"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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Friday, August 29, 2003
Backward muslims oppose reservation for all Muslims
Deepika Global - 29 August
A leading oganisation of dalit and backward caste Muslims in Bihar has opposed Congress suggestion of giving reservation in government jobs to all Muslims on the plea that the Mandal Commission had already identified the vulnerable section among the community for the puspose.
''Advocating reservation for the entire community means extending the facility to 'sawarn' (upper caste) Muslims also,'' Pasmanda Muslim Mahaaj (PMM) president Ali Anwar and general secretary Mohammad Usman Halalkhor said in a statement here yesterday.
Of the total Muslim population, 80 per cent come from other backward classes (OBCs) and deserve reservation, they added.
Asking for categorisation of Muslim dalits as scheduled castes, PMM said this community like Sikhs is not a monolithic or homogenous entity as some of them are most developed while a majority are poor, dalits and OBCs.
The Congress should not repeat earlier mistakes by seeking resrvation for all Muslims as such a move will further communalise the polity in the country.
The Bihar government has already adopted a resolution to this effect, which has been sent to the Centre, for it to take up the matter at the national level.
The Mahaaj will organise a national level rally at Patna shortly to highlight this issue.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Three Dalit minors rescued from rape, bondage
Times of India - 28 August
Three minor Dalit girls, all of them migrants from Orissa working in a brick kiln in Kowkoor in Alwal, were sexually assaulted by their employers over a period of one and a half years.
The accused -- kiln owners Mohammed Feroz Khan, 30, and Mohammed Ayub Khan, 25, and contractor Sanju Sagaria -- were arrested on Wednesday. Alwal police registered a case under Sections 376 (rape) of the CrPC and the SC, ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act against Feroz and Ayub. They, along with the contractor, also face another case of engaging bonded labour.
The girls were part of a group of 50 labourers from Bolangir district who migrated here in search of work. Sagaria contracted them for the Khans’ brick unit, police said. They were paid a pittance.
After repeated sexual assaults, one of the girls became pregnant. She fled the kiln and went back to Bolangir and informed an NGO, Friends Association for Rural Reconstruction (FARR). Bijoy Kumar Gupta of FARR came to Hyderabad in search of the other labourers and found them at Kowkoor village in Rangareddy district. He informed Action Aid, another NGO, which tipped off the Cyberabad police commissioner M Mahendar Reddy.
Dalit girls raped in labour camp
gunaah.com - 28 August
The police have arrested two men for illegally detaining and raping three minor girls from the Dalit community, hailing from Orissa.
According to the police the girls were confined in a labour camp at Alwal and were allegedly raped by their employers who owned a nearby brick kiln. The police have rescued the girls and have arrested the owners of the kiln. They have also managed to rescue over 25 other workers from the same community.
The raid was conducted with the help of an NGO known as Action-Aid. The accused have been identified as Feroz Khan and his brother Ayoob Khan.
VHP to launch reconversion drive in Kerala
newindpress.com - 28 August 2003
Encouraged by the overwhelming response to its reconversion drive in some North Indian States, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is all set to attempt a similar movement in Kerala.
'Dharma Prasar,' a VHP outfit which spearheaded the drive in selected states, will chalk out its Kerala strategies at its three-day national meet slated to begin here on August 29.
A communiqué detailing the project has been sent to NSS, SNDP and Devaswom Boards. Sources said the initial feedback from the Devaswom Board has been quite encouraging.
Meanwhile, the Dharma Prasar has made elaborate groundwork in Kerala as a prelude to its drive in line with the modus operandi of Christian missionaries.
Its "missionaries" have already begun their works in Idukki district, one of the most potential areas identified by its research team.
According to Dr Puthezhathu Ramachandran, the VHP's national vice-president, they have already deputed six missionaries in the interiors of Idukki who regularly hold Sunday gatherings at Pampanar Sri Subramania Temple in Peermedu.
"We have also plans to open "Ekal Vidyalayas" in selected districts in the State, in addition to launching several social service projects, including opening of orphanages across the State," he said.
Maintaining that the movement was not aimed at reconversion but to facilitate "home coming" of the "transgressed sect," Dr Ramachandran said "there is a demand for self-preservation of the Hindu society from the grassroots. The Kochi meet will prepare a blueprint of Kerala operations."
According to him, the Dharma Prasar's mission has proved a great success in the Christian-dominated Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, and a few districts in Rajasthan.
The VHP has already opened its missionary training centre at Peermedu.
"Our idea is to train at least 10 missionaries every six months. We know our mission requires large resources. But going by the initial response we feel that funds would not be a constraint to carry out the agenda. Several religious institutions, including all Devaswom Boards, have offered their total co-operation to our historic venture," said another top VHP leader.
"Like any other State in India, a major section of Dalit Christians in Kerala feels that it is being discriminated by the Church. The promises given to it by the Churches have not been fulfilled. The Dalits feel cheated. The Kochi meet will chalk out strategies that would enable them to embrace their ancestral tradition," said Mohan Joshi, VHP's central secretary who is here to attend the meet.
Over 100 top leaders of VHP from various states, including Acharya Giriraj Kishore, R Vedantham, and Mohan Joshi will attend the three-day meet.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
‘Include Dalit issues in peace talks’
Kathmandu Post (Nepal) - 22 August
Rajan Bishwokarma, vice-president of Nepal Dalit Association charged that the third round of peace talks did not include Dalit issues though they (the Dalits) had submitted a list of points.
Speaking at a press meet here today she said, "Talks should address our issues properly in the fourth round of peace talks. If we are excluded from the talks, we say the talk is against us," she added.
Lal Bahadur Bishwokarma, central advisor of Dalit Victims Association, said the state never showed any concern over Dalit issues and the state used Dalits as a commodity whenever any political crisis arose. He said to solve the Dalit’s problems, there should be proper implementation of law.
"Just passing laws is not enough, there should be strict criteria for law implementation", he said. He said the declaration of the reservation for Dalits was not enough and that there should be clear vision about the reservation provided. "Concept of reservation should be defined," he observed.
Similarly, Durga Sob of Dalit Women Association stressed five percent reservation of Dalit women. "Present concept of 25 percent reservation will not include Dalit women," she said. "The steps followed by the government are praiseworthy but not enough," she said.
Dalits socially boycotted
Kathmandu Post (Nepal) - 22 August
Dalits residing in ward No-8 Dodhana Village Development Committee in Siraha were beaten up and socially excluded by the so-called high caste people after one of the Dalits was charged of worshipping in the sacred temple of Dihabar Than.
Central member of the Dalit Sangam Group and the Empowerment Adult Literacy Class Centre, Mukhi Das, Raj Kumar Biswokarma and some Dalits in the villages were thrashed stating that they are not allowed into the temple.
The incident took place after a local Pujan Mukhia Das has entered into the temple to offer milk.
Meanwhile, the group’s chairperson, Ramwati Biswokarma, has filed a written complaint at the Ilaka Administration Office, Lahan, demanding fulfilment of right to enter public places.
Activists urge media to take Dalit issues more seriously
Himalayan Times (Nepal) - 22 August
Dalit activists today flayed the media for not giving enough space for the Dalit issues.
"Most of the reporting has been superficial and lacks in-depth study of the situation relating to the caste discrimination and untouchability," said Subhash Darnal, president, Jagaran Media Centre. The centre had carried out a three-month survey on 'Dalit in Nepali Press' last year.
"The discrimination of the Dalits by the so-called upper caste has only been reported while the structural violence faced by them has been ignored," said he.
"The media persons need to be sensitive while writing about the Dalit issues and other discriminatory issues."
According to the report, The Annapurna Post topped all the vernacular dailies by printing a maximum of 108 reports on Dalit issues though it still lacked proper placement. During the monitoring period of three months, altogether 591 reports had been printed in the vernacular dailies out of which 70 were seminar news while 18 were news reports. Altogether nine daily newspapers and 15 weeklies were the source of research. "The positive efforts to end the untouchability has been widely covered than that of the subject of untouchability itself," said Darnal.
NHRC writes to PM on scavenging
Asian Age - 24 August
The National Human Rights Commission has urged the Prime Minister to instruct the concerned agencies to immediately end the manual scavenging practice within a specific time frame.
The NHRC, concerned about the "demeaning" and "degrading" practice of manual scavenging in various parts of the country, has also written to the Prime Minister on the issue. NHRC chairman Justice (Retd) A.S. Anand, stated in a written communication to the Prime Minister, "Despite your assurances that the need to end the practice of manual scavenging was included as part of the 15-point initiative on 15 August 2002, it is a sad commentary that the inhuman practice still continues in several states."
He said, "The practice of manual scavenging in an affront to human dignity and a major social evil which needs to be eliminated." The commission was deeply concerned about the degrading practice of manual handling of night soil.
The NHRC had been "writing to you as well as to the chief minister of respective states to put a end to this socially degrading age-old practice."
"I therefore, request you to kindly direct the authorities concerned to take immediate necessary steps to end the practice of manual scavenging within a specific time frame," the NHRC chairman stated. The letter also said that the commission has been urging the states to make a commitment to put a stop to this practice at least by Gandhi Jayanti.
The letter also drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which stated that the decades-long government effort to end the practice has failed.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Row over Tanvir's play continues
NDTV - 25 August 2003, by Rubina Khan Shapoo
The controversy over Habib Tanvir's play on the bias against Dalits continues to have a political fallout in Madhya Pradesh.
More than 150 activists, many of them writers and theatre artistes gathered outside the BJP office in Bhopal to protest against the stifling of the freedom of speech.
But they were suddenly outnumbered by a large number of BJP, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal workers. The activists had to be rescued by the police who promptly called this an attack on culture.
"Mr Tanvir was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Prime Minister and they are attacking a person of his stature. This is not an attack on just Mr Tanvir but on the whole of Indian culture," said Asha Mishre, Gyan Vigyan Andolan.
The row is over the staging of plays in a programme called Sadhbavana by Tanvir.
His play Ponga Pandit, is a satire depicting the anti-Dalit slant of the caste system. The BJP has been disrupting the plays alleging that the Digvijay government is using Tanvir to malign the Hindu religion.
"They are stooges of Digvijay Singh. The BJP youth wing and sensitive people who cannot bear anti-Hindu sentiments have come together to protest," said Romeshwar Sharma, BJP leader, MP unit.
There is also the issue that in the wake of November elections, this hue and cry may not go down well with the Dalits who the BJP has been trying hard to woo.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Dalit atrocities: Advani passes buck to states
Indian Express - 22 August
Members of Opposition parties, normally vocal on the rights of the states, today pleaded for a Central intervention to protect Dalits against atrocities. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, on the other hand, contended that the Centre, even though concerned, had a limited role.
He maintained: ‘‘The primary responsibility is of the states. The Centre does not have the authority to act under the present Constitution. The Centre’s job is to advise states from time to time.’’
Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan, who was persistent with his demand for stronger action against the accused in the Jhajjar case, remained unconvinced. ‘‘I have never seen India’s Home Minister as helpless as today. Please don’t say you are helpless.’’
Advani said special cells have been set up in 17 states and a Union Territory to deal with the problem. A total of 37 special courts have also been constituted in 10 states. A dozen states — AP, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, MP, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, TN and UP — have identified the areas prone to atrocities against Dalits.
Regarding Jhajjar, he said the Haryana government had informed him that the trial of the accused was on, while a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each had been given to the next of kin of those killed.
When Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) and Paswan asked him not to go by what the Haryana government has said, Advani said he was bound by norms. He had to go by the state version, whether it was Haryana or West Bengal.
Dalit woman accuses ‘pimp’ husband of harassment
Indian Express - 22 August
A Dalit woman working as domestic help has accused her husband of working as a pimp and of trying to force her into prostitution. She today met Panchkula Superintendent of Police (SP) who ordered registration of a case against the husband. She has been married for seven years. Anita said every time she somehow managed to dodge her husband’s intentions.
The SP today ordered a case to be registered against the husband. Talking to Newsline, Anita, who has a 10-year old daughter and a 7-year-old son from the first marriage, said her husband left her six months ago after he developed illicit relations with a woman. ‘‘ Some time ago, my husband sent Bhagat at the room where I stay with my children. He told me that his husband has charged Rs 200 from him and has permitted him to spend the night with me’’, she said, tears rolling down her cheeks. Anita said she created a hue and cry following which Bhagat fled. Her husband, she said, now stays with one Gurmeet Singh in Morinda (Punjab). ‘‘Several men with my husband’s reference have been coming to my room with such offers’’, she said, adding that at times she has been sexually harassed. ‘‘My daughter also works as a domestic help. Who knows what could happen,’’ she added. SP Panchkula Ranbir Sharma said he has directed the SHO of the Sector 19 police station to investigate and register a case against the accused.
Shed inhibitions against dalits: Advani
The Hindu - 22 August
The Centre has asked the State Governments to ensure that cases of atrocities on dalits should go not uninvestigated, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani today said.
Replying to a discussion on atrocities on dalits in various parts of the country, raised by Ram Vilas Paswan (Lok Janasakti) in the Lower House yesterday, Advani said 17 special courts have been set up to investigate complaints of dalits. He said these courts are in 12 states.
He agreed to suggestions made by members that cases of atrocities on dalits should be taken up seriously. He also favoured setting up of task forces in places where dalits are in large numbers.
Referring to complaints of demolition of Ravidas temples in the capital and Chandigarh as pointed out by Paswan, he assured the House that there would be no discrimination in removing only dalit temples from areas of encroachment.