Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 21.02.16

Missing JNU girl pride of Bihar’s Dalit village – The Times Of India


Rohith Suicide: MHRD Panel’s Clean Chit to Dattatreya – The Indian Express


Students Propose ‘Rohith Act’ to Stop Discrimination – The Indian Express


Dalit students who heckled NarendraModi are now ‘lead protest speakers’ – The Indian Express


Govt begins reservation of projects for SC/ST contractors – Deccan Herald


RSS wants a piece of Ambedkar – Mid Day


MeenakshiShedde: Women in love – Mid Day


Please Watch:

P Sainath speaks at #StandWithJNU



JNU crackdown: Has there been a media trial?



Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)


The Times Of India

Missing JNU girl pride of Bihar’s Dalit village


Sayantanee Choudhury | TNN | Feb 21, 2016, 06.32 AM IST

Ara (Bihar): Chintu Kumar, the former JNUSU general secretary who is among the students Delhi Police is looking to question on the February 9 event, is the pride of HarijanTola of Kolodihri village in Bihar’s Bhojpur district. Chintu was schooled with the CPI(M-L)’s help in Delhi before she joined JNU, where she is doing her MPhil. Kumar, who is in her 20s, was elected as JNUSU general secretary in 2014 as All India Students Association (AISA) candidate.

Chintu’s parents are members of AISA’s parent organisation — CPI(M-L).

Her father, Ramlakhan, went into hiding after upper caste militia RanvirSena massacred 21dalits in BathaniTola in 1996. He had led a farm labourers’ agitation for wage increase, which had angered the landed gentry.

The south Bhojpur region, in which Kolodihri and BathaniTola are located, was infamous as “killing fields” of Bihar as ultra-leftist CPI (M-L), then outlawed, took on the upper caste landlords leading to the loss of many lives in late 1980s and 1990s. Chintu’s mother, Sarojini, 40, sells bangles to earn a living, while her two younger sisters are being schooled in Delhi courtesy the CPI(ML). Her brother Sandeep stays at the CPI(M-L)’s office in Ara and is in college.

Sarojini was furious about labelling her daughter as an anti-national. “All we want is our children should be educated so that they can serve the country. We do not expect them to earn and feed us or build a house for us,” she told TOI. She said they are Leftists “to the core”, but not anti-nationals. Sarojini blamed the BJPled central government’s “nefarious” designs for branding Chintu an “anti-national”. She questioned why Chintushould surrender. “…to be beaten up by black coats belonging to the saffron brigade in full view of police like Chintu’s friend Kanhaiya Kumar is being assaulted.”

The Indian Express

Rohith Suicide: MHRD Panel’s Clean Chit to Dattatreya


By Express News Service  Published: 21st February 2016 04:07 AM  Last Updated: 21st February 2016 04:07 AM

HYDERABAD: The two-member fact-finding committee which spoke to various sections of people at the University of Hyderabad on RohithVemula’s suicide case, is said to have given a clean chit to Union minister BandaruDattatreya while blaming the university management for the suicide of the Dalit scholar.

The panel has reportedly suggested re-examining events at the university starting from first week of August till Rohith’s suicide, by an appropriate body, pointed out gaps in communication between the university officials and the protesting students.

A two-member committee of the Union ministry of human resource development (MHRD), consisting of Surat Singh, deputy secretary, ShakilaShamsu, officer on special duty, visited the University of Hyderabad in January, when students were  protesting for justice to Dalit research scholar RohithVemula, who committed suicide on January 17.

The panel, sources said, is understood to have said the management of the Hyderabad Central University had not taken immediate action despite six reminders, leading to hunger strike and suicide by the suspended student.

The two-member committee spoke with and took deposition from protesting students besides speaking to the officials of the university. The committee reportedly remarked in their report that enquiry by Executive Council’s subcommittee into expulsion of RohithVemula and four other scholars, was not up to the mark.

It also pointed out that some students seemed to feel academic discrimination and noted that recommendations were made by committees formed to examine student deaths in the university, but they were not implemented. It strongly suggested for standard procedures to be put in place to deal with academic dejection.

On February 10, the MHRD appointed a Commission of Inquiry to probe into the events leading to death of Rohith. The one-man commission is scheduled to meet the students, teaching staff, and other sections of UoH, from February 23 to 25.

Joint Action Committee for Social Justice-UoH demanded for postponement of the dates to February 27 or after. The last communication in the university’s website, regarding the enquiry dates, stated that schedule of proceedings will remain the same.

The Indian Express

Students Propose ‘Rohith Act’ to Stop Discrimination


By Express News Service Published: 21st February 2016 04:04 AM  Last Updated: 21st February 2016 04:06 AM

HYDERABAD: The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of students’ organisations demanded the government to introduce a ‘Rohit Act’ to prevent discrimination against students in the name of religion, caste and social status.

Students Federation of India (SFI), Progressive Democratic Students Union (PDSU), All India Students Federation (AISF), among other student organisations formed a JAC recently to campaign for the introduction of Rohit Act and held a round table discussion in the city on Saturday.

“Universities should nurture an environment where students can express their views in their respective institutions. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Student Union presidentKanhaiya Kumar did not express anything wrong, but he is branded as an anti-national by right-wing forces. Even the Supreme Court’s decision in case of Kanhaiya’s bail petition is disheartening. A new Rohit Act has to be introduced to stop discrimination against students in universities,” said Kota Ramesh, president of Students Federation of India, Telangana, while speaking at the round table conference.

“The BJP government at the Centre has been making efforts to push its Hindutva agenda in all spheres of life and convert India into a Hindu nation from a democratic nation. It is first selecting universities to spread its Hindutva ideology and is crushing the voices of underprivileged and disadvantaged section of students. The suicide of RohitVemula and arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar are examples of Union Government’s intolerance towards SC,STs and minorities of India, which should be stopped,” alleged J Srinivas, president of PDSU’s Telangana Unit.

Students from various parts of Telangana participated in the round table discussion and came up with suggestions to campaign for the Rohit Act against discrimination in universities.

A Venu, president of AISF, said that students will tour all districts and hold meetings in colleges to garner support for the Act and for relieving Kanhaiya Kumar.

Former secretary general of Indian Journalists Union (IJU) K Srinivas Reddy, Veekshanam magazine editor N Venugopal and student leaders from various organisations participated in the discussion.

The Indian Express

Dalit students who heckled NarendraModi are now ‘lead protest speakers’


On February 14, RamkaranNirmal and Amarendra Kumar Arya were in Ghazipur where they addressed a gathering of students at AmbedkarUddyan.

Written by Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Updated: February 21, 2016 11:20 am

A few minutes of raising slogans in front of Prime Minister NarendraModi over the suicide of research scholar RohithVemula has pushed two Dalit youths into the forefront of protest politics with the duo getting invites from across Uttar Pradesh to address functions.

RamkaranNirmal and Amrendra Kumar Arya had raised the slogans of “NarendraModi go back” and “Rohith hum sharmindahain, Dronacharyaabhizindahai (Rohith, we are ashamed that Dronacharya is still alive)” when PM was addressing the students during convocation ceremony of BabasahebBhimraoAmbedkar University, in Varanasi on January 22.

On February 13, Nirmal and Arya attended a function organised by All India Ambedkar Students Association, which has the support of BHU SC/ST Teachers’ Welfare Society. “It was attended by Dalit, OBC and other students of BHU, KashiVidyapeeth and UP College. I appealed to them to oppose Modi’s visit to Varanasi on February 22 on RavidasJayanti. We have to stand up against injustice,” NirmaltoldThe Indian Express.

He said Arya too accompanied him during the event. “We move together,” Nirmal said.

“We are receiving calls from across UP from people inviting us for attending functions. Now, we are so pressed for time that we have cancelled several invites,” Nirmal said.

On February 14, Nirmal and Arya were in Ghazipur where they addressed a gathering of students at AmbedkarUddyan. “I have received an invite from Ballia but I have to cancel it as there is urgent situation in JNU and we are leaving for Delhi,” Nirmal said.

Another programme in Gorakhpur has been put on hold due to their prior engagements, they claimed. “We received several invites from Lucknow. We are yet to finalise them,” he claimed.

Prior to it, the duo travelled to Hyderabad Central University followed by JNU and Delhi University. Now, they will be attending a protest march on February 23 at JantarMantar in Delhi and also have plans to meet BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar. Amidst this, they collected their degrees and gold medals from Ambedkar BBA University in Lucknow on February 11.

Apart from Dalit groups, Left leaning bodies such as AISA and SFI too have invited them. “We accept invites from progressive people. We speak for all Dalits, Muslims, OBC and women,” Nirmal said.

“Our demands remain the same. We are pushing fort justice for RohithVemula who was forced to commit suicide due to political reasons. Our demands include action and FIR against vice-chancellor (of Hyderabad university) , and Union Ministers BandaruDattatreya and SmritiIrani; Rs 50 lakh compensation to Rohith’s family and job to his brother,” Nirmal said.

Deccan Herald

Govt begins reservation of projects for SC/ST contractors


Rajashekara S, February 21, 2016, Bengaluru, DHNS

Sand mining blocks, 11 BBMP skywalks go to the community

As part of its economic empowerment plan for dalits, the state government has started reserving contracts in some departments to SCs and STs. In recent tenders called by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP), certain works related to sand blocks and skywalks were reserved for SCs and STs.

 Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). DH File Photo.

Reservation is, however, restricted to works below Rs 50 lakh. The previous Jitan Ram Manjhi government in Bihar had also reserved of 50 percent of projects not exceeding Rs 15 lakh to dalit contractors. Tenders called by the BBMP reserved 11 of the 41 proposed skywalks to SC/STs while the Davangere division of the PWD reserved nine sand mining blocks to the community.

 The Legislative panel on SCs/STs welfare had suggested reservation for dalits in mining (only for minor minerals) and all government works taken up by the PWD. The panel, headed by MLA PM Narendraswamy had suggested 24.1 percent reservation in all works below Rs 50 lakh undertaken by the PWD and in sand and granite mining to “economically empower’’ weaker sections.

Secretary, (Social Welfare department), GangaramBaderiya told Deccan Herald that a proposal to bring reservation for all procurements and works taken through the The Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) Act by all government agencies is pending before the finance department for approval.

Referring to reserving contracts for SCs/ST contractors, E Venkataiah, adviser to the Social Welfare Department said, “Individual departments might have done it on their own after a government circular.’’

The Social Welfare department has demanded a similar reservation for the community in sanctioning liquor shop licences. “The proposal is pending before the Finance Department,” Venkataiah said.

Asked if such reservations would affect the quality of works, Narendraswamy said it was the job of the quality control cell to ensure quality. “Do you assure that all works done by others are 100 percent quality works? We cannot deny rights of these people on that pretext,’’ he said.

Reserved sand blocks

Tenders called by the PWD for sand blocks and godowns in three taluks at Harihar, Honnali and Harapanahalli in Davangere by the PWD executive engineer reserved the following blocks to SC/STs: Badaganalu, Malahalli, Malali, Balleshwara, BeliMalluru – 2, Bullapura, Bagewadi, Vatlahalli (Kadati) – 1.

Mid Day

RSS wants a piece of Ambedkar


By Varun Singh |Posted 21-Feb-2016

With an eye on the UP elections and BMC polls of 2017, RSS through the ABVP plans a movement to convince Dalits that Ambedkar was ‘everyone’s’ leader

The AkhilBharatiyaVidyarthiParishad (ABVP), a right-wing all India student organization, has a new task on hand — to lend a saffron tinge to Dalit leader Dr B R Ambedkar. The upper-caste Hindu dominated RashtriyaSwayamsevakSangh (RSS) is trying hard to woo Dalits voters, and has realized that it will do well if it can own a piece of the leader. And the ABVP members are its foot soldiers.

DrAmbedkar’s 125th birth anniversary which falls on April 14 is the perfect opportunity to make the first strike.

The ABVP, which is the student wing of the RSS, has seen a recent resurrection in Mumbai and the state thanks to the many controversies it has been involved in. The plan, say sources, is to organize rallies between April 1 and 14, across Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Palghar and Shahpur. The final gala will be held in Mahad, where Ambedkar in 1927 led a satyagraha for untouchables so that they could use water from a public tank where they were prohibited entry.

To make peace between BrahmanicalHindusim which the RSS is known to propagate and Dalit rights, a piece appeared in the RSS mouthpiece, Organiser, which said, ‘Ambedkar was fighting against the dichotomies, contradictions and evils of the Hindu society and not the Hindu society and civilisation itself.’

This was not the first time that the RSS had tried to invoke the issue of Ambedkar. Last year, at a gathering of RSS ideologues in Dadar’sSawarkarSmarak, Bhaiyyaji Joshi, General Secretary of RSS, had likened Ambedkar with DrKeshavHedgewar, RSS founder, and said both were born in the same year and worked for the same cause.

On ground, an initiative called One Temple, One Well, One Crematorium, launched by the RSS is trying to woo the Dalit community.

Yadunath Joshi, organization secretary of ABVP, says, “Ambedkar has been seen as a leader of Dalits, which is not true. He was a mass leader, a leader of all. The Samrasta rally in April will take our volunteers to housing societies so that everyone can join in.”

On Monday, ABVP’s North Mumbai Unit is going to hold an outreach programme that will discuss Ambedkar and his social justice struggle with students. This is expected to be replicated across ABVP’s district units. “VaibhavTripathi, General Secretary of ABVP, Mumbai North, sees it as an attempt to “bring both castes closer and work together on the goals set by Ambedkar”.

That the RSS ideology doesn’t allow it to embrace Gandhian or Nehruvian principles makes the Ambedkarite way attractive to gain followers.

Besides, say observers, the larger goal is with an eye on upcoming elections. In Uttar Pradesh, assembly elections are scheduled for 2017 while the BMC civic polls will kick off in early 2017. If RSS manages to get even a portion of the Dalit vote bank to warm up to it, it will minimize the damage. In the recent past, most Dfalits in Maharashtra have sided with AIMIM, which has been successful at garenering support among the Muslim and Dalit sections.

Former UP chief minister, Mayawati had tried to introduce social engineering to unite all Hindus irrespective of caste under one umbrella. The RSS is trying the same.

According to Joshi, the Mahad movement is planned to project Ambedkar as a national leader admired by everyone, including the upper castes.

Mid Day

MeenakshiShedde: Women in love


By MeenakshiShedde |Posted 21-Feb-2016

In this age of globalisation, it is worth noting that both the Indian films selected at the 66th Berlin Film Festival this year — NagrajManjule’sSairat (Wild, Marathi) and Jayaraj Nair’s Ottaal (The Trap, Malayalam) — are very local films. They have not been anywhere near a script or co-production lab, nor have any foreign funding. Both films got rousing ovations and full houses at their screenings here in Berlin, so local can be very global. It is important that all the cinemas — Bollywood, international co-productions, and independent, regional films — be offered to audiences at festivals and at home. Good regional films can have locally rooted stories, original voices and rough textures, which may be smoothed out at labs, with foreign funders influencing the narrative. In fact, I raised this issue at ‘India’s Big Chance’, the European Film Market Industry Debate at the Berlin Film Festival last week.

A film poster of Sairat

Ottaal comes here loaded with National, Kerala State, Mumbai Film Festival and International Film Festival of Kerala awards. It is a lyrical film about a little boy and his grandfather in Kerala, that addresses child labour, about which I have written before. But NagrajManjule’sSairat just had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

Sairat is a powerful film about how a young couple in love in rural Maharashtra, feels the full force of the caste system. It is a worthy successor to Manjule’s National Award-winning short Pistulya, and impressive debut feature Fandry (Pig), which has been feted worldwide. Parshya (Prashant Kale), a charming, low caste boy in Bitargaon village, is madly in love with Archie (ArchanaPatil), the upper caste Patil’s feisty daughter. The venal Patil owns much of the village, and treats the lower castes with scorn. When Archie and Parshya are caught kissing, all hell breaks loose, and the couple elopes. In the anonymous freedom of a big city, they get a life — jobs, a baby, even a new flat. They are a loving, decent, hardworking couple, who want nothing more than to be left alone to pursue domestic happiness. But caste has deep roots in India, and the stunning climax is so unexpected — though it should hardly surprise — it makes you gasp.

For all the apparent modernity of Indian cities, feudal, rural traditions still rule. Love is still a punishable crime. When Archie and Parshya’s affair is ‘exposed’, the Patils’ goons brutalise the couple; Patil orders Parshya to move to another town; and Dalit houses are burnt. When they elope, the police follow Patil’s orders, slapping false kidnap and rape cases, and arresting Parshya and his friends.

Sairat’s theme is similar to Fandry — about an impossible romance across the caste divide. But, Manjule takes his craft a step forward with mainstream elements — four songs and dances, and a dream sequence – and pulls it off with panache.

Sairat is a strongly feminist film — and its rural heroine does things few Bollywood urban heroines would dare to do today — other than Anushka Sharma in NH10. She drives the romance. She rides an Enfield Bullet to college, and a tractor to her boyfriend’s house. She shoots her dad’s goons with a gun, and even rescues the hero from police detention. How many Bollywood films would have the heroine saving the hero from a gang of goons? Would macho Salman Khan or Akshay Kumar agree?

The film is a searing socio-political comment on India’s deeply regressive sexism and patriarchy. The eloping lovers also pass right wing goons with saffron flags, thrashing couples on the road. Manjule has a marvelous gift for developing credible characters we care about, for telling scenes, a sharp ear for dialogue and wicked humour. He is finely tuned to the shifting feelings of the couple who finally have each other — self-doubt, loneliness, jealousy and missing home.

The ensemble cast is marvelous – RinkuRajguru as Archie, AakashThosar as Parshya, his lovable buddies, and all the minor characters. Sudhakar Reddy’s cinematography is superb. Ajay-Atul’s music is catchy ‘Yadlagla’), but four songs and the waltzy Western music are too much. The film is both cynical and hopeful, but it is rather long at 170 mins. Manjule, who has experienced first-hand the struggle for education, is today an acclaimed poet and filmmaker. Yet, love remains a crime. The film, co-produced by Zee Studios and Aatpat Productions, is scheduled for release in April. Don’t miss it.

MeenakshiShedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshishedde@gmail.com.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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