Dalits Media Watch English – News Updates 02.04.16


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Rajasthan: Dalit ‘raped, murdered’, teacher held – The Indian express


Violence in Sigaranahalli over entry of Dalits into temple – The hindu


Raped by neighbour, girl sets herself ablaze: Police on lookout for second accused, girl’s condition critical – The Indian express


Fresh autopsy conducted on body of dalit – The times of india


Dalits as daivamakkal The times of india


Budgetary share for Dalits slashed: Udit Raj – The tribune


LJP to hold three-day camp in Sarnath from tomorrow – Pti news


With eye on Uttar Pradesh polls, Narendra Modi turns to Ambedkar – Live mint


You can’t wish away caste: A portrait of Hyd varsity Dalit scholar Dontha Prashanth – The news minute



The Indian express

Rajasthan: Dalit ‘raped, murdered’, teacher held


From her small village near the Indo-Pak border in Barmer, the 17-year-old had travelled all the way to Bikaner to become a teacher. Her dream came to an end after she was allegedly raped and murdered by a teacher.

Two days after the Dalit girl’s body was found in the water tank of her college in Nokha near Bikaner on Tuesday, the police arrested a physical trainer and instructor (PTI) for allegedly raping her. Her parents also accused the teacher of murder.

rape, mentally challenged girl rape, meerut rape, crime, lucknow news

While the police, prima facie, called it a case of suicide, the girl’s parents alleged that she was murdered and the body was later dumped in the water tank. The girl, originally a resident of Trimohi village near Gadra Road, Barmer, was enrolled in a Senior Teaching Certificate (STC) course at the Jain Adarsh Teacher Training College in Bikaner’s Nokha town. The girl’s father has named the chairperson of the college, Ishwar Chandra Baid, hostel warden Priya Shukla and Vijendra Singh, a physical trainer and instructor employed at another school run by the same group, but who used to live on the campus, in the FIR. The second-year student used to live in a hostel inside the college campus. With the college closed for vacation, there were only four girls in the hostel at the time of the incident, the FIR said. Around 8 pm on March 28, the girl called her father, telling him that warden Shukla had sent her to Vijendra’s room to clean it, and that Vijendra had raped her. Her father asked her to come to Nokha town the next day, but before they could meet her, he got a call from the police about her death. “The rape was confirmed and the PTI was arrested yesterday. We presented him before the magistrate today and have taken him on five-day remand. The other two are yet to be arrested,” Bikaner SP (rural) Satnam Singh told The Indian Express. “There were no injury marks on her body so we cannot say if it was murder, but we are awaiting forensic results to ascertain the cause of her death.” The college could not be reached for comment. The medical board that examined the body could not ascertain the cause of death either, sources said. Dalit rights activists alleged that the girl was raped, murdered and thrown into the water tank. The girl’s father has accused the college administration of trying to hush up the matter, and even forcing her, along with Vijendra, to sign a written apology with a statement that the incident had happened with mutual consent. “She was very bright and really wanted to study. When she was in Class VII, she was awarded by then chief minister Vasundhara Raje (during her previous term) for the painting of a camel that she made,” the father said.

The hindu

Violence in Sigaranahalli over entry of Dalits into temple


Violence broke out in Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk of Hassan on Friday, following the upper castes’ opposition to Dalits entering the Basaveshwara temple in the village. The angry mob assaulted the Assistant Commissioner, two journalists and about 10 policemen, besides pelting stones at police vehicles.

Superintendent of Police R.K. Shahapurwad deployed additional police force, and they had to resort to lathi-charge and fire teargas shells to disperse the irate crowd. The district administration has imposed prohibitory orders in the village to bring the situation under control.

The officials were present in the village on Friday as the Dalits had submitted a memorandum to the district administration demanding that they be allowed to enter the temple and participate in the Durga Parameshwari Jatra Mahotsava, an annual event beginning on Friday. People of seven villages participate in the festival. The Dalits wanted to be allowed to take part in the festival on a par with upper caste people.

The district officials first held a meeting with representatives of Dalit families. Then they held a meeting with representatives of the upper caste people, which escalated into heated arguments and ultimately violence.

The angry mob surrounded the officials, including Assistant Commissioner Vijaya, who was assaulted in the milieu.

Two journalists — Krishnamurthy and Vasanth — were also assaulted. The mob threw stones at the police, in which nearly 10 policemen suffered injuries. The police officials, led by Additional SP Shobha Rani struggled to bring the situation under control.

Dalit women made to pay penalty

Last year, the village was divided on caste lines when a few Dalit women were asked to pay a penalty for entering the temple. This led to a series of peace meetings in the village. Despite opposition from the upper caste people, the district officials took the Dalits into the temple in September 2015. Soon after, the temple was closed as upper caste people refused to enter it alleging that its sanctity had been lost.

It was reopened by upper caste people on March 25 this year, and they performed rituals to ‘purify’ the temple, in the run-up to the Durga Parameshwari Jatra.

The Indian express

Raped by neighbour, girl sets herself ablaze: Police on lookout for second accused, girl’s condition critical


The 16-year-old Dalit girl from Ghaziabad who set herself on fire after she was allegedly raped by a man in her village continues to battle for her life at Safdarjung Hospital. With 30 per cent burn injuries, the girl was moved to Safdarjung late Thursday evening from a district hospital in Ghaziabad. “Her condition remains critical. She has 30 per cent burn injuries that cover her face and upper torso. Her respiratory tract has not been badly damaged,” said a senior official at Safdarjung.

Meanwhile, police are still on the lookout for the second accused in the case. “We have arrested the main accused, Bablu. Attempts to arrest the second accused, Renchu, are still underway. He is likely to be arrested tomorrow,” said a senior police officer. The girl’s father told police that she was assaulted by Bablu, who had come to the house with Renchu while she was alone at home. According to the complaint filed by the father, Renchu stood outside the house while Bablu raped her inside her room.While Bablu was inside his daughter’s room, the girl’s younger brother reached the house, said her father. “My son tried to open the door. Bablu opened the door after some time and started hurling abuses at my son. He made casteist remarks against my son and slapped him. He even threatened to kill him… Bablu and Renchu then fled from the spot,” he said. Afraid of the social stigma that would follow the incident, the girl doused herself with kerosene and set herself ablaze. Police have registered an FIR at Kavi Nagar police station under several sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as the POCSO Act.

The times of india

Fresh autopsy conducted on body of dalit


Coimbatore: A fresh post-mortem was performed on the body of 55-year-old Chinnasamy from Erode district at the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here on Friday. The autopsy, conducted by a team of doctors from CMCH, was video recorded.

On March 19, Chinnasamy, a functionary of Dalit Viduthalai Katchi from Nallampatti near Gobichettipalayam in Erode district was found dead in a well. The well was located on farm land owned by a caste hindu. His relatives alleged that his death was the result of a clash between dalits and hindus over a temple festival. A peace meeting had been called by the tahsildar in which Chinnasamy participated. However, he walked out of the meet, stating he had no faith in the peace talks.

The next day he was found dead. His relatives believe he was murdered. His post-mortem was conducted at CMCH. His family refused to receive the body after the post-mortem.

They obtained an order from the Madras high court which directed them to conduct another post-mortem. Based on the court order, the second post mortem was conducted at CMCH on Friday.

Police personnel were deployed at the CMCH to prevent any untoward incidents. The post mortem report will be submitted to the Madras High Court soon. Chinnasamy’s relatives claimed that they are seeking CB-CID probe into his death. After the post-mortem, the body was taken to Erode district.

The times of india

Dalits as daivamakkal


Rohith Vemula was almost seven years when Sarah Thomas published her Malayalam novel Daivamakkal (Children of God) to much acclaim in 1982. Yet, one who reads or re-reads the novel in the context of Vemula’s controversial suicide -a 26-year-old Dalit scholar at University of Hyderabad who aspired to write like Carl Sagan -cannot ignore the fact that over the years very little has changed in the lives of aspiring Dalit students in the country . Reading Daivamakkal brings you the same pain that reading Vemula’s suicide note brings.

Thomas is of course a Kerala Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer, but she is also an upper middle class, city-bred woman and for her to produce such a gripping tale of a young Dalit who fights all odds to become a doctor seems intriguing at first.

At her house in Nandavanam in Thiruvananthapuram, Thomas, now 81 years old but still very sharp intellectually, recalls the events that led her to write a novel on Dalit life.

“Students of my husband Dr Thomas Zacharia, a medical professor, used to regularly visit our house. One day they were discussing my story Priye Mappu Tharu, which was about a husband’s inferiority complex towards his creative wife. One of the students told me bluntly that it was just an upper class imaginary grief. ‘Do you know anything about our grief’, he asked. I could not understand what he meant and later my husband told me that he was a Dalit student. That gave me the first spark,” Thomas says.

Subsequent interactions with her husband’s students led her to conjure the image of a dark, curly-haired young man— Kunjikkannan, the protagonist— in her mind. “I started writing after doing considerable research among the Pulaya community by visiting their houses on the banks of Achankovil river. After I started writing, things spiralled beyond my control. The character was taking me to different levels which I never imagined. I wanted Kunjikkannan to come back to his village and settle as a doctor but he charted his own path,” she explains.

Thomas has portrayed the struggles of Dalit students through various characters ­ some trying to hide their identity , some fighting humiliation, some accepting it with guilt. When the character Echaran is killed fighting for his community, Kunjikkannan, having accepted his fate so far, decides to rebel. It is similar to how hundreds of students rose in protest following Vemula’s suicide.

Thomas reveals that many people have pointed out Vemula’s resemblance to Kunjikannan.

Other characters in the book -in particular, Azhaki, Kunjikannan’s mother, always concerned about ensuring enough to eat for his son Kuttap pan, who commits suicide after humiliation becomes unbearable; Zacharia, who helps Kunjikannan with his studies—too leave a lasting mark in the minds of readers.

Thomas remembers that though the book was widely discussed at that time, many were not happy with the theme. “Upper caste authors were not happy with my subject. Some of them told me `now you write about them but soon they will rule us”, she recalls.

Daivamakkal was translated to English by Sosanna Kuruvila, a linguist based in the US and a distant relative of Thomas, in 2006. For those who ask why an instinctive fighter like Rohith Vemula committed suicide after his university denied him a stipend and socially ostracised him, Daivamakkal might give the answer.

The tribune

Budgetary share for Dalits slashed: Udit Raj


The Delhi Government has cut the funds constitutionally provided to Dalits, said North Delhi MP Udit Raj.

He said that the scheduled castes have been denied their shares to the extent of Rs 2,746 crore in the Budget passed by the House of Delhi Legislative Assembly. The total Budget estimate is Rs 46,600 crore for the financial year 2016-17 and out of which Rs 20,600 crore is plan Budget.

According to population of scheduled castes in Delhi, the allocation should have been Rs 3,460 crore, but the actual outlay is Rs 715.17 crore which is even less than Rs 92.15 crore from the previous year. Thus, it is a denial of almost 80 per cent of the funds. The scheduled castes are bereft of housing, sanitation, water, employment and other opportunities. Their low share in Budget shows that the Aam Aadmi Party has nothing to do with common people, Udit Raj said.

Addressing a conference, he said that the government has been denying the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCSP) funds. The allocation is not only dismal, whatever is kept aside even that is not being spent. In the financial year 2014-15, 23 per cent fund remained unspent. The Budget estimate for the financial year 2014-15 was Rs 709.87 crore but only Rs 545.96 crore was spent which means a sum of Rs 163.91 crore has lapsed. Thus, the total denial of SCSP in the last six years is Rs 17,298.53 crore, Udit Raj said.

Pti news

LJP to hold three-day camp in Sarnath from tomorrow


New Delhi, April 1 (PTI) NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party will hold a three-day social justice camp from tomorrow in Sarnath to reach out to Dalits in Uttar Pradesh where Assembly polls are due next year.

The North India conference of LJP’s wing Dalit Sena beginning in Sarnath will take up a number of issues related to empowerment of Scheduled Castes on the occasion of the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar.

The event will be followed by a similar two-day camp at Nagpur in Maharashtra on April 11 and 12.

The Sarnath conference will have presentations by scholars from various universities, including JNU and BHU, and discussions on employment opportunities for Dalits by the Dalit Chambers of Commerce.

“These camps will take up a number of pending issues related to the empowerment and welfare of Dalits. Another meeting of Dalit Sena will be held on March 14 to finalise the plans,” Paswan told PTI

Paswan said time has come for the SCs/STs to be given reservation in jobs in private sector as well as in judiciary.

“We demand strict implementation of Special Component Plan for SCs and Tribal Sub Plan so that these classes get their due. Dalit Sena also demands that the government pass an Act to give a proper Constitutional and legal framework to reservation and fulfil the long pending demand for quota in promotion,” the Union Minister said.

The plan is to organise social justice camps in various parts of the country under the banner of Dalit Sena which is chaired by Paswan’s younger brother Ramchandra Paswan.

Live mint

With eye on Uttar Pradesh polls, Narendra Modi turns to Ambedkar


New Delhi: Ahead of next year’s crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch a campaign to showcase the life of B.R. Ambedkar, chief architect of the Constitution, with an eye on capturing the Dalit vote in the country’s most populous state.

The initiative, Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan, will include a major outreach to India’s villages on three basic themes—promotion of social harmony, rural development and farmers’ progress.

The programme to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, a Dalit icon, will conclude on 24 April with Modi addressing all village communities, or gram sabhas, via a satellite broadcast, underlining the enhanced financial and planning powers given to panchayats under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

The move comes before the 2017 elections in Uttar Pradesh, home to a sizeable population of Dalits and socially backward sections. Uttar Pradesh elects 80 members of the Lok Sabha, more than any other state. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which heads the NDA, won 71 out of the 80 seats.

Steel, mines, labour and employment minister Narendra Singh Tomar denied any political motive behind the Ambedkar programme.

Elections in four states—Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal—and the Union territory of Puducherry in April-May 2016 will precede next year’s Uttar Pradesh polls. The Ambedkar campaign, however, will not be staged in the four states and Puducherry because the model code of conduct is in place there.

“People-centric politics will have electoral benefits,” said A.K. Verma, a retired professor of political science now heading Kanpur-based Centre for the Study of Society and Politics (CSSP).

“I think Prime Minister Modi has understood that to ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party remains the party of governance in the future, he has to broadbase his party’s electoral appeal sometimes even at the cost of his regular supporters, bring in more sections into the party’s core support base like farmers and rural sections, besides Dalits and the socially and economically backward. So he is working towards this goal.

“Also, the development of villages is imperative for the overall development of India. So the focus on the rural sector can be explained in this way,” added Verma.

Rural development minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, steel minister Tomar and others briefed reporters about the initiative.

According to Singh, PM Modi is to launch the commemorative events around Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on 14 April from Mhow, in Madhya Pradesh, the birthplace of Ambedkar.

“The programme has been divided into three sections. In the first phase, that is between 14 and 16 April, a programme on social harmony will be conducted in all the 258,000 gram sabhas in the country,” he said.

State governments have been asked to organize events at the panchayat level to spread the message of harmony, said Singh, and added: “Dr Ambedkar’s message on social harmony and peace, and instances from his life that illustrate this will be highlighted.”

In the next phase, from 17-20 April, “village farmer assemblies will be organized… The aim of this will be to promote agriculture, disseminate information regarding programmes like the Fasal Bima Yojana and their suggestions for improving the agriculture sector will be sought,” said Singh

After two back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015, the NDA government has placed a renewed emphasis on the farm sector. In the annual budget presented in February, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced a hike in spending on agriculture to Rs.35,984 crore, with the focus on bringing more areas under irrigation, outlining a programme for sustainable management of groundwater resources at an estimated cost of Rs.6,000 crore, and creating 500,000 farm ponds and wells in rain-fed areas.

The centre launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, or crop insurance scheme, to increase coverage from 23% of farmers to half of all farmers in the next three years.

This month, the government will launch an electronic platform for marketing of farm produce that will connect registered mandis (markets) across the country. The government hopes this will help farmers get better prices for their produce.

In the last phase of the programme, from 21-24 April, gram sabha meetings will be organized that will discuss development plans, best use of funds allocated to panchayats, making available clean drinking water and sanitation facilities to all villagers, the role of women in village and rural development, and ways to promote the social inclusion of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other marginalized groups, a government statement said.

On 24 April, which is celebrated as local self-governance day, the Prime Minister will address villages from Jamshedpur via satellite, Singh said, adding that all members of Parliament, state legislators and elected village representatives will be part of the event.

The day marks the coming into force of the 73rd amendment to the Constitution that formalized decentralization of power through panchayati raj. Modi’s address is expected to refer to funds transferred directly to panchayats for them to plan their own welfare and development programmes.

“I think this is in keeping with the theme of cooperative federalism that Modi was talking of in the run-up to the 2014 polls. He spoke of decentralization and federalism, and now I think he is trying to keep his word on these things,” said Verma of CSSP.

The news minute

You can’t wish away caste: A portrait of Hyd varsity Dalit scholar Dontha Prashanth


Editor’s Note: As part of the Dalit History Month series, The News Minute is profiling the four students who were suspended along with Rohith Vemula in December 2015. This is the first of these interviews.

Dontha Prashant patiently answers questions about everything that has happened in the six days that he spent in jail and the events that led up to it. But there is a small part of that story, which he glosses over, an emotional moment when his father came to visit him.

On the day of his arrest, Prashanth recalled that he desperately tried to get in touch with his family.

“When all this was happening, I kept telling them (the police) that I had to call my father. I just wanted to inform him. My father has several burdens, he is a BP patient and my mother suffers from low blood pressure. My grandfather died a few days before the arrest. All these things were happening at the same time. One cannot cope with so much tension. I (feared) it would be a life risk for him, but I was told ‘You don’t have any options, your human rights are collapsed’.”

Once his parents were contacted, his father came to visit him in jail. All Prashant says is that it was an emotional moment: “What hurt him more, was that I was being selectively targeted. We struggled a lot to come to the position where we are today.”

Born in Arnakonda village in Karimnagar district, Prashanth’s father dug canals earlier, and is a driver today. His mother grows cotton on a small plot of land.

“My grandfather never had access to land, so my father had to work as a labourer. He knew the importance of education, and so he made sure we got an education.”

He and his older brother, Premkumar, studied at a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya located 5 km from the village. Although Prashanth’s education up to Class 8 was in Telugu, it helped that they were introduced to English in Class 5 and were slowly habituated to the language from then on.

“My father studied along with us. He learned ABC and Telugu letters along with us. Now he writes in Telugu.”

Growing up, school was relatively caste-free. “But when we played with other boys, sometimes their grandmothers would ask ‘Why are you playing with these fellows’”

Asked if they lived in a Dalit colony, Prashanth said: “Of course we lived in the SC Colony”. His childhood home was a hut. Eventually that gave way to a hut with metal sheets for a roof. In 2011, the family built a pukka house.

After completing Class 10, Prashant studied commerce in Class 11-12 and secured admission for a degree in economics at the University of Hyderabad in 2006. But his first choice was history. “In 2004, there were rumours that the Naidu government would cancel history courses; he would ridicule the social sciences (during the Telangana movement).”

In 2013, he registered for a PhD in economics and is studying land and productivity through the lens of caste. Land in India is generally in the hands of a few castes, and Dalits who have land are often share-croppers or tenants with small holdings. “Productivity is an outcome of land, which SC people don’t have,” Prashanth says, adding that he still has a lot of work to do to complete his thesis.

“Our social structurers are based on caste, and economic relationships operate on caste, but economics isn’t generally analysed from the caste angle. When the economy shifted from agrarian to the modern, it benefitted the landed gentry, because land is capital and they had access to it. You can’t wish away caste.

With two or three more years left to finish his PhD, is he not daunted by the prospect of dealing with a court case and future employment?

“When I came here in 2006, the ASA helped me accept my identity. No, the police case does not make me want to give up. When democracy is being mocked, when the rules are being misinterpreted to favour someone and when a person loses his life on account of his identity or of the caste that he was born into, it becomes my duty also to fight against those structures. It’s a part of my struggle that I’ve been jailed,” Prashant says.

When this is all over, Prashant dreams of becoming an Assistant Professor.

“I want to share what I know with others. I don’t want to keep it to myself. But I want my social life and my professional life to be parallel. I want to take up the problems that my community faces. That’s how I want my life to be.”

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET

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