Dalits – year 2006 (Updated upto 29th November 06) Bihar wakes up to New Year massacre (2)

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DALITS – YEAR 2006


(Updated upto 29th November 06)
Bihar wakes up to New Year massacre (2)

RAMPUR-SYAMCHAK (RAGHOPUR), JAN 1: BIHAR Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's worst nightmare came alive on the first day of the New Year. Six members of a poor, Extremely Backward Caste family—a pregnant woman and her five chil­dren—were burnt alive early this morning. The incident happened in the Raghopur Assembly con­stituency represented by for­mer chief minister Rabri Devi. The attackers first locked the thatched mud house in which Vijeyndra Mahto's wife and five children were sleep­ing, sprinkled petrol on the house and set it ablaze. To en­sure that none survived, the killers stood guard as the house burnt and fired in the air to scare away villagers. Mahto, who was sleeping outside, is alive. He is in a Patna hospital with serious burn injuries. The massacre was over the theft of a buffalo. Jagat Rai, from a Yadav family of the village, allegedly stole Mahto's buffalo in September last year. An FIR was lodged and eight Yadavs were named as accused. The buffalo was res­cued and three persons in­cluding Rai, his son and nephew, were arrested. Rai was released on bail and he started threatening the Mahto family to withdraw the case. But Mahto refused. In a Patna hospital, Mahto said the officer in-charge of Raghopur police station, Nooruddin Khan, asked for money to act against Jagat Rai. Chief Minister Nitish Ku­mar rushed to the village along with top police officers. "It's the most heinous crime. (Indian Express 2/1/06)

Village upset as dalit marries Australian (2)

Patna, Jan. 9: A dalit from Bihar has once again established that everything is fair in love and war. Refusing to pay any heed to the criticism from his near and dear ones, 25-year-old Sanjay Manjhi of Mushar Toli locality of Bodh Gaya in Bihar married Erin Batlet, an Australian, at a local village temple on Sunday evening. Mr Manjhi runs a shop in Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh) while Ms Batlet is a tourist guide. "Erin had once dropped in at my shop. I fell in love with her at that very moment," recalls Mr Manjhi. "It was love at first sight and such was the intensity that we had a court marriage on December 27, almost a month after we met," Mr Manjhi says. The dalit was in the eye of storm after his relatives came to know about the marriage. The couple had to face stiff resistance from the villagers when they said they wanted to get "married" again at a local village temple. In fact, the villagers also threatened to stop any contact with his family if Mr Manjhi insisted on marrying a girl from outside the community. (Asian Age 10/1/06)


Jharkhand police kitchens dish out casteism (2)

Ranchi : It is an irony of ironies. Although Jharkhand has a Dalit police chief, Dalits are considered untouchable in the police force. In this unfortunate development over the years, Jharkhand, which has never had a traditional caste system, appears to have been infected by the caste virus from neighbouring Bihar. For proof, visit Ranchi's police line located on Kanke Road right opposite the official residence of Chief Minister Arjun Munda. Here, more than 1,000 policemen of various castes may share the hall, restrooms, and other facilities but they must have separate kitchens along caste lines. As a result the police line has eight such caste kitchens catering separately to Brahmins, Bhumiars, Rajputs, tribals, Dalits, and backwards. These kitchens have names like Bhojpur and Patna kitchens, indicating where the caste bug came from. "How can I share food with a dalit? We need to follow our religion and cleanliness according to the caste system to maintain the sanctity of our caste," says a Brahmin cop. Interestingly, the cooks' salaries vary from kitchen to kitchen, depending on the caste. "Some cooks get Rs 1000 while others get Rs 700 per month. It depends where one is cooking," says Vijay Mahto one of the cooks. The Brahmin, Bhumiar and Rajput kitchens pay their cooks Rs 1000 a month. Muslims too have a separate kitchen but they have a Hindu cook. The mode of preparation too varies from kitchen to kitchen. For instance, while LPG is used in the Brahmin kitchen, other kitchens use charcoal and coal. The dalit kitchen is located at a distance from the other kitchens. Residents of the police line are used to this segregation and find no problem in eating separately. Why separate kitchens? "We do not have an official kitchen. The kitchens are run privately by the policemen who share the total expenditure. How one can stop them from separating the kitchens when they themselves are running it," said a Rajput policemen. (Pioneer 14/1/06)



Paying a price for securing justice for his daughter (2)

CHANDIGARH: A 40-year-old dalit, Bant Singh, has paid the price through amputation of three of his limbs, as about five years ago he managed to secure justice for his then minor daughter, who was gang raped by upper caste, influential and landed individuals from his Jhabbar village of the remote Mansa district in Punjab. Doctors in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the PGI's Emergency ward, are struggling to save his right leg, prevent sepsis and revive his kidneys. They may need many units of blood beyond the seven, which have already been transfused. Bant's wife, four sons and four daughters, close relatives and activists of some leftists groups look on with grim faces, prepared for the worst. Various leftist groups and human rights organisations, have demanded that Bant Singh be paid Rs 10 lakh as compensation and be provided an attendant, whose salary be paid by the present Sarpanch of the village. They also seek a Government job for his wife, as the family's only bread earner, who made a living through working as farm labour and rearing hogs and goats, lay completely disabled. The State organiser of the Liberation faction of the CPI (ML), Jeeta Kaur has announced that her organisation would hold a rally in the village on January 16 to be followed by a `dharna' in front of the Mansa district civil hospital on January 25. The organisation's local secretary, Sukhcharan Singh Danewalia narrates that Bant Singh's ordeal began ever since he resisted all attempts to pressurise or lure him into reaching a compromise with the individuals, who had raped his daughter in the year 2000. Two years later, the trial court convicted three persons, Mandhir Singh, Tarsem Singh and Gurmail Kaur, for their involvement in the case. The three were handed life imprisonment sentences. (The Hindu 16/1/06)

Landlords burn Dalit woman to death (2)

Bulandshahr : Upper caste landlords of a village in Bulandshahr burned a Dalit woman to death. After the incident, the police registered a case against the accused. However, the landlords are absconding. According to sources, in the wee hours of Thursday, villagers noticed a charred body of woman lying in the ditch along side a road in village Danagarh. The body was identified as that of Naina Devi (50). Husband Rati Ram told this reporter that landlords of the village had been torturing them since long. Therefore, he had left the village and went to Chandigarh to earn a livelihood. However, his wife stayed back in the village and was earning for herself and the children. Rati Ram was here in the village since last week. Some dominants of the village had been taunting him but he kept mum thinking everything would be alright soon. The aggressive young boys belonging to the upper caste dragged Naina Devi to the road side and burnt her alive after spraying kerosene on her body. They had threatened Rati Ram of dire consequences if he went to the police station to get the case registered. On Thursday morning, Rati Ram lodged a complaint with Kotwali Dibai stating that four persons burnt to his wife dead. On the complaint, the police registered the case under section 302 of IPC and under SC, ST Act. The SSP said that the murder was committed due to on going rivalry between the dominants and the family of Rati Ram since long. We have constituted the team of competent police officer to nab the criminals soon. (Pioneer 16/1/06)

Bihar dalit woman, baby kept captive (2)

Patna, Jan. 18: A dalit woman and her newborn child in Bihar had to remain in captivity of the owner of a private nursing home for almost two months for failing to clear the medical expenses incurred on her. Government officials rescued Sonma Devi from the private nursing home in Biharsharif after they came to know about the incident on Tuesday. "We were running short of money and hardly had enough money to get our daughter released. The money-lenders had also declined to extend any sort of help to us," Kaushalya Devi, Sonma’s mother, said after getting her daughter released. The family members had paid Rs 6,000, which was taken as a loan from the local shylocks, to the nursing home authorities but the owners refused to release the woman and the child unless the rest amount was paid. Kaushalya Devi had managed to raise Rs 6,000 against a rate of interest of 60 per cent annually. After getting admitted to the nursing home in the third week of November, Sonma had given birth to a child on November 19. The doctors had presented medical bills worth several thousands of rupees. Not only the dalit family’s request for a concession was turned down but also the family was banned to enter the nursing home without the money. Later, Kaushalya Devi raised the issue at the janta darbar of the district magistrate in Bihar Sharif on Tuesday. Finally, a team of the local officials raised the nursing home and got the woman and her newborn child released. Asian Age 19/1/06)

SC/ST grants for higher studies get CCEA nod (2)

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 19: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved a fellowship scheme for providing financial help to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students wanting to pursue higher studies. The scheme, called the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, is expected to benefit 667 Scheduled Tribe students and 1,333 Scheduled Caste students in 2005-06. The University Grants Commission (UGC) will be the nodal agency implementing the scheme. Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said: “This is very good news for SC and ST meritorious students with dreams to complete M.Phil and Ph.D courses.” The CCEA has also approved an amendment in the centrally-sponsored scheme on Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. “The amendment responds to the aspiration and urges of farmers and horticulturists,” Dasmunsi said. The CCEA approved a Rs 29.99 crore increase in the corpus fund of Maulana Azad Education Foundation which was set up in 1989 to promote education among the weaker sections and backward minorities. The Foundation currently operates on the income generated from its Rs 70.01 crore corpus which will now increase to Rs 100 crore. The Foundation has disbursed Rs 80.5 crore to 622 NGOs till date. (Indian Exp 20/1/06)

Rajasthan Dalit social worker gangraped, family says cover-up (2)

JAIPUR, JANUARY 24: In a chilling reminder of the Bhanwari Devi case, a Rajasthan anganwadi worker was allegedly gangraped by her supervisors during a state-sponsored training session. Instead of helping the 25-year-old Dalit woman, the police tried to hush-up the incident, declaring her mentally unstable and packing her off to a psychiatric clinic. According to the FIR, the woman, an anganwadi sahyogini, was raped by three of her supervisors after her female supervisor took her to a room at the training centre in Karauli, some 150 km from Jaipur. The incident took place on the night of December 30. Her husband was told three days later that she had been admitted to a hospital after a “mental breakdown”. “We brought her back to Karauli but the police refused to file our case. When they finally lodged an FIR on January 20, the SP again sent her with a constable to Jaipur to get her admitted to the SMS Hospital’s psychiatric centre,” husband Ram Niwas Meena said. SP B K Pande denied the charge: “We didn’t send her to the psychiatric centre. We have arrested two accused and are hunting for the other two.” Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who visited her in hospital today, said a probe will be held. (Indian Exp 25/1/06)

Politically correct NCERT edits Premchand (2)

New Delhi: Jan. 27. — The National Council of Education and Research Training has decided to purge its textbooks of derogatory references towards Dalits. The educational body has decided to remove the word "chamar" from Hindi textbooks of class IX and XI. The controversial word used in Premchand's Rangbhumi has been replaced by the less offensive Dalit. The NCERT has also decided to incorporate chapters from famous Dalit writers in school textbooks. However, interestingly the word chamar has not been replaced in their writings as has been done in Premchand's works. In Om Prakash Balmiki's (Dalit writer) Khanabadhosh, for instance, a footnote has been provided stating that "the word is constitutionally banned and should not be practiced in social behaviour". Speaking to The Statesman, the head of the department of languages, NCERT, Professor Ramjanam Sharma, said the council has made a great effort to incorporate Dalit literature in the syllabi.free of any controversy. "We have edited a lot of the writings after witnessing the hue and cry over the word "chamar" in Rangbhumi. We have edited the word out except in the opening sentence," he added. Elaborating on the need to promote Dalit writers in the syllabus of Classes IX and XI, Prof Sharma said efforts are being made to sensitise students towards the marginalised status of backward communities. He said these writers feel only they can truly understand the trauma of belonging to a backward community in a Brahmanical society. (Statesman 28/1/06)

Daughter of a Dalit victim demands compensation (2)

NEW DELHI: The young daughter of a Dalit farm labour activist, Bant Singh, whose hands and a leg had to be amputated after he was brutally thrashed allegedly by the sons of the "Sarpanch" of Jhabbar village and their accomplices at Mansa in Punjab on January 5, has demanded a compensation of Rs.10 lakhs and a job for her mother. Speaking at a press conference organised by the Forum for Democratic Initiatives (FDI) here on Friday, the young woman said her father was "punished" for fighting and winning a legal battle in a case in which she was gang-raped in 2002, when she was a minor. Defying the "panchayat" decision ordering her to marry one of the rapists, Bant Singh had got a case registered and the accused arrested, who were later sentenced to life imprisonment. "Since then my father has been attacked thrice. The latest was on January 5, in which two sons of the present "Sarpanch", Jaswant, and five others attacked my father and beat him up badly. The police earlier registered a case under Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code and the accused were released on bail. It was only after the media and several organisations took up the issue that the police added sections under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act and other harsh sections," said the young woman, adding that she would continue to fight till she got justice. All India Progressive Women's Association convenor Jeeta Kaur said doctors were trying to save Bant Singh's only leg but his condition was deteriorating as the leg had got infested with gangrene. Satya Sivaraman, a journalist and member of the FDI team that probed the incident, talked about atrocities on Dalits, especially women, in Punjab. He also talked about the widespread exploitation of poor agricultural labourers there. (The Hindu 28/1/06)

Captain upholds stand on SC/ST uplift (2)

Chandigarh : Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday reiterated his resolve to safeguard the interests of SCs and STs through effective measures for their uplift. Presiding over a meeting of State-level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes: Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, Capt Singh directed the top brass of the civil and police administration to ensure implementation of this Act in letter and spirit. He said all the provisions of the Act should be adhered to strictly. Responding to demands of Committee members, Capt Singh announced a grant of Rs 50 crore for a "houses to houseless" scheme for SC beneficiaries besides Rs 12 crore for dharamshalas. A sum of Rs 23 crore is released every month out of a dedicated fund of Rs 450 crore against pension for SCs. Capt Singh further said 30 per cent of the funds under Punjab Nirman Programme has been earmarked for overall development and welfare of Dalits. It may be mentioned here that SCs in Punjab are comparably far better placed than in other States. Visible discrimination against them is almost negligible. There are no separate colleges or schools or hostels for SCs as is the practice in southern States. Unlike Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, UP, Bihar, and Himachal Pradesh SCs in Punjab also face no humiliation while visiting religious places.(Pioneer 1/2/06)

Dalit family finally gets some respite from court (2)

JAIPUR: A Dalit family in Nimora village near here -- facing persecution for constructing a temple of Lord Hanuman and worshipping the deity -- has finally got some reprieve with a Sessions court striking down an order of a lower court, which had accepted the closure by police of a criminal case against the higher caste people. Additional Sessions Judge Prakash Chand Sharma quashed the verdict of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bassi, by which he had accepted the final report of police and rejected a protest petition of the victimised Dalit family. The Sessions court remanded the case back to the magistrate with the direction to pass a fresh order. The family of Krishna Gopal Dhanka is being harassed for over three years for its "audacity'' to build the Hanuman temple on its own land. Brahmins in the village assaulted the family members for conducting regular worship and imposed a fine of Rs. 21,000 on them. The family was twice hounded out for several days and could return to the village on the intervention of higher authorities. The prosecution not only filed a final report in the case on behalf of the police in the magistrate's court, but also presented a case under Sec. 182 of Indian Penal Code against Dhanka for giving "false information'' to the police. The magistrate accepted the final report, rejected Dhanka's protest petition and initiated criminal proceedings under Sec. 182 against him last year. The Sessions court in Jaipur, while accepting the revision application of the Dalit family, observed that the lower court had erred by not taking into account Dhanka's statements and the evidence collected by police during investigation. (The Hindu 2/2/06)

Patna hate story: father, family kill son-in-law; daughter critical after assault (2)

PATNA, FEBRUARY 3: Shailendra Mishra, a Patna schoolteacher, was lynched, his head crushed with a stone, and his newly married wife Pushpanjali assaulted by a group led by her father. This was their “punishment” for marrying without the family’s consent. And belonging to the same gotra (sub-caste)—although they were of the same caste. Pushpanjali’s father Umesh Mishra has been arrested and police are looking for her two brothers and a dozen others. Pushpanjali, in her 20s, is battling for her life in a city hospital. Shailendra, in his late 30s, and Pushpanjali lived in the same neighbourhood. They eloped and tied the knot in Hajipur a few days ago. The couple returned today and when the bride went home, over a dozen people went to Shailendra’s house. Dragging him out, they beat him up. When Pushpanjali tried to intervene, they beat her up too. They were taken to the Patna Medical College and Hospital where Shailendra was declared “brought dead”. Pushpanjali has ‘‘multiple head injuries and it’s difficult to save her,’’ said Umashankar Singh, the doctor attending on her. J P Rai, Khajkela police station in-charge, where the FIR has been lodged, said the bride’s father is a priest. (Indian Express 4/2/06)

Punjab Govt. steps for Dalit welfare (2)

CHANDIGARH: Against the backdrop of simmering discontent and indications of growing caste tensions the Punjab Government has initiated steps not only to safeguard the interests of the Scheduled Castes through effective measures for their uplift but also ensure them a life of dignity and self-esteem. While various development and welfare projects have been at different stages of implementation, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh recently presided over a meeting of the State level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. He announced that instead of the usual six months, the committee would meet every two months to sort out the issues relating to the welfare of Dalits. While directing the top brass of the Civil and Police administration to ensure strict implementation of the statute, he stressed that "complacency would not be tolerated at any cost.'' The recent case of a Dalit, Bant Singh of Jhabbar village in Mansa district who lost two arms and a leg apparently due to official apathy after being beaten up allegedly by upper castes, has created ripples in the State. He had "dared'' to continue his pursuit for justice for his daughter who had been raped about four years ago. The concern of the Chief Minister on this account is understandable as crime against the Scheduled Castes has been on the rise. As against 15 cases registered under the relevant sections of law in 1994, 94 cases were recorded in 2004. During the same period, the number of rapes cases reported has also doubled. Responding to the demands of the members of the committee, Capt. Singh announced a grant of Rs. 50 crores for the scheme under "houses to houseless'' for the SCs beneficiaries besides Rs. 12 crores for dharamshalas of Scheduled Castes. A sum of Rs. 23 crores was directed to be released every month, from the Dedicated Fund of Rs. 450 crores against pensions to the SC beneficiaries. The disbursement of these pensions has been entrusted to the village panchayats. (The Hindu 8/2/06)

Caste coup: Councillor, kin ostracised for backing BJP

Jaipur: Feb. 8. — The concept of empowerment got a jolt when a caste panchayat in Rajasmand district of Rajasthan ostracised an elected councillor Ms Bhagwati Khatik and her fami­ly. All they had done was to vote for the BJP without the approval of the panchayat. Her vote helped the BJP to form the board of Rajasmand civic body. But the caste pan­chayat held that since Ms Khatik had won with the sup­port of Khatik community, she had no right to vote for the BJP without its permission. Ms Bhagwati had contested the municipal election as an Independent after both the Congress and the BJP failed to field any candidate from the Khatik community. In the Election, both the BJP and the Congress failed to secure a majority. In the back­drop of this, Ms Bhagwati voted for the BJP. But apparently Ms Bhagwati had not consulted her commu­nity, which had fielded her as a candidate, before voting in favour of the BJP. This angered it. As a result, the Khatik com­munity asked her to put in her papers. On her refusal, the community decided to keep the councillor and her family away from their activities. The community has ruled that no one would talk or invite the ostracised family to social functions. If anyone violated the order, he or she would be fined Rs 5,000, the caste pan­chayat ruled. (Statesman 9/2/06)

Punjab caste wall to evict dwellers comes crumbling down ((2)

Chandigarh, Feb. 7: The Germans had their Berlin Wall, the Chinese still have their Great Wall, and the Punjabis came close to claiming their own. It didn't survive long enough. Late last night, parts of the 10-foot-high wall that civic authorities in Fazilka, Ferozepur, had built without an opening around 20 dwellings of the lower-caste Muslim Gujjars, cutting them off from the rest of the world, were broken down. The wall had come up three months ago to force the dwellers to sell their land so that a bus stand could be built by a private organisation. "We have made two openings in the wall. The rest will be demolished soon," said SSP S.S.Srivastava. "Allah has finally listened to our prayers and the wall is no more," said Kasim, one of the hemmed-in residents. But the past few weeks had been traumatic. To keep home Ores burning, the Gujjars, milkmen by profession, had been scaling the wall. "We were being hounded to sell our land. And when we resisted, the municipal authorities, mostly upper castes, simply built the wall around our dwellings," said Kamal Khan, another resident. Over 150 people live in the settlement registered in the names of the Gujjars. Khan said the pressure began mounting on them to sell their land following the decision of the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government to invite builders from the country and abroad to invest in new colonies. Land prices in the state have skyrocketed since the invitation. The Gujjars say they were not allowed to take their cattle out for grazing. "How can we take them? When it is not easy to scale the wall, how can we take the animals out? Many have died," said Ali, who was beaten up for resisting the wall when it was being built. (Telegraph 8/2/06)


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