Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Dalit girl hurls slipper at judge

Raipur, July 31

Angry at the acquittal of her alleged rapist by a court, a Dalit girl hurled a slipper at a district judge in a courtroom here on Tuesday. The girl was reportedly angry because the man who had allegedly raped her two years ago was acquitted last week in the same court. The incident occurred around 1 pm when the 18-year old petitioner Laxmi Khute, daughter of Karan Das Khute of Mohra village under Suhela police station arrived with her father at the court of special judge Sandeep Bakshi to inquire about the decision in her case. When Laxmi came to know that the accused in the rape case, Poshan Verma, was acquitted of the charge, she reportedly forced her way inside the court while the proceedings of another case were on, took out a slipper and hurled it towards the judge.

Source: Hindustan Times, July 31, 2002

Monday, July 29, 2002

The evil system won't tumble down

By S. Annamalai and S. Vijay Kumar

Chennai July 28. Despite police action against the practice of untouchability in tea shops of rural Tamil Nadu, several shopkeepers, under pressure from caste Hindus, continue with the discriminatory ``two-tumbler'' system. In the caste-riven State, tea shops in several villages do not serve just hot beverages but also trade untouchability in ``two tumblers"- cheap glass ones for the Dalits and shiny stainless steel containers for the caste Hindus. And now, a ``three-tumbler'' system too is adopted in some areas- plastic cups for outsiders whose caste identity is not known.

The Tirunelveli police arrested a shopowner yesterday for offering tea in a glass tumbler to Dalits and in shiny stainless steel containers to caste Hindus.

Though the ``two and three-tumbler'' system is a brazen violation of the SC\ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, it is an accepted practice in southern Tamil Nadu. If tea shops do not discriminate against the Dalits, the caste Hindus will throw the shop owners out.

The only positive development over the years is the withdrawal of coconut shell, referred to as `sirattai', which served as the tea cup for the Dalits.

In certain Virudhunagar villages, this system has been so perfected that there is now a `three-tumbler' system. When a stranger asks for tea and the shop owner is not sure of his caste, a disposable plastic tumbler comes out.

At a `balwadi' at Poovani near Srivilliputtur, the Dalit children from Saliakudi are served meal in separate plates. Activists of Dalit organisations point out that many tea shops openly display the glass tumblers, while in some cases the second tumblers are kept inside. The practice is to keep the glass tumblers inside tea holders for Dalit use. And, the Dalits have to wash the tumblers, they use.

In Madurai district, the activists say, the practice is more visible in the Chellampatti panchayat union. The `two-tumbler' system is in vogue where people of three intermediate caste groups- Thevars, Naidus and Reddiars- are dominant.

Lingappanaickanur, Meenakshipatti, Chennampatti, Kuppalnatham, Pappapatti, Keeripatti and Salappanpatti are some of the villages, which have two tumblers in tea shops. The Virudhunagar district CPI (M) secretary, K. Balasubramanian, points out that according to a survey undertaken by the party, the system is practised in 38 villages, including Thadampatti, Nallamanaickenpatti, Ramuthevanpatti, Boovanathapuram, Karisalpatti, Maravar Perunkudi, Thoppur and Vidathakulam in the district.

In Sivaganga district, the villages known to adopt the system include Kattikulam, Sundaranadappu, Melavellur, Sangankulam Konthagai, Peramalur and some around Ilayankudi.

Though widespread, the practice has been escaping the attention of officials. The primary reason is that the Dalit victims are not willing to lodge a formal complaint for fear of further oppression by the caste Hindus. Another reason is that the villagers do not want to ignite caste flare-ups over a cup of tea.

When officials make surprise inspections, the tumblers vanish and disposable cups take their place. Whenever there is a threat of agitation from any organisation, the villagers `unite together''.

Source: The Hindu, July 29, 2002

Burning Dalits with an iron rod and force-feeding human excreta

Human dignity is denied; Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against Dalits
Asian Human Rights Commission - Urgent Appeals Program

We reproduce this report about an incident that has enraged Dalits in India. The horrible nature of caste oppression and the Indian government's unwillingness to deal decisively with this issue is brought home sharpely by this story. We urge everyone to write to the newly appointed president of India to take action on this matter, to punish the perpetrators and to examine the State's responsibilities to Dalits.

Dalits, "Eat The Human Excreta Now!"

Among the various reports of terrorism, extremism, catastrophe, carnage, assaults, attacks and violations around the globe, the atrocity unleashed on the Dalits of the village of Tinnium near Tiruchirappalli in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu is beyond one's imagination and belief. Heinous, inhuman caste atrocities are still alive. Perhaps these atrocities are not an episodic, one-time event but rather represent a resounding state of affairs in India.

Karupiah, 38, of Tinniyum had paid 2,000 rupees (US) to the former village panchayat president, Rajalakshmi Subramanian, for providing a group house to his sister Banumathy. However, Karupiah's sister was never allowed to occupy the house and despite repeated requests for the past two years, neither the house nor the money has been refunded. Thus, Karupiah resorted to beating the tom-tom to ventilate his grievance. Murugesan and Ramasami, Dalits as well, accompanied Karupiah while he beat the drum.

That very same evening all three people were summoned by Kamraj, the present village panchayat president, and Subramani, a retired teacher who is the husband of Rajalakshmi. Subramani, enraged by Karupiah's act of beating the drum, demanded an apology and slapped him with slippers and kicked him hard. Next was Murugesan, 37, and Ramasami, who were also subjected to beatings and were branded on various parts of their body with a red-hot iron rod. Murugesan and Ramasami had to beat the drum again, saying that the earlier incident by Karupiah was false. All of these cruel acts took place in the presence of the family members of these three Dalits.

Even after all of this torture and humiliation, the ire of these barbarous dominant caste fanatics did not subside. Subramani then ordered Ramasami and Murugesan to feed each other human excreta. This egregious act was forced on the Dalits after repeatedly being branded with a hot iron.

All of these dominant caste brutes involved in this dehumanising act absconded when the district collector paid a visit to the village. Efforts had been initiated by human rights defenders for suitable criminal action against the culprits.

This inhuman episode in Tinnium is yet another addition to the unending list of socially sanctified acts of ostracism. These daily occurrences inevitably damage the fabric of human dignity and the rights of equality, liberty and justice.

Monica Vincent
World Council of Churches

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission, July 29, 2002

The evil system won't tumble down

By S. Annamalai and S. Vijay Kumar


Chennai July 28. Despite police action against the practice of untouchability in tea shops of rural Tamil Nadu, several shopkeepers, under pressure from caste Hindus, continue with the discriminatory two-tumbler system. In the caste-riven State, tea shops in several villages do not serve just hot beverages but also trade untouchability in two tumblers- cheap glass ones for the Dalits and shiny stainless steel containers for the caste Hindus. And now, a three-tumbler system too is adopted in some areas- plastic cups for outsiders whose caste identity is not known.


The Tirunelveli police arrested a shopowner yesterday for offering tea in a glass tumbler to Dalits and in shiny stainless steel containers to caste Hindus.


Though the two and three-tumbler system is a brazen violation of the SC\ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, it is an accepted practice in southern Tamil Nadu. If tea shops do not discriminate against the Dalits, the caste Hindus will throw the shop owners out.


The only positive development over the years is the withdrawal of coconut shell, referred to as sirattai, which served as the tea cup for the Dalits.


In certain Virudhunagar villages, this system has been so perfected that there is now a three-tumbler system. When a stranger asks for tea and the shop owner is not sure of his caste, a disposable plastic tumbler comes out.


At a balwadi at Poovani near Srivilliputtur, the Dalit children from Saliakudi are served meal in separate plates. Activists of Dalit organisations point out that many tea shops openly display the glass tumblers, while in some cases the second tumblers are kept inside. The practice is to keep the glass tumblers inside tea holders for Dalit use. And, the Dalits have to wash the tumblers, they use.


In Madurai district, the activists say, the practice is more visible in the Chellampatti panchayat union. The two-tumbler system is in vogue where people of three intermediate caste groups- Thevars, Naidus and Reddiars- are dominant.


Lingappanaickanur, Meenakshipatti, Chennampatti, Kuppalnatham, Pappapatti, Keeripatti and Salappanpatti are some of the villages, which have two tumblers in tea shops. The Virudhunagar district CPI (M) secretary, K. Balasubramanian, points out that according to a survey undertaken by the party, the system is practised in 38 villages, including Thadampatti, Nallamanaickenpatti, Ramuthevanpatti, Boovanathapuram, Karisalpatti, Maravar Perunkudi, Thoppur and Vidathakulam in the district.


In Sivaganga district, the villages known to adopt the system include Kattikulam, Sundaranadappu, Melavellur, Sangankulam Konthagai, Peramalur and some around Ilayankudi.


Though widespread, the practice has been escaping the attention of officials. The primary reason is that the Dalit victims are not willing to lodge a formal complaint for fear of further oppression by the caste Hindus. Another reason is that the villagers do not want to ignite caste flare-ups over a cup of tea.


When officials make surprise inspections, the tumblers vanish and disposable cups take their place. Whenever there is a threat of agitation from any organisation, the villagers unite together.

Source: The Hindu, July 29, 2002

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Probe ordered into ‘torture’ of budding cricketer

BANGALORE, July 15

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Subhash Bharani today said that he has directed the Kodagu Superintendent of Police to personally conduct an inquiry into the alleged torture of a teenage Dalit boy from Suntikoppa taluk in the district.

“We will take stringent action against the sub-inspector and his staff if allegations made against them turn out to be true,” Mr Bharani told Deccan Herald adding that that the report was expected soon. It may be recalled here that Jagadish, II year PUC student who is also an young cricketing talent, was allegedly tortured by the Suntikoppa Police Sub-Inspector Devaiah and his staff for refusing to listen to the manager of an estate where Jagadish’s parents worked.

Jagadish was taken to the police station and allegedly tortured by the SI and staff who have also been charged of registering a false case of eve teasing against Jagadish. Presently, Jagadish is being treated at the Communicable Diseases Hospital in Indiranagar. Mr Bharani also did not rule out the possibility of announcing a compensation for the victim if it was found that the police were wrong.

Source: Deccan Herald, July 16, 2002

Dalit woman's house burnt

KANPUR: The house of a Dalit woman caught fire under mysterious circumstances in Raigopalpur village falling under Chaubepur police circle in the wee hours of Monday. The woman alleged that her house was set ablaze by opponents following an old political rivalry. According to reports, woman identified as Shyama Devi along with her minor daughter named Maina suffered burn injuries in the incident.

Reports said that a fire broke out at Shyama Devi's house in Raigopalpur village under Chaubepur police circle under mysterious circumstances at around 3 pm. The woman claimed that her opponents had set ablaze her house and a number of house-hold items were burnt. It was reported that the husband of the woman was sent to jail last month.

Source: The Times of India, July 16, 2002

Dalit women raped, paraded naked

Hazaribagh July 15. In a shocking incident, two dalit women were gang-raped, stripped naked and paraded in Sudan village in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand on Friday, according to an official report here today.

Kasia Devi and her daughter-in-law, Basanti, were raped by the henchmen of a businessman, Rameshwar Modi, for their refusal to part with a small plot of land, the DSP, Hemand Toppo, told PTI. The women's faces were also smeared with lime and cow dung.

A team from Barkattha police station, which visited the village on receipt of information, was chased away by the hoodlums. However, a much larger police contingent arrived in the village the following day and arrested one of the accused.

Source: The Hindu, July 16, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Six Dalit houses burnt, 3 held

BHAGALPUR: Following a heated exchange of words, six houses belonging to Dalits were reduced to ashes by armed miscreants late on Wednesday evening at Sakhichak Harijan Tola in Bishanpur village under the Shambhuganj police station of Banka district. Two persons also received injuries when the criminals opened fire.

Confirming the incident, Banka SP Jaglal Chowdhary told TNN over phone on Thursday that nearly 20 armed miscreants belonging to a particular upper caste attacked the houses of the Dalits when most of the inmates had gone to see off a girl of their village who had been married early on Monday. He further said that as soon as the police got information, he along with DM and other officials concerned rushed to the spot.

According to the SP, foodgrains and other household items kept in the houses were burnt while two pigs and one goat fell victims to the fire. A case has been registered against the criminals in connection with the incident. Three of the named accused were arrested on Wednesday.

Source: The Times of India, July 12, 2002

Monday, July 08, 2002

Caste wars rock Orissa again

Ashutosh Mishra/Bhubaneswar

Orissa's caste cauldron is simmering again with dalits of Brahmagiri in Puri district locking horns with the upper caste of khandayats out to grab their land. The war turned gory last week when hundreds of khandayats (kshatriyas) attacked the low caste kandras and bauris of Gadkokal village under Brahmagiri block while the latter were tending their 14-acre Bhoodan-donated land.

Three dalits, Nakul Bhoi, Duryodhan Bhoi and Banmali Bhoi, were admitted to different hospitals after receiving serious injuries while many others escaped with minor wounds.

Ironically, while the police is reported to have arrested some dalits in connection with the incident, the alleged upper caste goons are still roaming free.

Stung by the partisan role of the police and the administration, the dalits, now organised under the banner of Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch, are planning to stage a dharna outside the Puri collector's office on Monday. The dharna would be the underdogs' declaration of full-fledged war against their tormentors.

The land, which has become the bone of contention, was donated to the dalit families at Gadkokal during the Bhoodan movement more than two decades ago.

Initially they sought to grow paddy on the land but frequent waterlogging soon forced them to consider the much more lucrative option of prawn cultivation which is still the rage in Puri district.

It was, perhaps, the success of prawn farming which drew the ire of the upper castes who began claiming that the land was disputed and belonged as much to the dalits as anybody else. The fact that it was Bhoodan-donated land made the matters worse for the dalits.

Shantilata Bhoi, wife of injured Shyam Sunder Bhoi, now cooling his heels in jail, said her castemen were caught between the twin batteries of upper caste persecution and police indifference.

While the officer-in-charge of Brahmagiri police station refused to entertain their complaint in the wake of the incident, even the superintendent of police and the district collector did not evince much interest in the case. "We are being forcibly evicted from our own land and on top of that the police are siding with the goons. What can be worse?" she asked, her eyes brimming.

Incidentally, this is not the first instance of a dalit-upper caste confrontation in Brahmagiri which has turned into a cockpit between the two sides for the last few years.

Not long ago, the area was in news when the savarnas ripped through a marriage pandal set up by the scheduled castes who were then saddled with a plethora of criminal cases in an obvious bid to break their spirit.

Source: The Pioneer, July 8, 2002