Dalits Media Watch – English News Updates 12.04.16

 

TWO DALIT YOUTHS ATTACKED WITH ACID – Ahmedabad mirror

http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/ahmedabad/crime/Two-Dalit-youths-attacked-with-acid/articleshow/51783945.cms

Withdraw case or face the music: local panchayat to Dalit rape victim’s family – The Indian express

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/withdraw-case-or-face-the-music-local-panchayat-to-dalit-rape-victims-family/

Food shortage hits Mugu villages – The Kathmandu post

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-04-12/food-shortage-hits-mugu-villages.html

Pujari suicide case adjourned – The hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/pujari-suicide-case-adjourned/article8463689.ece

Fissures out in the open in UoH SC/ST Teachers’ Forum – The hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/fissures-out-in-the-open-in-uoh-scst-teachers-forum/article8463828.ece

Dalit samiti to hold one-day hunger strike – The hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dalit-samiti-to-hold-oneday-hunger-strike/article8463386.ece

Dalits lament social boycott by upper caste group at Nallampatti – The hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dalits-lament-social-boycott-by-upper-caste-group-at-nallampatti/article8463742.ece

A Tale of Hinterland Tangled in Caste Mesh – The new Indian express

http://www.newindianexpress.com/assembly-elections-2016/tamil-nadu-polls/A-Tale-of-Hinterland-Tangled-in-Caste-Mesh/2016/04/12/article3376074.ece

Can cinema break the caste barrier in society? – India forbs

http://forbesindia.com/article/think/can-cinema-break-the-caste-barrier-in-society/42945/1

Hindu Nationalism And Caste Exclusion In Indian Universities Boom live

http://www.boomlive.in/hindu-nationalism-and-caste-exclusion-in-indian-universities/

Dalit educator’s death pushes Barmer village back in time – The Hindustan times

http://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/dalit-educator-s-death-pushes-barmer-village-back-in-time/story-oKb24XUlcE9gVsYbM1M2GO.html

“Project Rahat” Brand Ambassador visits bridge site at Muttal Scoop news

http://www.scoopnews.in/det.aspx?q=56074

Tribal people seek pattas for forest land – The hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tribal-people-seek-pattas-for-forest-land/article8463244.ece

Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi

Ahmedabad mirror

TWO DALIT YOUTHS ATTACKED WITH ACID

http://www.ahmedabadmirror.com/ahmedabad/crime/Two-Dalit-youths-attacked-with-acid/articleshow/51783945.cms

Two Dalit youths, employed with a pharma company, suffered burn injuries on their face, chest and hands after three unknown persons threw acid on them. The acid attack took place at 11.30 pm on Sunday, near Dholka, when the victims were heading home to Badarkha village on a motorcycle. Nilesh Solanki (26) and Nayan Solanki (21), both residents of Badrakha Village near Dholka, were returning home after finishing duties at Intas Pharma in Changodar GIDC. They were chased by three persons on a bike before one of the attackers threw acid on them and made their escape good.

Both have been admitted to the VS Hospital in Ahmedabad, where their situation is said to be out of danger. Police sub Inspector S H Parmar of the Bavla police station told Mirror: “We have registered a complaint against three persons for throwing acid on both the youths. We have recovered the plastic mug from the spot which was used to throw acid on the victims. Other than that we have been unable to gather any clue, as of now.” Doctor treating the victims said Nayan Solanki has suffered serious injuries on the face chest, neck and hand. He is under observation while Nilesh has been shifted to a special room and is out of danger. He too is being treated for injuries on chest and hand.

Narrating the incident, Nilesh Solanki said: “We work at Intas Pharma and ride back home using the same route every day. On Sunday, at around 11.30 pm, while we were returning home three masked men accosted our bike and threw acid on us. They immediately rode away towards Dholka. It was only after a while we realised the pain. We didn’t have a mobile on us and so started shouting for help. A passerby stopped his bike and called 108 emergency service. I am shocked by the attack as we don’t have enmity with anyone.”

Nayan Solanki’s maternal uncle told Mirror: “My nephew has sustained 70 per cent burns on the face and upper body. Police recorded Nayan’s statement on Monday noon. We demand keen investigation from the police to catch the culprits.”

The Indian express

Withdraw case or face the music: local panchayat to Dalit rape victim’s family

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/withdraw-case-or-face-the-music-local-panchayat-to-dalit-rape-victims-family/

Police have raised security for the family of a teenage Dalit gangrape victim after a local panchayat met on Sunday and purportedly threatened the family with dire consequences unless they withdrew the case. The panchayat reportedly also asked the family to leave the village — Nangla Mandaur, under Daruala police station of Meerut district. No member from the 15-year-old victim’s family had attended the panchayat; they were “informed” later, it is learnt.

Circle Officer Arvind Kumar told The Indian Express on Monday that security has been provided to the family in view of the threat. Ashwani Jatav, the district chief of the Bhujan Samaj Party who has reached the village and met the victim’s family, said, “I have met the Circle Officer and asked him to ensure security for the family in view of the threat by the panchayat. I will also meet the SSP in this connection.” The girl’s father is a contract labourer, and the family lives in abject poverty. The teen was abducted last Wednesday allegedly by Bobby, Adesh and two others when she had gone to the fields to relieve herself. They allegedly kept injecting her with sedatives and raped her multiple times over the next three days. The girl’s family members and a few villagers found her on Friday in one of the conical huts made of cowdung cakes in villages. Her hands and feet reportedly tied, she was still under sedatives when rescued, the family has said in its complaint. Two persons, one Adesh Kumar and his nephew Bobby, have been arrested in this connection, Daurala police station-in-charge Parashuram Yadav said, adding that raids are being conducted to nab the two other accused who are still on the run.

The Kathmandu post

Food shortage hits Mugu villages

http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-04-12/food-shortage-hits-mugu-villages.html

Apr 12, 2016- Food shortage has emerged at a Dalit settlement in Photu VDC-1 of Mugu because of crop failure after a prolonged drought.

Thirty-two families in Rawalbadaare settlement are having difficulty managing even one square meal a day as they lack the wherewithal to buy food. Many families cannot even afford to buy the subsidised rice sold by Nepal Food Corporation (NFC).

One of the villagers, Birjan Damai, said his family of five has been living on 800 grams of rice flour per day.

“We are running out of food. We could die of starvation if the situation continues,” he said.

Mugu district has not received enough rain since last July. After the winter crops started dying due to lack of rain, the people in Rawalbadaare used whatever savings they had to buy rice and other foodstuffs. Some even borrowed money to feed their families.

Another villager Dhane Damai said since they did not have money to buy food, they were relying on roots and tubers from the forest to stay alive these days.

“We hope the political leaders will visit our village with food,” Damai said.

Besides Rawalbadaare, the Dalit families in 21 other villages of Mugu, including Natharpu Jima, Rara, Kalai, Dhainakot, Bihi and Ruga, are also reeling under the food shortage.

Chairman of the District Food Security Committee Shambhu Prasad Regmi said they have demanded 6,000 quintals of rice to distribute in the settlements that are reeling under food shortage.

The hindu

Pujari suicide case adjourned

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/pujari-suicide-case-adjourned/article8463689.ece

Principal District Judge R. Poornima on Monday adjourned the temple pujari suicide case till April 21 as the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) sought time to file a revision petition against dismissal of the petition seeking inclusion of four serving and retired police officers in the list of accused in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

All the accused, including O. Raja, brother of Finance Minister O. Paneerselvam, were present in the court in the morning.

SPP B. Mohan sought more time to continue the trial as he had planned to file a revision petition in the Madurai Bench to include four retired and serving police officers – ADSP (retd) Uma, DSP Sethu, Inspectors Ilangovan and Chellapandian – in the list of accused as “they instigated pujari Nagamuthu to commit suicide”, and charged that the police fabricated the record

On April 7, the Principal District Judge had dismissed a petition filed by him to this effect.

When the judge asked him whether he was interested in examining the witnesses, he said that he did not want to examine the four police officers. But he expressed his willingness to examine two other police officers – ADSP Selvaraj and Periyakulam DSP Uma Maheshwaran. When the judge asked whether police had brought any witnesses for examination, the police said that they did not produce any witnesses.

Then, the judge said that no more extension would be given in the case. The SPP had to produce the court order in this connection on or before April 21, when the court would continue the trial, she said and adjourned the case.

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

The hindu

Fissures out in the open in UoH SC/ST Teachers’ Forum

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/fissures-out-in-the-open-in-uoh-scst-teachers-forum/article8463828.ece

A few days after the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum in the University of Hyderabad (UoH) campus sent a letter to the Vice-Chancellor (VC) that all the SC/ST faculty members have resigned from their administrative duties, it has come to light that all the teachers in the forum are not on the same page.

It has now come out in the open that all the SC/ST faculty members were consulted or informed before the forum had sent the letter.

A teacher from the campus who holds an important administrative post said that the move by the forum has not gone down well with all the SC/ST teachers on the campus.

“If a letter is sent on everyone’s behalf, then all the stakeholders should be consulted before it is sent. There are more than five SC/ST teachers holding administrative positions in UoH and we have not resigned yet,” said a Dalit faculty member, unwilling to be named.

Prof. V. Krishna, who was the Controller of Examinations, had resigned last week during the Academic Council meeting, and walked out of it. “Barring him, others have not resigned. I can’t comment on why the forum did not consult us, but we are going to remain in our positions,” said the Dalit faculty member. In response to the forum’s letter, Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao requested the convener, in an email to convey to the members to continue in their respective positions.

“If any colleague from the SC/ST Teachers’ Forum is unwilling to consider the VC’s request for continuation in an administrative office, the convener was requested to advise individuals to tender resignation, giving reason(s), which will be considered by the university accordingly,” said a press release from the varsity.

The hindu

Dalit samiti to hold one-day hunger strike

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/dalit-samiti-to-hold-oneday-hunger-strike/article8463386.ece

Dalit Hakkugala Samiti (DHS) of Hassan district will hold a one-day hunger protest in Hassan on April 13 demanding the entry of Dalits into the temple and community hall at Sigaranahalli in Holenarsipur taluk.

District convenor M.G. Pruthvi, in a press release, said that even as the country was celebrating B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, untouchability had been continuing in many parts of the country. Dalit women of Sigarahanalli were imposed penalty for entering Basaveshwara temple last year. “The elected representatives are also supporting the ‘upper’ caste. We are opposing them in protest,” he said.

Representatives of DHS will stage the hunger protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

The hindu

Dalits lament social boycott by upper caste group at Nallampatti

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dalits-lament-social-boycott-by-upper-caste-group-at-nallampatti/article8463742.ece

Dalit residents of Rice Mill Pudur locality at Nallampatti submitted a petition to the District Collector S. Prabakar on Monday stating that they were facing a social boycott by upper caste people due to which they had lost the means for economic sustenance.

Several families belonging to the Arundathiyar sect of Dalit community led by a resident K. Senthamizhan urged the official machinery to respond appropriately to a recent resolution adopted by the upper caste in the village not to engage the Dalit people in farm work or other jobs.

Seek justice:Dalit residents of Rice Mill Pudur locality in Thingalur limits at the collectorate to submit a petition complaining social boycott by upper caste communities in Erode, on Monday. —PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

The relations between the two communities turned sour after a Dalit labourer Chinnasamy was found dead in a well belonging to an upper caste person last month.

The Dalit residents suspected that Chinnasamy was murdered by upper caste people and that the police department and district administration was not doing enough to punish the culprits.

The death lead to a furore and the relatives of the deceased accepted the body only after a re-post-mortem examination.

While the first autopsy was suggestive of suicide, the re-post-mortem examination report indicated murder, according to the victim’s relatives. They urged the district administration to arrange for Rs. 5 lakh interest-free loan, with subsidy component, for each of the 120 families, for their economic sustenance.

Delay

Any delay on the part of the district administration to step in and do the needful will result in the residents of Rice Mill Pudur colony moving en masse and camping indefinitely on the district collectorate premises, a representative of the Dalit community cautioned.

The new Indian express

A Tale of Hinterland Tangled in Caste Mesh

http://www.newindianexpress.com/assembly-elections-2016/tamil-nadu-polls/A-Tale-of-Hinterland-Tangled-in-Caste-Mesh/2016/04/12/article3376074.ece

This otherwise nondescript town in western Tamil Nadu has an undisputed global presence. The fabrics that marquee fashion houses procure to brand and ship off to various parts of the world come from the mills in Tirupur, manned by thousands of workers from this small town.

Despite leaving a global footprint in the shifting sands of the fashion world, the town seems to be out of sync with modernity. This town’s brush with fame came for all the wrong reasons, when a Dalit youth was hacked to death in full public view. His crime: marrying an intermediate caste girl. Fighting against the flow of time, the town latches on to its age-old and often cruel practice of casteism.

The brutal murder of 22-year-old Dalit engineering student K Shankar in full public view highlights how deep-seated the caste based discrimination in this town is. Here, parochial forces have turned even the houses of gods into battleground for caste supremacy. Nowhere else is it more evident than at the Uchi Mahaliyamman temple in Sanuppatti, where no devotee has set their foot in five years, after caste Hindus made the precinct out of bounds for Dalits.

Tea stalls and hotels still practice the ‘two-tumbler’ system, and Dalits are discriminated against in every village, alleges S R Mathusuthanan, president of the Untouchability Eradication Front.

An agrarian town, Udumalaipettai is dominated by the Gounder and Naicker communities, with around 20 per cent of the population being Dalits. In 2011 State Assembly polls, one of the AIADMK strongmen in the Western region, ‘Pollachi’ V Jayaraman, moved from Pollachi to contest from Udumalaipettai and won by a huge margin, defeating his closest rival T Ilamparrithi of Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam.

This year, the ruling AIADMK has shifted V Jayaraman back to Pollachi and is fielding Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV) chairman ‘Udumalai’ K Radhakrishnan from here.

The other crops this small town churns out include onion, tomato and bitter gourd among others. However, the vegetable farmers too are feeling the pinch of neglect. Here’s what K Lakshmi (59), a farmer from Ganapathipalayam, has to say about farming prospects, “Though we spend the whole day under the scorching sun, we seldom get enough to make this a viable business. We are dependent on rains, as the existing water supply system is inadequate. In the last three years, our profits have plummeted.”

It was in the face of such hardships that farmers started selling off their lands to wind mill companies. Tens of thousands acres of agricultural land have been sold to wind mills in the last few years. “Once the wind mill companies started mushrooming on what was hitherto dry agricultural land in Udumala, people started flocking to Tirupur in search of greener pastures. Tirupur mills now employ around 6,000 people from this region. If the government sets up a textile industrial estate here, thousands of poor people would get jobs,” feels V Ranganathan, Gudimangalam union secretary of CPM.

Untapped Potential of Coconut

Udumalaipettai is home to the second largest number of coconut plantations in the State, after Pollachi. Like their counterparts in other parts of the State, the coconut farmers too feel left out in the march to progress. The proximity of the area to Pollachi makes it one of the hotspots for coconut and coir industries, with an added prospect of good export income. Gedimedu in the constituency is famous for its coir products. A fire station based out of Gedimedu has been a long-standing demand, as coir producers often meet with losses due to fire accidents.

Did You Know?

Udumalaipettai was part of Coimbatore till the formation of Tirupur district

Rs 24,000-cr was the value of garment export from Tirupur district in the last fiscal

It is one of the few clusters, producing hundreds of mega watts of wind power

Wind power generated here caters to electricity demands of industrial units in Tirupur and Coimbatore

India forbs

Can cinema break the caste barrier in society?

http://forbesindia.com/article/think/can-cinema-break-the-caste-barrier-in-society/42945/1

One of the great triumphs of Indian cinema this year—even though it is still early days—is Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat (Wild, Marathi), which won rousing applause at its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. It is a powerful film that explores a teenage, rural love story that feels the full force of the caste system.

Importantly, Sairat is a rare example of an Indian director addressing caste issues from first-hand, lived experience, as distinct from that of a privileged, if empathetic, director. Sairat’s screening in Berlin is as much a testimony to how deeply rooted caste is in contemporary India, as an example of how a determined individual can sometimes escape its strangulating clutches. Manjule was born in Jeur village in Sholapur and struggled to get an education; his father broke stones for a living and dreamt only of a ‘savlitli naukri’ (a job in the shade) for his son. Manjule has done a lot better: He is a much-awarded poet and filmmaker; his impressive debut feature Fandry (Pig), on the love story of a boy from a family of low-caste pig-catchers in rural Maharashtra, has won awards and been at festivals worldwide; now Sairat has opened in Berlin and is due in theatres in April.

Despite mainstream song and dance, Sairat remains hard-hitting. Parshya, a charming, low-caste boy in Bitargaon village, is madly in love with Archie — Archana Patil, feisty daughter of a rich, upper caste landlord who scorns the lower castes. When Archie and Parshya’s affair is discovered, Parshya is sent off to another town, Dalit huts are burnt, 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, hard-working couple, whose modest dream is only domestic happiness — so the climax socks you in the solar plexus.

Sairat’s village heroine does things few Bollywood urban heroines would dare to, with some exceptions like Anushka Sharma in NH10. Archie goes all out to get her guy: She rides an Enfield Bullet to college; she shoots at her dad’s goons with a gun, and even rescues the hero from the police lock-up. Would Bollywood’s macho heroes dare allow its heroines to rescue them? Bah! What is remarkable is how Manjule’s smartly feminist film plays both India’s regressive caste system and patriarchy against each other: He proposes that when women get power — even just personal liberty, let alone political and social power — it will tend to dismantle caste and make for a more egalitarian, humane society. In contrast with Bollywood’s incredible fantasies, Sairat’s heroine remains a ‘Nagraj fantasy’ — not very likely, but entirely possible.
Pictured: A still from ‘Masaan’

Indeed, the suicide of Rohith Vemula — the low-caste Hyderabad University student who had been denied his fellowship and persistently humiliated by the administration — encourages reflection on how deeply institutionalised and internalised caste is in contemporary India. Overt discrimination is punishable, but covert humiliation, exploitation, contempt and isolation are difficult to prove. A range of films in Bollywood and Indian cinema explore these caste issues, both overt and covert.

Hindi mainstream cinema has long addressed discrimination against the lower castes and adivasis, from Achhut Kannya in the 1930s to Sujata (1959) and Bandit Queen (1995). Hearteningly, caste continues to be a burning issue for today’s new generation directors. Recent Hindi films tackling the issue include Masaan,Court (Hindi, Marathi, English), Pairon Talle (Soul of Sand) and Chauranga (actually in Khortha, a dialect of Maithili). They are carrying forward the legacy of the parallel cinema movement of self-critical reflection of our society.

Boom live

Hindu Nationalism And Caste Exclusion In Indian Universities

http://www.boomlive.in/hindu-nationalism-and-caste-exclusion-in-indian-universities/

Indian politics in 2016 has been marked by a rise of student protests and leading Indian universities have become battlegrounds for national politics. The ruling nationalist party has enabled Hindu nationalist activists to gain control over student politics. The label ‘anti-national’ has been used to curb politically articulate students who publicly question issues that are sensitive to the current government in Delhi.

More alarmingly, recent police violence and the imprisonment of students and teachers in Hyderabad Central University, South India, has escalated the politics of exclusion that oppresses Dalits and other minorities. Reports and videos appearing on social media showed premises normally characterised by sober academic activities overtaken by violence and turmoil. These violent developments, upon investigation, seem to be the result of coordinated action between Hindu nationalist students, the police and high-ranking university administrators.

This reflects a wider critical challenge for institutions of higher education in the world’s largest democracy. So, how is it that the power of Hindu nationalism can intensify the politics of caste-based exclusion in this way, turning an academic campus into something like a war zone?

The violence in Hyderabad University on 22 March is an instance of local abuse of power. The vice-chancellor, Appa Rao Podile, had been on leave after the suicide of a Dalit doctoral student, Rohith Vemula, on 17 January. There have been allegations that he was partly responsible for the trauma that led to the suicide, including the discontinuing of Vemula’s monthly stipend in July 2015 and suspension in December 2015. Rohith Vemula was a leader of the Ambedkar Student Association (ASA) on campus. He and four other ASA members had lodged a criticism of the Hindu nationalist student group for disrupting their events. Further problems emerged when the Vemula challenged the death penalty at the time (July 2015) when the Indian government was presiding over the execution of the accused in the Bombay bombings, Yakub Memon.

But in the political controversy that erupted after Rohith Vemula’s suicide it became publicly known that members of the central government in New Delhi had sent up to five letters to ensure that the Hyderabad Central University suspended the five Dalit students.

A number of Dalit students have committed suicide due to caste-based discrimination in institutions of higher education across India, but that of Rohith Vemula shocked the country like never before. Rohith Vemula’s suicide told a tragic story about how a student from a very poor economic background decided to end his life after enduring financial and political problems in the university. But it also exposed a direct link between the central government and his suspension from university. This prompted a rare political debate.

Leading members of the Indian opposition have publicly condemned this treatment of Rohith Vemula and the political interference in Hyderabad University. Finally, the Education Minister in the BJP government had to address the case in India’s Parliament on 25 February. It is worth noting  that a student’s suicide can become a hot topic at this political level, and yet if anything the politics of exclusion has intensified since then, in a situation where ruling Hindu nationalists appear determined to cooperate with local strongmen and right wing students.

The violent battle on 22 March in Hyderabad University seems part of an ongoing coordinated action to affirm dominance and power. Some students protested when the controversial vice-chancellor suddenly returned, only to face a brutal clampdown by police and right wing activists. During the day, twenty-five students were collected from the large campus and sent to prison along with two teachers. While the campus was full of police personnel, basic infrastructure and services such as electricity, food, internet, ATMs were shut down and news media and external food deliveries were prevented access to campus. It was like an enclosed fortress.

Dalit and Muslim students were both targeted by the police. However, the case has been met with a certain apathy from the news media and the political establishment, compared to the numerous other controversies relating to student politics across India in the past couple of months. On Tuesday, 29 March, the students and teachers were released on condition that they report regularly at the police station, as if they remain criminal suspects.

Returning to a congenial work environment is a challenge in the light of these exceptional tensions and external interference in university life and governance. More broadly, this imprisonment has raised new questions about prejudice, freedom of speech and caste-based exclusion in higher education in India today.

Hindu nationalism has a long history, but the last couple of months have witnessed a relentless campaign to gain control over higher educational institutions. The space for dissent in the world’s largest democracy has shrunk considerably, with the label “anti-national” regularly carted out to criminalise student protests. This happened in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (despite the top academic ranking and robust student activism of ‘India’s Berkeley’) after its left wing student leaders criticised India’s policies in Kashmir. However, the event of 22 March in Hyderabad University has that extra element of caste-based discrimination, which connects with the regional history in the new southern state of Telangana that was previously part of Andhra Pradesh.

This part of India has a history of brutal caste massacres committed by traditionally dominating landowning castes, including the killings of six Dalits in the village of Karamchedu in 1985 and another nine Dalits in Chunduru village by locally dominant castes in 1991. Many of the massacres have been carried out “to teach the Dalits a lesson” so that they do not oppose local landowners.

The history of caste brutality in the then Andhra Pradesh provided the background for activists who travelled from Andhra Pradesh to South Africa to attend the World Conference against Racism in 2001. These activists wanted caste-based discrimination as part of the problem of racism, intolerance and human rights law to be internationally recognised. Instead, the Indian government rejected any comparison of caste and race in international human rights law, in order to avoid any global scrutiny of caste discrimination in India.

It is a long way from villages and landowners to a leading university where students and teachers are dedicated to teaching, reading, writing and ongoing debates. Yet, the violent restriction of these student protests again viciously remind Dalits to remain silent or face the consequences meted out by local power holders. The transformation of an academic space into political turmoil does in any case mark a significant deterioration in India’s democracy.

The political targeting of institutions of higher education has become a trademark of current Hindu nationalism, but with its dramatic enforcement of political control on an Indian campus it has reached a new stage. How will India’s democracy and rule of law fare in the light of such deepening antagonisms?

The Hindustan times

Dalit educator’s death pushes Barmer village back in time

http://www.hindustantimes.com/jaipur/dalit-educator-s-death-pushes-barmer-village-back-in-time/story-oKb24XUlcE9gVsYbM1M2GO.html

The last time clouds of despair descended on Trimohi, a hamlet in Rajasthan’s Barmer district about half a kilometre from the Pakistan border, was during the 1971 war. This time, the pain is a lot more personal.

Delta Meghwal, 17, the first Dalit girl from the village to pursue higher education, was found dead in a water tank of the Jain Adarsh Teachers’ Training Institute for Girls in Nokha, Bikaner on March 29.

“The entire village is in panic and we have that sense of despair coming back to haunt us,” said Delta’s elder brother, Prabhu Ram, 22. “Our father had the courage to send three of his kids out of Barmer for higher education. Today, he is being accused of giving ‘too much freedom’ to girls.”

“Villagers use our sister’s example to stop their daughters from attending even primary school.”

Delta’s death, however, is rife with unanswered questions.

The Bikaner police claimed it was suicide by drowning, but no water was found in her lungs. It was suggested that she killed herself after being caught in a compromising situation with the college’s physical education teacher, Vijendra Singh. But it emerged that the hostel warden, Priya Shukla, used to send Delta to the physical education teacher’s room for cleaning, and she had complained about it to her father several times.

Self-confidence shattered

“[She was] an ambitious and talented girl who always led our school in cultural events and was the star of our village… [But she was] forced to wash utensils and clean rooms in her hostel. If this is not casteism then what is?” said Delta’s 18-year-old brother, Ashok Kumar. “Her self-confidence was shattered.”

Delta’s father, Mahendra Ram, a primary school teacher, has been a strong proponent of education for girls, and made sure his children had every opportunity to excel.

Delta was the third of her siblings to leave the village for higher studies. Prabhu is pursuing Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences from a private Bikaner college and Ashok is preparing for the pre-medical test. The youngest, Kumari Nakhu, is a Class 11 student.

“My father took a loan of Rs 18 lakh to fund the career of his children,” said Prabhu. “Despite being a third-grade school teacher with a basic salary, and villagers constantly harassing him for loan overdue, he never let us see (his pain).”

From a young age, Delta was a beacon of hope for girls in Trimohi. She won awards from local legislators and then chief minister Vasundhara Raje for oratory, singing and painting skills, and always led the Independence Day and Republic Day parades.

Delta reflected every quality that her father had imagined when naming her.

“Just like a river that gets distributed into different streams, leaving beautiful patterns in the earth, Delta was named because of her multitalented persona,” Mahendra said.

She aspired to be a teacher like her father. Delta, her father and another primary school teacher, Ganesharam, gave free tuitions to 15-20 children of Trimohi and adjoining villages.

“It was not just buying books, notebooks and uniforms for them. Mahendra personally used to visit their homes to convince their parents,” said Ganesharam.

Media shockwaves

Dalit activists began a fight for justice on behalf of Delta’s family. Social media was flooded with #justiceforDeltaMeghwal, and shared by thousands of people on Facebook and Twitter.

Sudhendra, a Jawaharlal Nehru University scholar, and social activist Ramesh Balach, who headed protests demanding action against the perpetrators, told HT that media’s attitude towards the case was far from ideal.

“Despite #justiceforDeltaMeghwal campaign going viral on social media, state-based newspapers and television channels never carried the story initially,” said Sudhendra. “Only when Congress leader Sachin Pilot visited Delta’s home a few days ago, the entire circus arrived. They shoved mikes in front of grieving family members.”

“A certain correspondent for a TV news channel in Barmer city called up Delta’s family and asked them to shoot a video of them grieving and send it on WhatsApp because they couldn’t travel 90 kilometres,” said Ramesh.

“It was unbelievable.”

Family members said a Hindi daily newspaper even ran a smear campaign against Delta, questioning her character based solely on an allegedly biased police’s version of events leading to her death.

“The newspaper stated that my daughter was in regular contact with the PT teacher. When I confronted them at a press conference, they had to apologize. But the damage was done,” said Delta’s father, adding that the blame shifted from the college administration and the physical education teacher to his daughter.

Pall of silence

Once the media focus shifted to other news, a pall of silence once again covered Trimohi.

Delta, who once was hailed as an inspiration, is reduced to an example to prevent girls from studying. Almost all the girls in Trimohi and adjoining villages have stopped going to school.

“Two days back, I personally requested parents to send their children back to school but I was asked if I wished for their kids’ death as well. Delta’s demise has given them an opportunity to marry off their daughters quickly,” said Ganesharam.

Balwant Jangid, an ‘e-Mitra’ centre operator in Gadra, said the demand for Basic School Training Certificate test entrance forms too has dissipated. “Till March 29, I was busy filling forms for applicants. After that date, not a single form was filled by any applicant from adjoining villages. The last date too has passed,” he said.

Dejected, Mahendra’s resolve is breaking.

“I have always supported education for girls, the entire village knows this,” said Mahendra. “If my daughter receives justice, then I will motivate more girls to continue their education and pursue jobs. If not, then I will never ask any father to send his daughter to school.”

Life for Delta’s siblings too has come to a standstill. Prabhu and Ashok have returned to the village, leaving their careers behind, and Nakhu has stopped going to school.

“My father started his career with a paltry salary of Rs 1,200. Today, after sacrificing everything for the education of his children and that of the village, he is being told that he should not have let them study,” said Prabhu. “We are witnessing a slow and torturous death of an educator — my father.”

The fear is palpable that the case will be brushed under the carpet and the perpetrators will go scot-free. But what Prabhu fears most is the flame of an educator being extinguished.

Scoop news

“Project Rahat” Brand Ambassador visits bridge site at Muttal

http://www.scoopnews.in/det.aspx?q=56074

Udhampur,April 11 (Scoop News)- A 65Ft span bridge constructed under Project Rahat byDistrict Administration, Udhampur, in Thakur Sui Nallah of Panhayat Muttal in Tikri block which connects the areas with Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, apart from providing connectivity to schools, hamlets, anganwadi centers, ration depots was dedicated to public today.

Brand Ambassador of Project Rahat and noted bollywood actor Mukesh Rishi visited Muttal and witnessed the commissioning of bridge with hundreds of students and parents in participation. Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Asstt Commissioner Development Joginder Singh Rai and senior officers of district administration were present.

Mukesh Rishi interacted with students, parents, anganwadi workers, teachers, panchayat members, nomads, elderly women and specially abled persons who will be benefitted by this bridge for providing round the year connectivity and safety of life as well as facilitating education in schools. Locals apprised Mr Mukesh Rishi about death of 2 persons a couple of years back due to flashfloods and necessity of such bridges in rivulets having huge catchment area.

Rishi appreciated the marvellous initiative of District Administration under Project Rahat for construction of 114 bridges in Phase-I & II in a very short span of time through community mobilisation of local resources providing connectivity to hundreds of schools and villages which will boost education and also will go a long way in saving and securing human lives and livestock. He vowed to support the initiative as a national success example for empowerment of rural communities through participatory vital asset building. He briefed regarding his excitement over learning about the project and after having felt the dire need of such community projects he volunteered to support the project as ambassador of project and reach out to masses for making them realise their real potential of rural development with projects like Rahat.
The bridge will benefit 250 households comprised of a population of more than 1200; it will provide connectivity to 1 school and one anganwadi centre, and will facilitate movement of more than 1180 livestock population apart from connecting 2 ration depots. It also connects Muttal Panchayat with Ladda-C panchayat. Centuries old route of pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shine from this area has been augmented with construction of this bridge.

More than 114 bridges are at various stages of construction under convergence of MGNREGA, DIF, MPLADS, CDF, DIF, District Plan, TSP, SCP, Untied Grants, Rural Resources; with greater community participation. Phase-III comprised of 37 bridges is scheduled to be launched later this week.

The hindu

Tribal people seek pattas for forest land

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tribal-people-seek-pattas-for-forest-land/article8463244.ece

Demanding pattas for the forest lands they have been cultivating in the Agency area, tribal farmers from the Rampachodavaram staged a dharna in front of the Collector’s office here on Monday.

Over 200 farmers from the tribal villages and hamlets of Addateegala mandal, under the aegis of Andhra Pradesh Girijana Sangham affiliated to the CPI (ML) Liberation, participated in the agitation holding the traditional arms and the party flags. Along with the pattas to the cultivable lands, the farmers also demanded that identification of beneficiaries should be done through gram sabhas and caste certificates should be issued to all the tribal people residing in the Agency areas.

Other demands

Their other demands include provision of medical facilities in the tribal villages and hamlets, drinking water, fair price shops and schools in the Agency areas, identification of tribal people residing in the sub-plan areas, cancellation of mining lease in the Agency areas and keeping a tab on the functioning of the employees and officials of the Forest Department.

Addressing the tribal farmers, secretary of the party’s district unit D. Harinath said that though the Forest Rights Act 2005 was a boon to the tribal population, officials of various government departments were making it a bane by forcing the people to run from pillar to post to get the certificates. “The forest special officers from Addateegala and Rajavommangi mandal are creating panic among the public by attacking them for no valid reasons.

Over 200

farmers stage a

dharna

in front of Collector’s office

News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET

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