Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 06.06.15

Dalits Media Watch

News Updates 06.06.15

Quotas do not hurt efficiency, says study – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/quotas-do-not-hurt-efficiency-says-study/article6857563.ece#comments

Eggs And PrejudiceThe New Indian Express

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/eggs-and-prejudice/

70-year-old Dalit man lynchedThe Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/70yearold-dalit-man-lynched/article7288111.ece

Ex-BSP MLA gets 10-year jail for rapeThe Asian Age

Stopping violence on DalitsBangalore Mirror

Vengeful cop foists murder case on 4 dalitsThe Times Of India

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Vengeful-cop-foists-murder-case-on-4-dalits/articleshow/47560588.cms

Alternative Narrative of the Dalit Resistance RecordedThe New Indian Express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Alternative-Narrative-of-the-Dalit-Resistance-Recorded/2015/06/06/article2851566.ece

Atrocities Against SCs, ST: Odisha to Set up Three Special Courts – The New Indian Express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/Atrocities-Against-SCs-ST-Odisha-to-Set-up-Three-Special-Courts/2015/06/05/article2851082.ece

More Hostels for SC StudentsThe New Indian Express

Protect couple facing ‘khap’ threat, SC tells HaryanaThe Tribune

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/protect-couple-facing-khap-threat-sc-tells-haryana/89987.html

Dalit Women and Village Justice in Rural IndiaMWC News

http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/52072-dalit-women.html

 

Please Watch:

Documentary on Tsundur by Dalit Media Center

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixBXjAPzSWQ

 

Note : Please find attachment for HINDI NEWS UPDATES (PDF)

The Hindu

Quotas do not hurt efficiency, says study

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/quotas-do-not-hurt-efficiency-says-study/article6857563.ece#comments

 Reservation 1

RUKMINI S.

 

It measured impact of reservation on productivity in Railways

 

A first-of-its-kind study of the impact of reservations in public sector jobs on productivity and efficiency has shown that the affirmative action did not reduce productivity in any sector, but had, in fact, raised it in some areas.

 

Despite being widespread and much-debated, India’s reservation policy for the educationally and socially backward classes is poorly studied. While there is some research into the impact of reservations in politics and in higher education, there has been no study yet of its impact on the economy.

 

In the pioneering study, Ashwini Deshpande, Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, and Thomas Weisskopf, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, measured the impact of reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) on productivity and efficiency in the Indian Railways between 1980 and 2002. The study was published in the World Development journal.

 

The Indian Railways is the world’s largest employer where affirmative action applies, Ms. Deshpande said. It employs between 1.3 and 1.4 million people at four levels of employment — Group A to Group D, with Group A employees being the senior-most. There is 15 per cent reservation for the SCs and 7.5 per cent reservation for the STs at all levels, with additional reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The study looked at SC and ST employees in Group A and B only, since people from marginalised backgrounds would have been unlikely to reach high levels of employment without reservation.

 

Since an individual’s impact on productivity is impossible to estimate, Ms. Deshpande and Mr. Weisskopf compared zones and periods of time with higher numbers of SC and ST employees with those with lower numbers, keeping other variables constant. They found no negative impact on productivity and efficiency in any area, and some positive effects in some areas of work.

 

“Beyond the numbers, we can speculate about the reasons for why there might be some positive impact of affirmative action,” Ms. Deshpande explained. “Individuals from marginalised groups may be especially highly motivated to perform well when they attain decision-making and managerial positions, because of the fact that they have reached these positions in the face of claims that they are not sufficiently capable, and they may consequently have a strong desire to prove their detractors wrong,” the authors suggested.

 

This is a possible explanation which rings true for Scheduled Caste employees of the Railways whomThe Hindu spoke to. “At every level where there is discretionary power, SC/ ST employees are systematically discriminated against,” said B.L. Bairwa, the president of the All-India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Railway Employees Association.

 

He cited a number of cases from across the country that he was battling, of deserving backward caste railway employees who had been passed up for promotions, transferred arbitrarily or given adverse records. “When an SC or ST employee rises, he has to prove himself and work extra hard. I am not surprised the efficiency goes up,” he said.

 

The New Indian Express

Eggs And Prejudice

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/eggs-and-prejudice/

 child-nutrituion 2

Child nutrition is being held hostage to spurious, largely upper caste, arguments.

 

 

Written by Reetika Khera | Published on:June 6, 2015 12:09 am

 

Child nutrition is prime-time news only when a tragedy occurs. Child undernutrition is no less a tragedy but rarely recognised as such.

Attention to it, following the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s rejection of a proposal to introduce eggs in anganwadis is significant and welcome.

 

Few people realise food intake in India is very poor. According to the 2005-06 National Family Health Survey, around 10 per cent of breastfed children aged six to 23 months had meat, fish, poultry, egg or milk products the day before the survey. Among children who are not breastfed, the figures are equally bad.

 

In a TV debate, a BJP spokesperson praised milk as the best source of protein, failing to mention that MP does not provide that either at anganwadis or schools. The urgent need to improve the quality of food provided in the mid-day meal (MDM) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) schemes has not been adequately recognised.

 

Cost is a major constraint. Allocations for child nutrition programmes are quite small (Rs 5-7 per child per day). Only states where the government is committed to the issues make additional allocations required to provide nutritious foods such as eggs. This year’s cuts in Central allocations for ICDS and MDM are likely to strain state budgets further.

 

Perishability and fear of adulteration impede improvements in food quality. Though milk and dal are protein-rich, both can easily be diluted and milk is perishable. Creative thinking can lead to solutions. In Karnataka, milk powder is supplied.

 

Eggs provide a nutritious and affordable solution. They contain all the nutrients (except vitamin C) required by small children and are generally more nutrient-rich than vegetarian options — without the problems of perishability and adulteration). People can easily monitor whether they have got their full entitlement, whereas that’s quite difficult with milk or dal. Further, eggs are important for infants, as they are nutrition-dense. In Odisha, eggs have emerged as the perfect “take-home ration” for children under three. Children also seem to love eggs.

 

At a mixed-caste government school in Shimoga, Karnataka, when asked to raise their hand if they would like an egg, almost all hands went up.

 

Recent arguments for denying eggs to children and forcing vegetarianism on them include: the strongest animals, horses and elephants, are vegetarian; Sant Ravidas was vegetarian, so all Dalits should be like him; as Dalits cannot afford non-vegetarian food anyway, schools and anganwadis need not provide eggs; separate seating arrangements might be difficult to manage. Without saying it explicitly, the message has been clear: rather than hurt the sentiments of a few among the so-called upper castes, it is better to keep eggs out.

 

Caste resistance is an important part of why northern and western states do not provide eggs. Often, these arguments are disguised as “rational”. First, create an impression that if eggs are on the menu, vegetarians will be forced to eat them (ignoring that vegetarians can be given fruit instead). Then, dress it up as a “freedom to choose” issue. Ironically, those who deny free choice to non-vegetarians are the ones levelling this allegation.

 

Karnataka provides eggs in anganwadis, but not in school meals. Why? Quite likely, this is because the Akshaya Patra Foundation is a big player in the MDM programme but not in the ICDS. Since 2007, the BJP has resisted eggs. That year, two BJP leaders disagreed on the issue. When religious leaders opposed eggs, the government caved in. The Congress is not very different. It announced eggs in the MDM scheme only for the northern nutritionally deprived districts, but even that has not taken off.

 

Instead of surrendering to the egg-resisters, states like MP and Karnataka should learn from others where opposition, if any, was overcome. It is unfair to sacrifice children’s right to nutrition to spurious anti-egg arguments from a small minority among the upper castes.

The writer is associate professor, economics, IIT Delhi

 

The Hindu

70-year-old Dalit man lynched

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/70yearold-dalit-man-lynched/article7288111.ece

 

CORRESPONDENT

 

A 70-year-old Dalit man, suspected to have stolen some tarpaulins from a school, was allegedly beaten to death by angry villagers in Bayalish Moua under Cuttack Sadar police station here. While the incident took place on Wednesday, Bansidhar Bhoi of local Dahigaon village succumbed to the injuries late on Thursday evening.

 

The police are investigating into the case and have detained five persons in this connection. Meanwhile, Dalits from the locality gheraoed the police station demanding immediate arrest of the accused.

 

The Asian Age

Ex-BSP MLA gets 10-year jail for rape

 | 

 

Former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA Purshottam Naresh Dwiwedi has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by a court in Banda district after he was found guilty of raping and illegally confining a dalit girl in 2010.

 

The court on Friday convicted him under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and two of his aides — Rajendra Shukla and Surendra Neta — have also been found guilty in the case.

 

The dalit girl was raped in December 2010 at the legislator’s residence in Banda and then kept captive for several days.

 

The victim managed to escape from the former legislator’s house and was arrested on the same day by the police on theft charges levelled by the former legislator.

 

She informed other people about her ordeal when she was produced in court on theft charges.

The matter was taken up by the media and the girl accused the former BSP MLA of raping her repeatedly. Dwiwedi was arrested a month later on the orders of then chief minister Mayawati and has been in jail ever since.

 

Bangalore Mirror

Stopping violence on Dalits

  

By: Chandan Gowda


Legal security is the need of hour to curb violent incidents which have become so routine that they have almost ceased to elicit the moral attentiveness they so urgently deserve


Three weeks ago, Sagar Shejwal, a 25 year old Dalit nursing student, was killed in Shirdi, Maharashtra, by a group of eight youths from the dominant Maratha and other OBC castes. 

 

The provocation was the ring tone on the victim’s cell phone which extolled Ambedkar. 

 

The Hindu news report on this event quoted the Deputy Superintendent of Police: “Eight youths were sitting at a table at the shop. When Sagar’s mobile rang with the Ambedkar song as its ringtone, the youths told him to switch it off. In a police statement, the cousin has described the song as Tumhi kara re kitihi halla/Mazbut Bhimacha quilla [Shout all you want/Bhim’s fortress is strong]. An altercation ensued and the assailants hit Sagar with a beer bottle and started kicking and punching him. 

 

Then they dragged him out, put him on a motorbike and took him away to a nearby forest. They crushed him under the bike. Sagar’s body was found around 6.30 p.m. in a naked state near Rui village.” 

 

The police officer’s description reconstructs a scene of the violent expression of caste hatred which the statistics of caste crimes do not convey. 

 

The violence against Dalits will be familiar to anyone who reads newspapers regularly. Incidents of such violence have become so routine that they have almost ceased to elicit the moral attentiveness they so urgently deserve. 

 

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 57,176 cases involving various offenses against Dalits were filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (POA) across the country between 2008 and 2012. The figure was 12,576 during 2012. These figures do not include the “charges found false/mistake of fact or law” by the police after investigation (The NCRB data has adjusted for the latter since 2001. I draw attention to this detail since a common view is that most of the cases filed under the POA are false). 

 

Besides the likelihood of unfamiliarity with legal safeguards, the expensive and long drawn out litigation processes will not make victims automatically seek recourse to justice through the The POA aims to use the instrument of law to pre-empt various forms of individual and collective injury towards Dalits and tribals by members outside these communities. 

 

Under the POA, most of the crimes recognized under the Indian Penal Code will invite greater penalty if they are committed by non-Dalits and non-tribals against Dalits and tribals. The POA does not define “atrocity” anywhere; instead, it identifies twenty two practices as constituting acts of “atrocity.” They include insulting Dalits or tribals, damaging their property, forcing them to eat excreta or inedible matter or parading them naked, spoiling their water sources, dispossessing them of land, preventing them from voting or accessing public places, and sexually assaulting a Dalit or a tribal woman. These acts of atrocity have occurred, and continue to occur, with a deadly regularity. 

 

The serious intent of the POA is without question: it asks for the establishment of Special Courts in each district to ensure the speedy trial of cases and for the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors for each of these courts; it does not allow anticipatory bail or probation for those who are convicted; and, it disallows compounding (or out-of-court settlement) and clemency on the part of the judge. 

 

While awareness of the POA has grown over the years, it has met with a variety of defeats on the ground. Police inaction and political interference and other realpolitik calculations have worked to outwit its intentions. In addition, several complex factors pertaining to the judicial system have also worked to undermine the POA’s effectiveness. In 2007, about a lakh cases were pending for trial in the criminal courts in 2007. 

 

And the conviction rates remain low: between 1997 and 2007, only 30.3% of the cases filed under POA resulted in conviction after the completion of trial. 

 

The POA has been hailed as an instrument for making an uncivil society civil. Its less than ideal performance in this regard over the last twenty five years suggests however that the power of punishment, while necessary, is not sufficient to transform the unhappy realities of caste prejudice. 


Building relations of care, trust, love and civility across communities will need diverse forms of engagement between them. 

 

The author is Professor of Sociology, Azim Premji University 

 

The Times Of India

Vengeful cop foists murder case on 4 dalits

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Vengeful-cop-foists-murder-case-on-4-dalits/articleshow/47560588.cms

 

TNN | Jun 6, 2015, 02.02 AM IST

 

CHENNAI: Four dalit men from a village in Tuticorin district were framed in a double murder case by a police inspector and had to spend more than 90 days in jail, all because they resisted the officer’s mediation in a land dispute. With a reinvestigation now proving their innocence, the inspector, T Selvam, is facing departmental action and is likely to be suspended. 


After real estate businessman Anthony Pandian and his driver Shyamaraj were murdered in Thattaparai in October 2013, inspector Selvam arrested M Yesudasan, P Sudalaimuthu, P Varadarajan and N Paramasivam, charging them with the double murder. They were sent to jail and it took many legal battles, scores of representations to various officials and finally a reinvestigation by another inspector, as per the orders of a Tuticorin court, to clear their names. Police arrested the 12 real culprits earlier this year.
 


Yesudasan said Selvam had business relations with Pandian and hence intervened to settle a property dispute between Yesudasan’s mother-in-law B Pitchammal and Pandian. “The inspector put pressure on my mother-in-law to give away a property worth 36 lakh for just 10 lakh to Pandian on October 25, 2013. We resisted, but Selvam did not take it kindly. Two days later, Pandian and Shyamraj were murdered by a gang. Selvam, who was holding additional charge of Thattaparai police station, arrested us and tortured us for hours to make us admit to the crime. We pleaded innocence, but nobody listened to us,” said Yesudasan.
 

After his arrest, Yesudasan was sacked by the private finance firm where he worked. “I am not able to take up any job as I cannot stand for even 15 minutes at a stretch,” said Yesudasan. After the reinvestigation exposed flaws in the FIR, Tuticorin SP Ashwin Kotnis ordered a departmental inquiry by deputy superintendent of police V Gopal. Gopal’s report, submitted on May 14, said Selvam acted with “mala fide” intention and “cooked up a false case” against four innocent people. He further said Selvam “acted with preplanned ulterior motive” and “misused his position”. He forged the complaint saying Pandian’s son Ayyadurai had seen the four men killing his father. Ayyadurai told Gopal that he never gave such a statement and he had only signed on a few blank papers as per Selvam’s instruction. Selvam even forged VAO Prem Sudhakar’s signature to prepare a fake confession statement of the four people, the report said.

 

elvam’s actions helped the real accused evade arrest, it said. 


Kotnis told TOI that a “punishment roll inquiry” has been initiated against Selvam, who has gone on a medical leave a month ago. Another senior official said, “We are in the process of suspending Selvam.”
 

 

The New Indian Express

 

Alternative Narrative of the Dalit Resistance Recorded

Last Updated: 06th June 2015 06:02 AM

 

MADURAI: Our memories on modern Indian history begins and ends with the freedom struggle because the prevailing dominant discourse of reconstructing the past still continues to be a linear narrative of the legacies of freedom fighters, and the Dravidian movement in the case of Tamil Nadu. But collective memories of communities offer a refreshingly radical alternative narrative, more so in case of Dalits.

 

While there is a lacuna in historical scholarship on the social history of this period, only some have attempted to rupture the uni-dimensional understanding of our past. Novelist Cho Dharman has filled this gap by narrating 100 years of Dalit resistance against hegemonic intermediate Castes and Zamindars of Kovilpatti region, ‘karisal land’ of southern Tamil Nadu, since 1900 through Koogai (The Owl).

 

Why ‘koogai’? For, the nocturnal bird is employed as a metaphor for caste oppression faced by Pallars, Paraiyars and Chakkiliyar. Customs prevalent then required them to remove the towel and stand with folded hands before members of intermediate castes. Further, they were couriers of death messages and carried out funeral rituals; provided free farm labour and their women had to submit to the sexual pleasure of intermediate caste men. Dharman addresses Dalit sub-caste dynamics, detailing distinct social and cultural specifics of Pallars, Paraiyars and Chakkiliyars, rarely found in Dalit creative writing.

 

Cho Dharman k k sundarPublished in 2005, it received TN Government’s award and the prestigious Tamil Literary Garden award from University of Toronto. Now, it has reached the international audience with Oxford University Press coming out with an English translation. For this creative work, Dharman (62) from Pallar community, a Scheduled Caste, of Urulaikkudi village near Kovilpatti town, has relied upon oral traditions. People’s collective memory; harmonious relationship with nature and folk stories have inspired him. “While the prime characters are still living in the town, others are alive through the slangs and idioms native to karisal land,” says Dharman, reminiscing his childhood and later as a worker in firework factories in the town before retiring to record the people’s memories from 1990.

 

The New Indian Express

Atrocities Against SCs, ST: Odisha to Set up Three Special Courts

Published: 05th June 2015 09:17 PM

 

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government is taking steps to set up three special courts in Cuttack, Bolangir and Balasore districts to try cases of atrocities against SC and ST people.


“Steps are being taken for establishment of three special courts each in Cuttack, Bolangir and Balasore districts for which funds have been provided for construction of court building,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik addressing a state-level vigilance and monitoring committee here.


The government has already designated 92 district and sessions courts and additional district and sessions courts as special courts for the trial of such cases.


The chief minister said the government has approved 390 legal aid cells in the state to provide free legal services to people from SC/ST communities. 


“As many as 697 legal retainers have been appointed in 350 legal aid cells. Steps are being taken to operationalise the remaining legal aid cells in the coming months,” he added.


Informing that the government has enhanced the monetary relief to the victims of atrocities by 50 percent, the chief minister said a total of 1,536 atrocity victims have been given Rs.4.5 crore as monetary relief in 2014-15.

Encouraging inter-caste marriages among communities, he said the government has provided Rs.3.86 crore in cash incentives to 802 couples in 2014-15. 


Patnaik said 55 hostels for SC and ST students have been sanctioned in the tribal dominated districts.

 

The New Indian Express

More Hostels for SC Students

Last Updated: 06th June 2015 06:02 AM

 

BHUBANESWAR:  Even though the State Government is yet to implement the announcement made in 2010 for construction of 1000 hostels for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, a decision was taken on Friday to build 55 hostels for SC students.

 

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of Scheduled Caste Welfare Advisory Board presided by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the Secretariat here. The estimate for the earlier project to construct 1000 hostels was fixed at Rs 215 crore. Sources said many hostels are in various stages of completion.

 

Proposal to increase seats for SC students in ST hostels was discussed at the meeting. However, it was decided that instead of reducing the seats for ST students, total seats in the hostels should be increased to accommodate SC students. The Chief Minister asked the Department officials to submit a report to him in this regard as early as possible.

 

Later, addressing the Vigilance and Monitoring Committee meeting of the SC and ST Welfare Department, the Chief Minister said steps are being taken to establish three special courts each in Cuttack, Balangir and Balasore districts for trial of atrocity cases.

 

The Chief Minister said safety and security of students in residential schools are of prime importance for the Government. He said 3000 posts of matrons have been created for girls’ hostels and steps are being taken to fill up the posts at the earliest.

 

Victims of atrocities have been given compensation of Rs 4.15 crore during 2014-15, he said and added that 802 couples were provided incentive of Rs 3.86 crore during the year for inter-caste marriage. SC and ST Minister Lalbihari Himirika, Ministers of State Sudam Marandi and Hemangini Chhuria, Chief Secretary GC Pati and senior officials attended the meeting.

 

The Tribune

Protect couple facing ‘khap’ threat, SC tells Haryana

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/protect-couple-facing-khap-threat-sc-tells-haryana/89987.html

 

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 5

 

The Supreme Court today asked the Haryana government to protect a young couple allegedly facing threat from a ‘khap’ for inter-caste marriage.

 

A Vacation Bench comprising Justices Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy also issued notice to the state government seeking its response within four weeks to the contentions of the couple – Bharti(19) from Faridabad and Ashish from Ghaziabad (UP).

 

The couple’s counsel, S Dubey, pleaded with the Bench that his clients had gone into hiding following the threat to their life from the ‘khap.’ In their joint criminal writ petition, the couple did not identify the ‘khap.’

 

Doing her second-year graduation from a college in Faridabad, the girl married Ashish at an Arya Samaj temple here on May 11 against the wishes of her parents. Employed at the AIIMS here, Ashish said unidentified persons had tried to meet him at the hospital but he refused to meet them due to the threat.

 

A PIL against honour killings and the role of ‘khap’ panchayats is pending in the SC and the court has asked the Centre to consider enactment of a separate law or amendments to existing laws to deal with the problem.

 

Appearing in the case, ‘khaps’ of Haryana and UP have clarified that they were only against same-gotra marriages, not inter-caste weddings. The UPA II government had set up a group of ministers (GoM) to deal with the issue, but nothing came out it.

 

MWC News

 

Dalit Women and Village Justice in Rural India

http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/52072-dalit-women.html

dalit-women

 

Friday, 05 June 2015 13:14

 

The vast majority of India’s 1.3 billion people live in its 630,000 villages. They have seen little or no benefit from the country’s economic growth; over 80% do not have ‘approved sanitation’ according to UNICEF, and are forced to defecate in public; village health care, where it exists at all, is poor and inaccessible; education is basic, with large class sizes and schools lacking desks and chairs, let alone books.

 

The caste system dominates all areas of life, and, despite the fact that the Constitution of India prohibits discrimination based on caste, violent exploitation and prejudice are the norms. Add economic and gender divisions to this medieval Hindu social system, and a multi-layered structure of separation begins to surface. At the bottom of the social ladder are girls and women from the Dalit caste (previously known as the Untouchables), who are born into a life of exploitation, entrapment and potential abuse: “discrimination and violence systematically deny them opportunities, choices and freedoms in all spheres of life,” the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) report for the UN makes clear.

 

The police are negligent, discriminatory and corrupt, and village justice, as dispensed by the ‘Panchayat’, is archaic. The village council or Panchayat, “consists of five members…[that] sits as a court of law,” and adjudicates in cases which the Encyclopedia Britannica describes as ‘relating to ‘caste offenses.’ These ‘offenses’ are trivial one and all, and range from a Dalit woman taking water from a well reserved for higher caste families, breaching eating, drinking, or smoking restrictions, or, God forbid, having a relationship with a man from a neighbouring village. The punishments meted out by the Panchayat are extreme, often brutal, always unjust.

 

Victimised

The most common victims of village justice are Dalits (of which there are an estimated 167 million in India – 16% of the population): poorly educated, landless with few employment opportunities, they are dependent on the very people who mistreat them – men and women of the higher castes. It is a dependency based on vulnerability, allowing exploitation and abuse.

 

Dalit girls and women are victimized and violated in villages, towns and cities up and down the country: Dalit Freedom Network (DFN) records that they are murdered and burned alive, “raped, held captive in brothels and temple ceremonies, and forced to work as bonded laborers;” young girls are kidnapped and trafficked into prostitution or trapped into domestic servitude. All because they happen to have been born into a particular family, in a particular place.

 

http://mwcnews.net/plugins/content/pullquotes/quote5_25_start.pngComplacency and corruption are two of the major obstacles to the observation of universal human rights and the realization of democracy in India.

http://mwcnews.net/plugins/content/pullquotes/quote5_25_end.png

 

Kessi Bai has lived in Thuravad village in Rajasthan for 21 years. In November last year the 45 year-old mother of five was accused, with no evidence whatsoever, of murder, by a mob of villagers led by the village council and violently punished: stripped naked, her face was blackened with charcoal, her head shaved and she was repeatedly beaten with wooden sticks. Her husband and son were locked inside their home while she was paraded for six hours around neighbouring villages on a donkey.

The procession returned to Thuravad at around 8pm, she was thrown from the donkey and again beaten, before the police finally arrived. When I met this frail, desperately poor Dalit woman in December, she would not show her face, wept repeatedly and had not left her house since the distressing incident.

 

In a similar recent case in Utter Pradesh, the Daily Mail online reports “15 Other Backward Castes (OBC) villagers stripped five women of the Dalit community, paraded them naked, caned them and then put them on show on the highway because one of their daughters had allegedly eloped with a Dalit’s son.” 

 

And most shocking of this trinity of injustice: last January in the remote village of Subalpur in West Bengal, a 20 year-old Dalit woman who was “found in the company of a married man from another village,” was, The Guardian reported, “dragged out by her neighbours…tied to a tree then raped by up to 15 men as punishment for the illicit liaison.”

 

The woman, known only as ‘W’ has since been regarded as a ‘woman of bad character’ who “’spoiled the atmosphere of the village’ by going against local customs”; medieval customs of suppression and division enforced by the Panchayats, which are widespread in India’s villages, and support a deeply patriarchal society that has no place in any civilized country.

 

National Neglect

The Panchayat is elected by villagers and paid by the Indian Government: it is in effect the first level of local governance; all members are duty bound to maintain communal harmony and discharge their office, the official legislation says, in “a fair and judicious manner without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.” Which, as one would expect, all sounds democratically sound; however, as with many areas of Indian life, what is universally lacking is the implementation of such liberally acceptable legislation.

 

Complacency and corruption are two of the major obstacles to the observation of universal human rights and the realization of democracy in India. If the Indian government, under the leadership of the Hindu nationalist Naredra Modi, wishes to build a truly democratic state, it needs to enforce its legislation on caste, ensure village Panchayats operate within the law, and provide Dalit women with the justice and

 support that they so badly need.

 

News monitored by Girish Pant & AJEET

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