Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 30.11.15

End to Devadasi system: SC slaps fine on govt for no reply – The Hindu


Maharashtra temple ‘purifies’ idol after woman offers puja – The Hindu


Dalit convention flays Vij’s behaviourThe Tribune


Khap intervenes to resolve land dispute – The Tribune


Church Turns Salvation Army for Persecuted Dalit Christians in India – The Sunday Standard


Schools of dishonor – The Hindu


Modi govt ‘promoting Brahmanism’ in the name of ‘Hindu Rashtravad’: Arundhati Roy – Zee News


Tales from two frames – The Hindu


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The Hindu

 End to Devadasi system: SC slaps fine on govt for no reply



The Supreme Court has slapped a fine of Rs. 25,000 on the Centre for failing to file on time an affidavit on women being forced to become ‘devadasis’ and the possibility of abolition of the age-old tradition.

A Bench of justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit said that since the government has not filed its response despite the last opportunity given by the court on September 11, it needed to pay a fine of Rs 25,000.

However, it asked the authorities concerned to file an affidavit within four weeks.

In September, the Centre had agreed to file a composite affidavit with regard to the system of women being allegedly forced to become devadasis. A ‘devadasi’ is a woman dedicated to worship and service of a deity or a temple all her life.

The court had then said that no further time will be granted in the matter. It has now fixed the matter for hearing on January 8.

The court had sought Centre’s response on PIL filed last year by NGO S L Foundation, which sought direction to central and Karnataka governments to take urgent steps for restraining the ‘devadasis’ dedication that was going to be held on the midnight of February 13, 2014 at Uttangi Mala Durga Temple in the state’s Devanagar district as it was against the provision of the Constitution. The Supreme Court was told that the activity was also against the Karnataka Devadasis Prohibition of Dedication Act, 1982, and conflicts with the rights of juveniles.

The court had also then directed Karnataka’s Chief Secretary to take all preventive measures in respect of a programme, wherein Dalit girl children were to be dedicated as ‘devadasis’

The Bench had also sought Karnataka government’s reply and asked it to file a response on the PIL seeking framing of guidelines to stop the tradition of ‘devadasis’, saying it is a national shame.

The NGO has alleged that the process of ‘devadasi’ dedication was still prevalent in different parts of the country despite the law against it and pleaded for the apex court’s intervention in the matter.

The NGO has sought direction to the central government to frame a law and guidelines to prohibit the practice of this system in any part of the country.

The Hindu

 Maharashtra temple ‘purifies’ idol after woman offers puja



 Seven workers suspended for “negligence”.

A Lord Shani temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra performed a ‘purification puja’ on Sunday after a young woman offered worship to the idol placed on a platform from where women are traditionally barred.

Authorities at the Shani Shingnapur temple also suspended seven workers for “negligence” while one trustee resigned taking moral responsibility.


The incident took place on Saturday afternoon when the woman, whose identity is unknown, caught security personnel unawares and climbed the platform to perform puja. According to the temple authorities, it all happened within 30 seconds. A few devotees confronted her after the incident but eventually let her go.

“Women have been barred from climbing the platform for hundreds of years. This act was against the rituals that have been going on for years,” said Sayaram Bankar, a temple trustee, justifying the purification ceremony.

Priests bathed the idol with oil and milk, while all shops in the vicinity remained closed till the ceremony was over.

Mr. Bankar said the woman was let off unharmed. “We do not know who she is. She was confronted and let go. She was not attacked or abused,” he said. Mr. Bankar will resign on Monday, bowing to demands from the Ahmadnagar gramsabha.

Practice prevalent in Maharashtra

The Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra attracts thousands of devotees daily. Worshippers of the famous Sai Baba temple in Shirdi make it a point to visit the Shani Shingnapur temple, also.

The practice of barring women from the inner sanctum of religious places is prevalent in some of Maharashtra’s most revered shrines, among them the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. The dargah’s trust has cited menstruation as one of the reasons for not allowing women into the ‘mazaar.’

In response to a public interest litigation petition filed by activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the trust said many religions impose restrictions on women owing to menstruation, perceived as “unclean or embarrassing.” “A woman can at any time have menstrual periods,” the trust said in its affidavit earlier this year.

Many organisations have condemned the Shani Shingnapur temple’s action. “Purifying the temple is an act that has to be condemned. It’s a discrimination against women. At a time when young men and women are coming together with progressive ideas, such actions only take society backwards,” said Ranjana Gavande of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti.

The Tribune

 Dalit convention flays Vij’s behaviour


 Hisar, November 29

A Dalit rights convention today condemned Anil Vij’s behaviour with Fatehabad SP Sangeeta Kalia.

The convention was presided over by a former MP of the CPM from West Bengal, Dr Ram Chandra Dom, who is a national executive member of the Dalit Soshan Mukti Manch.

Adopting a resolution condemning the minister, the convention stated the Vij was trying to shield his uncalled-for behaviour on the pretext of the complaint of sale of illicit liquor in the region.

Inderjit Singh, central committee member of the CPM, said the convention decided to set up a state-level forum Dalit Adhikar Manch to fight caste-based discrimination, oppression and exploitation and for social justice in Haryana. It was decided that the manch would take up the issues of atrocities against Dalits.

Dr Dom said the condition of SC/ST and Backward classes had not changed for the better even 68 years after Independence. Through a resolution, the convention demanded the setting up an SC/ST Commission, recruitment of SCs in jobs to fill the backlog, allocation of panchayat Land to SCs as per their quota, enactment of comprehensive social security legislation for agriculture workers, besides enriching and strengthening MNREGA. — TNS

The Tribune

 Khap intervenes to resolve land dispute


Both groups had lodged complaints

 Two families — a Dalit and an upper caste family — had a dispute over a piece of shamlat land and both wanted to use the land to store heap of cow dung cakes. This led to a clash between the women folk of the two families after which both groups lodged police complaints against each other. The police had registered cases against both the groups and were investigating the issueDeepender Deswal

Tribune News Service Hisar, November 29

The khap panchayat mediated between a Dalit and an upper caste families in Mujadpur village here today. They got engaged in police cases after a clash over a piece of shamlat land in the village.

The Satbas khap panchayat presided over by Dhara Singh today called both groups for a meeting and listened to their complaints.

The family members of Dalit victim Ramdhari and those of upper caste youth Manoj attended the meeting.

Both families, however, defended them while expressing their readiness for resolving the dispute amicably at the instance of the panchayat. Ramdhari objected to the registration of the FIR by the upper caste family, who accused seven members of his family of assaulting their woman.

The panchayat, however, asked Ramdhari to suggest five names to set up a committee to discuss the issue but the upper caste family objected to some names.

However, Ramdhari’s son Ashok Kumar in a statement later in the evening stated that the panchayat remained inconclusive. “Some persons tried to pressurise us but we have made it clear that we will not budge under any kind of pressure,” he added.

Ashok alleged that the accused youth had barged into his house on November 21 and thrashed his father Ramdhari with a stick and also tried to put cow dung in his mouth.

The police, however, said the two families had a dispute over a piece of shamlat land and both wanted to use the land to store heap of cow dung cakes. This led to a clash between the women folk of the two families after which both groups lodged police complaints against each other. The police had registered cases against both the groups and were investigating the issue.

The Sunday Standard

 Church Turns Salvation Army for Persecuted Dalit Christians in India


By Cithara Paul

Published: 29th Nov 2015 05:24:33 AM

NEW DELHI: The CBCI has decided that every parish in the country will observe December 13 as Dalit Rights Day where the subject would be discussed from various perspectives. “Though the Church does not believe in caste supremacy, it is a sad reality that the Indian Church is not free from its clutches. We want the believers to be more aware and sensitive towards the subject,’’ said a priest at CBCI, which has a special wing for Dalits and lower classes.

All aspects of Dalit life, including the roles played by B R Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, will be discussed. The issue of Dalit Christian reservation will also be discussed, and the church will renew its struggle for getting reservation for Dalit Christians.

According to the priest, the Indian Church has drawn its inspiration from Pope Francis, who inspires the believers to empower the downtrodden. He said that liberation of Dalits had always been a theme close to the Indian Church, “but this kind of national observation across all parishes in India is new”.

In the last one year, there have been instances of ‘ghar wapsi’ in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where Christian converts prodded by Hindu outfits converted back to Hinduism.

“The church is not scared of ghar wapsi controversies. We genuinely feel for the uplift of Dalits and the decision to observe Dalit Rights Day has been taken after considering all aspects of their issues,’’ the priest said.

“The Indian Church is deeply casteist where Dalit Christians have never been given their due. This is despite that a majority of Christians here are Dalits,’’ said Victor Daivasahayam, a Dalit Christian activist.

According to Daivasahayam, a Dalit Christian, ‘upper caste’ Christians—who barely account for 30 per cent of Indian Christians—call the shots while the majority are being kept in the fringes without any active role. “Though we may be going to the same church, we are never the same. A marriage between a Dalit Christian and an upper caste Christian is unthinkable, just as in the case of upper and lower caste Hindus,’’ he said.

A Catholic priest acknowledged that Dalit Christians have every reason to complain. “The life of a Dalit Christian is quite miserable as he is still a Dalit despite the conversion. They are deprived of many protection and privileges of Hindu Dalits because they converted to Christianity. But within the Church, they are never treated as equals. Whatever be the compulsions, it is good to hear that CBCI is concerned about Dalit Christians,’’ he said.

The Hindu

 Schools of dishonour


Harsh Mander

When Sandeep reached his school in village Bedhua in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, in March 2015, the carcass of a dead dog lay rotting on the school grounds. The school cleaner was on leave. His headmistress told Sandeep to carry and dispose of the festering body of the dog outside the school campus. He refused initially, but had to later as his classmates watched. After all, Sandeep was born into a Scheduled Caste Chamaar family. For millennia, Dalit children were almost completely barred from accessing education. For Dalits, therefore, education became the site of both political resistance and emancipation. India’s Constitution abolished untouchability and declared unlawful restrictions on Dalit education. Free and compulsory education was declared a fundamental constitutional right. Enrolment of Dalit children has grown significantly, although not as fast as that of upper-caste children. However, a gathering of Dalit children and parents from 13 States, at a public hearing in Delhi organised by the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion recently, was a harrowing reminder of the humiliating and traumatic experiences of many Dalit children in schools today.

It was a hot afternoon in 2014 in a primary school in a village in Bikaner district of Rajasthan. Two young Dalit boys, barely 10 years old, drank water from an earthen pot for use by their high-caste principal. Dominant-caste Rajput children complained to the principal. The principal was furious, thrashed the children, and made them squat the whole day holding their ears as punishment. The traumatised children complained to their parents, who got other Dalit parents to register their collective protest with the principal. Two days later, when the 11 children came to school, the principal turned them away, handing them their transfer certificates.

A large number of complaints relate to discrimination while serving school meals. Dalit children in the Government Middle School in Nary Chahal village in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh were seated separately for school meals near the toilet, and also given inferior food. After their parents complained, this practice was officially stopped, but dominant caste children still insisted on sitting separately, or refused to eat the school meal. Where the cook was Dalit, again upper-caste children refused to eat the meal.

Some Dalit children are driven to suicide by the humiliation they face. Teachers alleged that 16-year-old Pravin, from a de-notified community called Ramoshi in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, wrote love letters to girls in his class. The principal and teachers abused him, calling him Bhadkhau (one who consumes shit), and also beat him. The same evening, Pravin killed himself by drinking pesticide.

A large number of Dalit children from many States, mostly girls, complained of sexual assault by their teachers. These too have led on occasion to suicide, but more commonly the devastated child quietly drops out of school. It is hard to assess if they were abused because they were defenceless and impoverished children, or because of their disadvantaged caste. Dalit women are more vulnerable to sexual violence than upper-caste women; therefore it is likely that the same sense of upper-caste power and entitlement also spurs upper-caste teachers to treat Dalit children as ready targets for their unwanted sexual incursions.

Many children report that their teachers taunt them routinely with caste stereotypes. The Chharas in Gujarat are a de-notified tribe, regarded by the British as criminal, and still burdened by the same stigma. When Tarun, enrolled in a primary school in Naroda, Ahmedabad, could not keep pace with his classmates, the teacher retorted, “You Chharas should not try to study, you should only sweep the floors. You will not be able to do anything with your life.”

Jayesh’s parents brew liquor for their survival. The night before police raided Chharanagar, Ahmedabad, where the boy lived with his parents, his mother hid the liquor pouch in his school bag, and forgot to take it out the next morning. When the boy went to school, the pouch leaked and the whole classroom reeked of liquor. Little Jayesh was crushed with shame, his teacher beat him and the principal rusticated him from the school.

Sadly, for millions of Dalit children, school continues to be an intensely stressful, threatening site — of segregation, humiliation and violence.

We are collectively culpable in the crime of being unable to ensure that the school becomes a welcome place of safety for every child, where one can learn, play, make friends, be valued and nurtured, and dream confidently about building a better future on the strength of the qualities of one’s heart and mind, rather than the caste into which one was born.

Zee News

 Modi govt ‘promoting Brahmanism’ in the name of ‘Hindu Rashtravad’: Arundhati Roy


Last Updated: Saturday, November 28, 2015 – 18:47

Pune: Noted author Arundhati Roy on Saturday alleged that the Narendra Modi-led government was “promoting Brahmanism” in the name of “Hindu Rashtravad”, and word like “intolerance” is inadequate to describe the “fear” in which the minorities are presently living, prompting protest from right-wing activists, who dubbed her an “anti-national.

Irked by Roy’s presence at a function here, where she was presented an award instituted after social reformer Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, activists of BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a noisy protest at the venue.

After receiving the Mahatma Phule Equality award, she claimed the word “intolerance” is inadequate to describe the “fear” in which the minorities in the country are now living.

Slamming the Modi government, she alleged it was promoting “Brahmanism” in the name of “Hindu Rashtravad.” Roy, a Booker Prize winner, also alleged that the BJP was trying to “glorify” social reformers in the country as “great Hindus” and cited Dr B R Ambedkar as one of them, though he had left the Hindu religion.

“The history is being re-written and national institutions are being taken over by the government,” she further alleged. Raising slogans against Roy, ABVP activists called her “anti-national, pro-Pakistan and anti-Indian Army”, before they were rounded up by police.

The ABVP, in a memorandum handed over to the organisers, Mahatma Phule Samata Parishad, alleged that Roy, by her “anti-national” stand, had hurt the sentiments of all Indians. On the occasion, NCP leader and former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the BJP need to learn its lesson from the Bihar Assembly polls result and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should control the party’s “fringe elements” indulging in “intolerant talks”.   PTI

The Hindu

 Tales from two frames



Hindu, Marathi novel by Sharanakumara Limbale Translated into Kannada by Prameela Madhav

Navakarnataka Publications, Rs.120

Sharanakumara Limbale is an important contemporary Marathi Dalit activist, writer and critic. The Kannada translation of his novel ‘Hindu’ presents an overview of the complex nature of Dalit experiences.

The novel is set in a remote village in Maharashtra, Achalapura, which is later named after the Dalit activist Tathya Kumble who through his ‘jalsa’ folk theatre motivated Dalits in the village for social, political and even religious action. His brutal murder in a Dalit congregation by a group of upper caste men and subsequent suffering inflicted on the Dalits of the village by the scheming forces form the crux of the story. Of course, the novel is not about the mystery of the murder. In fact, there is no mystery at all in the murder of the Dalit leader. The murderers and the murdered, and the motivation for the murder are well known to everyone. But that the murder is one of the offshoots of intolerance of the upper caste towards the Dalits (like the rape of helpless Dalit woman, the nude procession of yet another Dalit woman who failed to satiate the desire of the temple priest in the aftermath of the murder) is what makes the story poignant. In this powerful and dense novel, the conflicts are too many and irreconcilable. Manipulative politics of the vested interests mixed up with murder, rape, lechery, intolerance, jealousy and hatred create a distinctive experience. The complex nature of pressure groups and affiliations among the Dalit community make it extremely difficult to find solutions to their multiple issues. The form of the novel is unorthodox in many ways. Constant switches between the first person narratives to the omniscient, interspersed with song like short poems make the reading interesting. The novel is full of rich imageries and symbols.

But, unlike the writings of Kannada Dalit writers, who contextualize their experiences within the realm of a particular socio-economic order, Limbale tries to foreground his ideological understanding of the village – in the process, though the issues that are delineated here are ‘politically’ correct, the novel demands an empathetic reader. Interestingly, in this novel, the issues of Dalit have just amalgamated with that of class of the upper caste. Of course, what is praiseworthy in the novel is that the women’s issues are on an honest plane – it is not just the Dalit women who are subjected to inhuman treatment, but also the upper caste women who are forced to lead a life subjugation and ill will. But Limbale does not recognize a single sane non-Dalit voice in this novel.

It is always very difficult to evaluate a translated work like this. The reader would not be able to either credit or discredit the translator (Pramila Madhav), since it is twice removed – Marathi to Hindi to Kannada. However, here Kannada language used is a little bizarre. For instance, “Gopala hudugaru karannu nodi vandisuttiddaru”, “Naanu abhimaniside”, “Naanu samvedanaashunyanade”. One of the reasons could be being very faithful to the structures of the original text. Thus this book certainly does not read like an original novel in Kannada despite socio-cultural similarities between Kannada and Marathi Dalit experiences.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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