Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 19.02.16

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India caste violence in Rohtak leads to tightened security- BBC


‘Postpone inquiry into Rohith suicide’ – The Times Of India


Communities clash over using private land for defecation – The Hindu


Dalit men arrested in Varanasi for asking permission to protest against Modi – Catch News


‘We are all anti-nationals’ – The Hindu


Dalits still left out – The Indian Express



Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)



India caste violence in Rohtak leads to tightened security


51 minutes ago

From the sectionIndia

Authorities in the northern Indian town of Rohtak have tightened security to control caste-related violence.

At least 15 people were injured on Thursday after a rally by the Jat community, demanding better access to jobs and education, turned violent.

Clashes between rival caste groups in Haryana

The protesters blocked major highways, stopped railway traffic and clashed with rival caste groups.

The Jat community wants quotas in government jobs, but other caste groups have opposed their demands.

The police have also suspended mobile internet services in Rohtak and banned any gathering of more than four people.

Rohtak’s superintendent of police ShashankAnand said that the measures were taken “to maintain law and order” in the district.

Extra paramilitary forces had been deployed to help the police in keeping the city calm, he added.

have banned any assembly of more than four people

The Haryana state administration has also tightened security in the neighbouring towns of Sonepat and Jhajjar.

Chief Minister ManoharLalKhattar held an emergency meeting on Thursday night to asses the situation in the state.

The Jats are currently listed as upper caste but they are demanding the status of Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The community’s leaders say that the quotas for OBCs and other lower castes puts them at a disadvantage in government jobs and state-run educational institutes.

The Indian government has divided people from lower castes in three categories as part of its affirmative action policy to offer quotas in jobs and educational institutes.

The communities listed as the Scheduled Castes (SCs) are essentially the lowest in the Hindu caste hierarchy, locally referred to as Dalits.

The Scheduled Tribes (STs) are the people who mostly live in remote areas.

The OBCs are educationally and economically backward but do not face so much exclusion or isolation.

The Times Of India

‘Postpone inquiry into Rohith suicide’


TNN | Feb 19, 2016, 05.54 AM IST

HYDERABAD: A month after RohithVemula’s death at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), the Centre for Dalit Studies (CDS), a non-government organisation, urged the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD) on Thursday to postpone the Commission of Inquiry probe scheduled for February 23.

The MHRD, on February 10, had appointed Justice Ashok Kumar Roopanwal (retd.) as the one-member commission to inquire into the events that unfolded at UoH that eventually compelled Dalit scholar RohithVemula to commit suicide in a hostel room on January 17. While the proceedings of the inquiry were set to begin from February 23, the CDS urged the ministry to postpone the date to the first week of March.

“The Chalo Delhi programme is scheduled on the day of inquiry i.e. February 23. Therefore, the ministry should postpone the proceedings so that all the stakeholders can participate in the proceedings,” said MallepallyLaxmaiah, member of CDS.

Even the UoH students’ union had submitted a representation to the commission on February 17 seeking postponement of the date of inquiry. “The dates mentioned by the

commission are inconvenient for the students to be present for the depositions. We request you to reschedule the inquiry to February 27 or after,” stated the representation.

In the three-day probe from February 23 to 25, the commission intends to record depositions from representatives of the students’ union, association of teaching and non-teaching staff, chief proctor, chief warden, deans, officials of equal opportunities cell/SC/ST cell, officials of students grievance cell and anti-ragging cell. The commission has also summoned vice chancellor Appa Rao Podile, acting VC M Periasamy, registrar M Sudhakar and officials from the finance department, among many others.

The Hindu

Communities clash over using private land for defecation



Tension prevailed in Angadihalli near Hagare in Belurtaluk on Wednesday night after two groups got into a heated argument following a scuffle over using private land for defecation.

Three people suffered minor injuries and two separate cases have been registered at Halebidu police station. The injured have been admitted to Hassan Institute of Medical Sciences.

Around 10 people have been taken into custody.

The clashes broke out around 8 p.m. when a group of people belonging to the Ediga community objected to people from the Hakki-Pikki tribal community using their private agricultural land for defecation.

A majority of the tribal community people do not have land or houses with toilets. Their settlements are surrounded by lands belonging to the Ediga community. Senior police officers, including SP Raman Gupta, visited the village and succeeded in restoring peace. Police have been deployed to maintain law and order.

Hooraja, a tribal leader, told The Hindu: “Our youths and women were beaten up severely. We have sought police protection and have filed a complaint against seven people under the SC,ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.” He said that if tribal community people were provided basic amenities, they would not go elsewhere.

Catch News

Dalit men arrested in Varanasi for asking permission to protest against Modi



|19 February 2016

Two Dalit men were arrested on Thursday for asking permission to wave black flags during the visit of Prime Minister NarendraModi to the Banaras Hindu University on 22 February, reports The Indian Express.

Vilas Kharat and Vijay PratapBharatiya, both senior office holders of the BharatiyaVidyarthiMorcha (BVM), the youth wing of Bharat MuktiMorcha, were charged with breaching peace after they met Varanasi district magistrate RajmaniYadav on Thursday morning for permission for a peaceful protest. They were later released on personal bonds of Rs 1 lakh each.

“Our protest is on the issue of RohithVemula being killed through a conspiracy hatched by two Union ministers, SmritiIrani and BandaruDattatreya,” said Vilas. “We wanted to give a memorandum to the PM seeking action against both.”

Vilas added: “SC/ST students are facing harassment on the BHU campus too. We wanted to seek action against BHU authorities because a research scholar PokhrajMeena is facing caste atrocities there.”

The BVM will continue with its protests during the Prime Minister’s visit even though they have been denied permission to do so.

The Varanasi district administration has been jumpy about protests ever since two Dalit men chanted slogans against Modi at an event at BabasahebBhimraoAmbedkar University last month.

The BVM is associated with All India Backward, and Minorities Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF).

The Hindu

‘We are all anti-nationals’



Singer and poet SheetalSathe, whose troupe has been accused of being anti-national, on her dream of bringing about a cultural revolution through music

Singer and poet SheetalSathe uses music as a form of protest to highlight oppression of women and Dalits. A member of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), she was in jail for three months on the charge that she and her husband were Maoists. The couple and other members of KKM had courted arrest voluntarily. Ms. Sathe’s husband has been in jail for the last two and a half years; she is out on bail. Ms. Sathe was in Delhi to sing about RohithVemula, the research scholar from the University of Hyderabad who committed suicide last month. She spoke toAnuradha Raman about deshbhakts (patriots) and deshdrohis (national traitors), the problem of power, and the capacity of music in addressing inequalities. Excerpts:

Some politicians in the BharatiyaJanata Party and the RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh’s student wing, the AkhilBharatiyaVidyarthiParishad, have called RohithVemula anti-national. You have been called one too. You and your husband have been called Maoists and have been jailed. How do you come to terms with all this?

It is an irony that those who fight against caste to make society more equal and inclusive and are working towards building the nation are called anti-national. My troupe, the Kabir Kala Manch, has been called anti-national for the issues we have raised. By that yardstick we are all anti-nationals. We are quite often not allowed to perform. When our troupe members are arrested, it makes me wonder who the real deshbhakts are today.

Who do you think are the deshbhakts?

I think the definition varies from people to people and the political parties they belong to or identify with. For the BJP, this stems from a belief in the caste system, in an entrenched patriarchy and in seeing to it that these are perpetuated. This gets reflected in the party’s attitude towards women. Anyone who speaks against the caste system automatically becomes a deshdrohi. Vemula, who was a member of the Ambedkar Students Association, was a deshdrohi as he questioned the system that discriminated against him. Similarly, those who eat differently are deshdrohis. The Congress, on the other hand, has never clarified its position on deshbhakts. I would like to tell all of them that I am patriotic too and I believe in the Constitution.

Is this labelling of desh bhakti more pronounced now under the BJP government? Even colleges and campuses are witnessing pitched battles between students who have positioned themselves as nationalists and those who have not.

Satta [power] makes people confident. I do get that sense as I find that those who want to preserve democracy and protect the freedom of expression are under attack and are being suppressed. The Congress keeps calling itself secular though its real stand is quite confusing while the BJP’s is far more specific. The majority of numbers and being in satta has given confidence to the BJP and its ideology gets political credibility.

Are the deshbhakts coming in conflict with the Ambedkarites? Who are the Ambedkarites?

Anyone who believes in the annihilation of caste is an Ambedkarite. And there will be a struggle between those who believe in caste and those who don’t.

What do you have to say to those who have joined the BJP? Would you call them Ambedkarites too?

Caste is by birth and you are born into it. But ideology is not by birth. Those who have aligned with a party that believes and perpetuates the caste system cannot be called Ambedkarites.

Why do you say so? Isn’t the capture of power too a way of tackling the inequalities of the system?

Does the BJP have a plan for the annihilation of caste? If it does, it should make it public. The ideology of the party reinforces its caste bias.

Your husband and you were arrested on the charge that you are Maoists. Are you one?

The Kabir Kala Manch is ideologically opposed to Maoism, which we believe is a dogmatic way of looking at the world. The Constitution that we have given to ourselves is what we believe in.

How does music help you address the inequalities of society?

I am trained as a singer and this is the only way I can register my protest. I tell everyone that we live in an unequal world. I dream of bringing about a cultural revolution through my music. If they don’t allow me to sing on the campuses, I will sing on the roads, anywhere. I sang in Jawaharlal Nehru University and Ambedkar University, and the students came out to listen. I sang at the Press Club of India and there were people willing to listen to the songs of protest.

You constantly refer to freedom of expression. What do you understand by free speech? What is the context of your reference?

My Constitution gives me the right to speak. I am also aware that this right is not available to all. When my audience is women from the villages of Maharashtra, Dalit women are my reference. I am a Dalit woman and Dalit women are at the bottom of the social structure, both within their own caste and outside. Their struggle is against caste as well as class. Till she speaks up, freedom of expression will remain an intent in the Constitution. And I speak on behalf of the women I represent. When I am asked to speak on RohithVemula, it is the students who are taking on the well-entrenched caste system in the universities, who are the subjects of my song, and I sing for them.

The Indian Express

Dalits still left out


Discrimination against Dalits is rising despite stronger laws. Attitudes of police, judiciary must change

Written by Christophe Jaffrelot | Published:February 18, 2016 12:04 am

The Dalit mobilisation that is gaining momentum in the wake of RohithVemula’s suicide reflects structural issues that he was well aware of. Certainly, reservations have given birth to Dalit entrepreneurs and a Dalit middle class benefiting from government jobs. But in spite of this, or because of this, anti-Dalit attitudes have been on the rise.

The number of registered cases of anti-Dalit atrocities, notoriously under-reported, jumped by 17.1 per cent in 2013 (compared to 2012) according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The increase was even more dramatic between 2013 and 2014 — 19.4 per cent. The word “atrocities” needs to be fleshed out here, otherwise it will become another bureaucratic, abstract euphemism.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (the PoA act), gives a list of “offences and atrocities”.

Someone is guilty of one of these “offences and atrocities” if he or she forces a Dalit or an Adivasi “to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance”, “forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him [sic] naked or with painted face or body”, dispossesses him “from his land”, compels him to do “bonded labour”, “exploits her sexually”, “corrupts or fouls the water” he or she is using, denies him or her “right of passage to a place of public resort”, forces him or her “to leave his house, village or other place of residence”, etc.

This list is surprising, not only because of its detail but also because the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar had already taken care of most of these issues. Article 17 abolishes untouchability, Article 23 prohibits bonded labour and Article 15(2) stipulates that no citizen should be subject to restriction with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of entertainment, the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort on the grounds of caste. In 1955, the Untouchability (Offences) Act reasserted that Dalits should not be prevented from entering any public place. Then, in 1976, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act was passed. In 1989, why did a new, detailed law have to be made that listed instances of “offences and atrocities”? Because none of the previous legislation had made any difference.

The PoA Act has not made a huge impact either, as evident from the figures mentioned above. Atrocities have continued, unbearably. In October 2014, a 15-year-old boy was burnt alive by an upper-caste man in Mohanpurvillage (Rohtas district) because his goats had eaten his paddy crop. In June 2015, two Dalit boys were killed in an altercation because they were short of Rs 4 in a flour mill of Allahabad. In October 2015, two kids of three and eight were burnt alive in their house in Ballabgarh village (Haryana) after an argument with local Rajputs. In May this year, a 21-year-old Dalit man was killed in Shirdi (Maharashtra) because he was playing a song in praise of Ambedkar.

In parallel, Dalit women continue to be victims of violence and rape, the same way as Mahasweta Devi, who turned 90 this month, described them decades ago in her short stories.

What has been the response of the state, lately? A new law was passed. Last month, the Indian Parliament made the existinglegislation even more sophisticated. This law provides stringent action against those who sexually assault Dalits and Adivasis and occupy their land illegally; it also declares as an offence garlanding with footwear a man or a statue, compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses or do manual scavenging.

Will that make any difference? Not if the police and the judiciary do not change their attitude. In spite of the fact that the PoA Act has introduced special courts for speedy trials, the conviction rate under this act has remained very low and has declined even — from 30 per cent in 2011 to 22.8 per cent in 2013 (more recent data are not available). And the percentage of “pending cases” has increased from80 to 84 per cent.

But to have a case registered under the PoA Act is in itself a problem. On average, only one-third of the cases of atrocities are registered under the PoA Act. The police is reluctant to do so because of the severity of the penalties likely to be imposed by the act.

Many Dalits do not know their rights anyway and cannot fight a legal battle that is costly in terms of time and money. The 2011 Census offers a poignant picture of the socio-economic condition of the SCs, which explains their vulnerability. Out of the 4,42,26,917 Dalit households in India, 74 per cent live in rural areas, where the per-household land area they own on an average is less than 0.3 ha — most of them are landless. A total of 2,06,16,913 Dalit households live in one room and 1,39,24,073 in two rooms. Only 22 per cent of the Dalit households live in larger homes. And only 34 per cent of them have toilets in their premises. More than 50 per cent Dalit households use firewood as their main fuel for cooking.

The literacy rate among Dalits is rising, though. In 2011, their literacy rate crossed the 66 per cent landmark (8 percentage points below the non-SC/STs). But educated Dalits want more — to join the university system. Some of them have succeeded in doing so, but they often face frustrating experiences when they are discriminated against in the very institution that should promote social mobility. RohithVemula was one of them. There are many others. Take the case of Senthil Kumar from Jalakandapuram (near Salem). This son of a pig-breeder joined Hyderabad University, just like RohithVemula, and got a PhD scholarship in physics in 2007. But he committed suicide in 2008 — victim of the local atmosphere — after failing his exams and losing his scholarship. Today, the children of his family don’t want education — his mother even “hates education”. But can a country progress if a fifth of its population does not have full access to higher education? What kind of development (today’s key word in India) will that be?

The writer is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/ CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian politics and sociology at King’s India Institute, London, and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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