Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 15.01.16


Rajasthan village tense as Dalit bride wants groom to ride a mare – The Hindustan Times


50 years on, Dalits Seek Pathway to Carry their Dead to Graveyard – The New Indian express


Alleged harassment of woman: action sought – The Hindu


Removal of Ambedkar statue triggers row – The Hans India


When jallikattu conundrum overshadowed caste atrocity – The Hindu


People’s mindset have to change to attain social equality: Kharge  –The Hindu


Tattoos tell of devotion, caste, defiance – The Asian Age


BSP woos non-Dalits to expand Punjab footprint – Live Mint



Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)


The Hindustan Times

Rajasthan village tense as Dalit bride wants groom to ride a mare


MukeshMathrani, Hindustan Times, Barmer

Updated: Jan 15, 2016 10:53 IST

When she became the first girl from her family to become a graduate, 25-year-old NeetuMeghwal wished that her groom came riding a mare, something that no Dalit in her village had dared to do.

Now a constable with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and posted at Bangalore airport, she shared the dream with a cousin who wrote to the chief minister’s office about Neetu’s wish.

Soon, her wish reached the National Commission for the Schedules Castes (NCSC) that asked district authorities to take necessary steps.

Cousin LaxmanSariyala said he alerted authorities because he knew upper castes villagers would not allow a Dalit to ride a mare during a wedding procession.

Rajasthan has witnessed violent incidents in the past, especially in Bhilwara and some parts of Alwar and Jaipur where Dalit grooms were assaulted for riding a mare during weddings.

“She studied with us in Pali and has been the only girl among five siblings to get educated and a government job. Her four brothers are daily wage labourers in Goa and a younger sister is illiterate. She had the will to break caste stereotypes but it looks very difficult.”

His fears came true. Neetu’s wish has triggered tension in her native village, Khimda, near Somesar railway station, 350km from Jaipur.

Khimda has around 400 households; 30% of them belonging to the scheduled caste. Most Dalits work as farmhands in fields of rich farmers.

A day before her wedding, police took a written undertaking from the family that it doesn’t want Neetu’s groom to ride a mare — considered a traditional prerogative of the village’s upper caste inhabitants whose grooms come on horseback to the wedding venue, mostly the bride’s home. A mare is preferred because it is considered auspicious.

Elder brother ChampaLal said the family didn’t want the groom to ride a mare during bindoli, a ritual where he takes a round of the village. “We want to follow the old tradition where groom comes with the marriage procession, not riding a mare,” he said.

Neetu’s phone was switched off on Thursday. MahavirMevada, a resident, said the bride told him she was scared but keen that her groom rode a mare.

Police dismissed allegations of pressure from upper caste villagers. Sanderao police station SHO AmarlalMeena said the family didn’t feel any threat and was assured protection if the groom came riding a horse.

The New Indian express

50 years on, Dalits Seek Pathway to Carry their Dead to Graveyard


By Express News Service Published: 15th January 2016 04:57 AM Last Updated: 15th January 2016 05:22 AM

VILLUPURAM: Dalits in Kalapathur Colony near Ulundurpet have been seeking a pathway leading to the cemetery for decades since they had to carry the dead through farmlands owned by mostly caste Hindus. This had sparked off tension between the two castes.

Also, the Dalits members threatened to boycott the forthcoming Assembly elections if steps were not taken to establish the cemetery.

This issue again reared its ugly head on Tuesday when a Dalit family was carrying the body of an elderly man to the cemetery through a farmland. Since it was not cultivation time, the farm owners remained silent.

Nearly 350 Dalit families stay in Kalpathur Colony and they managed to get them a 1.5-acre land for a separate cemetery near the Pidagam River about five decades ago. But there was no approach road to the graveyard and the families had to trek through fields for over two kms with the bier.

It was said the farmland owners used to argue and quarrel with the Dalits only during the cultivation


The owners would demand  those carrying the bier walk on the furrow, which was so narrow and threw the mourners out of balance.

The Dalits told Express that they had been submitting petitions to the Collector, MLAs, MPs and Ministers since the tenure of former Chief Minister C N Annadurai, but to no avail.

The Hindu

lleged harassment of woman: action sought



Dalit Liberation Movement-Tamil Nadu has sent a petition to National Scheduled Caste Commission seeking action against those who reportedly harassed a woman Home Guard at work place.

  1. Karuppaiah, State joint general secretary of the Movement, said that the woman, who was posted at Kangayam, faced harassment from a colleague during November last.

“Though she brought the matter to the notice of the authorities in the Home Guard and also moved away to a posting at a different location from the office where she was deployed, the harassment continued. However, no action has been taken against the accused till now though she gave a petition to the police officials too,” he alleged.

When contacted, Superintendent of Police Saroj Kumar Thakur told The Hindu that the complaint had been received and the matter was under investigation.

“Appropriate action will be taken soon on the merit of the complaint”, he said.

The Hans India

Removal of Ambedkar statue triggers row


THE HANS INDIA |   Jan 14,2016 , 11:25 PM IST

Kadapa: The decision of the Kadapa district administration to remove Ambedkar statue, which was installed by some Dalit organisations, from the new Collectorate premises is snowballing into a major controversy.

All opposition parties in the district have become vocal demanding the resignation of the Collector, alleging that the latter had humiliated Ambedkar. The Congress, YSRCP, CPI, and CPM have joined together to form a joint action committee for the purpose.

On December 29, 2015, Mahajan Front party founder S Manohar, BC leader A Mallikarjuna, SC, ST, and human rights organisations had installed Ambedkar statue in the Collectorate premises without the knowledge and authorisation of the officials concerned. However, Dalit activists claim that they had sought permission and had given prior intimation to officials.

With the police not willing to lodge complaint against any official, Congress leader Sattar has decided to impress upon the district SP about the same. “When I went to One Town Police, the staff there had told me out rightly that they would not accept any complaint. So we have nothing but to take this issue to district SP,” he said.

The YSRCP , CPI, CPM leaders have threatened to launch massive protests if the district administration fail to re-install the statue.  They had already held protests last week flaying the ‘indifferent’ attitude of the Collector to respond to their demands. However the collector was not available for his comment when The Hans tried to get his version of the story.

The Hindu

When jallikattu conundrum overshadowed caste atrocity



Kin of a Dalit who died in Vazhvur were not allowed to take out funeral procession

The loud clamour the State witnessed for lifting the ban on jallikattu over the last two weeks virtually eclipsed an atrocious case of discrimination against Dalits. The kith and kin of an elderly Dalit man who died in Vazhvur near Mayiladuthurai were denied the dignity to take out the funeral procession through a route dominated by the Caste Hindus despite the Madras High Court directing the police to ensure that the funeral route was not disturbed. Finally, he had to be buried after being carried on an alternative path as instructed by the police.

Multiple fact-finding reports by activists claim those who protested the police action were roughed up. Despite condemnation from outfits sympathetic to the Scheduled Castes, no disciplinary action has been taken against officials who ostensibly flouted the court order.

Dalit activists, writers and politicians say this incident reflected the growing apathy to the plight of the community from major political parties and the administration. The two leading Dravidian parties — AIADMK and DMK — have consistently avoided any strong action against such incidents in recent years. Whether it be the riots in Seshasamudram in Villupuram district last year or the murder of Dalit youth Gokulraj in Namakkal, condemnation has either been muted or weak at best and does not come anywhere close to the response the jallikattu issue has elicited.

Writer Imayam, who has chronicled the lives of the subaltern communities extensively, says many villages across Tamil Nadu have the system of separate burial grounds for Caste Hindus and the Dalits. Clashes take place when the location of a burial ground or a crematorium is such that the Dalits have to take the body through the upper caste settlement or the public road.

“In places like Salem and Coimbatore, you would actually see such places managed by trusts explicitly named after specific caste groups. Dalits will not be allowed to bury or cremate their dead in these places though the undertaker always hails from the SC community,” he says.

Thus, while the two-tumbler system was rightly deemed casteist and efforts were initiated to address the problem, the aspect of separate burial grounds remain largely untouched.

  1. Ravikumar, writer and general secretary of the VCK, says even horrific crimes against Dalits, such as honour killings, go without condemnation in a State that claims to be progressive in its politics. “Neither the DMK nor the AIADMK has come out strongly to condemn the recent incidents. There is a fear among these parties that taking such actions will polarise the Caste Hindu vote bank against them and so they tend to remain silent,” he charges.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau data, 2014 saw a steep rise in the number of Dalits murdered to 72 from 28 in the previous year. Thirty-three Dalit women were raped in Tamil Nadu in 2014 compared to 28 in 2013.

While the Prevention of Atrocities Act has been strengthened in the books, he says there was no effect on the ground since implementation was weak.

In fact, the Chairman of the National Scheduled Caste Commission, P.L. Puniya, stated last year that hardly 10 percent of the cases registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act end in conviction.

Mr. Ravikumar feels in the case of Vazhvur, the High Court should initiate suomotu contempt proceedings against those who ordered the police officers to carry the body through an alternate route. “But the bigger problem is the mentality. While political parties fight hard for jallikattu, a tradition in a few districts in south Tamil Nadu, more important issues like these do not attract their attention,” he rues.

Multiple fact-finding reports by activists claim those who protested the police action were roughed up

The Hindu

People’s mindset have to change to attain social equality: Kharge



Congress leader inaugurates three-day SiddarameshwaraJayanti in Vijayapura

Stating that merely eating with Dalits or walking through the lanes of Dalit streets will not bring social equality, leader of the Congress in the LokSabha M. MallikarjunKharge has said that that social equality cannot be attained if people do not change their mindset towards Dalits. Speaking after inaugurating the three-day SiddarameshwaraJayantiprogramme here on Thursday, he said that eating with Dalits was only a tokenism.

The veteran Congress leader said that there was no need to formulate laws against untouchability and offer reservations to Scheduled Castes if the people stop discriminating on the basis on caste.

“Because of the strong prevalence of untouchability and social inequality, the Constitution had to have a provision for laws against such practices and reservation for the oppressed class. We can still do away with the reservation and the Anti-untouchability Act if social equality prevails in the society,” Mr. Kharge said.

He noted that merely a Dalit becoming Minister or Chief Minister would not give equality to downtrodden community as it would be treated as political equality.

He said that Karnataka could have emerged as the model State for the country if people here had truly followed ideologies and philosophies of persons like 12 century social reformer Basaveshwara who fought for social equality all through his life. Echoing similar sentiments, the former Chief Minister and BJP’s national vice-president B.S. Yeddyurappa said that people such as Siddarameshwara would remain a guiding force for centuries to come.

The Asian Age

Tattoos tell of devotion, caste, defiance


Jan 15, 2016 – Adnan Abidi |

Mahettar Ram Tandon is still proud of the indelible message he carries almost five decades after he had the name of the Hindu god Ram tattooed over his entire body.

Dressed in a simple white lungi, a traditional Indian garment, and wearing a peacock feather hat called a “mukut”, Tandon is part of the RamnamiSamaj religious movement in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, one of India’s poorest regions.

“It was my new birth the day I started having the tattoos,” he says. “The old me had died.”

Denied entry to temples and forced to use separate wells, low-caste Hindus in the Chhattisgarh first tattooed their bodies and faces more than 100 years ago as an act of defiance and devotion.

Ramnamis wrote Ram’s name on their bodies as a message to higher-caste Indians that god was everywhere, regardless of a person’s caste or social standing.

Now 76, Tandon’s purple tattoos have faded over decades under the harsh sun of his village of Jamgahan.

In the nearby village of Gorba, PunaiBai, 75, spent more than two weeks aged 18 having her full body tattooed using dye made from mixing soot from a kerosene lamp with water.

“God is for everybody, not just for one community,” says Bai, who lives in a one-room house with her son, daughter-in law and two grandchildren.

Nowadays the tattoos of Ramnamis, who number 100,000 or more and live in dozens of villages spread across at least four districts of Chhattisgarh state, are usually on a smaller scale.

Since the banning of caste-based discrimination in India in 1955, the lives of many lower-caste Indians have improved, villagers said. As young Ramnamis today also travel to other regions to study and look for work, younger generations usually avoid full-body tattoos.

“The young generation just don’t feel good about having tattoos on their whole body,” says Tandon, who has always lived in his village of small mud houses surrounded by fields of grazing cattle, wheat and rice.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t follow the faith.”Children born in the community are still required to be tattooed somewhere on their body, preferably on their chest, at least once by the age of two. According to their religious practices, Ramnamis do not drink or smoke, must chant the name “Ram” daily and are exhorted to treat everybody with equality and respect.

Almost every Ramnami household owns a copy of the Ramayana epic, a book on Lord Ram’s life and teachings, along with small statues of Indian deities. Most followers’ homes in these villages have “Ram Ram” written in black on the outer and inner walls.

Despite the 1955 legislation, centuries-old feudal attitudes persist in many parts of India and low-caste people, or Dalits, still face prejudice in every sector from education to employment.

Tandon is optimistic about the Ramnamis’ relative change in fortunes since he had his body tattooed all those years ago.“The world is changing, the times are changing,” he says. “We have all realised that we are all the same.”

Live Mint

BSP woos non-Dalits to expand Punjab footprint


After drawing a blank in the past three assembly elections, the party is looking beyond its core base of SC voters

Meenal Thakur

New Delhi: Ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, the BahujanSamaj Party (BSP)—which draws support from a loyal base of Dalit voters—is inducting non-Dalits as part of its plan to expand its social base.

The party wants 40% of its organizational structure to be constituted from those other than the scheduled castes (SCs).

“This is an attempt to strike a balance in the social structure of the party. We want to give equal opportunities to other backward classes, scheduled tribes and upper castes depending upon their population. All are welcome to join us,” said Narendra Kumar Kashyap, in charge of the party’s affairs in Punjab.

The BSP will launch its campaign on Friday—the day its leader Mayawati turns 60. The BSP will hold rallies in all 22 districts with the party’s state unit chief, Avtar Singh Karimpuri, addressing rallies in Hoshiarpur and Kashyap in Nawanshahr.

The ruling ShiromaniAkali Dal (SAD), opposition Congress party and debutant AamAadmi Party (AAP) kicked off their campaigns during the MaghiMela festival in Muktsar on Thursday.

Though the BSP is hopeful of diversifying its support base, analysts say that merely including non-SCs won’t be enough.

“The party leadership needs to choose very wisely the areas from which these non-SC candidates will contest. If Mayawati tries to field non-SC candidates from urban areas, it will fail as the BJP has a strong presence here. BSP needs to look at rural areas. Even though the Akali Dal has a stronghold among farmers, it is still a safer bet for BSP than targeting urban areas, which has never been its support base. Mayawati lost her social base in the parliamentary elections; this is the only opportunity to regain and widen it,” said Ramesh Dixit, former professor of political science at Lucknow University.

The BSP is also trying to beef up its youth wing, Bahujan Volunteer Force, by enrolling youths at the booth/district level, taking their membership up to 50% of the organizational structure.

“Out of all the states where we have a presence, our youth wing is the strongest and most effective in Punjab. Moreover, Punjab does have a sizeable youth population, which needs to be tapped,” said Kashyap. “More than 70% of the youth here are involved in drugs. Thus the biggest issue of our party will be to build a drug-free Punjab.”

Proper implementation of reservation for the weaker sections, atrocities against Dalits, unemployment, migration and farmers’ suicides will be the party’s main campaign issues, he said.

The BSP feels that its efforts to raise the issues of atrocities against Dalits—who constitute 32% of the state’s population—have won it a lot of support.

“The incident where the limbs of two Dalit men were chopped off allegedly by Akali Dal members in Abohar district or the incident of the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib clearly shows that the government has failed in protecting the faith, lives and property of the people of Punjab… Our efforts of raising these issues from the streets to Parliament have been appreciated by the Dalits,” said Karimpuri.

However, the BSP does not have a good electoral record in Punjab. In the 2012 assembly polls, the party could not win a single seat out of the 117 seats it had contested from; in 2002 and 2007 too, the party drew a blank.

The last time the party made it to the state assembly was in 1997, when it won one out of the 67 contested seats. Since 1997, its vote share has decreased from 13.28% to 4.30% in 2012.

The party’s troubles have only increased with the entry of AAP. However, the BSP is looking at AAP’s debut as an opportunity and not a challenge. “There are 15-20 seats in which our candidates always lose by a margin of barely 500-1,000 votes. The supporters of the Congress and the Akali Dal are finding an alternative in AAP and a cut in the vote share of these two parties means a victory for us,” said Kashyap.

Analysts, on the other hand, are not sure. “One must understand that a lot of factors—such as the anti-corruption movement—were at play when AAP swept the Delhi polls. This cannot be replicated in Punjab and the only way both the BSP as well as AAP can make any gains in this election is by aligning with other parties,” said Dixit.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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