. . . . . . "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

Wednesday, September 10, 2003  
Alleging Govt insensitivity, Dalits embrace Buddhism

Indian Express - 9 September

The family of Raman Vankar Solanki, the Dalit youth who was allegedly killed by upper caste residents of Bhetasi village of Anklav taluka in Anand district, embraced Buddhism on Tuesday to protest against the insensitivity of administration and government.

About two dozen other Dalits of the village accompanied the family in embracing Buddhism.

Raman, who was beaten up by men from Darbar community of the village on July 25 for allegedly sitting inside a temple, had died on August 8. And though the post mortem report said that he died of dry drowning, family members claim that he was murdered by upper castes.

Raman’s sister, Vimla Solanki, said that the murder took place a day after she filed a police complaint on August 7, naming four Darbars for beating her brother on July 25.

‘‘They had not only beaten him, but chased him inside Dalit quarters of the village. After that we received regular threats and a day after our complaint, my brother was killed,’’ she said.

Calling the conversion a step in desperation, Vimla said that faced with threats to life they were left with no option but to leave the Hindu religious fold. ‘‘When being a Hindu we cannot sit in a temple, why continue to take the abuses?.’’

Vimla, a post graduate, used to work in fields as agricultural labourers along with her brother. Tuesday’s conversion was carried out by Vishwa Boudha Sangh, a Dalit right’s body involved in conversions in the state. Its national general secretary, Bhante Sanghpriya, said that the conversions were carried out to show the anger of oppressed people against the unjust social order.

‘‘The Dalits in the village are angry. We helped them to come out of the morass. Twenty two pledges of Buddhism were administered amidst chants of Panchsheel mantra,’’ said Sanghpriya.

The family claims they continue to live in danger. ‘‘On September 3, I again received a letter, threatening that I would be killed. We are so scared that we do not move out of our house too often. People in the village do not come to meet us,’’ says Vimla.

Her cousin Shantilal Vankar, who also embraced Buddhism, says that the divide in the village is so complete that not even the sarpanch is coming towards Dalit quarters of Vankar Vas. ‘‘If this continues, then all Dalits in the village would embrace Buddhism. The case is being hushed up and the killers roam around freely, threatening us,’’ says Shantilal.

Interestingly, police still sticks to the drowning theory as the reason behind Raman’s death. Contesting it, Vimla says that if that had been the case, how come Raman died at the residence? ‘‘On the day he died, he returned to home gasping for breath, and died immediately. He just uttered the words mar dala before succumbing,’’ said Vimla.

Deputy Superintendent of Police J G Saiyad, who is the investigating officer, when contacted said, that the FSL report of viscera has come but is yet to be studied in detail. ‘‘The reason as the doctors have explained is that Raman died of dry drowning, a condition which occurs when a person takes water in asphyxiated condition,’’ said Saiyad. He also denied that there was any tension prevailing in the village.

About the recent threat received by Vimla, Saiyad said that he has taken the writing samples of the suspects and sent them to hand writing experts. But Vimla still feels that nothing would come out as some political hand is behind hushing up the case. ‘‘I am in danger, scared, don’t know what to do and how,’’ she says. Four SRP constables have been posted outside the Dalit quarters for security.

9:56 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003  
Punjab: Bonded labourers take out cycle rally

Press Trust of India - 7 September

A group of bonded labourers from various parts of Punjab and Haryana, who took shelter with a Phillaur-based NGO, arrived here on a cycle rally and held a demonstration today.

"It is a group of over 50 bonded labourers who worked on farms and were given inhuman treatment by their employers. Some have been rescued by us while some have taken shelter with our organisation," said Ajay Dogra, Chandigarh Convenor of the NGO, Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan (DDVA).

He said the DDVA-organised rally had started from Dalel Singhwala in Mansa (Punjab) on August 16 and from here the rallyists would proceed to Delhi and stage a dharna outside Parliament complex on September 15.

As many as 23 bonded labourers from the lot of 50 who escaped from captivity and took shelter with the NGO, had to be shifted to Chandigarh after they feared "grave threat" to their lives from their employers.

These bonded labourers have already complained to the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes highlighting their plight, Dogra said.

The 23 of the Dalit bonded labourers have been staging a dharna here since August 8 and the NGO has sent the women and children from their families who joined them here, to its Transit Rehabilitation Centre at Phillaur.

6:13 PM

href="http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_367155,000600010002.htm">Puthiya Tamizhagam demands Sept 11 as dalit awakening day : HindustanTimes.com

Press Trust of India - 8 September

Puthiya Tamizhagam, a dalit party on Monday demanded that September 11, as the day of backward classes and dalit awakening day, in memory of the late Immanuel Sekaran, who lost his life in an agitation against untouchability a few years ago.
P T president Dr K Krishnasamy, in a statement, said even DMK founder C N Annadurai, had praised the sacrifice made by Immanuel.

Both the central and Tamil Nadu governments should declare September 11, Immanuel's death anniversary, as backward classes and dalit awakening day, he said.

He said PT would conduct a silent march to Immanuel's memorial at Paramakudi at Ramanathapuram district on that day.

6:11 PM

350 Dalits convert to Buddhism in Gujarat

Press Trust of India - 9 September

Around 350 Dalits today reportedly embraced Buddhism in several villages of Anand district of Gujarat as a prologue to the Buddhism conversion programme scheduled for next month in the region.

Several families and individuals shaved off their heads, performed Buddhist rites and chanted mantras and completed religious formalities to convert to Buddhism, Bhante Sanghpriye, national general secretary of Vishwa Boudh Sangh said here.

Bhante said 30 persons of a remote Dalit dominated village, including four of a family, embraced the religion while in the coastal town of Khambhat around 200 persons converted.

6:09 PM

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