"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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Friday, July 25, 2003
MP: Three killed in clash
Press Trust of India - 25 July
Three persons were killed in a clash between dalits and a member of the local Dangi community at village Sobat under Shadora police station, about 58 km from here yesterday, police said. The deceased were identified as Badri, his son Manna-- both dalits, and Dheeraj Singh of the Dangi community, police said today. Senior police officials rushed to the spot, police said adding that cause of the clash was yet to be ascertained.
Speaker agrees to top priority discussion on Dalit atrocities
deepikaglobal.com - 25 July
Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi today accepted a demand by members that the calling attention notice on atrocities on Dalits and weaker sections be taken up next week on a top priority basis.
However, he did not comment on the demand by Mr S. Jaipal Reddy (Congress) and others that the matter be taken up under Rule 193 which will require the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister to respond to it. Mr Shivraj Patil (Congress) also supported the demand for the discussion on Monday under Rule 193.
Earlier, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan (LJS) and Mr Ramjilal Suman (SP) objected to the absence of Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani in the House despite the fact that the issue related to the Home Ministry and there was specific mention of Mr Advani in the motion.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the issue had been deliberated in detail in the last session, but members insisted on a discussion.
Mr Ratan Lal Kataria (BJP) also wanted a discussion, referring to media reports that a woman was burnt alive in Madhya Pradesh. His compatriot Vijay Kumar Malhotra opposed the demand, saying the Business Advisory Committee had already accepted several issues, under Rule 193.
Advani absent, Opp won't discuss Dalit atrocities
NewIndPres.com - 26 July
The absence of Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani from the Lok Sabha caused an uproar on Friday while a motion on atrocities on Dalits was taken up for a discussion.
Resenting Advani's absence, Opposition members said: ``This only shows how much the NDA Government is concerned about the welfare of Dalits.'' Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party, Ramji Lal Suman of the Samajwadi Party, Jaipal Reddy of the Congress and Basudeb Acharia took an exception to Advani's absence.
As Speaker Manohar Joshi called Ratan Lal Kataria of the BJP to move his motion calling the attention of the Deputy Prime Minister to the situation arising out of the atrocities on Dalits, Paswan pointed at Advani's absence and said there was no point discussing the motion. Suman said: ``The Government is not serious about the issue.''
Reddy suggested that the motion be converted into a discussion under rule 193. To this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj responded by saying that the Government had no objection to the suggestion. However, she recalled that the House had had a full-fledged discussion on the issue during the last session. She said Kataria had given notice for a call-attention motion over a particular issue which gets diluted in a larger discussion. Paswan expressed himself in agreement with her. Kataria pressed his motion and favoured a discussion under rule 193 too.
The Speaker said: ``You cannot have both.'' He ruled that the Business Advisory Committee would give priority to the matter and fix time for a discussion on it next week.
Congress Deputy leader Shivraj Patil said members were sensitive to the issue and let it be discussed next week.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Lower caste woman gangraped in public
Times of India
A 19-year-old woman belonging to a backward community was allegedly stripped naked publicly and gangraped by seven armed men on Thursday. According to reports, the accused lost their temper when the victim, an agricultural worker, told them not to throw clay in the courtyard of her house. The accused, owing allegiance to ‘‘influential’’ people of the area, pounced on the victim. They also attacked and seriously injured six other women when they tried to intervene. The inquiry revealed the villagers were troubling Dongre for the past two years, Chavan said, adding, “The wife of the deceased complained of harassment to the family from the villagers and stated same reason behind killing of Dongre.” The team would submit its report to chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ranjit Deshmukh. The growing incidents of atrocities on Dalits across the state had prompted the Democratic Front (DF) government to declare it would invoke Pota in one of the cases involving attack on an under-privileged even as Shinde had offered to step down on the issue.
Vishwa Boudh Sangh to go ahead with mass conversion programme
Press Trust of India - 22 July 2002
After postponing its programme of mass conversion to be held on June 15, the Vishwa Boudh Sangh on Tuesday asserted that there would be no change in its programme to convert one lakh Dalits to Buddhism at Vadodara on October 5.
"There would be no change in the programme this time and if we do not get permission to carry out the programme on the ground, we will do it on roads and streets through chakkajam", Sangh's national president Bhikshu Buddh Priya Rahul said here.
He said the Sangh aims to convert 33 crore people in the entire country to Buddhism.
He alleged that the state government and local authorities had denied them permission to hold the programme on June 15, following which they had to postpone it.
The Sangh would also organise a Budda yatra in Gujarat on September 1 to mobilise Dalits for their rights and spreading Buddhism in the state, he said.
It may be recalled that several persons reportedly owing allegiance to VHP and Bajrang Dal, ransacked the venue of press conference of the Sangh in Vadodara in May.
The Sangh also criticised the ruling BJP in Gujarat of "falsely portraying" Dalits as Hindus and alleged that large number of Dalits were killed in the post-Godhra communal carnage of last year.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Dalit burnt to death in Maharashtra for using handpump
NewIndPress.com - 22 July
On the edge of Mumbai, in the Damupada slums of Kandivli where Dilip Shendge (25) grew up, the first one in the queue always had the right to use the water tap first. No one asked him what his caste was.
But on May 14 when the Dalit labourer used his cosmopolitan sensibility to get around Bhutegaon, his native village in Jalna in central Maharashtra, the upper-caste Patils allegedly burnt him to death.
A drought-prone village of 1,200 inhabitants, remote Bhutegaon is home to 20-odd Dalit families who, for a daily wage of Rs 50, provide labour to tend fields of bajra, cotton and jowar through rain and winter. In summer, amidst water scarcity and parched earth, they reap a harvest of atrocities.
Caste barriers run deep here and the Patils' writ dictates that it's their privilege to use handpumps first. On the day of the incident, the Patils reportedly tried to get fresh with Lata Shendge (17) for questioning their privilege. Her brother Dilip intervened only to be accosted by a group of belligerent Patils in the evening, who allegedly set him, his sister and his mother ablaze right outside their mud-walled hut.
"We put the three in a bullock cart, then on a bus for Jalna district hospital," says Ramesh Shendge (35), Dilip's brother. It was a three-hour journey through a rough terrain with the temperature at 41 degree Celsius. Dilip died in a hospital five days later, with over 90 per cent burns.
For Indumati Shivaji Bhavare (35), the irony was inescapable _ she is the first Dalit sarpanch of Bhutegaon. The incident confirmed her belief that some things never change.
Nearly 450 kms to the north-east of the village, a little over two months later, the state's first Dalit chief minister echoed the very same thought as detractors and supporters alike criticised his government over the kidnapping and murder of three Dalit girls from Aurangabad recently.
In the Marathwada region, comprising eight districts in central Maharashtra, Jalna tops with 19 of the total 46 crime cases involving attacks on Dalits registered in the last six months. "39 out of 76 talukas in the Marathwada region have been declared drought-prone with an average rainfall of 780 mm. Almost all the crimes have to do with handpump fights," says an official from the Jalna District Collector's officer. But this particular obscure village, whose only link to the district HQ is a 40-km-long power line, has now turned a political battleground. A ten-feet wide asphalt road has been laid, thanks to the steady stream of cars carrying ministers.
A new handpump has been installed outside the Shendge residence although it does not yield water as yet. And last week, the Superintendent of Police drove down and led Dalits for the first time into the local temple. "But it happened only one day when the police presence was strong. We are scared to go there now," says Ramesh Dhongde (28).
As for the Patils, 16 of them were arrested for Shendge's murder and booked under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/STs Act. Their clan has sought to defend the outrage with talk of emotions running high in the face of acute water shortage.
"Four years back, the only source of water was the Dudhna river, which was a 40-minute walk from here. We got the government to install these two pumps and now it's only a five-minute walk. These Dalits can't even give us the right to use it first," says Damodar Patil (50), a land-owner. Obviously, regret and reconciliation are still missing.
A fine balance
Hindustan Times - 21 July, by Udit Raj
Whatever social progress has been made by Dalits has been due to the policy of reservations. The BJP-led NDA government has come up with a perfect arrangement to dilute reservations in the garb of privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation.
Today, no party worries about the welfare of Dalits and the main reason for this is the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BSP does not believe in programme-based politics and simply hankers for votes and money. Many Dalits are blindly supporting the party, and as a result, other parties have either become hostile or neutral towards the community.
Unfortunately, the Congress, too, has become a player in the politics of reservations. In Rajasthan, it recommended that the Centre make provisions in favour of the upper castes.
The Constitution enshrines reservation on the basis of social and economic backwardness. As far as the representation of the so-called upper castes is concerned, about 80 per cent of the top echelons of the bureaucracy are represented by them. Some members of the upper castes have not become poor due to discrimination and social backwardness, but because of factors such as lack of employment, proper education, self-employment, poor market economy, industrialisation and trade. Thus, the removal of these causes can be of help — and not through unlimited reservations.
A 1978 judgment favouring affirmative action was delivered by the US Supreme Court. A litigation was disposed of by five judges to four that admission in a law school in Michigan University be given to Afro-Americans. This necessity arose due to a petition filed by a White student against the university’s affirmative action policy.
This may be surprising to many Indians, but there are reservations for Afro-Americans and Hispanics in the US army, navy and air force. While the American model of affirmative action is based on race, ours is based on social backwardness. It is important to mention here that American Whites have contributed more for Afro-Americans than the latter themselves. In our country, however, a Dalit has to fight tooth and nail for his legitimate rights which are, in any case, denied routinely.
The scheduled castes and tribes have been given reservations of 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively and their representation in the central government’s Group A and B categories on January 1, 1999, stood at about 11 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively. The scheduled tribes have only about 3.4 per cent and 3.35 per cent. In 2000, the representation of SCs in the IAS, the IPS and the IFS was 10.6 per cent, 12.4 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively — much less than the 15 per cent reservations provision for SCs. This is just the tip of
Dalits must think seriously about the fact that any amount of awareness and any number of reforms alone will not help them unless accompanied by specific rights like reservations in the private sector. It is because of reservations that members of other communities are represented in government jobs, politics and local bodies.
The Congress remained in power as long as the Muslims and the Dalits supported it en bloc. The new leadership has lost confidence among them. With the BJP’s anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, the Congress has sent out a clear signal that Muslims must be accommodated in strategic positions like the police and the paramilitary forces. The Congress has supported the cause of reservations in the private sector which is the plank of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations. Implementation of this suggestion must follow.
Rajasthan is the only state in the country where Dalit IPS officers have been reverted. The 85th amendment, which deals with seniority, has not been implemented in Punjab and in other states. If the Congress has now suggested that reservations be made in the private sector, it must carry out this policy honestly.
(The writer is the President of the Justice Party and the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations)
Cop suspended for not filing rape complaint of Dalit woman
NewIndPress.com - 21 July
A police official has been suspended for failing to lodge the rape complaint of a Dalit woman in Badhi village falling under Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's constituency of Saharanpur.
The head mohrir of Nakur police station was suspended over allegations that the matter was ignored for two days while the SSP was on leave and the complaint was lodged only after the victim's family met the DM.
The victim's family are the only Dheenvars in the village dominated by Jats. On July 16 evening, there was an altercation between the two groups reportedly over throwing of cowdung. Now the Jats allege that the victim's family is blowing the incident out of proportions.
"Maar peet ki ghatna ko badha chadha kar balatkar ka aarop laga diya hai (It was the case of a fight but they have gone ahead to allege rape)," they told police. Police are questioning the victim's family while seven men have been arrested in this connection.
Preliminary reports say the victim didn't mention rape initially and the charge was added only later. Victim's medical examination also could not shed light on the charge. The woman is married and has several children which makes it difficult to say anything with certainty, official sources said.
AP: Naxals gun down dalit woman
Press Trust of India - 22 July
Naxalites gunned down a dalit woman on suspicion of being a police informer, at Adigoppala village in the district of Andhra Pradesh, police said today. The woman, R Annamma, was whisked out of her house by naxals and then shot dead late last night, police added. A few months ago, naxalites had roughed her up and warned her 'not to act as an agent of the police'.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Maharashtra Govt despatches high-level delegation to Marathwada
Press Trust of India - 19 July
Rattled by the Opposition onslaught over the spate of Dalit atrocities across Maharashtra, the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government has dispatched a high-level delegation for an on-the-spot assessment to Marathwada where maximum instances of attacks on Dalits have been reported.
Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has deputed Minister of State for Home Kripa Shankar Singh for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
Singh, who will be visiting Jalna, Beed and Parbhani areas of Marathwada on Saturday, said that he will submit a detailed report to the chief minister.
Singh is accompanied by MPCC office bearers Sanjay Dutt and Subhash Chavan, giving a clear signal that the government and the party plan to deal with the situation collectively.
Party office bearers would submit a separate report to MPCC chief Ranjit Deshmukh and the chief minister, Dutt said.
Shiv Sena-BJP opposition had created a ruckus in the state assembly on the opening day of the monsoon session earlier this week over growing incidents of attacks on Dalits.
Shinde, the first Dalit chief minister of Maharashtra, at a meeting of ruling DF legislators, had offered to step down saying "if my resignation can stop attacks on Dalits, I am willing to quit the office".
In Aurangabad's Dalit colony, the midnight knock keeps residents awake
New Indian Press - 19 July
As night falls in the Dalit colony of Ambedkar Nagar in Aurangabad, the tension among its 10,000-odd population becomes palpable.
This settlement has seen 18 arrests in the last 24 hours _ all boys 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 tensions, which residents say was not there earlier, have reared their 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 afternoon leading to the subsequent rounding up of Dalit youths by the 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 afternoon. The police and CIDCO residents say it was the Dalit boys. Dalits insist the mob consisted mainly of rickshaw drivers who were on strike yesterday. 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 victims were found dead on June 16 in Vaijapur, 70 kms from the Dalit colony.
The police have arrested a 35-year-old Dalit woman, Padmabai Jadhav, for the crimes. "She has confessed to all the three murders," says Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Parushuram Pawar. Her reported motive being black magic.
Padmabai was Mangal's neighbour. "We don't know much about her. She stayed here for five years with her 10-year old son, then disappeared one day. She came back only last week after a year's gap," says 30-year-old Kailash Dabhade, the victim's father.
Padmabai became the suspect after she informed the Dabhade family about their missing daughter. "On the day my child disappeared, Jadhav told us she saw Mangal leaving in a rickshaw with her uncle. But when my daughter did not return by 10 pm, we filed a police complaint," he says. The next day the police arrested Jadhav.
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. Others in the locality echo this.
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 Dabhade's funeral, 500-600 boys from the area went on a rampage in the neighbouring CIDCO area. Although no loss of life was reported, there was considerable damage to property. "Five rickshaws, nine cars, six motorcycles, two Tata Sumos, one bus and 24 glass panes were destroyed," says the record register at CIDCO police station.
"It was a fallout of the third murder. We don't expect more incidents of the kind here," says Pawar. "Three boys were arrested on the spot. Some of them were identified from the photographs carried in the local papers the next day," he adds.
As for the rest, they are just being picked up at random. This website's newspaper team, which was in Ambedkar Nagaar on Wednesday night at 9.30 pm was witness to this. When policemen got hold of 18-year-old Ram Bangde, Dr Sunil Takayade rushed to intervene. The doctor 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 eating lunch at home when the rioting was taking place. "At 2 am, the police came and took him away. "We are waiting for him to come back." It has been a trying week for all concerned. 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 whirlwind tour of the area on Wednesday, the day when an all-party bandh was being observed. Assurances and promises flew thick, but woes re-visit the Ambedkar Nagar after dusk as midnight knocks are heard.