Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 25.11.15

Dalit smeared with cow dung – Deccan Herald


Dalits allege discrimination – The Hindu


Dalit group demands transfer of IG – The Hindu


SP vows to intensify demand for grant of Dalit status to 17 MBCs – The Hindu


Caste pride, purity of women and honour killings – The Hindu


Fadnavis seeks Bharat Ratna for Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule  – Live Mint


The long shadow of casteism on Dravidian soil – The Hindu


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Deccan Herald

 Dalit smeared with cow dung


Chandigarh, Nov 24, 2015, DHNS:

Members of the upper-caste Jat community smeared cow dung on the face of a Dalit family residing in Mujadpur village in Haryana’s Hisar district on Sunday.

Cow dung was forcibly stuffed inside the mouth of the head of the Dalit family, Ramdhari, who along with his daughter were also beaten in the melee. Tension gripped the village following the incident.

The provocation was over a statue of Bhim Rao Ambedkar that the Dalit family had installed at their house. The village is Jat dominated and at least seven villages adjoining Mujadpur have Jats in majority, Ashok Kumar, elder son of the victim said.

The Hindu

 Dalits allege discrimination



 The issue started when they demanded equal right of worship during the temple festival around four months back

Around 12 Dalit families from Kenjampatti village near T. Kallupatti here have alleged discrimination by caste Hindus in the village. Members from some of the Dalit families, who came to submit a petition at the Collectorate here on Monday, alleged that the issue started when they demanded equal right of worship during a temple festival in the village around four months back.

Though the festival was stopped by the police and revenue officials as the issue could not be resolved amicably between the two communities and a case filed by the Dalits regarding the festival is pending at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, the Dalits alleged that they were now being discriminated.

“We cannot buy groceries from the shops run by caste Hindus. Public pathways used by us are also frequently blocked,” said K. Boomiraj, a Dalit from the village.

He added that though police officials visited the village and reprimanded the caste Hindus for practising discrimination, the situation had not improved. Police, however, said that though there were 12 Dalit families belonging to a particular sub-caste in the village, only two families were residing permanently while the rest worked in Kerala as daily wagers. A police official claimed that though these Dalit families had always worshipped at the temple, the issue started when the two families demanded that they be allowed to worship separately. “It is true that the caste Hindus are angry as the festival was stopped and therefore some of the shops run by caste Hindus are refusing to do business with them,” the official said.

Collector L. Subramanian said that the allegation was brought to his notice recently and he had ordered that the Dalits should be ensured of all basic amenities. “There is no discrimination as such. However, I have ordered further inquiries, ” he said.

Members of the Dalit families alleged that the issue started when they demanded equal right of worship during a temple festival

The Hindu

 Dalit group demands transfer of IG



DSS State convener Arjun Bhadre talking to presspersons in Kalaburagi on Tuesday.— Photo: Arun Kulkarni

The Karnataka State Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Krantikari) has demanded the transfer of Inspector-General of Police (north eastern) Sunil Agrawal for his alleged failure to bring down the increasing incidents of atrocities on Dalits in Kalaburagi and Yadgir districts.

State convener of the samiti, Arjun Bhadre, and secretary Malleshi Sajjan, told presspersons here on Tuesday that the samiti would take out a protest march from Jagat Circle to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Chowk in Kalaburagi city on November 27 and submit a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and Home Minister G. Parameshwara demanding immediate transfer of Mr. Agrawal

Accusing Mr. Agrawal of indifferent attitude towards the Dalits, Mr. Bhadre said that despite repeated attempts to meet the IG to bring to his knowledge the increasing incidents of atrocities on Dalits, the officer refused to talk with the samiti members. Mr. Bhadre urged the State government to appoint an efficient officer to address the problems faced by Dalits.

The Hindu

 SP vows to intensify demand for grant of Dalit status to 17 MBCs



With the mood setting in for the crucial 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the ruling Samajwadi Party has vowed to intensify its long-held demand of granting Dalit status to 17 Most Backward Castes.

SP supremo Mulayam Singh on Tuesday minced no words in suggesting that his party’s demand of inclusion of 17 MBCs into the Scheduled Caste category would be revived in the coming months and blamed the Narendra Modi government, the previous UPA governments and the Bahujan Samaj Party regime of thwarting his party’s proposal.

The 17 MBCs are Mallah, Kashyap, Kumhar, Dheemar, Bind, Prajapati, Dheevar, Bhar, Kewat, Batham, Kahar, Machhua Rajbhar, Nishad, Turha, Manjhi and Gaur.

Addressing a convention of these MBCs at the party headquarters here, Mr. Singh said successive Central governments and the BSP-led State government had derailed the SP’s attempts at ensuring Dalit status to these castes. Hitting out at BSP chief Mayawati, he said she calls herself a “Dalit ki beti” but always works in the interest of the “upper castes” and rich.

“The BSP government revoked all the jobs people got due to our initiative…the (UPA) Centre favoured her and rejected our proposal. Your real development is only possible through the SC status,” Mr. Singh said. He also said he would consult Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and pass a fresh resolution.

Contentious issue

Inclusion of these 17 castes into the SC list has been a contentious issue since 2005, when Mr. Singh first initiated the move. Comparing the power relationship of the Centre and State government to that of a “collector” and a “patwari” (village accountant), the senior Yadav said the final say was with Delhi. He reminded the gathering of the strength of a collective backward community. “The 54 percent are being ruled by 7-8 percent population…” he said.

The SP chief’s MBC convention drew sharp criticism from the opposition. The Congress said the SP was misleading these castes in the name of reservation.

The Hindu

 Caste pride, purity of women and honour killings



 Tamil Nadu is notorious for many deaths going unreported as passed off as suicides

While up north, khap panchayats (kangaroo courts) held by dominant communities brazenly rule against inter-caste love marriages, in Tamil Nadu many cases of honour killings go unreported as the deaths are often passed off as suicides. The recent death of a 17-year-old caste Hindu girl, whose parents opposed her love affair with a Scheduled Caste youth in Ramanathapuram district indicates the serious proportions assumed by this under-reported social reality.

caste pride the hindu

In many parts of Tamil Nadu, inter-caste marriages, especially those involving a Dalit bride or groom, invariably spark trouble with members of the dominant Hindu community vetoing it. Activists blame political parties that seek to mobilise votes on the plank of casteism for perpetuating this social ill.

“The death of the Dalit youth Ilavarasan of Dharmapuri district, who married Divya, a Vanniyar girl, has emboldened castiest elements. Caste outfits masquerading as political parties are ready to go to any extent to break inter-caste marriages as they fear it will spell a death knell for casteism,” charges P. Sampath, president of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF.)

Mr. Sampath claimed that in the last three years the State had witnessed 98 honour killings, but most of these cases were “covered up” as suicides.

“Even if inter-caste marriages had the blessings of parents of the bride and groom, humiliations, social boycott and ostracisation force them either to break the marriage or encourage them to eliminate the newly married in the name of honour killing,” he contends.

Feudal concept

Caste pride and treating women as men’s possession are the prime factors behind honour killings, say some activists. Often, these killings are committed because women are considered as preserver of the purity of progeny, a feudal concept. A ‘polluted’ progeny is unthinkable.

“Intermediate communities cannot stomach the idea of transferring their genes to other communities through their women. That is why they resort to violence when their women fall in love with Dalit men, but would not mind their men marrying a Dalit woman,” says Tamil writer Imayam.

Mr. Imayam’s acclaimed novella Pethavan captured how a father facing the threat of social boycott commits suicide after allowing his daughter to elope with her Dalit boy friend.

While Imayam feels that the Tamil society with very little tolerance was unlikely to change for better, Mr. Sampath was confident that enacting a separate law to deal with honour killing would end the social evil. “Existing laws including the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, have miserably failed in checkmating honour killings,” he points out.

Live Mint

 Fadnavis seeks Bharat Ratna for Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule


Political analysts say the move is part of the BJP’s strategy to expand its social footprint in Maharashtra

 Abhiram Ghadyalpatil

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s recommendation to the centre that the Bharat Ratna, the country’s top civilian award, be conferred posthumously on Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule is seen as a part of the BJP’s efforts to strengthen and expand its popular base.

The Phules are revered as icons by a large population including those belonging to the other backward classes (OBCs) and their lifelong work for social reforms is an inspiration for a spectrum of progressive, social and political movements.

Fadnavis tweeted on Monday to the effect that his government supported Bharat Ratna for the Phules and would pursue this with the centre. “My government has recommended Bharat Ratna for Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule for their phenomenal contribution,” he said.

Fadnavis is only the second Brahmin CM of Maharashtra (Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi was the first). The political leadership has historically come from the powerful Maratha caste.

Political and social observers say the move is part of the BJP’s thoughtful strategy to expand its social footprint in Maharashtra. The Phules are useful names to counter the nationwide negative sentiment against the BJP, said Deepak Pawar, a professor at the faculty of political science, Mumbai University. “Unlike the Congress, the BJP is very homogenous and thinks in a very synchronized way. That is why the decision to recommend Bharat Ratna for the Phules looks to be a very serious step,” Pawar said.

The upper castes and the OBCs are two of the largest constituents of voters who have supported the BJP over the years. A Lokniti-CSDS post-poll analysis of the 2014 assembly election in Maharashtra claimed that the BJP was voted in by 52% of the upper-caste voters and 38% of the OBC voters. According to this anaylsis, the NCP was a distant second choice for 20% of the OBCs followed by Shiv Sena (18%) and the Congress (13%).

While the upper castes have long supported the BJP, the party has gained significant support among OBCs across the country after 1990. In Maharashtra, the late Gopinath Munde was the BJP’s OBC face and a mass leader; he was also the party’s popular choice for the chief minister’s post. However, Munde’s death in June 2014 left the party with a big void to fill.

There are varying estimates about the exact OBC population in the country but most estimates peg the figure at at least 40% of the overall population of more than 1.2 billion.

Jyotiba Phule (1827-90) is credited with raising the social and political consciousness of the lower castes and carrying out a number of pioneering social and religious reforms.

His wife Savitribai is considered a pioneer in pushing the cause of women’s education.

The Phules’ criticism of the Hindu caste system and exploitation of the lower castes has made them an inspiration for the political moblization of the socially downtrodden.

Political obsevers say it is difficult to miss the political symbolism in the recommendation of Bharat Ratna for the Phules. “Here is a Brahmin CM recommending Bharat Ratna for backward class icons,” Pawar said.

A Maharashtra BJP leader, who did not wish to be named because of his closeness to Fadnavis, claimed that the chief minister is struggling to find his space against the powerful Maratha lobby not only in the opposition Congress-NCP but also within the BJP.

“The Marathas in the BJP resent a Brahmin chief minister and Fadnavis is deeply conscious of this fact. While his appeal has always cut across castes—the constituency he is elected from in Nagpur has upper castes, OBCs and Marathas in equal measure—Fadnavis knows his politics must also look inclusive,” he added.

Pawar pointed out that the Maratha clique within the BJP was against Fadnavis’s decision to confer the Maharashtra Bhushan, the state’s top award, on Babasaheb Purandare, the author who popularized Shivaji’s exploits through his folk and theatrical narratives.

Purandare, a Brahmin, is reviled by some Maratha as well as progressive organizations, who claim that he has lionised Shivaji as an anti-Muslim Hindu king and glorified the role of Brahmins in the Shivaji story.

The Hindu

 The long shadow of casteism on Dravidian soil



Despite being under the influence of a of strong social reform movement for many decades, Tamil Nadu continues to grapple with casteism. While detractors point an accusing finger at the Dravidian movement, which they believe ought to have more forcefully pursued its anti-caste objectives, there is a counter-argument that not all the blame can be laid at its doorstep.

“When all political parties, including the Communists, objected to the arrest of Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar in connection with the murder of Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran, it was Periyar who supported the government’s action. He even organised a public meeting in Madurai during which stones were hurled at him,” points out veteran writer and activist S.V. Rajadurai.

He also cites the prevalence of atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra, the home state of B. R. Ambedkar. “Can you conclude that Ambedkar is irrelevant just because of this?” he asks.

Mr. Rajadurai, however, agreed that both the DMK and the AIADMK, the political offshoots of the Dravidar Kazhagam founded by Periyar, articulated the interests of intermediate communities.

“They are anti-Dalit. Even though M G Ramachandran (MGR), the founder of the AIADMK, propagated a pro-poor and pro-Dalit ideology in his films, his eagerness to cultivate the intermediate communities was proved when he fielded Maya Thevar in the Dindigul by-election, the first election faced by his party,” Mr. Rajadurai charges.


Writer Imayam, a staunch supporter of the DMK, also complained that both the DMK and the AIADMK had followed only tokenism when it came to accommodating Dalits in party posts and ministerial berths. “They are actually parties of the castes that occupy the rungs immediately after Brahmins in the social ladder,” he says.

The emergence of Dalit outfits like Puthiya Tamizhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi and subsequent Dalit assertion have triggered violence in the past.

“Devendrakula Vellalas, a land-holding Dalit sect, stands up to the oppression and never hesitates to retaliate in the face of violence. The younger generation of other Dalit sects is also no longer ready to observe what the intermediate communities expected of them. Left with no option, caste Hindus resort to violence,” contends Mr Rajadurai.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET

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