Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Melayur Dalits complain of attacks

By Chennaionline News Service

Madurai, April 29: A tense situation prevailed at Melayur village in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu today with the police allegedly remaining indifferent to the attacks on Dalits in which five members of the Thiagi Imanuel Peravai were injured and several houses damaged since March 27.

According to P Chandra Bose, general secretary of the Peravai, the trouble began when local Dalit youth objected to the two-tumbler system: one set of tumblers for caste Hindus and one for Dalits, in all the local hotels and gave a complaint to the police who immediately raided the shops and seized the tumblers.

However, after the tumblers were seized, the majority caste Hindus began a �social boycott� of all the 19 Dalit families in the village and refused to give milk and groceries to them, he told reporters here today.

Bose said the police did not care to end the social boycott and postponed the talks convened to ease the tension for three days after making the Dalits and caste Hindus wait for a long time.

A section of the caste Hindus who got irritated did not allow the Dalits to celebrate the Ambedkar birth anniversary. They attacked with deadly weapons those who arranged for the celebration injuring five persons.

Though the police registered cases against 43 persons, they did not arrest anyone, leading to a second attack in which Dalit colonies were looted, Bose said.

Source: Chennaionline News Service, April 30, 2002

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Dalits face wrath of upper castes in UP village

Rahul Shrivastava

Wednesday, April 24, 2002 (Unnao):

Several Dalit women were assaulted and nearly all members of their village beaten up by upper caste landowners over a wage dispute in Uttar Pradesh. The Dalits were refusing to work for a wage of Rs 10 - which is much below the daily wage fixed by the government - when they were brutally assaulted in Bhaktakheda village in Unnao district of the state.

Rajaya Pal is inconsolable as he leaves the office of the Uttar Pradesh commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. His complaint alleges that the big landowners - mostly Yadavs - in his village Bhaktakheda in Unnao district killed his brother or March 31, physically assaulted two Dalit women and brutally beat up almost every Dalit in the village for their refusal to work as virtual bonded labourers.

"We were given Rs 10 for our labour daily but that was of no help. After we refused to work on the farms they beat me up and killed my brother. They hit everyone and said not to leave the harijans," says Rajaya Pal.

The assailants broke down doors, dragged the men, women and children out of their houses. No one was spared as virtually every adult in the village has suffered some form of injury.

Kusuma, whose husband works as a rickshaw-puller in Kanpur, was attacked inside her house and her infant child thrown on the ground. Her sister-in-law received the same treatment as she tried to save her.

"I told the police that I had been raped but they dismissed it by saying that I was there only to create trouble. They said there was nothing and refused to register a case," says Kusuma.

Oppression of Dalits is a tradition here. A few years ago, the daily wage was just Rs 5. Among the other regular indignities, Dalits are not allowed to use the village well and they have to vote for those favoured by the upper castes. Now Dalit men like Rajaya cannot even return to their village.

"We are setting up a temporary police post there. As far as the issue of not registering the rape case stands, we have transferred the SHO of the police station," says Poornima Singh, superintendent of police, Unnao.

Just two moths ago, candidates of all political parties walked through the lanes of Bhaktakheda promising social justice. Most of the Dalits say that the March 31 incident is also a reprisal - because during the elections they voted for a candidate of their choice.

Rules of a democratic set up has little meaning in a place like Bhaktakheda where every election - be it local, for the state assembly or a parliamentary poll - only brings more discrimination and violence.

"In every election that takes place, whether it is local, for the assembly or Parliament elections we have to vote for their people otherwise they will kill us," says Rajaya Pal.

Source: NDTV, April 24, 2002

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Dalit teenager kidnapped and brutally raped for 3 days

Rajan Mahan

Tuesday, April 23, 2002 (Jaipur):

For several years, Rajasthan has recorded the highest number of crimes against women in the country. In a recent incident, a young Dalit girl was kidnapped and raped for three days, allegedly by four upper caste men.

On the night of April 5, when this girl stepped out of her home in Jaipur's Guda Vaas village, she was kidnapped by four Brahmin youngsters of her own village.

"They forcibly grabbed me and took me away. They threatened me with a knife and stopped me from shouting for help. I was totally scared as they said that if I shout, they would kill me," narrated the traumatized girl.

Conspiracy of silence

The rapists finally dumped her outside her village on April 8. But upper caste groups in the village prevented her family from even filing a report by threatening them with a social boycott.

Chottu Lal, one of the girl�s relatives, said, "The village elders said we must not file any report. They said if we did so and tried to fight a case, we would not be allowed to stay in the village. They said they would not maintain any relations with us and would not allow even our cattle to drink water from the village sources. They threatened us very badly."

However after pressure from some women's groups, the police have finally registered an FIR. But with the entire village involved in a conspiracy of silence, the police are finding it tough to collect any evidence.

A G Ram, In-charge, Ramgarh Police Station, Jaipur, said, "Our big problem is that since the incident happened many days ago, we can't get any medical evidence now. And the villagers are just refusing to say anything about this episode."

Worse still, the girl's marriage had been fixed last month, but her in-laws have now cancelled the wedding. Her tragedy is a grim reminder that in rural Rajasthan, the traditional fear and terror of upper castes continues unabated even today.

Source: NDTV, April 23, 2002