Saturday, November 30, 2002

Youth gets life term for Dalit killings

CUDDALORE NOV. 29. The district sessions court today awarded life sentence to a 25-year-old youth for hacking three Dalits to death at M.Puliangudi in Kattumannarkoil taluk in 2000.

Karthik alias T.Karthikeyan of the same village hacked the Dalits — Gandhi, Rajesh alias Vellaiyan and Mathialagan of a Dalit colony — with a long sickle, when they were fast asleep on May 26, 2000.

The attack was a reaction to some colony residents objecting to Karthikeyan's alleged secret relationship with B.Prabavathi, a Dalit woman. Karthikeyan was caught when he attempted to enter her house on May 25. The three youth reportedly warned him that his case would be brought to the notice of `Oorpanchayat'.

The accused took revenge on them, committing the triple murder the next day.

The Kumaratchi police registered cases against Karthikeyan under Section 302 IPC and Section 3 (2) (V) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Several parts of the district, including areas in Kattumannarkoil, became tense after the murder. Most of the Vanniya residents fled the village and bus services to many areas were suspended for quite sometime.

The principal sessions judge, P.Devadass, awarded life sentence to Karthikeyan on the ground that the prosecution established its case.

Source: The Hindu, November 30, 2002

Friday, November 29, 2002

Panel blames cops, not caste

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 28: In a preliminary report, the National SC and ST Commission has said that it was the police that were primarily responsible for the lynching of Dalits in Jhajjar, that caste was not a factor and that the incident was an accident and not motivated.

''The police killed them to hide their fault,'' Chairman of the Commission Bijoy Sonkar Shastri told The Indian Express. ''The families of the victims came here and they told us the police wanted bribe and when they did not succeed, they killed the five Dalits.''

Pinning responsibility on the local policemen for the lynching, Shastri said the police were aware the victims were Dalits but did nothing to save them. ''They, in fact, helped in the lynching,'' he charged.

He also said the arrests made so far in the case were a mere eyewash while the real culprits are yet to be arrested.

The Commission believes the victims' caste was not a factor at all in their being targeted by an ''ordinary'' mob and that the incident was an ''accident'' and ''not motivated''.

''Anti-social elements'' helped by the police created an atmosphere of suspicion by spreading rumours that five men had killed cows, provoking a crowd of people returning from a fair, Shastri said. ''The people did not attack the five men because they knew that they were Dalits but because they were told that they had killed cows,'' he added.

Asked whether there was any evidence of the VHP inciting the crowd, Shastri said: ''No such evidence has been found.''

Though a comprehensive report is yet to be prepared, among the recommendations the Commission has made are compensation for the Dalit families, action against the police and guidelines to avoid a repeat of the incident.

Shastri was a BJP MP from Varanasi before he joined the Commission as its chairman. ''I am also from the SC/ST and during my term as MP, always kept their interests in mind,'' he said.

Source: The Indian Express, November 29, 2002

Friday, November 22, 2002

Jhajjar: Cops did the killing, Oppn tells Lok Sabha

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 21: The five Dalits who died in Jhajjar last month were killed by Haryana police, who passed it off as an incident of mob violence, agitated Opposition members said in the Lok Sabha today.

The uproar prompted Speaker Manohar Joshi to say that the House would discuss the Jhajjar incident - first reported in The Indian Express - at length soon and a reply would be sought from the Home Minister since it was a serious matter.

Samajwadi Party member Ramji Lal Suman and Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan told the House during Zero Hour that the police had concocted a story about the Dalits being killed by a mob for lynching a cow. They targetted local leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal for aiding the police cover-up.

Taking strong exception to VHP leader Giriraj Kishore's statement that the life of a cow was more precious than that of a human being, Suman said the police had killed the Dalits because they'd refused to cough up money.

Paswan said he visited the village a day after the incident and could find neither the remains of the cow nor the instrument allegedly used to skin it. Drawing the attention of the House to atrocities against Dalits in Bihar as well, Paswan said people would lose faith in the administration if such acts continued.

Ramdas Athawale, an Independent member, warned of a Dalit retaliation if the authorities did not act against the guilty policemen. Buta Singh (Congress) said the cow-killing story had been fabricated as no animal was found dead on the spot. Calling the state government probe a ''cover up,'' he demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.

BJP's Vijay Kumar Malhotra agreed with the Opposition and said the killing of the Dalits was a shameful incident. He too was for a full probe into the incident. As more and more members wanted to raise the matter, Speaker Manohar Joshi intervened. ''This is a serious issue. There should be a discussion on this at the earliest and the Home Minister should reply,'' he said.

Source: The Indian Express, November 22, 2002

Monday, November 18, 2002

Dalit woman paraded half-naked in Kishanganj

KISHANGANJ: A middle-aged Dalit woman Bharati Devi, wife of Amarnath Das and a resident of Dharmganj locality in the town was allegedly assaulted and paraded half-naked recently.

The trouble is traced to a long-standing but extremely convulated land dispute between two groups who are involved in string of cases and counter-cases.

Kishanganj SP S K Singhal however, dismissed the allegation about her being parading naked as "bullshit and concocted". He nevertheless admitted physical torture and tormenting of the Dalit couple. It was at his instance that an FIR with regard to the case on November 3 had been lodged, he said.

A respected resident of the locality, too, dismissed the story about her being paraded naked. He, who did not want to disclose identity, nonetheless said two groups of the residents had since long locked horns with each other over possession of a big chunk of prime land. He accused them of being "irritants and nuisance" to the area as such. SP Singhal said there was a land dispute between the groups.

Bharati Devi, however, time and again insisted that a group of about eight persons, including some women, forcibly broke open her room on November 3, abused and assaulted her. Afterwards, they caught her by scruff of the neck, dragged her out and "paraded me half-naked with barely a petticoat on". She even gave her statement in writing.

She has also lodged an FIR with Kishanganj PS. No one has, however, been arrested as yet. Two Dalits, Chitnath Mochi and Shivnath Mochi, were settled with 18 bighas of prime land way back in 1959-60 and after their deaths in 1964, this big chunk of land fell into the hands of Kasinath Mochi and cousin sister Mangli Devi who later migrated to Delhi.

Source: The Times of India, November 18, 2002

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Three lynched over inter-caste love affair in India

LUCKNOW: A young couple and a friend were burned alive in a northern Indian village by the bride’s family which was enraged she had eloped with a boy from a lower caste, police said Saturday.

Gudiya Singh, who belonged to the upper-caste Thakur community, had fallen in love with Rakesh (eds: one name), from the lowest caste, the Dalits, and the pair eloped Wednesday night in Aatgaon village in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

On discovering Gudiya had run off with a lower-caste boy, her father, Sher Singh, enlisted the help of his family to track down Dharam Singh, another Dalit, who had helped organize the impromptu marriage, police said.

After forcing the boy to divulge where the couple was hiding, the bride’s family beat all three of them and burned them alive. The charred remains were recovered Friday from a nearby pond, police said. Police said they sent reinforcements to the village, which is some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, to catch those behind the lynching and prevent wider caste conflict.

Officers say they are still seeking the arrest of the father and any other family members involved.

Up to 250 million people — or about a quarter of Indiaa’s population — are Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” who are at the bottom of Indiaa’s layered caste system.

While the Indian government banned caste discrimination at independence from Britain in 1947, it persists throughout the country, particularly villages.

Source: Daily Times, November 17, 2002

Two cops suspended for neglecting Dalit complaint

Two police officers have been placed under suspension for not initiating action following a complaint from the wife of a Dalit labourer, who was kept under detention by his landlord for failing to repay a loan of Rs 4,900.

The labourer Venkatappa of Cheemachanahalli in Devana-halli taluk was locked up in a room by the accused Subanna, of Naganayakanahalli village, his son Narayan Gowda and one Basavegowda for a day at Subanna’s residence on Thur-sday. The victim was also allegedly beaten up by them.
Venkatappa’s wife reported the matter to Vijaypur police station, where Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police Krishnappa and a head constable failed to initiate action. The two were suspended by Bangalore Rural District Superintendent of Police K Srinivas.

The police later arrested Subanna under the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act and remanded him to judicial custody. A report has been submitted to Devanahalli Tahsildar.

Police said the victim Venkatappa had taken the loan seven months ago and later worked in Subanna’s farm without taking any wages. Subanna got enraged when Venkatappa said he had compensated for the loan by working for seven months. Subanna demanded that either the loan be repaid or Venkatappa should continue working in the farm.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Srinivas, expressing concern over such incidents, urged the public to file complaints of negligence in any police station, falling under his jurisdiction, with the deputy superintendents of police (DySPs) Bangalore, Dod-daballapur, Ramnagar, Channa-patna and Nelamangala sub-divisions.

Source: Deccan Herald, November 17, 2002

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Six Dalit youths attacked, woman stripped

Vipin Sharma

Rohtak, November 12
The Haryana units of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party have condemned the incident in which a group of upper caste youths allegedly attacked the Harijan basti at Bhagwatipur village and beat up six Dalit youths with sticks and sharp-edged weapons on Sunday evening.

The assailants also allegedly stripped a Dalit woman who tried to intervene. Moreover, when the affected youths reached the police station to register a complaint, the cops on duty allegedly scolded them and directed them to reach a compromise.

Mr Tejvir Sen, general secretary of the state unit of the BSP, and Ms Kanta Alaria, state president of the Samajwadi Party, today threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if those responsible for the attack were not punished.

Narrating the harrowing incident, a Dalit youth admitted in the civil hospital here, Raj Karan, said that a Dalit boy, Sajjan Kumar (16), was engaged as a labourer in the village. He said the boy had fastened the lower edges of his shirt as it was devoid of buttons and was going to fetch a ‘biri’ from a nearby shop. He was intercepted by two upper caste youths on the way who allegedly objected to his dress and used abusive language. They also beat him up when he opposed the humiliation on caste lines.

Raj Karan said the Dalit boy challenged both the youths to beat him in his basti. After a few hours, both the assailants reached the Harijan basti along with their ten accomplices, armed with sticks and sharp-edged weapons in an inebriated condition. They reportedly dragged several Dalits out of their houses and beat them up for nearly three hours.

During the scuffle, they also allegedly tore the clothes of a Dalit woman and beat another woman, Darshana, who came to the other woman’s rescue. He said Dariao Singh, Manoj, Sombir, Gaje Singh and Raj Karan (all Dalits) sustained injuries and were admitted to the civil hospital here.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the district police this afternoon said the incident was nothing but an outcome of children’s dispute over a trivial matter. The police said that no sharp-edged weapon was used in the scuffle and no woman was stripped in the incident. It also claimed that a compromise would soon be reached between both the parties.

Source: The Tribune, November 13, 2002

Eight injured in clash between Dalits, upper caste persons

As many as eight persons, including a woman, were injured in a clash between some Dalits and upper caste persons over a trivial issue at Bhagwatipur village under Rohtak sadar police jurisdiction, about 15 km from here, on Sunday.

According to reports, while 6 of the injured including the woman, belong to a scheduled caste, 2 others are from a dominant upper caste.

While one of the Dalit victims is admitted in the local civil hospital, 2 upper caste victims are admitted in the PGIMS for treatment.

Rest of the injured persons received minor injuries.

Both the affected parties have lodged reports against each other with the local sadar police. While the police made attempts to facilitate a compromise by organising a panchayat , with representatives from both sides, at the village on Tuesday, some political leaders described it as an attack on innocent Dalits and criticised the role of the police and the civil administration.

The trouble started on Sunday morning when some upper caste youth objected to a Dalit youth engaged in construction work wearing only an underwear on the plea that it looked obscene.

Later, in the evening several upper caste men, allegedly carrying lathis and sharp-edged farm implements, went to the Dalit basti of the village.

There a clash occurred between the Dalits and the upper caste men after heated arguments over the morning incident.

While the Dalits pelted stones on the upper caste men, the latter attacked the former with whatever they were carrying. Raj Karan, Manoj, Daryao Singh, Narender, Sombir and Darshna, all Dalits received injuries in the violent clash.

Mukhtyar Singh and Joginder both from the opposite side of upper castes sustained injuries in the incident, a police press note issued here on Tuesday said. The press note added that the medical examination did not reveal any injury caused by sharp-edged weapons.

There was no caste tension in the village and the incident occurred following a quarrel between children belonging to the opposite parties, the police claimed, denying targeting of any woman in the incident by any of the two groups of people involved.

Source: Hindustan Times, November 13, 2002

Monday, November 11, 2002

Dalit raped for husband's Rs 100 loan

TAPAS CHAKRABORTY

Ara, Nov. 10: The focus on atrocities on Dalits has swivelled from Jhajjar in Haryana - where some youths were lynched for skinning a cow - to Ara in Bihar, where an upper-caste landlord raped a Dalit's wife on Friday after accusing him of not repaying a loan of Rs 100.

"This is one of the most horrendous rape incidents by an upper caste who wanted to show his power on the Dalit woman on the plea that her husband did not pay the Rs 100 he had taken as loan. But we found out later that the amount had been repaid," district magistrate Sanjay Kumar told The Telegraph today.

Bhojpur police have lodged a case under the Prevention of Atrocities Against Dalits Act and a rape case against the landlord, who is absconding. The woman has been sent for medical tests.

Daulat Paswan, a labourer in Barishwan village, about 30 km from here, asked landlord Gopal Tiwari for Rs 100 to celebrate Dussehra.

Gopal, who was not carrying money, asked his friend Lalan Tiwari to lend Paswan Rs 100 and asked him to repay the loan in six days.

On Friday morning, Gopal reached the Dalit colony on the outskirts of the village in search of Paswan and demanded the money back. Paswan told him that he had returned the money. "When I said I had repaid the money to Lalan Tiwari, he did not believe me. He grabbed me by my shirt and dragged me to his house," Paswan said.

He was taken to an outhouse in Gopal's farm and tied to a pillar. Paswan recounted that Gopal began to shower blows on him, saying: "Ungrateful dog, who told you to return the money to Lalan?"

Panupati Devi, Paswan's wife, learnt from neighbours that her husband had been dragged to Gopal's house. She rushed there to beg for mercy.

When she reached the outhouse and pleaded with the landlord to release Paswan, an enraged Gopal allegedly grabbed her and forced her into his rest room. "The accused then allegedly tied the Dalit woman's hands before raping her violently," said Biswanath Tiwari, investigating officer of the case.

Once the landlord left, Panupati escaped. She ran back to her mother-in-law and told her what had happened. The two later went to the police station and lodged a complaint.

Gopal went underground on hearing that a case had been filed.

"The landlord Gopal Tiwari could exploit the woman as there were no young men in the village. They had all gone to another village to attend a festival," said Jasodha Paswan, a Dalit elder.

The atrocity has triggered a wave of protests by human rights activists and politicians belonging to the social justice camp.

It has also set the caste cauldron of Bhojpur, where the ultra-Left CPI-ML (Liberation) is engaged in a bloody feud with the Ranbir Sena, the private army of upper caste landlords, boiling.

Radical Left leaders said the incident typified the attitude of the upper castes towards the Dalits. "We don't have much of an organisational strength in the Shahpur block in which the village is located. It is dominated by upper castes. Hence, they could muster the courage to do this," said Ganesh Paswan, a district-level CPI-ML leader.

Source: The Telegraph, November 11, 2002

Dalits in Karnataka fear more assaults

Nupur Basu

Monday, November 11, 2002 (Kunigal district, Karnataka):

Dalits were once again the target of attack by those belonging to the upper caste. On November 7, Dalits were attacked in Ujjaini village in Kunigal district in Karnataka.

Between 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm that day, upper caste Gowda men living in the same village attacked Dalits with sticks, boulders and knives, sparing none. The frightened Dalits had to leave their homes.

Although they have returned since then, none of the culprits have been arrested till date. The village remains tense and the women are feeling particularly vulnerable.

Dalit women in Ujjaini village described how they were assaulted that night. Around 60 upper caste men allegedly attacked them and their homes in an assault that lasted nearly three hours; old men, women, none were spared.

Horror stories

Chowdamma, a Dalit woman, said, "We were inside our house when they came and hit us with stones. One stone landed on my chest."

Chicknaiah, another Dalit, said, "They came in a huge group, about 50-60 of them. They came and held me by my hair and then another lot went on beating me on my shoulder."

A woman and her two-day-old child were attacked viciously as a huge boulder was flung at her house by the mob. It crashed through her ceiling and fell on her stomach.

Chowdiah, a Dalit victim, lamented, "I am very poor. I have no one to support my family. They destroyed the roof of my house and also hit me on my leg. I had to stay at home since then without work."

The provocation

The attack was allegedly provoked over a dispute over a common land adjoining the village. The Dalits had requested that they be allowed to build some houses on it and even make a road.

Little hope

Ironically, the local Congress MLA, Y K Ramaiah, who came to the village ostensibly on a peace mission, came accompanied by the very men accused of the assault.

The police are guarding the village but none of the police officers on duty would comment about the episode.

Every year dozens of cases like this are registered before the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell, but the victims hardly ever get justice.

Source: NDTV, November 11, 2002

Friday, November 08, 2002

First outraged, now doomed to live in ignominy

Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Sohna (Gurgaon), November 7
Meenakshi Devi (name changed), who had come here from Uttar Pradesh to spend a few days with her elder sister, Meera Devi, hardly realised that she would be gangraped and robbed of her belongings.

The incident took place in Behrawati Village, about 15 km from here. The police have not been able to arrest the four accused, even though their names are in the FIR. The family continues to live in shame and is still awaiting justice eight days after the incident.

The gory incident relating to the atrocities on women is not an isolated case in Sohna tehsil, falling in the backyards of Gurgaon city. Crime against women appears to be on the rise in this tehsil.

The Behrawati incident occurred at a farm land in the village. The four culprits are natives of the same village. They hail from the dominant Rajput community. So, the police are understood to be under pressure to go slow in the case.

Meera Devi (55) and her husband work as labourers on the farm of a resident of the village. They had set up a hutment on the farm. Incidentally, her husband is blind. Both of them are migratory labourers from UP.

As the family was sleeping, late at night, four hoodlums, allegedly armed with lathis and a countrymade weapon, barged in the farm land. They were allegedly inebriated.

After trespassing, they first molested Meera Devi in front of her relatives. When they were opposed, they cast their eyes on her sister, a few years younger to her. They allegedly took turns to rape her. They also beat up the male family members when challenged. After committing the crime, they took away the belongings, including some jewellery.

In another molestation case a few days before the Behrawati episode, a youth of Lohsanghani village, about 15 km from here, tried to molest a Dalit girl from the same village while she was going to answer the nature’s call in the morning.

The accused tried to do so at knife-point. Had it not been for the timely intervention from another women passing by, he would have had his way. The youth fled from the scene. When the girl’s mother went to the house of the accused to complain, he attacked her with a knife. Another woman who had intervened was injured. The incident has also been reported to the police.

It seems that these incidents have become quite common, leaving egg on the face of statutory institutions like the National Commission for Women, National Commission for Minorities, National Human Rights Commission and many other such institutions.

Source: The Tribune, November 8, 2002

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Three dalits thrashed for allegedly skinning calf

Three dalits were thrashed and handed over to police for allegedly skinning a living calf, before elders in Panipat district, Haryana, found them not guilty on Tuesday.

The three, residents of Chamra village in Panipat, were caught on Sunday.

A panchayat "unanimously" resolved that the dalits were not guilty, as the calf was dead, Haryana assembly Speaker Satbir Kadian said.

Following the ruling, the three were released, the sources said.

The incident came just 20 days after the killing of the five dalits in Dulina village of Jhajjar district for allegedly skinning a cow.

Source: Rediff.com, November 5, 2002

Monday, November 04, 2002

Caste conflicts lose sting

TAPAS CHAKRABORTY

Jehanabad, Nov. 3: There's a lull in the bloodbaths, but the blood-letting hasn't stopped. Caste killings in the notorious Jehanabad district have merely moved from the headline-hitting carnages to widespread smaller conflicts and even isolated, secret murders.

The last massacre was in 1998 in Senari, where 34 upper caste landholders were mowed down. After three years, the nature of the killings has changed. The Dalit-upper caste strife has fragmented into a million mutinies now, say social scientists studying the new phenomenon.

Yesterday, policemen fished out the bodies of two women, packed in gunny bags, from a shallow pond at Burgijoi, about 20 km from here. They were among the four members of a Dalit family abducted on the night of November 1. The police were unable to trace the other two persons.

Less than 10 km from here, the police recently recovered five bodies from a tributary of the Punpun. The five, including three women, were believed to be members of a Dalit family killed allegedly by upper castes. Their bodies, too, were packed into a jute sack, tied to a heavy stone and thrown into the river.

These killings are also believed to be the result of a renewed endeavour by the ultra Left organisations to consolidate their base in sensitive blocks like Kurtha, Karpi and Arwal. In October, the People's War Group (PWG) was not only fighting the splintered factions of the Ranbir Sena, the private army of the upper caste Bhumihars, but also "revisionist lefts like the CPI (ML) (Liberation)", said Nilmoni, inspector-general of police and chief of the anti-militancy operation in Bihar.

"Sans ideology and dedicated direction, the Left and the rightist forces in Jehanabad have got splintered. The PWG's pockets have spread, but it has lost its firepower in the face of police operation. Hence, the number of killings is less," he said.

But Prakash, a PWG spokesman, said they have successfully wiped out feudalism's political face. But there are still traces of this mindset among semi-feudals and the hardcore feudals masquerading as progressive. Hence, the battle has spread.

Samata Party MP from Jehanabad Arun Kumar believes the killings have come down as people have begun hating the bloodspill.

The ideological rhetoric spewed by extremists as justification for the caste killings has lost its sheen. Since 1999, there have been efforts to encourage cottage industries, like dairy projects. Hundreds of educated youths, indoctrinated as cadres of the caste outfits, have given up their organisations.

Now, elements sponsored by caste politicians are trying to trigger fresh tension. The killings have spread far and wide, admitted Arun Kumar, but he believes this cannot escalate into massacres as people are turning their back on caste hatred.

Prof. Abdul Latif, a Gaya-based researcher on the Jehanabad massacres, was not so hopeful. "The caste war has not stopped. The war appears to have lost its intensity as it has spread further into the nooks and corners of hamlets. The militancy has become a part of rural culture, which is why villagers are killing their neighbours secretly and even disposing of their bodies to avoid any political impact. This may just be a change of strategy," he said.

Source: The Telegraph, November 4, 2002

Tension in Gaya villages after Dalit killings

ABDUL QADIR

GAYA: Caste tension grips several villages of the Fatehpur police station area of the district as the bodies of the two Dalits kidnapped from the Burh Manjui village on Friday night are yet to be recovered.

Though a case against 10 Yadavas of the area and 20 other unnamed persons have been instituted in this connection, no arrests have so far been made. According to police sources, all the four kidnapped family members of Devan Paswan have been killed and the chances of their being alive are rated almost nil.

Former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan is expected to reach Gaya to participate in the funeral of the two women whose bodies were fished out from a well in village Nidani under the Mohanpur police station area, three-kms to the south of the village Burh Manjui. As many as four family members of Devan Paswan, an LJP activist and petty contractor of the area, are feared to have been killed after being kidnapped from their village home.

As massive search goes on for the recovery of the bodies of Paryag Paswan and Savita Devi, irate Dalits await the arrival of Ram Vilas Paswan. The bodies recovered from a well near village Nidani have been identified as that of Batashi Devi and Kaushalya Devi, wife and mother respectively of the LJP activist Devan Paswan. The kidnapping and subsequent killings have once again opened the wounds of the Ramjee Yadav murder case, in which the Tenkuppa block pramukh Ramjee Yadav was killed in a running train a few months back. Fatehpur RJD MLA Shyam Deo Paswan was accused of being involved in the killing of Ranjee Yadav.

Though there appears to be no direct relationship between the earlier killing of Ramjee Yadav, the tenkuppa block pramukh and the killing of the Dalits in the same area, the two incidents have caused further strain in the Dalit-Yadav relations in the district, Reports reaching the district headquarters in Gaya say that Devan Paswan, whose father, mother, wife and sister in-law were kidnapped and subsequently killed, was engaged in a supremacy battle with his co-villagers led by Ghanpat Yadav and Kuldip Yadav. Only a few days back, Devan was allegedly threatened by Ghanpat Yadav.

The dispute over the quality of the community hall built by Devan Paswan from the Local Area Development Fund of the former Fatehpur MLA Ram Naresh Paswan was also held against Devan Paswan by his local rivals.

Meanwhile, two young men were gunned down in the Konch police station area of Gaya district on Sunday morning. The killed men have been identified as Arjun Singh and Karoo Paswan. A case against five persons has been instituted in this connection. But no arrests have so far been made.

Source: The Times of India, November 4, 2002

Friday, November 01, 2002

Bihar Dalit widows denied compensation

Manuwant Chaudhary

Friday, November 1, 2002 (Patna):

A rare initiative to look for ways to end extremist violence in Bihar has found discrimination even in compensations given to widows of those killed in extremist violence. A hundred Dalit widows have still not got the promised government jobs. Only because they are illiterate.

In more than 50 villages thousands of people have been killed. But the fire of revenge is still raging. It doesn't seem to see an end. Who won, who lost? is the narrative of Life on the Margin, a documentary on Bihar's extremist violence.

This documentary was screened for women who have lost their husbands in caste wars in Jehanabad, one of Bihar's most violence-prone districts.

"What are we doing to end the cycle of violence. You know it better that to end one violence another violence is being committed," says documentary filmmaker Arun Kumar.

For the past year, a non-governmental organization the Mithila Gram Vikaas Parishad, has been working with widows. They have found a hundred Dalit widows who were promised government jobs but were later denied and have not been given them because they are illiterate.

"The Chief Minister announced that we will get jobs but now they're not giving us jobs. I am barely surviving with my two children," said Jiraniya Devi, a widow in Narainpur village.

"We go to the Collector and give names but because they are illiterate, they remain jobless. For four years now, they have been denied jobs," says Rudresh Kumar, headman of Narainpur.

Bihar's senior minister says compensations and jobs to those killed in extremist violence is not a citizen's right but the Chief Minister's prerogative.

"This is the Chief Minister's prerogative. Mulayam Singh gave money to journalists and Indira Gandhi gave some to children, but all this cannot be demanded. It is the Chief Minister's prerogative," says Bihar's Labour Minister Upendra Prasad Verma.

Last month, the Patna High Court decided that the chief minister would now share decision-making on compensation issues with three others including the leader of the opposition and both the speakers of the Bihar legislature.

Source: NDTV, November 1, 2002