. . . . . . "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

Saturday, July 19, 2003  
Caste out the demon: The Maharashtra chief minister’s grand Pota plan will get him nowhere

Indian Express - 18 July

It is ironical indeed that Maharashtra, which has long prided itself on being one of India’s most progressive states, should be witnessing a spate of attacks on Dalits. Sushil Kumar Shinde, much-hailed as the state’s first Dalit chief minister, believes that he can end both the problem and the efforts of his political rivals to exploit the situation, by invoking the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) against the perpetrators of the violence. This is a self-delusional move. It is, after all, not for the lack of legal instruments that caste violence continues to rear its ugly head in the state. If the state’s criminal justice system cannot put an end to it by deploying existing legislation, like the Prevention of Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, it is extremely unlikely that Pota will do the trick.

Instead of threatening to unleash a unweildy anti-terrorism law, Shinde would be better employed in discovering whether his administrators and police are doing their job as independent guardians of law and order. How, for instance, could the upper caste community in Raigad’s Hatkeli village ensure that lower-caste families were denied water from the village well in the height of summer without the state’s functionaries being aware of the move? Or were they, indeed, complicit in this crime? Shinde, and his home minister Chhagan Bhujbal, had better ask themselves some hard questions about why attacks of this kind continue to take place in a state that saw some of the most concerted Dalit mobilisation in the country’s history, presided over by none other than Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

It is no use for Bhujbal to claim that he will put down such violence with an iron hand or for Shinde to offer to resign as chief minister. Both these gentlemen, unfortunately, appear more concerned about neutralising the moves that their political rival, the Shiv Sena, is making to woo Dalits in time for the next elections, rather than to knuckle down and confront the demon of caste violence staring them in the face. But they had better be warned. The grand gesture — like invoking Pota — can be no substitute for an administration and political system that is effective, efficient and equal.

10:52 AM

Dalits demand plum pvt jobs

Indian Express - 18 July

Hundreds of Dalits marched to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry today, demanding that the country’s private sector frame economic policies that were ‘‘socially responsible’’.

Led by Shishupal Singh, convenor of the Delhi Dalit Diversity Group, the protesters submitted a memorandum at FICCI. The memorandum demanded placement for qualified Dalit professionals and positions for others at the junior level.

Calling for ‘‘diversity’’ in supplies, dealership and workforce, the group stated that it was not lobbying for a rigid quota system or a compromise in the provate sector’s standards but for place in the maximum eligibility criterion.

The march was addressed by Dalit leaders such as Chandra Bhan Prasad, Sheoraj Singh Bechlain, Rajesh Paswan and Sushila Dabas.

10:46 AM

Dalit Action Committee flays Amarinder Govt (Punjab)

Press Trust of India - 18 July

The Dalit Action Committee has criticised the Punjab Congress government for its alleged failure to implement "Talhan" peace formula arrived between warring Jat and Dalit communities with participation of senior civil and police officials on June 14 and for "delay in completion" of magisterial inquiry into killing of a dalit youth during police firing at Buta Mandi on June 5.

Talking to reporters in Jalandhar on Friday, president of Dalit Action Committee Chanan Ram Pal and state Vice President of the BJP Vijay Sampla alleged that most of the terms of the "Talhan" peace formula were still to be implemented by the district administration, which was highly deplorable.

They alleged that the indifferent attitude of the state government towards this sensitive issue could be gauged from the fact that the magistrial inquiry ordered by the state government into incident of killing of Vijay Kumar in police firing at Buta Mand on June 5 could not be completed for failure of the senior police officials concerned to get their statements recorded with the inquiry officer even after a period of one and a half months.

The Dalit Action Committee demanded that the terms of the agreement should be implemented without any further delay, failing which, the situation could turn volatile as was the case in the past, wherein, the district administration had allegedly failed to control the situation.

10:44 AM

CM Shinde humbled but Dalit colony pays the price

Indian Express - 18 July, by Manju Mehta

As night falls in the Dalit colony of Ambedkar Nagar in Aurangabad, the tension among its 10,000-odd population is palpable. This settlement has seen 18 arrests in the last 24 hours — all young men in the age group of 15-25. Any knock on the door raises the same question: Whose son will it be tonight?

The murder of three minor Dalit girls from the locality within a month has snowballed into something more. Caste tension, which residents say was not there earlier, has reared its ugly head. The latest incident, the murder of 11-year-old Mangal Dabadhe, sparked off rioting by an angry Dalit mob in the upper-caste CIDCO colony on Tuesday leading to the subsequent rounding up of Dalit youths by police.

Ambedkar Nagar and CIDCO colony — two settlements separated by caste, class and the 60-ft-wide Jalgaon road. One is a clutch of rented 60 sq ft chawls filled with large families of daily wage Dalit labourers. The other, with more affluent pucca structures, has upper-caste Hindu and Jain residents. The only time these two connected was on Tuesday. Police and CIDCO residents say it was the Dalit boys. Dalits insist the mob consisted mainly of rickshaw drivers who were on strike on Wednesday. And in the ensuing blame game, the murders take a backseat.

The victims, Mangal Dabhade (11), Asmita Hanumante (8) and Ratnamala Shelke (9), are all Dalit minor girls from Ambedkar Nagar who had been kidnapped. While Mangal’s body was found on Monday, the other two were found dead on June 16 in Vaijapur, 70 kms from the Dalit colony. Police have arrested a 35-year-old Dalit woman, Padmabai Jadhav, for the crimes. ‘‘She has confessed to all three murders,’’ says Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Parushuram Pawar. Her reported motive being black magic.

Padmabai, who was Mangal’s neighbour, became the suspect after she informed the Dabhade family about their missing daughter. Says 30-year-old Kailash Dabhade, Mangal’s father: ‘‘On the day my child disappeared, she said she saw Mangal leaving in a rickshaw with her uncle. But when Mangal did not return by 10 pm, we filed a complaint.’’ The next day Padmabai was arrested.

Through all this, no finger of suspicion was pointed at the upper castes. ‘‘All those things have a political angle. We don’t have the kind of caste conflict that is present in rural areas,’’ says Dabhade. But Tuesday changed all that. For the first time, pent-up emotions were released as Dalit boys, outraged by the murder of three children, targeted those living on the other side. A few hours before Mangal funeral, 500-600 boys went on a rampage in CIDCO area. Although no loss of life was reported, there was considerable damage to property.

‘‘It was a fallout of the third murder. We don’t expect more incidents of the kind here,’’ says ACP Pawar. ‘‘Three boys were arrested. Some of them were identified from the photographs carried in local papers the next day,’’ he adds.

As for the rest, they are being picked up at random. The Express team which was in Ambedkar Nagar on Wednesday at 9.30 pm was witness to this. When policemen got hold of 18-year-old Ram Bangde, Dr Sunil Takayade rushed to intervene. He said the youth, who had been ill for the last few days, had come to his dispensary and hence was innocent. However, another 18-year-old, Ravi Kale, was not so lucky as there was no such intervention. His mother Raibai says her son was having lunch at home when the rioting took place. ‘‘At 2 am, police came and took him away. We are waiting for him to come back.’’

It has been a trying week for all. While Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde offered to resign, the state government announced it would invoke provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) to deal with such incidents. Minister of State for Home Rajendra Darda went on a tour of the area on Wednesday, when an all-party bandh was being observed. Assurances and promises flew thick, but woes re-visit Ambedkar Nagar after dusk as midnight knocks are heard.

10:43 AM

Paswan plans Dalit rally near Parliament

The Hindu - 18 July

Dalits of Punjab and Haryana will converge near Parliament House on the opening day of the Monsoon session on Monday to protest the attacks on the community people in Talhan near Jalandhar and Jhajjar in Haryana.

Addressing Dalits, Lok Jan Shakti chief Ram Vilas Paswan said the Dalits in both the states were agitated over the alleged atrocities on them and through their agitation would demand both the Centre and the two state governments to take immediate steps for their protection.

The Dalits had set out in a cycle rally from Talhan and Jhajjar earlier this month.

Paswan demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for kin of those killed in both the incidents and one lakh for those injured.

The Dalit Sikhs of Talhan should also be given 50 per cent representation in the Management Committee of the Talhan Gurudwara.

10:42 AM

Thursday, July 17, 2003  
Caste discriminations even exist in UK: VODI

Kathmandu Post (Nepal) - 15 July

"Nepal is not alone in its fight against caste-based discriminations. Many industrialised nations including the UK has the problem of caste discriminations", Irene Culas, chairperson of the Voice of Dalit International (VODI), a UK-based organisation lobbying for the rights of Dalits, said here today

"In the UK Dalits comprise of approximately 200,000 people and there is caste discrimination among them," she said. She was speaking at a one-day seminar on "Dalits and International Development Aid" jointly organised here by the Jana Utthan Pratisthan and the Dalit NGO Federation.

"We are with you in friendship and solidarity," she told the gathering of representatives from Dalits NGOs from Nepal.

To ensure that the right-wing Hindutva organisations operating in the UK are not promoting caste based discriminations, a motion has been tabled in the UK’s Parliament recently.

"British parliamentarians are to sign on the motion banning the practice," said Culas adding, "This will have repercussions in other countries, specially in South Asia, where caste-based discriminations are still rampant."

Nepal has excluded significant proportion of its population from contributing to development process and caste-based discriminations continue to exist even today, experts said.

Speaking on the same occasion, Gert Meinecke, Charge’d Affaires at the Royal Danish Embassy said, "It is impossible to imagine a stable and peaceful country when a large portion of population is excluded from the development process of the country."

"The challenge before Nepal is to make political decision-making processes all inclusive at all levels," he said adding, "If it does not happen, the conflict potential in the Nepali society will remain high." Denmark along with the UK government is currently providing support to Dalit NGOs in Nepal. He also asked Dalits NGOs not to expect too much support from the donor community. "You can count on us but we can only assist you in your own activities."

Greg Gibson, third secretary at the British Embassy in Kathmandu, appreciated Nepal’s 1990 constitution, which rejected casteism and untouchability. He, however, said many individuals remain still marginalised on account of discrimination arising from their descent.

"Discrimination on the basis of birth title is one of the stumbling blocks for the evolution of peace, prosperity, and a sustainable democracy in this pluralistic country," Gibson added.

Acting chairman of the National Assembly, Ramprit Paswan, said Dalits comprise of approximately 80 percent of the poor and marginalised in Nepal. However, he said their actual statistics is yet to be verified. He said the Dalits are fast losing out their professions following a rapid advancement in science and technology.

"Where Dalits used to plough the fields and earn their bread, tractors have over taken," he said.

According to him, those who are losing their jobs overwhelmingly belong to the Terai region.

7:45 PM

Minor held captive, raped

The Pioneer - 18 July

A minor Dalit girl was reportedly kidnapped, held captive and raped by the accused.

Lodging a report in this connection with the Madiyaon police, Ms Guddi, a resident of Kanpur, stated that her 15-year-old daughter was kidnapped about a month back. She said that she and her husband Swami Nath searched for her and also informed the local police. She said that on Wednesday, she learnt that Zabir, a resident of Ghaila hamlet of Madiyaon, had kidnapped her daughter and held her captive in his house in Lucknow.

Guddi said that when she reached here and went to rescue her daughter, she learnt that her daughter was raped and forcibly held captive. Guddi said that the accused attacked her and her husband and forced them to leave the house when they tried to rescue their daughter. Failing to get her daughter released, Guddi contacted the Madiyaon police and lodged a report.

The Madiyaon police claimed that they registered a case in this regard and were making efforts to arrest Zabir, who had absconded from his house.

Meanwhile, the former principal of Guru Nanak Girls Inter College also lodged a report against the college management for threatening him. According to the police spokesman AK Singh, a case was lodged in Naka police station by Dr Sujan Singh, who was kicked out from the principal's post by the managing committee, in which the latter stated that Sardar Rajesh Singh and Babbu, both residents of Moti Nagar in Naka, Shammi and Joginder Singh alias Tiger along with an unknown miscreant had stopped him in front of the college on February 10 and threatened him.

The complainant Sujan Singh tried to lodge a case at that time but as the Naka police refused, so he sought the help of the court and finally got a case registered.

AK Singh said that the accused named by Sujan Singh, were members of management committee of the Guru Nanak Girls Inter College and they kicked out Sujan Singh hence both the parties had a dispute.

The Naka police registered a case and are investigating the matter.

7:42 PM

Bharti challenges Digvijay caste fine

Telegraph - 16 July, by Rashid Kidwai

The Digvijay Singh regime’s move to slap a Rs 25-lakh fine on higher castes in five villages involved in Dalit atrocities has taken a political turn with Uma Bharti coming out in open support of them.

The defiant villages have already declared that “mar jayenge par jurmana nahin denge (we will die but will not pay the fine)”.

Bharti, the BJP’s chief ministerial nominee, today questioned the rationale of a community fine, which has been touted as a path-breaking measure to check caste violence. She said the guilty should be punished instead of society being held responsible for the crime.

“Such a measure would perpetuate caste tension. Digvijay Singh plans to convert Madhya Pradesh into Bihar. I fear Jehanabad sort of violence,” she said, referring to the Bihar district notorious for bloody inter-caste clashes.

Buoyed by Bharti’s support, villagers in Rajgarh have raised the banner of revolt. According to them, the Digvijay regime’s “reign of terror” had even surpassed the strong-arm tactics of the British Raj. “We went to jail, ran around courts and now we are expected to pay a fine,” said Ramanand Yadav of Lasudia Majaraj village where a mob had destroyed ready crop on August 9 last year.

A BJP delegation led by Assembly chief whip Sitasharan Sharma had gone to the villages of Lasudia Majaraj, Selapani, Lalahedi and Purankhedi to study the situation. Sharma said the villagers seemed in no mood to obey the government order.

The state had slapped the fine after inquiries into a series of incidents established that upper castes had got together to destroy crops belonging to Dalits and tribals in protest against the government’s move to grant them patta of grazing land.

Bharti alleged Digvijay was trying to derive political benefit in the guise of Dalit agenda. “The land given to the landless should have been non-controversial. Instead of social justice, Digvijay is perpetuating social injustice, pitting one caste against another,” she said.

In political circles, Bharti’s opposition to the fine is being seen in the context of the caste divide in the poll-bound state. Bharti, who hails from the OBCs, seems to have taken up their cause to consolidate the vote bank. Her step comes in the wake of Digvijay’s move to wean away OBC votes by promising 27 per cent reservation.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has been lukewarm to the Dalit cause. A few months ago, it had tried to attract Dalit votes by preparing the Mhow declaration but the document has not yet been made public.

7:39 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003  
Maharashtra for POTA against Dalit atrocities

Press Trust of India - 16 July

Alarmed by growing incidents of Dalit atrocities across Maharashtra, the Democratic Front government on Wednesday said it would invoke stringent POTA as a 'test case' in one of the recent attacks on underprivileged as a 'strong deterrent' against such 'heinous crimes'.

"We will apply provisions of POTA as a test case in an instance of Dalit atrocity so that it proves to be a strong deterrent against such crimes", deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also holds home portfolio, announced while replying to a marathon four-hour-long debate on atrocities against Dalits in the state Assembly.

POTA has got a provision of `sectoral violence' and the government wants to test whether it can be applied to atrocities against Dalits, Bhujbal said.

"The government will make other stringent provision, if POTA is disallowed", the home minister said.

Earlier, Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, anguished over the spate of attacks on Dalits, had offerred to step down. "If my resignation can put an end to the Dalit atrocities then I am prepared to do so", Shinde had stated on Tuesday at a meeting of df legislators.

Intervening in the debate on Wednesday, Shinde appealed that everybody should join hands to suppress the `demon-like tendencies', prevailing in the state.

Expressing concern over the attacks on Dalits, he asked "what kind of terrorism is this?"

Replying to the debate, Bhujbal said henceforth police officials would be held responsible if cases of Dalit atrocities are reported under their jurisdiction.

9:03 PM

Dalit group agitates for 'activation' of panel (Andhra Pradesh)

The Hindu - 16 July

The district unit of the Kulavivaksha Vyathireka Porata Samithi staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate here today, demanding appointment of chairman and members to the newly constituted SC, ST Commission at the State-level.

Address the protesters, the samithi leaders -- Veeranna, Venkatesh, Obulesu and Gangadhar -- said that the State Government had set up the Commission on July 7 following a prolonged struggle by and on the recommendation of the Justice Punnaiah Commission on untouchability and discrimination in the name of caste.

They suggested that the Government undertake a campaign against untouchability and discrimination in the name of caste for a fortnight all over the State. They also demanded completion of probe into cases of atrocities and attacks on Dalits and tribals and punish the culprits within six months.

Our Cuddapah Staff Reporter writes: The samithi president, D.C. Venkataiah, the vice-president, B. Narayana, the general secretary, C. Babu, and members -- S. Sudhakar and K. Srinivasulu Reddy -- lamented that atrocities were being perpetrated against Dalits in 165 villages in the State since February and 18 Dalits were murdered and 20 Dalit women were raped. Despite the growing atrocities, the implementation of the Atrocities on SCs/STs (Prevention) Act was tardy due to the collusion of police with upper caste landlords, they alleged.

The Government's inept attitude and non-implementation of the Justice Punnaiah Commission's 42 recommendations were increasing social imbalances, they charged. Stating that the Government set up the State SC/ST Commission two months ago, they demanded expeditious appointment of chairman and members to it.

8:59 PM

Anti-Dalit agenda

Deccan Herald - 12 July, by Kancha Ilaiah

If Brahmins are given benefits of reservation, will Dalits be allowed to attain priesthood, as a fair trade-off?

In a recent discussion organised by a news channel on the issue of reservations for upper caste poor this writer was one of the panel members along with Mani Shanker Iyer (Congress), Prof Neera Chandhok and M A Naqvi (BJP). The discussion brought to the fore the issue whether reservations in India addressed the question of caste or class. If the reservation policy is extended to the poor among the upper castes naturally the very nature of the caste-based reservation changes. Gradually it may lead to the undoing of reservations.

If Mr Iyer’s approach is an indication, the Congress, which initiated the debate on reservations for upper castes, starting with the Rajastan Government’s decision, is on a suicidal course. Mr Naqvi also said that the BJP was not opposed to such a proposal but it prefers to constitute a commission on the lines of Mandal Commission. The discourse on reservations for upper castes must be seen in the context of the demand for reservations in the private sector by the SC, ST and OBCs and also the stiff resistance of the upper castes to the very reservation policy itself.

The rich among the upper castes do not bother about the reservations within the State sector so long as it does not affect their privately controlled economy. Arun Shourie’s agenda, as the Minister for Disinvestment, is to privatise as much of the economy as possible so that the upper caste middle class can have a safe zone of job market in the private sector.

In the 1990s the upper caste middle class did not feel the pinch of reservations because of the job market boom in the Euro-American continents. During this decade thousands of upper caste youth migrated to the US and Europe. Now that the Euro-American economies are also slowing down the upper caste middle class will once again take up cudgels against the reservations policy.

This social force is itching for a new debate on the question of reservations. There are many intellectuals in both the Congress and the BJP to represent this social force. The problem with the Congress is that it has an old feudal Brahminical force around it. Ambedkar’s book What Congress and Gandhi have Done to Untouchables describes the Congress party’s historical ambiguity in relation to Dalits. It has not overcome that ambiguity as yet.

Confused communists
The Constitution did not give any scope for class-based reservation. The failure of the Congress in accommodating the Dalit- OBCs in a meaningful way led to its withering away in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. This agenda will certainly annoy the Dalit-Bahujans more. The BJP’s Hindutva agenda is basically anti-Dalit-Bahuajn and they know pretty well that the reservation policy has produced quite a few intellectuals from among the Dalit-Bahujans and they are evolving agendas of a religious revolution, which includes mass conversions as well. By bringing in the issue of reservation for upper castes it wants to divert the issue of mass exodus into other religions.

Dalit militancy has become a real worry for the upper castes cutting across party lines. This is where many upper caste Congress leaders seem to have dis-favoured the Dalit declaration of Bhopal. Though it originated in a state ruled by the Congress, it expressed the Dalit intellectual direction which would have serious implications for upper castes in future. The Rajasthan agenda seems to have been put forth as a balancing agenda by the Congress. The Bhopal agenda of diversity and the Rajastan agenda of reservation for upper castes are contradictory.

Whenever the issue of reservation comes to the fore the communists are the most confused lot. That is because the social roots of their leaders are within the upper caste and also the class language has been their own contribution to the Indian political vocabulary. At the time of the Mandal movement almost all upper caste communist leaders argued for an economic criteria within the reservation policy. Even now they have not evolved a credible approach to the reservation policy.

We must remember that class-based exploitation does not have a historical fixation as there is a historical fixation for caste-based discrimination. A poor Brahmin does not face discrimination in any socio-cultural or spiritual scene of life. Once he becomes rich he does not face any hurdle in any sphere of life. That is not the position of a lower caste man.

If the Rajastan Government wants to extend reservations to Brahmins and Rajputs based on economic status, will it also make a law that Dalits should get priesthood positions in Hindu temples? When caste is an agency created by the spiritual institutions leading to human degradation the modern State has a role to play in reformulating such spiritual institutions. The caste discrimination, like colour discrimination, has acquired permanent stigma. Hence reservations are aimed at de-casteising the State institutions. That could be done only by upgrading the position of the lower caste. The policy of reservation slowly but surely is doing that.

Preferential treatment
If similar caste-based reservations were to be given in Hindu spiritual institutions — including for the posts of priesthood — caste would have been completely de-institutionalised and that would have gradually led to the abolition of reservations. Such a policy would have radically reformed Hinduism and eliminated the scope for religious conversions.

Caste-based reservations have a history of about hundred years. The concept was first worked out by a sensitive king, Sahu Maharaj of Maharastra, in 1902. At that time poverty was an all pervasive problem. Whether rich or poor the Brahmins had an exclusive right of holding government jobs. In order to break the monopoly of the Brahminical forces, the king introduced caste-based reservations.

Subsequently many social scientists argued that reservation or preferential treatment should be used only in relation to suppressed castes or ethnicities. Theoretically it is agreed that reservation or preferential treatment cannot be used to solve class problems.

That is the reason why America did not extend that policy to poor whites and India should not extend it to upper castes. For the poor of all categories developed democracies have welfare measures like unemployment doles and compulsory free education in State schools. That is what India too can do.

7:36 AM

Shinde offers to step down as Maharasthra CM

Sify - 16 July

Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that he was willing to resign if the recent spate of atrocities against dalits in the state were taking place because he, a dalit, was at the helm of affairs.

Addressing the democratic front coalition legislators at Vidhan Bhavan, Mr Shinde said, ''the opposition says the attacks against dalits, are on the rise, despite the state having a dalit chief minister . It is better then, if i step down''.

He also took strong objection to ruling coalition legislators resorting to the demonstrations and dharnas at the Vidhan Bhavan entrance to highlight their demands. ''It will be difficult for me to function otherwise'', he said. The chief minister asked the ruling coalition legislators to excercise restrain and maintain discipline.

On the opening day of the monsoon session, congress legislator Amar Kale from Arvi Assembly constituency had staged a hunger strike in the Vidhan Bhavan entrance to highlight his demand for rehabilitation of the project affected in his constituency.

7:34 AM

Tuesday, July 15, 2003  
Maharashtra: Probe ordered into burning of Dalit youth

Press Trust of India - 15 July

The Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, today announced in the State Assembly a high- level investigation into the gruesome killing of a Dalit youth, who was allegedly set ablaze alive, in Bhutegaon of Jalna district, on May 23.

Bhujbal, who also holds the Home portfolio, told the members during question hour that an IG level senior official would conduct a thorough probe into the incident.

Replying to a query raised by Diwakar Raote (SS), he said the Government had taken the incident seriously and would soon file a chargesheet against those found guilty.

Over the delay in arresting the accused as pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition in the Council, Nitin Gadkari, Bhujbal assured the House that the officials on duty would be immediately suspended if there was any lapse in handling the case.

Gadkari said besides setting ablaze the youth, Dilip Shingane, his sister was also "badly treated" by the accused.

The initial investigations had revealed the involvement of NCP workers of the region for which the police was under pressure, he alleged.

The Deputy Chief Minister said 11 incidents of atrocities on Dalits in the district have been registered in the last six months.

1:06 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003  
DPI alleges harassment of Dalits in Cuddalore, Chengalpattu districts (Tamil Nadu)

The Dalit Panthers of India general secretary, T. Tirumavalavan, yesterday alleged that harassment of Dalit women was on the rise in Cuddalore and Chengalpattu districts and urged the Chief Minister to take immediate steps to protect them, as they felt insecure.

Talking to newsmen here, he said that in a village near Panruti, the panchayat chief, along with his community men, was indulging in sexual harassment. Though he was arrested following a complaint, he came out on bail. Now the panchayat chief warned the local Dalit families of dire consequences if they did not withdraw the complaint. About 130 Dalit families in the village were living under a grip of fear.

In another incident near Vriddhachalam, a caste Hindu family allegedly poisoned its girl and her Dalit husband for inter-caste marriage, Mr. Tirumavalavan said. ``Though it was a clear case of murder, the police registered a case of suicide and closed under pressure form local politicians''. Relatives of the deceased youth were threatened by caste Hindus that they would annihilate them if they tried to reopen the case.

There were many similar instances in these two districts but the Dalits were afraid of giving police complaints for fear of attack, Mr. Tirumavalavan said.

Criticising the local administration for cancellation of yesterday's Kandadevi car festival in Sivaganga district, he said the decision only showed that it succumbed to pressures from a particular community.

He wanted the Government to take action against officials for their failure to conduct the festival.

5:56 PM

Maharashtra for terror laws against Dalit attacks

Expressing concern over the "heinous crimes" against Dalits, Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday said the DF government was considering the possibility of bringing atrocities on Dalits under the "ambit of terrorism laws".

"I have asked the law department to study whether atrocities on Dalits could be dealt under a stringent law like POTA or MCOCA which could prove a strong deterrent against such crimes", Shinde, the first Dalit chief minister of the state, said while intervening during a discussion on a Opposition-sponsored adjournment notice on the issue in the lower house on the opening day of the monsoon session here.

Pressing that the adjournment notice be accepted by the chair, the vociferous Sena-BJP members resorted to slogan shouting and displayed placards condemning the DF government, which forced the chair to adjourn the house for three times.

Earlier, the chief minister said he was aghast by incidents like attacks on Dalit habitats. "Why this kind of perverse behaviour in a secular state," he queried.

"The government is seriously concerned over these incidents...And a detailed discussion should be held over it for further action," he said.

However, the government would have to collect information about various incidents and needed time till tomorrow, Shinde said.

The adjournment notice was issued by Opposition leader Narayan Rane and others.

Referring to "acts of atrocities" against Dalits at Raigad-Mangaon, Jalna and Badnapur and various other places, Rane alleged that the government machinery had "failed" to deal with the incidents.

He demanded that the adjournment notice be accepted by the chair forthwith.

Supporting the Opposition leader, BJP member Gopinath Munde said nearly 27 incidents of Dalit atrocities have been reported so far across the state.

While in 16 cases atrocities were committed against Dalits over the issue of drinking water, Munde claimed that in 22 cases police failed to register complaints.

Later, the Opposition agreed to participate in a discussion under rule 101 over the issue on Tuesday bringing curtains on the prolonged debate.

As the house was debating on the matter, Rane alleged that one more incident of kidnapping a Dalit girl has been reported at Ausa in Killari, Marathwada.

Munde also raised the issue of dacoity and rape in Brahmawadi in Parli Taluka through an adjournment notice.

However, both notices were not accepted by the chair. A peeved Rane then demanded that Rule 97, under which adjournment notices are dealt with, must be deleted from the Assembly's rule book.

5:54 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2003  
Stall owner refuses to serve Dalits tea

Himalayan News Service (Nepal) - 11 July

Even when the world has entered the 21 century, age old conservative and discriminatory trends still continue.

A local tea stall owner refused to serve tea to 10 dalits in Gaibanna, Dailekh, because they refused to rinse their glasses after having tea at the stall.

Chandra Prasad Sapkota, the owner of a tea shop in Seri village development committee, has refused to serve tea to dalits who decline to rinse the glasses they have had tea from.

The dalits of the area have to go without the luxury of buying a cuppa in the local shop due to such attitude. The member of Dalit Self-dependent Society (DSS) Kishor Nepali said Sapkota has declared he will not serve dalits who refuse to rinse the glasses that they have used, even if they approach authorities. Nepali added Sapkota made some dalits clean the utensils using force and even threatened them.

He also said Sapkota serves tea only after asking customers whether they are dalits. "Such practices should be abolished and people should be aware of such evils. Moreover we should have an act punishing those challenging the law," said Sanju Singh, chairman of the Dalit Service Organisation.

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Atrocities against Dalits on the rise in UP

NDTV - 13 July, by Rahul Shrivastava

When Mayawati became Chief Minister, many believed things would get better for Dalits in Uttar Pradesh – her party, the BSP, depends almost entirely on their votes.

But nothing really has changed on the ground. Dalits say they are still abused and face caste prejudices.

Last year, Dalits in Unnao's Bhaktakheda village refused to work in fields owned by upper castes. They were assaulted – one person was killed and even women were not spared. Since then, Dalits are refusing to return to their homes.

In Shravasti's Badhai ka Purva village, the Dalits wanted ration cards. The Block Development Officer collected Rs 10 per person as bribe from Dalit families, but till today none of them have been issued the cards.

Atrocities against Dalits are, in fact, increasing every year.

"The number of cases hasn't gone down. Our figures tell us that the number of cases of atrocities and discrimination have gone up. Every year about 1,200 to 1,400 more complaints are being received. There has been an increase of almost 30 per cent," said Sriram Arun, Chairman, UP SC/ST Commission.

According to figures provided by the SC/ST Commission, in the year 1999, the commission received 2,850 complaints of atrocities and discrimination. In the year 2000, 4,000 complaints were received, while in the year 2001, 5,300 complaints were registered.

Already in the first six months of the year 2003, 4,000 complaints have reached the commission.

The state government maintains that this is because of increasing awareness among Dalits, which makes them willing to report problems that would have earlier been ignored. However, many experts disagree.

While Dalit votes command great political power, but as individuals, they still face intolerance. They take consolation from symbols like the Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow and celebrate their leader Mayawati's birthday. However, in villages and mofussil towns, they really have very little to cheer about.

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