"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
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.
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Dalit Minority international conference to be held in US
30 December 2006
The next international Dalit and Minorities Conference would be held in the United States in 2008.
The date and venue of the conference would be decided later, Sanjay Singh, spokesman of the Lok Janshakti Party whose President and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is the Chairman of Dalit Minorities International Forum, said in Patna on Saturday.
Singh, a member of the Bihar Legislative Council, said Dr S Nakadar will be the Chairman of the next conference and Dr KP Singh its Convenor.
A resolution to this effect was adopted at the end of the two-day Dalit Minorities International Conference held in Delhi on December 27 and 28.
It was decided that the international conference would be held every two years in a foreign country and a minimum of six state conferences would precede each global meet.
The meeting also appointed 27 Convenors for 23 countries, including the US, India, UK, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia, Singh said.
Link to the article
Dalit-Minority International Conference address social discrimination of dalits and problems of minority
OneWorld South Asia
2 January 2006
NEW DELHI: Inaugurating the Dalit-Minority International Conference here on Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was necessary to make a distinction between the problems faced by Dalits and those by minorities. Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said she hoped the two-day Dalit-Minority International Conference here would provide an effective platform for discussion on issues concerning social justice and economic empowerment of these sections in society. Stating that these issues were both of national interest and close to her heart, Ms. Gandhi said the conference was important, as it would raise awareness on these issues and encourage a closer involvement of society as a whole in dealing with the problem of inequality and oppression faced by the most vulnerable sections.
"India cannot truly prosper and progress unless these issues are addressed," Ms. Gandhi said in her message to the conference. She expressed regret that she would not be able to attend it due to prior commitments.
"Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general. Untouchability is not just social discrimination. It is a blot on humanity," Dr. Singh said. Dr. Singh pointed out that even after 60 years of Constitutional and legal protection and State support, Dalits still faced social discrimination. He called for a continued political, social, cultural and intellectual battle against the practice. The Government would take all necessary steps to help in the social, educational and economic empowerment of Dalits.
He said: "In fact, our Government has taken several steps in the past two years to empower the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes both through affirmative action and by reinforcing our Constitutional commitment to reservation and empowerment through education. "The principle that explicit measures should be taken to protect the interests of minorities is an idea embedded in our political discourse and in our Constitutional provisions."
Link to the article
Indian leader likens caste system to apartheid regime
Millions of Dalits still face oppression, says PM · 'Untouchables' lobby for jobs in new businesses
December 28, 2006
By Maseeh Rahman
Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh became the first leader of his country yesterday to compare the condition of low-caste Hindus with that of black South Africans under apartheid.
Mr Singh drew the parallel at a conference in New Delhi on social and caste injustices saying it was modern India's failure that millions of Dalits (meaning "oppressed") were still fighting prejudice.
"Even after 60 years of constitutional and legal protection and support, there is still social discrimination against Dalits in many parts of our country," Mr Singh said.
"Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general. The only parallel to the practice of untouchability was apartheid."
By raising the spectre of apartheid the prime minister has publicly repudiated the stand taken by the previous BJP-led government.
At a UN human rights conference in 2001 Dalit activists had pushed for a resolution linking the treatment of low-caste Hindu "untouchables" to race-based oppression. The resolution proved abortive thanks to concerted opposition from official Indian delegates. They maintained that unlike in apartheid South Africa, the constitution in India does not endorse or tolerate any form of discrimination.
Mr Singh's statement was welcomed by community leaders yesterday.
"This is the first time that an Indian prime minister has linked Dalits with apartheid, and Singh needs to be congratulated for that," said Chander Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer, teacher and activist. "But the more correct comparison would be with the situation of blacks in the US, where affirmative action is helping the community to get jobs in the private sector, including the media."
Activists have been lobbying New Delhi to ensure jobs for Dalits in India's burgeoning business corporations. But though there are proposals to pass a law reserving jobs for Dalits in private companies, Mr Singh's government, faced with opposition from business leaders, appears more keen to use persuasion rather than a legal stick.
"The number of jobs in government is very small compared to the jobs being created in the private sector thanks to a booming economy," said Mr Prasad. "If Singh really wants to help Dalits, he should look into how jobs can be ensured in the private sector."
Yesterday Mr Singh also said it was was a cause for regret that large sections of India's 130 million-strong Muslims had not benefited from the country's rapidly expanding economy.
The Hindu practice of untouchability is illegal in India and although affirmative action providing university admissions and government jobs to low-caste Hindus has helped create a small but vocal middle class among the country's 250 million Dalits, the community still remains abysmally impoverished and oppressed.
Even those Dalits who have benefited from the government's affirmative action can often become victims of upper caste brutality. In a recent case in the western Maharashtra state, four members of a land-owning Dalit family were lynched by a mob of upper-caste Hindus after they were paraded naked in their village and two women were raped.
Anger over the killings in the Maharashtra village was seen as one of the causes of a major riot by Dalits in Mumbai, when trains, buses and cars in India's financial capital were attacked and burned.
The riot proved a reminder that despite all the oppression, sections of Dalits have organised themselves politically to face the upper caste challenge. One of India's most mercurial regional leaders, Mayawati, has even been chief minister of the northern Uttar Pradesh state, where her party is a frontrunner in next year's state assembly elections.
Link to the article
11 chargesheeted for Dalit killings in Khairlanji
27 December 2006
Within a month of beginning a probe into the murder of four members of a Dalit family in Khairlanji village of this district, the CBI today filed a chargesheet against 11 people.
The chargesheet was filed in the court of a judicial magistrate against them for murder, the outraging modesty of women, allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly with deadly weapons, trespass and destruction of evidence as well as offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Attrocities) Act of 1989.
The killing of the four Dalits -- Surekha and her daughter Priyanka and sons Sudhir and Roshan -- on September 29 at Khairlanji village had sparked widespread protests in parts of Maharashtra.
However, the CBI said in its 15-page chargesheet that no rape was committed against the two women who were killed in mob violence.
The accused will be produced in the court tomorrow.
Giving details of the incident, the CBI said the 11 chargesheeted people and others hatched a criminal conspiracy on the evening of September 29 at Khairlanji to murder Bhaiyalal Sudam Bhotmange and his family. They then formed an "unlawful assembly" with deadly weapons and committed criminal trespass into Bhotmange's house in the village.
Uttering casteist remarks, the accused murdered four members of Bhotmange's family, the CBI said.
In order to destroy evidence, the accused threw the dead bodies in Pench canal after the attack. They outraged the modesty of Surekha and Priyanka by removing the clothes from their bodies, the chargesheet alleged.
During the investigation of the killings by Andhalgaon police station, local police arrested 44 accused. The case was later entrusted to the state CID on November 8, which arrested three more persons.
During the investigation by the CBI, the scene of the crime was inspected by an investigating team and experts from CFSL. Witnesses were examined and statements of some of the them were recorded before a magistrate.
During its probe, the CBI found that the Bhotmange family had migrated in 1986 from Deulgaon village to Khairlanji, which has a population predominantly consisting of the Kalar and Kunbi communities of the Other Backward Class category.
The Bhotmange family had strained relations with some of the villagers. A distant relative of Surekha, who was a police patil of Dhusala village in Bhandara district, was a frequent visitor to their house.
He used to intervene in the problems of the Bhotmanges with the villagers, which irked them. The relative of Surekha was involved in an altercation with one of the accused in connection with the non-payment of outstanding wages of his wife and he was assaulted on September 3 this year.
Link to the article
Indian Dalits should unite to fight caste system, says Dalai Lama
22 December 2006
by Prakash Dubey
During the World Buddhist Leaders Council, Tibet’s “god-king” urges Indian Buddhist sects to remove any sign of social discrimination and join together to form a single denomination.
Sarnath (AsiaNews) – The Dalai Lama has called on Indian Buddhist Dalits to “transcend the Hindu caste system” that exists in India and instead fight this vice. He lamented the “differences that divide the various Buddhist sects, which are in fact caused by the caste system”. In this spirit he has called for “a sincere debate that would lead to reunification into a single denomination”.
Tibetans’ “god-king” made these remarks at the World Buddhist Leaders Council organised at Sarnath, the Buddhist shrine town in northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.
In his address, the Dalai Lama noted that since his arrival in the 1960s he endeavoured to bring together and foster unity among Indian Buddhists but acknowledged his failure against the tenacity of the caste system, feeling “dejected to see the outcome of my efforts”.
Caste-based differences among Buddhist groups persist in India to this day and have sometimes been the cause of violent clashes between Buddhists from different castes.
For the religious leader, believers should follow the example of Ambedkar, one of India’s founding fathers, who left Hinduism to convert to Buddhism in opposition to the caste system which undermines society. “Religion,” the Dalai Lama said, “cannot be allowed to be the source of further divisions”.
He ended his speech stressing that “religion, the real basis for humanity’s prosperity, is still used as a pretext to cause conflicts in the world. This must stop because each religion teaches peace and anyone using it to make war is wrong or in bad faith”.
Link to the article