. . . . . . "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, October 15, 2003  
Times of India, October 12
PATNA: The state unit of the CPI-ML said that tension between Brahmins and Dalits at Bahera village of Bhabhua district had created a volatile situation and steps must be taken to ease it in the larger interest of the people.

The tension had taken a gory turn on October 4 when Dalits were beaten up and one of them fell prey to bullets. The local administration was giving only false assurance that action would be taken against the culprits, the party added.

A three-member fact-finding team of the ML, led by state committee member Ravishankar Ram, informed mediapersons on Saturday about one such incident in which a 60-year-old Dalit, Ramlal Ram, was gunned down by Brahmins because his son had dared to visit Mundeshwari Mandir to pay obeisance to Goddess Durga on October 4.

This was not liked by the dominant Brahmins of the locality. They picked up the boy and beat him up. The boy managed to escape. An infuriated Brahmin ran towards Ramlal Ram's residence with his rifle. The gun-totting man found Ramlal on the way and without any provocation shot him dead.

Former ML MP Rameshwar Prasad said that inspite of the fact that Dalits also contributed monetarily towards the Durga Puja celebrations they were not allowed to visit the temple premises. In fact, he said that the upper castemen were sore over the fact that the Dalits were joining the ML party.

Party MLA Satyadeo Ram said that a protest rally will be taken out on Sunday at Bahera village and this would be followed by a "Janpanchayat" on October 22 to discuss atrocities perpetrated on Dalits. The Janpanchayat would be addressed by Rameshwar Prasad and Satyadeo Ram, besides other senior leaders of the party.

The party has demanded adequate compensation to the family of Ramlal Ram, besides seizing of arms of upper caste people who have let loose a reign of terror in the region.

11:28 AM

Tuesday, October 14, 2003  
BJP to launch stir for Dalits’ temple entry

Times of India - 13 October, by Alok Chamaria

SASARAM: The BJP will conduct a survey of such temples and other religious places in the state where Dalits are denied entry for offering prayers or prasad. And after identifying such temples and other religious places, an agitation will be launched for Dalits’ entry into them.

An announcement to this effect was made by leader of the opposition in the state assembly Sushil Kumar Modi on Sunday at Bahera village of Kaimur district, where a Dalit was shot dead when he tried to offer prayers and prasad to the goddess during the Durga Puja on October 4, defying the long-standing ban imposed by upper castes.

Modi promised that without caring for the political implications of his decision, he would himself lead the agitation for Dalits’ entry into the religious places. He called upon all the political parties to join the fight against such social evils.

The BJP leader lauded The Times of India for breaking the news of the incident. He criticised other mediapersons in Kaimur for “failing to highlight the incident”. He urged mediapersons to see to it that the case is not hushed up by the vested interests.

He criticised the RJD-led government, alleging that while the “de facto chief minister” Laloo Prasad Yadav claims that Dalits and backwards in the state have been given respect during his 13-year rule, atrocities on Dalits have been increasing day by day. He also criticised the local administration for its “partiality” in the whole episode.

He claimed that the DM and SP of Kaimur visited the spot nine days after the incident when the matter was raised before the visiting chairman of the SC-ST Commission in Patna. Modi said the chairman of the commission assured him that he would send a fact-finding team to Bahera. He demanded setting up of a police picket in the village.

He threatened to launch an agitation if the accused are not arrested within a week. He said he would write to the Bihar DGP and his Jharkhand counterpart for action against the three named accused police personnel, adding that the accused police personnel are trying to show that they were on duty at their respective place of posting on that day.

Modi shared the dais with the leaders of CPI(M-L), CPM and BSP, who jointly organised a protest rally in the village on Sunday.

In what appears to be a damage control exercise, Kaimur’s DM Mihir Kumar Singh and SP G S Gangwar visited the village nine days after the incident. They went into the temple of Lord Shiv with the Dalits of the village and performed hawan and puja.

The DM also met the family members of the slain Dalit and announced that the family would be given Rs 2 lakh. Sources said the DM and SP were forced to visit the village when the SC-ST Commission chairman, on the representation of opposition leaders, asked chief minister Rabri Devi about the incident.

After reaching the village, the DM persuaded the upper caste people to accompany them on the occasion of Dalits’ entry into the temple.

11:33 PM

Police Repression on Dalit Rally
An Undeterred KVPS Marches On

People's Democracy - 12 October, by M Venugopala Rao

WHEN hundreds of dalits responding to the call of the Kulavivaksha Vyatireka Porata Sangham (KVPS – which translates to ‘Struggle Committee Against Caste Discrimination’) marched to the state assembly on September 29 to press their long-pending demands, the Chandrababu Naidu government received them with indiscriminate lathicharge and arrests.

One of the main demands of the dalits was setting up of a state-level commission on SCs and STs – for which demand the leaders of the KVPS had undertaken an indefinite fast at Indira Park from September 25.

The dalits coming from different parts of the state gathered at Indira Park on September 29 to take out a procession to the legislative assembly to represent their demands to the government. With the police obstructing them, they held a dharna there and later went in a procession to Basheerbagh, where heavily deployed police did not permit even their delegation to go to the assembly to submit a memorandum to the chief minister. Irked by this, the rallyists tried to proceed towards the assembly. The notorious brutality of the Andhra police was in full display. They resorted to indiscriminate lathicharge and beat the rallyists black and blue, not sparing even women and children. KVPS leader Bhupal, APAWU leader B Venkat, CITU leader P Bhaskar and Pandavulu of East Godavari district were severely beaten up. When P Madhu, CPI(M) state secretariat member and G Ramulu, KVPS vice president, went there to see the injured leaders, the police did not spare even these two leaders and used lathis on them. The injured leaders were admitted in a hospital.

There was a huge outcry over the police repression on dalits. The lathicharge and arrests were strongly condemned by state leaders of KVPS, CITU, All India Lawyers Union, AP Rythu Sangham, Congress Legislature Party leader Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and CPI(M) floor leader in the assembly N Narasimhaiah. Deputy leader of CLP Dr P Sankar Rao, MLA B Venkateswarlu and CPI leader Jelli Wilson visited the camp of hunger strike and extended their support to the struggle of KVPS.

Later, a delegation comprising KVPS leaders, G Ramulu, Gangadhar and Mallesh, CPI(M) leader P Madhu and AIDWA president, S Punyavathy, met the chief minister and represented the demands of KVPS. Though the chief minister expressed his willingness to constitute the SC, ST Commission, he did not specify any time limit.

The proceedings of the assembly were stalled for nearly 40 minutes on the same day, with Dr Rajasekhara Reddy and other members of the Congress repeatedly insisting on a discussion and a statement by the government on setting up the Commission. When the speaker disallowed the adjournment motion notice given by them the House plunged into chaos. Next day, on September 30, the issue of police lathicharge on dalits was raised by the CPI(M) through an adjournment motion notice. With the speaker disallowing the same, CPI(M) members N Narasimhaiah and S Rajayya rushed to the podium and argued with the speaker. With heated arguments, the proceedings of the House were stalled for half an hour. The chief minister intervened to say that he wanted some time to appoint the SC, ST Commission.

On September 30, rasta rokos were conducted across the state and effigies of the CM burnt to protest this brutal attack on dalits. In Hyderabad, hundreds of dalits and others took out a procession and a public meeting was held at RTC cross roads, which was addressed by the CPI(M) state secretariat member, Y Venkateswara Rao.

In the early morning of September 30, a large posse of police arrested the fasting leaders of KVPS and shifted them to the Gandhi hospital where John Wesley continued his indefinite fast. Later, CPI(M) MLA, S Rajayya, Congress MLA, P Lakshmaiah, and TDP MP, Dr M Jagannadham, came to the hospital and gave lemon juice to Wesley to give up his fast, conveying that the government has agreed to the demand of the KVPS.


Having led several struggles over the years on the issues of dalits, supported by the CPI(M) and mass organisations, KVPS could achieve some results and extract assurances from the government on certain issues. The setting up of Justice K Punnaiah Commission and following its recommendations enactment of Prohibition of Atrocities on SCs and STs Act was a result of the KVPS struggle. However, the government’s failure in curbing growing attacks by upper caste people on the dalits and tribals is continuing. Though the government gave an assurance to set up 94 mini, medium and mega leather parks, no land has been acquired so far for the purpose. Though the government gave an assurance to set up SC, ST Commission two years back, and the Act came into effect from June this year, it has not initiated any action to set up the Commission. Contrary to the assurance given earlier to distribute endowment lands to dalits, the government is auctioning the same. The state government continues to fail to implement its assurance to conduct inquiry into the massacre of dalits in Chundur village and to give land and employment to the families of the victims. The KVPS has been making several demands, including distribution of 3 acres each of endowment lands to dalit families, announcing and filling up of backlog vacant posts in the government reserved for SCs and STs, implementation of Justice Punnaiah Commission’s recommendations and Prohibition of Atrocities on SCs and STs Act, financial assistance to couples of inter-caste marriage and employment to either wife or husband, employment to one member in the family of a victim of rape and murder, etc.

Despite repeated requests by the KVPS on all these issues, no response is forthcoming from the government. It is against this background that the KVPS decided to conduct a 15-day campaign against caste discrimination and on all these issues. The KVPS delegations represented to leaders of various political parties and requested them to discuss the issues of dalits and STs in the assembly.

John Wesley, state secretary of KVPS, Simhachalam, Srikakulam district secretary and Venu, Warangal district committee member, began an indefinite fast from September 25 at Indira Park in Hyderabad for achieving the above-mentioned demands. Inaugurating the fast, P Ramayya, KVPS state president and CPI(M) central committee member, explained that representations were submitted to all the district collectors on the issue of discrimination against dalits, but no action has been taken by them. Though the government issued a G O directing Mandal Revenue Officers and Sub- Inspectors of Police to visit villages once in a week as a part of efforts for eradication of untouchability, the order is being observed in breach only. Ramayya told that so far 240 attacks were made on dalits this year and that not even in one case the culprits were punished. K Santa Rao, state secretary of Handloom Weavers Association, I Mysayya, state secretary of Ambedkar Youth Association, B Venkat, state secretary of A P Agricultural Workers Union, P Asayya, state secretary of Washermen Association, Chennayya, state secretary of Dailt Sena, J B Raju, BSP leader, and leaders of several mass organisations expressed their solidarity to the struggle of dalits and to the fast undertaken by the KVPS leaders. CPI(M) MLA Sunnam Rajayya, CPI(ML) New Democracy MLA Gummadi Narsayya, state president of Mala Mahanadu, P V Rao and R Sriram Naik, state general secretary of A P Girijana Sangham, visited the camp of fasting KVPS leaders and extended their support. Every day some of the leaders of mass organisations – AP Agricultural Workers Union, A P Rythu Sangham, AIDWA, SFI, DYFI, Construction Workers Union, etc – participated in the fast in solidarity. AP Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union, Beedi and Cigar Workers Union, AP Medical, Health and Vaidya Vidhana Parishath Employees Union extended their support.

11:06 PM

Dalits converted to Buddhism in Bangalore

Indian Express - 14 October

Coinciding with this day in 1956, when the architect of Indian Constitution, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism, hundreds of Dalits from various parts of karnataka, on Tuesday converted to the same religion, after taking a pledge to renounce Hinduism.
They took the 22-point oath that Ambedkar administered at "dharma" initiation to embrace Buddhism at Nagpur in 1956, at the function organised by the Boudha dharma deeksha committee, including different Dalit bodies and international Buddhist youth organisation.

In their oath, they renounced Hinduism and said that they "firmly believe that Dharma of Buddha is the only true religion".

The number of conversions fell very much short of the claims of the organisers who had projected that 50,000 would embrace Buddhism.

The exact number of people who embraced Buddhism at the gathering, where there were participants from various districts of karnataka, was not available. Organisers said that they were in the process of compiling the number of registrations.

Speakers at the function claimed that Dalits were suffering because of the caste hierarchy in Hinduism and Tuesday's move was to restore their self-respect.

10:48 PM

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