Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 04.11.15

‘No Slapping of NSA on Kovan’ – Indian Express


Wearing caste on the wrist — green for Dalits, red for Thevars – The Indian Express


Woman scholar levels sexual harassment charges against CSMCRI’s chief scientist – The Times Of India


Hisar to have liaisoning groups to fight atrocities on SC/STsThe Tribune


Fight between party activists transforms into caste abuse case – Daijiworld


Nainital film fest to screen ‘Caste on the Menu Card’ – The Times Of India


Rajasthan: Highest school dropout rates among Muslims, SCs/STs – The Hindustan Times


‘Kancha Ilaiah Could be Next Kalburgi’ – The New Indian Express


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Indian Express

 ‘No Slapping of NSA on Kovan’


By Siva Sekaran Published: 04th November 2015 04:01 AM Last Updated: 04th November 2015 04:01 AM

CHENNAI: There is no proposal to detain arrested folk-singer S Kovan under the National Security Act (NSA), the State government submitted in the Madras High Court on Tuesday.

The AG made the submission when a petition from Kovan’s son Charuvagan expressing apprehension that his father is likely to be detained under the NSA, came up for hearing before the single-member bench of Justice M M Sundresh.

The AG said that no further action will be taken towards the detention of Kovan till November 17.  The petition sought to forbear the Commissioner of Police and the Inspector of Police, Crime Branch (Cyber Wing) from detaining his father under the NSA.

The petitioner, also an advocate, contended that his father belongs to an organisation called Makkal Kalai Ilakiya Kazhagam, which holds the motto of ‘Art and Literature for the People’. Without commercialising his talent, he wrote and sang several songs on various social issues expressing the feelings of the people. The issues included caste oppression, untouchability and protest against non-entry of Dalits into the temples. In the course of ventilating the sufferings of the people, who were staging protests against the TASMAC liquor shops, , his father composed the song in question and had been singing it throughout the State on various occasions. They did not cause any aggression till date.

The Indian Express

 Wearing caste on the wrist — green for Dalits, red for Thevars


Last month, a 12-year-old Dalit boy in Jodhpur was beaten up by his teacher for allegedly taking a plate from a stack meant for upper castes. The Indian Express visits schools across the country where lessons in caste differences start early.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: November 4, 2015 7:52 am

Sivakani , a 15-year-old from Gopalasamudram, had to quit studies after the Dalit school in her village shut down and her parents couldn’t afford to send her elsewhere. (Express Photo by: Arun Janardhanan)

IN the schools of Tirunelveli, about 650 km south of Chennai, caste comes in shades of red, yellow, green and saffron. It’s what students wear on their wrists, on their foreheads, around their necks, under their shirts. It’s who they are.

At the Government Higher Secondary School in Tirunelveli town, a Class X student extends his hand to display his green-and-red kayaru, a wrist band of interwoven threads. “The upper castes have yellow-red bands, so we have these,” he said.

In this belt in southern Tamil Nadu known for violent caste conflicts between OBCs and Dalits, these wrist bands are markers that tell children who is a friend, who isn’t. Though there are no written rules, students usually know their ‘colours’ by the time they reach high school.

It’s red and yellow for Thevars, blue and yellow for Nadars, saffron for Yadavs — all socially and politically powerful Hindu communities that come under the Most Backward Classes (MBC) category — while students of the Dalit community of Pallars wear wrist bands in green and red and the Arundhathiyars, also Dalits, wear green, black and white.

 In August, while investigating the increasing number of clashes between student groups, the district administration found that wrist bands were often used to target on the basis of caste. The district collector then asked the education department to ban wrist bands in schools in Tirunelveli. There was no written order, only a direction issued at a meeting of the education department. A headmaster, who was present at the meeting, said, “It was a verbal direction but a strong one,” he said.

Chief Educational Officer of Tirunelveli R Swaminathan confirmed that they had issued such a warning. “We have already directed all schools to ban such bands following reports of caste clashes based on colour. Not just wrist bands, any colour that they use to identify their caste is banned,” he said.

But it’s easier said than done. These kaiyarus can be confused for sacred threads handed out in temples and it’s hard to impose any such ban. Besides, there are more ways to talk caste.

A Dalit student of a school in Tirunelveli town said the pottu (bindi or tilak) worn by students were also colour-coded. “If you wear a pottu with yellow sandalwood paste, with a dash of vermilion on it, I know you are a Thevar,” he said. The other dominant castes, like the Nadars, have their own colour-coded tilaks; Dalits, he said, usually don’t wear them.

The 13-year-old likes yellow — “it’s my favourite colour” — but he can’t wear it because he will be “questioned” by the Thevars. “We get a yellow kayaru from temples, but I can’t wear that on my wrist. If I did, they would taunt me and call it a ‘rowdy band’,” said the Class X student.

He says he can’t risk the wrath of the upper-caste students because he is new to this school. This year, he moved to Tirunelveli town from the Dalits-only school in Gopalasamudram village. The school in his village was once part of the Pannai Venkatramaiyer High School, but in November 2013, after a caste tension in the village, a separate branch was set up for Dalits and he was among the 140 students who moved there. But in June this year, the district administration refused to renew permission for the Dalits-only school, forcing most of the students to drop out. One of the students, 15-year-old Sivakani, was forced to quit studies as her parents couldn’t afford to send her to a school outside the village.

C Lakshmanan, an assistant professor of the Madras Institute of Development Studies and a leading researcher of Dalit issues, said such practices in Tamil Nadu could be attributed to the lack of political representation for Dalits. While the Scheduled Castes make up 20 per cent of the population in the state, they have poor political representation.

“These practices emerged in the 1990s. When we were working to implement the Panchayati Raj Act in the state, we came across a series of instances of Dalits being barred from local body elections. Around the same time, political movements representing OBCs also began to take shape, giving these OBC communities better social clout. So while these dominant communities used markers such as wrist bands to single out and subjugate Dalits, for the Dalits, these were ways of asserting themselves,” he said.

A headmaster at a school near Tirunelveli town said there were other markers. “Like you have different houses — green house, yellow house, etc — in city schools, children here wear coloured vests. We cannot ban everything, definitely not what children wear under their uniform. These vests come in handy during a game of basketball to draw up teams based on caste lines, but they are as effective to settle scores,” said

The headmaster said anything, even a song, can trigger caste tension among students. Recalling one such instance, he said, “Recently, a Dalit student on a bus played a song on his cellphone hailing Ambedkar. A Thevar student responded by playing a song in praise of his caste from the Kamal Hasan movie, Thevar Magan. This led to a clash between students representing both communities,” he said.

Students also wear lockets with photographs of leaders representing their castes. K Kamaraj lockets are popular among Nadar students; the Thevars wear lockets with photographs of U Muthuramalingam Thevar, a veteran political leader for Thevars; the Yadavs have claimed Veeran Alagumuthu Kone, one of the first freedom fighters, as their own; while in Coimbatore and Namakkal regions of the state, Gounder students wear lockets of Dheeran Chinnamalai, one of the commanders in the Polygar Wars of 1801-1802.

People here say such caste markers were unheard of until two decades ago. “These practices coincided with the rise of several caste-based political parties (such as the Samathuva Makkal Katchi of Nadars and the All India Moovendar Munnani Kazhagam of Thevars) and movements. While such practices are particularly visible in Tirunelveli, you will find them across the state,” said M Bharathan of the Human Rights Council based in Tirunelveli.

“Wrist bands and coloured vests are just what you see. There’s much more to this conflict,” said Lakshmanan. Tirunelveli district collector M Karunakaran said he ordered the ban on coloured wrist bands and other things used to identify caste following a police report on the increasing number of caste-based clashes in schools. “We banned all sorts of things, including wrist bands, after a police report studied the pattern of violence in schools and colleges. The police sought help from the district administration. Not only schools, college officials too were called for a meeting where we asked them to ban such things,” he said.

The Times Of India

 Woman scholar levels sexual harassment charges against CSMCRI’s chief scientist


Vijaysinh Parmar,TNN | Nov 3, 2015, 07.28 PM IST

RAJKOT: A woman research scholar working for Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI) in Bhavnagar has lodged a complaint of sexual harassment against its chief scientist Bhavnath Jha. The premier institute works under the aegis of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi.

The complainant is a 27-year-old tribal woman who lodged an FIR with the Bhavnagar police against Jha. The FIR has been lodged under various sections of Indian Penal Code 354 (a) (Physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, or a demand or request for sexual favours among others), 509 (Gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and sections of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

In her complaint, the woman, a project assistant at CSMCRI, alleged that, during October 2013 and April 2014, Bhavnath Jha, used to call her in his chamber at the institute and physically abused her with intent to assault her sexually and allegedly touched her body. Prof. Bhavnath Jha, head of the discipline of Marine Biotechnology and Ecology at CSMCRI, is one of the most senior most scientists of the institute.

Sources said that woman was working under Jha but after facing sexual harassment, changed departments at the CSMCRI.

In 2014, five women employees at CSMCRI accused chief scientist professor Bhavanath Jha of sexual harassment. The women include a PhD student, some project assistants and a research scholar working under Jha. The five women scholars had registered their complaints with CSMCRI’s anti-harassment Cell on April 25, 2014 but the victims alleged that they were irritated with the slow probe into the case. However, the fresh complaint prompted Jha’s removal from his position as the departmental head of the marine, biotechnology and ecology department.

“We have lodged a complaint against Bhavnath Jha and are gathering evidence against him and have launched a probe. We have learnt that a departmental inquiry was underway against the accused, but we are yet to get other related details,” said I G Sheikh, deputy superintendent of police, Bhavnagar. Sheikh is investigating the case.

“In November 2014, a committee was formed to look into our complaints but nothing came of it,” said close aide of victim.

The Tribune

 Hisar to have liaisoning groups to fight atrocities on SC/STs


 Deepender Deswal  Tribune News Service  Hisar, November 3

Hisar range IGP Anil Kumar Rao has appointed nodal officers to head the community liaisoning groups (CLGs) being constituted in five districts of the range to fight growing atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The IGP said today that the police were in the process of setting up CLGs under each police station in Hisar, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Jind and Bhiwani districts. “The CLGs will have representatives from the SC&ST communities and villages. The groups will work in coordination with the nodal officers,” he said.

Rao said the nodal officer would hold meetings with members of various communities if violence occurred anywhere and would sort out the disputes and differences with the help of the CLGs.

He said action would be taken against those who found guilty of committing crime against members of the weaker sections of society under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

DSP Jaipal Singh has been appointed nodal officer for Hisar and DSP Prithvi Singh for Bhiwani, DSP Vijay Singh for Fatehabad, DSP Ravinder Kumar for Sirsa and DSP Adarsh Deep for Jind, he said.


 Fight between party activists transforms into caste abuse case


 Daijiworld Media Network – Beltangady (SP)

 Beltangady, Nov 3: After verbal altercation occurred between activists of different parties, a complaint of caste abuse was filed in the police station here on Monday November 2. A counter complaint was also filed from the opposite party.

Kusumavati (25) from Macharu House in Ujire village, who is an office bearer of the communist party’s Dalit wing, was involved with campaigning for the convention being organized by Dalit Rights Action Committee. During her door-to-door visit for this purpose, she also visited the shop run by a person named Krishna at Kanyadi, it is said.

It is gathered that Krishna took objection to the failure of the communist party either to take a stand in favour of murdered Prashant Poojary from Moodbidri, or extending financial support to his family. Reportedly, Kusumavati commented that communist party was far better than BJP, which she said, was a party of cheaters.

The verbal friction is said to have turned into caste abuse later, after which the lady was forced to leave the shop. Reportedly, two persons, identified as Ramachandra and Sridhar, intervened. On the basis of a complaint filed by Kusumavati in the police station here, case pertaining to rape attempt, posting of threat, and under different provisions of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was registered.

Sundar (24) from Mattila House in Kanyadi has complained that activists of communist party had forcefully entered his home and brought pressure on the family members to attend the meeting of Dalits being convened by them. He said that Ramachandra from Pangala House in Dharmasthala, and Sridhar from Arali House in Ujire, both of whom belong to communist party, entered his home, posed threats to him, and abused the caste to which he belongs.

The Times Of India

 Nainital film fest to screen ‘Caste on the Menu Card’


Vineet Upadhyay,TNN | Nov 3, 2015, 09.50 PM IST

NAINITAL: A day after historian Shekhar Pathak declared he was returning his Padma Shri over growing intolerance to freedom of expression, the fourth edition of Nainital Film Festival was again abuzz with excitement on Tuesday following an announcement that ‘Caste on the Menu Card’, a 21-minute controversial documentary would be screened on Wednesday. 

The documentary was banned from screening in Delhi for its “communal” and “provocative” content amid concerns that it would spark unrest. In fact, the ministry of information and broadcasting refused clearance for its screening at an ongoing film festival. 

But in Nainital, Sanjay Joshi, one of the organizers, said, “This festival is dedicated to the cinema of resistance and this film will be screen despite all odds to signify that message.” 

The ‘Caste on the Menu Card’, was a joint effort of five students from the School of Media and Cultural Studies of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. 

Speaking to TOI, Atul Anand (23), director of the documentary, a postgraduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences said, “It was our project depicting how food habits are related with normal daily life including business and other day-to-day activities.” 

According to the synopsis, available on http://www.jeevika.org, “The film delves into the idea of food as a site of exclusion by focusing on beef-eating practices in Mumbai. It attempts to portray the prevalence of caste differentiation as seen in the food choices of people in the city, and touches upon concerns related to livelihood, social inclusion and human rights.” 

It was the only documentary among 35 others that failed to get an exemption from certification (given to documentary films) for screening at the 12th Jeevika Asia Livelihood Documentary Festival, organized by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), New Delhi. 

The film makers then decided to go ahead with independent screenings, the first of which was scheduled to be held at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University. It was screened on JNU campus on November 2 by a students’ group despite the varsity administration taking a surprising U-turn and revoking permission which was granted earlier. 

On Tuesday, the Charlie Chaplin starrer ‘The Great Dictator’ was screened besides other films. 

The Hindustan Times

 Rajasthan: Highest school dropout rates among Muslims, SCs/STs


 Vaibhav Jha, Hindustan Times, Jaipur

Updated: Nov 02, 2015 13:46 IST

Children of scheduled caste/scheduled tribes and Muslim communities in Rajasthan are the worst affected in cases of school dropouts, a report of a joint survey by district information system for education (DISE) and independent bodies has revealed.

The survey report was presented by educationalist Ganesh Nigam at the two-day national consultation on right to education (RTE) organised jointly by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)and Ajit foundation on Saturday.

According to the report, the annual average dropout rate at primary level for the state was at 8.39% in 2013-14 and 18.50% for the Muslim community.

Similarly, the dropout rate was higher in SC and ST communities with 9.57% and 10.04% respectively.

In the upper primary level, Muslim dropouts form the highest average with 20.59% as compared to the state average of 6.03%. SC and ST communities mark steep averages of 7.51% and 7% respectively. Muslim students have the lowest transition rate (from primary to upper primary level of education) with 70.46% as compared to the state average of 88.23%. SC/ST kids have lower transition rates of 87.70% and 81.60% respectively.

“Children of SC/ST and Muslim communities have the lowest attendance in schools. Unless education is inclusive to all communities, the RTE act is nothing but a failure,” said Nigam.

“Government schools provide free education. But disdain by teachers and an inactive administration force parents to pull out their kids from schools. Economic disparity is the biggest reason behind this trend,” said Sayyed Masood Akhtar, state president, Rajasthan Madarsa Education Helpers’ Association (RMEHA).

“Access to public schools is anyway very limited to this community due to poverty but the dropouts can join madarsas,” said Saeed Ahmed, additional director, Madarsa Board.

Dalit activists, however, believe that social disparity is the reason behind the increasing dropouts among the SC/ST and Muslim sections. “Teachers have a negative mindset against the deprived sections and discourage children at the initial level. Children of Valmiki community have stopped going to school as they were asked to be manual scavengers there,” said PL Minroth, chief functionary, center for Dalit rights.

The report adds that Muslim girls constitute 22.90 % of annual average dropout rate at the upper primary level as compared to that of boys at 18.77%, citing lack of safety assurances from the government and societal bodies as the reason for this trend.

“Numerous reasons including patriarchy, lack of safety and poverty are responsible for this trend. Parents are not usually willing to send their daughters to distant schools. If more female staff are included in government schools, then we can certainly improve this figure,” said Ameen Kayamkhani, patron, RMEHA.

The New Indian Express

 ‘Kancha Ilaiah Could be Next Kalburgi’


By Express News Service  Published: 04th November 2015 03:51 AM  Last Updated: 04th November 2015 03:52 AM

HYDERABAD: After the alleged murder of Karnataka scholar M M Kalburgi and violent attacks against radical writers in various parts of the country, the well-wishers of noted scholar and author, Kancha Ialaiah suspect threat to him from the communal forces. 


Speaking at the launch of Ilaiah’s new book on Tuesday, ‘Feudalism Mallochindi (Feudalism has returned)’ here on Tuesday, CPM Telangana state secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram said, the rising intolerance across the country is the sign of growing influence of communal politics in the country. Referring to recent attacks against rationalists, he said, “Kancha Ilaiah could be the next Kalburgi. He is one of the very few who are questioning the feudal politicians and communal politics, with his fearless attitude. We all should protect him.”

Social activist Vimalakka also expressed similar opinion. Speaking at the event, she said “Many people want to shut him. The communal forces will not hesitate to pose harm to him. We all must stand by him.”

Telangana Congress Committee working president Bhatti Vikramarka and Telangana Telugu Desam chief L Ramana both attended the book release function at Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram and urged him to continue his fight against feudal politics.

Vikramarka said “We must support intellectuals like Ilaiah and others who are fighting against the feudal system.” Ramana felt that state politics still continue be dominated by the upper caste and the poor have the least representation in any field. He appealed to the educated youth to take Ilaiah as an inspiration and follow his footsteps.

Ilaiah’s new book is the compilation of his articles published in a Telugu daily. In these articles, he criticised the Telangana government for its blind follow of religion.

The book was released by a girl student from the school that Ilaiah runs in his village in Warangal district. Speaking on the occasion, Ilaiah said, “TRS is the Shiva Sena party of Telangana. All political parties should work together to defeat it in the Warangal byelections.”

The New Indian Express

 HC Notice to DG, IGP on Section in Act Pitting Police Against Eunuchs


By Express News Service Published: 03rd November 2015 04:47 AM Last Updated: 03rd November 2015 04:47 AM

BENGALURU: The Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum approached the High Court on Monday seeking directions that Section 36-A of the Karnataka Police Act be declared  unconstitutional.

The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna issued a notice to the Home Department and DG and IGP and asked the government to come up with a proposal to amend the provision so that it is not pitted against a section of society.

The counsel of the petitioner argued that the Sub Section (c) of Section 36-A of the Karnataka Police Act gives arbitrary powers to the Police Commissioner to prohibit by an order any eunuch from doing any activity as may be stated in the order.

It is left to the whims and fancies of the Commissioner to determine what an undesirable activity was, as no policy directive is provided to guide them, he said. The Commissioner of Police has unfettered and unqualified discretion to regulate what a eunuch, once registered, can or cannot do, he argued. 

He further argued that the wording in the section straightaway declares eunuchs to be offenders, which is in violation of the constitutional right of equality granted to the third gender.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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