Monday, July 26, 2004

Dalit postmaster faces discrimination

Monday, July 26, 2004:

A 32 year old Dalit man in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu is being prevented by people from upper castes to join work as a branch post master.

The man Jayaprakash was appointed as a branch postmaster of Velayuthapuram village more than a year ago.

But he has been unable to report for work, since the upper caste people in the village are not willing to rent him a place to run a post office.

'Honour' under fire

"They say only someone from their community should run the post office. They say they will not allow anyone else to do this honourable job," said Jeyaprakash.

Although the post is reserved for Dalits, the postal department has now appointed an upper caste woman on a temporary basis.

And the village panchayat demands that she be made permanent.

With deposits and policies worth Rs 15 lakh made in this post office, the upper caste people have now threatened to withdraw all the money if Jeyaprakash manages to find a place.

"If this boy joins as postmaster I do not think the post office will function normally because everyone will withdraw their deposits," said S Sunder Rajan, the panchayat president.

Caste divide

With no options left to save his job, Jeyaprakash has asked the postal department to shift the post office to a nearby village where people are willing to accommodate him. But the department says there is no provision for a shift.

"If a post office has to be shifted from a village to another village because a candidate belongs to another village or he has a problem in providing accommodation, then it will be very difficult for us to really function," said Postmaster General TP Reddy.

For many Dalits like Jeyaprakash across the country, reservation policy has no meaning � a sad indicator how thousands of Dalits are denied their rightful place in society.

Source: NDTV, July 26, 2004

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dalit Sena puts off agitation

Harjinder Sidhu

Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda), July 21

FOLLOWING A written assurance from Sant Samaj chief Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, the Dalit Sena has decided to postpone its agitation over the alleged discrimination being meted out to Dalits by the Dera Baba Roomi Wala located here.

It may be recalled that Punjab Dalit Sena president Kiranjit Singh Gehri had given an ultimatum to the district and police authorities to get the discrimination stopped by July 20 failing which they would hold a demonstration and rally on July 21. Since then, the district administration remained on tenterhooks and the district police had taken measures to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn.

As per the customs of this dera, Dalits are not allowed to take 'langar' or offer 'ardas' along side others. Dera chief Baba Khem Singh and other disciples of the sect term the customs decades old and maintain that these cannot be changed.

Today, as per the programme, a large number of Dalit Sena activists led by Gehri gathered at Gurdwara Bhai Jiwan Singh, where Gehri and others spoke against the practice.

The speakers on the occasion warned if these practices were not stopped they would launch a statewide agitation for registration of a criminal case against the dera people under the Untouchability Act.

However, after Gehri got a written message from Sant Samaj chief Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi through Akali Dal leader Ravi Inder, General Secretary Gurdeep Singh, he announced to postpone the agitation. Bedi has assured to resolve the issue amicably and justified the demands of the Dalit Sena.

Sources revealed that Gehri, who is considered close to Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, had yesterday held a closed door meeting with a senior police officer at Chandigarh, who assured Gehri an audience with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is one of the followers of the dera.

Source: Hindustan Times, July 21, 2004