. . . . . . "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

Thursday, September 07, 2006  
Caste discrimination clouds relief effort in flood-hit Rajasthan

One World South Asia
7 September 2006

The natural disaster over, now lower-caste survivors of the floods in Barmer have to face up to the human tragedy of caste discrimination in the distribution of relief, sadly not an uncommon occurrence during disasters in India where help is meted out along caste lines.

While nature and the devastation it can wreak don’t play favourites, the help that comes after that is, unfortunately for the survivors, often more picky. In the recent unprecedented floods that hit the Thar desert in Rajasthan, relief efforts have been dogged by allegations of caste bias. Although the floodwaters in Barmer, the worst hit district in the state, are slowly receding, for lower-caste villagers the relief efforts have brought on a new wave of misery and hopelessness.

Low-caste survivors report that they are being turned away when supplies are handed out, and that trucks don’t stop in predominantly low-caste villages. Jagmal Ram, a potter in flood-ravaged Kawas village, has been hungry for days, as are many others from his community of kumhars (potters) who are low down in the traditional Indian caste hierarchy. After losing his home in the deluge, Jagmal is staying in a temporary tent shelter along with his family. His 11-month-old daughter Ganga has not eaten for the last two days.

It’s not that relief has not come to his village. But, every time the children spot a truck, they end up disappointed because many trucks don’t stop. “We are lower-caste people. No one gives us foodgrain or food, but we too have children and they too get hungry. What do we do when our kids get hungry? If our kids go there, they say ‘go away, you are kumhars’,” says Ganga’s distraught mother. Jagmal says he has lost all hope: “Who will help us? Malis help malis, jaats help jaats, darzis help darzis -- everyone helps their own caste. Who’ll help us? We are poor, hungry and thirsty, and left alone,” he says.

In fact, the region is so sharply divided along caste lines that people actually make lists of villages populated with people belonging to their caste and then begin the relief work on the basis of these lists.


Link to the article

8:13 AM

Monday, September 04, 2006  
Osaka plans to withdraw Dowa project employees

The Daily Yomiuri online
2 September 2006

The Yomiuri Shimbun

OSAKA--An Osaka municipal government committee made a final proposal to the government on Thursday to discontinue a number of its policies for the so-called Dowa communities, including the withdrawal of 275 government employees assigned to work at human rights centers, gymnasiums and welfare facilities for the elderly in the communities.

In the final proposal, the committee, which was set up in June, also urged the municipal government to reduce the number of cooks, nursery teachers and janitors specially assigned to nursery, primary and middle schools in the communities over the city's standard by up to 184.
Residents of the communities have suffered social discrimination based on their ancestry of low-caste hereditary occupational groups.

The committee also urged the city government to review its policy of leasing land free of charge to organizations related to the communities.

Responding to the final proposal, the municipal government will unveil a specific policy review schedule in the near future.

According to the city government, 193 of its employees are specially assigned to gyms, 50 are at human rights centers and 32 at welfare facilities for the elderly in the communities.
In addition, 96 are employed as cooks or in other capacities, along with 78 nursery teachers and 10 janitors at primary, middle and nursery schools in the communities, exceeding the city's standards.

The committee proposed on Thursday that the government consign the management of the facilities to the communities and nonprofit organizations, basically encouraging it to withdraw its employees from the facilities.

The committee also said there was no need to exceed the city standard for allocating workers to the schools, suggesting that the municipal government reduce the number by the end of March 2008.

Link to the article

8:03 AM

Bihar Dalit women's rape: Probe begins

Hindustan Time
3 September 2006

A two-member team of the National Commission for Women (NCW) began a probe on Sunday into the alleged rape of four Dalit women by upper caste men almost a month ago in a Bihar village.

On August 6, the four women from Ramnagar-Gopalpur village in Lakhisarai district were reportedly raped at gunpoint as punishment for not voting for a particular candidate in the panchayat elections.

"A two-member team of NCW began a probe into the rape of four Dalit women by visiting the village and interacting with villagers to ascertain the truth behind the incident," said a district official.

The rape victims filed a complaint with the NCW in New Delhi last month after which a probe team was set up.

According to sources, Dalits in the village have been living under fear as the accused reportedly threatened to kill families who had highlighted the issue and demanded police investigation. Though a police team was deployed in the village, it failed to instil confidence among Dalits.

The police filed a case and arrested the accused only after the victims met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier this week. But they were all released on bail because they were arrested on charges of theft and assault, not rape.

The women also met Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. Lalu's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has demanded an independent probe into the incident while Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party demanded a CBI probe.

Link to the article

7:52 AM

Two dozen Dalit families leave village

The Tribune
3 September 2006

Even as the village panchayat handed over 11 youth of the village, accused of injuring dozens of Dalits with sharp-edged weapons and ransacking their houses on Friday night to the police here today, more than two dozen panic-stricken Dalit families have already left the village.

Gohana village, where houses of Dalits were put on fire by an unruly mob last year, is just 35 km away from this village.

The administration, while accepting all demands of the victims, ordered assessment of the loss of suffered by Dalits and announced that all expenses of their medical treatment would be borne by it. It was also stated that cases against the accused would be registered as per law.

The Dalits had also formed a 10-member committee, which included Mr Atma Ram, a former Sarpanch of the village, and Mr Ram Phal, a sitting member of the panchayat, to take up the matter with the administration.

Hundreds of youth from the village had allegedly attacked Dalit houses in the village in retaliation to the beating up of some youth by Dalits when they were teasing their women folk in a religious congregation on Thursday night.

A heavy police force was deployed at the village yesterday and two of the accused were arrested.

The youth attacked the Dalits with rods and sharp-edged weapons and ransacked more than 50 houses leaving several people injured, 11 of them seriously, alleged Mr Ram Karan, a Dalit.

More than 24 Dalit families had left the village after locking their homes after the incident, informed Mr Ram Mehar, another Dalit, while pointing to the locked houses of Dalits.

The police had booked 43 accused after investigations. More people would be booked in the case whenever their names were brought to the notice of the police, said Mr Babu Ram, SHO, Julana, who was present in the village.

Link to the article

7:48 AM

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