. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org


























 
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Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE



























DALIT SOLIDARITY NEWS
 
Saturday, June 07, 2003  
Labour MPs move against 'atrocities' on Dalits

The Hindu - 7 June, by Hasan Suroor

A week before the Indian Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, arrives here, 13 prominent British Labour Party MPs have submitted a parliamentary motion condemning the ''continued atrocities against Dalits'' in India, and calling for "re-evaluation'' of aid and development programmes with New Delhi.

The motion raises questions on the way the earthquake aid was distributed in Gujarat and says that all development agreements with India should be reviewed on the "basis of their effect on Dalit communities''. Seeking to put caste-based discrimination on the same footing as racism, it "strongly'' recommends that India implement the measures suggested by the U.N. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The motion also calls upon the Home Office to "monitor the activities of the right-wing Hindutva organisations operating in the U.K. to ensure that they are not promoting case and descent-based discrimination and the practice of untouchability.''

Jeremy Corbyn, a leading Left-wing Labour MP who signed the motion, told The Hindu that it was aimed at highlighting the need to provide ''constitutional and legal protection'' to Dalits. The problem was not that there were no laws but it was about their implementation. Mr. Corbyn, who is associated with the campaign group Dalit Solidarity Network, sought to avoid the impression that it was an anti-India move and said that, in fact, the Indian officials with whom he had discussed the issue had been "very positive''. But he emphasised that caste-based discrimination was a matter of growing concern and should be treated with the same urgency as the fight against racism. The other signatories include Tony Banks, Ann Cryer, John McDonnell, Bob Spink, Martin Caton, Lynne Jones, Martin Smyth, John Randall, Simon Thames, David Drew, Andrew Stunnell and Kelvin Hopkins.

The motion, which follows Amnesty International's recent criticism of human rights "abuses'' in India, was described by a senior Asian Labour activist as smacking of "interference in India's internal problems''. "Even the Labour Party of which Mr. Corbyn is a prominent member has got plenty of racism going on within itself,'' said Paramjit Bahia, adding, however, that the caste discrimination did exist and by not addressing the problem India had left itself open to attacks from outside.

Civil rights campaigners welcomed the motion saying it should not be seen as an anti-India propaganda. "We fully support it. It is a live issue and should be highlighted,'' a spokesperson for South Asia Solidarity Group said. She hoped the British government would raise it with Mr. Advani.

11:13 PM

 
Curfew Continues, Tension Subsides

The Tribune - 7 June, by Prabhjot Singh

Tension in the Dalit-dominated violence-ravaged areas started subsiding after the body of 33-year-old Vijay Kumar Kala was cremated here this afternoon. No relaxation in curfew was ordered in any of the localities as stray incidents of fresh violence, including stone-pelting and traffic blockades were reported from some parts of the district. Vijay Kumar Kala, a labourer, was shot in the stomach after police opened fire to prevent arsonists from damaging public property on Thursday night. The Tribune team which visited the Buta Mandi and nearby areas, which had witnessed violence during the past 72 hours, this afternoon, came across a Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus which was still burning as a fire tender and a couple of trucks had been virtually reduced to ashes.
The streets are still littered with brickbats and residents, apprehending more violence in the coming days, have stacked huge piles of stones and brickbats. Escorted by Mr Vijay Sampla, Vice-President of the Bharatiya Janata Party and an activist of the Dalit Action Committee, The Tribune team visited the house of the deceased where a group of mourners were trying to console Chanano, mother of Vijay Kumar Kala. Also sitting in a corner was the young widow and three children, including a daughter, of Vijay Kumar Kala, who, according to the family, was returning home after finishing his daily work at a nearby leather tannery.
The Dalits alleged that the district administration had a “partial role” and took the side of the “Jats” in the entire dispute. On the night of the police firing, certain policemen used “abusive language” and did not issue any warning before opening fire, alleged Mr Bansi Lal, a shopkeeper of Buta Mandi. The role of a couple of police officers was “out and out anti-Dalit”, he added. Both Mr Vijay Sampla and Mr Bansi Lal claimed that no civil officer owned responsibility for ordering the police to open fire.

11:11 PM

 
ATROCITY REPORT: TAMIL NADU

Caste Oppression in Pudhuputher in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India


Dalits in Kookaal Panchayat are being denied potable drinking water after their well was polluted by sewage. An agreement was reached with the panchayat (village) authorities to allow them access to a well used by the dominant caste, but Dalit women have been chased and beaten when they have gone to collect water. Dominant caste villagers have also threatened to set Dalit women alight. The police initially refused to file their complaint, but under pressure agreed to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) under the SC/ST (PoA) Act. So far no action has been taken on the FIR. The Panchayat Vice-President has threatened to have Dalits arrested under laws forbidding 'forced' religious conversion in an effort to intimidate Dalits and close down their Christian-run school (even though, in the school's 46 years of existence, none have converted to Christianity).

To see the full report, go to: http://www.dalitfreedom.org/pdf/atrocities/tnadu1.pdf
To see a time-line of the events in Pudhuputher, go to: http://www.dalitfreedom.org/pdf/atrocities/tnadu2.pdf

10:49 AM

 
Fresh caste violence in Jalandhar, curfew in more areas

Press Trust of India - 7 June

Caste violence continued to rock Talhan village and adjoining areas of Jalandhar district of Punjab for the third day prompting authorities to clamp curfew at more places today. A minor clash broke out in the village this morning as tension prevailed in the area after Thursday night's clash between members of Jat Sikhs and Dalit castes, official sources said. Overnight clashes kept policemen on toes in the district, the sources said adding no casualty was, however, reported. District authorities imposed curfew at Bootan Mandi, Model House, Bhargo Camp, Abadpura and areas falling between Ravidas and Nakodar square following overnight violence. Meanwhile, elaborate security has been made here in view of the cremation of the dalit youth, killed in police firing on Thursday night during the violence. Policemen were deployed in strength in the city where shops remained closed in response to Jalandhar bandh called by Dalit Action Committee.

10:25 AM

Friday, June 06, 2003  
Violence continues in Jalandhar despite curfew, CRPF deployed

Press Trust of India - 6 June

CRPF was deployed here on Friday morning after a large number of dalits, brandishing swords and lathis, came out on the streets pelting stones and burning vehicles to protest the killing of a youth in police firing. Central Reserve Police Force was deployed to quell violence as protestors torched at least four vehicles and stoned police personnel. One person was killed and 11 others were injured when police opened fire to disperse members of Jat Sikh community and dalits who clashed at two places in the district on Thursday night prompting authorities to clamp curfew in Palhan village. Police sources said that the dalits of Buta Mandi in the heart of the city took to the streets this morning demanding immediate suspension of the police personnel allegedly responsible for Thursday's firing. The mob burnt two trucks in Buta Mandi while two buses were torched at Maksoda locality, about 10 km from here on way to Amritsar.

5:32 PM

 
Eight awarded death sentence over massacre of dalits

Indian Express - 6 June

A Special Court on Friday awarded death sentence to eight persons and life imprisonment to six others for gunning down 19 dalits, including children, at Nonhi-Nagwa village of Jehanabad district 15 years ago. The punishment was announced here by Gaya Additional District and Sessions Judge D D Pandey. A group of landowners had gunned down 19 dalits and injured 11 others following a dispute over fixation of agricultural wages prior to the paddy cultivation season on June 16, 1988. The court pronounced 14 persons guilty of committing the massacre and awarded death sentence to eight and life imprisonment to six others. While 13 accused were already in judicial custody, one of them, Rajbhallav Yadav is absconding. Those awarded death penalties were Rajbhallav Yadav (absconding), Joddha Mahto, Ram Babu Mahto, Jung Bahadur Singh, Ramashish Yadav, Bipin Sharma, Dinanath Yadav and Jaddu Yadav. Those sentenced to undergo life imprisonment were Sidheswar Yadav, Mohan Yadav, Ramprit Yadav, Krit Yadav, Prabhu Yadav and Rajendra Yadav. The special court was hearing the case filed by one of the injured in the incident, Malti Devi.

5:27 PM

 
Fears for India's secularism

BBC - 6 June, by Charles Haviland

Recent laws outlawing forced religious conversions in two Indian states are creating growing controversy. The Pope has recently condemned the laws in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in the west of the country.
The country's Christian and Muslim minorities, which feel the laws are directed against them, say they undermine India's secular status and its constitution, which guarantees the freedom both to practice and to propagate one's faith. The laws, passed in Gujarat in April and in Tamil Nadu last October, forbid any religious conversions carried out through what they term "force, fraud or allurement", including the granting of material benefits. They have proved highly popular with supporters of the Hindu revivalist ideology which now permeates India's central government.
There is one good reason people do still want to convert - Hinduism's rigid social hierarchy, the caste system. At the very bottom are dalits, once known as "untouchables". For them, a new religion can mean a more equal existence. In the little village of Koothirambakkam, I met some of these dalits who are being driven away from Hinduism by sheer caste hatred.
The higher-caste Hindus will not let the village deity be paraded through the dalit area, claiming the people are "unclean". And in March, when dalits took up fishing rights in a pond, they were attacked. A dozen villagers showed me their injuries. One woman, over 70, was beaten until her hand was broken. Another was cut on her arm, beaten and had abuse hurled at her. Now these dalits have had enough and say they will convert to Islam.
India's political leaders see this type of development and fear the majority religion - 80% of Indians are Hindu - is being eroded. RBVS Manian of the right-wing Hindu movement, the VHP that is allied to the governing BJP, wants the new laws extended to ban all conversions, throughout India. Gujarat's new anti-conversion law has been accompanied by house-to-house police questioning of Christian nuns and priests, asking how many people they have converted.
The Gujarat law is now being challenged in court by the All-India Christian Council. "There's a sense of foreboding and doom," the council's secretary-general, John Dayal, warns. He believes the central government in Delhi is also becoming "intolerant of the minorities". "That's what makes it frightening." Figures in the central government deny this. They want more laws like this because, they insist, there are forcible conversions going on which insult Hinduism and create social disharmony. But India's religious minorities fear the legislation is a sign that India's secularism is fading fast.

5:13 PM

Thursday, June 05, 2003  
1 killed, 11 hurt in Jat Sikh, Dalit clash in Jalandhar

Press Trust of India - 6 June

One person was killed and 11 others were injured, four of them seriously when police opened fire to disperse members of Jat Sikh community and dalits who clashed at two places in Punjab's Jalandhar district tonight prompting authorities to clamp curfew at a village, police said here.
A dalit boy Vijay Kumar (30) of Buta Mandi was killed in the clash, police quoting hospital sources said.

The seriously injured have been identified as Ashok Kumar, Puran Chand, Sudhir Kumar and Satnam Singh they added.

Members of the two communities clashed at Palhan village when a group of Dalit youth allegedly intruded in a fair organized by the Jat community.

The clash left at least ten people, including four cops, injured and a vehicle was burnt, police sources said.

The police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the mob.

The Jats allegedly took out swords and lathis, the sources said, adding atleast seven houses of Dalits near the fair site were vandalised.

The trouble spread to Buta mandi on the outskirts of Jalandhar city when Dalits took to the streets on hearing of the violence in Palhan and set on fire a bus of Himachal Road Transport Corporation, a fire tender, which had rushed to the spot to douse flames of the bus, and a motor cycle besides smashing a car.

9:40 PM

 
Dalits in Gujarat to embrace Buddhism

Deccan Herald - 5 June

With the state government and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in no mood to put up any sort of protest, the Vishwa Boudh Sangh is all geared up for a mass conversions of an estimated one lakh Dalits into Buddhism on June 15.

As many as 55,000 Dalits have already filled up forms saying that the conversion is not a forcible one. VBS national general secretary Bhante Sanghpriya is elated. "Our drive will intensify after June 15," he says, adding that the Vadodara district collector Bhagyesh Jha has told him that he does not have any Act to prevent them from converting.

If the programme goes as per the schedule it will be the first mass scale conversion after the Gujarat Government enacted the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Bill, 2003.

As of now the government does not have any "weapon" by which it can stop the conversions. Although the Act in contention has been published in the gazette, the bylaws are yet to be framed. Also the VHP is not opposing, as it believes that Buddhism is a branch of Hinduism.

Regardless of the VHP’s stand, Sanghpriya is critical about remarks made by VHP international vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore a few days ago in Vadodara. While the Acharya alleged that Sanghpriya is politically motivated, Sanghpriya on his part has alleged that the Acharya has lost his mental balance.

Sanghpriya says, "I fail to believe that on one hand the VHP looks down upon Mahatma Buddha, on the other hand it says that it is not opposed to conversion to Buddhism." Further he says, "Some VHP workers did disturb our press conference and the FIR is yet to be registered by the police."

5:11 PM

Wednesday, June 04, 2003  
NHRC directs probe into atrocities against Haryana Dalits

Press Trust of India - 4 June

The National Human Rights Commission would conduct a probe into the alleged atrocities on Dalits in Haryana.

Taking cognizance of a petition filed by former Union Home Minister Buta Singh and others about alleged atrocities on some Harijans in Harsola village of Kaithal district, the Commission directed its Director General (Investigations) to constitute a team to conduct an on site inquiry and submit its report in three weeks, an NHRC release said here today.
NHRC observed that "the allegations, if true, are of a very serious nature and show grave violation of human rights of the Dalits of the Harsol village."
The complaint, which was filed yesterday, alleged that around 275 Dalit families in the village were beaten mercilessly by the upper caste people in February and thrown out of the village.
It also alleged that local MLA Ram Pal Majra, who is also the Chief Parliamentary Secretary with the state Government, extended his "full support" to the attackers as they were his "staunch supporters".
Pointing out that the Dalits returned to the village after an assurance that they would be given full security and their loss of property would be compensated, the complainants said "the attackers again created an atmosphere of terror and insecurity forcing them to leave the village again."
Since then they have been living in Kaithal and the District Administration has turned a blind eye towards their problems, they added.

7:15 PM

 
Justifying affirmative action

The Hindu - 4 June, by Neera Chandhoke

Reservation is a poor substitute for social justice. But expanding reservation is not about social justice; it is about the games that politicians play when they want to outmanoeuvre their opponents and thereby garner votes.

For full article, go to: http://www.hinduonnet.com/stories/2003060401071000.htm

10:46 AM

 
Vishwa Boudh Sangh receives 55,000 applications

Asian Age - 4 June

The Vishwa Boudh Sangh has received about 55,000 application forms from the Dalits, willing to embrace Buddhism, as part of the procedure before the mass conversion programme.

The programme is scheduled to take place on June 15 at Baroda. The VBH has set the target of converting about 1 lakh dalits on the same day.

The Sangh members on Tuesday approached the Baroda collector Bhagyesh Jha and informed about the receipt of applications. The collector has directed the members to obtain permission from the municipal commissioner for hiring venue of the programme.

While speaking to The Asian Age, the VBH national general secretary, Bhante Sangh Priya, said about 55,000 dalits from various parts of the state are to join the conversion programme. He said, "Dalits from Baroda, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Valsad, Anand, Jamnagar, Mehsana and Godhra have approached them. However, we are expecting 45,000 more applications by June 15."

Mr Bhante also informed that maximum number of applications have been received from Anand, Bharuch, Jamnagar and Surat. "We are targeting one crore conversions by 2005 in Gujarat," he said.

Noticeably, the VBH has not been granted permission from the state government so far to hold the mass conversion programme. Mr Bhante said the sangh will go ahead with its programme of conversion as per the schedule even if the government does not grant the permission.

10:43 AM

Tuesday, June 03, 2003  
Documentary on Dalits: "Lesser Humans"

See footage from "Lesser Humans", a documentary on the Bhangis (manual scavengers), at http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0306/feature1/index.html. The programme was produced by the Drishti Media Collective. Join the discussion forum and air your views on dalit oppression at http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/forum.tmpl?issue_id=20030601&forum_index=1

5:23 PM

 
3 June is Dalit Women's Day

How to Celebrate the Dalit Women Festival, by Jyothi and MC Raj

1. At least a week before the festival new clothes must be purchased for all the women in the family. Besides that husbands must buy gifts for their wives; fathers for their daughters; sons for their mothers; elder brothers for their younger sisters; younger brothers for their elder sisters etc.

2. On the Festival Day all must get up early and have a bath, not to purify but to be clean.

3. In all homes there must be the worship of Mother Earth.

4. As soon as the worship is over all must give their gifts to the women in the family. These gifts can be normally, clothes, ornaments, bangles, rings, books, the Dalit Scriptures or anything that one can think of.

5. After giving the gifts everybody in the family must receive the blessings of women elders in the family. Children must go to other families in the Dalit village and receive blessings from elderly women.

6. All homes must prepare special eatables on this day and relish them to the full. All efforts must be made to ensure that men take up the responsibility of cooking in the family and giving complete rest to all women in the family.

7. As far as possible all Dalit homes must prepare beef and enjoy.

8. In the evening the entire family must take their women either to their fields or to cinema or for shopping.

9. All those villages that have Dalit Panchayats must organize functions for honoring the women of that particular village.

10. Either on that day or the next day the Dalit people must visit the Booshakthi Kendra with their women, get the blessings of the Dalit Peeta and return home happily.

This Festival of Dalit Women should not stop at being a symbol. Instead it should pave the way for the emergence of the Dalit Woman as the ruler of this country in the near future. The Dalit woman has that potential within her. It will be enough if men do not hamper this potential under the pretext of helping the Dalit woman.

The Shakthi (power) of the Dalit Woman is the Shakthi of this Nation. The Shakthi of the Dalit Woman is the Yukthi (strategy) of Dalit liberation. When we begin to venerate our Dalit Women with true humility we may understand that this country is walking in the path of true liberation.

See dalits.blogspot.com on 1 June

7:54 AM

 
India's "Untouchables" Face Violence, Discrimination

National Geographic - 2 June, by Hillary Mayell

More than 160 million people in India are considered "Untouchable"—people tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure, less than human.
Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion. A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells their story: "Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers"; "Dalit tortured by cops for three days"; "Dalit 'witch' paraded naked in Bihar"; "Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool"; "7 Dalits burnt alive in caste clash"; "5 Dalits lynched in Haryana"; "Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked"; "Police egged on mob to lynch Dalits".

"Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls," said Smita Narula, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables." Human Rights Watch is a worldwide activist organization based in New York.

India's Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.

One out of six Indians are born into the country's "Untouchable" caste.

Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference that took place May 16 to 18 in Vancouver, Canada.

Crime Against Dalits

Statistics compiled by India's National Crime Records Bureau indicate that in the year 2000, the last year for which figures are available, 25,455 crimes were committed against Dalits. Every hour two Dalits are assaulted; every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched.

No one believes these numbers are anywhere close to the reality of crimes committed against Dalits. Because the police, village councils, and government officials often support the caste system, which is based on the religious teachings of Hinduism, many crimes go unreported due to fear of reprisal, intimidation by police, inability to pay bribes demanded by police, or simply the knowledge that the police will do nothing.

"There have been large-scale abuses by the police, acting in collusion with upper castes, including raids, beatings in custody, failure to charge offenders or investigate reported crimes," said Narula.

That same year, 68,160 complaints were filed against the police for activities ranging from murder, torture, and collusion in acts of atrocity, to refusal to file a complaint. Sixty two percent of the cases were dismissed as unsubstantiated; 26 police officers were convicted in court.

Despite the fact that untouchability was officially banned when India adopted its constitution in 1950, discrimination against Dalits remained so pervasive that in 1989 the government passed legislation known as The Prevention of Atrocities Act. The act specifically made it illegal to parade people naked through the streets, force them to eat feces, take away their land, foul their water, interfere with their right to vote, and burn down their homes.

Since then, the violence has escalated, largely as a result of the emergence of a grassroots human rights movement among Dalits to demand their rights and resist the dictates of untouchability, said Narula.

Lack of Enforcement, Not Laws

Enforcement of laws designed to protect Dalits is lax if not non-existent in many regions of India. The practice of untouchability is strongest in rural areas, where 80 percent of the country's population resides. There, the underlying religious principles of Hinduism dominate.

Hindus believe a person is born into one of four castes based on karma and "purity"—how he or she lived their past lives. Those born as Brahmans are priests and teachers; Kshatriyas are rulers and soldiers; Vaisyas are merchants and traders; and Sudras are laborers. Within the four castes, there are thousands of sub-castes, defined by profession, region, dialect, and other factors.

Untouchables are literally outcastes; a fifth group that is so unworthy it doesn't fall within the caste system.

Although based on religious principles practiced for some 1,500 years, the system persists today for economic as much as religious reasons.

Because they are considered impure from birth, Untouchables perform jobs that are traditionally considered "unclean" or exceedingly menial, and for very little pay. One million Dalits work as manual scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand and clearing away dead animals. Millions more are agricultural workers trapped in an inescapable cycle of extreme poverty, illiteracy, and oppression.

Although illegal, 40 million people in India, most of them Dalits, are bonded workers, many working to pay off debts that were incurred generations ago, according to a report by Human Rights Watch published in 1999. These people, 15 million of whom are children, work under slave-like conditions hauling rocks, or working in fields or factories for less than U.S. $1 day.

Crimes Against Women

Dalit women are particularly hard hit. They are frequently raped or beaten as a means of reprisal against male relatives who are thought to have committed some act worthy of upper-caste vengeance. They are also subject to arrest if they have male relatives hiding from the authorities.

A case reported in 1999 illustrates the toxic mix of gender and caste.

A 42-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped and then burnt alive after she, her husband, and two sons had been held in captivity and tortured for eight days. Her crime? Another son had eloped with the daughter of the higher-caste family doing the torturing. The local police knew the Dalit family was being held, but did nothing because of the higher-caste family's local influence.

There is very little recourse available to victims.

A report released by Amnesty International in 2001 found an "extremely high" number of sexual assaults on Dalit women, frequently perpetrated by landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study estimates that only about 5 percent of attacks are registered, and that police officers dismissed at least 30 percent of rape complaints as false.

The study also found that the police routinely demand bribes, intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence, and beat up the women's husbands. Little or nothing is done to prevent attacks on rape victims by gangs of upper-caste villagers seeking to prevent a case from being pursued. Sometimes the policemen even join in, the study suggests. Rape victims have also been murdered. Such crimes often go unpunished.

Thousands of pre-teen Dalit girls are forced into prostitution under cover of a religious practice known as devadasis, which means "female servant of god." The girls are dedicated or "married" to a deity or a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to have sex with upper-caste community members, and eventually sold to an urban brothel.

Resistance and Progress

Within India, grassroots efforts to change are emerging, despite retaliation and intimidation by local officials and upper-caste villagers. In some states, caste conflict has escalated to caste warfare, and militia-like vigilante groups have conducted raids on villages, burning homes, raping, and massacring the people. These raids are sometimes conducted with the tacit approval of the police.

In the province Bihar, local Dalits are retaliating, committing atrocities also. Non-aligned Dalits are frequently caught in the middle, victims of both groups.

"There is a growing grassroots movement of activists, trade unions, and other NGOs that are organizing to democratically and peacefully demand their rights, higher wages, and more equitable land distribution," said Narula. "There has been progress in terms of building a human rights movement within India, and in drawing international attention to the issue."

In August 2002, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) approved a resolution condemning caste or descent-based discrimination.

"But at the national level, very little is being done to implement or enforce the laws," said Narula.

7:50 AM

 
Kerala: New reservation bill opposed

Kerela Next - 3 June

Kozhikode: The Kerala Dalit Federation (KDF) on Monday expressed opposition to the Vajpayee Government's move, supported by the Congress, to extend reservation benefits to the economically weaker sections among the upper classes.

Condemning the move to table the new Reservation Bill in Parliament, KDF State President P. Ramabhadran threatened to launch a series of agitation against the move.

Talking to newspersons here, he termed the step as ''irrational'' and suggested the formation of a Corporation on the lines of the SC/ST Development Corporation to extend financial support to the economically-weaker sections.

''Reservation is not meant to make one financially stronger, but it is a footstep towards political power. The socio-educational backwardness was the criteria for reservation and the new move will sabotage the very purpose of reservation,'' he opined.

7:44 AM

Monday, June 02, 2003  
Christian lobby warned against illegal conversions in Gujarat

The Hindu - 2 June

The VHP leader, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, has warned the Christian lobby not to indulge in illegal conversions aimed at dividing the Hindu society.

Buddhist organisations had connived with the Christian lobby in illegally converting the Hindus, he said during an informal chat with presspersons here on Saturday.

Reacting to the World Boudh Sangh's programme to convert nearly 1 lakh Dalit Hindus to Buddhism at a mass conversion ceremony here on June 15, he said the VHP was not opposed to voluntary conversion. The conversion would also not be justified if it was done on the basis of hatred towards a particular community, the VHP leader said, adding that the parishad was however, keeping a close watch on the conversion activities of the Boudh Sangh.

Describing Buddhism as a religion of Indian origin, he said the parishad leaders were trying to resolve all religious issues between Hindus and Buddhists amicably through negotiations.

6:48 AM

Sunday, June 01, 2003  
Celebrate Dalit Women's Day on 3 June!

By Jyothi and MC Raj

The Dalit community had had many great mythical queens such as Soorpanakai, Tataki etc. In modern days 03 June marks the day when a Dalit Woman became the Chief Minister of a State. This is a historic achievement in Dalit history. Irrespective of the disagreements we may have with the political leanings of this Chief Minister the Dalit community recognizes this event as an epoch making event in Dalit history. There are many other Dalit women in today’s world who are ready and are capable of governing this country without exploitation and oppression.

Dalit people are known as an eco-people. We worshipped the Earth as Mother and have developed a cyclic worldview. However, under the stifling influence and oppressive governance of Brahminism the Dalit communities internalized male dominant values. Even those of our ancestors who went to Christianity, Islam and Buddhism in search of an identity of equality took male dominance as the order of the day as all these religions preached and practiced shamelessly a male dominant value system. They developed low images of women. The Dalit woman has been at the receiving end in all spheres. This should stop. Hereafter there should be no ill treatment of Dalit women in our homes.

The Dalit woman is not only an embodiment of love, she also possess the qualities and capacities for effective governance. She is a symbol of resilience. She has become the victim of the dominant caste men because she wants to build a bright future for her children. Often she is forced by the dominant caste fellows to give up her dignity as a woman. When the dominant caste men want to take revenge on Dalit men they invariably humiliate the Dalit women and often rape them as a way of teaching a lesson to Dalit men. While many Dalit communities are still untouchable the Dalit woman becomes most touchable in the vicinity of the temples in the Devadasi system. The dominant caste women vie with their men in the ill treatment of Dalit women. In her own home she is also a victim of the cruelty of the Dalit male. It is the Dalit woman who has taken the responsibility for governing the family.

The true meaning of love and resilience is the Dalit Woman. Instead of worshipping gods and goddesses it will be a lot better to worship the Dalit Woman. Everybody knows that the Dalit Woman exists and is a reality. Therefore, 03 June is a Festival of honoring our Mothers and our Sisters. 03 June is the Festival of the Dalit Woman.

11:56 AM

 
Dalits still crave for water!

Himalayan Times (Nepal) - 1 June 2003

Despite State efforts to put an end to racial discrimination, the social scourge is still prevalent in the villages of the country. Though the National Dalit Commission was constituted for the social and financial uplift of the Dalits, it has not been able to put an end to racial discrimination.

An ongoing conflict between the so-called high caste people and the Dalit community in Surkot VDC of Parbat district gives a clear picture of racial discrimination in the villages.

Some 13 Dalit families of Surkot VDC-2 are facing problems collecting water even from the tap that was installed exclusively for them. Two separate taps were installed, one for the 'high caste' and one for the Dalits in the Subedithar in 2034 BS with joint investment of the government and the Helvetas.

But recently, the tap being used by the Dalits was blocked and broken by the high-caste people after the number of people depending on the water tap increased sharply.

Following this, the women from the Dalit community have to wait for women from the high caste to complete filling up their pots before they could take home some water, says Om Bahadur Sunuwar, a sufferer.

"The tap meant for us is very far which makes it difficult to fetch water on time", says Asmita BK.

8:47 AM

 
Dalit couple fined for entering temple

The Hindu - 1 June 2003

A young Dalit couple was harassed and fined Rs. 10,000 for entering a temple in Kanmakur village of Narva mandal in Mahabubnagar district last Sunday.

The Dalit, Chinna Anjaneyulu and his wife earned the wrath of the upper caste Reddys in the village when they went to worship at the temple immediately after their marriage.

They were summoned by Govardhan Reddy and other landlords to a "panchayat'' and imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000, failing which they were threatened with social boycott.

Police refused to book any case against the landlords, the Kulavivaksha Vyathireka Porata Sangham ( Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination) complained to the Home Minister, T. Devender Goud, on Saturday.

The Sangham leaders -- P. Ramaiah and John Wesley -- also alleged that one Boddanna, also a Dalit, was threatened with dire consequences by the landlords on the pretext that he encouraged the couple to enter the temple. They also cited other instances of caste discrimination in the village and appealed to the Home Minister to provide protection to Dalits.

8:41 AM

 
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