Dalits Media Watch – News Updates 09.03.16


Pujari suicide case: new public prosecutor appointed – The hindu


Happy or Hapless: Dalit Students With Dalit Professors – Counter current.org


Subhash Pannaiyar escapes murder bid – The hindu


Booked in murder case, Dalit boy drops out of college – The hindu


Gang Goes After Nadar Outfit Boss, Hacks Cronies – The new Indian express


Need cemeteries, not free pilgrimage: Christian leaders – The tribune


ABVP rebels burn “Manusmriti” despite JNU denying nod – Zee news


Utilisation of SC/ST sub-plans funds paltry, says study – The hindu


At JNU, caste trumps Hindutva – The hindu


Decades-old group rivalry revived – The hindu


Life’s not an easy ride for this Dalit woman rickshaw driver – Khaleej times



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The hindu

Pujari suicide case: new public prosecutor appointed


Principal District Judge R. Poornima adjourned the temple pujari suicide case to March 9 here on Tuesday for continuous hearing as the district administration appointed a new public prosecutor as per the direction of the High Court.

All the seven accused, including the prime accused O. Raja, brother of Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam, appeared before the court in the morning. However, the newly appointed public prosecutor was not present.

The district administration submitted the order appointing High Court lawyer Mohan of Erode as public prosecutor to argue the case on behalf of the petitioner Subbu Raj, father of the deceased. (Subbu Raj had filed a case in the High Court seeking another lawyer in the place of the public prosecutor appointed by the government in Dindigul.)

Defence Counsel M. Kannappan informed the court that Mr. Raja filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking clarifications on certain defects in the court decree directing appointment of a public prosecutor. The judge wanted to know whether the High Court issued any order in this connection. The lawyer replied that the writ was submitted in the HC and it was numbered. After hearing his argument, the Principal District Judge adjourned the case to Wednesday advising all the accused to appear before the court. Already, the Madurai bench had directed the subordinate court to dispose the case within four months.

Charges were framed against O. Raja and others on December 15. The Theni District Court had transferred the case to Dindigul District Court on November 25 as per direction of Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

  1. Nagamuthu (22) of T. Kallupatti village, a Dalit, who worked as pujari in Sri Kailasanathar hill temple in Periyakulam had committed suicide by hanging on December 8, 2012 after he was allegedly subjected to harassment.

Counter current.org

Happy or Hapless: Dalit Students With Dalit Professors


Rohit vemula’s ‘social death’ has had disastrous upshot on students, scholars, professors and the Dalits in general across the state by opening doors, for having debates, to understand the plight of Dalit students, who study Masters and Ph.D, at the higher educational institutions of India. My friend and the research scholar who is pursuing his doctorate in Chennai wrote an article, which briefly speaks of the general circumstances of Dalit students, recently in leading English daily. According to him, even Dalit professors humiliate Dalit students more than non-dalit professors. What extent the statement is honest? Is it true or merely a jargon? The readers, especially non-dalits, who had read the column, would have been perplexed.

We might have heard about many incidents of cruelest behaviors of the caste Hindu professors against oppressed sections. A short time ago in Tamilnadu, a Dalit youth, coming from a scavenging caste, who wanted to do Ph.D, got the seat under the guidance of a caste Hindu professor. As the student belongs to scavenging caste, the professor used to compel him to come to his residence not for the lessons or discussions but for cleaning his home. And whenever the student used to go to his home, even for proof correction, he insisted him to do so. The student, furthermore, was asked to help out his wife in drying her cloths and to carry out other domestic works.

Another student who is studying the subject of Beef eating and social exclusion did not/could not get any government fellowship till today as the title, probably, makes government of the day upset. The topics or the subjects, in most cases, Dalit student wishes to explore is not taken into consideration. If the topic consist words like Ambedkar or Dalit, the respective supervisors would be harassed so as an alternative they suggest the students to change the topic or change terminologies something like poor, disadvantaged, deprived, and economically backward.

‘Quota students, SC students, fellowship students’, these are the comments that Dalit students mostly encounter from other groups at the ‘Indian’ educational campuses. These abusive languages are comparable to what characteristically happens every minute in the Indian villages, where predominately caste Hindus have power over economic and political spheres, calling Dalits by the caste names with added filthy adjective. This necessarily need not be done by fellow students but also the teachers as well as staffs. When I joined M.Phil course at the Madurai University, a service staff in the office introduced me to the HOD as ‘sir, SC student, new admission’. Since then my caste has become so discernible to them that this kept me wondering and exasperating, what is the need for revealing my position, with self-evident specification, imposed on me, without my consent.

Students like the humiliated youths narrated in the above episodes or Senthilkumar or Vemula who have died because of continuous torture and discrimination, or ‘chain of events’ as enunciated by many scholars, by the caste Hindu professors. Many Dalit students, indeed, have been encountering many insidious forms of sufferings at all universities and research institutions. But this is also a myth that those students from oppressed sections who work with Dalit professors are not discriminated as much as the one working under caste Hindu Professors. In fact, it is assumed to be beneficial for both – student and the professor. We must introspect at this juncture that are Dalits students, who are pursuing his or her doctoral degree, at ease in the hands of Dalit professors or do professors really guide them without any exploitation?

Generally, we invoke discriminations if it is only done by non-Dalits or caste Hindus or occurs in the context of Dalit VS non- Dalit, not within Dalits. We therefore hardly ever discuss the issues of Dalit students working with Dalit professors. The incidents narrated in this paper attempt to draw your attention in order to understand and explicate the author’s personal experiences and others like himself. The paper stems from the experiences that are found by the author in the course of his study and interaction with students. As the author, aware of these issues, is not intend to present a negative image(s) of Dalit professors, who failed to offer ‘pedagogical accountability’ but to provide an overview as well to highlight the obstacles of Dalit students in the current research programmes. The author, on the other hand, strongly felt that the paper would intercede as a means to initiate a conversation between students and professors.

Slow learners, not proficient in English or who do not pronounce English well could not become prominent in Mathematics and Science subjects as compared to the students from other communities. These are the prejudices about Dalit students that are still ingrained in professors ‘caste minds’. One of the Dalit students who achieved top rank in the higher secondary school examination got admission at one of the premier institutions in India. One day in the class room he was humiliated by his professor asking him, ‘how did you get admission here? By your caste quota?’. The student, who got the seat under the general category based on his marks, felt that the professor not only put him down in front of the whole class but the whole community. Supervisors are very much being in love to tempt the students to cry out in front of them. In the very first year students are made to feel they do not have adequate knowledge to pursue Ph.D. As a result they lose hope on themselves and the subject. If you are married before joining they would ask why you got married. If you are not married they would say, ‘go and get married to someone and do other work. Do not come here’. Comments like this are not only made by ‘others’ but also expressed by Dalit professors.

Students of Dalit community are selected by even Dalit professors usually after having a long conversation with the respective students. Even these decisions are made in order to show their sympathy to the entire community, as if they are socially concerned. A Dalit student, who has worked earlier as guest lecturer, is pursuing her Ph D under Dalit professor for more than four years without any agreement on her research title or design or without receiving any academic guidance.

Another girl student coming from rural and poor background doing her Ph.D, everyday comes across sexual threats and sexual comment, though she courageously refused the advances right away and reprimanded the concerned person right away. She was selected by the same professor with promising words like ‘since you and I are from the same caste, we should work mutually so as to be trouble-free’. As she regards education, especially Ph.D, as an important dream of her life; she has tolerated all this from day one to present. The professor also intervenes into her personal matters and controls her mobility such as whom to speak and where to go. As his attempts, for sexual exploitation, have failed, eventually, he attempted to seize money as much as possible from her monthly fellowship, which mounted up to lakhs now. (Listen caste Hindu students, who murmur about Dalit fellowships, there are countless bitter stories)

A handful of Dalit professors generally show off themselves as ‘gatekeepers’, exceptions are there, of the Dalits students in front of other faculties and the institutions, especially where academic discussions takes place. But to the respective students group they are as matter of fact, hardly ever, guiding, encouraging and helping academically (or in other ways) related to the subjects that student wants to work on. They in fact I have personally experienced, try to construct emotional bonding with students by simply keeping the photograph of Ambedkar or pictorially representing his legendary quotations in their rooms. But unexpectedly the actions remain inconsistent to this and create ‘false consciousness’ among the students soon after. However, the young scholars still believe the teachers who speak of Ambedkar or the caste issues, whoever they are, would guide them contentedly.

Ideally students expect, in any case, positive attitudes from the professors. In contrast some of the Dalit professors have also been wounding dalit students psychologically by continuous daunting as other does. The crucial part is that they also very consciously opt for and prioritize their attention to the students such as first from their own sub caste then other caste groups. In some way, thus, Dalit professors also exploit students, so the hope in the minds of young students, who are coming with passion, to do research gets dashed. Dalit professors and intelligentsia need to think of special preparation for Dalits – who are can be an average or bright student; who may have studied in rural, government schools and colleges with inadequate infrastructure – in order to foster them. Students cannot be successful on their own without some encouragement or support from Dalit academia; therefore they need help from every corner, particularly among the educationists if Dalits really have to liberate themselves from the oppression. If we paraphrase Freire, pedagogy of the Dalits should be practiced by not only non-dalit professors but the oppressive Dalit professors too.

The hindu

Subhash Pannaiyar escapes murder bid


Two persons accused in the murder of Dalit leader Pasupathi Pandian were killed by a rival gang at the farm of Subhash Pannaiyar, a relative of late gangster Venkatesh Pannaiyar, at Pazhayakayal on Tuesday.

Subhash Pannaiyar narrowly escaped the attack.

Around 1 p.m. the gang entered the farm and hurled country-made bombs at Pannaiyar.

It then beheaded his accomplice M. Arumugasamy (32) of Surandai, and killed A. Kannan (52), a barber in Pazhayakayal.

The severed head was found at Deivaseyalpuram, sources said.

A bomb found in the farm remained unexploded.

A piece of broken glass was found in the rear side of a four-wheeler and a pouch to hold knife was recovered from the farm.

There is an impression that the attack was in revenge for the murder of Pasupathi Pandian by an armed gang at his residence in Nandhavanapatti, Dindigul on January 11, 2012.

  1. Ashokan, manager of the farm, said, “I only noticed a gang of around 40 men, who suddenly entered the farm carrying lethal weapons after parking their car and several bikes”.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, R. Dinakaran and Superintendent of Police, Ashwin M. Kotnis inspected the area.

Mr. Kotnis said the police got crucial leads in the case and were closing in on the accused. Striking force personnel would be deployed at Authoor and Arumuganeri and its surroundings, the SP said.

Tiruchendur Deputy Superintendent of Police, V. Gopal and local police personnel were present.

The Authoor police are yet to file a case.

The hindu

Booked in murder case, Dalit boy drops out of college


A Dalit youth in Ramanathapuram district has discontinued education after being “falsely” arraigned in a murder case and jailed for 65 days. The youth, M Karunakaran (21), a student of the Government Polytechnic College near Melur, was among the 12 accused arrested by the Paramakudi police in November last, in connection with the murder of a BJP functionary, C. Ramesh, near Thenpoduvakudi village.

While the police insist that Karunakaran was part of a gang that hacked the victim, three of the co-accused claimed to The Hindu that he was in no way connected with the crime and that they were not familiar with him.

Karunakaran and his family members say that on the day of the murder, he was at home as he was suffering from ear pain. A local paramedical staff says he administered injection to Karunakaran on that day at his home. Besides, medical records reveal that he had visited the Paramakudi Government Hospital, a day before the murder, with complaints of ear pain.

“I was on leave when the murder happened and attended classes from the next day onwards. But in the small hours of Friday (four days after the murder), I was arrested by the police,” said Karunakaran. College administration acknowledged his presence in the classroom during the two days after the murder.

The jurisdictional Inspector, A John Britto, said that all the 12 accused — incidentally all are Dalits — were involved in the murder,

“The victim was involved in a scuffle with V. Devaraj, the main accused in the case, over a minor road accident, a month before he was murdered,” he said.

Karunakaran’s advocate K Muthukannan claimed that his client was detained on suspicion and there was nothing to connect him to the crime.

‘Probe by external agency’

  1. Kathir, executive director of a civil liberties outfit ‘Evidence’, which is providing legal assistance to Karunakaran, has sought investigation by an external agency into the murder to bring out the truth.

However, N. Manivannan, Superintendent of Police of Ramanathapuram district, denied that Karunakaran was innocent and said that he was arrested only after investigation confirmed his involvement.

“As far as we are concerned, he is an accused in the case at this stage,” he said.

Ramanathapuram Superintendent of Police, however, said that he was arrested only after investigation confirmed his involvement

The new Indian express

Gang Goes After Nadar Outfit Boss, Hacks Cronies


THOOTHUKUDI: In a long running feud between the supporters of Venkatesh Pannaiyar, who was shot dead in a police encounter in Chennai in 2003, and slain Dalit leader Pasupathi Pandian, the latter’s men hurled country bombs targeting the former’s brother Subash Pannaiyar and his accomplices at his coconut farm in Sarvodayapuram near Palayakayal in the district on Tuesday.

Two persons – Subash Pannaiyar’s aide Arumugasamy and a barber, whose name was given as Kannan – were hacked to death thereafter by the gang. Subash Pannaiyar, President of the All India Nadar Padhukaappu Peravai, managed to escape the bomb attack with minor injuries, while Arumugasamy was singled out and murdered. They both were accused in the Pasupathi Pandian murder case and were out on bail.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident happened around 12.45 pm when a gang of 20 men whizzed past on two SUVs and high-speed bikes to the farm and hurled country bombs, scaring away the workers in the farm. Pannaiyar, who is said to have suffered minor injuries in the attack, was immediately escorted to safety by his supporters. Even as Arumugasamy was trying to take on the gang to protect his master, the gangsters picked him up, dragged him a few feet and attacked him with deadly weapons right inside Pannaiyar’s farm, police said, adding that barber Kannan, who was mistaken for Pannaiyar’s aide, was also hacked to death.

The gang, police said, severed Arumugasamy’s head, carried it with them and left it beside a board carrying Pandian’s portrait at Deivaseyalpuram en route Tirunelveli. Police recovered his torso and Kannan’s body, lying in a pool of blood at the farm, and, later, the severed head of Arumugasamy, and sent them to Thoothukudi Government Hospital for postmortem. Tirunelveli Range DIG R Dinakaran and Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police M Ashwin Kotnis inspected the scene of crime. Later, police arrested Kathiresan, one of the car drivers, at Seevalaperi.

A police source said that Pasupathi Pandian’s aides had vowed at their leader’s cemetery on his death anniversary to eliminate all those who had involved in murdering him before next January.  Pandian, founder of the Federation of Devendrakula Vellalars, was murdered outside his house in the outskirts of Dindigul on January 10, 2012.

Charged with criminal conspiracy, Subash Pannaiyar was named as the prime accused in the case, while Arumugasamy was the second accused, who is said to have executed the murder.

The tribune

Need cemeteries, not free pilgrimage: Christian leaders


Christian leaders in the constituency, where the community’s vote bank is pegged at a 22 per cent translating into 1.5 lakh voters, lashed out at the SAD-BJP government’s project of “Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra” terming it a ploy to appease the Christians ahead of the assembly elections.

A train carrying 1,000 pilgrims left for Chennai today even as prominent Christian leaders termed the yatra as an “electoral pilgrimage”.

Senior Christian leaders are not happy at the SAD’s decision to send pilgrims to see one of the oldest churches in Chennai.

Kanwal Bakshi, president, United Christian Front, claimed that instead of the train they needed cemeteries in villages, 2 per cent reservation in government jobs and heritage status for 60 churches in the state built during the British regime.

“For the past several decades we have been urging the successive governments to build cemeteries in villages. But nobody is listening. Instead of running the train, the government should first address our basic problems,” Bakshi said.

“There are around 60 churches in Punjab, constructed by the British, which are nearly 150 to 200 years old. They are in a dilapidated condition and nobody is bothered about their preservation. We want the government to declare these heritage property and do the needful to safeguard them for future generations,” stated another leader Waris Masih.

Zee news

ABVP rebels burn “Manusmriti” despite JNU denying nod


New Delhi: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) rebels, who left the RSS’ student outfit citing differences over its handling of the JNU row, on Tuesday burnt a copy of the ancient legal text Manusmriti despite the varsity administration denying permission for the same.

Weeks after the controversial event against Afzal Guru’s hanging was held on campus, five ABVP rebels joined by left-backed All India Students Association (AISA) and Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) burnt the text at Sabarmati Dhaba, which was also the venue of the earlier event.

While three of the organisers were former ABVP office-bearers, two of them are still with the party but differ with their stand on Manusmriti.

The university authorities maintained that they had denied permission for the event and the security was briefed about the same.

“We had denied the permission for the event but in response the students submitted in writing that they will still go ahead with the event. We have got the programme videographed,” a varsity official said.

Asked about whether the varsity will consider it as an “offence” on part of student’s, the official said, “we will see tomorrow”.

Giving clear indications of rift within ABVP, Jatin Goraih, the vice president of outfit’s ABVP unit, said, “we had suggested during our party meeting to have a Manusmriti burning event to answer all the left parties’ allegations about ABVP being insensitive to the interest of dalits. But there were disagreements and the party ignored us”.

“But my conscience said I should. This is not a political cause, but a social one on the occasion of women’s day as the book has highly derogatory content about women. Since I decided to go ahead with it, the party is free to take its call whether they will expel me or not. I will not resign,” he added. Pradeep Narwal, who was ABVP’s joint secretary at the university, resigned along with Rahul Yadav and Ankit Hans, president and secretary, respectively, of the ABVP unit in the School of Social Sciences at JNU, citing differences on the two-millennia-old book and the “oppression unleashed by the government” on JNU protesters, sharpening the divide since Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide.

Narwal yesterday narrated the “derogatory” text from the book before burning and said he was warned by teachers not to do so but he is not scared of being slapped with sedition.

“We were not allowed to conduct the event. My question to the Vice Chancellor is whether he subscribes to the thoughts propagated in Manusmriti. A teacher today told me that I should not do so as I will be charged with sedition. I am not scared of it,” he said while addressing the students.

“Asking for ‘azaadi’ from the government is not anti-national or seditious,” he said, as he shouted slogans of ‘brahamanwad murdabad’.

While students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar and general secretary Rama Naga, who have been charged with sedition in connection with the February 9 event, gave yesterday’s programme a miss, former JNUSU VP Anant Prakash was present.

Responding to the rift in the Sangh student body, JNUSU Joint Secretary Saurabh Kumar Sharma, who is the lone ABVP member in the union, said, “it is there wish, if they want to burn they can burn. We are against anti-India activities and they are trying to divert the attention from February 9 event.”

“Manusmriti has been rejected by Hindus long ago and it’s a mere book now. If they want to burn a book let them. It’s the left who don’t want us to not believe in Manusmriti,” he said.

ABVP later issued a statement, saying it believes in democratic and equal rights for all the sections of society.

“ABVP strongly supports individual rights and freedom of expression where it gives full freedom to any of its members to condemn and criticise anything to any extent unless it does not hamper the unity and integrity of India,” it said.

“The excerpts burnt by one of our activists were anti-women and anti-SC-ST and OBC. These excerpts are totally irrelevant and had received stark criticism even from Kautilya. The person who burnt these excerpts is a member of ABVP and we will continue working for the cause of nation building together in future,” it added.

The hindu

Utilisation of SC/ST sub-plans funds paltry, says study


Most of the flagship programmes for which allocations worth crores of rupees have been made under Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) have not used a single rupee so far, a study by Dalit Bahujan Resource Centre (DBRC) has revealed.

The Plan Outlay for 2016-17 for AP is Rs.550.01 crore out of which Rs.91.3 crore and Rs.47.3 crore is due to SCSP and TSP respectively.

The exhaustive study made by the centre on the allocations and expenditure of various departments, schemes, release of budgets and expenditure under SCSP 2015-2016 pointed to a disturbing trend of misuse of funds meant to be used for accelerated development of SC and ST communities.

But the study revealed that so far, not even a single rupee was spent under SCSP/TSP on flagship schemes such as Smart Cities (allocation Rs.29.26 crore), Slum Development (Rs.11.7 crore), Rural Sanitation (Rs.120.9 crore) etc.

Despite allocations worth of crores in departments such as Major Irrigation (Rs.268.5 crore), R & B (Rs.68.3 crore), the utilisation of funds was zero.

Even in State government’s schemes such as allocation of houses under Indiramma scheme, the utilisation remained paltry with just 3.43 per cent.

In spite of tall claims about incentives to SC entrepreneurs for industrial promotion, for which Rs.242.49 crore has been allotted, the percentage of utilisation is just 25 per cent, the study revealed

Few schemes such as NTR pensions to old age and widows, disabled persons, Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty have recorded 100 per cent utilisation. The silver lining though is 100 per cent utilisation of Rs.460.2 crore meant or MGNREGS.

The DBRC has come out with blue print for proper utilisation of funds and demanded that funds should be allotted to schemes which could directly benefit to SC/ST communities.

“We demand that a social audit should be held on the allocation and expenditure of funds under SCSP/TSP and also urge the government to allot the funds to the SC/ST nodal agencies, which should be empowered to allot and monitor the use of funds,” said Dalit Bahujan Resource Centre secretary Alladi Deva Kumar.

The hindu

At JNU, caste trumps Hindutva


With a sitting vice-president of the JNU unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the RSS’ student affiliate, burning the Manu Smriti on the campus on International Women’s Day on Tuesday, something unprecedented in the Sangh Parivar’s history happened.

While Dr. B.R. Ambedkar — who was also India’s first Law Minister — had indeed burnt the document, associating it with inequality, it was in sync with the radical Dalit politics he espoused.

But this time the challenge comes from within Hindutva — which finds Hindu traditions to be meaningful — though the challengers are already marginal within and seem to be on the verge of staging an exit.

Present with Jatin Goraya, the JNU ABVP unit vice-president, who is a Dalit from Haryana, were Pradeep Narwal and other students who have moved away from ABVP since the arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar — out on bail now — under sedition law. Clearly, young Dalit leaders who had associated with Hindutva’s Dalit outreach seem to have moved away ideologically as the ABVP has clashed with the Ambedkar Students’ Association at Hyderabad University — where Rohith Vemula committed suicide — and with the Left union at the JNU.

“These are contradictions between Hindutva and Dalits surfacing in the wake of recent controversies. Hindutva does not know how much to shift its line to accommodate Dalits, who are also Ambedkarites. And young Dalits also cannot adapt to it beyond a point. This contradiction is already playing out in this case,” said Badri Narayan, who teaches social exclusion at the university.

Prof. Narayan says caste as an institution is a prime impediment to the growth of Hindutva and the contradictions between the two are beginning to surface.

Mr. Narwal told The Hindu that Mr. Goraya would quit the ABVP if the organisation did not condemn the Manu Smriti, widely seen as an “anti-Dalit” and “anti-women” text.

The Sangh Parivar, however, seems to be playing down this incident at the JNU for the moment.

ABVP Dalit leader burns ‘Manu Smriti’ which is seen as

an ‘anti-Dalit’,

‘anti-women’ text

The hindu

Decades-old group rivalry revived


TIRUNELVELI : The gruesome murder of two persons, supporters of Subhash Pannaiyar of Moolaikkarai near Tiruchendur, at Pazhaiyakaayal has renewed the enmity between him and the followers of Dalit leader Chidambaram Pasupathi, popularly known as Pasupathi Pandian of Mela Alangaarathattu, who was killed in 2012. The enmity between Subash and supporters of Pasupathi dates back to late 1980s. A few Dalit workers employed in the farms and saltpan of Asupathi Pannaiyar, father of Subhash Pannaiyar, started agitating against the employer in the late 1980s. The protesting workers sought the help of Pasupathi, who had nurtured himself as the ‘saviour of Dalits’ by orchestrating a few attacks.

Pasupathi and his supporters murdered Asupathi Pannaiyar, Subash’s brother Venkatesa Pannaiyar of Akhila India Nadar Paathukaappu Peravai and his men unsuccessfully targeted Pasupathi in Tuticorin. After surviving the attack, Pasupathi and his supporters murdered Subash’s grandfather Sivasubramanian Pannaiyar in 1990 and two witnesses of this murder later at Tiruchendur.

Meanwhile, Pasupathi developed enmity with his relative Kasi Pandian, also from Mela Alangaarathattu. Kasi triggered a remote-controlled bomb near Murugan Theatre in Lourdammalpuram under Thoothukudi North Police Station limits when Pasupathi’s convoy was crossing, but the attack came a cropper and none was injured.

As threat to his life increased, Pasupathi shifted his base to Nandavanaththupatti in Dindigul. After his wife Jacintha, a lawyer, became a victim of the attack by a gang when he was coming to Thoothukudi to appear before a court in a case against him, Pasupathi was murdered in 2012 at Nandavanaththupatti. Ever since Pasupathi was murdered, it was anticipated that his supporters would target Subhash and the attack orchestrated on Tuesday with the motive of exterminating him resulted in the killing of his supporters.

Khaleej times

Life’s not an easy ride for this Dalit woman rickshaw driver


The travails of one of the first female auto drivers in Kerala still continue even as the state government is trying to push more women into the male-dominated profession in order to make travel safe for women.

The auto rickshaw of Chithralekha, who was forced to flee her native village in Kannur district following torture from male auto drivers allegedly belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) there, was attacked for the third time on the eve of the International Women’s Day.

The whole upholstery of the vehicle, including the roof, were damaged by the miscreants when she went to her ancestral home at Edatt in the northern district to collect documents related to the criminal cases slapped against her and her husband.

Though she had lodged a complaint with the Payyannur police identifying the local CPM workers responsible for the incident on Friday, they registered a case only after the woman made a representation to the district collector on Monday.

The hostility towards Chithralekha, a Dalit woman, began immediately after she hit the Edatt auto stand controlled by the CITU in 2004 with an auto rickshaw she purchased with bank loans. The CITU workers tried to chase her away by passing casteist slurs against her.

When that did not deter Chithralekha, they burnt her auto and launched a smear campaign portraying her and her mother prostitutes. The harassment continued after she returned to the Edatt stand again in 2008 with an auto bought with the help of human rights activists.

Her auto was attacked again, her house was vandalised and she and her husband beaten up. Even her 10-year-old child wasn’t spared physical assaults. When she fought back, “false cases” of violence were slapped against her and her husband, including a case of attempt to murder.

Chithralekha, who moved to Kattampilly, about 30km away from Edatt, in the wake of the torture had gone to the house she left for collecting documents related to one of these cases.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had promised to get the cases reviewed following a month-long agitation she staged in front of the state secretariat at Thiruvananthapuram in January this year.

Chitralekha had also staged a 122-day long sit-in agitation in front of Kannur collectorate last year, demanding protection from CPM workers. Following this the government had allotted her a plot of land at Kattampilly to build a house.

Chithralekha initially thought that the attack on her was prompted by the loss of business the male auto drivers suffered after she hit the roads. However, she later realised that they were intolerant towards her because of her lower caste status.

A solidarity mission commissioned by Feminists Kerala Network to probe one of the attacks on Chithralekha and her husband has confirmed her fear. The mission led by Professor Gail Omvedt concluded that the intolerance towards the Dalit woman was a ritualistic part of the untouchability practiced in the region even today.

The mission’s fact-finding report said Chithralekha’s travails were the result of a fascist atmosphere created by the CPM in the area. The party has been controlling Edatt as a party village, enforcing its writ over the people living there.

The party has several such villages in Kannur district.

“The CPM exists and thrives in these places through the use of such power over the entire people in these villages. Anyone who questions the party or goes against its wishes is harassed, alienated, ostracized and sometimes even killed,” the mission report said.

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET


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