Saturday, August 31, 2002

Separate police stations to try cases of atrocities

HYDERABAD Aug. 30. The State Government is toying with the idea of setting up a police station in every district, exclusively to deal with cases relating to atrocities on those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and a special court for every two districts, the Inspector-General of Police, Protection of Civil Rights, Madanlal, has said.

At a press conference here on Thursday, he said he had visited Madhya Pradesh, where there were separate police stations and courts for trying cases under the SC and ST (Protection of Atrocities) Act. He said a Deputy Superintendent would head each of the proposed stations.

Admitting the low rate of conviction of cases, Mr. Madanlal said it was primarily because of the fact that witnesses were ``coerced or managed'' and they turned hostile in courts. "They do not speak in favour of the prosecution,'' he said. Also, cases of atrocities on SCs and STs were less when compared to the attention required on heinous offences. The conviction rate was 10.8 per cent in the year 2001, 7.6 per cent in 2000 and 7.4 in 1999, he said.

The most recent conviction was in a case pertaining to a triple murder that occurred in 1995 at Thadapala. The case had come for trial before the Seventh Additional District Judge-cum- Fast Track Court, Visakhapatnam, had sentenced three of the accused to life and convicted 17 more to rigorous imprisonment for four years and a fine of Rs. 200 each, Mr. Madanlal said.

He said there were 47 cases pending trial. Sixteen more were under investigation. Of these, eight were against Government officials.

Source: The Hindu, August 31, 2002

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Rampage in UP village after Dalit girl's rape

MEERUT: A mob blocked the Delhi-Saharanpur highway and gheraoed the local police station on Monday, after a 19-year-old Dalit girl was gangraped and then hacked to death.

The incident occurred on Sunday, near Heend village, Muzaffarnagar, when the girl had gone to collect fodder for animals. Her body was discovered late in the evening.

The body had been sent for a post-mortem, said a police officer. Later, on Monday, a mob blocked the highway and gheraoed the police station, demanding arrest of the culprits. The Director General of UP Police, Radhey Shyam Shukla, has pulled up senior officers and asked them to ensure the arrest of culprits.

Source: The Times of India, August 27, 2002

U.N. panel condemns caste

By W. Chandrakanth

HYDERABAD Aug. 26. The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has condemned the descent-based discrimination practised as caste in India and passed a resolution against it. The Indian Government had vehemently opposed the move arguing that the country had on its own initiated several measures that were having a positive effect, hence it was against the very discussion.

The resolution came at its convention in Geneva (the meet was held from August 5 to 23). An important spin-off from this would be that caste-based discrimination would be addressed by the U.N. bodies and within the parameters of iniquities being experienced by the Dalits and similar communities across the world.

This is bound to be a major set-back to the Indian Government which had maintained that caste cannot be equated to race all these years. At the same meet the Indian Government even suggested that the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, would not have risen to such a high office if discrimination had ever continued without checks.

The CERD meet in its General Recommendation No.XXIX dated August 22 said ``that discrimination based on descent includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status, which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights''.

Several organisations which fought for the inclusion of caste in one form or the other on the U.N. agenda all these years are happy over the developments. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) which received a copy of the recommendations on Sunday night termed the triumph as a ``certain defeat'' of the Indian Government which argued that descent-based discrimination should be interpreted within the framework of race only and not be diluted with the inclusion of any other form.

The following are some of the committee's other recommendations: educate the general public on the importance of affirmative action programmes to address the situation of victims of descent-based discrimination, encourage dialogue between members of descent-based communities and members of other social groups, ensure relevant judicial decisions and official actions take the prohibition of descent-based discrimination fully into account and take measures to address the special vulnerability of children of descent-based communities to exploitative child labour.

Speaking to The Hindu, national convener of the NCDHR, Paul Divakar, on Monday said though the recommendations were welcome the ground realities would not change unless the Government strictly enforced the Constitutional provisions and laws.

He appealed to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to set an example to the rest of the world by ensuring equal opportunities for Dalits for development. The NCDHR called upon the NHRC to ensure the compliance of the U.N. Committee declaration by the State.

Mr. Divakar also urged the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes commissions, the Women's Commission and the Election Commission to uphold and protect Dalit rights.

The NCDHR decided to coordinate its work with many Asian and African nations, which have discriminations of similar origins to collectively address the issue in future.

Source: The Hindu, August 27, 2002

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Six trade tax officials booked for action against Dalit

Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad

On explicit instructions of the government, a case has been filed in the Vijay Nagar police station against six trade tax officials for allegedly barging into the house of a Dalit, looting his valuables and showering caste invectives on the inmates.

Ram Ratti, wife of Het Ram of Krishan Nagar Baggu, stated in her report last night that trade tax officers B. P. Singh, Sanjeev Rai, Sanjeev Mohan, V. Singh, R. K. Pandit and Manoj Tripathi had looted Rs 30,000, a gold ring, a cell phone and other valuables from her house on August 4. The officials had also allegedly used abusive language, beaten them up and taken Ram Ratti's son Raj Kumar along with them. Then, they had demanded some money for releasing him. Police sources said that this report had been registered on clear instructions from the government high-ups.

Significantly, the trade tax officials had on August 4 reportedly seized a truck which was transporting copper wires clandestinely. Following the seizure, the trade tax officials had registered a case in the Vijay Nagar police station against the owner of Tomar Transport Company and Het Ram's son Rajkumar and another transporter, Narinder, of Ferozabad. Both the accused had been sent to jail where they are still lodged.

According to some officials, who did not wish to be identified, the administration had allegedly pressurised the police to register a fudged case against the government officials simply because the accused happened to be a Dalit.

Source: The Tribune, August 25, 2002

Friday, August 23, 2002

A misnomer for Dalit raaj

Deepak Verma

Darulshafa in Lucknow provides a politically fertile ground for various organisations who want to make their as yet unrequited voices wave through the corridors of the majestic Vidhan Bhawan across the street. But it is not often that the numerous sit-ins, fasts-unto-death, etc., which dot these grounds send any ripples; their sporadic speeches gets pathetically muzzled in the traffic noise on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg. However, on the August 19, the presence of several battalions of PAC and the supervising police personnel clearly signified both the strength of numbers and of the issue that the Dalit Panthers of Uttar Pradesh had brought forth. The rally was attended by over two and a half thousand activists from Lucknow, Kanpur, Kanpur Dehat, Oraiyya, Itawa, Jalaun, Banda, Fatehpur, Allahabad, Azamgarh & Hamirpur and included Dalits, OBCs as well as members of minority communities.

The issue in focus was the recent government directive in respect of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, circulated under the signatures of the chief secretary DS Bagga and special secretary Anil Kumar at the behest of Chief Minister Mayawati. The directive, which is addressed to the entire administrative machinery, apparently derives its motivation from alleged 'misuse' of the Act and therefore directs the state's penal and executive bodies to be 'extra careful' about registering the cases under the Act.

Blundering on the side of caution, the directive 'carefully' suggests that cases of murder and rape (alone) should be seen as attracting the provisions of the Act and the FIRs in rape cases should be allowed to be filed only after they have been authenticated by medical examination.

It would appear that in doing so not only does the ruling BJP-BSP combine seem to be oblivious of the nature of oppression in the everyday lives of Dalits, but it also transgresses its own constitutional limits. It may be recalled that the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which is also popularly known as 'Dalit Act', was put into effect by the Indian Parliament during the Janata Dal government in 1989. It defined a comprehensive set of circumstances, within which the quotidian Dalit life may possibly be debased, as falling under the category of cognizable offence. As such it is outside the powers of the state government to make insinuations, express or otherwise, that may cause modifications in the Act or in its administration.

The GO, indeed, has grave implications since it is precisely the administering of the Act in which the upper caste laxity with regards to the Dalits may find unwarranted justification. The Act had been a significantly powerful instrument in duly recognising and restoring a sense of self and dignity to Dalits amidst the otherwise battered conditions of social and cultural existence. There already exists a definite blurring of distinction between personal names and opprobrious epithets - part of a systematic governmentality that social semantics imposes upon a vast majority of Dalits even today. Phrases such as chor-chandal, chor-chamar, or maarte maarte bhangi bana denge, as Dhani Ram Panther reminds, or names like Domrau, Kangalua, Chamrau are platitudinous ingredients of our everyday cultural vocabulary. While a Dalit sitting with upper caste is 'normal' to be frowned at, even my sitting with Vakil in Sherpur village of district Ghazipur, evoked a horrified look in consternation from an upper caste boy, as he blurted 'Dom ka khatiya par baithal baada? Ihavan tohara na baithe ke chaahi' [Sitting on a Dom's cot? It does not befit you to be sitting here].

As the Dalit consciousness registered an upsurge in the past two decades or more, the upper caste backlash smothering the Dalits had grown more violent. However, the Act worked as a strong deterrent. Still, the cases of police not filing FIRs or acting in concert with the powerful have not been uncommon. When it comes to the Dalit subalterns, the official response in general is nonchalant and often, at the sight of Dalits demanding their share of rights, cast in churlish ill humour, albeit concealed in incomprehensible bureaucratic warps. You have got to be a nobody to experience the almost colonial aura of power that the official Dom of Independent Indian state guardedly nurtures and unabashedly exhibits. A Prem Prakash Bharti of Bhangi Samaj doesn't feel empowered merely with an articulate draft of application, voicing his plight as 'colonies (provision of housing under government schemes) come and go and he remains without one', for he knows the orderlies - the chief instruments of power - would not let him near the magisterial precincts.

While you might need an English speaking, preferably English looking person to break the class IV barrier of power, the 'sahab', used to a culture of servility, is most likely to take in obsequious plain speaking amiss.

One would imagine that administration under a Dalit government would be proactive in securing the Dalit longstanding promises of socio-economic sustainability that Indian constitution and different political parties have made at opportune times. The iterability of Mayawati government's widely publicised commitment to granting the 'patta' to the landless gives these landless the sense of their rights, if negatively, in terms of its absence on the ground.

Thus, a group of such Dalits from Ghazipur district recently made a desperate visit to the chief minister's party office (thanks to the sookha that gave them the time from their otherwise busy preoccupations with rozi-roti) and the ensuing official orders bring to light the existence of such orders ever since 1994.

The subsequent visit of the district magistrate puts a final seal to the grant of 'pattas', though on papers, which the allottees are yet to receive. The local 'dabangs' would not, however, let Dalits call it their own, let alone use it. My own academic research on Dalit issues was categorically disallowed by a district magistrate in one eastern UP district, as he, in his wisdom, decided within 5 minutes of the audience I was granted that it was likely to cause 'disturbance to peace and tranquility' in his area.

Given such state of affairs, it is anyone's guess how the GO is going to impact on the lives of Dalits. While murder and rape are not part of the everyday reality in all Dalit communities, smaller though no less significant instances of debasement are. It is far from clear why the incidence of 'misuse' could not be handled within the parameters of the Act itself.

The UP Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission is of the opinion that 80-85 per cent of the cases brought before it are indeed genuine and only about 10 per cent are fabricated while rest of the 5 per cent remain somewhat hazy. While high-powered political figures enjoy the Z-plus protection and yet may feel threatened by odd individuals inside their fortified environs, the Act in the shape it was enacted by the Central Government was the only Black Cat Commando available to the Dalits, as Dhani Ram Panther urges Behanji.

(The writer is a professor in Johns Hopkins University and is doing research on Dalits in UP)

Source: The Times of India, August 23, 2002

Minor Dalit girl gangraped in Kanpur

KANPUR: A 14-year-old Dalit girl was gangraped by four persons in Behta Bujurg village in Ghatampur police circle here on Wednesday night. The miscreants also roughed up her family members, warning them to keep quiet about the incident. The police have refused to register a case.

Reema Kureel, daughter of Rambabu, had gone to answer nature's call when the miscreants dragged her into a field and raped her. When Rambabu went to the Ghatampur police to lodge an FIR on Thursday morning, they refused to register it. The Dalits have decided to meet the SSP on Friday morning.

Source: The Times of India, August 23, 2002

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Three Dalits brutally murdered

LUCKNOW: In a gory incident, three Dalits including a 12-year-old boy, belonging to the Pasi community, were found brutally murdered on the banks of Sharda Sahayak Nahar at Balsingh Khera village in Nagram, 40 km from the city on Wednesday.

The victims, who had gone fishing, were done to death with sharp-edged weapons, probably on Tuesday night. The incident, suspected be the handiwork of a criminal tribe, left the villagers in a state of shock and agitated. Their anger was directed at the police whom they blamed for inaction and apathy. Senior police officials who rushed to the spot came up against an angry mob of hundreds of villagers. Many had come from neighbouring villages as well.

CM Mayawati acted quickly. She summoned senior police officials including DIG, IG, DM and SSP to apprise herself with the incident. The station officer Nagram OP Singh has been sent to lines. A PAC company and additional police force has been deployed in the area. A compensation of Rs 10,000 each for the next of kin of the deceased has been announced by the government.

Ramharsh (35) son of Barati, Raghuveer (20) son of Rambali and Sanjay (12) son of Raj Narain had gone fishing, an important means of livelihood for the people in the area, on Tuesday night. After casting their nets, the three had dinner at about 8.30 pm and went to sleep. When they did not return in the morning, Raghuveer's brother went to the site only to find his brother and others dead. Shell-shocked he ran back to the village and informed everyone about the incident.

The news spread like wildfire and soon hundreds of villagers from adjoining localities assembled at the spot. Two constables on beat patrol were chased away by the angry mob, when the came to find out details about the incident. No other official reached the spot till 7.40 am. Senior officers, including district magistrate, additional district magistrate, inspector general of police and SSP rushed to the spot. Finger-print experts and sniffer dogs were used. But police were clueless. Villagers, however, claimed that they had seen 7-8 outsiders entering the village in the night. They were in two Maruti cars and two motorcycles. This was confirmed by the villagers of the neighbouring Karora village.

Locals claimed that they had informed the Nagram police station about the outsiders and had complained about the terror being created by the criminal tribes in the locality. But the police have never taken these complaints seriously saying they were rumours. Later, while talking to mediapersons SSP Anil Agarwal admitted that the station officer Nagram and other staff were found guilty of indifference. The common refrain of the people was that despite their repeated complaints, night patrolling was never done by the local police.

Source: The Times of India, August 22, 2002

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Attack on Dalit: DM orders probe

Mansa

Mr Alok Shekhar, District Magistrate, today ordered a magisterial probe into a complaint lodged by the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan in connection with an attack on a Dalit farm labourer by a landlord.

Mr Shekhar said that PGO, Mansa, had been directed to conduct a probe into the contents of the complaint made to him by Mr Karamjit Singh, president, the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan and submit the report at the earliest.

Mr Karamjit Singh in his complaint alleged that a Dalit farm labourer of Mojo Khurd village was injured after he was attacked by a landlord with a spade. Though the injured Balbir Singh was admitted to hospital, he was not being given proper treatment at the Civil Hospital.

He alleged that the police in connivance with a section of Civil Hospital officials was trying to hush up the matter.

He said Balbir Singh was bonded labourer and his organisation was trying to get him freed from the clutches of the landlord. He also demanded that the medical examination of Balbir Singh should be conducted by a board of doctors and his statement recorded only in the presence of a responsible officer.

Mr S.S. Srivastva, SSP, when contacted, said he had been seized of the matter and action would be taken as per law.

Dr Hardev Singh, officiating Civil Surgeon, when contacted, pointed out that examination by a medical board could be done only with the permission of a Magistrate. He added that Balbir Singh was getting proper treatment and whatever injuries he had suffered had been mentioned accordingly in his medico-legal report.

Source: The Tribune, August 21, 2002

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Persecuted Dalits protest

CUDDAPAH Aug. 19. About 120 Dalit families of Mittamanupalle village in Mydukur mandal are facing a social boycott, denied work and prevented from entering the main village or agricultural fields ever since they were attacked and their hutments burnt on July 23.

Demanding provision of work, free rice supply, grant of house sites and pucca houses and grant of loans from the SC Corporation, the Dalits staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate on Monday under the aegis of various Dalit organisations. Young children of the Dalits squatted by carrying empty steel plates and glasses to depict their hunger, while `Madiga' women and men, narrated their plight due to denial of work in the villages around.

The co-convenor of Mahajan Sangharshana Samithi, O. Balasubbaiah Madiga, convenor of Madiga Employees Federation, M. Kullayappa, MSS women's wing convenor, B. Mridula, B.R. Ambedkar Mission general secretary, A. Sampath Kumar, A.P. SC/ST Employees Welfare Association general secretary, C.V. Ramana, Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Committee secretary, C. Babu, CPI(M) district secretary, B. Narayana, and Dalit leaders, Y. Tirumalaiah, Y. Ramu Madiga, G. Obanna, K. Nagaraju and C. Munaiah Madiga, led the protest.

The Dalits alleged that about 300 upper caste men of Mittamanupalle and Kesavapuram villages attacked them on July 23 and burnt hutments, besides assaulting the cops of Mydukur police station. The Superintendent of Police, Abhilasha Bisht, visited the village and got a case registered against 106 upper caste men and about 25 accused were arrested and produced in court. They demanded restoration of the police picket as they feared recurring attacks.

Enraged at the Dalits lodging a complaint with the police, the upper caste persons of 10 villages including Mittamanupalle, Kesavapuram, Pothireddipalle and Vanipenta unanimously decided not to engage the Dalits for work and resolved to impose a fine of Rs. 1,000 on those engaging them for work, they alleged. The denial of work has made the Dalits' lives miserable, they lamented.

Trouble began when a Dalit, Gudisela Obulesu, picked an argument with an upper caste cyclist who dashed against a five-year-old Dalit boy who was going to school on July 23, the Dalits said. Earlier, two upper caste boys going on a bicycle dashed against two Dalit girls. Subsequently a large group of upper caste men attacked Dalits with stones and slippers, abused them on caste lines, they alleged.

The leaders called on the District Collector, K. Chandramouli, who was redressing grievances at Sabha Bhavan and narrated the plight of the Madiga families.

The Collector ordered sanction of 50 bags of rice to satiate the hunger of the Dalits. He directed officials concerned to immediately distribute 10 kg of rice to each family and take up jungle clearance under the Food-for-work programme, the Dalit leaders said. Mr. Chandramouli assured that he and the SP would visit the village soon and hold a meeting there to resolve the imbroglio, they added.

Source: The Hindu, August 20, 2002

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Dalit family saved from bondage

Faridkot

Life for 33-year-old Dalit Atma Singh, a resident of Hassan Bhatti village became hell when he took an advance of Rs 17,000 from a landlord of this district. In return he agreed to work for him as farm assistant.

Today, Atma Singh, along with his wife and four minor children, are living at a transit rehabilitation centre at Phillaur set up by Volunteers for Social Justice after escaping tyranny of the landlord with the help of the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, told TNS the National Human Rights Commission had asked the district administration to hold a inquiry into this case. The statement of Sukhmander Kaur, wife of Atma Singh, had been recorded in the connection by the Magistrate.

Ms Prabhjot Kaur, programme officer, Volunteers for Social Justice, talking to TNS here today, alleged while Atma Singh was repeatedly beaten up by his landlord, his family members were denied food. The organisation had to approach the District Magistrate and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for securing the release of five members of Atma Singh’s family from bondage.

She said Atma Singh took an advance of Rs 17,000 from the landlord when he joined his services in March 2002. The landlord started charging 5 per cent interest on the amount advanced. Atma Singh was made to pay Rs 100 as penalty for any day when he failed to come to work. The penalty sum was added to the bondage debt amount. When Atma Singh suffered injuries after falling from a scooter and expressed his inability to do work, he was beaten up severely by the landlord, which forced him to flee.

She said the organisation moved a complaint with the NHRC and approached the Deputy Commissioner. The family members of Atma Singh, his wife Sukhmander Kaur (30) and four children, Mandeep Kaur (9), Gulwinder Singh (7), Parveen Kaur (5) years and Nirbhai Singh (2), were released from bondage yesterday.

She alleged that no action had been taken against the landlord so far by the authorities concerned.

Mr Prasad, denying the allegations pointed out that all family members of Atma Singh were released on August 5 in his presence. The landlord did not confine them in illegal custody and they were not maltreated. Mr Kamaljit Kaur, the landlord’s wife, contacted, said money was not given to Atma Singh on interest. He was given Rs 17,000 as advance and the same was demanded back when he refused to do work.

Source: The Tribune, August 14, 2002

Dalit killed over land re-distribution in MP

Sandeep Bhushan

Wednesday, August 14, 2002 (Lataheri, Rajgarh):

The tension between dalits and upper-caste villagers in Rajgarh, Madhya Pradesh has taken a violent turn after the state government announced its decision to allot vacant plots to the landless Scheduled Caste and Tribes.

Traditionally the upper castes have grazed their cattle on the vacant plots and are now refusing to surrender what they claim is their right over common land. In Rajgarh district alone 21 cases relating to land redistribution have been filed against 443 people in the last two days.

And evidence indicates that the upper caste villagers have unleashed a reign of terror and death. For instance 45-year-old Ghisalal Jatav of Lataheri village was killed brutally by alleged upper caste farmers.

The upper caste men had apparently let loose their cattle on the first jowar crop on the common land. When the dalits resisted, they were brutally beaten up.

Ghisalal's wife Leelabai, who is five months pregnant, recounts the events with horror. "They killed him in the fields. They used guns and long knives," says Leela.

"The uppercaste men kept saying: 'We will not let them keep this land. We will not let them eat from this and will drive the harijans away'," recounts another dalit villager, Seetabai.

Four people have been arrested for the murder of Ghisalal Jatav and a police picket has now been placed in the village, but the dalits here say they are still insecure.

"Even today those people are trying to scare us," say the dalit villagers.

Meanwhile, the state government has said it will appeal against the High court stay order and press ahead with the land redistribution programme.

Source: NDTV, August 14, 2002

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

NH-58 blocked for 5 hrs after Dalit’s murder

Meerut

Several angry villagers of the Dalit community today protested against the police over the death of a poor villager of the Scheduled Caste community. They were also shouting slogans against a particular caste. They felt that the members of that caste were involved in the killing of the Dalit. The villagers staged a demonstration, laying out the body on National Highway 58, which connects New Delhi to Uttaranchal.

The highway was blocked for more than five hours. Long queues of vehicles were seen on both sides of the highway. The angry villagers were demanding the immediate arrest of persons of the Gujjar caste who, they alleged, were involved in the murder.

The son of the deceased lodged an FIR and charged that his father, Baghmal, 45, had gone to irrigate the sugarcane fields of Ram Karan Gujjar on Sunday evening. When Baghmal did not return home till late in the night, his son Jagvir went to the fields in search of his father but could find no sign of him. Then a group of villagers searched for him. Baghmal’s body was found in a nearby sugarcane field. He had been stabbed to death. His body bore several deep wounds. His son informed the police and charged that his father had been done to death by the Gujjars. Several Dalits gathered on the spot and when the police official ordered a post-mortem examination, the aggrieved villagers stopped the police from sending the body for the examination. A sufficient number of women and children of Dalits joined the mob and started shouting slogans against the police. They lay the body on National Highway 58 and blocked the road. Soon, a mile-long queue of vehicles formed on both sides of the highway. The mob even manhandled the SHO who informed his superiors. Soon, SHOs of Partapur, T P Nagar, Nauchandi, Delhi Gate, Brahampuri and Railway Road police stations rushed to the spot with forces. CO II Somitra Yadav and the Additional City Magistrate accompanied the police force and tried to clear the national highway but failed.

The SSP, Mr Mukul Goel, the SP (City), Mr D. K. Chaudhry, also rushed to Bhoor Baral village and the Partapur police station to negotiate with the villagers. The police used force but failed to clear the road. The police could not even persuade the villagers to send the body for examination as the villagers were demanding the arrest of the Gujjars involved in this case. Police officials also faced a hard line as the matter was directly related to the Dalits. No police official was ready to take any chance as the matter was of a sensitive nature. Soon, the SSP sought the help of the SHO of women’s police station to clear the highway as women formed a sizeable majority of the agitators. SHO Madhu Malti arrested some women with the help of lady constables. The other police officials ordered the force to disperse the mob. Later, the body was sent for an autopsy. Police officials assured the Dalits that they would arrest the killer soon.

Source: The Tribune, August 13, 2002

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Three members of a dalit family killed in Bihar

Ara (Bihar), August 8: Three members of a dalit family were shot dead by unidentified assailants at village Arora in Bhojpur district, police said on Thursday.

District police superintendent Ashok Kumar Verma said armed miscreants raided a house at the village under Udvant Nagar police station Wednesday night and killed a man, his wife and their son.

Old enmity was believed to be the reason behind the killing, Verma said. Raids were being conducted at various places to arrest the killers, he added.

Source: The Indian Express, August 8, 2002

Dalits seek CBI probe into DSS leader's murder

BANGALORE Aug. 7. Thousands of activists of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) took out a procession from Doddaballe near Bidadi to the Chief Minister's residence here on Wednesday.

They were demanding a CBI probe into the murder of the dalit leader, M.C. Kailash. At least 2,500 people participated in the procession, and it caused traffic snarls at several places in the City.

The other demands of the DSS were: protection to the wife and three children of the slain DSS leader, as they were still facing threats; a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to his family; and a job for his widow.

Several speakers, including Mavalli Shankar, R. Mohanraj, and Revanna, who addressed the DSS activists in the evening, demanded police provide protection for hutment dwellers in Doddaballe and regularisation of the dwellings. They said the killers of Kailash should be charged under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act.

Criticising the "failure" of the police to protect Kailash, they demanded that the Government take immediate steps to suspend the then Superintendent of Police, Bangalore Rural District, Bhaskar Rao, Inspector Rudrappa, and Sub-inspector Ravi Shankar.

The Revenue officials who allegedly colluded with unscrupulous elements in fabricating land records, which caused the dispute which led to the murder, should be placed under suspension, they said.

The leaders said that though police and the district administration knew of the threat to the life of Kailash, adequate protection was not given to him.

The City police and the district police had made tight security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident. The City police blocked the processionists at the Kumara Krupa Guest House.

Source: The Hindu, August 8, 2002

Three members of a Dalit family killed

Thursday, August 8, 2002 (Patna):

Three members of a dalit family were shot dead by unidentified assailants at village Arora in Bhojpur district.

District Police Superintendent Ashok Kumar Verma said armed miscreants raided a house at the village last night and killed a man, his wife and their son.

Old enmity was believed to be the reason behind the killing, Verma said. Raids were being conducted at various places to arrest the killers.

Source: NDTV, August 8, 2002

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Protest against desecration of Ambedkar statue

HASSAN

The police resorted to mild lathi-charge today to disperse a crowd which started throwing stones in protest against the desecration of Dr B R Ambedkar’s statue in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

In the process, an autorickshaw was damaged and three persons were injured, eye-witnesses said. The protesters took out a demonstration from Siddayyanagar here to N R Circle and held a road blockade there. Demanding that a bronze statue of Dr Ambedkar be installed in the City, they condemned the anti-Dalit policies of the government.

Dalit leaders held a road blockade for nearly four hours near Shantigram on the B M National Highway. Dalit activists in the Ambedkar extension of Belur town also held a protest to condemn the incident.

Yesterday, tension prevailed in Hassan city following the desecration of the statue. The statue was damaged after the miscreants allegedly pushed it down from the pedestal.

Speaking to reporters, Deputy Commissioner L K Atheeq said as soon as he received the news, he rushed to the spot and inspected the area. Since the statue was kept on a pedestal, it was easy for the miscreants to push it down, he said and assured that the guilty would be put behind the bars as soon as possible.

As soon as the news of the desecration spread, various Dalit organisations, activists of Rajya Raitha Sangha and the Dr Rajkumar Abhimani Sangha staged protests and road blockades. The protesters who arrived in a procession to the deputy commissioner’s office requested him to nab the miscreants. Superintendent of Police M Nanjundaswamy assured that the miscreants would be arrested at the earliest and the inquiry would be conducted by the deputy superintendent of police himself.

DECISION: Meanwhile, the decision to install a bronze statue of Dr Ambedkar was taken at the deputy commissioner’s office premises. A meeting of Dalit and progressive organisations and other officials, which was presided over by Mr Atheek, unanimously agreed to provide suitable protection to the statue and lay a garden around it.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed for some time when a group protested that the space identified for installing the statue was not suitable. Although many a Dalit leaders accepted the space allocated, one group staged a dharna till evening demanding that the statue be installed at the DC’s office premises.

Protesting against this incident today, the leaders of many Dalit organisations, along with the members, staged a rasta roko agitation at the Jagat Chowk. They demanded the immediate arrest of the miscreants involved in the Hassan incident. They also demanded adequate protection for the members of the Dalit community in the State. They also demanded that stringent laws should be framed to punish those who desecrate Ambedkar statues.

Source: Deccan Herald, August 7, 2002

Sunday, August 04, 2002

A Dalit damned for defying her village

Madurai Aug. 3. The 27-year-old Dalit woman, Azhagammal, of Padaminchi hamlet near Ulagampatti village in Sivaganga, lives in fear. Surviving a brutal police assault and harassment at the hands of a caste Hindu-dominated `oor' (local) panchayat, Azhagammal, who works as a noon meal worker, has been forced to shift her residence to Tiruchi, where she lives under the protection of a group of women activists.

Trouble began for her when she sought a divorce from her unemployed husband two years ago. The panchayat opposed it, but she obtained divorce through court. Stung by it, the panchayat ordered her to hand over her child to her husband.

When she refused to do so, she was ostracised by the village. The panchayat was also opposed her attempts to bring agriculture coolies from a nearby village to till her lands.

Irked by her "impertinent" behaviour, it slapped a fine of Rs. 51,000 to "teach her a lesson.'' When she expressed her inability to pay, she was ordered to prostrate before the panchayat members with a "concession" that reduced the fine by Rs.1,000 for each prostration. Succumbing to pressure, she prostrated 47 times to reduce the fine to Rs. 4,000.

When Azhagammal reported the matter to the police, they refused to act. She, then, referred the matter to the District Collector. The administration ordered an RDO enquiry under Sec. 107 of Cr.PC. Warrants were issued to all, including Azhagammal.

But the decision to approach the higher officials annoyed the local police. On July 7, plainclothes policemen descended on her house on the pretext of executing a warrant under Sec. 107 of Cr.PC. Azhagammal claimed that she was beaten inside the house. With her dress in shreds, four policemen allegedly dragged her out of the house and beat her with a log till she lost consciousness. When she regained consciousness, she found herself in the Ulagampatti police station.

After nearly five hours, two women constables arrived on the scene and escorted her to the Ponnamaravathi Government hospital where she was given first aid. She was produced before the Devakottai RDO, who instructed her to meet him in August.

Fearing a threat to her life, she approached the Women's Legal Aid Centre of the All-India Democratic Women's Association at Tiruchi, which admitted her in the Government General Hospital for "multiple injuries on her thigh and back".

After nine days of treatment, she was discharged.

``The police need not use force while executing a warrant under Sec. 107 Cr.PC. Petitions to the Chief Minister and the Chairman of State Human Rights Commission have already been faxed,'' says Arjunan, Sivaganga District CPI (M) secretary.

The SP of Sivagnaga, V.A.Ravikumar, said a departmental inquiry was on. The DIGs of PCR Act and Human Rights also held enquiries, he added.

Source: The Hindu, August 4, 2002

Friday, August 02, 2002

Tiruchi Dalits starve for refusing to swallow insult

THARIAN MATHEW

TIRUCHI, AUGUST 1: Dalits in Tiruchi district's Thinniyam village who had alleged that upper caste men forced them to eat faeces now say they are paying for complaining with a job boycott.

They say, 25 Scheduled Caste men are being denied work in farms ever since they complained and got nine members of an upper caste family arrested. While one of them was detained under the Goondas Act, the others are out on bail.

The upper castes have reportedly asked Dalits to approach the district collector for jobs. Sivakami, whose family has been ostracised, says they have only one meal a day now. The women, she said, used to earn up to Rs 30 through odd jobs and keep the kitchen fire burning.

Not anymore. Murugesan and Ramasamy were allegedly forced to eat faeces for accompanying Karupiah as he went around telling villagers how an upper caste man had duped him of Rs 2,000.

Lawyers for the Dalits have urged the Lalgudi DSP to get the bails of the accused cancelled. Three of the affected families were taken to Somarasanpet near Tiruchi to work in local farms.

Karupiah said lack of work and money is slowly making them think of a compromise with the upper castes. Tiruchi lawyer R. Alex said some women had borrowed Rs 50 each from the Rs 1,000 they saved as a self-help group.

Source: The Indian Express, August 2, 2002