Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 26.12.15

Ostracised, dalit family forced to carry footwear over head – The Times Of India


Boycott of Dalits: Mansa admn says has resolved conflict – The  Hindustan Times


This Supreme Court Judgement Might Reinforce Caste Discrimination In Temples – Youth Ki Awaaz




The Times Of India

Ostracised, dalit family forced to carry footwear over head


Deshdeep Saxena | TNN | Dec 21, 2015, 12.19 PM IST

BHOPAL: For the last couple of years 15 members of a family of dalits at a distant village in Sagar district have been carrying their footwear over their head when they walk down the dusty hamlet.

Ostracised about two years back, the family is under tremendous pressure from members of upper caste to withdraw a criminal case filed against the member of a Thakur family of the same village. Guljari Dhanuk (50) alleged that his 17-year-old daughter was taken away to Delhi by Rajendra Singh, member of a Thakur family of village Kaithora in Bunda tehsil of Sagar. She was confined there and raped. Later, his daughter gave birth to a child who was killed by Rajendra’s family, he alleged. After his complaint, he said Bunda police registered a case of abduction and rape against Rajendra five years back, but he continues to be on the run. “In fact he roams around and even threatens to kill us,” alleged Anar Bai, sister of the rape victim.

Two years ago, a village panchayat of upper caste decided to ostracise the dalit family and orderd them to carry their footwear over their head till they withdraw the case, Guljari said. “As we have decided not to withdraw it, we continue to suffer with no help from the police or administration,” he said. According to him, his daughter continues to live in Delhi with some dalit families and works as a maid . She is too scared to return to the village, he said.

Santosh Athia, husband of the village sarpanch, confirmed the diktat to a team of journalists, which visited the village, saying “We are helpless.” As no one provides ration or water to the family, Dhanuks are facing a harrowing time. “We travel to Karrapur, about 10 km from our village, to purchase commodities of our daily need,” said Guljari. Even lower rung of bureaucracy in Sagar has no clue about the family’s misery.

When contacted, CG Goswami, tehsildar of Bunda, said, “I have come to know about it from you. I have asked Bunda SHO to look into the case.”

Sachin Atulker, SP Sagar, told TOI he has no idea about the incident and have asked for details from concerned officials.

The  Hindustan Times

Boycott of Dalits: Mansa admn says has resolved conflict


Mohammad Ghazali, Mansa  Updated: Dec 26, 2015 10:01 IST

The administration on Friday sprung into action and resolved the conflict in Burj Dhilwan village, here, after reports surfaced that Dalit families were ostracised by the upper caste landlords, allegedly at the behest of Akali leader Gurmeet Singh Nikka, who is the circle head of the Youth Akali Dal.

Sukhdev Singh (50) has been staying in Burj Dhilwan village along with his family and three brothers for the last 40 years. A baptised Sikh, Sukhdev faced opposition from the landlords of his village, after he opposed removing the pavement over a drain passing in front of his gates. “I covered the drain due to the foul smell emanating out of it. Nikka gathered around 200 people from the village and threatened us after throwing some of our household items in the adjoining cremation ground,” said Sukhdev.


It is learnt that, on Monday, Nikka allegedly gathered around 200 people in the village gurdwara and announced that villagers should boycott Sukhdev Singh and his family. The boycott was also extended to the families of three brothers of Sukhdev Singh, who stay in the same village.

Sukhdev submitted complaint to the police, but till Thursday no one from the district police even approached them for resolving the issue. “We were not even allowed to purchase grocery from the village shops. It is shocking that even the ordinary villagers supported the boycott call,” said Sukhdev Singh.

The district administration on Friday sent Mansa SDM Rakesh Kumar, DSP Rupinder Bharadwaj and Sadar police station SHO Harpal Singh to settle the issue amicably. “We discussed the issue with the families, panchayat and Gurmeet Singh. We invited all the parties concerned and everything was resolved amicably as the families were satisfied with our action,” said the SDM.

Sources said Nikka apologised during the meeting. However, Nikka denied that he was even present when somebody had made that announcement from the gurdwara village. “I don’t even know who made the announcements in my name. That family has never obeyed the orders of gram panchayat due to which the villagers were very angry,” said the SAD leader.

When HT spoke to the villagers, most of them backed Nikka and none showed any remorse over the boycott. Though normalcy has been restored, the family of Sukhdev Singh is in shock. “I have heard about the Dadri lynching. The way these upper caste landlords gathered at our doorstep on Monday, I could only relate it to those incidents,” said Karamjeet Kaur, wife of Sukhdev Singh.

Youth Ki Awaaz 

This Supreme Court Judgement Might Reinforce Caste Discrimination In Temples


Dec 18, 2015No Comments

By Abhishek Jha:

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices, which ruled on 16th of December that Archakas (priests) in Tamil Nadu will have to be appointed in accordance with Agamas (“treatises pertaining to matters like construction of temples; installation of idols and conduct of worship of the Deity”), may want an excuse from criticism as they were at pains to explain in their judgement that it did not perpetuate casteism. They have hence added a clause to their judgement and said that the treatises will be “subject to their due identification as well as their conformity with the Constitutional mandates and principles,” particularly Article 17, which abolishes and makes Untouchability and “its practice in any form” punishable.

The bench has also ruled that “that the exclusion of some and inclusion of a particular segment or denomination for appointment as Archakas would not violate Article 14 (Right to Equality) so long as such inclusion/exclusion is not based on the criteria of caste, birth or any other constitutionally unacceptable parameter.” However, in the process of delivering the judgement, it appears from the material and the language used by the judges, they may have created a precedent that can help perpetuate the system through which the modern India practices casteism.

The matter in question was a Government Order of Tamil Nadu from 2006 that allowed “any person who is a Hindu and possessing the requisite qualification and training” to be appointed as a priest in Hindu temples. The petitioners (Adi Saiva Sivacharyargal Nala Sangam and others) had argued that this would violate what had already been adjudicated in Seshammal and others Vs. State of Tamil Nadu, where hereditary appointments were prohibited but appointment of priests from particular denominations (for instance, a particular tradition of Vaishnavism) were allowed. To be sure this earlier judgement as well as the current one is in accordance with Article 16(5) of the Constitution, which while mandating the “equality of opportunity in matters of public employment” allows “the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof” to be appointed from a particular religion or a particular denomination.

However, the appearance of constitutional validity does not necessarily mean that the judgement agreed with the spirit of the Constitution. (Didn’t the Delhi High Court bench just give “expanded meaning to the law” in the recent National Herald Case?) In fact, the reasons given for the judgement are indeed problematic.

For instance, after beginning their judgement with the invocation of Article 13, where they state that “Article 13, in clear and unequivocal terms, lays down that all laws including pre-constitution laws which are inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III are void,” it is surprising that they spend a lot of time citing precedents to establish that the treatises are an “essential religious practice” of the Hindus. It is a slightly misleading assertion by them that the “Article 17 of the Constitution strikes at caste based practices built on superstitions and beliefs that have no rationale or logic.” If Article 17 prohibited untouchability simply because it is illogical, our Constitution could have prohibited almost all of religion. They fail to note that it is not just irrationality but also the oppression that casteism has inherent in it that necessitates rights laid down in the Constitution.

It is perhaps in not paying due attention to this argument about oppression that the judges refer to the idea of the ‘pollution’ of the temple idol as an important aspect that needs to be protected under Article 25. And it is not the vandalistation or deliberate defacing of idols that is meant by them. It is precisely the Brahminical idea of ‘purity’ that they invoke.

Thus they cite from a Constitution Bench order: “pollution of the image by the touch of an Archaka not authorised by the Agamas would violently interfere with the religious faith and practices of the Hindu worshipper”; a Madras High Court judgement in Gopala Mooppanar and Others Vs. Subramania Iyer and others: “As the temple priests have got the special saivite initiation or dheeksha which entitles them to touch the inner most image, and as the touch of the persons who have got no such initiation, even though they be Brahmins, was supposed to pollute the image;” thus establishing the idea of “purity” and “pollution” as an important aspect of Hinduism (here too they rely on Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan’s work on Hinduism, who remained “enthralled by the philosophical grandeur of brahmanical Hinduism” according to author Braj Ranjan Mani) that needs protection under Article 25. Surprisingly, several rules about ‘touchability’ and ‘purity’ does not make the judges inform or question how that would not be a violation of Article 17. Doesn’t Article 17 say that the “enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law”?

Here is also where a third contention arises. In their unilateral pursuit of a logical reasoning, the idea that even Brahmins could be barred from touching an idol immediately makes the judges conclude that allowing the Agamas to be the rulebook for appointment would not lead to casteist appointments. Isn’t this the manner in which the forces against reservation argue? That since “merit” is the criteria that can exclude upper caste students too from admissions, it must be the sole criterion in selection. Aren’t both “purity” and “merit” both the modern inheritance of caste?

Truth to be told, many Dalits have already converted to other religions, become Atheists, and continue to do so. Temples aren’t where they will be going to or will need to seek their rights anymore. However, a temple is also a public place and the impugned Government Order was about public employment. That the judgement today might become a precedent for “meritorious” appointments elsewhere is what screams “dangerous” about it.

The Pioneer



Saturday, 26 December 2015 | MANAS JENA | in Bhubaneswar

Every day we come across news of cold-hearted barbaric violence against couples of inter-caste marriage from all over the country, including Odisha, and often reports about killing of young people by family and caste panchayats to uphold caste pride and religious sanctity.

Many young couples end their life in distress without protection and those who continue against all odds are struggling with false cases implicated against them and their supports. They face all types of caste bias, socio-psychological mental torture and organised brutal muscle power against them in spite of constitutional governance and laws because our socio-religious systems are not compatible with constitutional values and human rights laws. Such cases are largely seen as private matter where as the individuals suffering with to uphold a choice of their own are facing all kinds of problem not because of their own fault but due to religious and caste driven mindset based customs and traditions in practice that restrict freedom to marriage and perpetuate indignity in human relationship.

The suffering of the youths in their most productive age has wider implications on our economy and socio-political life. There has been caste and religion based mobilisation and increasing hatred among communities that leads to law and order situation and loss of peace and normal life which has been affecting our social fabric, brotherhood and peace. If these issues are not being addressed properly, it will block our national unity and growth; so there is an urgent need to intervene in these issues in national interest.

The International Bill of Human Rights which include Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified by many democratic countries of the world have recognized right of man and women of marriageable age to marry and to find a family as a basic human right which needs to be protected by the State. It says to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relation on the basis of equality of men and women. The preamble of Indian Constitution propagating the values of democracy, liberty, equality, fraternity and dignity, the fundamental rights and directive principles say right to marry is a component of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 as protection of life and personal liberty. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 have no restrictions on inter caste and inter religion marriage. It is said the bridegroom must be at least 21 years old and the bride must be at least 18 years old with both having sound mental capacity to enter into marriage contract.

The Supreme Court of India in its judgment on July 7, 2006 in case of Lata Singh verses State of Uttar Pradesh says, “This is a free and democratic country and once a person becomes a major, he or she can marry whomsoever she or he likes. If the parents of the boy and girl who do not approve the inter caste marriage or inter religion marriage, they cannot harass, threaten or commit or instigate acts of violence on people who decide on for marriage. The Supreme Court also says in a judgment in criminal appeal 958/2011 that we must take care not to insult any one’s feeling on account of his caste, religion, tribe, language, etc. Only then can we keep our country united and strong.

India is country of diversity and there has been historical divisions based on four Vernas, thousands of castes and sub castes with hierarchical relationship that practice inequality in all spheres. During anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggle, the makers of modern India aimed to build India a class and casteless society that ensures dignity of all individual. Inter caste marriages are in reality promoting the national interest and enforcing constitutional value.

It is a fact that the marriages in India with customs and traditions are expensive and do not respect the wishes of the individuals getting married. Thousands of farmers in the country are committing suicide due to debt trap and one of the major reasons of debt is for expenses in marriage of their daughter and all other post marriage follow up spending. It is observed that inter caste marriage discourages dowry and lavish spending on wedding which has very less financial implication over family.

Many great Indians including Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr B.R Ambedkar have advocated for eradication of social evils such as untouchability, caste and gender based discrimination and violence. As a remedy they have suggested inter caste marriage in their writings and also encouraged the practice in many ways. Dr BR Ambedkar in his famous book ‘Annihilation of Caste’ has suggested inter caste marriage for eradication of untouchability and caste system in building a socially cohesive Hindu society required for national unity, integration and nation building.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has introduced Dr Ambedkar scheme for social integration through inter caste marriage to spread constitutional values and for enforcement of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and The SCs and STs (PoA) Act,1989. Under this provision the Central Government has been providing an incentive of `50,000 to all the couples with fifty per cent Central assistance since 2006.Added to this, in 2012 the Ministry decided that under the recommendation of MP,MLA and district Collector each year about 18 couples will have to be given an incentive of `2.50 lakh from the State of Odisha and about 500 from all over the country as support to encourage inter caste marriage and help the couple taking the social risk.

The SC and ST Development Department has been providing incentive for inter caste marriage between caste Hindus and Scheduled Castes belonging to Hindu communities for social integration and removal of untouchability. During the year 2014-2015 an amount of `3, 23, 76,000 to 671 couples of inter caste marriage was released. There are highest number of couple i.e. 122 in Baleswar district followed by Kendrapara, Puri, Dhenkanal and Bhadrak.

In the tradition of social reform, there are social movements by progressive social and political forces, civil society organisations and inspired individuals, writers, artists, reformers and groups those who believe in human liberty, equality, dignity and respect constitutional values. They have been contributing in many ways by producing literature, song, drama, film that encourage inter caste and inter religion marriage. There are initiatives such as Love Commandos, a non-profit organization, in Delhi, with slogan of no more honour killing and Manava Mantapa of Karnataka who have been taking all the efforts to help the couples in distress.

In Odisha, the Anti-caste Marriage and One child Family Organization of India (AMOFOI) founded in 1980 by most popular political science teacher and social reformer couple, B Ramachandra CST Voltaire and Madam Swapna Bijayini has set an example of commitment for the cause with all difficulties. The organization has helped about 7,000 couples in getting marriage recognition and continues to stand by young lovers of change by expanding this effort to different social spheres.

There has been demand by organizations and activists engaged in promoting inter caste and inter religious marriage that the incentive granted to the couple should improve to give them all kinds of strength to cope with the situation. The most important aspect is the protection of the couples from all forms of violence where the police and judiciary should have a proactive role in defending the life of young people. The political parties supporting such change and included inter caste marriage in their manifesto should be voted for power. There must be continued effort by all for eradication of untouchability, gender bias and superior caste complex which has been a major cause of social conflict in rural villages. The marriage age restriction has been manipulated in many times to implicate the boys in false case of kidnap and criminal cases booked by police  which need to be looked into to stop its misuse to punish the couple. It is said that the young boys and girls taking such bold step should be publicly honoured and recognized because they are doing a social change in building a democratic society.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET



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