Dalits Media WatchNews Updates 30.08.13
Dalit boy shot dead for refusing to clean plates- The Indian Express
Four held for abusing Dalit civic chief- The New Indian Express
'Book attackers under SC/ST Act'- The New Indian Express
New Delhi: Daughter gang-raped, wife killed; man moves SC seeking protection- Bellvision
Viscera report hints presence of insecticide, kin continue protest- The Times Of India
Dalit girl rape & murder: Protest continues, committee formed- Business Standard
Communal clashes in Kishtwar: Lessons from the Past, Metaphors for the Future - II- Kashmir times
'Dalits will benefit from Telangana'- The Hindu
Ravichandran's camera to focus on Dalit issues- Deccan Chronicle
Haryana's quarrelling Dalit leaders not bothered about Dalits!- India Today
Dalits to reclaim panchami lands by occupying them- The Hindu
Dalits and quotas: A complex reality- The Island
Education, not caste politics- The Hindu
Central legislation of SC/ST sub-plan may be a reality soon- The New Indian Express
NOTE : Please find attachment for HINDI DMW (PDF)
The Indian Express
Dalit boy shot dead for refusing to clean plates
An 11-year-old Dalit boy was allegedly shot dead on Monday night for refusing to clean plates at the dhaba he worked at, in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh. District police officials said the accused in the case has been identified as Jagpal Pandit, a resident of the area, who is on the run.
Senior police officers said the incident took place at 11.15 pm at the eatery near the Saharanpur crossing in Shamli. "The boy worked at the dhaba to earn some extra money for his family. His father, works at a shop which sells household items nearby, and lived in the lane behind the row of shops," a police officer said.
At around 11.15 pm, the accused allegedly walked into the shop and told the victim to bring him food.
"Eyewitnesses have told us that he spoke abusively and may have been drunk. At one point, he asked the boy to clean his plates, and when the victim refused, he pulled out his gun and shot the victim in the stomach.
Though this is a matter of investigation, the accused also used discriminatory language.
The victim was rushed to the nearest hospital but was declared brought dead on arrival," said the officer.
The officer added that Jagpal was not found at his home. "A case was immediately registered under sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to murder as well as provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
The body was sent for post-mortem and subsequently returned to the family," the officer said.
The New Indian Express
Four held for abusing Dalit civic chief
By Express News Service – MADURAI
Four Caste Hindus were arrested on charges of threatening a woman civic chief belonging to a Dalit community and damaging the panchayat office at Kinnimangalam village in the district on Wednesday.
The arrested were P Bharani (55), P Mani (62), M Mani (52) and M Kasi (29) of Kinnimangalam, police said.
Police are also on the lookout for R Rasu, who is absconding.
The case was registered under various sections of the IPC and 3 (i) (x) of Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes prevention of atrocities act based on the complaint filed by panchayat president Vijayarani Muthaiah.
Police said that Vijayarani was elected to the post two years ago. According to her, some caste Hindu persons were targeting her and putting up roadblocks in official works.
The five accused allegedly did not allow her to go to the Panchayat office by heckling her on a daily basis. They also frequently used her caste's name and humiliated her. As a result she was forced to carry out her officials works from her house with the help of the Panchayat Office clerk.
Unable to withstand the torture, the panchayat president filed a complaint with the District SP V Balakrishnan.
Following the SP's direction, the Usilampatti DSP Saravanakumar registered a case and arrested the accused in the night on Tuesday.
The New Indian Express
'Book attackers under SC/ST Act'
A Dalit woman, who was allegedly verbally and physically abused and robbed, approached police on Wednesday and sought police action against the perpetrator under the SC/ST Act.
Nageswari, of Devipattinam and her husband Elankeswaran, both employed at a private school in Devipattinam as sweepers, stayed along with their two daughters near the school. According to Nageswari, on August 21, when she was on her way home, a man intercepted and pushed her down before attempting to misbehave with her. Although she managed to escape from the spot, her gold chain was snatched. The man used used casteist abusive language on her.
Based on a complaint lodged by her husband, Devipattinam police registered a case of woman harassment and chain snatching against a person. However, he wasn't booked under the SC/ST Act.
Rajamanickam, member to the Adhi Dravidar Welfare Committee said the government should severely punishment the offender as he tried to spoil the life of a Dalit woman. A Devipattinam police official however said, the offender had been arrested and remanded in custody. He had only snatched her chain, the official claimed.
However, Nageswari told Express that the man pushed her down and when she tried to free herself, he snatched her chain and used abusive language against her caste. The Devipattinam police failed to book a case against him under the SC/ST Act, she added.
New Delhi: Daughter gang-raped, wife killed; man moves SC seeking protection
New Delhi, 29 Aug, 2013 : The gruesome gang-rape of Nirbhaya and a Mumbai photographer shook the nation's conscience but equally disturbing is the suffering of a dalit family residing in a Haryana village just 150 km from Delhi.
A school-going 15-year-old girl was kidnapped and repeatedly gang-raped in a car by the sons of influential persons in village Chotikalasi inHaryana's Nilokheri tehsil on August 6 last year. The accused released her with a warning that if she did not return to them every 10 days, her parents would be killed.
The girl told her mother about the incident who in turn informed the father. A case was lodged and tests confirmed sexual assault. On learning about the incident, the school principal, instead of taking steps for the girl's rehabilitation, struck off her name from the school rolls.
Less than a month after the assault, the accused carried out their threat by kidnapping the rape survivor's mother and allegedly shot her dead. A distressed father went to the local police to register FIRs for the rape of his daughter and murder of his wife. The police tore up his complaint.
Finally, on September 24 last year, the rape survivor's father travelled to the Bhutana police station in Karnal to register complaint about gang-rape of his daughter, subsequent threat and kidnap and murder of his wife. A chargesheet was filed by police on November 1 last year.
Filing of chargesheet did not end the woes of the dalit family as the father and daughter were constantly targeted by the dominant caste to which the accused belonged. Fearing for life because of constant pressure from the family of the accused to withdraw the cases, the father was left with no option but to move the Supreme Court seeking protection.
"The uncle and father of Aman (one of the accused) - Joginder Singh and Sultan Singh - threatened the petitioner that just as his wife was killed, he too would be killed," the petition said.
Though the police arrested the uncle and father of the accused, the threat persists, petitioner's counsel Colin Gonsalves said and requested a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Madan B Lokur to protect the man.
The bench reacted with disgust and shock. "Something appears to have broken down in society and in the law-enforcing machinery. The authorities need to explain," it said and issued notices to chief secretaries of states and administrators of Union Territories asking them to detail remedial measures taken so far.
The petitioner said the Haryana government has paid Rs 60,000 to his daughter for the gang-rape and Rs 3.75 lakh for the murder of his wife.
The Times Of India
Viscera report hints presence of insecticide, kin continue protest
JIND: The viscera examination of the 20-year-olddalit girl from Jind at the forensic science laboratory (FSL) at Madhuban (Karnal) has revealed presence of insecticide in the victim's vital organs. Jind superintendent of police (SP)Balwan Singh Rana said that the FSL report also ruled out rape of the victim, who was found dead under mysterious circumstances near a canal on August 25.
Rana also said that report of the third autopsy of the girl's body at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi was yet to reach the district administration. "The person deputed to bring the report from AIIMS started late in the evening from Delhi. He will take a few hours to reach here. The report will be studied and then shared with the victim's family," said the officer.
Meanwhile, the girl's family and sympathisers continued their protests on Thursday, which entered the fifth day, seeking arrest of those involved in her death. They have demanded a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the victim's death, alleging that she was raped and killed.
The protesters laid siege to the Jind civil hospital and placed the victim's body in a refrigerator while awaiting the autopsy report from Delhi.
President of Haryana unit of BSP, Naresh Saharan, and state party coordinator Rajbir Singh, along with Rohtak zone in-charge, Balraj Satroad, met the victim's family members to lend their support.
Meanwhile, many Dalit organisations have come forward to support the family members of the girl and met them at their village on Thursday.
Dalit girl rape & murder: Protest continues, committee formed
The protest over the alleged rape and murder of a 20-year-old Dalit girl continued on the fifth day here today, with the protesters staging a dharna in the premises of local general hospital.
The protesters have been sitting on a dharna since Sunday. Their main demands include arrest of those who had allegedly raped and killed the girl, action against police officials who resorted to lathicharge on protesters, withdrawal of police cases lodged against villagers during the course of protest and monetary compensation to the victim's family.
A 45-member committee has been constituted for deciding future course of action in this regard.
Speaking at the dharna site, Dharampal Singhmar, spokesman of the committee served ultimatum to the administration that if their demands were not accepted by tomorrow, they would start an agitation by placing the body of the girl on the local Gohana road.
He appealed to the people to join the agitation in large number.
The body of the girl of Baniakhera village was found on Jind-Amarheri village road on Sunday.
She had been to Jind town to appear for her Junior Basic Training examination on Saturday, but failed to return home.
The family members of the victim alleged that she was raped and murdered.
They had placed the body of the girl on the main road in-front of the local bus stand and held a demonstration against this crime.
Two post-mortem examinations were conducted at Jind and at PGIMS Rohtak, but these failed to satisfy relatives of the victim. They refused to believe the theory of police that the girl may have committed suicide.
They wanted a third post-mortem conducted at AIIMS, New Delhi. The body of the girl has been sent to AIIMS for the third post-mortem, whose report was still awaited, sources said.
Even if one agrees that everything that happened on Friday was well thought out, still the question remains, how did people get mobilized so easily? Have not Muslims and Hindus been living in the same Kishtwar for centuries and despite small fights, one had not seen some of the deadly communal clashes as one saw in 2008 (protests due to Amarnath Land controversy) and on Friday, 9th August, 2013. In this section, I will try and build a longer view of Hindu-Muslim relations in Kishtwar. I will start my observations from the late 1980s which I know might not be acceptable to many scholars given the prior history of communalism in Kishtwar or the larger erstwhile Doda district. Though the history of inter-community relations turning bitter can go a long way backwards, but my reasons of restricting myself to late 1980s comes from the lack of time and space to deal with such a large canvas. Here I will try to understand the inter-community relations in Kishtwar along two axes - the nature of insurgency[xii] in erstwhile Doda district and the response of the Indian state by forming the Village Defense Committees (VDCs).
Opposite to the almost homogenous society of Kashmir, Jammu province is highly heterogeneous, with large ethno-religious groups. Jammu province consists of all major religious communities of the state like Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists, and various ethnic groups like Dogras, Gujjars, Bakarwals, Kashmiris, Jats, Paharis etc leading to a mosaic of identities[xiii]. Linguistically too, Jammu offers a lot, with Dogri, Kashmiri, Gojri and Pahari being the main languages assisted by various local dialects like Siraji, Bhaderwahi, Poonchi, Kishtwari, Pogli, etc. Likewise, various communities in Jammu differ in their cultural affiliations: if Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur embody the Dogra culture; Doda and Kishtwar have the predominant Kashmiri culture, while Rajouri-Poonch have a Pahari Culture. Thus insurgency against Indian state had to negotiate with these multiple identities and had to understandably satisfy many concerns.
Insurgency started in the valley from the mid-1980s onwards, but the waves reached various districts of Jammu for the first time around 1993, and in some districts it reached as late as in 1996[xiv]. The movement, unlike in the valley, touched its peak much later in 1997-2000 and from there onwards it gradually started to decline. When almost the whole of Kashmir valley was up in arms in late 1980s and early 1990s, the erstwhile Doda district was more or less calm. By 1993-1994, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) was almost a spent force in Kashmir and the movement was continuously being taken over by various armed Islamic groups like Hizbul Mujahidin (HM), Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Ansar etc.[xv] This explains the complete absence of JKLF in the erstwhile Doda district and the movement thus being run by armed groups like HM with religion forming the core of their philosophy. JKLF undoubtedly was the first armed outfit of Kashmir but was soon followed by various other militant outfits like the armed wing of Jama'at-e-Islami, and Hizbul-mujahidin (HM). HM could mobilize a huge following among the majority community (Muslims) in Doda, and the reason for this was the huge network of Jama'at. Jama'at had been in Jammu and Kashmir politics from 1940s and in mid-1990s its network and mass contacts came handy for HM. The structure of Jama'at has very well been explained by Yoginder Sikand and he argues,
"The JIJK has two provincial wings in the Indian-administered part of the state - one being the Kashmir valley and the other being Jammu. Each provincial wing is headed by a provincial amir (amir-i-suba), who is assisted by a Provincial Advisory Council (subad-e-majlis-i-shur'a) and a provincial secretary (qayyim-i-suba). The chain of command and authority is then further carried down to the district level, where, in each district, the JIJK has a district amir (amir-i-zila), a District Advisory Council (majlis-i-zila) and a secretary (qayyim-i-zila). The JIJK has a similar set-up at the sub-district level (tehsil), and, finally, at the local (muqami) level, where it has a system of 'circles' (halqa). A circle of the JIJK can be set up wherever there is more than one member of the organization. It is headed by a local amir (amir-i-halqa), who is elected by the local members."[xvi]
The inclusiveness and democratic character of any movement can be judged from the way it deals with the various marginal sections of the society. And Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference had set a rich example of it. After the passing of the historic New Kashmir Manifesto by All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference in its Sopore Conference in 1944, Dalits of Jammu, like the toiling Muslim masses of Kashmir, saw a ray of hope from the exploitation meted to them by the upper caste landlords. Thus, when a movement was started by the Jammu Praja Parishad against Sheikh Abdullah and National Conference, Dalits[xvii]apart from Communists became the main supporters of National Conference in Jammu.[xviii] The J&K land reforms of 1950s in which land was distributed without the any compensation to the landlords, strengthened the bond between Dalits and NC further, and Dalits became staunch supporters of NC, apart from some joining dalit sabhas like the Harijan Mandal.[xix] With the coming of insurgency, the relation between Dalits and Muslims became much more complicated and a bond tried to be built by NC was almost shaken to its roots. In erstwhile Doda district, except the few initial targeted killings, maximum killings were mostly religion based. The killings in Sarthal, Cherji, Atholi, Kulhand, Dessa included common Hindu villagers and many a times included dalits also.
It was in a way the failure of the later phase (post 1993-94) of the Kashmiri National movement that it could not garner the support of the Dalits of the erstwhile Doda district. The apprehension of supporting an Islamic movement was very clearly expressed by Dalits. Nathu Ram, a young Dalit school teacher argues, "Groups like the Lashkar see all non-Muslims, no matter what their caste or class, as, by definition, enemies of God.
How could we ever agree to live under them?"[xx] It was thus not the marginality of various sections in the society, but rather religion, which become a prime marker of 'us and them', pro-Azaadi and Anti-Azaadi camps.
In the absence of any attempt of solidarity from the various pro-tehreek/ Azaadi groups, Dalits of erstwhile Doda took the side of their co-religionist rather than getting close to the pro-Azaadi camps. Had the movement stood by its democratic and secular principles, and shared the concerns of everyday life, the Dalits of erstwhile Doda district might have supported the call for Azaadi. But it was not to be so and thus most of the Dalits in Kishtwar and Doda did not even hesitate to be a part of the Village Defense Committees (VDCs). Killings of these marginal sections of society proved that the movement was had increasingly become religion-based in erstwhile Doda district and stood less on any secular, democratic or an egalitarian ethos. In this light, then, it becomes crucial to put more light on the VDCs and what they have come to mean to the local population.
The response of Indian state to the pro-Azaadi groups was very much similar to that in Chhattisgarh, where a local militia (Salwa Judum) was created to fight the insurgents. The idea of VDCs first came from the hilly Doda district and the argument given by the government was the presence of hilly and mountainous topography of Doda, where the houses are scattered and thus it was impossible for the security forces to provide protection to the villagers. Praveen Swami argues that one reason of using VDCs in Doda was that due to the obscurity of Doda, the killings and the militancy does not make the headlines, so the army was not that interested in being deployed to Doda.[xxi]
But can the obscurity of Doda be the only reason for the forming of VDCs? Apart from being a very 'obscure district', Doda is also economically one of the most backward districts of the state with very few means of livelihood except. A VDC personnel was paid only Rs.500 per month, which is three times less than a Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel working in J&K.[xxii] Thus, in financial terms, it was very beneficial for the Indian state to have VDCs. In the name of protecting the people a method was devised in which local people fought the insurgents, with a small salary and this also prevented the deployment of army in these places, which could have been very costly.[xxiii] Thus what the VDC did for the state as well as the central government was to create a few more jobs for the unemployed youth on one hand and save resources on the other. But the real repercussions of the policy of arming the locals was much more serious and dangerous, as most of the recruitments were strictly done on a communal basis, and most of the arms were given to the Hindus and almost negligible to the Muslims. This retrograde step made the other community - the Muslims- apprehensive about the nature of this armed militia and the cordial communal relations which different groups shared till now was fissured deeply. . K.Balagopal puts it in a much forceful way when he argues, "If it is unpardonable to militarize a society in the name of tackling an insurgency, then it is unpardonable a hundred-fold to criminalize it".[xxiv] What Indian state did by creating VDC was actually 'criminalization' of civilian population, the full repercussions of which are yet to be seen.
The main force behind the AFSPA being imposed in the Jammu region (erstwhile Doda District especially) was BJP and specifically the M.P from Doda-Udhampur Constituency, Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta from BJP. As soon as the act was passed, huge ammunition was given to the SOGs and a large number of Hindu youths were recruited into the VDCs. This had a very strategic importance for the BJP in Doda and other parts of Jammu region. By projecting themselves as the real well-wishers and saviors of the minority community (Hindu), they expected to galvanize mass Hindu opinion and thus increase their vote tally. Not only were the VDCs almost reserved for Hindus but certain announcements were made by various BJP leaders which further increased the gulf between the two communities in Jammu region. One such example was when "senior BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma, stirred a major storm when, in the course of the BJP's 'Save Doda' campaign in Jammu, he announced a reward of one lakh rupees for every civilian who shot dead a 'militant'".[xxv] Under tremendous criticism by various sections of the civil society, Sahib Singh Verma changed his words from 'every civilian' to a 'member of VDC', thus making it quite clear why VDC was brought into being. Even statist commentators like Praveen Swami could not ignore the direct relationship between VDCs and BJP. In one of his articles he argued, "the VDCs did little to help the BJP in the recent Assembly elections but the fact is that the scheme has helped the Hindu Right generate a state subsidized cadre".[xxvi] Thus to a large extent it is very clear that the VDCs were a brain child of the Hindu right wing political parties to get more support and votes in the Jammu region and thus consolidate their base properly in Jammu.
Though according to the officials statements of the Government of India (GOI), militancy is at the lowest ebb in the whole J&K, but erstwhile Doda is still a 'disturbed zone', AFSPA is still in place and the VDCs still call the shots. On October 29, 2012 when the whole Kishtwar town was protesting against a 'blasphemous page' on Facebook, along with the demand of arresting the culprits, it was also demanded that the government disband the VDCs. Though there seems to be no direct relation between the two demands, yet the presence of armed Hindu groups is linked to the larger question of Hindu-Muslim relations and everyday life. Along with many other factors, the presence of these armed groups and the 'gun culture' that has developed in Kishtwar town has completely ripped apart any harmonious relations which existed between two communities.
Thus under the pull of these two factors -the Islamic nature of the later phase of the Kashmiri movement and the creation of VDCs - the two communities chose their sides accordingly and the common spaces kept on shrinking thus making the divisions more and more apparent. This division which seemed to be political in the initial phase soon entered the 'social' and 'cultural' spaces and the fissures are now visible very clearly from strict demarcation of religious practices, to dressing sense and even eating habits. Now the search for an Indian or Pakistani 'other' does not start from the plains of Jammu or across the LOC. A native Kishtwari is slowly being replaced by a bhagwa (saffron) and sabaz (green) Kishtwari. Now they do not need to travel long distances to find their imaginary enemy, he is there across the street or across the boundary wall of their homes.
[xii] Insurgency here refers specifically to the armed rebellion lead by many groups in Jammu and Kashmir for the right of self-determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
[xiii]Luv Puri (2008) Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir: The uncovered Face, New Delhi, Bibliophile South Asia.In this book Luv Puri has dealt in some detailed analysis of militancy in Jammu province.
[xiv]The first incidents of violence were seen in Doda district which started with the abduction of a French Engineer working in Baglihar dam in 1991, and killing of various civilians for the first time in 1993-94. In Rajouri-Poonch infiltration did occur but the civilian population got involved for the first time in 1995-96.
[xv] For a detailed history on the politics of JKLF and HM, see chapter 3rd of Sumantra Bose (2003), Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, New Delhi, Vistar publications.
[xvi] Yoginder Sikand, 'The Emergence and Development of the Jama'at-i-Islami of Jammu and Kashmir (1940s-1990)', Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 2002), pp.-711
[xvii] Balraj Puri (1968), 'Jammu and Kashmir, in Myron Weiner ed. State politics in India, Princeton, Princeton University Press , pp. 227
[xviii] According to Balraj Puri and Prem Nath Bazaz, in Jammu the main support of Sheik and NC was the communist group led by Com. Dhanwantri and Sardar Budh Singh. Controversy surrounds the presence of Dhanwantri in Jammu. According to Puri and Bazaz, Dhanwantri was a CPI activist deputed to look after the party building in Jammu. But according to the preface of an obscure book, "The warnings of Punjab" written by P.C Joshi and Dhanwantri himself, (which the author found in P.C Joshi Archives, JNU), Dhanwantri was in Andaman Jail continuously till 1946, so his question of being in Jammu is impossible. Nonetheless there was a definite communist presence in Jammu which gave NC and Sheikh a little but important hold.
[xix] Balraj Puri (1968), 'Jammu and Kashmir, in Myron Weiner ed. State politics in India, Princeton, Princeton University Press , pp. 227
[xx]Yoginder Sikand, Dalits In Jammu: Demanding To Be Heard, www.Countercurrents.org, 10 November, 2004.
[xxi] Praveen Swami, 'Disturbed Doda', Frontline, Vol. 18, No. 17, Aug, 18-31, 2001.
[xxii]An SOG (Special Operation Group) was a group of local youths recruited temporarily in J&K police force for combating militancy in J&K who were paid a salary of only Rs.1500 and they had to work much more than the policemen because they were thought to be more knowledgeable about the area.
[xxiii] Yoginder Sikand, 'Village Defence Committees in Doda: Solution or Problem?', Sikhspectrum.com at www.sikhspectrum.com, Issue no.27, February, 2007.
[xxiv]K. Balagopal, Kashmir: 'Self-Determination, Communalism and Democratic Rights', Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 31, No. 44 (Nov. 2, 1996), pp. 2921
[xxv] Yoginder Sikand, 'Village Defense Committees in Doda: Solution or Problem?', Sikhspectrum.com at www.sikhspectrum.com, Issue no.27, February, 2007.
[xxvi] Praveen Swami, 'On an Edge in Kishtwar', Frontline, Vol.20, Issue, 17, Aug, 16-29, 2003
Amit Kumar is a PhD Scholar at the Department of History, Delhi University. He did his masters, MA (in Modern History) from JNU and in his fourth semester, worked on a seminar paper comparing insurgency in Kashmir Valley and erstwhile Doda District.
'Dalits will benefit from Telangana'
Telangana Joint Action Committee co-chairman Mallepalli Laxmaiah on Wednesday said Dalits would benefit the most after the formation of Telangana State as the reservation of posts and seats in educational institutions would increase from 6.6 per cent to 9.5 per cent among Scheduled Castes.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Laxmaiah, also founder-president of the Centre for Dalit Studies, said the number of people among the Scheduled Tribes in the two sectors would also see a quantum jump after the Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated. He said this would become possible as there would be focussed development and the leadership among the Dalits would get strengthened. He was here to participate in a dialogue on Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP)-Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) with the media.
Ravichandran's camera to focus on Dalit issues
Kottayam: A unique movement called 'Dalit Camera' airs the issues of the marginalised sections of society by uploading videos, photographs and audio clippings on the internet.
B. Ravichandran, director of the 'Dalit Camera,' the initiative of a group of students of Osmania University, was in Kottayam on Wednesday.
The group has 14 student volunteers now, who take up the Dalit issues during their free time. They go to places where caste atrocities happen and upload videos on the internet.
"The movement was launched to counter the mainstream media's sidelining of the issues of Dalits, and the Hindutva ideology which is subjugating the Dalits. Through our initiatives, we have been able to complement the mainstream media, which have taken our clippings for publishing various issues," Ravi told DC.
The movement, which began in 2012, gets support from the Osmania University campus, Ravi said. Ravi is the Ambedkar award winner for the promotion of Dalit rights. "We are not creators of news.
We will act only when an issue occurs so that it will be effectively brought before the public. We are also getting support from many quarters," Ravi added. Ravichandran, who belongs to the Chakliyal community in Tamil Nadu, has completed his PhD in language and linguistics from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.
Haryana's quarrelling Dalit leaders not bothered about Dalits!
Are the politicians really bothered about the plight of people or the communities who vote for them and send them to the Parliament or Vidhan Sabhas. At least not in case of Haryana where the Dalit leaders rather raising a voice against crimes against downtroddens, are busy fighting with each other.
As the crimes against Dalits go up in Haryana, their leaders are busy settling scores with each other. The clever upper caste leaders who rule the roost, are in fact using them against each other to divert attention against crimes against Dalits. In Haryana it is not Dalits versus Upper caste leaders but Dalit versus Dalit leaders. The Dalits women are being mercilessely raped and killed. Hardly a day went by when there is no rape news in the state.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Kumari Selja, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) President, Phool Chand Mulana and Rajya Sabha member, Ishwar Singh are prominent Dalit leaders.
Unfortunately they are less known for their concern for Dalits but more for their strained relationships.
Kumari Selja when mustered courage to safeguard Dalit interests and raised the issue of crimes against Dalits, the state's Congress government appeared defensive as Congress calls itself as the messiah of Dalits.
The chief miniser Bhupinder Singh Hooda used Phool Chand Mulana (Congress chief) as a weapon against Selja and to propagate that Dalits are safe in the Jatland as the state is committed for their welfare.
"The crimes against Dalits have not come down but have gone up drastically. In real sense, the crimes reported in the media or in police stations are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, those reported also hushed up later under the money and muscle power by the influential people," Ishwar Singh , Rajya Sabha MP said but refused to comment on Kumari Selja and Phool Chand Mulana.
The differences between Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Union Minister, Selja Kumari are in the public domain from quite some time. The rift between the duo widened as and when Selja tried to convey that the crimes against Dalits are rising and her constituency is being given a step motherly treatment. Phool Chand Mulana, a known Hooda man, acted as Hooda's mouthpiece to snub Selja.
State's top Dalit leaders Union Minister Selja, Haryana Congress Committee, Phool Chand Mulana and Rajya Sabha MP, Ishwar Singh have strained relations and leave no opportunity to spit venum against each other.
Two recent incident are enough to prove how the Dalit leaders of the state are busy pinching each other.
The cracks between the state's Dalit leaders appeared wide on August 25 when Phool Chand Mulana was not allowed to speak at a party meeting organised in Jind. Though the embarrassment had come from the loyalists of Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh but Mulana had indirectly hinted that the incident was planned and his detractors (Selja Kumari and Ishwar Singh) were behind it. Those who compelled Mulana to leave the stage also included Selja Kumari's supporters.
"I cannot name a particular person but it was a well planned inciddent to let me down. I am a Dalit and a down to earth leader and people want to exploit this," Phool chand Mulana who refused to comment on the role of a particular leader said.
The Jind incident took place just a day after when supporters of Union Minister Selja and Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda came to blows during the workers meeting held at Radaur on August 24.
Peeved Phool Chand Mulana has issued show cause notice to the supporters of Selja Kumari (also to Birender Singh Chaudhary's loyalists) for indulging in anti party activities (in Jind and Yamunanagar). Mulana has also accused Selja for the 'indiscipline' as her loyalists were involved in the Jind and Yamunanagar incidents.
Sources said the supporters of Selja Kumari and Birender Singh are currently camping in New Delhi to complain against Phool Chand Mulana. Selja, sources said, is also defending her.
Phool Chand Mulana is Selja Kumari's bete noire and leaves no stone unturned to prove her wrong. Earlier this year when Union minister Selja Kumari had announced pro-Dalit rallies in the state citing rising crimes against Dalits, it was Phool Chand Mulana who had termed her move as 'anti - party activity'.
Mulana had also made out a case of 'anti party activity' against Rajya Sabha MP Ishwar Singh (Mulana's rival) in June this year when he had hosted "growing atrocities against the Dalits under the Congress rule" in Karnal, Haryana How concerned are Haryana's Dalit leaders for Dalits can be proved from Mulana's complaint sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary in charge of Haryana BK Hariprasad, in which he had termed Ishwar Singh's conference as 'damaging to Congress party'.
Sources said, Mulana in his letter written to Sonia Gandhi had tried to establish that Dalits in Haryana where there is a Congress government are safe and conferences like this are 'anti government' as Haryana government has initiated a number of schemes for Dalits.
Ishwar Singh was so annoyed with Phool Chand Mulana after this episode that he had called him a 'useless leader'. He had openly said recently that despite a Dalit leader Mullana has failed to raise the cases of atrocities on Dalits.
The fight between the Dalit leaders is not going to end. Ishwar Singh on Tuesday had criticised Phool Chand Mulana for ignoring the Jind Dalit girl murder and rape case saying that he claims to be the champion of Dalit cause but did not visit the family of the girl who was brutally murdered and allegedly gang raped by unknown people.
Mulana was quick when questioned "The law will take its own course. The leaders should not interfere. Ishwar Singh is hungry for power and is not a true Congressman and always speaks against the party," Phool Chand Mulana said...The story goes on...and Dalits continue to suffer as there is nobody to raise their voice.
Dalits to reclaim panchami lands by occupying them
"My sons connived with realtors who encroached upon panchami lands at Keelpakkam near Arakkonam. My husband discourages me from taking part in demonstrations seeking reclamation of these lands. I braved stiff resistance from my family to participate in this meeting. This is our right…we have to reclaim panchami lands at any cost," said Mary (56), amid cheers from a large number of Dalits, mostly women.
Similar views were expressed by Dalits representing about a dozen villages in the northern districts at a public hearing on panchami lands, organised by the Dalit Land Rights Federation here on Thursday. A majority of them accused Revenue Department officials of a lackadaisical attitude when it came to processing petitions on panchami lands. Though political parties promised to reclaim and restore panchami lands to Dalits, none had fulfilled it.
The public hearing was chaired by Vasanthi Devi, former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. Speakers, mostly women, said they were tired of submitting petitions to revenue authorities seeking reclamation of panchami lands.
With a series of representations and agitations not yielding the desired results, Dalits were contemplating occupation of panchami or depressed class lands in Tamil Nadu on the basis of various court rulings and Government Orders, federation organiser C. Nicholas said.
"Since there are several court judgments and Government Orders in favour of Dalits on this issue, we are planning to peacefully occupy the lands. Going by the available revenue records, 1.2 lakh acre of lands, mostly in the northern districts of the State, are panchami lands. Even if 10 cents are given to one family, at least four lakh families will benefit," he said.
Most of the panchami lands were encroached upon by caste Hindus either for agriculture or real estate purposes. The State government has allotted panchami lands to Special Economic Zones or industrial parks. "This amounts to contempt of court…we will challenge the Government and reclaim the lands," he said.
Since Dalit unity was possible only on the basis of issues, efforts were on to bring together different organisations on one platform to fight for the lands. "Before the next election, we will unite and emerge as a strong political force. Dalits will demand that political parties declare a time-bound action plan on this long-pending issue," Mr. Nicholas added.
Ms. Vasanthi Devi urged Dalits to make an announcement that the reclaimed panchami lands would be registered only in the name of women. Since men had already migrated to towns or cities for employment, only women could take care of the lands in villages, she said.
Writer Manushya Puthiran said a 'no objection certificate' from the competent authorities should be made mandatory when properties suspected to be panchami lands came up for registration.
Dalits and quotas: A complex reality
By Kuldip Nayar
The quantum of reservations has gone up because quotas have been extended to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). They too want reservation in promotions now, as do many others. Yet, making provisions for further reservations is not possible because of a Supreme Court judgment, which fixed 49.5 per cent as the maximum limit for reservations. Even if Mayawati's amendment is passed by Parliament, the judiciary may deem it unconstitutional. A constitutional amendment to introduce reservation in promotions will come up before the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has already passed it despite opposition by Samajwadi Party that has a strong network among OBCs.
A Dalit (untouchable) was killed. His house was destroyed and his family, including a 10-year-old, was thrown out. The upper caste members did not like his audacity to hoist the national flag on Independence Day at a disputed property, which they had appropriated forcibly.
Such discrimination is the bane of India, where caste-prejudiced Hindus constitute 80 per cent of the population. The story of this Dalit came to light because one TV channel highlighted it. Otherwise, thousands of Dalits undergo similar rigours every day. They face the arrogance and zulum of upper castes. And there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
More than sixty years ago, the Constitution banned untouchability. The freedom struggle had promised to break the shackles of the caste system after independence. First, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru even deleted the column of caste from applications, registers and forms for admission to schools and entrance examinations. Yet, caste considerations have not lessened. Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, named the Dalit Harijan (son of God). But the Dalits found the nomenclature too patronising and preferred to be called Dalits.
A social evil or whatever the explanation, the feeling of discrimination in the Hindu society has not abated. Even today, a Dalit bridegroom cannot ride a horse while taking the barat (wedding procession) to the bride's place. Roads at many places are closed to Dalits. As for their habitation, they continue to live in slums in urban areas and on the outskirts of villages in rural areas.
Some people who claim to speak on behalf of Hindus seldom endeavour to eliminate discrimination against Dalits who are also Hindus. I have not seen the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) criticising the caste system, although the party is all for a Hindu Rashtra (state). The party's attention is focused on politics, not on social reforms; the problem may well lie with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which dictates the line BJP takes. The RSS is but a group of Brahmins, the uppermost caste.
Unfortunately, caste has penetrated the thinking of Muslims and Christians as well. Both religions forbid discrimination and preach equality. But when it comes to practice, they are not different from Hinduism. Members of both religions treat those Dalits who embrace Islam or Christianity to escape the caste system with contempt.
Although there is a case for concessions to Dalits, as argued by former UP chief minister Mayawati, herself a Dalit, she has gone beyond the practical in suggesting quota in promotion of public servants. The demand has justifiably raised an uproar in the country.
I think reservations must only be available at the entry-level, at the time of recruitment. Mid-career reservation for some castes would affect the morale of civil servants of other castes, who would have joined the service after clearing tough competitive examinations. Dalits wanting to join civil services also undertake the examination, but reservation gives them an edge.
The two main political parties, Congress and BJP, have come out in support of Mayawati's suggestion of amending the Constitution to enable quota in promotion because they have their eyes set on votes in the 2014 elections.
The quantum of reservations has gone up because quotas have been extended to Other Backward Classes (OBCs). They too want reservation in promotions now, as do many others. Yet, making provisions for further reservations is not possible because of a Supreme Court judgment, which fixed 49.5 per cent as the maximum limit for reservations. Even if Mayawati's amendment is passed by Parliament, the judiciary may deem it unconstitutional.
A constitutional amendment to introduce reservation in promotions will come up before the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha has already passed it despite opposition by Samajwadi Party that has a strong network among OBCs.
It appears that political parties in the opposition had their way when the ruling Congress, after putting up a brave fight against the quota in promotions, caved in. True, the Congress did not have a majority in the Lok Sabha. But it could have mustered the numbers if it had stood firm.
Reservations for Dalits and tribals have been spelled out in the Constitution. But as the Supreme Court has pointed out, the creamy layer among the Dalits has cornered the benefits of quotas. The case is no different among OBCs. Dalits and OBC members should allow those at the bottom of the hierarchy reap the advantages of reservations. The problem is the leaders, vocal as they are, manipulate the system to appropriate maximum concessions.
My knowledge of law, however limited, tells me that queries for the column of caste in the census form violates the basic structure of the Constitution. Enumerators inquire about caste, and on this basis, economic benefits are distributed. This makes a mockery of the Constitution. The Preamble says that the people resolve to constitute India into a "sovereign socialist democratic republic". Democracy and discrimination do not go together.
My objection is also on another point. In the Keshvanand Bharti case, the Supreme Court has said that the objectives in the Preamble constitute the basic structure of the Constitution. It means that Parliament, although elected directly by the people, cannot alter the basic structure.
Surprisingly, the government does not realise the effect the introduction of quota in promotions will have on the bureaucracy—the sheet anchor of the administration. Divide and rule was the dictum of the British who held India in bondage for over 150 years. The nation needs to be integrated, however strong the forces to stratify it may be.
The introduction of quota in services is an important policy decision. The government should have called a meeting of the National Integration Council, which is meant to discuss such problems. Caste is something that affects the nation on the whole. The country cannot be pushed back to the dark ages. Affirmative action, which America follows to give benefits to the Blacks, is far better than reservations, to which there seems to be no end.
That, however, is a different story, although B R Ambedkar, a Dalit, who outlined the Constitution, agreed unwillingly to limit reservation to 10 years only.
Education, not caste politics
"Caste politics will not last. Dalit politics is stuck in old issues... Let's leave them behind...Come out on education and livelihood issues"
The son of a cobbler, Kanwal Bharti grew up in difficult conditions in Uttar Pradesh's northern Rampur district. He was recently arrested — later granted bail — for criticising the Samajwadi Party on Facebook. In an interview with The Hindu, the Dalit scholar speaks about the incident and Dalit expression in Uttar Pradesh in general.
As a Dalit were you an easy target? (The State is ruled by the Samajwadi Party and Dalits form the major vote-bank of its opposition Bahujan Samaj Party)
Yes, definitely. There is a mentality that if you are a Dalit, you must be pro-BSP. So why don't we set him right? But they somehow seemed to underestimate my character. They thought the issue would not catch much fire.
What was the motive behind your arrest?
Because they wanted to cover up the issue I had raised over the recent demolition of a 200-year-old madrassa in Rampur. I have nothing personal against (U.P. Minister and Rampur MLA) Azam Khan. If the State can claim that it suspended Durga Shakti Nagpal over the demolition of a wall, saying it could have led to communal tension, why did it allow this demolition in Rampur? Why was nobody suspended here? Couldn't communal violence have taken place here? They just wanted to dismay me.
Why was no action taken in Rampur, you think?
Because Azam Khan rules in Rampur, not (Chief Minister) Akhilesh Yadav.
Parallel centres of power exist within the government, you mean?
Yes. Rampur, Etawah, Pratapgarh, Lucknow and so on. How can law and order be normal when you have such an undemocratic setup? The State is bound to fail. Giving tickets to criminals and musclemen is bound to haunt you.
You believe that Azam Khan was directly involved in your arrest?
His Public Relation Officer filed the FIR. How obvious can it get? I was taken out by the police while I was still in my pyjamas and kept in custody for eight hours. Only in the court later on did I know why I was arrested!
You are a well-known figure and the arrest would have surely caught attention. Still the State went ahead. Why?
See, their aim was to terrorise me. We all know I would get out sooner or later. But the humiliation and insecurity of the ordeal of being in jail was their motive... By their logic, just because I am a non-Muslim, my protest against the madrassa demolition would lead to communal violence. I was born here. Never has my writing ever disrupted any form of harmony. In fact, around 400-500 Muslims came to my house on Eid to express their support.
So, what is it to be a Dalit who supports Muslims?
It's a question of oppression. Even if it is a Dalit oppressor, I would protest. I read in the Hadees(Islamic narrations), whoever supports an oppressor, regardless of affiliation or community, is also communal. It is an issue of a writer's duty. During the Babri Masjid demolition protests, my texts were translated into Urdu in large numbers and used by Muslim organisations.
Post your arrest, you have said that you feel insecure in Rampur. Have you received enough support from political parties or writers' guilds?
Some progressive writers' forums like the Pragatisheel Lekhak Sangh and Dalit Lekhak Sangh staged dharnas at Jantar Mantar in my support. There was support from guilds from Patna and Amristar as well. Politically, the Congress supported me. The BJP offered (support) but I don't want it. I do not want any political affiliation or support, let's make it clear.
What about the BSP?
Of all these parties, the BSP still has a feudalistic setup. Only Mayawati can comment. Nobody else in the party can open up. This is not democratic. I don't expect much from them.
But as a Dalit, the common perception is that you would support BSP and vice-versa?
Both the SP and BSP are based on giroh bandi (gang mentality). The powerful and musclemen get access to influence in these parties. Only difference is that the SP currently has many centres of power while the BSP has just one -- Mayawati. Both are vote-bank minded.
Despite knowing that they are a vote-bank, the Dalits still vote for the BSP, not all of them but the majority.
In U.P., the Dalits are still not politically aware. They only depend on caste. And yes, Mayawati is an icon for them. But caste won't get you livelihood, education.
You're in favour of Dalits making an entry into other parties?
Yes. Dalits should be a part of all parties. Not be politically restricted. Expand their political base.
You clearly do not favour caste politics. As a Dalit in U.P., that's significant.
Caste politics will not last. Dalit politics is stuck in old issues. Social restrictions on wells, untouchability, etc. Let's leave them behind. There are laws taking care of them today. Come out on education and livelihood issues.
Where does Dalit expression fit in?
Dalit writers are still writing for convenience -- biographies, untouchability. This is not exactlykhatarnak (compelling, but literally dangerous) writing, I'm afraid. Instead, they must focus on education and power. Not be limited by discrimination. Change cannot happen on the basis of poetry and prose. We need more 'view-point' based writing.
Why is it lacking?
There is a Dalit corporate emerging. Dalit politics and writing are part of it. I'm afraid but nijikaran(privatisation) will destroy Dalits. Even Ambedkar noted that the Dalits have two enemies: the Brahman and the punjiwad (capitalist). The Brahman exploits socially and punjiwad economically. Alas, we have succumbed to both.
Do you think freedom of expression changes in U.P. depending on who's in power or is intolerance now imbibed into the State's political setup?
Will your ordeal now give support and inspiration to Dalit writers to come out and write more aggressively? The media has supported you.
I know what it is to face oppression. Dalit writers are still scared. Just yesterday I heard someone saying, "We need to live in U.P., why take the chance." Mind you, Dalit expression cannot make any change unless risks are taken. I was not born with a silver spoon. We need to come out of fear. Ambedkar was alone.
The New Indian Express
Central legislation of SC/ST sub-plan may be a reality soon
By Express News Service – HYDERABAD
Koppula Raju is well recognised for his contribution to the empowerment of the socially and economically backward sections. As an IAS officer of the AP cadre and later, as a member of the National Advisory Council, he had played a significant role in shaping the NAC's recommendations, including the one's on food security, land acquisition, MGNREGS, RTE and SCSP/TSP among others. Besides, he had served on many committees in the State Government and GOI. Now, as Chairman of the AICC SC Department, he is set to play a major role in strengthening the Dalit voice within the party. | EPS
1) On the lines of SC/ST Sub-plan Act enacted in Andhra Pradesh, will you propose a similar measure by the Union Government?
The Congress is committed to bring out a Central legislation on SCSP/TSP. This is one of the commitments made in the Jaipur declaration of the party. Subsequently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has constituted a task force committee to prepare a draft law. I was a member of the task force. A draft law has been prepared. The ministry obtained suggestions from States and Central Ministries. Necessary steps to take it forward are underway.
2) What have been the instances of diversion of funds meant for SCs/STs, whether in Central ministries or in States?
There were, no doubt, instances of diversion and there was even a big debate in Parliament when members expressed anguish over it. My own sense is that the objective of SC/ST sub-plan has not been properly understood. Everyone acknowledged that there are gaps, budgetary provisions have been made, but it has largely been reduced to an accounting exercise. What we are attempting now is to replace this with a proactive planning effort which will deal with how to address identified gaps within a specified time-frame so that accelerated development of SCs and STs can take place.
3) How soon will the Central legislation come into being?
I cannot set a time-frame because it is a matter vested with the Government of India. From the information I have, the Cabinet note in this regard is being prepared and it will then be sent to the Law department for vetting. After all the processes, it will come before Parliament for its consideration.
4) Over the years, the core vote of the Congress comprising mainly the SCs has been declining for a variety of reasons, such as in states like Uttar Pradesh. What are the steps you are contemplating to help the Congress secure the support of SCs again?
The SC Dept of AICC shall focus on 1) Strengthening the voice of SCs within the Congress party. This objective will be achieved by revitalizing the SC Committees from village to state level; nurturing leaders from among the SCs; putting in place institutional mechanisms to facilitate dialogue between the party and civil society organisations espousing the cause of SCs; 2) bring in policies, programs and legislations that seek to empower SCs apart from ensuring effective implementation of safeguards guaranteed to SCs in the Constitution and through various legislations 3) Reforming delivery of various programs so as to ensure that SCs are effectively reached.
5) Do you have any special focus/plan in mind for the SC/ST reserved Parliamentary constituencies keeping in view the 2014 elections?
Yes. The focus shall be on enhancing the confidence of SCs in the Congress party by ensuring that party apparatus, top to bottom, stays continuously engaged with the SCs and provides handholding support to them to fulfill their aspirations.
6) What are the chances of bringing about reservation for SCs in private sector as well?
Reservation in private sector is a long pending demand from SCs. Academic research unambiguously points out that SCs don't have equal access to jobs in the private sector, though they have requisite skills. Even in advanced nations, a proactive affirmative action to secure diversity at work place is advocated. Such an approach actually helped in enhancing productivity of the private sector. Same should be true in the Indian context. A lot of effort has to be put in to get the private industry on board. The SC Department of Congress party will obviously articulate the aspirations of the SCs in this regard as part of its policy advocacy mandate.
7) What, according to you, are the core issues/problems pertaining to SCs/STs across the country and how do you propose to address them?
There is no other core issue than securing to SCs the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution. Safeguarding their human rights and preventing discrimination in various spheres of life shall be accorded highest priority. Equally important is to secure to SCs access to quality education, health and livelihood opportunities. The SC department will estimate gaps in various development indicators between SCs and socially-advanced classes and develop strategies for bridging the gaps in a definite timeframe. The SC department will work towards policies, programs and legislations to achieve this objectivity of bringing about equity in development.
8) It is quite some time since the Congress came out with its Bhopal declaration. Do you have any plan to take it forward and if so, in what way?
Congress party's manifesto for the coming elections will be one occasion where the party can articulate its stated position and its commitment to all the issues concerning SCs. The SC department of AICC will put in place structures and process to capture the voices of SCs across the country to shape the party's manifesto relating to the issues concerning SCs.
News Monitor by Girish Pant
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.
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