Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 25.01.16


Thangadh firing: Dalits demand justice for 3 youths – The times of india


Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s mom in hospital after chest pain – The hans india


‘Dalit, women writers face discrimination’ – The hindu


RSS workers, Dalit students clash in Dharavi over Rohit Vemula suicide  – The economic times


Non-Dalit poor too must get quota: Dr Siddalingaiah, Dalit Poet – Deccan chronical


Dalits and the remaking of Hindutva – The hindu



The times of india

Thangadh firing: Dalits demand justice for 3 youths


Rajkot: Over three years after three dalit youths were killed in police firing in Thangadh town, their kin and community are awaiting justice.

Navsarjan Trust, an organization working for dalit rights, has organized a sammelan in Surendranagar town on Monday to exhort the government for speedy trails in the case. Parents and relatives of the three young boys – Pankaj Sumra (16), Mehul Rathod (17) and Prakash Parmar (26) – were killed in police firing on September 22 and 23, 2012.

Their deaths, just before the state assembly polls in 2012, had sent shock waves across the state and complaints were lodged against four police officials. Investigation was handed over to CID (Crime).

However, dalits rights activists say that despite three FIRs being filed against policemen, chargesheet has been filed only in one case and one accused B C Solanki is yet to arrested.

Pamphlets distributed ahead of the dalit sammelan allege that government has shown a discriminatory approach towards the community. “After the quota stir violence, government decided to release some Patidars but dalits are not given justice in Thangadh case where police also lodged cases against dalits,” the pamphlets read.

The state government in September 2012 had asked the then principal secretary, social justice and empowerment to conduct an inquiry into the incident. However, in a reply to an RTI application, it was revealed that the government is yet to consider the report of the inquiry into the incident. This was revealed in written submission by the home department to the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) while hearing an application filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

The hans india

Dalit student Rohith Vemula’s mom in hospital after chest pain


Hyderabad: University of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula’s mother was admitted to the hospital on Sunday after she complained of chest pain.

She was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Gachibowli Continental hospital here. Various student groups have been protesting over the suicide of Rohith since last week. Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar, was found hanging at the Central University’s hostel room on January 17.

He was among the five research scholars who were suspended by Hyderabad Central University (HCU) in August last year and also one of the accused in the case of assault on an ABVP student leader.

The hindu

‘Dalit, women writers face discrimination’


The three-day seminar on ‘Right to Write: The Cultural of Literary Controversies and Controversial Literatures’, being jointly organised by the English Department of Kakatiya University and IACLALS (India Association of Common Wealth Literature and Language Society), concluded on Sunday afternoon.

Taking part at the valedictory session of the seminar, popular Telugu feminist writer Volga said that women and Dalits were struggling for the “right to write”. They were being subjected to different kinds of censorships. Illiteracy and confinement to home were the primary forms of exploitation. Family, parents, brothers, husband and sons do censor the writings of women. Remaining “a good woman” becomes the utmost important thing. In such a life that women lead, dreams, desires, and skills are suppressed, she said.

The society and family expect them not to indulge in activities that are detriment to them. Not only women, the censorship continues on Dalits as well, she observed.

Still, despite all these impediments, women and Dalits are now finding a voice in books. Progressive forces should try to stand by them, she said.

IACLALS chairperson Prof. G.J.V. Prasad said that the aim of conducting the seminar to empower and encourage young scholars was fulfilled. prof. N. Rama Swamy, K. Purushotham, K. Damodar Rao, and Dr. Subhendu Mund were among those present.

In the ‘meet the author’ session with upcoming English Novelist Sharath Komarraju, delegates actively participated in the face-to-face interaction. Sharath, who quit the luring software engineer job at IBM and took up full-time writing, published 10 novels in different genres by reputed publishers like Harper Collins. Reading books of favourite authors, writing daily and reviewing are the key points to hone skills of writing, said Sharath.

The economic times

RSS workers, Dalit students clash in Dharavi over Rohit Vemula suicide


MUMBAI: Around 15 Dalit students who were carrying out a march in Mumbai to protest against the suicide of Rohit Vemula were allegedly beaten up by RSS workers on Sunday evening.

Around 250 to 300 Dalit students under the banner of Justice for Rohit Joint Action Committee were carrying out a procession through Dharavi on Sunday when RSS activists allegedly beat them up.

One of the activists who only gave her first name Harshali claimed that the procession was about to wind down when the attack happened. ” We were just 10 minutes from where we were to end our procession however as soon as our procession neared the RSS shakha, we found a group of 12 to 15 waiting for us lathis and rods. Once they saw us they began attacking us. “said Vaishali.

Vaishali claimed that around 10 to 15 students received injuries in the assault. She alleged that BJP’s Ministers like Education Minister Vinod Tawde and Local Mla Tamil Selva were pressurizing the cops not to register a case against the RSS workers under the atrocity act. Angry over the police not registering a case under the Atrocity act, the Dalit students tried to stage a dharna. While Tawde was no available for comment, Selvan when contacted denied that he had pressurized the police.

” I did go to the police station but I simply spoke to the DCP to register a case as per law on whoever is involved. You can check with the DCP on what I have said. I barely stayed in the police station for 15 minutes.” Said Selvan.

According to Selvan it would be wrong to claim that the Dalit students were assaulted by RSS workers. ” It was actually a clash, the students had gone below the RSS shakha and were raising slogans against the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The RSS cadres then got down the building and argument ensued which culminated in to a fight.”

According to the BJP MLA, even the RSS workers were injured in the fight. ” Two of the RSS cadres have suffered deep injuries on their head in the clash and are admitted at the Sion hospital.”said Selvan.

Senior police officials were not available for comment however later in the day a case was being filed under the Atrocity act against the RSS workers. However there was no confirmation for the same.

Deccan chronical

Non-Dalit poor too must get quota: Dr Siddalingaiah, Dalit Poet


Perhaps it is difficult to express pain through humour. And if you are a Dalit, it is almost impossible to do it. But, Dr Siddalingaiah, poet, thinker and currently Director, Dr BR Ambedkar Study and Research Centre at Bangalore University, knows how to do this.

When he portrays pain and harsh social reality through anecdotes and humour, one  certainly feels the pain. As head of the Institute, he is engaged in a lot of activity even getting non-Dalit scholars to address students on Dr Ambedkar.

A former disciple of Communist veteran E.M.S. Namboodiripad, who was later associated with former CM Ramakrishna Hegde, he spoke about Dalits on college campuses and outside in the context of the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad. Here are excerpts from the interview.

What is the plight of Dalits in Karnataka?

Though I am an Ambedkarite, I did not become a Dalit castiest because I was groomed in Communism. There is a major trend among Dalits these days. Just like RSS, we have seen fundamentalists among Dalits too.

Their agenda is to hate others. They do not understand that there are economically weaker people in other communities too. Economic disparity is a major issue in society. A person drawing a salary of Rs 2 lakh has a neighbour who gets Rs 4,000- Rs 5,000 per month.

According to a study, if in a society, the disparity hovers around 1:10, it is natural and acceptable. In this case, the disparity is in the range of 1:480, 1:500 or 1:1000. This is unacceptable. It may lead to a bloodbath.

Can you be more specific in the context of Rohith Vemula’s suicide?

In the wake of the Hyderabad development, I feel Dalits and non-Dalits can come together at one point. There is one section among non-Dalits who are exploited.

Non-Dalits see élites among Dalits who may be around five per cent and presume the SCs have come of age and do not need help anymore. The fact is 95 per cent of SCs have not got benefits.

Non-Dalits think Dalits are getting scholarships and other benefits from the taxes they pay. Unfortunately, funds released by the governments are going into the hands of middlemen. It is not reaching the people in remote areas.

Compared to the Seventies and Eighties which witnessed active Dalit movements in  Karnataka, do you see any change in Dalit consciousness and their condition?

Dalits are extremely conscious of their plight compared to the Seventies. But there is a  problem with Dalit consciousness. I feel it is not positive or intended to change the entire society. Dalits should be conscious of their goal: creating a casteless and classless society.

To realise the dreams of Ambedkar, Gandhiji, Jyotiba Phule you have to do one thing: Dalits have genuine sympathisers in other castes. Take them along and move forward.

There was a time when many upper caste people would dedicate themselves to the Dalit cause. Aren’t there any more leaders of this kind?

Very few. Gandhiji’s influence was very strong then, so was Ambedkar’s fight. Naturally, many people from the upper castes became Ambedkar supporters. But I do not find people with such spirit now.

Many Dalits who became educated, have become self-centred and selfish. The other reason: Many educated Dalits live hiding their caste in cities. Nearly 80 per cent, I guess, live like this. If  they reveal their real identity, they will not get houses on rent.

There was a time when Dalits sleeping in parks (who have no permanent residence) were called and given jobs. There wasn’t much unemployment then. Earlier, non-Dalits would never take their economic backwardness seriously. Economic backwardness was taken in a spiritual way.

Even the poor could live a dignified life, perhaps because of the influence of Bhakti movement. But things have changed now. We are in a market economy where disparity has deepened so, no one comes forward to fight for this  cause.

Moving on, there is a new trend emerging. If a Dalit MLA is caught taking bribe, he defends his act saying, ‘You are targeting me because I am a Dalit.’ Do you think growing corrupt practices defeat the Dalit cause?

I do not think corruption will defeat the Dalit cause. Dalits in government offices may indulge in corruption. But they are still afraid of being caught because majority of Dalit officers have no godfathers.

The problem is misuse of the Atrocity Act. In case, a Dalit officer is found drunk during office hours and is pulled up by his boss, the subordinate will file an atrocity case and ensure his boss goes behind bars. This is worrisome.

How safe are Dalit children on University campuses in Karnataka?

Compared to other states, Karnataka is better. We give lot of benefits. Minor skirmishes happen on campuses because they are backed by some leaders.

There is another issue, discrimination among Dalits. Touchables who are popularly called ‘Rights’ do not even have marital relations with ‘Lefts’ who are untouchables.

This was started 20 years back by politicians. Holeya and Madigas who are not acceptable come under ‘Left’. We have 101 communities in the SC bloc. The idea of creating a SC bloc means untouchables should be there.

But for political reasons, many touchable castes were included in the SC bloc. Now politicians are trying to bring all the communities together for electoral benefits.

Parties do not give tickets to the ‘Left’ candidate because if an untouchable is elected, he may come to a voter’s house and many don’t want to face such a situation. So, what these parties cleverly do is give tickets to only ‘touchable’ SC candidates. Now the trend is changing.

There are two challenges: Dalit empowerment and ensuring genuine harmony among Dalits. What is the way forward?

I think Dalits have to fight for the cause of non-Dalit poor too. I feel, non-Dalit poor should also get reservation. A new type of solidarity should happen, social untouchability should encompass economic untouchability too.

There is a large section of non-Dalits who are sympathetic towards non-Dalits. They should be brought in.

At a time when violent behaviour is preferred by sections in the upper castes and Dalits as well, do you think your advice will be heeded?

We have to make an honest effort. When leaders have credibility, I think, people will heed them. People like me and Devanuru Mahadev should try to train youngsters on these lines.

The hindu

Dalits and the remaking of Hindutva


The conflict between Ambedkarite consciousness and Hindutva over religion, politics and society has become even more violent with the intrusion of state power

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s relations with the Dalits are tense and complex. For the party, Dalit assertiveness has become hard to comprehend, let alone accept, reminding us of a popular folk idiom, ‘Na Nigalte Bane, Na Ugalte Bane’ (neither can it be swallowed nor can it be thrown out). The BJP is showing an interest in accommodating Dalit groups, but it knows that this embrace is not palatable for its core supporters.

The BJP in its strongholds in northern and western India has been seen as a party of the urban middle class, the Banias, and a section of Brahmins. Over time, the party also brought the Other Backward Classes and the Most Backward Classes within its fold. With the retreat of socialist politics, the rural neo-rich from the backward castes began feeling marginalised in national politics and moved towards Hindutva politics. From the 1970s to 1990s, this community purchased rural land at a much faster rate and emerged as a landed community. On the one hand, this affluent group appears to be part of the new political leadership for post-Mandal Hindutva politics; on the other, being the landed community, it is also perceived to be the oppressor of Dalits in everyday rural life.

Along this 1970s-onwards timeline, another change slowly took place. Dalits too became more assertive in electoral politics, mainly due to a growing democratic consciousness and a deeper quest for identity. The BJP was thus politically compelled to appeal for Dalit votes, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) subsequently took charge of providing a Dalit base to the BJP.

Absorbing dissent in the mainstream

In recent decades, the BJP and RSS have been initiating intensive nationwide programmes and campaign activities such as arranging community meals (Samrasta Bhoj), opening schools in Dalit settlements, and organising sensitisation campaigns for upper castes. The primary objective of the Samajik Samrasta campaign launched in Maharashtra in 1983 was to eradicate internal conflicts in society while its second aim was to assimilate Dalits into the mainstream by providing them with health, educational and entrepreneurial assistance. A crucial move was to invite Dalits to eat khichri with the upper castes.

The Sangh Parivar also propagated the concept of Ramarajya in which the upper and lower castes come together in social life as well as in democratic politics. For instance, the Ramayana and Lord Rama have been projected as symbols of unity by contending to Dalits that Rama was always linked to the deprived masses and that the epic centred around the Dalits. According to this viewpoint, the Dalits played a significant role in Rama’s life history — in the quest to find Sita in Lanka, for example, the role of Sugriva, Angada, Jambavan, Hanuman and the monkey brigade, all symbolising the underprivileged, was crucial, according to Sangh and BJP ideologues. This showed the Sangh’s attempt to absorb growing Dalit dissent against Brahminism and their struggle for self-respect and equality, and transforming their newly emerging Dalit-Bahujan identity into a Hindutva one.

Communalisation and saffronisation of public spaces is a new strategy adopted by the BJP to mobilise each Dalit caste individually by evoking its unique caste identity. The party reinterpreted and recreated the cultural resources of Dalits at the local level, including their caste histories and heroes, with the aim of saffronising the Dalit psyche and memory, ultimately transforming them into sites for political control. The local heroes of various castes, particularly Dalits, have been selected by the party in different regions for incorporation into one unified Hindutva metanarrative.

Acknowledging the political and electoral importance of the Pasis, an important Dalit community in North India, the RSS launched a campaign in search of the community’s heroes. Following this, Suhaldev, an icon of the Pasi community, was projected as a Rashtra Rakshak Shiromani (the greatest saviour of the nation) for defending Hindu culture and the country from Muslim intruders by forming a confederation of local kings. Festivals were also organised in memory of Suhaldev in Chittora. Thus the RSS and BJP projected the Dalits as the militia — saviours who made up the army of protectors of Hindu dharma.

Appropriating Ambedkar

Of late, the BJP has endeavoured to appropriate B.R. Ambedkar, as is evident from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inauguration of the world-class memorial in the Indu Mills compound in Mumbai, and of Ambedkar’s memorial at his partially restored London house. Also, prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, BJP president Amit Shah took part in caste rallies and meetings of various Dalit communities.

A big dilemma of the RSS and BJP is that they are willing to assimilate Dalits within their fold but just in form of a vote bank. For this, the Sangh Parivar is trying hard to incorporate the Dalit identity in the Hindutva ideology, but wants those from the forward castes and middle castes to remain leaders. Till now, Dalits have not been given any crucial role under the BJP and RSS leadership. After Independence, due to various state-led developmental efforts, a literate, critical Dalit leadership has emerged. These leaders are inspired by the writings of Periyar E.V. Ramasami, Jyotiba Phule and Ambedkar, and their consciousness is informed by criticism of Hindu religion and Hindutva ideology. Though a small part of this group is under the BJP’s influence, it is also influenced by Ambedkarite thought. The RSS has not come to terms with this.

It is this situation that could lead to clashes in educational institutions between students charged with Ambedkarite consciousness and those belonging to Sangh-affiliated organisations. Clashes could also occur as it may not be easy for the belligerent middle castes, who have become influential in recent decades under the BJP leadership, to accept these Dalit groups’ assertion. All this could also cause tension within Sangh organisations.

Thus, a conflict between Ambedkarite consciousness and Hindutva consciousness over religion, politics and society has become even more violent with the intrusion of the power of the state. After coming to power, the BJP wants to crush through government interference every idea that opposes its own. The biggest challenge before the Sangh Parivar in the politics of Dalit appropriation is the clash of ideas. In the process of the RSS and the BJP trying to subsume Dalit ideas under bigger narratives of development and nationalism, it is not only the young Ambedkarites who are being attacked; the Sangh organisations are also hurting themselves.

(Badri Narayan is professor, Centre for the study of Discrimination and Exclusion, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University.)

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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