disturb the fine constitutional balance,” said All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations chairman Udit Raj, seeking support for their version of the proposed legislation called the Bahujan Lokpal bill. Speaking at a seminar, he sought reservation for Dalits and minorities in the proposed anti-corruption set-up through the Bahujan Lokpal bill. “If Anna supports our demand, we will back him.” “Dalits, including the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and minorities, form a large percentage of population and must be involved in the Lokpal,” Udit Raj said at the seminar on various versions of the proposed legislation. Swami Agnivesh, a former member of Team Anna, also supported the demand for a quota for Dalits and minorities in the proposed Lokpal set-up. “No legislation or movement will be successful if it does not have social justice,” said Agnivesh. Shazia Ilmi, a member of

Team Anna, said, “our movement follows parliamentary procedures” and “was not opposed to giving reservation to the Dalits and minorities”.”We are basically against corruption and want a strong Lokpal,” said Shazia. Udit Raj said even if the Lokpal bill was passed, “there is no guarantee it will be effective in rooting out corruption”.The parliamentary standing committee on law and justice headed by Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi is looking into various drafts of the Lokpal bill, including the Jan Lokpal bill. The panel is expected to submit its recommendations to parliament by the winter session, which is usually held in November-December. (Times of India 15/10/11)

Dalit candidates threaten to withdraw from contest (2)

MADURAI, October 15, 2011: Four candidates who are contesting for the post of panchayat president in Keeripatti coming under Usilampatti taluk have threatened to withdraw from the contest alleging undemocratic practices followed by caste Hindus in the village. Keeripatti is one among the four reserved panchayats, the others being Pappapatti and Nattarmangalam in Madurai district and Kottakachiendal in Virudhunagar district, which saw severe opposition from the dominant castes to conduct elections, and when held the Dalits were asked to resign, thus making a mockery of democracy. However, concerted efforts during the previous DMK government saw the restoration of a democratic setup in these panchayats. The Hindu carried a news item on September 29 stating that the situation is dicey in Keeripatti after dominant caste members called for an ‘oor (village) panchayat’ (an assembly of elders, wealthy and influential persons, mostly belonging to the predominant caste group) and chose A. Mokkakaalai (33), a conservancy worker, as candidate. This being the situation, on Friday, they again called for an ‘oor panchayat’ meeting for which Mokkakaalai, the candidate chosen by the Piramalai Kallars, was seen beating the ‘thamukku’ (traditional drum) to announce the meeting. The villagers said that the meeting which took place from 6.30 a.m. till 7.00 a.m. saw the Piramalai Kallars make promises and take vows on flames of camphor to their lineage god Vangaru Thevar Samy that they will not vote for others but only Mokkakaalai. It was also said that people who voted for others would be ostracised from the village. The Dalit candidate Mokkakalai fielded by the Kallars have been assured of three sovereigns of gold and Rs.1 lakh in cash if he wins the election. The Dalit candidates, B. Chinnasamy (35), N. Subban (50), P. Palani (41) and A. Subban (55), told The Hindu that the administration was biased towards caste Hindus. Higher officials, including the Collector and Revenue Divisional Officer, did not visit the Dalit areas in the village to hear their grievances but only met the caste Hindus. They also alleged that the policemen who accompanied the candidate, M. Baluchamy, during the campaign were the kinsmen of villagers and it was nothing but mere tokenism on the part of the administration. The other Dalit candidates have not been able to campaign at the caste Hindu areas. “Once the election is over, we all could be under threat as there is a precedence of the entire village ostracising Dalits who disobey the prevailing practices,” said A. Subban. They urged the State Election Commission (SEC) to either postpone the elections or ensure proper security and allow them to campaign and conduct the elections in a democratic manner. A. Kathir, Executive Director, Evidence, said that there was no doubt that there existed a kind of uncertainty in Keeripatti over the realisation of empowerment of Dalits, which was one of the declared objectives of decentralisation of power. The SEC should take stringent measures to restore democracy in its fullest form. (The Hindu 15/10/11)

Dalit set on fire in Etah (2)

Lucknow: On an old enmity, three persons, allegedly, bashed up a man and later set him afire amid the presence of his family in Etah district on Saturday night. The police, however, downplayed the incident saying the man set himself afire reason of which are yet to be ascertained. As per reports, Dinesh Kasyap (30) resided at Kanshi Ram Awasiya Colony (house number 67, block number 6) under Kotwali police station with his family. He was an alcoholic and used to frequent the house of Rinku where he had drink sessions with Rinku, Pinku and Puttan. Two days back, Dinesh had a dispute with the trio while drinking at the house of one of the named persons. After the verbal duel came into notice the locals intervened and Dinesh returned his home then. On Saturday night, Dinesh was at home as his family consisting father Ramesh Chandra, mother Mithilesh were celebrating Karvachauth. His sister Arti and her husband Ajay were also at his home. While the family was busy in celebrating the festival, the trio stormed the house and hold Dinesh. They doused Dinesh with kerosene and then set him afire before fleeing the scene. Dinesh ran to save his life but his attempt stoked the fire further causing him burnt badly in the incident. He was later taken before he be taken to hospital. He later died during treatment. Dinesh’s claimed that Rinku and his aided set Dinesh afire in vengeance. “The trio had a dispute with Dinesh two days back. In the incident, Dinesh had retaliated when was attacked. The trio felt themselves insulted and killed him,” his family claimed. The family further alleged that the police was trying to downplay the incident making it up a suicide case and was trying to save the miscreants at the direction of big-wigs. Inspector Kotwali police station, however, said Dinesh was an alcoholic and set himself afire in frustration. He said the police were trying to find out the reason behind the suicide. DIG (Aligarh range) BP Tripathi said the family members had given a complaint against the trio and necessary action was being taken. Later an FIR under section 302 of IPC, for murder, and section 436 of IPC, for mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house was registred in this connection. Further investigation in the case is on.(The Pioneer 16/10/11)

Dalit PM from Congress before long: Anil Shastri (2)

New Delhi, October 17, 2011: A Dalit will be nominated as Prime Minister by the Congress in the near future, a senior party leader said on Sunday. “The day is not far when it will give a Dalit PM, not for votes but for Dalit empowerment,” party leader Anil Shastri posted in Twitter. The statement comes in the wake of the claim of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati that the Congress could appoint Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar or Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as Prime Minister ahead of the U.P. Assembly elections. Earlier, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, dismissed Ms. Mayawati’s claim saying that Manmohan Singh would remain the Prime Minister. Mr. Shastri, in another tweet, said: “Mayawati can’t be the only Dalit aspiring to be PM. There are many more qualified and capable leaders in the Congress.” On the debate over the RTI, the Congress leader said: “There seems to be a concerted effort by people in government to dilute and weaken the RTI, which should be resisted by all right thinking people.” Mr. Shastri has expressed his views in the backdrop of Dr. Singh’s statement that a “critical look” must be taken at the RTI Act. — PTI (The Hindu 17/10/11)

Pune braveheart fights for farmer rights (2)

Pune: A fighter by birth, farmer activist Bant Singh has literally faced death and lived to tell the tale. A Dalit farmer-singer from Jhabar village in Mansa district in Punjab, Singh is the president of the farmers’ association of the CPI (ML-Liberation) party in Punjab. In Pune with his co-workers to spread the word about his work, Bant interacted with the media on Monday. Singh’s activism had cost him his limbs as he had taken the cudgels to fight against the atrocities of the upper caste farmers in his village. It was the brutal rape of his minor daughter in 2000, by powerful upper caste men in his village, which compelled Singh to throw his hat in the field of activism. He dared to take on the might of the establishment and took the men to the court. It was his fighting spirit, which ensured that the upper caste men were handed out life sentences, an event which was unheard of in the upper caste dominated society Singh hailed from. In 2006, Singh was attacked by a gang of seven, who mercilessly hacked his limbs off and left him to die. The immediate reason for this attack was Singh’s campaign for the rights of farmers and labourers. He survived the attack and is now a beacon of strength and hope for thousands of farmers and oppressed across the country. In Pune to express his solidarity with the cause of farmers and labourers, Singh said that in spite of the setbacks his fighting spirit remains strong. “We are ready to take the cause of the farmers anywhere in the country,” he said. (DNA 18/10/11)

Atrocities against Dalits on the rise: Minister (2)

RAICHUR, October 18, 2011: Minister for Social Welfare A. Narayanaswamy said here on Monday that the district administration had failed to “properly handle” cases of atrocity against Dalits. Chairing a district-level review meeting of his department, he said the Government was committed to protecting the interests of Dalits. “Since the last three years, there has been a rise in atrocities on Dalits in the district. However, the action taken by the district administration is not satisfactory,” the Minister said. He said the Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police and officials of various deparments should attend the hearings in atrocity cases. The Minister directed the district administration to hold gram sabhas in all hoblis in the district to create awareness among the public on the need for their cooperation in checking cases of atrocity. Criticising officials of the zilla panchayat, the Minister said: “Over 50 per cent of the Dalit families in the district have no toilets even though the Government had released funds,” he said. He asked the Chief Executive Officer of the zilla panchayat to submit a report on the funds the panchayat had received and its utilisation in the past three years. The Minister promised to ensure proper implementation of the subsidised construction of latrines in the district. He asked the officials of the city and town municipalities to ensure that that all the Dalit families in the district had toilets in the next three

years. He said stringent action would be taken against officials if they failed to complete the scheme in next three years.Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar, nappa Vajjal, MLA, were present. (The Hindu 18/10/11)

Dalit girl accuses BSP legislator in UP of rape (2)

Lucknow:: A dalit girl has accused Bahujan Samaj Party legislator from Shahjahanpur, about 175 km from here, Neeraj Maurya of abducting and raping her and also claimed that she had a 10-month child from the legislator. The girl, Sakshi Soni, a resident of Mauzampur village in the district, has levelled the allegations in an affidavit filed in the court of Judicial Magistrate Parul Pawar, according to reports. In her affidavit, which was filed in the court a few days back, the girl has alleged that Maurya’s goons had abducted her from a field near her village about 18 months back and took her to the legislator’s house at Jalalabad in the district, where she was raped by Maurya and some others. The family of the girl had lodged a report with the police when she was abducted and suspected the role of the MLA but the police, instead of booking the MLA, arrested some one else and also filed a charge sheet against him in the court. The dalit girl alleged that she was released by her abductors in December last. “We had approached the police on many occasions seeking to register a case against the MLA and his goons but our pleas fell on deaf ears,” Harsahai Soni, her father, said. He also alleged that Maurya called him many times and threatened him with dire consequences if he approached the police. The girl then approached the court seeking a direction to the police to book the MLA and some others for rape and abduction. Several member of legislative assembly of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party have faced charges of abductions, rape and murder in the past. Chief Minister Mayawati has also taken action against some of them. In the past few days, four ministers have been sacked after being indicted by the Lokayukta for land grabbing, amassing huge wealth and also indulging in criminal activities. Bahujan Samaj Party legislator from Budaon Yogendra Sagar is also facing charges of abduction and rape while another party MLA Guddu Pandit was charged with stalking a research scholar after she insisted on marrying him and threatened to expose him. (Deccan Herald 20/10/11)

Dalits beaten up for trying to enter temple (2)

GULBARGA, October 22, 2011: An incident of Dalits being denied entry into a temple has come to light in Maddampura village near Konchavam in Chincholi taluk of the district. Nine persons were allegedly beaten up by the “upper castes” for trying to enter the Hanuman temple in the village to offer puja. The incident occurred on October 17, and even though a case was registered at the Konchavaram police station, not one person named in the FIR has been arrested. Raghuveer, a Dalit from the village who filed the complaint against 14 “upper caste” people of the same village, told The Hindu that all the accused were roaming free. About 40 Dalit families were, however, living in constant fear of another attack from the “upper castes” for lodging the complaint. Mr. Raghuveer, along with eight other residents who were attacked on October 17, came to Gulbarga on Thursday to submit a memorandum to the district authorities on the incident and seeking their intervention. Although the police registered cases of nonbailable offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and other sections of IPC against the 14 persons, none of them has so far been arrested. Lakshman, another victim of the attack, said a similar attempt to prevent the Dalits from entering the Hanuman temple was made on July 4, 2011. Though a complaint was lodged, the taluk authorities had not taken steps to check such incidents. On October 17, Dalits in the village made another attempt to enter the temple, only to be beaten up by the “upper castes”. The Dalits said that though the Chincholi tahsildar and the circle inspector of Chincholi police station visited the village on October 18, no action had been taken against the accused. (The Hindu 22/10/11)

“No poll boycott, Dalits weren’t allowed to vote” (2)

MADURAI, October 23, 2011: A writ petition has been filed before the Madras High Court Bench here claiming that the villagers of Pallapacherry and Kodangipatti in the Kamuthi Panchayat Union of Ramanathapuram district did not boycott the local body elections on October 19 but were forcibly prevented from exercising their franchise. S. Arjunan, a Dalit from Pallapacherry, stated that a small group of people had made a false propaganda that the two villages were boycotting the polls. The motive was to prevent the villagers, who were aggrieved at a spate of violent incidents against Dalits, from voting against the ruling party. Justice V. Ramasubramanian on Friday directed the Ramanathapuram Collector and the Superintendent of Police to file their counter affidavits by October 28. He also ordered that the declaration of results with respect to elections held in the two villages would be subject to the outcome of the writ petition. Earlier, petitioner’s counsel N. Dilip Kumar stated that two polling booths were established in Pallapacherry for 859 voters to elect a ward member for the Kamuthi Panchayat Union and a member for the Kamuthi North District Council. There was no contest for the posts of Mandalamanickam village panchayat president and Councillor. The villagers wanted to vent their anger at the government as they were disturbed at the recent murder of a Dalit boy of Pallapacherry. Within days after the murder, the police opened fire and killed six people during a procession taken out to pay homage to Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran on September 11. (The Hindu 23/10/11)

Dalits object to Thevar Jayanthi procession (2)

MADURAI, October 23, 2011: : Dalits of Muthuramalingapuram Pudur in Thiruchuli Taluk of Virudhunagar district refused to accept a suggestion made by the Madras High Court Bench here on Friday that only women and children alone could be permitted to go on a procession through a National Highway cutting across their village in view of Thevar Jayanthi on October 30. M. Dhanushkodi (65), a village elder representing the residents of Muthuramalingapuram Pudur, told a Division Bench of Justices K.N. Basha and M. Venugopal that the Dalits would vacate the village if the procession was allowed through the National Highway. He apprehended a repeat of 2008 riots and said that the memories of that incident were still ripe in the minds of Dalits. He refused to budge despite Mr. Justice Basha trying to pacify him stating that people should forget the past and move forward. “Let this be a test. We’ll permit women that too only aged women and children to go on a procession. We will also impose very strict conditions. We will say that they should not even turn towards your village situated on both sides of the Highway,” the judge said. The attempt to strike a truce was made during the hearing of public interest litigation petition filed by 12 individuals from various villages in Tiruchuli Taluk of Virudhunagar district. The petitioners were aggrieved against the insistence of the police to take the procession through a 100 km route rather than a shorter route of 25 km passing through Muthuramlaingapuram Pudur. The petitioners’ counsel W. Peter Ramesh Kumar stated that it would be impossible for women, carrying milk pots to the Thevar memorial at Pasumpon in Ramanathapuram district, to walk through the 100 km route. “I don’t think women and children are going to throw stones on them (Dalits). Women are not going to ransack their houses. How can there be an objection to this?” he wondered. Appearing on behalf of the Director General of Police, Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian said that the police were ready to provide additional force at the National Highway cutting across Muthuramalingapuram Pudur if the court directed them to do so. However, when the judges expressed their inability to permit the procession through the National Highway passing through Muthuramlingapuram Pudur in view of the objection raised by the Dalits, the petitioners’ counsel said that he would withdraw the PIL petition. Accepting the submission, the judges dismissed the case as withdrawn. (The Hindu 23/10/11)

Honour killing: woman beaten to death in MP village (2)

Morena: In an alleged incident of honour killing, a married woman who had eloped with a Dalit man was beaten to death, and her body was burnt, by the family members. The horrific incident took place on October 20 at village Lehar in the district. The woman, Guddi alias Bhoori (30), who had four kids, had eloped with a sweeper named Kamal, her neighbour, on October 2. Her family members found her on October 20. She was beaten to death and then hung from a tree. Her body was set on fire. The killing took place in full public view, but none of the villagers came forward to help the woman, police said. Guddi’s parents registered a complaint with the Dimni police station. Her in-laws have been absconding, police said. Kamal and his family members too are missing. Keywords: Madhya Pradesh, Caste discrimination, Dalit, Honour killing (The Hindu 24/10/11)

13 booked for suspected honour killing in Hisar (2)

Chandigarh: Thirteen people have been booked in a suspected case of honour killing of an upper caste youth who allegedly had an affair with a Dalit girl, the police said on Sunday. Krishan Nain’s body was recovered from a canal in Hisar’s Adampur on Tuesday. Nain, 28, a resident of Amargarh village in Jind district, had first met the girl at a marriage function two years ago. The couple had recently decided to tie the knot, but the move was strongly opposed by the girl’s family. A village Panchayat had also been convened recently over the matter and the girl’s family had decided to shift from Amargarh village to Narwana, near Jind, the police said. However, Nain kept meeting the girl, much to the annoyance of her family. The police said the girl had been kept at her uncle’s house in Narwana some days back.

According to the victim’s mobile phone call details, he received the last call from a cell phone number registered in the name of the girl’s cousin. The police said Nain was called to Narwana on October 16 by the girl’s family, after which he went missing and his cell phone remained switched off. — PTI (The Hindu 24/10/11)

BSP condemns atrocities on Dalits (2)

HASSAN: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) State convener N. Mahesh has criticised people’s representatives of the district for not preventing atrocities on Dalits. He was speaking at a convention to mark the conclusion of a four-day padayatra from Siddapur in Arkalgud taluk to Hassan. Siddapur was in news recently following the social boycott of Dalits by caste Hindus. Mr. Mahesh said: “Don’t these people feel ashamed when a section of their voters are socially boycotted?” He said that as many as 1,630 cases of atrocities on Dalits were reported in the State in 2010, most of them in north Karnataka. “In most of the cases, people who call themselves followers of social reformer Basaveshwara, were responsible for the atrocities. Religious institutions and upper caste politicians need to play a major role in countering atrocities on Dalits,” Mr. Mahesh said. He alleged that the district administration had not arrested those responsible for the social boycott in Siddapur. The BSP would approach Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda seeking action against the Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police and other officials in this regard, Mr. Mahesh said. BSP State president Marasandra Muniyappa was present at the convention. (The Hindu 24/10/11)

Three workers killed while clearing soak pit (2)

KOLAR: Tension prevailed at Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) on Monday following the death of three safai karamcharis who were cleaning a soak pit. This incident brought the prevalence of manual scavenging in the area to the fore, contrary to claims from authorities that there was no such practice. The workers reportedly died of asphyxiation while cleaning a soak pit at a house at Ashoknagar in KGF. The victims have been identified as Nagendrababu, Ravi and Puttiprasad, all residents of Kennedies Lines. Seven workers were reportedly engaged to do the cleaning. The news about the death of the Dalits triggered trouble in the area. Family members of the workers prevented the police and other officials from taking the bodies to the hospital for post-mortem. A group gathered at the spot and raised slogans against the authorities, and demanded compensation for the families of the victims. The police resorted to lathicharge to disperse them. Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar Meena rushed to the spot to pacify the relatives. The absence of adequate sucking machines with the KGF City Municipal Council is blamed for people engaging Dalit workers to clean soak pits. (The Hindu 25/10/11)

Opposition stages walk-out over Dalit suicide (2)

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 27: The entire CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) today staged a walk-out in Kerala Assembly in protest against the denial of permission to discuss an adjournment motion in connection with the suicide of a Dalit youth, who committed suicide following alleged torture by the police. Moving the adjournment motion, Koliyacode Krishnan Nair alleged that Sinu (26) hailing from Vithura committed suicide following custodial torture by the police. He also alleged that the incident showed the change in attitude towards the Dalits by the police under the UDF rule. In his reply, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said two police officials — Sub Inspector Rajesh and Grade Assistant Sub-Inspector

Jayakumar of Vithura Police Station, have been suspended in connection with the incident. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that though the two officials were suspended, no case was registered against the erring officials under SC-ST Atrocities Act.(New Kerala 27/10/11)

Stop manual scavenging, says activists (2)

Bangalore, October 28, 2011: Expressing shock over the recent death of three labourers, who died due to asphyxiation while clearing a soak pit in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), the Karnataka Tamil Makkal Iyakkam (KTMI) urged the Government to take steps to stop the practice of manual scavenging. In a statement here, KTMI president C. Rajan said the Government should provide equipment to all corporations and municipalities using which clearing soak pit and such other work becomes easier and deaths of pourakarmikas due to asphyxiation can be prevented. “We strongly condemn the government bodies for allowing such abhorrent, inhuman and heinous practice of manual scavenging”, Mr. Rajan said. He said the kin of the each of the deceased should be given a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh. “A Government job should be provided to one of the family members of the deceased immediately”, he added. Members of the Tumkur Zilla Pourakarmikara Sangha under the banner of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a protest here on Wednesday condemning the death of three Dalit pourakarmikas who died while cleaning a soak pit in K.G.F in Kolar district. The agitators alleged that the “death of the pourakarmikas is a government-sponsored murder for which Deputy Commissioner of Kolar and Muncipal Commissioner of K.G.F must be held responsible. President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties K. Dorairaj alleged that the State Government had failed to prevent deaths of pourakarmikas cleaning the soak pit. He demanded that criminal case must be registered against Muncipal Commissioner of K.G.F. Mr. Dorairaj condemned the action of Deputy Commissioner of Kolar for ordering lathi-charge on Dalit families instead of consoling them. District president of the Tumkur Zilla Pourakarmikara Sangha Syed Mujeeb demanded K.G.F. Muncipal Commissioner the first accused (A1) in the case. He demanded action against officials concerned who allow although it has been banned. He urged the State Government to pay Rs. 10 lakh compensation and to provide a government job to each of the victim’s family. Mr. Syed Mujeeb demanded regularisation of the services of pourakarmikas working under contract in the State.(The Hindu 28/10/11)

State ranks third in crime against SCs, STs (2)

HYDERABAD, October 31, 2011: Andhra Pradesh, a State where the political class goes all out to woo the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with a number of welfare programmes, presents a dismal picture in preventing crime against the Dalits. The State accounts for the third highest number of crime committed against SCs and STs in the country next only to Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. According to the ‘Crime in India’ report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2010, while 32,665 cases of crime against SCs were registered in all the States, Andhra Pradesh accounted for 4,321 cases, as against UP’s 6,272 and Rajasthan’s 4,979. In terms of rank based on the rate of crime in this category against total cognisable crime, the State stands at the second position, next only to Rajasthan. In respect of crimes against STs too, the State stands in the third position in the country with 807 cases of incidence in 2010 against the total cases of 5,882 among all the States. A silver lining to this scenario was the marginal decline in the crime against SCs and STs at the national as well as State level. While the crimes against SCs in 2009 was 33,594, it was 32,665 at the all India level in 2010. In the State too, the number came down from that of 4,504 in 2009. Among various categories of crime against SCs, cases booked under SC, ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in the State were 1,509, accounting for 14.4 per cent of total cases (10,495) booked under the category in the country. Others related to murder-43, rape- 100, kidnapping and abduction-18, and other offences were 1,874. In the disposal of cases by courts, conviction rate stood at 15 per cent , pendency at 70.5 per cent. Of 6,447 cases referred to trial, convictions were given to 266 persons and 1,508 were acquitted. Similarly in disposal of cases by courts related to crime against STs, of 1,394 cases, courts convicted 31, trials were completed in 423 cases and 943 cases were pending. (The Hindu 31/10/11)

Three awarded life imprisonment in Mirchpur caste violence case (2)

NEW DELHI, November 1, 2011: A Sessions court here on Monday awarded life imprisonment to three persons convicted for involvement in the much talked about Mirchpur caste violence case in which two Dalits were killed — a physically challenged girl and her septuagenarian father were burnt to death —and

18 Dalit homes were set on fire by a mob belonging to the Jat community in Haryana in April last year. On September 24 this year, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau delivered her verdict convicting 15 persons and acquitting 82 others, with the prosecution failing to establish that there was a criminal conspiracy afoot that culminated in the violent incident. Of the 15 convicted, three — Kulwinder, Ramphal, and Rajender — were sentenced to life imprisonment under two stiff provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act —Section 3(2)(iv) (committing arson knowing it to likely cause “destruction” of building/dwelling of a Dalit) and Section 3(2)(v) (committing an offence under the Indian Penal Code punishable with imprisonment over 10 years against a Dalit). Five others — Baljeet, Karambir, Karampal, Dharambir, and Bobal — were sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment under the comparatively lighter Section 3(2)(iii) of the Act for committing arson leading to “damage” of building/dwelling of a Dalit. All eight men were also sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment for rioting and voluntarily causing hurt, and also fined Rs.20,000 each, to be fully awarded to the victims of the riot. In a reprieve to seven others who were convicted, the court let them off on probation for a period of one year as they had not been held liable for offences under the Act and the maximum punishment for the other offences against them was two years, with many of them already having spent over a year in judicial custody. The court also pointed fingers at the Hisar district administration’s failures: “There was a total failure of the administration to act on time. Had the administration been more sensitive and alert to the dispute between the two groups of youngsters already brewing in the village on one issue or the other for quite some time, it could have certainly averted the explosive situation which took an ugly turn on April 21, 2010.” In her judgment, Ms. Lau also recommended that in cases of communal and caste violence, eye-witness statements should be recorded by a magistrate and videographed, keeping in view the possibility of winning over of the witnesses, as allegations of winning over witnesses had surfaced during the Mirchpur trial. The Judge also suggested that investigating officers and prosecutors in communal and caste violence cases be in “no way connected, related or associated with either of the warring/litigating groups or communities” to ensure free and fair probe and trial. The trial against one person, Jasbir alias Leelu, is pending, as he has been named a proclaimed offender. (The Hindu 1/11/11)

4% of govt purchases will have to be from dalit, tribal-run firms (2)

NEW DELHI: Ahead of its battle with dalit czarina Mayawati, the Congress-led Centre has made it mandatory for all central bodies to make at least 4% of their annual purchases from small scale industries owned by dalits and tribals. The decision, a leg up for developing entrepreneurship among SCs/STs, came as part of the new public procurement policy cleared by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday which mandates Union ministries/PSUs to make 20% of their purchases from micro and small enterprises (MSEs). Of this, 20% will be done from MSEs owned by SCs and STs. Central purchases from MSEs is expected to be worth Rs 35,000 crore annually, of which Rs 7,000 crore would go to SCs/STs. The proposal was first reported by TOI on September 12. With a clutch of assembly polls coming up, it is no coincidence that the decision followed the sounding of campaign bugle in Uttar Pradesh where Congress crosses swords with the formidable Mayawati and where Rahul Gandhi has played an aggressive dalit card to corner BSP in its home constituency. Congressmen argued the decision would position the party stronger in its hunt for dalit votes. Its potential is seen as significant even in Punjab which has the country’s highest ratio of dalit population as also Uttarakhand. These states go to polls in February ahead of UP. According to sources, the SC/ST quota in government purchases was missing before social justice minister Mukul Wasnik stepped in. The Centre was ready for 10% quota but Wasnik is learnt to have pushed for quota in proportion with SC/ST population, roughly 24%. The prime minister agreed for 20%.The ‘purchase quota’ follows affirmative action in the US where 30% of federal contracts give preference to minorities which include African-Americans and Latinos. The idea has held a serious pull with dalit activists who see it as an antidote to plateauing potential of job reservation, especially with demand for quota in private sector proving a non-starter. JNU faculty Sukhdeo Thorat, who has worked extensively on affirmative action, said “the market guarantees will induce and promote” the growth of private enterprises owned by SCs/STs. He said while the American example was good, the more relevant was Malaysian. “Malays owned only 7% of private business, lower than Chinese and Indians, despite being in majority. But since affirmative action was introduced, their share in private sector has grown to almost 40%,” he said. Congress is set to drive home its stamp on affirmative action in the coming polls, with party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who started ‘purchase quota’ as CM of Madhya Pradesh, being in-charge of UP. I&B minister Ambika Soni said the “path breaking” decision was in line with Congress manifesto. At the Cabinet meeting, sources said there were concerns about “quality and technology”. Union minister Jaipal Reddy asked about the situation where dalit establishments did not meet the quality benchmark. It was clarified the policy did not seek to relax standards and referred to the review committee in place. The policy, to become mandatory after three years, will exempt defence ministry from its ambit, but mega consumers like railways are seen as the best bet for the promotion of SC/ST units. (Times of India 2/11/11)

Judge alleges “caste discrimination” (2)

NEW DELHI, November 3, 2011: A Judge of the Madras High Court – Justice C.S. Karnan – has complained to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman, P.L. Punia, that he was being “harassed” and “victimised” by some ‘brother Judges’ just because he was a Dalit. Mr. Justice Karnan has asked the NCSC to “constitute an enquiry” to go into the “atrocities against me (Justice Karnan) by most of the Honourable Judges”. He claimed that he would present further substantial evidence to the Commission during the enquiry. The Judge has marked copies of his complaint to the President and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). Mr. Punia told The Hindu here on Wednesday that NCSC examined the case and decided to refer it to CJI Justice S.H. Kapadia for appropriate action “as the CJI is the ultimate authority in the judiciary”. He hoped that the CJI would give his “serious consideration”. Asked whether the NCSC was examining to take any other action other than forwarding the complaint to the CJI, Mr. Punia said: “This is our action. We felt that the CJI was the right person to look into the issue and forwaded the complaint to his office about 10 days ago.” He said when Judge Karnan met him here on September 26, 2011, he mentioned that he was being discriminated against by some colleague-judges just because he was a Dalit. He also gave a written complaint to him, Mr. Punia said. Mr. Justice Karnan, who was appointed Judge on March 30, 2009, in his complaint, said: “After duly assuming responsibilities as a Judge and taking on litigation in an independent way, I found that this was not to the liking of a few judges, who were expecting a type of groupage or coordinated consultation, which I consider unfounded and not conforming to decorum which are the principles of the courts.” “The obvious intention is to reduce the role to subjugation and make a scapegoat which I vehemently abhor”. He alleged that on two occasions he had been deprived of a chance to participate in functions in his native district, Cuddalore, as a special guest. He added that he was not given an opportunity, except once, to participate in programmes at the National Judicial Academy. Mr. Justice Karnan alleged that at a marriage function in Chennai, a judge “who was seated to the right side of me crossed his leg deliberately touching mine..” and “at the Republic Day celebration, the same judge again seated next to me slyly removed the name slip which was attached to the arm of my chair with a string and stuck it to the bottom of his right leg, where it got crumpled.” On another public celebration “one of the brother judges behind the row of mine kept on shaking my chair repeatedly with the intention to annoy [me]”. The judge’s allegations that he was subjected to humiliation and victimisation by his “brother judges” caused a stir among lawyers on Wednesday. A group of agitated lawyers met Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and raised the issue. They wanted to know what action would be taken against judges who had humiliated Justice C.S. Karnan. Two senior judges and office-bearers of the Madras High Court Advocates’ Association and Tamil Nadu Advocates’ Association were present at the meeting. The association office-bearers were of the view that nothing should be done to impair the dignity and decorum of the judiciary. (The Hindu 3/11/11)

Bigwigs oppose dalit procurement quota, but Sonia mantra does the trick (2)

NEW DELHI: The proposal to make it mandatory for central government bodies to source at least 4% of their purchases from enterprises owned by Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes was greeted with scepticism in the Cabinet, before an invocation of Congress president Sonia Gandhi made the doubting Thomases fall in line. Sources said a number of members of the Cabinet, including three who are incharge of large PSUs, strongly expressed their reservations about the proposal. One the sceptics doubted there were enough entrepreneurs among dalits/tribals to help the government meet the mandatory requirement, while another expressed the fear of quality being compromised. The misgivings threatened to hold up the decision when one of the attendees reminded his colleagues that it was Congress president Sonia Gandhi who had made a commitment to give preference to dalit/tribal enterprises in government procurements. The Cabinet minister recalled that Sonia, who visited South Africa in August 2007, was impressed by the country’s policy to leverage public procurements to encourage businesses promoted by blacks. The Congress chief, who shared her experience with her colleagues, made it a point to insist on its incorporation in a meeting she presided over in January 2009 to draft the party’s manifesto for Lok Sabha polls. Accordingly, the manifesto committed the party to “use government procurement to stimulate entrepreneurship activities among SCs/STs. The decision, which will generate business worth at least Rs 7,000 crore annually for dalit and tribal entrepreneurs, is to be implemented through Pune-based Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A group of dalit MPs belonging to Congress who feel that the decision will help them counter Mayawati politically among the dalits in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Punjab called on Sonia to thank her for the initiative. The delegation included chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes P L Punia, Prem Prakash Guddu, ‘Commando’ Kamal Kishore, Ashok Tanwar, Praveen Rashtrapal and J D Seelam. (Times of India 4/11/11)

Facing harassment since 2009: Judge (2)

Chennai: A Judge of the Madras High Court, who has complained to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) that he had been “harassed” by some brother Judges as he was a Dalit, on

Thursday said some former Judges of the court also faced similar problems during their tenure. Justice

C.S. Karnan had filed a complaint with the NCSC that he was being “harassed” and “victimised” by other Judges. Talking to newspersons here on Thursday, he said such harassment was going on since 2009 when he became a Judge. With a view to maintaining the dignity of the court, he was putting up with the problems. Asked whether he had made a complaint to the High Court Chief Justice about his grievance, he replied there was no necessity to give a complaint to the Chief Justice. The NCSC, whose Chairman was under the President, was an independent body which looked into the problems faced by members of Scheduled Castes. It was there to protect them and it was the competent/appropriate authority. Answering a volley of questions, he said he had not given the names of the Judges who humiliated him in the complaint. He faced such experience at functions, high tea, lunch, Full Court meetings and wherever Judges assembled. He made it clear that it was not all Judges who meted out such a treatment. To a question, he said “I am a Judge with self-respect. So I am facing the difficulties.” He said the change of portfolio for him attracted negative comments against him. That had nothing to do with the complaint. Some of the Judges try to dominate Dalit Judges. In his case, such an attempt failed. Mr. Justice Karnan said he would continue to carry on with his duties as a Judge. He said Judges should be broad-minded and magnanimous. His request to the Commission was to conduct an enquiry and he was prepared to face an open enquiry. Mr. Justice Karnan met Chief Justice, M.Y. Eqbal this morning. He said nothing about the issue. In a statement titled “My submission to the public,” the Judge said he had “levelled a case against certain Honourable brothers and sister judges of the Madras High Court” before the NCSC against “certain atrocities towards me: due to my being a Dalit judge.” It was his responsibility to establish and vindicate his complaint at the enquiry and exonerate himself as a Judge. He requested the public to abstain from any speculation and comments until the enquiry was over in order to maintain the high dignity of the High Court. (The Hindu 4/11/11)

“Judge’s complaint proof of deep-rooted untouchability in society” (2)

CHENNAI, November 5, 2011: The complaint by a sitting judge of the Madras High Court that he was subjected to harassment on the ground that he was a Dalit demonstrated how strong and deep-rooted untouchability was in our society, the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, affiliated to the CPI (M), said on Thursday. “How disgraceful it is to note that even a High Court judge has been a victim and that the alleged perpetrators are his colleagues on the Bench. No greater proof is needed to show that the shame of untouchability still remains in our society,” the Front’s State president P. Sampath said in a statement here. The sad and painful aspect of this issue was that judges who were in a position to consider appeals arising from verdicts of subordinate courts in cases involving untouchability and caste atrocities were themselves facing such charges, he said. If despite the existence of stringent laws against untouchability such practices were still rampant, the responsibility for that should not only be borne by society, but should also be shared by limbs of the State such as the judiciary, executive, police and legislature, he said. Along with advancement in science and technology, even forms of untouchability appeared to have become modern, Mr. Sampath said, adding that this was revealed during field investigation by the front. Some of the forms of untouchability that activists had come across included a Dalit being chastised and punished for speaking on a mobile phone in front of a caste Hindu, another being pulled up for having a song with assertive lyrics as his phone’s ringtone and even matrimonial advertisements that sought alliances with the tag ‘caste no bar’ making an exception for Dalits. (The Hindu 5/11/11)

Campaign on Dalit rights launched (2)

VISAKHAPATNAM, November 7, 2011: The Dalit Stree Shakti organisation launched an awareness programme to realise the rights of Dalit women and children, by flagging off a publicity vehicle from near Ambedkar statue here. Vice-Chairman of VUDA K. Sasidhar flagged off the “Prachara Ratham”. The vehicle would reach Hyderabad on November 14 where a public meeting would be held. Mr. Sasidhar appreciated the organisation for taking up the programme since there was need for creating awareness among Dalit women and children about their rights. Sixty women participating in the Ratha Yatra was highly appreciable, he added. State convenor of Dalit Stree Shakti Geddam Jhansi said the organisation had taken up the task of bringing the poor and those discriminated into the main stream since the governments were not doing so. A movement on the lines ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in America must be taken up in India too. The governments were giving sops like Re. 1-a- kg rice while handing over huge areas of land and large funds to the industries and investors, Ms. Jhansi said. Programme manager Daniel Vijaya Prakash spoke. (The Hindu 7/11/11)

‘No word yet from CJI on judge’s charge of caste bias’ (2)

NEW DELHI, November 8, 2011: National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman P.L. Punia said on Monday that he had not received any communication from Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia on the action taken on a complaint by Justice C.S. Karnan of the Madras High Court which was forwarded by the Commission to the CJI. He was confident that the Supreme Court would take appropriate action on the judge’s allegation of “caste discrimination just because he is a Dalit”, as it was a serious matter. Mr. Punia told The Hindu that in his letter to the CJI, with which a copy of the complaint by Justice Karnan received by him was attached, he had pointed out that this was the first such complaint received by the Commission from a highly placed member of the Scheduled Castes alleging “harassment and discrimination in the temple of justice (Madras High Court).” The Commission expected the Supreme Court to take appropriate action if the complaint was found to be correct, he had stated in his letter to Justice Kapadia. Mr. Punia, Congress MP from Barabanki (Uttar Pradesh) and former IAS officer, said that Justice Karnan met him in Delhi on September 26 and submitted the written complaint about discrimination and harassment from some “brother judges”. The Commission forwarded the complaint to the CJI in October. Justice Karnan, addressing a press conference in Chennai a few days ago, alleged that some former judges of the Madras High Court had also faced similar problems during their tenure. Such harassment was going on since 2009, when he became a judge. With a view to maintaining the dignity of the court, he was putting up with the problems. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes, whose Chairman functions under the President, is an independent body which looks into problems faced by the members of Scheduled Castes and is the competent/appropriate authority to protect them, Justice Karnan had said. (The Hindu 8/11/11)

Plea to resolve problems of Dalits (2)

KADAPA, November 9, 2011: Dalita Praja Party district president Sangati Manohar and leaders urged the

District Collector V. Anil Kumar on Tuesday to resolve 10 demands on problems confronting Dalits and Dalit Christians in Kadapa district.The demands included stern action against non-Dalits who encroached upon the assigned and patta lands given to SCs, STs and Dalit Christians, expeditious action on Prevention of Atrocities Against SCs and STs, and three cents of land to the homeless and land for burial grounds for Dalits and Dalit Christians. The DPP president sought a special budget for SCs and STs.

(The Hindu 9/11/11)

Uthapuram Dalits enter temple after more than two decades (2)

MADURAI, November 11, 2011: Residents of the village overcome an age-old bastion of discrimination. The Dalits of Uthapuram village near here, where the ‘untouchability’ wall was demolished in 2008, on Thursday entered a temple under the control of the upper caste Hindus, with police protection. Though scores of upper caste Hindus received the 11 Dalit persons outside the temple with folded hands, the scene was marred by the loud wails of women from the nearby streets, who were opposed to the entry of Dalits to their temple. The Dalits, led by their leaders K. Ponnaiah and Sankaralingam, offered prayers at the Sri Muthalamman, Sri Mariamman temple around 4 p.m. They offered a garland, coconuts and fruits to the presiding deity. The priest performed ‘puja’ and ‘deeparathana,’ even as Madurai (Rural) Superintendent of Police Asra Garg, along with a huge posse of policemen, waited outside the temple. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), instrumental in demolishing the wall that divided the Dalits from the upper caste Hindus, hailed the temple entry as a “historic” event. “We are entering the temple premises for the first time after 1989,” said Mr. Ponnaiah. The Dalits used to offer prayers at the peepul tree on the temple premises during the festival of the Karuppasamy temple (belonging to the Dalits). The devotees, who perform the role of Lord Karuppasamy, Vairavan and Agni, used to go around the peepul tree as a ritual. “Our belief is that the ritual will keep the evils out of our village. But it was stopped after people threw stones at us during the festival in 1989,” he said. Since then, there were clashes between the two groups, followed by the construction of the wall. After the CPI(M) and the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) took up the issue, the district administration demolished the wall. However, tension prevailed in the village and a permanent police picket was posted. Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad district president Chinmaya Somasundaram and his long-time friend and former Aavin general manager K. Athimoolam, who had relatives on both sides, began fresh negotiations between the Dalits and the upper caste Hindus. “After nearly two months of talks, we were able to bring peace. This [the temple entry] has been the demand of the Dalits for nearly seven decades,” Mr. Somasundaram said. The SP offered all possible help to further the talks. An agreement was reached on October 20. “This is only a symbolic entry. Things are not going to change overnight. But it is good that people from both sides have come to a meeting point,” Mr. Garg said. He said more than 50 criminal cases booked against members of both parties would be withdrawn. However, the police picket would continue. Mr. Athimoolam said the Dalits would be allowed to offer worship at the peepul tree after a ritual to reverse a “promise” made by the caste Hindus in 1989 is performed. The temple ‘Kumbabhishekam’ would be performed soon, and the upper caste people would invite the Dalits for it. They also planned to hold a common feast on the occasion, Mr. Somasundaram said. Appreciating the caste Hindus for allowing the Dalits into the temple, TNUEF State president P. Sampath said Uthapuram was no longer a symbol of untouchability. “It has become the symbol of eradication of untouchability.” This would give an impetus to the Dalits of the State who are being denied the right to worship. (The Hindu 11/11/11)

14-yr-old dalit molested in Madhya Pradesh (2)

Bhopal, Nov 12 : Congress’ Madhya Pradesh unit Spokesperson Manak Agrawal today alleged that a 14year-old dalit girl was stripped and molested by police officials at Lohari village in Betul district about a fortnight back. Mr Agrawal told media here that the family had tried to lodge complaint but police refused to register a case. Hence, the family came to the state capital. Her family members — who were also present — said the girl had gone to collect woods with her two brothers on October 26 when home guard Jaipal Singh Thakur molested her. Her mother went to lodge complaint with police but it was not recorded. On the next day, police reached their house and took the girl, her mother and three other family members to police station where the girl was allegedly stripped and jewellery taken from her mother. When their efforts to lodge police complaint failed, the family came to Bhopal. (New Kerala 12/11/11)

Probe sought into incident of SC-ST students leaving model residential school (2)

KANNUR, November 14, 2011: While Adivasi and Dalit organisations demand government-level investigation into the alleged incident of 100-odd students at the Model Residential School (MRS) at Pattuvam here having left the school, school authorities and government officials say that the students have gone home citing shortage of drinking water in the school. Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha (AGM) president C.K. Janu at a press conference here on Monday demanded the probe into the alleged incident, saying that action should be taken against school authorities who were responsible for the alleged ‘exodus’ of over 100 boys studying in the MRS at Pattuvam here run by the Scheduled Caste/Tribe Development Department and funded by the Central government. They said that the students had left the school and not reached their homes, alleging that the school authorities had continuously refused to provide available facilities in the school to the students, despite the fact that the school was not facing any paucity of funds and lack of administrative support. There were also allegations of acts of retribution against the students in the school who had questioned the authorities’ denial of drinking water and toilet facilities at the school, she said. The students ran away from the ‘prison-like’ atmosphere prevailing in the school, she added. Ms. Janu also alleged that the major problem in the school was the school officials who were ‘apathetic’ to the Adivasis. The AGM and other Adivasi and Dalit organisations would take up the issue before the Central government and the National Commission for SC-ST. The school authorities, when contacted, said that the all the boys who had left the school citing shortage of drinking water in the school had reached their homes. When the school authorities had contacted the parents, the latter told that their children had come home saying the school was closed because of drinking water scarcity. All the students who had left the school would return by November 16, the authorities assured. The MRS, has 400-odd students including high school and higher secondary students. While 70 per cent of the seats are reserved for ST students, 20 per cent of seats are set apart for SC students and 10 per cent for students from other communities. The school also has 50 staff members. Denying the allegation that the students had been denied drinking water and toilet facilities, the school authorities said that they imposed some restriction on the use of water in the school premises as an austerity measure to prevent wastage of water as the school is located in an area experiencing acute drinking water scarcity. The school has one open well and three bore-wells which could ensure water requirement in the school provided it was used sparingly, they added. ITDP Assistant Officer K. Prakash, who visited the school in the morning, told The Hindu that an open well had been dug in a nearby plot as part of a comprehensive scheme for ensuring drinking water for the school. The work for constructing some structures above the well for housing the pump-house would begin on November 15 and the work would be completed in a month, he said adding that the pipeline for the water supply had already been laid. He said that district

administration had already asked the Kerala Water Authority here to make the scheme operational without any delay, Mr. Prakash said. (The Hindu 14/11/11)

Caste and religion of the tenant come into play (2)

HYDERABAD, November 16, 2011: Never mind the oft-heard, commonplace phrases against casteism and religious bigotry, the much-happening metropolis of Hyderabad still holds venom against ‘the Other’. While those from minority sections at least have a few localities where they can be assured of a rented house, negative answers are the staple for Dailt home-seekers. More discomfiting are the various ways adopted to probe the caste of probable tenants. What usually begins as the rider ‘Vegetarians Only’ scribbled on the rental sign, progresses further into the name, surname, home-town and antecedents of the home seekers till the caste is narrowed upon. “Restrictions in terms of diet are often a ruse. If the prospective tenant has an upper caste tag to his name, he will be given the house despite his diet. The sign is put up only to keep Dalits off,” says Mallepally Lakshmaiah, a noted Dalit journalist, who found himself in many such situations. The same is vouched by many from the oppressed communities. Upmarket and cosmopolitan localities such as Hitec City and Madhapur are not an exception; though the usual claim is that increased commercialisation of space dilutes traditional barriers. “I was spurned by at least 12 landlords in Gachibowli-Madhapur vicinity apparently due to my caste. Majority among them directly enquired about my caste, while a few others said they would prefer vegetarians. It proved to be a Herculean task for me to obtain a house,” says P. Sudhakar (name changed), a scholar from University of Hyderabad. Query about caste is not always the first and direct one. If the name or surname of the prospective tenant denotes nothing, sly enquiries are made about his or her dietary habits. Those admitting to the guilt of being non-vegetarian should be ready to field a direct question about caste. Bachelors have it a little easier, as they usually hire accommodation in groups of assorted identities. However, this may not be the case always. “I had harrowing experiences during my search for house. An upper-caste landlord in Alkapuri invited us inside the house, and offered coffee before accepting the rent in advance. But once he came to know of our caste, he began to sound evasive. He first said his wife had to be consulted, and asked us to wait. Next day, we went only to receive the money back, that too from outside the main-gate,” says N. Srihari Madiga, preparing for his Civils exam. He recalls many such instances of humiliation, not only from upper castes, but also from those belonging to BC sections. Faith begets a blunter refusal. Muslims are more often than not ghettoised to specific localities, whereas for Christians it gets more difficult if they are also Dalits. “I encountered many refusals during house-hunting due to discrimination based on my faith. People seemingly willing to rent out hearing my fluent Telugu, would come up with all kinds of excuses after knowing my name. Some bluntly said they didn’t want Muslims,” recalled Syed Mohiuddin, a media professional. Md. Esa, a real estate agent, says in his career he has encountered many instances of landlords refusing to rent their premises out for Muslims, as also Sikhs. (The Hindu 16/11/11)

CPI(M) urges State to eradicate untouchability (2)

CHENNAI, November 17, 2011: The State unit of the CPI(M) on Wednesday called upon the State government to take legal and administrative initiatives to put an end to untouchability in various forms. Recalling how the consistent efforts of the party and the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front had resulted in bringing together the Dalits and other communities in Uthapuram and the entry of Dalits into the local temple, State secretary G. Ramakrishnan urged the government to take a cue from Uthapuram and eradicate it at other parts. A resolution in this regard was adopted in the two day state committee meeting of the party that began on Wednesday. The party thanked the Madurai district administration and police for their efforts to bring unity among Dalits and other communities in Uthapuram. “But untouchability is prevailing in other parts of the State and there was a need to address the issues to eradicate the social evil. It is manifesting itself in the form of two-tumbler system, denial of the right to use common paths, wells, burial grounds in villages and denial of temple entry. These practices are against social justice and democracy,” the resolution said. (The Hindu 17/11/11)

Dalits told to mention their caste as Madiga during census (2)

Chitradurga, November 21, 2011: The former MLA and Dalit leader H. Anjaneya has urged the Dalit communities to mention their caste as Madiga during the caste-wise census, which would soon be commencing in Karnataka. Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, he said that Dalits should necessarily mention their caste as Madiga to get themselves differentiated from other Scheduled Caste communities. “Since more than 100 communities have been categorised as Scheduled Caste, the mentioning of caste as Madiga will help in knowing the exact population of this community. This will further help the Government frame specific policies for the welfare of this backward community,” he said. Mr. Anjaneya, who is a Congress leader, said that the Union Government had launched the caste-based census only for the purpose of framing caste-specific reservation policy. Owing to lack of specific data, many Scheduled Caste communities were unable to take advantage of the reservation policy, he said, claiming that under the present scenario, several communities had been included in a singe category. “The completion of the census will help the Government provide internal reservation, based on the socioeconomic conditions of each community,” he said. He alleged that some caste Hindu people were availing themselves of the reservation benefits by producing false caste certificates. A few of them had even become judges while a few others had become MLAs by producing false certificates, he said. Mr. Anjaneya alleged that K.G. Kumaraswamy, MLA from Shimoga Rural constituency, was actually belonging to Vokkaliga community but had contested in the election by claiming to be from Bhovi community “Some people belonging to Scheduled Caste have complained against him in this regard and the case is before the High Court,” he said. Mr. Anjaneya criticised about 12 MLAs belonging to Bhovi community for not raising any objection against Mr. Kumaraswamy for producing a false caste certificate.

(The Hindu 21/11/11)

National Commission seeks detailed report on firing at Dalits (2)

RAMANATHAPURAM, November 23, 2011: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has sent notice to the Director-General of Police (DGP) and the Home Secretary of Tamil Nadu demanding that they furnish all details about the need for opening fire at Dalits in three places – Paramakudi, Ilayangudi in Sivaganga district and Madurai – on the same day on September 11.

Speaking to The Hindu over phone on Tuesday from New Delhi, Latha Priyakumar, Member, National

Commission for SC/ST, said Ramanathapuram District Collector V. Arun Roy and Superintendent of Police Kaliraj S. Mahesh Kumar had deposed before the full commission on Monday and they were examined by the Vice-Chairman Dr. Rajkumar Verka and other members. She said the Commission was not satisfied with the reply given by them about the provocation, the procedures followed by the police before opening fire at Paramakudi, the details of rounds of fire opened, and ammunition stock before and after the firing, recovery of shells after the shooting and others. Moreover, the Commission had not received the post-mortem reports of those killed in the firing and the Superintendent of Police of Madurai had not sent his report on the shooting incident in Madurai. Hence, the Commission decided to send a notice to the DGP and the Home Secretary. Ms. Priyakumar said the Commission was of the view that the arrest of John Pandian, president of the Thamizhaka Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, snowballed into a major problem; otherwise the entire incident could have been avoided. (The Hindu 23/11/11)

Malnourishment: children of SC, ST families worst-hit (2)

Bangalore, November 24, 2011: In the wake of the Department of Women and Child Development acknowledging that there are 72,000 severely malnourished children in the State, a group of NGOs conducted a survey of malnourished children in 11 districts. According to the study, the worst-affected are children from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families where parents worked on daily wages. The study, which aimed at studying the conditions of the children, their access to health, childcare and anganwadi services, found that 48 of the 311 children from 334 families suffered from cerebral palsy and mental retardation, said E. Premdas, convener of Janarogya Andolana Karnataka (JAAK), one of the NGOs that conducted the study. “Nearly 84 per cent of the families surveyed have not received work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and 43 per cent have not received rations through the public distribution system. The 14 families who got work got only 14 days of work on an average under the MNREGA,” Mr. Premdas said. Forty-two per cent of the total number of children and 80 per cent of children with disabilities did not have access to anganwadis, he added. “Another important aspect that the study found was that children with mental illnesses are not admitted to anganwadis and Dalit children are discriminated against in anganwadis,” he said. While 22 per cent of the severely malnourished children did not receive food at all under Integrated Child Development Services scheme, the worst-affected were children with the “double burden” of disability and severe malnourishment. It was also found that 47 per cent of the children were not eating the packet food given in anganwadis as it was not good. Most of the mothers, who were asked to rate the food on a scale of 0

to 100, rated the food at 30, he explained. Over 50 investigators from Right to Food Campaign – Karnataka (RFC) and Samajika Parivarthana Janadolana apart from JAAK were involved in the study.

(The Hindu 24/11/11)

Land rights sought for the marginalized (2)

HUBLI, November 26, 2011: Members of various organisations came together here on Friday for a protest rally, seeking land rights for Dalits, tribal people, rural and urban poor, and sexuality minorities. The march began at the Ambedkar Circle and concluded at the Mini-Vidhana Soudha, where a memorandum was submitted to the Government. Karntaka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, Karnataka Dalit Mahila Vedike, Samata Sainik Dal, Rashtriya Mahila Federation, Karnataka HIV Sonkitara Sanghatane, National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movement, Ekta Parishat, Karnataka Sexuality Minorities Forum, Sangama and other organisations, along with human rights activists, jointly organised the protest. The land rights movement is being conducted in Karnataka and Goa from November 18 to 30 to support the ‘Jana satyagraha’ movement for the marginalised, to help them demand their land rights. About one lakh people are expected to march from Gwalior to New Delhi in 2012 as part of this agitation. The movement was an effort by the marginalised communities to make the Government understand their issues and act to find solutions, speakers who addressed the protesters said. Some of the demands being put forward through the movement included land titles for Dalits for the lands they cultivate; five acres of land for Dalit women; proper implementation of forest rights Act, 2006 and land reforms Act, and withdrawal of criminal charges against SC/ST members who have taken up farming on government lands. (The Hindu 27/11/11)

Scavenging rocks grievance meet (2)

MANGALORE, November 28, 2011: Various factions of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) on Sunday alleged at a meeting called to hear grievances of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the Police Commissioner’s office that the practice of manual scavenging had continued in the city despite the ban. DSS (Bheemavada) activist P. Keshav said 30 people were engaged in manual scavenging on contract basis. “These people have to enter the tank and clear the blocks as the machines used by the Mangalore City Corporation only suck out the liquid.” He said these workers worked without any protective gear and were paid a meagre sum. “In the event of accident, the corporation washes off its hands saying they are not its workers.” Mr. Keshav said services of these workers should be made permanent. DSS (Ambedkarwada) District Convener S.P. Anand said there were only two machines available with the corporation for clearing septic tanks. Of the two, only one was working, he said. Corporation Commissioner Harish Kumar toldThe Hinduthat there were three machines used for cleaning sceptic tanks and all three were in working condition. Mr. Kumar said there was no question of allowing manual scavenging in the city. “I held a meeting of officials and reiterated the Government’s policy of using machines for cleaning septic tanks.” On Friday’s incident, in which a corporation contractor had allegedly employed a person for cleaning a septic tank on Azizuddin Road, Mr. Kumar said show-cause notice had been issued to the Executive Engineer, the Assistant Executive Engineer, and the Junior Engineer. Based on their reply and the factual report by the Joint Commissioner, he would take disciplinary action against the officials. He would send a separate report to the Deputy Commissioner in the next three days. Their inquiry would be separately carried out in addition to the one being done by the police, Mr. Kumar said. Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda rejected the demand for regularising the services of the 30 workers who cleaned the septic tanks. “That is a banned practice and we cannot make them permanent. But the Government is ready to help them if these people want to take up any other occupation to earn their living,” he toldThe Hindu. (The Hindu 29/11/11)

CPI (M) seeks early solution to Dalits’ issues (2)

KRISHNAGIRI, November 30, 2011: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has urged the State Government to find out an early solution to the long pending issues related to Dalits in the district.

Resolutions in this regard were passed at its 20th taluk level conference held at the Jothi Basu Memorial Hall at the party office here on Sunday. Ms. Annaji Nagarathinam hoisted the party flag. X. Irudayaraj, district executive committee member, inaugurated the conference. G.K. Nanjundan was elected taluk secretary. A 13-member team including the secretary was elected for the taluk committee. The resolutions passed at its conference included urging the Government to take initiative to allot the land to the Dalits in Ittikkal Agaram and demanding the police to take action against caste-Hindus who opposed the move. Similarly, the party demanded that the government retrieve the house sites, allotted to the Dalits, in Ramavaram near Krishangiri, and distribute the 65-acre land to the Dalilts and minorities in Vasanthapalli as agreed by it. The party also demanded uninterrupted power supply to agriculture and industries; rail line between Jolarpet-Krishnagiri-Hosur; cold storage facility for agriculture produce; ban on functioning of private mineral water plant in Sigaralapalli among others, said a release from Mr.Nanjundan here on Tuesday. (The Hindu 30/11/11)

Assaulted for protesting against ‘made snana’ (2)

KUKKE SUBRAHMANYA, December 1, 2011: The leader of a backward classes organisation was assaulted here on Wednesday after demanding an end to a “casteist” ritual performed in the governmentrun Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Sullia taluk. State president of the Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Vargagala Jagruta Vedike K.S. Shivaramu was assaulted by a group of around 10 people outside the temple after he met Assistant Commissioner of Puttur subdivision Sundar Bhat and submitted a memorandum urging the Dakshina Kannada administration to prohibit the ritual of ‘made snana’. As Mr. Shivaramu was speaking to the media about the memorandum, a group of people surrounded him. After he finished speaking, they began arguing with him. Soon the group began to rain blows on Mr. Shivaramu, who started running. He was chased, caught and thrashed again. Though Mr. Shivaramu was given police protection, the police stepped in only after the group chased him and beat him up. The police then took him to the government hospital. Before he was assaulted, Mr. Shivaramu said that the ritual of ‘made snana’ was “inhuman” as well as “unscientific”. He said that it should be banned. “But, before that, the practice of serving food inside the temple only for a particular caste should be stopped,” Mr. Shivaramu said. He added that the continuation of the practice “in the name of tradition and religion is being done to perpetuate superstitious beliefs”. He said that he would prepare a fact-finding report on the ritual and send it to the President, and later petition the Supreme Court. When presspersons went to Subrahmanya police station to speak to the police, Deputy Superintendent of Police M.B. Nagaraju said he did not know what had happened and that his junior officers were yet to report to him. However, when Vijaya Kumar, a member of the vedike who had accompanied Mr. Shivaramu, came to speak to Mr. Nagaraju, the latter shouted and asked Mr. Kumar “why he had started the trouble”. ‘Made snana’ is a harake (an offering to God in return for the granting of a wish). This particular harake involves rolling on plantain leaves containing leftovers of food consumed by Brahmins. Those who perform the ritual include Brahmins. The ritual is believed to cure skin diseases. It is performed annually during the Champa Shashti festival for three days. Mr. Shivaramu has filed a complaint with the Subrahmanya police, who have registered a case under sections relating to rioting, hurt, and criminal intimidation. A counter complaint has been filed against Mr. Shivaramu by A.V. Nagesh, a local man, claiming that he was assaulted by the former. The Dalit Aikyata Vedike, a forum of various Dalit organisations in the State, on Wednesday urged Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to drop Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya from the Cabinet for promoting blind beliefs that are detrimental to the interests of Dalits. Accusing Dr. Acharya of supporting ‘made snana’, State convener of the Dalit Sangarsh Samithi (Ambedkarvada) said the Minister was violating Constitution by promoting a ritual that humiliates Dalits. Protesting against the attack on Mr. Shivaramu and demanding that the Chief Minister drop Dr. Acharya from the Cabinet, Dalits would stage a demonstration in front of the office of the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police on Thursday, he said. (The Hindu 1/12/11)

India ‘caste meal’ activist beaten at Karnataka temple (2)

An activist in India has been beaten up for protesting about a ritual in which lower-caste Indians roll in the food leftovers of those of a higher caste. KS Shivaramu was chased in the street and beaten with sticks outside the Subrahmanya temple in the southern state of Karnataka. Hundreds of people had rolled on the floor at the “made snana” ceremony at the temple. Caste discrimination is illegal in India but bias remains in many areas. Mr Shivaramu was speaking to the media outside the temple on Wednesday after meeting officials to submit a petition demanding an end to what he called the “inhuman” ceremony. After he had finished, a group of people began to argue with him and then chased him along the street hitting him with sticks. Mr Shivaramu was taken to hospital. The ceremony involves rolling on plantain leaves that contain the leftovers of food served to high-caste Brahmins. The ritual is performed annually during the Champa Shashti festival. The local Malekudiya tribe believes that it will cure skin diseases. Mr Shivaramu told the Hindu newspaper that the ceremony “perpetuates superstitious beliefs”, adding: “The practice of serving food inside the temple only for a particular caste should be stopped.” Local media say officials are reluctant to enforce a ban given the strength of tribal support. (BBC News 1/12/11)

Dalit youth kills self in girlfriend’s house (2)

Jalandhar: Not allowed to marry according to his choice, a Dalit youth on Wednesday allegedly shot himself dead before attacking his girlfriend in her house in Sahni village here, police said. Harvinder Singh alias Bablu (25), hailing from Bhagana village, was in love with upper caste girl Jaspreet Ka-ur. They studied in the same college in village Domeli. The youth came to Jaspreet’s house and asked her to call her mother. When the mother, Kashmir Kaur, came the youth first entered into arguments with her and then fired at Jaspreet and Kashmir with a country-made pistol, police said. The girl’s father, Chanchal Singh, is a former sarpanch of the village. The girl has been admitted to the Jalandhar Civil Hospital. Surjit Singh, father of the deceased, alleged his son was murdered by the father and cousin of Jaspreet, police said. An investigation had been launched into the matter.(Indian Express 1/12/11)

India Dalit boy ‘killed over high-caste man’s name’ (2)

A low-caste Dalit boy has been killed in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for sharing a name with a man of a higher caste, police say. They said Neeraj Kumar’s father Ram Sumer had been asked to change the names of two sons as they were the same as those of Jawahar Chaudhary’s sons. The body of Neeraj, 14, was found on 23 November in a field. Two friends of the Chaudhary family have been arrested. Mr Chaudhary denies the involvement of his family in the murder. He says the family is being framed by police. Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables”, are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system in India. Although caste discrimination is illegal, biases remain in many areas. The latest incident took place in Radhaupur village in Basti district. Both Ram Sumer and Jawahar Chaudhary have sons named Neeraj and Dheeraj and that has long been an issue between the two families, Sub-inspector Praveen Kumar said. Mr Chaudhary, who belongs to a higher caste, had given several warnings to Mr Sumer to change the names of his boys. On 22 November, Neeraj left home after dinner to watch television at a friend’s house. His body was found the next day. Police said he was strangled. Mr Chaudhary’s sons Neeraj and Dheeraj – are missing, but police have arrested two friends of the family who they say had a role in the murder. (BBC News 2/12/11)

Pro-Dalit organizations condemn attack (2)

HUBLI: Pro-Dalit organizations on Thursday staged a rasta roko at KC Circle here to condemn the attack on Jagruti Vedike president at Kukke Subrahmanya temple. The protesters said Vedike president K S Shivaram went to the temple on Wednesday only to study the ‘made made snana’ practice. But he was allegedly attacked by the devotees. Urging the government to take stern action against the attackers, the protesters took out a procession and from Dr Ambedkar Circle and went through Lamington Road and Court Circle and assembled at KC Circle. While staging a rasta rook, they raised anti-government slogans. (Times of India 2/12/11)

Safai karamcharis in KGF are starving: AITUC (2)

Bangalore: The State Government, which made tall promises when the death of three safai karamcharis from the Dalit community in KGF hit the headlines in October this year, came under fire from the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) for doing precious little. In a statement here on Saturday, the AITUC, which carried out a fact-finding mission, said the families of Kutti Prasad, Nagendra Babu and Ravi, who died of asphyxiation when they were trying to clean a soak pit, have received only Rs. 2 lakh of the Rs. 3 lakh that was promised to them as compensation. The family members of the dead persons have also not received the alternative employment that was promised to them by the Government. The release adds that when Urban Development Minister S. Suresh Kumar visited KGF in June this year, he had directed the local municipality to provide alternative employment to the 140 safai karamcharis engaged in manual scavenging. But, the municipality refused to rehabilitate these 140 people, all Dalits, by saying that they had no funds. The activists of the AITUC visited the Dalit ghetto in Telugu Lane in KGF where most of the safai karamcharis live. The activists found that the safai karamcharis did not even have enough to eat. The municipality has also not made an attempt to prevent house owners from connecting their private toilets to soak pits. And safai karamcharis have to climb into these pits to clean them periodically. After the controversy surrounding the death of the three safai karamcharis, the district administration has started preventing others from performing the task without providing them alternative employment. Due to this, the entire community of safai karamcharis is starving. In addition, the municipality has gone on to acquire sucking and jetting machines to replace the safai karmcharis, the release said. (The Hindu 4/12/11)

‘Wall of untouchability’ pulled down (2)

SALEM, December 5, 2011: Dalits of Sanyasipatti near Sankagiri in Salem district fought bitterly for five days before forcing the district administration to take firm action to demolish a four-foot-high and 20footlong wall erected right across a tar-topped road with the intention of preventing them from using it. The ‘wall of untouchability’ erected on November 29 in the middle of the night by some caste Hindus was pulled down on Sunday by those who put it up after revenue authorities intervened. The wall had come up across the road laid by the village panchayat some 15 years ago to provide better access to the Arunthathiyar colony, where 200 Dalits families are living. A caste Hindu group, which had constructed a temple adjacent to the road, had been at loggerheads with the Dalits for using the road. “We were asked to take a circuitous route through the fields to reach the colony,” said a youth who was among the agitators. With CPI (M) and DYFI leading the agitation, the Dalits laid siege to the tahsildar’s office at Sankagiri till late Saturday night, forcing the officials to take the decision to have the wall demolished. “The officials first removed just a portion of the wall. But we insisted that it should be totally removed,” said Sekar, a DYFI activist. CPI (M) floor leader in the Assembly A. Soundararajan who visited the spot said the fight would continue till the wall was demolished totally. On Sunday, a team of revenue officials led by Tahsildhar S. Razyia Begam arrived on the spot. Since talks between two groups had failed with caste Hindus objecting to the demolition and Dalits demanding it, there was threat of a law and order problem. But Sankagiri police provided security for the officials who later asked the caste Hindus themselves to pull down the wall. S Gopalakrishnan, a bus conductor from the colony said it was a great relief for the people of the Arunthathiyar colony. This is the third wall symbolising social ostracisation that has been demolished in Salem district within a span of two months. Earlier officials removed a wall right in the heart of Salem city that separated Dalits from others while another was demolished near Omalur that blocked pathway to Dalit colony from the main thoroughfare. (The Hindu 5/12/11)

‘Untouchability still prevalent in many villages in country’ (2)

GULBARGA, December 7, 2011: “The constitutional guarantees protecting the average person’s rights and abolishing untouchability still remain distant dreams for the oppressed sections of society,” said Eashwar Vidyasagar, lecturer in the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Arts College, here on Monday while delivering a special lecture on the occasion of the 56th ‘Mahaparinirvana Diwas’ commemorating the death anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar. He was speaking at a function organised by the district administration along with the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Government Employees Association. “Dr. Ambedkar’s dream of an India with equal opportunities and respect for all communities has remained unfulfilled,” he said. Both the Union and State governments had failed to eradicate untouchability. “In most villages across the country untouchability is practised in one form or the other,” he said. “The failure of the State Government to ban practices like ‘made snana’ is shocking,” he said. State convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti D.G. Sagar Narona said that the State Government should ban ‘made snana’ immediately. Deputy Commissioner R. Vishal said Dr. Ambedkar had worked throughout his life to establish a casteless society. “It is every person’s duty to work to achieve Dr. Ambedkar’s dream of ensuring social justice and equality to the deprived sections of society,” he said. Dalit leader Shivaram Moga spoke on the occasion. President of the SC and ST Government Employees Association N. K Mallikarjun welcomed the gathering. Dalit Leader Vittal Doddamani and Superintendent of Police Praveen

  1. Pawar were present. (The Hindu 7/12/11)

Tension in village after ‘assault’ on Dalits (2)

MYSORE, December 7, 2011: Tension prevailed in Garaganamaradi village in Mandya district’s Pandavpura taluk where ‘caste’ Hindus allegedly assaulted members of the Dalit community. According to sources, people of the village were glued to a rural performance or ‘dombara aata’ on Sunday when a scuffle broke out between two groups of people over the issue of seating. A group reportedly beat up two Dalit youths. Senior police officials who learnt of the incident dispatched additional forces to check the trouble before it snowballed into a major caste conflagration. However, on Tuesday, the group of ‘caste’ Hindus allegedly assaulted two more Dalits, Ravi and Chandru. Superintendent of Police Kaushalendra Kumar, Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer and others rushed to the village on Tuesday and went around the Dalit hamlets, appealing for calm. Two platoons of the District Armed Reserve police have been stationed at the village and a peace meeting has been called. The situation is said to be tense but under control. Sources said the police had not made any arrest in connection with the incidents so far. (The Hindu 7/12/11)

Dalit girl gangraped in Haryana (2)

JIND: A dalit teenage girl was gangraped by three youths at a village here, police said on Friday. The victim, a student of class-X, was abducted by the three youths from her house in Kalawati village yesterday, they said. The trio took her to a farm and raped her, police said, adding that a medical test confirmed rape. No arrest has been made so far in this case. (Times of India 9/12/11)

Dalits demand representation in Anna camp (2)

New Delhi, Dec 11 : While a large crowd gathered in support of Anna Hazare at the Jantar Mantar here, a smaller crowd consisting of Dalits protested against the veteran social activist at the same venue demanding the inclusion of their representatives into the civil society team. Social activist Udit Raj, who spearheaded the rally, said: “This is not an anti-Anna protest. This is meant for the demands of Dalits and others. Annaji himself says that he will incorporate them in their agitations. All of the Anna team members including Arvind Kejriwal say that reservations should be given.” “I want to ask them that how can their agitations be successful without the support of 85 percent people,” he added. Udit Raj allured Team Anna saying they can mount further pressure on the Centre with the inclusion of Dalits in their camp. “The government can only bend to the power of voters. Team Anna should understand this, as this can expedite their process,” he said. A grim situation later occurred at the venue with the supporters of Team Anna and Udit Raj pulling up each other. The police personnel deployed at the spot later took control of the situation, thereby, preventing any untoward incident. Udit Raj also raised several questions on the integrity of the members of Team Anna and claimed to have certain evidences and proofs against them. “We have some evidences against the members of Team Anna like Kiran Bedi, who made an agreement with the Vedanta and received money from them. We demand that the concerned transaction should be investigated. Annaji should himself get it monitored and if it is proven then she should be removed from the committee,” he said. 74-year-old Hazare sat on a daylong protest fast at the Jantar Mantar here to mount pressure on the Centre for the passage of a strong and effective Lokpal Bill. (ANI)(New Kerala 12/12/11)

Kukke Subrahmanya vedike defends ‘made snana’ (2)

MANGALORE, December 13, 2011: Rajya Adivasi Budakattu Hitarakshana Vedike of Kukke Subrahmanya on Monday sought to defend the practice of “made snana” where people, mostly Dalits roll over plantain leaves on which Brahmins have partaken meals in temples. The people undertake the ritual believing that it would cure, among others, their skin diseases. The practice is held annually at Kukke Subrahmanya Temple and Sri Krishna Math in Udupi. Vedike president B.K. Bhaskar Bendodi said the Malekudiya tribal people, who undertake the “made snana” at the temple, were the ones who had founded the temple. He said there was no force on the tribal people to undertake the ritual. To a question on why Malekudiyas did not have any managerial role in the temple though it was started by them, he said it had been so by tradition. He agreed that tribal people were given menial jobs such as preparing the chariot for annual fair. On the caste discrimination in serving food, he said that too was a tradition. He said Malekudiyas would lose the right to don secondary roles in rituals (holding Birudavalis) if they did not undertake “made snana”. He added that the temple authorities had not held such a threat but that the community itself had decided so. Mr. Bhaskar contradicted the version given in the statement signed by him and circulated at the press conference. While the statement said that the temple official C.V. Nagesh was assaulted during the visit by president of Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Jatigala Vargagala Jagruti Vedike K.S. Shivaramu, Mr. Bhaskar admitted that he had not seen Mr. Nagesh being attacked. Journalists told him that they had the video recording which showed that Mr. Shivaramu was attacked. Mr. Bhaskar said the Malekudiyas could continue the ritual under a “Tribal Act”. He sought time to reply when asked for the exact section of law that he was referring to. He threatened to approach courts if the practice was banned by the Government. Although a six-page poem was circulated by Mr. Bhaskar and another senior Malekudiya tribal, A. Babu, they could not show how it served as a proof for the ritual of “made snana” being an age old tradition. Presspersons pointed out that there was no mention of “made snana” in the poem. (The Hindu 13/12/11)

Temple issue: Dalits want district administration to intervene (2)

Tirupur, December 14, 2011: The Dalits from Vellakoil block, who have been fighting for their rights to enter Uthamapalayam new Mariamman temple without any discrimination, sought the intervention of district administration to expeditiously complete the investigations being carried out on the tension existing between two groups over the temple entry issue. On Tuesday, the Uthamapalayam New Mariamman Temple Entry Agitation Committee convener S. Karuppaiah submitted a memorandum to District Collector M. Mathivanan in this regard and requested him to ensure that the Hindu Religious and

Charitable Endowment department takes over the administration of the temple at the earliest. The Dharapuram Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) is carrying out the said enquiry following tension developed between two factions last year after the Dalit community alleged caste suppression and denial of entry into the temple. The then Dharapuram RDO, Ali Akbar, exercising his powers as sub-divisional magistrate, restrained people belonging to all castes from worshiping in the temple till further orders. The temple since then had remained closed. In the petition, Mr. Karuppaiah also wanted the district administration to transfer the control of the New Mariamman temple from the private trust to the State Government. (The Hindu 14/12/11)

Abolish made snana, Dalits urge DC (2)

MANGALORE, December 15, 2011: Participants at the meeting organised on Wednesday to address development-related issues faced by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes people unanimously demanded a ban on made snana across the State. During a meeting chaired by Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda, members of various Dalit groups said the practice should be abolished by the district administration. Members of the Dalit Rights Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Shekar L. said that serving food only to people of a particular caste in a government-run temple amounted to the government supporting discrimination on the basis of caste. He said the district administration should abolish the “inhuman” practice across the State. Mr. Gowda said that he would convey the views expressed to the State Government. Dalit groups would be consulted on the course of action to be taken, he added. During the previous SC/ST meeting held a year ago, Nagarika Seva Trust had demanded that the order allotting land reserved for the depressed classes to an educational institution in Dharmasthala in Ujire be scrapped. As District Social Welfare Officer Arun Furtado read out the minutes that the Government had allotted 43.90 acres of land, loud exclamations arose from a number of people. District convenor of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B. Krishnappa faction) Krishnananda said that allotting land to an educational institution “which already had hundreds of acres of land was wrong when Dalits have been struggling for years to obtain DC manna land”. This prompted scattered applause from participants of the meeting. Mr. Gowda told the meeting that the land had in fact been granted in 1949 and that he would write to the State Government about the objections raised. The overwhelming concern of nearly all the people who participated in the meeting was the allotment of land kept reserved for people of depressed classes (commonly called D.C. manna land) to Dalits. A number of activists spoke about instances of DC manna land being encroached upon by others. In several cases, where Dalits were living on DC manna land, title deeds were not given to them, they said. Activist Bhanuchandra requested Mr. Gowda to file cases under Section 3 (4) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 against those who encroached upon land notified to be allotted to SCs or STs. Mr. Gowda said that he could take action under other revenue laws but not the Atrocity Act. Section 3 (4) of the Act classified wrongful occupation of land meant for SC/ST people as an atrocity. Zilla Panchayat member from Naravi C.K. Chandrakala said that although she was allegedly abused over her caste by Mada Gowda and Lalita, no arrests had been made. Additional Superintendent of Police Prabhakara said that he would look into it. Mr. Gowda said that a special meeting would be convened to address the issue of land. He directed that similar meetings be held once a month by the tahsildars and once every two months by Assistant Commissioners. (The Hindu 15/12/11)

Upper caste students shun food cooked by Dalits (2)

SUNDARAGIRI (KARIMNAGAR DT.), December 16, 2011: The mid-day meal scheme has been

introduced in schools with an objective to provide nutritious food to children, particularly those in the rural areas. But the well-intentioned scheme has become a platform for the upper castes to exhibit their intolerance for those from the marginalised sections. Schoolchildren of this non-descript village in Chigurumamidi mandal refused to eat the food served to them as part of the mid-day meal scheme as “it is cooked by a group of Dalit women”. Almost two-thirds of the students, about 150 out of the strength of 231, refused to take the meal served to them on Thursday. The refusal was not a one off incident as the Zilla Parishad High School, which has few takers for the mid-day meals, faced similar problems ever since the launch of the scheme. What started as criticism of poor quality of food served to them by the students, predominantly the upper castes, ultimately turned out to be the ‘counselling’ they received from their elders not to share food with Dalits. A little bit of cajoling revealed how their parents had instructed them against eating the meal prepared and served by Dalits. As a result, only students from the Dalit communities consume the food. Women belonging to the self-help group (SHG) Chaitanya, who prepare the meal, were taken to believe that the quality of the grain supplied through the public distribution system was sub-standard. They, however, realised the real reason, the caste factor, behind the refusal of majority of students to partake the food cooked and served to them. SHG members – A. Mallavva, E. Soundarya, K. Swaroopa, and Eshwaramma — admitted that though they were preparing food for all students attending the school on a given day, only a few were eating it. Whenever asked as to why they were not eating the food, these students openly state that they would not eat anything prepared and served by Dalits, an SHG member bemoaned. “We thought untouchability has been rooted out from villages. But what causes concern is the adamant attitude of the village elders who are spoiling young minds,” she said. (The Hindu 16/12/11)

‘Dalits may have to seek control of Kukke temple’ (2)

MANGALORE, December 17, 2011: The city-based Dakshina Kannada Mattu Udupi Jillegala Hindulida Jathigala Okkuta has criticised the State government for its stand that the made snana ritual cannot be banned. In a statement issued here on Friday, leaders of the okkuta (Federation of Backward Classes in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts) said the stand taken by the government was against the spirit of the Constitution. Legislators and ministers were elected by people belonging to all castes and creed and they had the responsibility of making laws that prevented social discrimination. Expressing helplessness in this regard amounted to defending the ritual, and it was not becoming of public servants. They held out a veiled threat that backward classes may have to seek possession of Kukke Subramanya Temple if made snana was not stopped. They said the temple founded by Dalits may have to point out that Brahmins were appointed by them for worshipping the deity only. They said leaders of religious places should remember that they were there to serve all and work towards the welfare of all and condemn any practice that hurt the self-respect of a community. Religious beliefs should have larger goals of providing relief to pains of the larger section of society. One should ensure that there was no violence and assault in a religious place. If religion made efforts to suppress a section belonging to it, people could look away from it. The signatories to the statement included Vasudeva Boloor, vice-president, Jayanand Devadiga, secretary, and Sanjiv Shettigar, member. (The Hindu 17/12/11)

‘Dalits need to work with other communities’ (2)

HYDERABAD, December 19, 2011: Former Chief Secretary of the State, Kaki Madhava Rao, has said that Dalits and tribals have to think beyond reservation and should learn working with other communities to achieve political power. In turn it will give them social and economic empowerment, he felt. Speaking at a conference on Dalit politics organised by SC/ST organisations here on Sunday, he observed that the inability of Dalits who had made it big in their lives to help the community had been hindering the progress of the community as a whole. Though reservation had helped some among them to reach good positions, its benefits had not reached the community horizontally due to continuing ignorance. It was time those who had made it big helped the community to come out of backwardness, he suggested. In Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati had successfully catapulted Dalits to power as she had worked together with other communities, he felt. Such a political change was also required in Andhra Pradesh, where the population of Dalits and tribals was considerable, Mr. Madhava Rao said. The Social Development Forum, a body of Dalits, tribals and backward classes headed by Mr. Madhava Rao, would work for allocation of higher number of seats to the two communities in the 2014 elections. He suggested the community leaders in all political parties to strive for better representation by choosing community candidates in general seats too. G. Nancharaiah, former Vice-Chancellor of B.R. Ambedkar Central University at Lucknow, G. Shanker, E.

Anjaneyulu, E. Sudharani and others representing different SC/ST bodies also spoke at the meet. (The Hindu 19/12/11)

‘RTI activist’ tries blackmail, ends up in jail (2)

Bangalore, December 20, 2011: A history-sheeter, said to have been posing as an RTI activist, was arrested here on Sunday on charges of blackmailing, abusing and threatening to kill a Dalit. K.N. Jagadish Kumar of Kodigehalli, arrested last month for allegedly defaming a Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) councillor, has been booked under various provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and the Indian Penal Code. Kodigehalli police said that Jagadish was arrested following a complaint by M. Muniraju of A.K. Colony with the Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in November 2011 and with the Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement. According to the complaint, Mr. Muniraju was repairing his house at A.K. Colony when Jagadish took a picture of the construction site and tried to blackmail him saying that he had violated building bylaws. He also abused him. Assistant Commissioner of Police S. Pirappa Gachinakatti, who conducted an inquiry following directions from the commission, submitted a report saying that the charges against Jagadish were proved. Police records say that Jagadish has blackmailed many people misusing the RTI Act, and 14 criminal cases have been registered against him in various police stations at Bangalore and Mumbai. He has been remanded in judicial custody. (The Hindu 20/12/11)

Naveen government anti-SC/ST, says Congress (2)

BHUBANESWAR: Criticising the State Government as anti-tribal and anti-Dalit, Congress members on

Tuesday walked out of the Assembly alleging that the Orissa Reservation of Vacancies in Post and Service (for SC and ST) Act, 1975, is not being implemented in letter and spirit. “As the State Government has no intention to implement the law, we are walking out of the House in protest,” Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said. The issue cropped up during discussion on the admissibility of an adjournment motion notice. Alleging that the BJD is not interested in the welfare of the tribals and Dalits, Singh sought to know why did not the Government did not challenge the judgment of the High Court which quashed a State Government resolution of providing promotional facilities to ST and SC employees in the service. “Why did not the Government challenge the Orissa High Court’s judgment with regard to the ORV Act,” Congress member and prominent tribal leader Dambarudhar Ulaka too asked. “If the Government can file special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court for Vedanta company, why can’t it do the same for protecting interests of tribals and Dalits,” Congress member Chakradhar Paik asked adding these two communities (ST & SC) comprise 40 per cent of the State’s population. Stating that there are 61 MLAs belonging to ST and SC communities in the 147-member Assembly, Paik said the Government should amend the ORV Act, 1975, in order to provide reservation in the matter of promotion of ST and SC employees. The Opposition members also criticised the Government for not implementing reservation norms while making contractual appointments. “Though reservation is provided in appointment of Sikshya Sahayaks, similar facility should be available in other posts,” Ulaka demanded. He alleged that the ratio of ST and SC staff in the Government service had been declining in comparison to their population. Raising calling attention notice, Padmanabha Behera and Sipra Mallick (both BJD) also said it is high time the ORV Act was amended as it is not serving the interest of SC and ST people. Making a statement, ST and SC Development Minister Lalbehari Himirika said the Government was working on an amendment to the ORV Act to make provision of reservation in the promotion of ST and SC employees. As the Minister did not give a time frame to bring such an amendment, the Opposition members walked out in protest. (NIE 21/12/11)

Central fund to buy equity in Dalit firms likely (2)

NEW DELHI: Dalit Venture Capital Fund is the next big idea as the Centre looks to roll out ‘procurement quota’ in government purchases from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Fund would seek to buy equity in Dalit companies to provide capital support as investment. The Centre is mulling creation of a special purpose vehicle or a capital support system to help develop entrepreneurs among scheduled castes and tribes. The fund is part of the bouquet discussed in a meeting called by social justice ministry with Dalit Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), and could be created with contributions from

both private business houses and government. According to sources, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is seized of the idea and had done some loud thinking in an earlier meeting. Rural development ministry’s ‘skill development programme’ is likely to be used to help SCs/STs get into small scale manufacturing. The ideas formed the core of the meeting convened by social justice minister Mukul Wasnik with DICCI, also attended by RD minister Jairam Ramesh and chairman of national commission for SCs P L Punia on Monday. It was to get a fix on how the recently promulgated “procurement quota” was to be operationalized. The Centre recently decided that all ministries would make 4% of their annual purchase from micro, small and medium enterprises run by SCs/STs. There have been apprehensions if dalit entrepreneurship was big enough to absorb orders of the magnitude of 4% of total government purchase, and if there is enough quality to compete with general business. The Centre wants to use the first three non-mandatory years of policy rollout to fill the entrepreneurial gap among dalits. It also wants to use bodies like DICCI to register dalit enterprises that can be used for purchases. While ‘procurement quota’ is to be rolled out by ministry for SMEs, sources said the social justice ministry wants to be part of the process to ensure right inputs from dalit groups it interacts with on welfare front. It has asked micro enterprises ministry to place social justice secretary in the ministerial panel to oversee the process and monitor and evaluate the results. Congress had made “procurement quota” a crucial weapon in its political quiver, with Rahul Gandhi flagging it in his speeches in Uttar Pradesh campaign. (Times of India 27/12/11)

Parents seek justice for ‘sacrificed’ son (2)

Bangalore, December 28, 2011: A month after Basavaraj’s (18) murder in Tirumaladevarakoppa, Ranebennur taluk in Haveri district, his parents Baramappa Kademane and Manjavva, who believe that their son was “sacrificed” by the “caste” Hindus, are in Bangalore city trying to draw the attention of Social Welfare Minister A. Narayanaswamy to the issue. Baramappa Kademane and Manjavva are Dalit agricultural labourers. Ms. Manjavva told The Hindu here on Tuesday that she last saw her son on November 26 when he left for work. Basavaraj, an agricultural labourer, worked in the farm of Basanagowda Ningannagowda Gowdaru, a “caste” Hindu. “He did not return that night and the next morning, a gram panchayat member and a policeman came to inform us that Basavaraj was in the hospital. Much later, the police told us that he had been murdered after a scuffle with Gowdaru’s son Ningannagowda. His body was stuffed in a gunny bag and discarded in a field on the outskirts of our village,” she said. Mr. Kademane said that they found that Basavaraj’s head had been bludgeoned and body had been bathed in turmeric water. He said that his right eye had been gouged and two teeth removed. This led them to believe that their son Basavaraj had been “sacrificed”. “In that moment of grief, we were asked to sign on the First Information Report. Though six persons have been named in the FIR, only two — Ningannagowda and Gowdaru’s son-in-law Huchappa Kaganal — have been arrested,” he said. Ms. Manjavva said that the Gowdaru’s family had recently constructed a new house. A seer, who used to frequent their house had suggested “rakta bali” (sacrifice) to “purify the house.” “We heard this and thought that some goat or sheep would be sacrificed. Never did we imagine that our son would be sacrificed. We found blood splattered all over the house,” she lamented. Bheemanakere Shivamurthy from the Human Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation, Karnataka, claimed that this was the fourth “human sacrifice” in the village. “The earlier three cases were settled, one without even being registered by the police and two were out-of-court settlements. The Dalits, who are a minority in the village, are an exploited lot. With this murder, the Dalits are scared to continue living in that village,” he said. He also said that Gowdaru’s family members had made conflicting statements to the police. “Ningannagowda alleged that Basavaraj was having an affair with Gowdaru’s married daughter Saroja. They also claimed that there was some money-related misunderstanding.” He added that after the murder was reported, the Gowdaru’s family was given police protection for three days. Mr. Bheemanakere Shivamurthy said that the family was now fighting for justice. “We have submitted memorandums to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Haveri district in-charge C.M. Udasi, Mr. Narayanaswamy, Haveri Deputy Commissioner H.G. Srivar and Superintendent of Police C.S. Rathod.” He said the family wants the arrest of all the accused and a thorough investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department. (The Hindu 28/12/11)

‘Name Karwar circle after Ambedkar’ (2)

Karwar, December 29, 2011: Dalit organisations have demanded that the circle in front of the BSNL office here be named after B.R. Ambedkar. Under pressure from Komarpanth Samaj, the district administration and district in-charge Minister Anand Asnotikar had conceded the demand to name Karwar-Kodibag road after Henja Naik, who fought against the British. The Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (DSS) had been demanding that the circle be named after Dr. Ambedkar since 2001 to name the circle after Ambedkar. The district administration had rejected the demand stating that it would lead to violence if the statue was desecrated, Deepak Kudlakar, president of the Karwar taluk unit of DSS, said on Wednesday. At a public meeting on installation of Henja Naik’s statue, Mr. Kudalkar tried to raise the issue but some people took exception to it. Mr. Kudalkar said that his organisation would launch an agitation. He said that the statues of Henja Naik and Dr. Ambedkar should be installed on the same day. He was, however, pacified by some officials. He said that his organisation would hold a meeting on the action to be taken if its demand was not fulfilled. (The Hindu 29/12/11)

Source:http://www.isidelhi.org.in/hrnews/HR_THEMATIC_ISSUES/Dalits/Dalits-2011.pdf

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