Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 10.07.15
The Times Of India
Maha sets up village committees to curb atrocities on Dalit - One India
'Global initiative of Dalits in India, African-Americans in U.S. needed' - The Hindu
Oscar for Job Quota in Private Firms - The New Indian Express
A new Dalit assertion is round the corner - The Tribune
A Portrait of the Indian as a Young Dalit Girl: Part 5 – Janvi's Lawyer - Two Circle
Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)
Gandhi's letter to Hitler, read by Clarke Peters
In celebration of London's Letters Live season, BBC Newsnight invited actor Clarke Peters to read a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler.
Written just one month before the German invasion of Poland, the letter never reached its intended recipient.
The Times Of India
AGRA: An upper caste man and his son, angry that a Dalit woman dared ask for her fair wages, thrashed her and set her house on fire. The miscreants also pushed the woman's son into fire. The boy escaped with injuries. An FIR has been lodged.
Police said Badami Devi, wife of Vijay Singh, a resident of Bamoori village in Mathura district was thrashed by her employer Pappu Singh. The woman was a labourer at a construction site. Contractor Pappu Singh had paid her half her wages a few days ago and asked her to return later for the rest of the money.
The woman arrived at Pappu Singh's house on Wednesday to seek the pending wages. Singh abused her and threw her out, police said.
SP City Shailesh Kumar Pandey said, "The accused and his son reached the victim's fields later Wednesday and thrashed her son, Gulab. The woman rushed to her son's help, and the two dragged her and her son to the village and set the house on fire."
Villagers told police that they could not intervene in the matter as the contractor was a powerful upper-caste man. The victim's son, who was thrown into the fire, is under treatment for burn injuries.
The SP said an FIR was lodged against Pappu Singh and his three sons under provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. "Raids are being made to arrest the accused, who are absconding," the police officer said.
Maha sets up village committees to curb atrocities on Dalit
Updated: Friday, July 10, 2015, 9:34 [IST]
The Maharashtra Government will involve village-level officials and prominent local residents to check atrocities on Dalits, a move that comes in the backdrop of cases of violence reported against Scheduled Caste members in Ahmednagar district. Social Justice Department has started an initiative in this regard to maintain harmony and protect Dalit communities, which are vulnerable to caste violence. Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole today instructed his department officials to form a village level committee in districts to intervene and prevent cases of atrocities on Dalits. Each committee will comprise talathis (revenue officials), sarpanch (village head) and gram sevaks (village development officers) besides members from all sections of society, he said, adding, the step will help reduce incidents of violence and harassment against Dalits. The panel will be formed under the Government's 'Tanta Mukti' scheme which seeks to make villages free of disputes. Badole was presiding over a review meeting of his department at Mantralaya (Secretariat) on cases of Dalit atrocities reported from Ahmednagar district. "The village level committee will submit its report after every 15 days to district officials. Later, District Collector and Superintendent of Police will submit a report to the Government based on gravity of such cases," he said. The State Government will allocate sufficient funds to implement schemes for Dalit welfare, the Minister said. Elaborating on reasons for atrocities, Badole said, "Small issues like building a road to 'shamshan bhumi' (cremation ground), common water supply schemes and (taking out cultural or religious) processions hurt egos of some people. This results in differences between Dalits and other communities."
'Global initiative of Dalits in India, African-Americans in U.S. needed'
Through common experiences of oppression and the struggle against it, there should be a global initiative of Dalits in India and African-Americans in the U.S. against discriminatory practices, said a cross-section of social researchers here on Thursday.
The seminar, 'Dalits and African-Americans in 21st century: Learning from Cross-Cultural Experiences', organised by the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), saw prominent American and Indian researchers deliberating on the need to define and provide solutions to continuing discrimination against the communities.
Sukhadeo Thorat, chairperson, Indian Council for Social Science Research, said though discrimination had reduced in public spaces, such as fair price shops, police stations, among others, it continued to remain unchanged in private spaces — in homes and religious practices — of rural India. He further warned:"Affirmative action suffers in privatisation. Though reservation is voluntary for the private sector, less than 12 per cent of a commerce body had consented to it," said Prof. Thorat.
Kevin D. Brown, American author and academic, who has researched race-based discrimination, believed the deep-entrenched caste system could only be tackled by targeting the belief that still upholds caste hierarchy: the belief in reincarnation.
The New Indian Express
Oscar for Job Quota in Private Firms
BENGALURU: The government should come forward to implement reservation in private firms, former union minister Oscar Fernandes said. He was speaking at the inauguration of the two-day international seminar on 'Dalits and African-Americans in 21st century: Learning from cross-cultural experiences'.
The Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies (CSSEIP), Dr Ambedkar Studies Centre and National Law school of India University (NLSIU) organised the seminar at the International Training Centre of NLSIU on Thursday.
Fernandes said, "Governments are giving contracts to agencies to fill vacancies and the agencies do not follow reservation."
He said, "Ambedkar was not the first person from the backward community to miss out on social privileges. Karna and Ekalavya are some historical examples who did not get educational privileges due to their background." Speaking about people from the weaker sections who are being ill treated in both India and America, he said, "It is evident that people from backward communities in both the countries have been kept away from decision making or higher posts. Though an Anglo-African is the president of the US, the condition of his community has not changed in a big way."
A new Dalit assertion is round the corner
After successfully winning the right to take land on lease, Dalit activisits are now backing the cause of other small farmers who have also been pushed to the margins.
A beginning has been made. With 32 per cent population share, the highest among developed states, Dalits have started asserting themselves in Punjab. A movement has begun to take shape in the countryside, where they have been living on the margins.
It is difficult to gauge what momentum it will gain in the days to come but Sangrur's example certainly has the potential to take roots. Reason: It has not only produced an amazing success story but opened up opportunities for a new experiment in Punjab's predominantly agriculture-based rural economy.
The first seed of the movement was sown at Malwa region's Balad Kalan village in Sangrur district, where Dalits strived hard for about a year to win their legal right to till panchayat land. Yielding to the resolve and persisting struggle launched by 132 Dalit families in the village, the Panchayats Department has handed over about 84 acres of Panchayat land to them on lease for the current fiscal year (2015-16).
The successful endeavour to secure land on lease just turned out to be a medium for Dalits to unite at one platform. A surprising element is this is the first time the Malwa region is witnessing such a development among Dalits. Otherwise, Doaba is known as a stronghold of Dalits, especially in Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Jalandhar districts, where the Dalit population is close to 40 per cent. In Malwa, Faridkot and Muktsar have a similarly high percentage of Dalits. "Various Government schemes for the so-called welfare of Dalits have not been reaching them. At the social level, there has been discrimination with them at all levels because of the pronounced problem of untouchability and casteism", says a Dalit activist involved in the movement.
For how long the community would continue to suffer was the question bothering the young Dalit brigade for quite some time. Dalits have been facing oppression since ages but their exclusion at the social level, especially in rural areas, is quite evident. The land controversy at Balad Kalan provided them a legitimate opportunity to fight for their rights. Connected to land are other issues such as social prejudices faced by the community. "The younger generation of Dalits is not prepared to tolerate discrimination. Our elders have suffered a lot but we are not prepared to take such humiliation in our stride", says Dalit activist Umesh.
Though the Panchayat Department is duty bound to give at least one-third of panchayat lands to Dalits on lease, mischief was being played at the official level in connivance with influential people in the villages. Well-off people used to take the share of Dalits in panchayat land, creating dummy parties when offering bids for it. To counter this phenomenon, Dalits formed a "Zameen Prapati Sangarsh Committee" (A committee to struggle to take the land) last year.
After a long struggle, which turned violent at times, leading to the registration of criminal cases and even arrests of Dalit activists, the district administration finally agreed to lease land only for the Rabi crop, which means for only six months. But this year, it has been leased out to Dalits for the entire year.
Another encouraging development is their tilt towards cooperative farming, which, if replicated, could bring about far-reaching changes in the pattern of agriculture in the state.
When they got the land for growing Rabi crops last year, the 132 Dalit families pooled together Rs 14.99 lakh, some as loan from commission agents and others, as lease money. They also collected an additional Rs 11 lakh to nurse the crop. The outcome of this collective effort was 2,500 quintals of wheat. Each shareholder family was given two quintals of wheat and one full trolley of wheat chaff, besides green fodder for six months as a share from the divisible proceeds. The remaining wheat was sold in the market for Rs 24 lakh. "Our total expenditure on taking the land on lease and growing crops etc was Rs 26.50 lakh. We have repaid the loan after selling the surplus wheat in the market. Besides, each family got wheat, chaff and green fodder", says Bhag Singh, a member of the Committee. "Though last year we were allowed to grow only one crop, we earned money by doing collective farming which saved lot of money in various ways. This year, we will be growing two crops and will certainly earn good sum if nature does not play the villain. Moreover, the lease amount is 10 per cent less compared to the last year," he adds. Meanwhile, the Zameen Prapati Sangharsh Committee has spread its wings in almost the entire Sangrur district and some villages of adjoining Patiala district. The other important development is the Committee's backing to the cause of non-Dalit small and marginal farmers who have been pushed to the edge due to rapid increase in agricultural related inputs. "We feel the pain and problems being encountered by non-Dalit small and marginal farmers and are making an effort to take them along", asserts Mukesh. Interestingly, the large Dalit population has never been a dominant player in state politics but determines which party should come to power. For decades, Dalits stood by the Congress. With the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the 1990s, they gravitated towards it. The founder and builder of the BSP, the late Kanshi Ram belonged to Punjab. Following the decline of the BSP, Dalits, by and large, turned towards the SAD for the past some years. No one can guess at this stage as to what will happen next. However, with the assertion of Dalits in the politically significant Malwa region, there can be a decisive shift in the state's politics during the next Assembly election.
A Portrait of the Indian as a Young Dalit Girl: Part 5 – Janvi's Lawyer
(Editor's note: This was first published on Yahoo.com as a single piece. We are reproducing the long form report in parts for TwoCircles.net readers.)
On July 21, 2014 the parents of three of the four girls were sitting inside Room No 434 of the lawyers' area situated in the Hisar mini-secretariat. They had woken up at 3 am at their Jantar Mantar camp in Delhi. Then they walked to Kashmiri Gate and got on the cheapest bus available to reach Hisar in Haryana. The girls' case was listed for hearing that day in the Haryana trial court.
When I arrive in the morning, the families are sitting in the protest camp outside the mini-secretariat. Over the last two years, some of the families have made do at the camp. Others have started living in small rented rooms in Hisar. The families from the Chamar and Khanti communities who have been in Hisar for two years helped the Dhanuk families find daily wage work and cheap places to live. All of them take turns to sit at the Hisar protest site.
Later in the lawyer's chamber, the girls' lawyer Jitendra Khush told the parents about recent developments in the case. None of it was good news.
On July 8, Jitendra Khush and his senior Ram Niwas had filed an application in the Hisar court for a re-investigation, arguing that the Haryana police had been biased and negligent. They also argued that the magistrate had violated the provisions of Section 164 (CrPC) by not giving the girls the mandatory warning that they only had to make the statement if they felt unafraid and comfortable, that there was no compulsion for them to make it right then in the middle of the night. Despite the victims mentioning that they knew three of the assailants, the magistrate did not ask the girls to identity them, nor did he mention any names in the recorded statement.
The lawyers' application further argues that there was a caste bias on the part of the authorities towards the Dalit girls. Despite corroborating the statements of the victims and their families who accuse sarpanch Rakesh Panghal and his uncle Virendra of conspiring in the abduction and gang-rape of the victims, the police have not filed any charges against them. Moreover, the application questions the Haryana police for trying to discredit the allegations of the survivors by dropping Section 328 of the IPC from the charge-sheet.
In a written reply that had arrived the morning of July 21, the Haryana police categorically denied all charges and asserted that the investigation was done properly. And brought in a shocking new red herring. In their response, the police said they had looked at the "call details of the victims." To sum up, they found a phone, which they say, belonged to one of the girls. They say that the GPS data indicated that before Bhatinda Railway Station, the phone was last located at a place called Sathrod. The police argued that the girls would have had to change two trains to reach Bhatinda, and this could not have been possible if they were unconscious. The police also say that the girls' medical reports do not prove the presence of any sedatives (considering the medical examination was done almost two full days after their abduction, this is unsurprising).
I have been here before with police massaging the evidence of difficult sexual violence cases into a story of romance, youthful high spirits or honor killings – shifting the blame to the victim or the victim's family. As I was following the story of the girls of Bhagana, another gang-rape case I had reported on, one that had ended in murder, was taking that direction in Uttar Pradesh.
I asked Khush how the mobile phone location of one girl confirmed the presence of other three with her. And at a more fundamental level, where had the police found this phone and how had they established that it belonged to the girls?
Khush was firm. "But the police are right. The eldest girl had a phone! Don't you see the call records? 99.9 % rape cases here are like that only. They are all consensual," he added. The parents were puzzled and quiet. Part of it was that they had trouble following non-Haryanvi Hindi.
I asked why he didn't believe his own client, and how he could say that most rapes in Haryana were consensual. "So what do you think about those numerous cases in which women file a complaint after one or two years of being raped? And sometimes they say that they were being raped continuously for months? How is it possible? I think first they form relations with consent and then file charges of rape later if they feel cheated or neglected. And in this case, call records show that the girls went on their own."
Back in Delhi, a team of lawyers from the non-profit group Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) has been fighting a separate case in the Supreme Court for the compensation and proper rehabilitation of the Bhagana Dalits. They believe that the gang-rape is a new extension in crimes against Dalits in that region.
I went to see the Hisar SP Vikas Dhankar, who also has an office in the mini-secretariat. He emphasized that they have been diligent in their investigations. And unbiased, of course. With a distressed expression, he said, "Lower caste? You should know that these lower caste people are now coming out and filing complaints against the atrocities happening to them. The situation is not like how it used to be years ago. And I tell you, wait for next 10 years. This whole caste system will get finished itself. You see, with all these inter-caste marriages happening around, how can caste survive?"
*Names of all rape survivors and their relatives have been changed.
News monitored by Girish Pant & AJEET
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.