. . . . . . "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, June 09, 2004  
The Hindu
9 june 2004

Maharashtra plans 52 per cent quota for `disadvantaged' in private sector
By Mahesh Vijapurkar

The Maharashtra Government will enforce 52 per cent reservation for almost all jobs in the private sector by July 30 but some unspecified exceptions may be made to address "genuine issues."

The rules for this quota, the first-ever in India, are being framed under an enactment adopted in December last year and in force since January 29, according to Vijay Kumar Gavit, Maharashtra Minister of State, General Administration. This is "steps ahead of the Centre's proposal under the Common Minimum Programme," he said.

The jobs to be set aside, for some sections of people, with the percentage in brackets, are: the Scheduled Castes (13), Scheduled Tribes (7), De-notified Tribes (3), Nomadic Tribes (8), Special Backward Category (2) and Other Backward Classes (19) add up to 52 per cent and is on par with what is enforced in the Government sector.

Asked if the private sector would accept these quotas, the Industry Minister, Dr. Patangrao Kadam told The Hindu :"We don't intend to do anything that will drive the private sector out of Maharashtra since we need to at least retain the levels of investments here" but "we will take all industry organisations into confidence."

Flexibility possible

These issues are already being contemplated by those who are framing the rules under the Act which prescribes the quota. Dr. Gavit said that "we know that this would not be favoured by the multinationals but we will have to find ways to deal with their concerns."

The private sector is actually covered under the description of "any Government-aided institution: those that are recognised, licensed, supervised or controlled by Government."

Dr. Gavit said: "In the Select Committee it was realised that a lot of Government-owned companies may ultimately be privatised. We need to sustain the existing quotas there. Then the idea of the private sector came in.

Read the full story

7:01 AM

Tuesday, June 08, 2004  
June 7 2004

US body condemns discrimination against Dalit student

TROY (MICHIGAN): A Hindu organisation in the US has condemned reported discrimination against a Dalit student who was allegedly victimised for offering prayers in a Hindu temple in India's Andhra Pradesh state.

Navya Shastra, which professes spiritual equality of all Hindus, has also promised financial assistance to Tukaram, 19, to meet his educational costs.

The boy scored a first class in his intermediate examinations and visited the village temple of Hanuman to make the traditional coconut offering in Allapur, Andhra Pradesh. When members of the upper caste community discovered this they condemned the boy and extorted Rs.500 fine from his apologetic father, Tulsiram.

They also purified the temple by washing it with cow urine and dung so as to efface the imprints of an "untouchable," according to Vikram Masson, co-chairman of the organisation.

Such community-based discrimination continues in India despite a constitutional ban and strict legal safeguards against community discrimination. "Tukaram must know that others in the Hindu world strongly condemn such actions," said Jaishree Gopal, the other co-chairman of the organisation.

"Navya Shastra will award Tukaram a scholarship to help his family with Tukaram's educational costs and sincerely hopes that the Indian government and religious leaders will pay more attention to the apartheid in our midst," said Gopal.

7:18 AM

June 8 2004 00:00 IST

Dalit bedridden after ‘torture’ by cops
TIRUNELVELI: It is over 10 days now since he went out for work. Mottaiyan, a coolie residing at Lathikulam under Moolakaraipatti police station limits, is the sole breadwinner of his family, but he is unable to stir out of his bed.

This 27-year-old Dalit youth was bedridden on May 25 after he was allegedly tortured by the police for two days.

It all started after his relative Lakshmi filed a complaint with the police stating that Mottaiyan had misappropriated Rs 23,000 belonging to her husband Karuppan. Mottaiyan, who claims that he was illegally detained and tortured by the police, has accused sub inspector Madasamy of Moolaikaraipatti police station and five other cops of beating him brutally.

‘‘They made me stand in my briefs and chained my hands to the metal bars of a cell. Then Madasamy and the other cops thrashed me with patchai mattai (palm tree frond stems). They stamped on my chest with their boots and kicked me in the abdomen several times’’.

Mottaiyan says that he had some years ago helped Karrupan open an account at the local Canara Bank branch. Karuppan had sometime ago reportedly withdrawn all his deposits for constructing a house. Soon after, Lakshmi had lodged the complaint with the police alleging that Mottaiyan had cheated him.

Two policemen attached to the Moolakaraipatti station reportedly picked him up for ‘enquiry’ on the morning of May 24. ‘‘The entire day, they tortured me. I suffered serious injuries on my back, buttocks and hands. My mother Muthachi came to see me at the station. The cops abused her and ordered her to bring my bank passbook’’.

Mottaiyan claims that two policemen then took him to the bank on the SI’s direction and forced him to withdraw Rs 13,000 from his account. ‘‘The SI kept the amount and the passbook with him. The cops then beat me up again and the SI demanded another Rs 10,000 for my release’’.

Later, M Parvati, town panchayat chairperson, and Rajendran, a social worker with the Nanguneri-based Rural Uplift Centre (RUC), found Mottaiyan lying in a delirious state in the Moolaikaraipatti bus stand. The duo got him admitted to the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital.

RUC secretary Maria James and local leaders of the DMK, MDMK and other political parties visited Mottaiyan at the hospital. They have decided to protest the injustice by holding a dharna at Moolaikaraipatti bus stand on June 8.

Mottaiyan’s wife Madathi has submitted a petition to the National Human Rights Commission demanding criminal action against the SI and the five other cops and to order them to return his savings of Rs 13,000. She has also sought compensation for the physical and mental torture suffered by her husband.

Read the full story

7:07 AM

Monday, June 07, 2004  
The Japan Times
June 5, 2004

'Burakumin' descendants still suffering
Links to former outcast class bring misery to relationships, workplace

The Associated Press

A daughter's engagement is a time of joy for any proud father.
Not so for Ikuo Aoki: His daughter was thrown out of her boyfriend's family home when the young couple went there to announce their plans to marry.

The reason was unstated but well-understood -- Aoki is a descendant of Japan's former "burakumin" outcast class, a distinction that has brought his family a lifetime of ridicule, discrimination and abuse.

Ethnically identical to other Japanese, the burakumin suffered for centuries at the bottom of the feudal hierarchy, digging graves, chopping meat and performing other jobs associated under Buddhism and the native Shinto religion with the impurities of death.

In recent decades, the former untouchables have made vast strides. Slums have been cleaned up, education levels have risen and many burakumin descendants have quietly blended into the rest of society.

But more than a century after Japan's caste system was abolished in 1871, they still face the injustice of bigotry: scuttled marriage engagements, the taunts of strangers and rejected job applications.

"There has been some progress," said Takao Yoshida of the Buraku Liberation League, Japan's largest outcast rights group. "But you face discrimination whenever you're at life's turning points, such as marriage and employment. You just can't avoid it."

Known in the feudal period as either "filth" or "nonhuman," the outcasts were legally trapped below the warrior, artisan, farmer and merchant classes, which were themselves ranked in this descending order. The burakumin had to follow a dress code and were restricted to living in special hamlets.

It still happens. Japan's enduring family registry system -- which keeps a file on every Japanese citizen's background going back generations -- means that potential marriage partners or employers have a way of uncovering burakumin origins.

"We have the same skin color and we speak the same language, so the burakumin discrimination is difficult to understand from outside Japan," said Satoshi Uesugi, a historian at Kansai University in Osaka. "It's because Japanese judge others by bloodline and birthplace."

According to a government survey conducted in 1993, about 900,000 Japanese with burakumin background lived in 4,442 ancestral villages nationwide. Rights groups say 2 million others now live outside their hamlets.

Fear of being tainted by this stigma has led detective agencies to compile lists of burakumin descendants that families can use to screen their children's proposed marriage partners, or for businesses to check the pedigree of job applicants.

The discrimination has an economic impact as well.

A recent survey conducted by an activist group showed that unemployment in their communities was roughly twice the national average of about 5 percent. Students of buraku descent advance to higher education at only 60 percent of the national average.

The economic dimension of discrimination has taken on greater importance over the past decade as Japan's finances have faltered.

"When economy and labor conditions improve elsewhere, the effect reaches us much later," said Buraku Liberation League President Shigeyuki Kumisaka. "Many of us work at small companies and our living conditions are still very vulnerable."

Then there's just plain harassment -- something Aoki has known all his life.

When Aoki was a child, his parents moved regularly, changing their registered address in an effort to hide their identity. Even today, he gets harassment letters that spew hatred and abuse on a daily basis.

Read the full story

7:58 AM

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