DALITS - Diary of Events (January to May 2004)

  1. SC, ST to get free gas connections (Jan. 11)
  2. Victims of honour killings recall horror (Jan. 11)
  3. Dalits barred entry into Nathdwara temple (Jan. 13)
  4. Concern over 'atrocities' against Dalits (Jan. 14)
  5. Backward Classes Commission submits report (Jan. 29)
  6. Cheated Dalit kills self (Jan. 31)
  7. Dalits to rally against Mahajan's remarks (Jan. 21)
  8. Income limit for 'creamy layer' raised (Feb. 4)
  9. Dalits call Mahapanchayat against ashram demolition (Feb. 5)
  10. UP's dalit women do a Mirch Masala (Feb. 7)
  11. Dalits got free land, but rich farmers chased them away (Feb. 11)
  12. Minority report: Govt forgets rules (Feb. 18)
  13. NHRC seeks report on rape of minor girl (Feb. 22)
  14. Atrocities against Dalits continue (Feb. 27)
  15. Every party wants a Dalit leader in its kitty (Mar. 2)
  16. Tandav Sena to join dance of death (Mar. 20)
  17. In Punjab, a division along caste lines (Mar. 24)
  18. Dalits' tilt towards BJP worries Congress (Mar. 29)
  19. Dalits angry about Bangaru treatment (Mar. 29)
  20. Don’t tell India Shining to these Dalits (Mar. 31)
  21. In Venkaiah’s town, tell us your caste if you want water (Apr. 27)
  22. Here Dalits don't go with DMK (Apr. 28)
  23. Dalit asks water for all, gets stick (Apr. 30)
  24. Three killed, several in Raigad caste conflict (May 2)
  25. Accused behind bars but fear sweeps killing fields (May 6)
  26. Delhi dalits go by anti-Manuvadi rule, BSP gaining (May 10)
  27. Mother is stripped as son unable to pay loan (May 10)
  28. Delhi's Dalits snub BSP again (May 15)
  29. Schoolgirls allege abuse by teacher (May 17)
  30. Pregnant dalit woman abused by upper-caste Brahmins (May 25)
  31. Dalit woman's death rocks Maharashtra Assembly
  32. Brutal attack on Dalits ()
  33. Treat petition filed against Swaraj as complaint: HC (May 26)
  34. When the rains washed away a village's shame (May 30)

1. SC, ST to get free gas connections

RAIPUR, JAN. 11. Amidst talks of an early Lok Sabha election, the BJP Government in Chhattisgarh has decided to distribute 50,000 gas connection free of cost, upgrade over 5000 primary schools and provide insurance cover to 43 lakh students of the State. After several rounds of deliberations with all the departments, including Ministers and secretaries, the Government has decided to provide free gas connections to 50,000 SC and ST families, living below poverty line, official sources told PTI here today. Considering their health and hygienic condition, in the next 100 days, the 50,000 families would be provided with environment-friendly and smokeless gas stoves through the rural development department, they said. Similarly, the Chief Minister has also directed officials to speed up the work to provide insurance cover against accident to about 43 lakh school and college going students of the State by meeting the expenditure from its exchequer, they said. Steps are also being taken to upgrade 4,500 education guarantee schools as primary schools and about 550 primary schools to middle schools for which discussion had also been held with the Finance Ministry for managing the budgetary burden, they said. (Hindu 12.1.04)

2. Victims of honour killings recall horror

NEW DELHI, JAN. 11. On November 25 last year, 22-year-old Jasbeer -- the only earning member of his family -- was brutally murdered after his hands were chopped off and legs cut by swords and other sharp-edge weapons by a group of four angry Rajputs in broad daylight in a local market of Hoshiarpur district of Punjab. His fault -hailing from the Jat community, Jasbeer had dared to marry his neighbour Geeta, a Rajput girl, some two months ago. "The marriage was not only opposed by our parents, but by the Rajput community as a whole who were angry that I had married someone who they termed was from an inferior community. They had openly announced a cash award of Rs. 50,000 to anyone who would chop Jasbeer's hand," said Geeta, who is yet to recover from the shock of her life. An eyewitness to the cruel murder along with her mother-in-law, Kashmiri Kaur, 65, a brave Geeta was in Delhi to narrate the tale of horror at a daylong Convention Against Honour Killings/ Violence organised by the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA). "As I am one of the eye-witnesses, I am receiving threatening calls from the fourth killer who is absconding. The other three have been arrested," she said. Though provided two armed policemen by Punjab Police, Geeta said: "My life is in danger. The members of my Rajput community can kill me anytime." (Hindu 12.1.04)

3. Dalits barred entry into Nathdwara temple

JAIPUR, JAN. 13. Dalits participating in a national Dalit Swadhikar rally that crossed Rajasthan the other day were denied entry into the famous Shrinath temple in Nathdwara, despite a 15-year-old judgment of the Rajasthan High Court directing the State Government to ensure unhindered access for Dalits to the temple. The rally, organised by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, started from four different locations in the country last month and would culminate in Mumbai on January 15 at the World Social Forum venue. The northern segment, starting from New Delhi, arrived in Nathdwara after covering 16 districts in Rajasthan on January 2, when the participants tried to enter the Shrinath temple for worship. The convenor of the Centre for Dalit Human Rights, P.L. Mimroth, who accompanied the rallyists, told reporters here today that hundreds of people assembled in the town and stopped the rally -- comprising 35 Dalit activists -- about 2 km from the temple and used abusive and threatening language against them. The crowd comprised local residents belonging to the so-called upper castes and was determined not to allow Dalits into the temple, considered the second richest in the country. Though the rallyists could have visited the temple without being noticed, the people recognised their caste status after spotting a local Dalit, Kishan Lal, among them. "They were the normal next door people whom we regularly meet in our daily life. But when it came to the temple, they were adamant on not allowing us inside so as to protect the sanctity of their religion," Mr. Mimroth said, adding that Dalits had always been exploited for selfish interests of upper castes but never treated equally. (Hindu 14.1.04)

4. Concern over 'atrocities' against Dalits

LONDON, JAN. 14. Several Labour MPs have jointly tabled a motion in the Commons voicing concern over what they have called "organised" atrocities against Dalits in India, and other parts of South Asia. The motion, the second of its kind in recent months, also calls upon the British Home Office to monitor the activities of U.K.-based "extremist" Hindutva organisations which have been accused of supporting divisive campaigns in India. The MPs urge the British Government to "re-evaluate" its foreign aid agreements and development programmes on the basis of their effect on Dalit communities. The "early day motion," signed by 11 MPs including the left-wing MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who has extensive contacts with human rights groups in India, follows allegations of misuse of charitable donations by some U.K.-based right-wing Hindutva groups. Britain's charities commission is investigating accusations that they have been funding anti-minorities' campaigns in India. The allegations have been strongly denied by these groups. The motion says: "This deplores continues and organised atrocities against Dalits in South Asia, especially in India; calls upon the Home Office to monitor the activities of extremist Hindutva organisations operating in the United Kingdom to ensure that they are not supporting atrocities against Dalits in India...". (Hindu 15.1.04)

5. Backward Classes Commission submits report

NEW DELHI, JAN. 29. The National Commission for Backward Classes has submitted its report on the revision of the income criteria for determining the creamy layer among the Other Backward Classes to the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Satyanarayan Jatiya. The chairperson of the Commission, Justice Ram Surat Singh, presented the report. There had been a demand to increase the basic income criteria to Rs. 5 lakhs a year from the present Rs. 1 lakh but it is believed that the Commission has recommended fixing of this gross annual income at Rs. 3 lakhs. The Government is keen on accepting the recommendations before the Lok Sabha elections are announced. Talking to reporters at the media workshop, the Bharatiya Janata Party president, Vankaiah Naidu, said that his party was in favour of an upward revision of the criteria for the creamy layer among the OBCs. The Commission, constituted in October last year to review the income criteria for excluding the creamy layer among the OBCs, had been asked to submit its report within three months. It had been told to evolve a formula for periodic revision of the criteria and the income for determining the creamy layer. It had also been directed to advise the Government on, among other things, whether the creamy layer criteria would apply to the off-springs of persons belonging to the excluded categories and whether the income or exclusion should constitute only from salaries or from agricultural land or both. Another term of reference for the Commission had been to consider how income from sources other than salary or agricultural land was to be dealt with. (The Hindu 30.1.04)

6. Cheated Dalit kills self

JAIPUR, Jan. 31. -- A Dalit has committed suicide, setting himself on fire after being allegedly cheated of government grants. Police said Bajrang Dal-Meghwal (40), a resident of Bedia village in Kota district, was sanctioned Rs 20,000 under Indira Aawas Yojna last year. But the husband of village sarpanch, her deputy and panchayat secretary took Rs 2,000 from him as bribe to release the first installment, Rs 10,000, in December. Before the second installment, they forced him to sign the receipt of a signed Cheque, pocketing the money themselves. A case was registered under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. (Statesman 1.2.04)

7. Dalits to rally against Mahajan’s remarks

New Delhi: CRITICISING THE Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Pramod Mahajan's remarks against Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera and Rahul Gandhi, AICC Secretary and Dalit leader, MLA Jaikishen said that the Dalit communities and the backward class people will hold a protest march from the party headquarters' to the Prime Minister’s residence, on February 2. Mr Mahajan had stated that the post of Prime Minister should be occupied by a person of 100 per cent Indian origin. Mr Jaikishen said Mr Mahajan's remark about Ms Priyanka and Rahul were totally against the democratic and constitutional norms and could not be silently tolerated by the Congress and its supporters. According to him, more than a dozen Dalit organisations like the Valmiki Veer Sena, the Ambedkar Veer Sena, the Kabir Jan Kalyan Manch, the Parjapati Mahasabha arid other organisations associated with the congress will take part in the march. Mr. Jaiprisshen also welcomed the decision of Ms Priyanka Vadhera and Rahul Gndhi join the Congress party. (Pioneer 21.1.04)

8. Income limit for 'creamy layer' raised

New Delhi Feb 4: The Centre today decided to more than double the income ceiling for determining the 'creamy layer' among the Other backward Classes (OBCs) from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs, 2.5 lakhs a year. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet here today. Announcing the decision, the Government spokesperson said it was in line with the recommedations of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC). The Cabinet also accepted the panel's recommendation that it be entrusted with the task of periodic revision of the income criteria in future too, considering at it had the expertise and experience in mates relating to the OBCs. The Chairperson of the NCBC, Justice Ram Surat Singh, had submitted the recommendations to the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Satyananarayan Jatiya, a week ago. The panel had been asked in October last year to look into the issue of revising the income criteria following demands from a section of the OBCs to increase it, on the ground lat the existing limit of Rs. 1 lakh was too low. In addition, it was asked to evolve a formula for periodic revision of the income criteria. (The Hindu 5.2.04)

9. Dalits call Mahapanchayat against ashram demolition

Meerut: ANGRY OVER the, demolition of Ravidas Ashram, angry Dalits called a Mahapanchayat to protest against this decision of the Meerut district administration. The Dalit community had been sitting on a dharna since January 19 after the district administration demolished Ravidas Ashram in Hastinapur which was constructed on the land belonging to the Forest Department. The police had also arrested 33 people from there but no political leader reached there to lend their support. On the day of the Mahapanchayat, crowds started gathering early in the morning and police was deployed all around. Contrary to the earlier scenario, many political leaders thronged the venue to convince the gathering of it's support. Contrary to the the organiser's demand, the politicians did not refrain from politicising the event. They blamed each other for ignoring the Dalit community. Dalit leaders of all the political parties including MLA Ranvir Rana of Lok dal, MLC Ramchandra Balmiki of BJP, Vinod Harit of BSP and state minister Prabhu Dayal Balmiki and Mukesh Sidharth of SP were present at the venue. The result was that the public forced the leaders to get down from the stage. They demanded that the leaders should forget their political differences. Instead of pursuing their own interests, they should work together in convincing the district administration to give clearance to construct Ravidas Ashram at its original place. (Pioneer 5.2.04)

10. UP's dalit women do a Mirch Masala

Lucknow: In a real life re-enactment of the fiery courage displayed by Smita Patil in Mirch Masala, thousands of Dalit women of Bhaunri village in Chitrakoot kept the powerful upper caste village pradhan and his goons at bay, with sacks of mirchi powder. A cold night of February 18, 2001, changed the caste and gender dynamics of this hitherto peaceful village. In censed by the temerity of the lower caste dalits in voting for the opposite party, the village pradhan and his lackeys went on the rampage fracturing heads and breaking the bones of several villagers, including women. When a local raised his voice against these atrocities he was shot dead in broad daylight. The women decided they would not remain mute witnesses. Three days later, nearly 1,000 villagers — 90 per cent women — took out a demonstration. An FIR was then registered. What followed was a prolonged struggle. They kept red chilli powder in homes for self defence. Finally, the deadly quartet, pradhan and four others, were arrested. What is heartening is that the exclusionist caste configurations that was a way of life in Bhaunri have been transcended by these women. (Times of India 7.2.04)

11. Dalits got free land, but rich farmers chased them away

Shivrajpur (Chhatarpur, MP) THE GOVERNMENT had recently made an effort to distribute land to Dalits in rural areas of Madhya Pradesh. However, this has not brought an end to their woes. They now face a new battle against rich farmers. Achhelal Chamar was thrilled. The Government was giving him two acres of land free of cost. A little later he was even more grateful to know that he would also be given wages — in the form of foodgrains — for working on his own field. The field, he thought, would rid him of all his sufferings. He was so ecstatic that he did not even mind Rs 6,000 from a money lender to meet the "demands" of Patwari and other local officials who would then expedite the process of transforming him from a landless labourer to a proud land owner. In August 2000, Achhelal, a scheduled caste resident of Shivrajpur village in Chhatarpur district, got the patta (ownership deed) of two acres of land. This moment of joy was soon replaced by the pressin'' sense of his responsibility towards the land. The ploughing began and the seeds of rai were sown. But the saplings had to face the scorching heat of summer. Achhelal realised that it was not enough to have the land. He had to dig a well as well. "I talked to the other four harijans in the village who had also been given patta in the same area. We all decided to face the challenge together and dig a well that would provide irrigation for our fields. So we started digging the rocky land under the blazing sun," says Achhelal. It was after they had dug at least eight feet deep that the rich peasants in the area felt the threat of assertion from the harijans, the "talking animals". (Pioneer 11.2.04)

12. Minority report: Govt forgets rules

New Delhi: Desperate to secure sinecures for its Dalit leaders before the polls, the government has put the horse before the cart in making political appointments to the national commissions for SCs and STs. Former UP governor Suraj Bhan is expected to be the new chairman of the national commission for SCs. When contacted, Bhan, who is also a former Lok Sabha deputy Speaker said, "I have also heard it being discussed. It can happen very soon." A delegation of four members of the old commission met the President on Tuesday to protest this move. These members, mostly from the BJP, who would lose their job soon, have raised procedural issues in their memorandum to the President. After the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the government was not expected to make such cabinet minister-rank appointments to a commission mandated by the Constitution. If Bhan's appointment was made before the Lok Sabha dissolution, then the government has done it without following laid down procedures. (Times of India 18.2.04)

13. NHRC seeks report on rape of minor girl

NEW DELHI, FEB. 21. Expressing serious concern over the plight of a minor Dalit girl who gave birth to a child after an upper caste j man in a village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh raped her allegedly, the National Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the government on this incident within four weeks. Acting on a complaint from social activist and economist, Dr. Pentapati Pullarao, the Commission issued notice to the Senior Superintendent of Police, West Godavari and made it clear to him that if there was no response, the Commission might proceed to take such action as "it deems proper". Dr. Rao, in his complaint brought to the notice of the Commission about the rape of a 17-year-old girl of Mulaparu hamlet. After the rape the boy asked the girl to keep quiet promising to marry her and later when she conceived he tried to get her an abortion but in vain. She later gave a police complaint against the boy but because of his influence no action was taken. It was under these circumstances the present complaint was filed seeking the intervention of the Commission to render justice to the hapless woman, now with a child. Besides urging the Commission to direct the government to initiate action against the culprit, Dr. Rao also wanted suitable compensation be awarded to the girl. (The Hindu 22.2.04)

14. Atrocities against Dalits continue

JAIPUR, FEB. 26. The Centre for Dalit Human Rights today claimed that the cases of cruelty, atrocities and discrimination against Dalits in Rajasthan had not reduced despite the change of Government and the laws like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had been completely ignored in the State. The CDHR's convenor, P.L. Mimroth, said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Government had shown no difference of perception on the Dalit issues than that of the previous Congress regime. "The issues of protection of Dalits and defending their dignity are nowhere on the Government's agenda irrespective of which party comes to power," he told reporters here. The CDHR has decided to move the Rajasthan High Court seeking its direction to the State Government to strictly implement the SC/ST Act and take effective measures to prevent atrocities against Dalits. A campaign will also be launched to change the mindset of the so-called upper castes in favour of abolishing untouchability still rampant in several parts of the State. Mr. Mimroth took strong exception to the State Government's failure to table in the Assembly the report of the Justice Lodha Commission that had inquired into the infamous massacre of 17 Dalits in Kumher in 1992, despite a direction by the Rajasthan High Court. The CDHR will now take the matter to the United Nation's Human Rights Commission seeking its intervention to secure justice for the victims. (The Hindu 27.2.04)

15. Every party wants a Dalit leader in its kitty

Patna: IN AN era of coalition and caste-based votebank politics, Dalits are increasingly playing a pivotal role in the formation of the government at the Centre — and so their leaders like Ram Vilas Paswan and Mayawati enjoy more political importance than any other leader. Every political party loves, likes and wishes to have them in their kitty to reach the magic figure for gov ernment formation. However, post Paswan and Mayawati, the NDA in Bihar has set its eyes on three RJD Dalit leaders to keep their invaluable votes intact during the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. According to Party sources, immediately after LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan formally shut his doors on the NDA to go with the Congress-RJD alliance, the NDA has set its eyes on other Dalit leaders of the state. The NDA, according to sources, is in constant touch with the leaders and has re portedly promised to field them from their choice of constituency. And all of them, Ramai Ram, Purnamasi Ram and Chhedi Paswan of the ruling RJD have declared their intention to contest the 14th Lok Sabha elections, party willing or not. Senior RJD leader and Cabinet Minister in the Rabri Devi government, Ramai Ram has already announced his intention of contesting the forthcoming elections from Hajipur against Mr Paswan. (Pioneer 2.3.04)

16. Tandav Sena to join dance of death

PATNA, March 20. — The dance of death in blood-drenched Bihar seems set to get more frenzied over the coming days as the killing armies of Bihar have added another to their number. On Thursday, Bhumihar youths in Gaya announced the formation of yet another private army — Tandav Sena — to counter the terror the outlawed Maoist Communist Centre has allegedly been perpetrating on upper castes. The move comes close on the heels of a series of killings of upper caste members in the Tekari sub- division of Gaya over the past week. Investigations by The Statesman revealed that the 25-30 men who form the core of the Tandav Sena comprise both fresh recruits and those who have broken away from the dreaded Ranvir Sena; the most lethal of the upper caste private armies of Bihar. Its self-styled zonal commander is Chunnu Sharma, alias Badshah. According to an official source, with the arrest last year of Brah-meshwar Singh or "mukhia", the chief of the Ranvir Sena, the outfit entered a period of comparative inactivity and trie Tandav Sena aims to fill the vacuum. (Statesman 21.3.04)

17. In Punjab, a division along caste lines

Far away from the glitter of 'Shining India,' the Dalits in Punjab are finding themselves subjected to increased discrimination after having exercised their 'free will' in the recent elections to the State Assembly and panchayats. They are now uncertain about casting their vote in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Some Dalit leaders have even been deprived of their voting rights for speaking out against discrimination by the "upper castes." A much-publicised clash between Dalits and the prosperous lat Sikhs over the control of a place of worship in Talhan in lalandhar led to the ad ministration taking action recently. But Dalits feel the police and the bu reaucracy have been ineffective in checking discrimination elsewhere in Punjab such as Kurd, Hassanpur (Sangrur) and Dyon (Bhatinda) villages. In Kurd, close to Andhra Pradesh Governor Surjit Singh Barnala's hometown, farmers refuse to give directions to the Harijan panchayat building where the Dalits have assembled to narrate their side of the story. They are being "taught a lesson" for putting up a candidate against an upper caste-supported Dalit in the panchayat elections. Mud was dumped on the road to block sewage from their homes flowing into the traditional sewage pond. The sewage has accumulated on the road, stopped bus services and entered their homes. They are being harassed in other ways too. The village headman has stopped the payment of old age pension to 85-year-old Babu Singh, his blind wife Dilip Kaur and the infirm Mangat Singh. He also refused to attest the marriage of Jagraj Singh's daughter, depriving him of a cash grant from the Punjab Government at a time when there is little employment for the Dalits because of mechanisation and the inflow of migrant labour. (The Hindu 24.3.04)

18. Dalits' tilt towards BJP worries Congress

New Delhi: The Congress manifesto has gone all out to regain its traditional base among Dalits and tribals voters. The renewed thrust on regaining the disenchanted voters is out of concern that this segment has steadily shifted towards the BJP. The BJP stole the show in constituencies reserved for the Scheduled Caste and Tribes in 1999 general elections and the more recent Assembly polls. Of the 79 constituencies set aside for the Scheduled Castes, the BJP bagged 25 seats in 1999. The party put up a good show in reserved constituencies in Madhya Pradesh (undivided), Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (Undivided). (Pioneer 29.3.04)

19. Dalits angry about Bangaru treatment

New Delhi, March 2: Even as the BJP has denied ticket to former party president Bangaru Laxman, there is growing resentment among the dalits within the party for handling out step-motherly treatment to him, primarily because he happens to be a dalit. There is all the more resentment in this section of BJP workers over drawing a parallel between Mr Laxaman and former Union minister Dilip Singh Jedeo. Recently, BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan told reporters that during screening of the names at the party’s central election committee meet chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee it was decided not to nominate either of them because of the taint involved in their being seen on camera taking money. However Mr. Laxman's supporters say there is a vast difference between the two cases. (Asian Age 29.3.04)

20. Don’t tell India Shining to these Dalits

Just 25 kilometres away lies Mahad, where Dr B.R. Ambedkar launched his campaign against untouchability over six decades ago. But for the Dalits of Kuravade, a dusty village in Mangaon taluka of Raigad district, it may as well have been another world. It’s been a year since they were socially boycotted by the rest of the village, and they have been struggling to cope with its effects ever since. Their crime: they drew water from the common village well. That too only after some miscreants threw human excreta in the well near their hamlet following an altercation with them. This happened in March last year. It was a local NGO Sarvahjara Jan Andolan which staged a satyagraha and encouraged the Dalits to draw water from the common well. (Indian Express 31.3.04)

21. In Venkaiah's town, tell us your caste if you want water

AS Nellore goes to the polls tomorrow, many of its citizens know that while their vote counts, it will not grant them water from the well or tea in a steel tumbler. Ask Lakshmi. A day before the election, she stood nervously, begging two girls from the Reddy community to pour some water from the village well into her bucket. They ignored her, chatted among themselves and perhaps secretly enjoyed her discomfiture. After one full hour, bored of their little game, they gave Lakshmi her water. This happens everyday and whoever comes to power will not change Lakshmi's daily routine. She and other Scheduled Caste villagers are not allowed to dip their buckets into the only source of drinking water in the area. Sometimes she waits all day to get her bucket filled. (Indian Express 27.4.04)

22. Here Dalits don't go with DMK

CHIDAMBARAM: The southern gate of the 1,000 year-old Chidambaram temple opens into the courtyard and then a wall. This ought to be the main door as the nandi (Shiva's vehicle) is here. Dalits of the town want the wall to be broken. "To grow politically, we must redeem cultural rights," says Thirumavalavan who founded Dalit Panthers and came second in Chidambaram reserved constituency in 1999 with 2.25 lakh votes. Now, he wants to forge a Dalit-Muslim-Christian alliance, but frets that minorities are "allergic" to George Fernandes' ... photograph on his posters. He could not strike an alliance with Tamil Nadu parties, so along with another Dalit leader Krishnaswamy, he has taken the JD(U) symbol. Now he's trying to boost his tally by another 25,000 votes. This region in North Tamil Nadu is dominated by "lower caste" Vanniyars. After PMK was formed and after getting a share of power at the Centre, Vanniyars have gone up in social esteem. And the main political contests in this reserved seat are between Vanniyars and Dalits. Today, Brahmins oppose Vanniyars and allege that 9,000 acres of temple land have been encroached on by the community. Thirumavalavan has therefore not attacked Brahmins on the temple issue. (Times of India 28.4.04)

23. Dalit asks water for all, gets stick

PUNE, APRIL 30 : A GROUP of upper-caste Hindus allegedly thrashed a Dalit on Wednesday at Nimone village, 12 km from Pune, for demanding that water be equally distributed among villagers. The Dalit, 35-year-old Bhagvan Mahadeo Lad, was 1 beaten with sticks, iron rods and axes by seven men. The incident came to light when some villagers brought a badly injured Lad to Pune's Sassoon Hospital. Later, policemen from Shirur police station recorded his complaint. However, no one has been arrested. Local police officials were not available for comment. Additional SP (Pune Rural) Suresh Kamlakar confirmed that such a case has been filed. He said he had ordered an inquiry by an officer of DSP rank into the incident. Like many others, this sleepy village on the Chauphula-Shirur Road, has been facing severe water shortage for the last few months and villagers depend on tankers. In the FIR, Lad stated that he was attacked when he insisted that the tanker must be emptied into storage tanks built by the Gram Panchayat so that there would be equal distribution of water. However, Lad alleged, the upper-caste men were against the idea and told him that the water tanker was not meant for the lower-caste people. (Indian Express 1.5.04)

24. Three killed, several in Raigad caste conflict

MUMBAI.MAY2: Twenty-one-year-old Arun Khaire from Talanagar in Raigad district awoke with a start early Sunday morning to the screams and cries of his family, and watched in horror as a mob of 30-odd men wielding swords and rods stormed into his house. As they ransacked the place and brutally beat up his relatives including the women and children, Khaire and a couple of others who dared to resist, were assaulted with weapons. Khaire was slashed with a sword. The mob, comprising members of his own Kunbi community, had just taken their rivalry with the Agri members of the village to a new level. Khaire’s family had faced the brunt of the attack for supporting the Agris in this running feud fuelled by an explosive mix of politics and religion. And this time, the toll was heavy - three dead and several injured. Standing outside the general ward at Sion Hospital, Khaire shudders as he recalls how "they came in separate groups and attacked us from different directions. Some of us were in the fields when they were surrounded. They had planned it very well." Three men, Umaji Omale (60), his brother Shivaram Omale (47) and Shahadeo Navshe, were killed while five were seriously injured in the clash, police sources said. "Two of the injured are in a very critical condition", said Dr Anil Singhal at Sion Hospital. (Indian Express 3.5.04)

25. Accused behind bars but fear sweeps killing fields

MUMBAI.MAY6: THE police today arrested seven prime accused in the Talaghar triple murders, rounding up all but one of the 22 attackers named in the FIR. That, however, is little consolation to the Agri survivors of the caste massacre as the call for revenge is already growing louder. Three members of the Agri community were hacked to death on Sunday by a mob from Talaghar village, of the Maratha Kunbi community. "Our lives will not be spared by the rival group once they return home. We don't want to go home," said a shaky Ravindra Omle, while attending to the injured villagers. Ravindra's uncles Urnaji Omle and Shivram Omle and cousin Sahadev Navshe were killed in the attack, triggered by a caste and political feud between the financially-strong Maratha Kunbis who are supported by the NCP and Agri farmers who owe their allegiance to the Peasants and Workers Party. Sarika Navshe lost her husband Sahadev as his elder brother looked on. Sarika says she knew Talaghar's community feud would lead to something tragic but not that her own people would be responsible for it. "My husband's elder brother Gopinath remained a spectator when he was being attacked. He came back to me saying... "That pig is dying in the fields, go get him some water." The reason — the brothers supported different parties. The fear has cut through. Many Maratha-Kunbis, who fled Talaghar on Sunday fearing retaliation from Agris, have not returned yet. (Indian Express 7.5.04)

26. Delhi dalits go by anti-Manuvadi rule, BSP gaining

New Delhi May 10: For the dalits in the capital, just two parties exist — "ameer" which they identify with the Congress and the BJP, and "gareeb," which they identify with the Bahujan Samaj Party. So it was behind the BSP that the dalits based in various parts of the city seem to have thrown their weight in the Lok Sabha elections on Monday. While the BSP's vote share is expected to increase this time, it could make going tough for the Congress in an otherwise straight contest between the BJP and the Congress in all the seven Lok Sabha seats. Buoyed by BSP supremo Mayawati's election meetings in the capital, the dalits seemed to have found an instinctive rallying point in her "Manuvad" bashing. "Hum chhole samaj ke log hainjise bade samaj ke log gumrah karte rahen ham (we belong to the lower strata of the society, which has been misled by the upper crust)", said a charged Tilak Raj minutes after pressing the button on the BSP's elephant symbol in the Nand Nagri D- block school. But is not Ms Mayawati arousing mean instincts for electoral gains? "No, behenji's slogan of hamara vote tumhari sarkar nahi chalega is absolutely justified," he added. (Asian Age 11.5.04)

27. Mother is stripped as son unable to pay loan

Pune, May 10: The police arrested four people near here for allegedly stripping a dalit woman because her son failed to repay the Rs 5,000 loan he had taken from his employer. In a bizarre incident, five men allegedly stripped her naked on May 2 at Theur village near Pune. However, the victim lodged, a police complaint on Friday with the help of activists of a dalit organisation. A day after the complaint, the police'3 arrested four people accused of stripping the 40-year-old woman. The arrested were identified as Suresh Kunjir, 53, his two > sons, Sanjay and Dinesh, and brother Balasaheb Kunjir. Deputy superintendent of rural police Praveen Patil said the accused were booked under the Maharashtra Atroc ities Act. The Kunjir family is engaged in brick-kiln business near Theur, he added. In her compliant to police, the victim, who is from the neighbouring Indapur sub-district in Pune district, stated that her son and daughter-in-law worked at a brick kiln in Theur and that they had taken a loan of Rs 5,000 from the Kunjir family. She claimed her son and the daughter-in-law had been working without wages for several weeks to repay the loan and yet their employer claimed they owed him money. (Asian Age 11.5.04)

28. Delhi's Dalits snub BSP again

New Delhi: THE DALIT voters in the Capital have once again rejected the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even as Mayawati continues to hold ground in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, in Delhi the BSP once again disappointed. Its candidates lost so badly that they had to even forfeited their deposit on all the seats. The BSP had fielded candidates from East Delhi, Outer Delhi and Karol Bagh constituencies as these boast of a significant Dalit population. The party, interestingly, was actually anticipated a win in Karol Bagh. Despite a public rally addressed by Mayawati in the city in the run up to the polls, the results in the Capital have proved that the elephant has miles to go before it can carve a niche in Delhi. The party's candidate from Karol Bagh, Satya Pal Singh, could manage only 6,634 votes out the 2,49,184 polled. He was pitted against Krishna Tirath of the Congress and Anita Arya of the BJP. Scheduled Castes (SC) constitute 35 per cent of the population of Karol Bagh, the only reserved constituency in the Capital. Scheduled Tribes (ST), meanwhile, constitute 0.03 per cent of the population. (Pioneer 15.5.04)

29. Schoolgirls allege abuse by teacher

AROUND 12 girl students belonging to Scheduled Caste families have decided to discontinue their studies in protest against the "cruel and humiliating" behaviour of their teacher. The students have accused the head teacher of the government elementary school in Mehsua village of Punjab of scarring their faces with his nails. Angry parents have threatened to pull out their wards from the school unless action is taken against the teacher. Deputy commissioner Hussan Lal has ordered an inquiry into the matter following a complaint by the village sarpanch. (Hindustan Times 17.5.04)

30. Pregnant dalit woman abused by upper-caste Brahmins

Faridabad, May 23: Barely 20 km away from Delhi and there is a dark inhumane world where a section of society faces assault every time they ask for their rights. Rape and humiliation is a daily affair. But the local administration of Faridabad in Haryana seems to be turning a blind eye to this increasing abuse of dalits. For instance, the Hathin Tehsil police in Faridabad is yet to register FIR in the case of six months pregnant Sushila who was brutally assaulted by six upper-caste men nearly one-and-a-half months ago. Still in trauma, Sushila (23) wreaths in agony, fearing miscarriage. Her crime? She tried to prevent the accused from beating her husband Khemchand who had "dared" to negotiate his labour charges on early morning of April 4. Her intervention irked Neetu, Babal, Sanjay, Ramavatar, Rajendera, Narendra and Bhajan Singh, all from Brahmin community. They dragged Sushila by her hair, kicked at her stomach and beat her mercilessly until she was unconscious. The accused who live nearby also used obscene and vulgar language, using the couple's caste names. "I am unsure of the baby's fate," murmurs Sushila, a mother of two. She cannot feel the movement or the heartbeat of the child, she says. Repeated visits to the police has not helped, Khemchand, a daily wage earner told The Asian Age. The culprits are scot-free and are intimidating them. (Asian Age 24.5.04)

31. Dalit woman's death rocks Maharashtra Assembly

MUMBAI, MAY 25. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena members disrupted the proceedings in the Maharashtra Assembly today, leading to adjournment of the session twice, over the death of a Dalit woman in Aurangabad, who allegedly set herself on fire in a police station. ... Moving an adjournment motion on the issue after the question hour, BJP leader Gopinath Munde said the victim, Manda-bai Sandu Hirvale, had gone to the MIDC police station at Aurangabad on the night of May 23 to file a complaint and the police inspector, Dayaram Bhoite, had doused her with kerosene and set her on fire. She later died of burns. Mr. Munde said the woman had approached the police station nine times in the past to register a complaint and appeal for protection to her but the police did not oblige. She had appealed to the District Collector also, but her complaint was ignored. Mr. Munde, who visited the area, said the woman had given a dying declaration before a magistrate. The Home Minister, R.R. Patil, said the woman had committed suicide and the incident did not take place in the premises of the police station. (The Hindu 26.5.04)

32. Brutal attack on Dalits

The People’s Watch – Tamil Nadu and the Dalits Human Rights Monitoring (DHRM) is deeply concerned over the brutal and inhuman attack on the Dalits settlement in the Kalapatti village of Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu, India by the Dominant caste people of the same village. Nearly 100 Dalits houses were attacked by 200 Dominant caste using swords and other sharp and deadly weapons. Many Dalit houses were burnt and properties like televisions, grinding machines, cycles, were damaged or set on fire. Not only this they also killed the cattle of the Dalits and set fire to the cattle. They assaulted women by sexually abusing them trying to pull their sarees. Nearly 100 Dalit houses were completely raised to the ground due to this fire. Most of the people sustained serious injuries all over their body, on their head, neck, back, cheek etc due to the cuts caused by the sharp weapons. The dominant caste people also pushed the Dalits to the ground and stamped them with their legs abusing them using caste names. The dominant caste mob had taken away money and jewels from the Dalit houses during the violence. This brutal attack was carried out for nearly two hours, from 6.30 – 8.30 p.m. The Dominant caste mob was that violent that the 8-month year baby boy of Gopal and Nithya who was sleeping in a cradle was hit against the wall in a most inhuman manner. Also a 75 year old Muthan s/o Mottaiyappan who was just then returning from work to the village was hit by sharp weapons immediately when he got down from the bus. This innocent old man did not know for what reason he was attacked so brutally. Another old woman named Valliammal (45 years) w/o Kittan was hit on her head and started bleeding badly when she went to the rescue of her son. Most of the Dalits tried to escape to save their lives. But they were further stopped on their way out and attacked with weapons once again. In this occurrence, 14 Dalits were severely attacked with the sharp and deadly weapons and they sustained terrible injuries and have been admitted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital. Today there is a threat for their lives and security. (Ref: E-mail:

33. Treat petition filed against Swaraj as complaint: HC

NEW DELHI, MAY 26: THE Delhi High Court today disposed of a petition against BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, by directing the Delhi police to treat the petition as a "normal complaint" and to take "action as per law". The bench comprised Chief Justice B.C. Patel and Justice B.D.Ahmed. The petition, filed by Dalit leader Mo Kandaswamy Singh, stated that Sushma Swaraj had tried to "create enmity between religions and between castes" by protesting against Sonia Gandhi's possible appointment as Prime Minister. The petitioner had demanded that an FIR be lodged against Swaraj. Kandaswamy alleged that this "irresponsible behaviour" had even led a 30-year-old BJP activist to commit suicide. He claimed that this was ample evidence of the public unrest that had been incited by her statements. Kandaswamy, president of the Dalit Communist Party of India, had also sought action against Swaraj's husband Swaraj Kausjial, Govin- dacharya arid Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharati for alleged "promotion of enmity between classes, castes, religion and races". (Indian Express 27.5.04)

34. When the rains washed away a village's shame

JOHRANPUR (SOLAN), MAY 30: INDIA is shining—at least here. A unique rainwater harvesting programme in this non-descript village launched three summers ago has achieved what seemed impossible: weeding out the casteism and untouchability that had been plaguing the village for years. Not only has Johranpur in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh become a model as far as social integration of the Rajput and Dalit families is concerned, it has also taken the lead in integrating women from both communities into the mainstream. "We are like an extended family and there is absolutely no question of discrimination. We drink the same water and work together, hand-in-hand for uplift of the economic status of the village. Before the project, our village was just another piece of parched land. Today we boast of plantations producing different crops—mangoes, amla, brinjal, papaya, chillies, gourds and tomatoes. There has also been a quantum jump in the amount of wheat and maize we could manage to produce here," says 70-year-old Balwant Singh. (Indian Express 31.5.04)

begin document Dalits

India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - June 17, 2004