Monday, September 30, 2002

Survey calls Naidu's Dalit bluff

Ashok Das

Exactly a year ago, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu led a group of Dalits into the Laxmi Bhavani temple in Peddareddypet village of Medak district. It was a symbolic gesture - touted as the government's attempt at breaking the social barriers of untouchability.

And so for the next 10 days, ministers, officials and TDP functionaries herded Dalits to village temples. With this, the government boasted, it had brought about the "empowerment" of Dalits � something that could not be achieved for centuries.

But all that "empowerment" seems to have been nullified. A recently-concluded study by the Committee Against Caste Discrimination (CACD), a non-governmental agency, proves that the government had talked too loudly and too soon. Nothing had changed for the Dalits.

* Almost all temples, which Dalits entered, have been "cleansed" and whitewashed;

* Caste Hindus, in connivance with revenue and police officials, are foisting false cases against the Dalits;

* Many of them are being denied work in the government's food-for-work programme and are forced to migrate to other villages in search of jobs;

* They are barred from entering temples in 110 villages. In remaining villages, Dalits either had their own places of worship or were are simply not interested in angering upper castes by asking for worship rights.

* Dalits are not allowed to share the same bus shelters with upper castes in 226 villages; are not allowed haircut by local barbers in 76 villages; are not allowed to cremate their dead on the village land in 74 villages; and are denied access to the drinking water wells and taps in 34 villages.

"The Dalits were quietly forgotten after the 10-day campaign was over," CACD president Poturi Ramaiah said. Ramaiah said the findings were being sent to NHRC and the National SC/ST panel.

Source: Hindustan Times, September 30, 2002

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Dalit woman dragged naked in public

Source: Deccan Herald, 29 September 2002

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Harijan woman paraded naked for talking with another man

Source: Hindustan Times, September 28, 2002

Thursday, September 26, 2002

PT plans Statewide stir against two-tumbler evil

COIMBATORE Sept. 25. The Puthiya Tamizhagam has planned a Statewide demonstration for October 2 to demand action against the two-tumbler system permitted in tea shops.

The president, K. Krishnasamy, told presspersons here today that the erstwhile DMK Government had initiated action following PT protests but it was not sustained. Now, the practice was widespread, including in Coimbatore district.

The demonstration would be held in front of shops, which continued with the discrimination against the Dalits. Referring to instances of their being subjected to physical harassment, he alleged that after the AIADMK Government assumed power, casteist forces had been letting loose repression, indicating that a particular caste wielded power.

Dr. Krishnasamy demanded that an academician from Dalits be appointed for the vacant post of Vice-Chancellor of the Bharathiar University. He said out of 14 universities and four deemed universities, only the Bharatidasan University had a Vice-Chancellor from the Adi Dravidar community. Hence a person from the Arundathiyar or Devendra Kula Vellala community should be appointed for the post.

Source: The Hindu, September 26, 2002

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Dalits seek conversion escape route

Vijay Thakur in Jaipur

Sept. 23. Over 100 Bairwa families in Chakwara have decided to convert but are not sure about their new religion. The reason: They don't want to be treated as "untouchables". This comes a day after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed that over 100 Muslim families in Beawar, Ajmer, had converted to Hinduism.

Bairwas (Dalits of the cobbler caste) are living in terror after upper caste villagers clashed with police in Phagi on Saturday to stop a Dalit yatra against untouchability. "Please do not ask about details ... we will decide in two or three days ... we want to save ourselves from upper-caste violence," said Mr Hari S Bairwa. Others refused comment out of fear. "You will publish our names ... then they will target us," said a villager. Bairwa families have been completely boycotted by the upper caste. But the Dalits have no option but to depend on them for their needs. To avoid being targeted, they are huddled at one place and are cooking their meals at a community kitchen.

VHP general secretary Mr Praveen Togadia, who was in Beawar for the conversion of 100 Muslim families, has refused to visit Chakwara because "there may be a law and order problem". There are some evils in our religion and we should fight them." He said caste tension had surfaced because of "designs of the Church": "The Church is instigating people of a certain caste to resort to violence, divide Hindus and facilitate conversions."

Source: The Statesman, September 24, 2002

Monday, September 23, 2002

Editor booked for rape

Kapurthala

The Sadar Police today registered a case against Harwinder Singh Bawa, Editor of a Punjabi monthly, the UPI Sandesh, publised from Aujula village, on a charge of raping a Dalit girl of Chuharwal village.

In a report lodged with the police, the girl alleged that about 10 days ago, Harwinder Singh Bawa and his wife Sarabjit Kaur promised her parents that they would get her a government job, if she accompanied them to their house in Aujula. The parents agreed. It was in their house, that the accused allegedly raped her a number of times. The girl was saved by her relatives on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the accused has got himself admitted in the local civil hospital with injuries on his person while his wife has absconded.

Source: The Tribune, September 23, 2002

Chakwara's Dalits face social boycott

Harsha Kumari Singh

Monday, September 23, 2002 (Chakwara, Jaipur district):

Chakwara in Rajasthan's Jaipur district is still tense after Saturday's intra-caste violence. A Dalit sadbhavna rally was prevented by mobs of upper caste men from reaching Chakwara village. After rioting and clashes with the police, seven people have been arrested.

But little has changed for the Dalit community in Chakwara who now live in fear and are still victims of a social and economic boycott.

Now police has to stand guard outside the approximately 20 houses belonging to Chakwara's Bairwa community, who are traditional shoe makers.

After a rally by Dalit activists on Saturday tried to highlight the discrimination being practised against them, there appears to have been a further polarisation between communities.

"We cannot even step outside without police protection. Our lives are threatened. They taunt us and say that we have chased away your friends and now you will have to stay here with us," says Lachma Devi.

Discrimination against the Dalits has been practised for generations in Chakwara. There are separate bathing ghats for the upper castes and Dalits are not allowed inside the village temple.

The Dalits/bairwas here have been facing a social and economic boycott since December last year when a dalit activist from the village used the Ganesh ghat to bathe at the village pond which was reserved only for upper castes.

"They don't till our fields with their tractors, they don't let us work in their fields. They are boycotting us, they don't talk to us and have said anybody else who talks to us will have to pay a fine of eleven hundred rupees," says Sita Ram.

But others in this Jat-dominated village deny that discrimination is being practised against the Bairwas and blame local NGOs for vitiating the atmosphere.

The administration has meanwhile begun meetings to resolve the issue of discrimination - a tough task in a state which records the second highest number of atrocities against Dalits in the country.

Source: NDTV, September 23, 2002

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Dalit woman paraded naked in U.P.

Pratapgarh Sept. 21. A Dalit woman was allegedly paraded naked by some police and tehsil employees in Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh district.

In a complaint lodged with the National Human Rights Commission, the SC-ST Commission and the Chief Minister, the victim has alleged that she was kept in the police lock-up for a night. The incident occurred in Katka Manapur village on Friday.

The victim, who is a widow and works in Mumbai for the Railways, alleged that the police and tehsil employees paraded her naked before locking her up along with two women relatives.

The woman, who was released by a court today, alleged that the land on which her house was constructed had been allotted to some one else on lease by the Tahsildar.

Despite there being a court stay on her eviction from the land, police was trying to ``forcibly evict her'', she alleged.

She demanded action against the SHO of Antu police station and the Tahsildar.

In another incident in Ratlam (M.P.), 10 persons were held on Friday for allegedly disrobing a young Adivasi woman and parading her naked in Koida village near Salina sub-division of the district, police said. The incident took place on Thursday. The accused were allegedly `punishing' her as they suspected her character. Cases have been registered.

Source: The Hindu, September 22, 2002

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Caste cauldron on boil

Untouchability has again reared its ugly head in a Rajasthan village. Only this time, the victims have decided to fight for their rights.

Hundreds of Dalits are on their way to Chakwara, 60 km from Jaipur, to bathe in the village pond and offer prayers at the village temple on Saturday-something they are prevented from doing so.

But, the issue threatens to snowball into a confrontation, with the upper castes gathering in thousands to prevent the Dalits. About 7,000 upper caste people have assembled in the village and blocked access to the temple.

Several organisations, including the Centre for Dalit Human Rights, Jaipur, are organising the 'Sadbhavna Yatra' from Chaksu to Chakwara to end the caste-based discrimination. Magsaysay winner Aruna Roy and Swami Agnivesh are slated to join the 'yatra' on Saturday.

The district administration has deployed additional forces and senior administration and police officials are camping in the village to negotiate a settlement. "We have also deployed one company of the Special Task Force. We will see that there is no confrontation between the two sides," IGP (Law & Order) Arvind Jain said.

The Dalits are not allowed to bathe in the pond or enter the temple. In December last year, some of them bathed at the ghat meant for upper castes. This led to a confrontation but timely intervention by the district administration averted an ugly situation.

Source: Hindustan Times, September 21, 2002

32 hurt as dalit demonstrators clash with police in Rajasthan

Jaipur

At least 32 people, including a Superintendent of Police and 14 other policemen, were injured when a group of dalits protesting alleged denial of access to a pond and a temple by the upper castes in a Rajasthan village, clashed with police about 40 kms from here on Saturday. State Home Minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat said while two of the injured sustained bullet wounds, 15 policemen were injured in stone pelting by the dalits and equal number of protestors when police fired rubber bullets to disperse them.

Trouble started this morning when hundreds of dalits began a march from Chaksu to Chakwara village, where they alleged the upper caste people were not allowing them to enter a temple, a public pond and were enforcing social and economic boycott of Bairwas.

As police tried to stop them at Phagi road, in between Chaksu and Chakwara, they pelted stones on them injuring 15 policemen, including an SP, and damaging a police vehicle. The protestors gheraoed a police station demanding permission to proceed with the march prompting police to fire rubber bullets in which 15 people from the mob were injured. As rubber bullets failed to disperse the demonstrators, police opened fire in which one person was hit on the leg and one in his hand, Shaktawat said.

He said prohibitory orders have been clamped and additional police force rushed to the area to maintain law and order. Efforts were also being made to organise a meeting of the dalits with the upper caste people of Chakwara.

Source: Press Trust of India, September 21, 2002

Dalits pay for temple refuge

Patna, Sept. 20: Atrocities against Dalits continue to haunt Bihar with three members of the community being assaulted in Kaimur district for entering a Shiva temple, reports our special correspondent.

Ravindra Ram, Badhu Ram and Waki Ram were dredging a pond in Taritha village in Kaimur when a sudden downpour prompted them to take shelter in the nearby temple, said a senior official of the district.

Members of the upper castes were furious at the trio for "soiling the purity of the temple". The Dalits were dragged out of the temple by musclemen and thrashed so severely that they had to be taken to hospital.

The villagers first approached the panchayat for justice but in vain. The Dalits then sought help from officers at the local police station, which referred the case to the SC/ST cell of Ramnagar police station. Although a case was registered last month, no action has been taken as yet.

The Dalits allege that the case has been hushed up with the help of an investigating officer who belongs to the uppercastes.

The three who were thrashed have been offered bribes by the upper-caste lobby and threatened to force them to withdraw the case, claimed Faggu Ram, a resident of the village.

The Kaimur district magistrate has ordered that the property of the accused - who are absconding - be seized.

The Kaimur incident is just the latest in a string of atrocities on Dalits.

In Phulwari district's Sandesh village, six Dalits were assaulted and refused entry to a Hindu temple in 1997. Three persons were booked in connection with the case.

In 1998, a Dalit priest was kicked out of a Hindu temple in Nagri village of Bhojpur district by supporters of the Ranbir Sena. An FIR was lodged, but no action was taken.

Source: The Telegraph, September 21, 2002

Over 30 injured in mob-police clash in Jaipur

JAIPUR: Over 30 people, including 20 policemen, were injured when agitated upper caste people clashed with police and in the subsequent firing following Dalits' plan to enter a temple which was thwarted by the upper castes' protest in Jaipur district on Saturday, an official spokesman said.

The injured included a superintendent of police, he said. About 2000 Dalits took out a march from Chaksu town to Chakwara village in Phagi tehsil, about 40 km from here, protesting against the alleged denial of their entry into a temple pond and wanted to make a forcible entry, the spokesman said.

However, they dispersed peacefully after police stopped the march at Bhojpura village and informed them that the administration has refused permission for them to go to Chakwara where upper castes were holding a 'Wzrarm Dhuni' inside the Vishwanath temple, he said.

Meanwhile, a group of upper caste people who gathered on the Phagi road turned violent and threw stones on the police prompting them to open fire, the spokesman said. Twenty 20 police personnel, including SP (Rural) Liaqat Ali, were injured and a vehicle damaged in the stone pelting, while 12 people received bullet injuries in police firing, he said. Earlier reports had quoted Home Minister Gulab Singh Shatawat as saying that 32 people were injured in a clash between Dalits and police.

Source: The Times of India, September 21, 2002

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Violent caste politics in Chitraakoot

Radhika Bordia

Thursday, September 19, 2002:

In Chitraakoot, the presence of police is an ominous reminder of the cracks in the Uttar Pradesh ruling coalition.

In the Dalit quarter of Bhanri village on the night after voting for the BSP in the UP Assembly elections in February, 16 Dalit men and women were severely beaten. The Dalits claim the action against them was taken at the behest of a BJP activist.

One of those beaten, Harish Chandra Ahirwar, a Dalit leader and active BSP worker, died in the violence.

"All night they thrashed us repeatedly using sticks and kept saying why have you voted for the elephant symbol. You can ask anyone, the pradhan was involved in this," recalls Sundi Devi, mother of Harish.

The pradhan she names is Badri Prasad Tripathi of the BJP. Technically it's his wife who is the pradhan. But in reality it is Tripathi who controls the village and is alleged to have hired three men with criminal histories to kill Harish.

"He used to tell the people not to be oppressed by the upper castes and because of him people had started to assert their equality. The pandits could not bear to see this so they eliminated him," claims Harish's widow.

A case was registered against Tripathi and the other three. All four were sent to jail and 11 Dalits including Harish's family were given gun licenses to protect themselves.

But seven months later Tripathi is out on bail back as the defacto pradhan.

The dividing line between the upper caste area and the Dalit basti has always been very distinct in this village. But after the February incident there is a new sense of fear and tension throughout. Infact the villagers say that the pradhan is not implementing any of the Dalit schemes.

The pradhan for his part says he has been framed. His bitter description of the BSP exposes the fault lines of what has always been seen as an uneasy political alliance.

"For a long time they said they would have nothing to do with us as we are a party of the upper castes. But now that we have given them our support and they are in power they should ensure that we are not harassed," says Tripathi.

Source: NDTV, September 19, 2002

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Dalit farmer asked to drink urine

MADURAI, Sept. 14. - A Dalit farm labourer was allegedly tortured and asked to drink urine following a dispute over land with a person at Kavundanpatti in Dindigul district last week.

The labourer, Sangan, later lodged an FIR with police. He said he was working in the estate of a certain Ashokan for the past 30 years. He was asked to get out of the estate recently. The estate owner had orally promised to sell 1.5 acre of land to Sangan and three of his brothers, and had deducted the land money in instalments from his wages.

But Ashokan had divided the land, which Sangan was occupying, into eleven plots and had sold them. While the buyers of ten of the plots had vacated the plots after dispute with Ashokan, one Kannan continued to occupy the eleventh plot and there were frequeent quarrels between Kannan and Sangan. He alleged that Kannan and six others took him to a lonely place on 7 September and beat him up. Later they asked him to drink urine.

Source: The Statesman, September 15, 2002

Saturday, September 14, 2002

I was forced to drink urine: Dalit

Madurai, Sept 14: A Dalit farm labourer was allegedly tortured and asked to drink urine following a land dispute between him and a caste Hindu at Kavundanpatti, near Nilakottai, in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district, September 7.

According to a complaint lodged by Dalit labourer Sangan, who was working in the estate of Ashokan for the past 30 years, he was asked to get out of the estate recently.

The estate owner had orally promised to sell 1.5 acres to Sangan and three of his brothers, and had deducted the money in instalments from the wages to be paid to Sangan for the past 30 years. Sangan and his brothers were occupying the land.

The complaint said Ashokan had divided the land, which Sangan was occupying, into 11 plots and had sold them. While the buyers of 10 of the plots had vacated the plots after a dispute with Ashokan, Kannan continued to occupy the 11th plot and there were frequent quarrels between Kannan and Sangan.

Sangan alleged that Kannan and six others took him to a lonely spot on September 7 and beat him up. Later, they asked him to drink urine, Sangan said.

Police said they were investigating the case. They said there was no documentary evidence for the sale of land to Sangan.

Source: ChennaiOnline News Service / Press Trust of India, September 14, 2002

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Atrocities on Dalits -- Govt has not taken adequate action

CHITRADURGA

Cases of atrocities on Dalits in the State is on the rise and the government has failed to such cases effectively, State DSS Bangalore Zonal Covenor Lakshminarayan Nagavar has alleged here today.

He was addressing a press conference here today. It is only after the Congress government has come to power in the State that atrocities on Dalits are on the rise, he said. The government has taken a negligent stance over the issue and instead of bringing the culprits to book, it is protecting them, Mr Nagavar charged. Though Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge hails from the Dalit community, he has failed to come to the rescue of the Dalits, Mr Nagavar said.

Social Welfare Minister M Krishnappa is attempting to gain publicity by way of his Janata Darshan programmes, the DSS leader said. The government has obtained information from the deputy commissioner in connection with atrocities on Dalits, but has failed to take any action.

The backlog vacancies meant for Dalits have not been filled up constitutionally, he said. Announcements regarding filling up of these posts are made by the Krishna-led government on Ambedkar Jayanthi every year, but the promises have not been kept, Mr Nagavar said. He urged that action be taken against senior officials of the respective departments if the posts are not filled up.

The government should increase the scholarship amount being given to Dalit students. Every Dalit student intending to study in hostels in the State should provided with opportunities, he said.

OFFICE-BEARERS: The Samithi has called for a meeting on Sept 21 -22 in Bangalore to elect new office-bearers, Mr Nagavar said.

Dalit Sangharsh Samithi district Convenor H Mahantesh, Mr B H Nandyappa Attigere, Davangere district unit Nagaraj Kodaganur, Mr S A Narayanmurthy and others were present.

Source: Deccan Herald, September 10, 2002

Upper caste jailbirds strike against sharing kitchen with Dalits

From J P Yadav
PATNA, Sept 9

In a grotesque case, the district jail of Arra is witnessing a non-violent agitation by its upper caste inmates for restoration of their “superior” caste status. Around 100 such prisoners identified as members of the outlawed private army Ranvir Sena are on a hunger strike, not willing to share food from the kitchen used for the dalit inmates.

The upper caste members belonging mainly to the Bhumihar caste have been agitating since September 5. It was on this date that the district administration cracked down to enforce the jail manual, thereby introducing a single kitchen for all prisoners. Earlier, the upper caste inmates ran a separate kitchen for themselves which was closed by the administration.

“Everyone is equal before the law. Meals for all inmates from now on will be prepared in the same kitchen irrespective of the caste and political affiliation of the prisoners,” the district administration declared.

The order was apparently unacceptable to the upper caste prisoners, who by dint of their economic and political power always managed to get special arrangements made for themselves in the jail. To press their demand, around 100 prisoners owing allegiance to the Ranvir Sena went on a hunger strike. They urged the jail superintendent to restore their separate kitchen making it clear that sharing the food prepared in the kitchen used by the dalits was unacceptable to them.

The jail superintendent refused to accept their demand stating that it was against the jail manual. Talking to Deccan Herald, District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar said around 97 upper caste prisoners were on a hunger strike for a demand which was untenable to the administration. He pointed out that talks were on with the agitating prisoners and efforts were on to make them understand that it was not possible for the administration to run separate kitchens for different groups.

Apart from the “superiority” the caste system affords the Ranvir Sena inmates, the dalits happen to be supporters of the ultra left party CPI-ML (Liberation), the arch enemy of the Ranvir Sena in the district.

The banned Ranvir Sena has carried out several massacres of dalits in the region after they raised their voice over the issue of minimum wage and dignity of labour.

Source: Deccan Herald, September 10, 2002

Thursday, September 05, 2002

50 Dalits forced to vacate houses

Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Mehru (Jalandhar)

Nearly 50 Dalit families have been driven out of their houses by the administration and the police allegedly for voting for the SAD-BJP which had built them 12 one-room pucca houses under the Indira Awaas Yojana, when the combine ruled the state.

The victims, alleged that they were forced out of their houses by the administration at the behest of a panchayat member belonging to the ruling Congress party. They now are putting up in small tents in front of their houses after having been thrown out by Block Development and Panchayat officials, who descended on the village on August 27 along with 36 police officials.

Mr Karnail Singh, panchayat member and aide of Punjab Minister Amarjit Singh Samra, who allegedly was behind the Dalits’ uprooting, was one of the signatories to a resolution passed by the village panchayat on February 16, 2002, recommending allotment of houses under the Home for Homeless Scheme to 12 Dalit families identified as homeless by the panchayat.

The Dalit families, identified by the panchayat in 2000 for allotment occupied the half-built houses in February this year after a long wait as the Panchayati Raj Department failed to complete the houses despite its Construction Wing having started the job three years ago.

Showing the panchayat resolution, Dalit families alleged that they were cheated by the department officials and some panchayat members, who had made them sign some documents under police pressure showing that they were vacating the houses for repair. “They had threatened us to either vacate the houses or face beating at the hands of armed policemen who accompanied them in three vehicles. What could we do except bow to their wishes?” rued Satnam Singh, a Dalit, who added that all families putting up in the houses had ration cards. Satnam Singh alleged that at the time of the occupation of the houses, officials of the Block Development and Panchayat Office, Nakodar, had forced every family to shell out Rs 2,000 as bribe money. “They had also made us pay for liquor and other entertainment at that time,” alleged Satnam Singh.

“The only fault of ours is that since the houses were allotted during Akali rule. We had supported the Akalis,” said Sunita mother of two, who wanted to know what crime the 30 small children belonging to 12 families had committed for being forced to spend time in tents. Some children fell sick after the families shifted to tents. Joginder Singh, another Dalit, alleged that a panchayat member and a few others were conspiring with the Block Development and Panchayat officials so that the houses could be allotted to Congress supporters. Mohinder Kaur, a Dalit woman, said since their one-room houses were locked by the Block Development and Panchayat Officials in the presence of the police they had to spend time in small tents, insufficient to protect them from elements like rain. “See all of our belongings are rotting in the open as we don't have any place to store these”, she rued.

Karnail Singh, panchayat member denied the allegations and maintained that fresh allotments would be made as legally houses were not formally allotted to the Dalit families as these were still incomplete and as most of them (Dalits) were not eligible for these. When asked why he had signed a resolution recommending names of Dalits who had occupied these, Karnail Singh admitted that it was his mistake as he and other members had not verified the facts. He said that he was made to sign blank papers by the then BDPO Iqbaljit Singh. “Actually, most of the Dalits recommended by the panchayats are rich and have their own plush houses,” he added.

Karnail Singh, who alleged that most of the Dalits were relatives of the sarpanch, however, could not give a satisfactory answer why he had become party to a “wrong” resolution, Mr Ajay Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Nakodar, who was reluctant to say anything except that whatever had happened before he joined at Nakodar, was seen being tutored by Karnail Singh, who kept telling the former (BDPO) as to what answer he should give to the queries by The Tribune. Denying that any employee of his office had demanded bribe from Dalits, he maintained that legally allotment was yet to be made as the construction was not complete.

Source: The Tribune, September 5, 2002

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Doctor delays post-mortem (on a dalit youth), angers villagers

BHOPAL SEPT. 3. Public fury against a Government doctor who failed to act promptly and conduct post-mortem on a Dalit youth -- whose body was found hanging two days back -- led to police firing on a mob of protesters yesterday in which three persons were killed and nearly two dozen injured.

According to information reaching here, the body of Mahesh Kol was found hanging on Sunday at Ramnagar in Satna district. When the villagers took the body to hospital, the doctor on duty, Abhimanyu Singh, refused to conduct post-mortem. Later that night, when he was requested again by the people, he allegedly misbehaved with them.

On Monday morning the doctor reportedly misbehaved with Mahesh's relatives. Dr. Singh's wife, who too is a doctor posted at Ramnagar, was not allowed to conduct the post-mortem. One other doctor posted there was not traceable. Meanwhile, people had lost their patience and refused to let two other doctors, who were called in by the police, to conduct the post-mortem.

A senior police spokesman told The Hindu today that on Monday afternoon the people picked up the body from the mortuary and took to the streets demanding Dr. Singh's suspension. The District Collector, who was in Rewa, and the Superintendent of Police rushed to Ramnagar from Satna, when the situation went out of control.

A stone hurled by the by now angry crowd hit the SP on the face. The mob also set fire to some scooters and a police vehicle. This led to the police opening fire.

According to official sources here, the district authorities reached the troubled spot with a suspension order against Dr. Singh. The police spokesman added that the SP has been moved to Satna and other senior police officers have been rushed to Ramnagar.

Source: The Hindu, September 4, 2002

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Panchayat blacklists Dalits

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Moondkheri (Patiala)

Dalits protesting against having been made bonded labourers in this village have been penalised by the panchayat. As many as 15 of them have been blacklisted and lists of the names have been distributed among all traders including milkmen in the village as well as the nearby half a dozen villages.

Traders are in a fix, with the panchayat and the Baba Shampuri Sports Club, which has jointly issued the directive, fining one shopkeeper Rs 2,000 for selling 2 kg of sugar to one of the blacklisted persons. The traders have been warned that they will face social boycott in case they serve any of the Dalits who have been identified in the lists.

The panchayat and the club took this action against the Dalits after a Phillaur-based organisation, working for the cause of bonded labourers, served legal notices on many lanbdlords of the village, charging them with helping the Dalits as bonded labourers.

The persons who have been affected by the panchayat decision say their life has become hell. Jagar Singh, one of the affected persons, said seven of the local milkmen had stopped selling milk to them. He said the lists had also been distributed among neighbouring villages to flour mill owners and shopkeepers to ensure that they could not buy any essential item from them.

Landowners are, however, emphatic that this has been done to identify “mischief makers” in the village because they had filed false complaints against various landlords. They said all 15 Dalits had taken money in advance in lieu of their payments for the whole year or for six months and had stopped working claiming that they were being made bonded labourers.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today asked Subdivisional Magistrate Manjit Singh Narang to visit the village and take steps to end the boycott of the Dalits. The administration is also likely to look into the action of the panchayat to ascertain whether administrative action can be taken against it.

Source: The Tribune, September 3, 2002