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The Dalit who lost his limbs for protesting against his daughter’s gang-rape – Scroll. in
Home Ministry asks Kolkata Police for details of students from J&K – Catch news
NHRC issues notice to TN government over killing of Dalit man – Ibn live
‘Italy’s largest contractor a threat to thousands in Kenya‚ Ethiopia’ – Times live
PMK govt will fund education for poor: Anbumani Ramadoss – The economic times
Farmer’s training on summer vegetables held – The morung express
Rs. 967 crore for industrial promotion – The hindu
NAP holds Professional Development Training – Saipan tribune
JNU Professor Nivedita Menon on Kashmir
The Dalit who lost his limbs for protesting against his daughter’s gang-rape
On January 5, 2006, Bant Singh, a Dalit agrarian labourer and activist in Punjab’s Jhabar village, was ambushed and brutally beaten by upper-caste Jat men armed with iron rods and axes. He lost both his arms and a leg in the attack. It was punishment for having fought for justice for his minor daughter who had been gang-raped.
What does the laal salaam mean to Bant? He smiles. “The red salute links me to every worker in the country. In this greeting, red is for the blood that flows through the veins of a labourer; the blood that a worker is not afraid to shed in struggle. You know the red of the Communist flag means the same. The flag was first white, but the blood of the workers dyed it red.”
After this simply and surely put reply, Bant moves on to discuss the activities of the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha of the All India Agricultural Labour Association (AIALA), associated with the CPI Marxist-Leninist (CPI M-L) Liberation Party. This overground party evolved from a faction of the ML and it now participates in the democratic process of the country with representation in state assemblies.
Word gets around that Bant has visitors from Mansa; some elders from the neighbourhood come calling and settle down on charpais in the courtyard.
As the discussion warms up, a tall, slim and attractive girl brings steaming hot tea. A little boy is trailing her. Natt, patting the child on his head, tells me, “This is Baljit, Bant Singh’s eldest daughter.” I am silent for a moment, then force a smile on to my lips as I look at this young mother who is barely out of girlhood.
Her testimony echoes in my ears: “I, Baljit Kaur, daughter of Shri Bant Singh, am a resident of Burj Jhabbar in Mansa district, Punjab. I was gang-raped on July 6, 2002. I did not conceal the incident and along with my father waged a struggle for justice…” I wonder if I will ever be able to talk to her about her travails. The idea that she would have to relive her pain all over again is horrendous to me.
I was to realise later that my hesitation arose from the comfort of my own relatively privileged existence. Those who are pushed to the wall find the courage to tell their tale of woe over and again.
Bant Singh’s was that rare case in which a Dalit had defied the sarpanch of a village to seek justice in a court and had succeded in having the culprits sentenced to life imprisonment. And, for this, he and his family had to pay a very heavy price. This was because a Dalit had actually succeeded in getting an upper-caste Jat man and two others convicted of rape.
What, after all, does a Dalit labourer have? He has neither money nor influence. All he has is his own body, which he must use to earn a livelihood. And, as for the body of the Dalit woman, it is very easy for it to be seen as an object of casual, easy abuse. In Bant’s case, and in Baljit’s, it was their bodies which became the sites of oppression.
There was this very crude joke that a Jat boyfriend told me many years ago when we were classmates at the School of Journalism in Panjab University. “In the village we laugh that if you make out with an ‘untouchable’ girl [the word Dalit was not in vogue at that time in our part of the country] you get defiled and then you have to make out with a Brahmin girl for purification’s sake!” At nineteen I just dismissed it as a rustic off-colour joke without realising that I was probably being considered a potential agent of purification.
Bant lost three limbs on 8 January and, as he was moved into intensive care, his comrades, after recovering from the grave shock, got busy in organising the struggle for justice. One of the first steps was to appeal to the police authorities for sterner action against the culprits, with recommendations from the doctors at PGI that Bant’s life was still in danger. The next was to hold a Press Conference in the basement of Punjab Book Centre in Chandigarh’s Sector 22 on 11 January.
The Times of India carried a story in which correspondent Ramaninder Kaur brought out the grave injustice in no uncertain terms: “In a country where law-breakers excel in subverting the system, how much is a landless farm worker expected to pay for getting justice for his minor rape-victim daughter? To be precise, two arms and a leg.”
Other papers followed and the blackout which the Mansa reporters had imposed gradually lifted. This brought a sad reflection from Comrade Jeeta: “After the attack, we contacted the media but even the local papers did not report the beating up of a Dalit. It was only when his limbs were amputated that journalists seemed to find the incident newsworthy.”
Tragic indeed are the yardsticks of news-making, but the reports on Bant soon flared into outrage and the collective conscience was roused from apathy because it was not just one man’s tale – Bant emerged as a symbol of Dalit resistance in Punjab.
The people’s support
A rally of agricultural workers demanding justice and compensation for Bant was called at his village on 16 January, 2006, while he was still in intensive care at the PGI. But the terror unleashed by the brutal attack took its toll on the attendance and only some five hundred activists from different outfits trickled in.
However, the tide had turned within nine days. The rally on 25 January had a phenomenal attendance with over ten thousand agricultural labourers and activists. Recalling the mammoth gathering, Kanwaljit recalls that the most emotive moment came when Baljit got up, holding her three-month-old baby in her arms and spoke out in angst.
He said, “Comrade Swapan Mukherjee, who had come from Delhi, saw Baljit and asked her to speak. Without any hesitation she got up and said what had happened to her and now what had been done to her father. ‘How long will we suffer such injustice,’ she cried out and tears sprang to many eyes. It was an act of great courage because a girl in Punjab never speaks of any sexual exploitation, but here was someone breaking a taboo and calling out for justice.”
Bant had supporters in Punjab and elsewhere. The Forum for Democratic Initiatives sent a team to Punjab to enquire into the details of the incident and launched a nation-wide campaign which laid bare the ugly face of prosperous Punjab.
Above all, it was Bant’s spirit which made the movement. On the eighteenth day after his amputation, while his condition was still serious, he surprised doctors and his fellow patients alike by singing some of Udasi’s songs from his sick-bed. “That was the moment,” said Kanwaljit, “when I decided: no more robot-making; it was time to quit my job and become a whole-timer with the Party because here I was now in the company of crusaders, the real men and women.”
He has since organised agrarian labour in the Sangrur district and has not regretted the decision even for a moment. Bant and he share a special bond, because during the three months that Bant was in PGI they were constant companions. Kanwaljit says that Bant endeared himself to everyone in the hospital with his wit, humour and courage.
The song of the oppressed
The sad and violent secrets of human existence linger in the picturesque countryside. “How can such ugliness co-exist with the innocent beauty of the ruralscape?” I wonder, as I collect bits and pieces about Bant’s life, as well as the lives of many like him. “I hope Bant is safe in the open like this?” I ask and Natt laughs at the naiveté of my question. “What more can they do to him? Kill him? But they will not, for they have perhaps realised that it may not be so easy to play with the lives of the oppressed. The oppressed will rise and question injustice.”
My first visit to Bant was at an end but I was left wondering how I would play Boswell to him. This was a new territory that I was entering, one paved with misery, but one which Bant and his people gradually eased my way into it. The untravelled path has its lows and one sometimes stumbles or sinks into deep depression but, most of the time, one is elated by the courage and resilience that comes to the fore.
This, then, is the ballad of Bant Singh.
Excerpted with permission from The Ballad of Bant Singh: A Qissa of Courage, Nirupama Dutt, Speaking Tiger Books.
Home Ministry asks Kolkata Police for details of students from J&K
The Kolkata Police has asked all colleges in the city to provide details of their students from Jammu and Kashmir, which will be forwarded to the Union Home Ministry. The note was sent to the colleges in the last week of February as students at Delhi’s JNU and Kolkata’s Jadavpur University protested against the crackdown on JNU after the nationalism row.
The police note says, according to The Indian Express: “Please let me know what students, whose residential addresses is under the State of Jammu & Kashmir, studies in your Institution for onwards transmission to the Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block, New Delhi, Govt. of India.”
NHRC issues notice to TN government over killing of Dalit man
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu government over the alleged honour killing of a Dalit man.
The Commission took suo motu cognisance of media reports alleging honour killing of a young Dalit man, who married a girl of upper caste, in Udumalaipett in Tirupur district on March 13, said an NHRC statement.
Three unidentified men attacked the couple — Sankar and Kousalya — with sickles. The man died on the way to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, while the woman is undergoing treatment.
“The incident raises serious question relating to the safety of persons belonging to lower castes. In this case, the man belonged to a Scheduled Caste and had married an upper caste Hindu girl.
“The matter was in the knowledge of the police but it failed to provide them adequate security,” observed the Commission while issuing notices to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, calling for a report in the matter within four weeks.
Twenty-two-year-old Sankar had married Kousalya against the wishes of the girl’s family in 2015.
‘Italy’s largest contractor a threat to thousands in Kenya‚ Ethiopia’
An Italian engineering company has been reported to the OECD because the dam it is building is set to destroy the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Survival International (SI)‚ a global movement for the rights of tribal peoples‚ reported engineering giant Salini to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development over the construction of the dam‚ which has cut off the Omo River’s regular flooding‚ which 100‚000 people rely on to water their crops and livestock.
According to a statement released by SI‚ a further 100‚000 people rely on the flooding more indirectly.
SI said the dam could mean that Lake Turkana – the world’s largest desert lake – would be drained‚ spelling disaster for the 300‚000 people.
SI said Salini “did not seek the consent of local people before building the dam‚ but claimed that an ‘artificial flood release’ would compensate them for their losses. However‚ this promised flood never came.”
According to SI‚ “The region is one of the most important sites in early human evolution‚ and an area of exceptional biodiversity‚ with two World Heritage Sites and five national parks. The head of Kenya’s conservation agency said last week that the dam is unleashing ‘one of the worst environmental disasters you can imagine’.”
SI’s Stephen Corry said: “Salini has ignored crucial evidence‚ made false promises and ridden roughshod over the rights of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Thousands are now facing starvation because Italy’s largest contractor‚ and one of its best known companies‚ didn’t think human rights were worth its time.
“The real consequences of the Ethiopian government’s devastating policies for its country’s ‘development’‚ which are shamefully supported by western aid agencies like the UK’s DFID and USAID‚ are plain for all to see.
“Stealing people’s land and causing massive environmental destruction is not ‘progress’‚ it is a death sentence for tribal peoples.
The economic times
PMK govt will fund education for poor: Anbumani Ramadoss
Madurai: Commercialization of education cannot be done away with and will continue, but if the PMK comes to power the government will shoulder the responsibility of fees for poor students admitted in private schools, the party’s chief ministerial candidate Anbumani Ramadoss said here on Monday.
Citing the system of education in Cuba, Madurai Kamaraj University College student M Ilayaraja asked Anbumani whether a PMK government will provide quality and free education to students. “The situation in Cuba is entirely different. To bring such a situation here, more time will be needed. If the PMK comes to power, its government will pay the fees of the poor students who are admitted in schools that fix fees based on their infrastructure,” said Anbumani.
At a party meeting, Anbumani talked on various subjects, stressing on ‘maatram, munnetram, Anbumani (change, development, Anbumani). Speaking of ending corruption, he asked, “people in Delhi did not want to be ruled by either the BJP or the Congress. Thus they opted for the Aam Admi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal. Why couldn’t such a change be brought by the people of Tamil Nadu?”
“Liquor and corruption were hitting families in the state hard. People want a change of government, but they forget their anger a day before the general election and this paves the way for either the AIADMK or the DMK to rule over them. People should wake up,” he said.
The morung express
Farmer’s training on summer vegetables held
Dimapur, March 14 (MExN): ICAR-All India Coordinated Research Project on vegetable crops, Nagaland centre organised a farmer’s training on ‘Advance production and protection technology of summer vegetables’ under TSP (Tribal Sub Plan) programme at Department of Horticulture, Nagaland University, SASRD on March 10.
Total 34 Farmers from four villages under Dimapur district including Zani, Domokhia, Urra and Bade participated in the training.
The objective of this training was to create awareness to the local farmers with the improved farming practices of kharif vegetable crops for enhancing quality production. Welcome address was given by Dr. Pauline Alila, Associate professor i/c HOD, Department of Horticulture and the technical knowledge and field demonstration were provided to the farmers by the Project Incharge Dr. S.P. Kanaujia and other Scientists of AICRP-VC, followed by Wrap up and seed distribution of summer vegetables by Dr. C.S. Maiti, Associate Professor, i/c TSP, AICRP-VC.
The times of india
Ruckus in Upper House over dalit scholarship issue
Patna: The BJP members on Monday created ruckus in the Upper House during zero hour over non-payment of scholarship amount to dalit students studying in different technical institutes across the country, forcing chairman Awadhesh N Singh to adjourn the House till lunch break.
As soon as the House assembled for day’s scheduled business, BJP member Lal Babu Prasad, while moving the adjournment motion on non-payment of scholarship amount to dalit students, urged the chairman to conduct a special debate on the issue as it has jeopardised the future of thousands of dalit students. He said the dalit students have not been getting scholarship for the last three years and the government has instead deposited huge amount in some of the fake technical institutes. Prasad did not rule out the possibility of a multi-crore scam in the entire episode
Parliamentary affairs minister Shrawan Kumar assured Prasad that the dalit students would get justice. However, soon after the question hour, the BJP members started raising anti-government slogans and trooped inside the well of the House. Displaying anti-government placards, several BJP members, including Lal Babu Prasad, Suraj Nandan Prasad Kushwaha, Sachchidanand Rai, Rajnish Kumar and Sanjay Mayukh continued slogan shouting for few minutes. As a result, the chairman had to adjourn the House till the lunch break.
Later, talking to reporters, leader of the opposition in the legislative council Sushil Kumar Modi said students studying in states like Rajasthan, Odisha were removed from their respective institutions as the state government failed to deposit their scholarship amount.
“The government has instead deposited over Rs 1 crore in some of the fake institutes in Aligarh and Dehradun. A large number of such fake institutes are running in different states in the name of providing technical education to dalit students,” he said, adding that the party has demanded a high level inquiry into it.
He said scholarship amount with arrear should be provided to the dalit students so that their career is not jeopardised. Modi said the government normally gives scholarship amount of Rs 60,000-Rs 70000 per year for a period of four years to dalit students.
Rs. 967 crore for industrial promotion
Proposing Rs. 967 crore towards promotion of industries in 2016-17, Finance Minister Etala Rajender, in his Budget speech on Monday, said industrial sector in the State is poised for an impressive growth on the back on uninterrupted power supply.
The changed power supply scenario was also highlighted by Socio Economic Outlook 2016. “With the turnaround of the power sector many industries are now actively expanding their production base, apart from new units coming in.” The Minister, highlighting the industrial policy unveiled by the State, said it has started yielding results with multinational as well as Indian companies, a list that includes Amazon, Micromax, Foxconn and ITC, setting up units. Since the launch of the policy clearance certificates have been issued to 1,609 units, he said, adding the projects approved entail an investment of Rs. 33,101 crore.
Mr. Rajender also announced that the Centre has given the final approval for setting up of a mega food park in Khammam district. Among major projects proposed in the State, he counted three aerospace parks, the National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Medak, the Pharma City near Hyderabad and a Textile Hub in Warangal. For the extension of Pavalavaddi scheme to all small scale industrial and food processing units the Budget provides for Rs.86.23 crore. In addition, Rs.7.46 crore under SC Sub Plan and Rs. 4.51 crore under Tribal Sub-Plan has been provided.
As part of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs-Nutrition Assistance Program’s efforts to improve customer service relations to the public, NAP held its 3rd Annual Professional Development Training for NAP staff last March 11 at the Aqua Resort Club.
The all-day training focused on three main critical topics: Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Sexual Harassment; Excellent Customer Service; and Team Building. The EEO session covered the requirements of EEO local and federal rules and the governing laws of non-discrimination of any individual or groups on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, and genetic information.
The EEO helped NAP staff better understand the different forms of discrimination and ways to prevent such from occurring in the workplace. The excellent customer service re-enforces the demeanor of exhibiting positive attitude and exercising systematic and comprehensive delivery of information and service to the public. The team building session helped NAP staff better understand the benefits of teamwork, respect, and effective communication among managers, supervisors, and staff. The annual trainings are meant to help build better communication and develop skills among employees in order to provide quality service to the public.
The training was facilitated by Frank L. Gibson, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP. Gibson holds two certifications from the Human Resources Certification Institute as Senior Professional and Global Professional in Human Resources; and Senior Certified Professional from the Society for Human Resources Management.
The NAP staff was happy and appreciate the trainings, which will help them apply what they learned to their work.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET