"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.
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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.
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Saturday, June 28, 2003
Muslims offer to back down on Ayodhya in return for recognition of Dalit Muslim SC status
Press Trust of India - 28 June
A Muslim organisation on Saturday suggested a "give-and-take" formula for resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, saying Muslims could give up their claim on the disputed land if Dalit Muslims were included in the Scheduled Castes category.
"There can be no permanent solution of the Ayodhya issue till one of the two claimants withdraws its claim from the disputed site. Muslims can be brought to agree to withdraw their claim," president of the All India United Muslim Morcha (AIUMM) M Ejaz Ali told reporters.
"But there can be no compromise till Article 341 is amended to remove the religious restriction on their inclusion in the Scheduled Caste category," Ali said.
He claimed that the "give-and-take" formula had been conceived on the basis of a public consensus, and the Muslim community was not averse to give up its claim on the disputed land.
"Eighty-five per cent of the Muslim population is living below poverty line and the literacy rate among them is a mere seven per cent. The root cause of their condition is the religious restriction on Article 341," Ali said.
"We met President APJ Abdul Kalam on April 23 and apprised him of the need to work out such a formula in which the plight of the Muslim community is also considered," he said.
Ali said the demands were well within the powers of the Centre.
Friday, June 27, 2003
80 percent of Dalit children marry early
Kathmandu Post (Nepal) - 24 June
According to a study conducted on the Dalit community of this district by the Public Awareness Campaign of Bara, 80 percent of the Dalit girls were married off between the age of 10 to 14. For the majority of the Dalit boys the marriageable age fell between 12 to 16 years of age.
This data was revealed from the working paper presented by Nisha Singh of Public Awareness Campaign at the seminar on child’s right conducted by the District Child Welfare Committee, Bara, organised at Kalaiya today.
The tradition of engaging into matrimonial alliance at such a tender age is in vouge among the Dalits around this region, and they are forced to take upon the responsibility of adults at a immature age as parents. This child marriage as a result welcomes myriad of social and health-related problems such as, illiteracy, poverty, discrimination from parents, mal-nutrition, physical as well as mental torture, oppression through child labour, inculcation of bad habits and addictions, girl-child trafficking, ills of dowry system, and others.
At the seminar which was chaired by the Chief District Officer (CDO) as well as the chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, Madhav Prasad Regmi, the senior public health officer Arun Kumar Jha also presented his working paper. According to this paper, 74.71 percent of the children have received BCG vaccination in the current fiscal year till the second week of March, while 64 percent, 60.02 percent, and 48 percent of the children were provided DPT, polio, and measles vaccination respectively.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Dalit boys paraded naked in Orissa
26 June - mid-day.com, by Bibhuti Mishra
In a medieval barbaric act, two minor Dalit boys were allegedly forced to crawl on their knees on hot sand, were paraded naked and made to drink urine in Nuagaon village in Jagatsinghpur district recently because they had stopped working for a contractor.
This incident was brought to light by a 6-member fact-finding team, comprising Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch leaders and a few other social activists.
Alleging that the incident could have been averted but for the police inaction, the team members demanded arrest of the culprits as well as stern action against the erring police officials.
They further alleged that the police was under political pressure not to arrest the culprits as they were supporters and relatives of ruling BJP and BJD leaders including a cabinet minister.
The team ,which visited the village recently, presented the two alleged victims-Gobinda Mallick (17) and Ashok Mallick (16) who narrated the alleged incident before the reporters here today.
Their parents, who were also present in the press meet, alleged that even they were manhandled when they tried to save their children from the inhuman torture.
Gobinda and Ashok alleged that they were subjected to inhuman torture by a contractor and his associates.
They were first accused of stealing a pump from the contractor's house after they stopped working for him.
After black magicians "confirmed their involvement in the crime" they were dragged from their house and were forced to walk on their knee, brutally beaten up and given electric shock.
Gobinda charged that he was paraded naked on the village street and forced to drink urine. When his mother, Bidulata rushed to save him, she was also assaulted.
When the family members of the two victims went to Kujang police station to lodge complaint, the police officials did not listen to their pleas.
On the contrary, the officials registered a theft case on the basis of a FIR filed by the prime accused on the next day, arrested the two boys and forwarded them to court, lamented the fact-finding team members.
Bhoominathan might have died of torture: panel
The Hindu - 26 June, by P. Sudhakar
Tirunelveli June 25. An independent fact-finding committee, which probed the death of the Dalit, L. Bhoominathan, has asked the State Government to provide a job and a house or agricultural land to his wife, B. Priya, within three months, as per Section 12(4) of the SC / ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), "as the death could have been caused by police torture".
Bhoominathan was picked up by the Tiruvelveli Junction police at night on June 14 in connection with the elopement of by cousin, Santhosh, with the daughter of a head constable.
The seven-member committee, comprising the former MLA, R. Krishnan; the State Committee Member of Campaign Against Torture, M.A. Britto; the director, Manitha Urimai Kalam, M. Bharathan; the advocate, Usha, the People's Watch representative, S. Ganesan; the district president, Tamil Nadu Farmers' Association, Jayaraj, and the CPI town secretary, Issakkimuthu, visited Manimurtheeswaram, native place of the deceased, immediately after the incident and met the his kin.
Recounting the incidents, the members pointed out that the Tirunelveli Junction police personnel were in plainclothes and did not wear identity cards when they picked up Bhoominaathan and two others, Arumuga Nainar and Balaiah. This went against the Supreme Court verdict the T.K. Basu vs. the State Government of West Bengal case. Contempt proceedings should be initiated against the personnel who deliberately committed the mistake, the committee said.
Ms. Priya and Lakshmanan, father of the deceased, said during investigation that the victim enjoyed good health and at no point in life did he complain of chest pain. The enquiry also provided evidence of torture marks on the body, the committee said.
"The whiplash on thighs and chest and an abnormal swelling of the genitals suggested that Bhoominaathan might have been tortured by the police during interrogation," the report said.
It disagrees with a statement by the inspector of the Junction police station, Sankaralingam, that Bhoominaathan was let off on the fateful night. "Though the police freed Arumuga Nainar and Balaiah the same night, Bhoominaathan was released at only around 10 a.m. next morning. As he failed to return home even after 8 a.m., Arumuga Nainar and Balaiah went to the station and met Bhoominaathan there. This proves that Mr. Sankaralingam wanted to hide something."
The report demanded an explanation how the Police Commissioner, even before post-mortem, knew that Bhoominaathan died of cardiac arrest.
A copy of the report would be sent to the National SC / ST Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the State Human Rights Commission and the Home Secretary.
Meanwhile, the CPI urged the State Government to shunt out police officials, who served in the Tirunelveli City for long, "to prevent rampant corruption and repeated excesses against members of the oppressed community".
Addressing a demonstration held at Sindupoondurai here to condemn the "mysterious" death of Bhoominaathan, the deputy secretary, P.M. Kaliappan, said the rampant corruption, involving top police officials, emboldened the "black sheep" among law enforcers to commit offence of any magnitude.
He demanded a case under IPC 302 be registered against the personnel involved in the "murder" and a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh given to Ms. Priya.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Dalits hand over memo to PM
22 June - Himalayan Times
Dalit Mukti Morcha (DMM) a pro-Maoist body handed over a memorandum along with 18-point demands to the prime minister Surya Bahadur Thapa today. The central secretariat of the DMM has demanded 'special rights' for the Dalits along with compensations for not making conducive environment to include the Dalit community in the national mainstream. At the press conference organised by the DMM, its president Tilak Pariyar said that they have given two months' time to the government to proceed the demands. Their demands include declaring the social practice of untouchability a social crime, declaring Nepal a secular state among others.
They have protested the American and other foreign interventions in the internal affairs of the country. The DMM has demanded land for the landless Dalits, free higher education for the Dalit children, modernisation and conservation of the professions practiced by the Dalits and elimination of Badi and Kamaiya practice.
"We have no objections with the demand of reservations for the Dalit communities but we want it as an additional rights," he added.
The DMM has also decided to struggle peacefully for about a month organising different awareness programmes.
Rights groups ignoring Dalit cases, say activists
The case of Muna Devi Damai from Dhangadi who was fed human faeces by the so-called upper-caste couple alleging her to be a witch, was widely covered by the media. But activists blamed human rights organisations such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Women's Commission (NWC) of ignoring cases of abuse and discrimination faced frequently by Dalits. Damai related her torturous tale to journalists at an interaction programme titled 'Social crimes against communities at the Far-Western Region' organised by the Dalit Non-Governmental Organisation Federation (DNF) here today.
Damai said Bir Bahadur Thapa and his wife Parvati Thapa called her when she was on her way to work in the fields, and tortured her. "They physically abused me and fed me human wastes. I lay unconscious for a long time. When I asked them to leave me at a hospital, Bir Bahadur said that he'd rather kill me," she said. The district police office, Dhangadi, has filed the case under the Public Offence Act at the district administration office, said Balram Bhattarai, legal officer at DNF in Kailali. Bir Bahadur, however, fled the village, while wife Parvati detained by police, has been released on a bail of Rs 10,000.
In yet another incident, Brikha Bahadur Nepali of Dhangadi, said that he had gone to a local shop where he accidentally touched Krishna Mal Bhandari who was sitting on a chair, at which "Bhandari hurled discriminatory abuses at me and physically abused me in public". The case against the culprit has been registered at the ward police office in Dhangadi. "I am scared to return home because Bhandari has threatened to wipe out my entire family," he said. The practice of haliya is common in Darchula, Baitadi and Dadeldhura, wherein those who take money on credit, work for the creditors like slaves instead of paying interests. Bali Ram who is a slave to this practise said that the creditors torment them and abuse them, and harass the women as well.
Paru Devi Ahuji of Doti said that uppercaste villagers force Dalits to clear dead animals from their houses and eat them, which creates health hazards. "Though we refuse, they force us to do the humiliating job anyway," she said. "Although the media covered the issued of Muna Devu, NHRC and NWC did not even make an effort to send a press release to the media condemning the discriminatory and inhuman act," said Durga Sob, general-secretary at the National Dalits Commission.
Dalits unburden tales of discrimination
The shocking incident concerning Munidevi Damai, who was forcefully fed human excreta, once again received the attention of media and concerned departments, during a public hearing, organised by the Nepal National Dalit Society Welfare Association, here today.
"I was called by Bir Bahadur Thapa and his wife Parvati Thapa in the early morning. Though initially I refused to go there, I finally went to his house after repeated requests. However, as soon as I reached their home, I was attacked by both of them," narrated Munidevi, "Thapa kicked me, while his wife poured the human excreta mixed with chilli. I became unconscious and could not fight back. I could not move my neck for more than a month".
This incident took place on April 8 this year. The culprits are still at large. The public hearing programme saw similar tales of abuse being narrated by other Dalit victims like Daniram Tiruwa, Birkha Bahadur Nepali, Ratiram Chaudhary and Paru Devi Auji. All of them had their own tale of sorrow and discrimination to share with the media.
Full story: http://www.kantipuronline.com/archive/kpost/2003-6-18/kp_frontpg.htm
These Dalits practise untouchability
MADURAI: Reams and reams are written about Dalits, whom the caste Hindus treat as untouchables despite constitutional guarantees and a plethora of legislation. But, the Dalits too have their own community of untouchables, the Putharai Vannans. Traditionally, the Putharai Vannans are dhobies who wash the clothes of the three Dalit communities and perform other menial jobs that the Dalits do for other castes. The Dalits even prohibited them from coming out of their houses during day time, as seeing them meant pollution.
Full story: http://www.newindpress.com/Newsitems.asp?ID=IEO20030624012812&Title=This+is+India&rLink=0
Monday, June 23, 2003
'Mayawati has brainwashed Dalits'
23 June - Press Trust of India
Allahabad: UP Chief Minister Mayawati has brainwashed the Dalits and was using them for her political empowerment, chairperson of Confederation of All India SC and ST Organisations, Udit Raj alleged here today.
Udit Raj said he recently floated political outfit 'Justice Party' to bail out Dalits from "Mayawati's clutches" and would undertake mass awareness programmes inside and outside the state to counter the her political agenda.
"The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in general and Mayawati in particular have brainwashed the Dalit communities and are using them as mere votebank for their political empowerment," he said.
Udit Raj also alleged that Mayawati has "frittered away" an opportunity to implement development measures for emancipation of the Dalit communities by engaging herself in accusations against political opponents.
"If she is really serious towards uplift of Dalits, then she should implement land reforms and fill backlog vacancies of jobs for Dalits," he said.
Udit Raj also lamented the degeneration of Indian polity over past one decade and said that political parties are raking up emotional issues to ride to power.
Blaming the post-Mandal Commission political developments in the country for continuing degeneration of Indian politics, he said the emotional issues likes temple and Kargil war would not help the economic prosperity of the nation.
Referring to the assembly polls in five states later this year, Udit Raj said he would work for an alliance with former Prime Minister Dewe Gowda's Janata Dal (S), especially in Madhya Pradesh to prevent BJP from c
Bihar minister accused of land grabbing
23 June - NDTV, by Amod Kumar
Three cases under the Dalit Atrocities Act have been filed against Bihar's Information Minister Sitaram Yadav, charged with forcibly occupying Dalit land and building his own house. He is also accused of looting standing crops of Dalits. The cases were registered following orders from a local Sitamarhi court.
Surplus land was given to Dalits way back in 1972 in Nanpur Nayatol in Bihar's Sitamarhi district, but within a year, local goons grabbed the land. A year ago, after several protests, Dalits did get back some of their land and began cultivation. But this March, their crops were looted just before it was harvested.
Ram Lalit Paswan, a Dalit victim, alleged, "The minister ordered that our crops be looted." Mahendra Paswan, another Dalit victim, added, "We went on a hunger strike on March 31. He (Yadav) called a meeting but then ordered the looting of our wheat. My wheat was only half-ready, yet it was looted."
Dalits this time went to court, which ordered an inquiry, following which three cases have been registered against Sitaram Yadav. The minister himself maintains that he is innocent. "Several cases have been filed against me in the past to defame me. They are filing false cases against me," he insisted.
But the court's direction to file FIRs against the minister has had some results at least. A circle inspector has been sent to ensure the Dalits get back their land. Srikant Singh, Circle Officer, Nanpur Block, said, "We have come here to get the land repossessed by Dalits - to verify, measure and hand them back to Dalits."
Police will soon question the minister.