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“In the presidential election last year, we called for people not to vote for Hollande. Among other things, we pointed to his vowing to wage an ‘implacable’ struggle against undocumented immigrants and to put the Roma in ‘encampments of our own choosing’ to stop them from moving around ‘over and over’ (Le Monde, 15 February 2012). His chief cop minister, Valls, was only following through on these campaign promises when on October 9 he sent the cops onto a school bus looking for Leonarda Dibrani and had her deported for good to Kosovo. She speaks neither Albanian nor Serbian—but she does speak French! Leonarda courageously denounced Hollande’s proposal to let her back into France... without her family.
“The lesson Valls draws from this incident is that the processing of asylum requests must be accelerated, for the explicit purpose of being able to deport people before they have the time to settle in the ‘country of the rights of man.’ Reactionaries and fascists of all sorts have seized the opportunity to urge revision of jus soli [the right of the soil], which under certain conditions grants citizenship to those who were born on French soil.
“Around the same time, the cops deported Khatchik Kachatryan to Armenia. He is the first Parisian high school student deported since 2006—when Sarkozy was in charge of the ministry of police. We demand the immediate return of Leonarda and all her family, as well as Khatchik, and we demand they be granted full legal status: Full citizenship rights for everyone who made it here! Down with the racist witchhunt against the Roma! [...]
“The outrageous treatment of Leonarda epitomizes the violent government campaign against the Roma, who are made scapegoats more than ever in this period of deep economic crisis in order to forestall workers struggle. In France, there are at most a few tens of thousands of Roma from the Balkans, and they are essentially excluded from the proletariat. But for the workers movement to accept attacks against the Roma would make it vulnerable to efforts to divide the working class itself along ethnic, racial and sexual lines, while reinforcing the arsenal of police repression directed against workers.
“Manuel Valls, forever in search of a new racist provocation, declared that the Roma were incapable of ‘integrating’ into a civilized society like France. During World War II, the Nazis characterized them as ‘subhuman,’ but here in France the laws invoked to lock up the Roma in camps under the Vichy government were in fact enacted by the Third Republic [1870-1940] before the Nazi occupation. Some Roma remained interned until 1946 under capitalist governments that included Gaullists, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats of the Second International and Stalinists from the French Communist Party (PCF) [see ‘France: Down With Racist Anti-Roma Campaign!’ WV No. 965, 24 September 2010].
“The Roma have been persecuted for centuries, driven from one country to another. In a precapitalist economy, the Gypsies occupied a marginal economic niche as artisans, peddlers and artists. With the development of capitalism, they were pushed to the margins of society, enduring abuses that culminated in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Gypsies by the Nazis. The truth is that decaying capitalism is incapable of “integrating” the Roma and all the more so in periods of crisis. The French state, including its PCF mayors, chases them from one shantytown to another and then uses the pretext that they are not official residents to refuse to enroll the children in school. When, in spite of these difficulties, children like Leonarda manage to attend school, the state deports them. It refuses the Roma the right to work and then accuses them of living by their wits! Down with restrictions on the right to work imposed by the European Union on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens!
“Only socialist revolution will make possible the full integration of Roma into society with equal rights, as shown by the example of the October 1917 proletarian revolution in Russia that overthrew capitalist rule. The October Revolution destroyed the tsarist empire—that prison house of peoples—and laid the basis for freeing the oppressed nations and ethnic minorities, including the Roma, from the jackboot of Great Russian chauvinism.
“Romania, including under the grotesque Stalinist regime of Ceausescu, and Tito’s Yugoslavia (where Leonarda’s family came from) were bureaucratically deformed workers states. The capitalist ruling class had been driven from power and the resulting collectivized, nationalized economy guaranteed the Roma an improved standard of living and an unprecedented ethnic and national integration. Their level of education began to approach that of the rest of the population and they had not only jobs but also housing and health care. The Roma were recognized as a national minority with the right to be educated in their own language. They were settled and relatively integrated into the proletariat and into the military and state apparatus. When Yugoslavia existed, there were radio and TV programs in the Romany language in Kosovo.”
Two child marriages prevented in Sivaganga (The Hindu)
“Social Defence and Child Welfare Committee officials on Wednesday rescued two prospective child brides, including a 15-year-old Dalit girl, after stopping arrangements being made for their marriages in Sivaganga district. [...]
“At Singampunari near Tirupattur, a 16-year-old Class X dropout was about to be married to Manikandan, a 32-year-old hairdresser on Thursday.
“A 15-year-old Plus One student from T. Pudupatti was scheduled to marry her maternal uncle Sundarapandian (33), working as a bearer in a hotel in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, at Olugamangalam on Friday. [...]
“[The District Probation Officer, Department of Social Defence] said the 16-year-old girl’s stepmother had alleged that the girl was in love with a boy and she wanted to marry her off to a man of their community. [...]
“He said the 15-year-old Dalit girl had scored 450 out of 500 marks in Class X exams and taken up the first group in Plus One. Her father, who was working in Dubai, sent only Rs.6,000 once in three months to the family. Her mother, a construction worker, was finding it difficult to educate her.”
“When Ramesh (name changed) bought a new phone last week, he did not realise that an unexpected technical glitch would trigger a caste-dictated backlash from his teacher at a government higher secondary school here.
“An innocuous call to his friend Kumar (name changed) to exchange his new number on the night of November 7 went to his teacher due to call divert facility. The unexpected technical glitch and the ensuing friendly banter by an unaware Ramesh did not go down well with the teacher P. Arul, a temporary hand appointed by the Parent-Teachers’ Association to teach ‘draughtsman civil’ for Ramesh’s vocational stream in Class 12 at Nadesanar Government Higher Secondary School at Ayakaranpulam in Vedaranyam.
“For the two Dalit boys, despite their apologies, the backlash came in the form of public slap with slippers on the school premises the following morning. The boys were summoned by the teacher, pulled up by their collars, and slapped with slippers outside their classroom.
“A staff member of the school, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu that the incident took place on Friday morning, outside the class. There were a number of witnesses to it. ‘However, no one has lodged a complaint.’ [...]
“A visibly upset Ramesh has not attended school since the incident. For Kumar, with no father and a mentally unstable mother, there is no recourse. He continues to attend school.”
UP father rapes, kills daughter for ‘honour’ (Pune Mirror, November 7, 2013):
“A 45-year-old man from Uttar Pradesh has been arrested along with his friend in Kashimira, for allegedly raping and killing his 17-year-old daughter. The man told police that she had ‘shamed’ him by eloping with a boy from another community, and that he decided to kill her when he found out she was pregnant.”
Panchkula honour killing: 'Tahira's elder brother dug the grave to bury her mutilated body', says victim's uncle (Daily Bhaskar, October 28, 2013):
“The prime accused Saleem, paternal uncle of Tahira, 15-year-old Muslim girl, who was brutally murdered and whose half burnt body was found buried from a grave in Khangesra village of Barwala block near the Tangri river in Panchkula district made shocking revelations during the police interrogation.
“Saleem, who had confessed that he used a pillow to smother her said that the victim was in love affair with her elder sister’s fiance. ‘Tahira tried to flee with him. The relationship was opposed by her family,’ he asserted, adding, ‘We tried to stop her several times. But couldn't stop her. Finally, I along with her elder brother killed her.’”
No Justice for the Dead in Bangladesh (The Nation)
“Five months on, sweeping promises about improving factory safety and cracking down on illegal subcontracting remain hamstrung by scant resources and a near-total lack of coordination among parties. Victims’ compensation ranges from inconsistent to nonexistent. According to the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, none of the 4,000 families affected by the tragedy have received the full payments promised by the government or the [Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), the powerful trade body that represents the $20 billion-a-year industry]. [...]
“BGMEA vice president Reaz Bin Mahmood concedes that in a country as cash-strapped and chaotic as Bangladesh, inspections are ‘a very scratch process.’ The BGMEA has just ten inspectors. The fire department has eighty but says it needs ten times that. Teams staffed by engineering teachers struggle with inadequate equipment and the labor ministry is trying to hire and train 200 more inspectors in the coming months. In the meantime, there remains no central coordinating body to keep track of what the various agencies are up to. Manufacturers complain that certain factories have been inspected multiple times while others are ignored. [...]
“Some owners say that even third-party auditors dispatched by the major brands take bribes. And even if they’re legitimate, they never look further than the big factories. One owner, whose office boasts certificates for excellent safety standards from H&M, the second-largest garment company in Bangladesh, admits that, under intense pressure to deliver orders in less time, he still has to outsource some stages of production. ‘There are so many uncertainties—strikes, shipment delays, holidays, corrupt officers at the port—that subcontracting will always’ be a part of garment making in Bangladesh. ‘The brands know it,’ he adds, but ‘they pretend they don’t.’”
See also on anti-caste:
Dalit boy rescued from bonded labour (The Hindu)
“A nine-year-old Dalit boy who allegedly suffered two years of physical abuse was rescued from the bondage at a village near Karaikudi on Sunday.
“Acting on specific information given by Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, officials of the revenue department saved the boy from Indira Nagar in Karaikudi, after they raided a cattle shed at Silukkupatti, where he was made to work for 20 hours a day. [...]
“It has been alleged that Kaaleswaran, a caste Hindu from the same village, had got the thumb impression of the boy’s father, Anand, who repairs old utensils, on a blank paper when he was drunk. Kaaleswaran allegedly used the paper as a promissory note stating that Anand had borrowed a loan of Rs.60,000 from him. When Anand denied having taken a loan, the accused threatened to lodge a police complaint, and took his son into his custody.
“‘I was living in a shed, where nearly 200 goats were accommodated. They served me leftover food thrice a day and never paid any wages,’ the boy said. ‘Kaaleswaran used to abuse me every day,’ he added.
“It is said that several attempts taken by the boy’s parents to rescue him in the last two years proved futile as they too were physically and verbally abused every time they visited him. ‘We were scared that Kaaleswaran might kill our son, if we approached the police,’ said the boy’s mother, Meenambal.”
Gang Rape in India, Routine and Invisible: In Mumbai Case, a Group of Assault Suspects Had Little Fear of the Law
by Ellen Barry and Mansi Choksi (New York Times)
“At 5:30 p.m. on that Thursday, four young men were playing cards, as usual, when Mohammed Kasim Sheikh’s cellphone rang and he announced that it was time to go hunting. Prey had been spotted, he told a friend. When the host asked what they were going to hunt, he said, ‘A beautiful deer.’
“As two men rushed out, the host smirked, figuring they did not like losing at cards.
“Two hours later, a 22-year-old photojournalist limped out of a ruined building. She had been raped repeatedly by five men, asked by one to re-enact pornographic acts displayed on a cellphone. After she left, the men dispersed to their wives or mothers, if they had them; it was dinnertime. None of their previous victims had gone to the police. Why should this one?
“The trial in the Mumbai gang-rape case has opened to a drowsy and ill-attended courtroom, without the crush of reporters who documented every twist in a similar case in New Delhi in which a woman died after being gang-raped on a private bus. The accused, barefoot, sit on a bench at the back of the courtroom, observing the arguments with blank expressions, as if they were being conducted in Mandarin. All have pleaded not guilty. They are slight men with ordinary faces, nothing imposing, the kind one might see at any bus stop or tea stall.
“But the Mumbai case provides an unusual glimpse into a group of bored young men who had committed the same crime often enough to develop a routine. The police say the men had committed at least five rapes in the same spot. Their casual confidence reinforces the notion that rape has been a largely invisible crime here, where convictions are infrequent and victims silently go away. Not until their arrest, at a moment when sexual violence has grabbed headlines and risen to the top of the state’s agenda, did the seriousness of the crime sink in. [...]
“One problem is that perpetrators may not view their actions as a grave crime, but something closer to mischief. A survey of more than 10,000 men carried out in six Asian countries — India not among them — and published in The Lancet Global Health journal in September came up with startling data. It found that, when the word ‘rape’ was not used as part of a questionnaire, more than one in 10 men in the region admitted to forcing sex on a woman who was not their partner.
“Asked why, 73 percent said the reason was ‘entitlement.’ Fifty-nine percent said their motivation was ‘entertainment seeking,’ agreeing with the statements ‘I wanted to have fun’ ‘I was bored.’ Flavia Agnes, a Mumbai women’s rights lawyer who has been working on rape cases since the 1970s, said the findings rang true to her experience.
“‘It’s just frivolous; they just do it casually,’ she said. ‘There is so much abject poverty. They just want to have a little fun on the side. That’s it. See, they have nothing to lose.’”
See also on anti-caste:
ON THE DELHI RAPE PROTESTS: SOME RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
(January 6, 2013)
NOTES ON THE DELHI RAPE PROTESTS (January 11, 2013)
Roma, Feared as Kidnappers, See Their Own Children at Risk
(New York Times)
“For centuries across Europe, children were raised on folk tales with a disturbing message: Wander into the woods and you risk being snatched by Gypsies.
“Such a warning seems like an anachronism from medieval times. But the stereotype of the child-stealing Gypsy was reawakened in recent days when a Roma couple in Greece were jailed on accusations that they had abducted a blond, green-eyed girl called Maria — or ‘the blond angel’ in the Greek news media. This week, two blond, blue-eyed Roma children were taken from their parents in Ireland after suspicions that they had been abducted, too.
“The children in Ireland were quickly returned to their families after DNA testing confirmed that the Roma were their parents. In Greece, the police confirmed on Friday that Maria was the child of a Roma couple from Bulgaria. An investigation continues into whether Maria was sold, adopted or given to the couple as they have claimed.
“Whatever the outcome, the Roma say that it is they who now live in fear — of having their children snatched for no reason other than their cultural identity or skin color. The cases, they say, have helped fan a sometimes violent backlash against the roughly 11 million Roma scattered across Europe. In an era of budget cutbacks and high unemployment, politicians on both the left and the right have singled out the Roma as emblematic of the problems of illegal immigration and have questioned whether they can ever be integrated.[...]
“[A]nti-Roma sentiment appears to be spreading. Serbian news media reported this week that a group of skinheads in Novi Sad, Serbia, tried to abduct a Roma child in front of his house last weekend because his skin was fairer than that of his father, Stefan Nikolic.
“In Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League responded to news of Maria’s supposed abduction this week by demanding inspections of all Roma communities to check for missing children. Gianluca Buonanno, a member of the Northern League in the Italian lower house of Parliament, said he had submitted a petition to the Interior Ministry demanding identification of camp occupants. [...]
“Even before the cases, rights groups say, violence and intimidation against the Roma were intensifying. Earlier this month, a woman threw acid at a 2-year-old Roma boy and his mother in Naples, according to the European Roma Rights Center. In Hungary, at least seven Roma were killed between 2008 and 2010, and Roma leaders have counted dozens of firebomb attacks in the past.
“In Greece, where the far-right Golden Dawn movement has been fanning anti-immigrant fervor, the head of the Greek Union of Roma, Yiannis Halilopoulos, said the sensational coverage in the Greek news media and the racial profiling that followed the removal of Maria had ‘taken us back 100 years.’ [...]
“In the Czech Republic, ultraright parties and their neo-Nazi supporters this year have organized about 30 anti-Roma marches, where some have chanted, ‘Gypsies to the gas chambers,’ rights groups said.
“In France, where the Roma issue has flared amid a debate over immigration, the far-right National Front has made the Roma a central issue ahead of municipal elections in March. Its leaders have warned that if Romanians and Bulgarians were allowed to travel in the European Union’s passport-free Schengen Area, the country could see a flood of Roma immigrants.
“This month,President François Hollande intervened after a 15-year-old Roma girl, whose family was living illegally in France for five years, was pulled off a bus by the authorities and expelled to Kosovo. After loud protests, Mr. Hollande agreed to allow the girl to return, but only if she left her family behind. [...]
“Roma advocates counter that if there is crime among some Roma, it is the byproduct of severe economic deprivation and social exclusion that allowed a minority of unscrupulous ringleaders to exploit poor people desperately eking out an existence on society’s fringes.”
An angel kidnapped by Gypsies? In the absence of all the facts, age-old libels are being replayed by Louise Doughty (The Guardian,
October 22, 2013):
“She is, we have been told repeatedly, the girl Greece is calling ‘the blonde angel’. She is certainly blonde – and she is a young child who deserves concern as all children do, particularly those facing poverty or discrimination. Whether or not she is angelic is a matter of stereotype rather than personality. She is angelic in the eyes of the media only in stark contrast to the circumstances in which she was found: in a Roma camp in Greece, with dark-skinned parents who, DNA tests have revealed, cannot be her birth parents. The pair appeared in court on Monday charged with child abduction, but are said by their lawyer to be distraught at the forcible removal of a child they were raising as their daughter.
“Whatever the truth of Maria's origins, one element of this case is not in doubt. Even before charges were brought, it was widely reported as a case of abduction. The pursuit of Gerry and Kate McCann and the mother of Ben Needham for reaction will have cemented that impression in the eyes of many; they have been ‘given hope’, apparently. Maria’s case may even, it seems, have prompted the seizure by police in Dublin today of another child from a Roma community after members of the public raised concerns that the child may not be biologically related to the couple she was living with.
“Informal adoption is commonplace, particularly in societies where children are raised collectively by extended family units, and families of eight or 10 are not unusual. Across the world, children in economically difficult circumstances are left with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or sometimes given away because the birth parents cannot provide for them. This is hardly a practice unique to Roma society, and it is a long way from deliberate abduction for the purposes of ‘child trafficking’, an assumption that the non-Roma world has been happy to make with impunity.
“This media reporting has to be seen within the context of a blood libel that has dogged Roma communities for centuries. The claim that Jewish people killed Christian children to have human blood for matzos at Passover was used to justify antisemitism throughout the middle ages; in the same way, the age-old myth that Romanies are in the habit of kidnapping white children entered popular folklore around the same time, and has persisted to the present day. [...]
“The racist reporting of the Greek case is all the more bitter to those familiar with Roma history. Renowned expert Prof Thomas Acton says, ‘I know of no documented case of Roma/Gypsies/Travellers stealing non-Gypsy children anywhere.’ Far from Romanies abducting white children, the truth has been the other way around. Hundreds of Yenish Roma boys and girls were forcibly taken by the authorities in Switzerland from 1926 to 1972. The children were placed in orphanages or homes for people with learning difficulties and their families denied all contact with them.”
French schoolchildren march in anger over expulsions
(BBC, Ocotber 17, 2013):
“Thousands of schoolchildren in Paris and other parts of France have been demonstrating in anger over the expulsion of two foreign teenagers.
“Twenty secondary schools in the French capital were disrupted as children joined a march, clenching fists in solidarity with the expelled pupils.
“Some demanded the sacking of Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
“In one case, a Roma schoolgirl was sent to Kosovo and in the other, a student was repatriated to Armenia.
“There has been widespread indignation at the manner in which border police picked up schoolgirl Leonarda Dibrani, whose family had lost its bid for asylum in France after five years in the country.
“Leonarda, 15, was escorted from her school bus by a teacher, in front of other children, in the eastern region of Doubs on 9 October.”
And see further:
French minister Valls defends call for Roma expulsions
(BBC, September 25, 2013):
“French Interior Minister Manuel Valls says he stands by remarks calling for the country’s Roma (Gypsies) to be expelled.
“He said few Roma could ever integrate into French society and ‘the majority’ should be sent ‘back to the borders’.
“But Mr Valls - a dapper 51-year-old who polls suggest is a rising star in Francois Hollande's Socialist administration - said he saw no reason to correct comments that Roma lifestyles were ‘clearly in confrontation’ with French ways of life. [...]
“‘The majority [of Roma] should be delivered back to the borders. We are not here to welcome these people.‘’ [...]
“Mr Valls has encouraged local councils to systematically dismantle illegal Roma slums, and offer the expelled residents free flights back to their countries of origin. [...]
“Mr Valls is himself the Barcelona-born son of Spanish immigrants, Mr Montebourg pointed out on Wednesday.”
And see also:
And see on anti-caste:
Mob ‘attacks’ Dalit area, 13 injured (Indian Express (Chennai))
“A mob of over 60 men and women — all from the dominant Maratha caste — allegedly attacked the Dalit basti of Rajwada in Shevge Dang village, Nashik district, on Sunday, causing serious head injuries to 13 men. [...]
“According to the villagers, the attackers came in tractors, carrying sickles, knives, bricks and boulders. They alleged that their houses were damaged and photographs of B R Ambedkar were desecrated.
“According to reports, the fight ensued over a small accident, when a tempo (auto rickshaw) owned by a person belonging to the Maratha caste rammed into a tree on October 15, injuring several persons travelling in it, including a 50-year-old Dalit woman Lata Bharit.”
Girl killed for honour, parents try to cremate her body secretly (Indian Express (Chennai), October 21, 2013):
“Sasikala, a Caste Hindu, had married Dalit Kottaisamy of Ponnaiyapuram secretly in a temple near Sathirakudi on October 11 against the wishes of her parents and escaped from the district. The duo had been in love for two years while studying in a Muthukulathur college. Afraid of Sasikala’s parents, the couple eloped to Dharapuram with the help of Kottaisamy’s friend Peramaiyan. Meanwhile, Karuppaiya, the girl’s father, filed a missing person complaint with Emaneswaram police. When Sasikala’s relatives learnt the duo was in Dharapuram, they went with former panchayat leader Narayanan and forcibly brought her to their village, said Kottaisamy’s kin. Then the police produced them in court and sent her with her parents.
“The police received a message on Saturday night that Sasikala died after allegedly consuming poison and her father Karuppaiya, mother Kanthaayi and relatives were secretly cremating her body in the graveyard. Raising suspicion over the death, some villagers told the police that her parents would have forced Sasikala to consume poison because she married a Dalit.”
Couple’s elopement triggers Dalit-villagers clash; 2 hurt (Indian Express (Chennai), October 15, 2013):
“In yet another case of caste clash triggered by the elopement of an inter-caste couple, two persons were seriously injured at at Venkatachalapuram near Kovilpatti on Sunday.
“Sources said that one Karuppasamy, a Dalit, and Kasturi, caste Hindu girl, had loved each other and owing to their parents and community opposition, they had eloped from the village a month ago.”
17-year-old girl killed for 'honour,' property (Times of India, October 19, 2013):
“Dismembered body of a teenaged girl, who was missing for the past 20 days, was recovered from a well in Dewas district on Friday. The body hacked to pieces, was stuffed into two gunny bags. The bags were tied to stones to prevent them from floating on water. Police suspect it a case of honour killing.
“Five people, including father and a brother of the girl, were detained.
“The gory killing to salvage 'honour' came to light after the police detained three youths from Khajrana, who reportedly confessed to have taken supari of Rs 5 lakh from the girl's brother Irfan Adam, 25, to kill the girl as she was allegedly having an affair with a boy from other religion.”
Thane girl allegedly assaulted, tonsured for marrying out of caste (NDTV, Ovtober 15, 2013):
“In a shocking incident, a 19-year-old tribal girl has alleged that her head was tonsured and she was beaten by her in-laws at a village in Thane for marrying outside her caste. [...]
“The victim mentioned in her complaint that she had got acquainted with Yogesh while working as a packer at a godown in Bhiwandi town of Thane district.
“Despite opposition from his family, the victim and the boy got married in May this year and were living at her parent’s house in Pali village of Dabhade in Bhiwandi taluka.
“On August 30, the couple went to Yogesh’s home in Maide in Bhiwandi.
“On arriving there, they were tied to a tree and assaulted.
“The complaint also mentioned that one of Yogesh’s brothers took their pictures on his mobile phone after they were ‘punished’ and threatened them.”
Inter-caste love leads to dad ending life (Deccan Chronicle,
October 9, 2013):
“About 500 angry Vanniars blocked the Chennai – Tada road near Cholavaram, about 25 km north of Chennai, on Tuesday night with the body of a Vanniar on learning that his teenaged daughter eloped with a Dalit youth, police said.
“They said Ravi of Jagannathapuram, about a km from Sholavaram, killed himself around 8.30 in the night when he learnt that his 19-year-old daughter eloped with a Dalit youth belonging to nearby Athipattu after telling her family that she was going to her college in Chennai. [...]
“He said the agitators were demanding that the police produce the lovers before them. ‘We are talking to them. It is nighttime. We are telling them to give us some time to find the two,’ he said.
“Locals said Ravi’s brother’s daughter had eloped with a Dalit youth six months back. The couple was yet to be traced. ‘How can we keep quiet when one girl after another from our families vanishes like this?’ asked a middle-aged protester.”
Policing Village Moral Codes as Women Stream to India’s Cities (New York Times)
“The old and new are continually rushing at each other in India, most starkly in places like Haryana, a largely rural, conservative state abutting New Delhi whose residents can commute 20 miles to work in nightclubs and office buildings. But their home villages are sleepy places, whose main streets are patrolled by glossy, lumbering black water buffalo.
“The villages are ruled by khap panchayats, unelected all-male councils that wield strong control over social life, including women’s behavior. That job becomes much harder once the women have left for the city. When one khap leader listed city shops that were allowing young women to store mobile phones and change into Western clothes, another suggested posting informers outside the shops with cameras to capture photographic evidence as women came and went.
“Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader who voiced his support for this approach, said measures like these would protect young women from much worse dangers that might follow if they freely cultivated friendships with men. [...]
“A generation ago, women here lived in complete seclusion from men, and could appear in public only wearing a lightweight cloth that completely covered their head and face. Though that tradition is fading, many women are still not allowed to leave the house without permission from a father or husband.
“Haryana’s khaps focus much of their energy on defending a single ancient prohibition: Men and women are not allowed to marry anyone from the same village. The local interpretation of ancient Hindu texts holds villagers to be brothers and sisters, rendering their unions incestuous. Young people defy the ban very rarely, but those who do are sometimes murdered by a gang of male relatives. As much as the khaps condemn these ‘honor killings,’ they are just as adamant about preventing these romances, a quest that involves tight control over women.
“Meena, who left her village several years ago to escape an arranged marriage, said young women there were terrified of the elders in the khap, who scrutinized their behavior and issued a steady stream of criticism. The criticism, in turn, terrified her parents, who feared being ostracized.
“‘They would say, “Why is your daughter going around in the village with her head naked?,”’ she said. ‘If you were walking with your head straight, the khap guys would say, “Look down at the ground, don’t make eye contact. Don’t have irrelevant conversations.”’ [...]
“The possibility of violence ran like a thin blade through [conversations on these matters]: Just last month, a young man and woman studying in Rohtak were killed in public by the woman’s relatives after they were discovered violating the ban on same-village romance. The man was beheaded.
“‘You know,’ said Puja, a 19-year-old student, ‘the first time the parents hear that the girl is roaming around, either they take her home and get her married or else they kill them.’”
See also on anti-caste:
“Suman Tayde, 14-month-old Dipti’s grandmother is growing anxious as the child has gone without milk since Saturday. The village hasn’t run out of supplies, but since October 12, Dalits of Vairagad village in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district have been facing a social boycott. This includes access to the flour mill and other shops in the village.
“On Monday, Suman went to Balaji Kunte, a caste Hindu, and tried to convince him to spare some milk for Dipti. Balaji Kunte’s wife told her, ‘If we give you milk, our caste people would punish us with social boycott.’
“‘We are living on rice. Now they (caste Hindus) are threatening that the road leading to our locality would be blocked’, said Tulsabai Telgote, Suman’s neighbour. ‘Frightened by this, our girls have not stepped out of house since Saturday,’ Tulsabai added.
“On January 26, 2013, caste Hindus in Vairagad refused to allow Dalits to put up B.R. Ambedkar’s photo alongside those of other leaders during the Republic Day ceremony.
“‘We were silent then but on the day of Maha Shivratri in May this year, they uprooted a Panchashil flag (a Buddhist flag) near the Ambedkar statue. They put up a saffron flag in its place’, claims Jagdish Bhandare, an elderly man. Most of the Dalits in Vairagad are landless laborers, and work in farms belonging to caste Hindus. Since the Maha Shivratri incident, labourers from the Dalit locality haven’t been allowed to work in the farms, they claim.”
Dalit man thrashed for not beating drum ‘loudly’ (The Hindu)
“A Dalit man was beaten up allegedly by some persons belonging to an ‘upper caste’ at Kuduragundi village in Hassan taluk for not beating the drum ‘loudly’ during festivities on Monday.
“Kodugayya (52) of Kuduragundi has been admitted to the Hassan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital.
“He suffered injuries to his abdomen and limbs, in addition to losing four teeth.
“Kodugayya’s family beat drums during the Ranganathaswamy jatra held to mark Vijayadashami. Kodugayya told the police that some persons belonging to an ‘upper caste’ told him to beat the drum loudly.
“He said that a few minutes later they thrashed him and kicked him, claiming that he did not follow their instruction.”
See also on anti-caste:
SEVERELY THRASHED FOR REFUSING DEGRADING CASTE DUTY
(December 21, 2012)
After acquittals, fear haunts Dalit hamlet (The Hindu)
“‘They are free and we are trapped,’ says a resident, as many villagers share her fear that they may be targeted again
“On Wednesday night, Baudh Paswan kept tossing and turning in bed, his appetite and sleep gone.
“‘I feel they will come back again,’ he murmured. As they did on the night of December 1, 1997 and began a killing spree. Armed with firearms and swords, members of the Ranvir Sena, militia of the Bhumihar landlords, slaughtered 58 Dalits, including 27 women and 16 children.
“On Wednesday, the Patna High Court acquitted all the 26 accused, setting aside the lower court’s verdict that awarded the death sentence to 16 and life imprisonment to the other 10.
“‘I do not have the strength to fight anymore. After 58 murders, no one is guilty. The courts are theirs, the government is theirs, the lathi [the baton of power] is theirs. The poor have nothing. This is injustice,’ Paswan said, hobbling around on his walking stick. He lost seven of his family members. Some more died later, of grief.
“The sense of victory felt by the Dalit hamlet after the conviction by the trial court has vanished. Now there lurks a threat. Will the doors be broken open again? Will the houses be invaded?
“Haunted by this fear, Sunaina Devi breaks down. ‘Jiska ghar me itna parivar mara hai vo kaise himmat rakhega? [How will the family that has lost so many members find strength?] So many were killed and nothing happened. Now, they [the upper caste] are threatening us, saying they would barge into our houses and beat us with sticks as nothing has happened to them. Since yesterday, sweets have been distributed in the upper caste quarters and firecrackers have gone off. The High Court let them off and left us trapped. We have lost all hope.’
“House after house shares her unease. ‘The whole country knows who killed those 58 people. Only the courts don’t know,’ said Pramila Devi, who lost three women relatives. ‘Last night, they staged celebrations. They are free now. But we have to think whether we will survive.’
“Laxmanpur Bathe is 100 km from Patna, on the banks of the Sone. As in any other village, there are upper caste quarters of Rajputs and Bhumihars and the Dalit hamlet comprising the lower castes of Mallah, Paswan, Ravidas and Rajvanshi. After the massacre, the hamlet got pucca brick houses from the government. But some of the mud huts with broken doors still stand, testifying to the violence.
“Laxman Rajvanshi is a survivor and eyewitness who testified in court. “Give us justice or drown us,” he said.“Asked about the High Court’s observation that witnesses were unreliable, he said: ‘How could I not have recognised them? We stay in the same village and I see them about 10 times a day! We worked on their fields. We had no inkling of this attack, otherwise we would have been alert. The Nitish Kumar government is hand in glove with the feudal elements. He slotted us into the Mahadalit category, collected our votes and then cut our throats.’
Another eyewitness, Ram Ugraharajbanshi, said the assailants divided themselves into two groups. One was a killing squad of 35 persons and the other, of 80 men, stood guard. ‘The armed men had their mouths covered with handkerchiefs. But, of course, we were familiar with their voices.’
“The massacre was one in a series of brutal caste killings that marked the 1990s in Bihar.
“In the backdrop of a peasant struggle, the late Brahmeshwar Singh Mukhiya rallied the land-owning Bhumihars under the banner of Ranvir Sena.
“Violent and brutal confrontations between the Sena and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) were the order of the day.”
Getting away with murder (Frontline, October 30, 2013):
“Bathe is an archetypal village in central Bihar. The upper-caste tola (in this case, a mix of Bhumihars and Rajputs) is visibly affluent with pucca streets and spacious houses. The residents are from the landed class. Agriculture is their main occupation. The other tola in the village is about 100 metres away and is home to Dalits and other backward classes (OBCs). Except for agricultural work, there is absolutely no interaction between the two tolas. Surrounded by agricultural fields on three sides and with the Sone river on the fourth, Bathe presents itself as an idyllic village, far from the noise and pollution of the city. Beneath the surface, however, tensions simmer between the upper castes and the backward castes.
“The Dalits are mostly agricultural workers. Until a few years ago, they were not allowed to sit in a khatiya (cot) even in their own homes and were forced to follow a feudal code of conduct. They could not wear new clothes, smoke cigarettes, ride bicycles or dare to talk with their heads held high. The landlords determined the wages and generally doled out minuscule sums. They seized Gairmazarua land (panchayat land in a village for development activities and Dalit and OBC welfare), illegally, to prevent Dalits and OBCs from using it. Whenever Dalits protested, their women got raped and men got beaten or killed. A landlord who put his labourers under ‘house arrest’ and withheld their wages but refrained from killing them was considered benevolent. The landlords, in effect, had a complete grip over the village economy.
“This was the kind of backdrop that in the late 1970s saw the emergence of naxalite outfits in central Bihar—mainly the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC), the Party Unity (PU) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist-Liberation). These organisations took up the issues of wage and dignity of the Dalits and OBCs. Agricultural labourers rallied behind these parties and gathered strength from their ideologies. For the first time, a few parties organised Dalits and OBCs against the age-old and violent feudal structure perpetuated by the upper castes. The MCC and the PU were underground outfits, while CPI (ML-Liberation) contested elections for ‘tactical reasons’. When the massacre took place, Laxmanpur Bathe was a stronghold of the PU, which operated through its front organisation, the Mazdoor Kisan Sangram Samiti (MKSS). Under the MKSS’ leadership, agricultural labourers of Bathe were fighting for a decent minimum wage, a dignified life, and their right to Gairmazarua land. Similar struggles were led by the CPI (ML- Liberation) in Bhojpur and the MCC in Gaya. In 2004, the MCC and the PU merged into the Communist Party of India (Maoist), and at present this outfit operates mostly from Jharkhand. It has lost much of its cadre base in central Bihar.
“In response to the naxalite challenge, many private militias of the landed and dominant castes mushroomed in Bihar through the 1980s. A series of massacres happened in central Bihar, in which these armies specifically targeted Dalit tolas and killed hundreds of people. Many private armies consolidated themselves in the early 1990s and a bigger, well-structured militia emerged. It was called the Ranveer Sena and was led by members of the Bhumihar caste. [...]
“From 1995 to 2000, the Ranveer Sena perpetrated 29 massacres, in which 287 people were killed, according to official records. With time, it expanded its operations beyond Bhojpur to other parts of central Bihar. In many cases, the police allegedly helped the Ranveer Sena to kill communist cadre. The naxalite parties retaliated forcefully in eight instances, but most of these were targeted killings unlike the indiscriminate massacres perpetrated by the Ranveer Sena. The only exception was the 1999 Senari massacre, in which the MCC killed 34 people from the Bhumihar caste. [...]
“The Bathe judgment is the third in a series of acquittals by the Patna High Court. In April 2012, the court set aside a lower court judgment and acquitted all the 23 accused in the Bathani Tola massacre case. Three had been sentenced to death and 20 to life imprisonment by the lower court. In July 2012, 19 of the 20 accused were released by the High Court in the Miyapur massacre case. On March 1, 2013, all the 11 accused were acquitted by the court after they appealed against the lower court decision that sentenced three to death and eight to life imprisonment in the Nagari Bazaar massacre. In two other cases, the Narayanpur and Sendani massacres, the lower court acquitted all the accused in the last two years. In the Senari massacre case, in which the MCC was involved, all the accused were pronounced guilty by the High Court.
“In all the cases against the Ranveer Sena, the High Court found the prosecution witnesses ‘unreliable’ and gave a lot of credence to the argument put forward by the defence lawyer that the first information reports (FIRs) were lodged a few hours after the massacre. It interpreted the ‘delay’ as an indication that it was possibly politically motivated. Critics say that the judgments point to the dual nature of the judiciary: it chose to acquit the accused in all the cases where landlords were implicated and punished the accused in cases where agricultural workers were the accused.”
Bloodthirsty Justice: Laxmanpur Bathe. Bathani Tola. Mianpur. Nagri Bazar. Haibaspur. Shankar Bigha. by Sumati (Newsyaps (via Sanhati), October 27, 2013)
And see on anti-caste:
FINAL VERDICT IN BATHANI TOLA MASSACRE CASE (April 17, 2012)
THE “BUTCHER OF BIHAR”–LEADER OF UPPERCASTE LANDLORDS IN CLASS WAR AGAINST THE LANDLESS, ORGANIZER OF DEATH SQUADS THAT TARGETED HUNDREDS OF IMPOVERISHED, UNTOUCHABLE MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN–DIES IN THE MANNER IN WHICH HE LIVED
(June 2, 2012)
Fearing violent attacks, Dalits desert village (The Hindu)
“The Dalits of Kariyampatti village near Dindigul, about 60 km from here, deserted their houses on Saturday and took shelter at a hillock near Chengalapatti, (away from their hamlet) fearing violent attacks from caste Hindus, allegedly over a temple festival row.
“Perumal (38), a Dalit resident of Nadupatti Colony, claimed that a caste Hindu barged in to his house late on Friday night and threatened to murder his wife for not disclosing the whereabouts of his son, who was involved in a brawl with Vanniyars, a few months ago.
“‘The men abused my wife and left, but they came later and hurled a petrol bomb on my house,’ alleged Perumal. He went on saying, ‘caste Hindus have been intimidating all Dalit families to leave the village. They have damaged several houses in the past few days. The police and revenue officials haven’t taken action against them (Vanniyars),’ he lamented.
“According to police sources, trouble began on July 16, during a temple festival celebrated by the Dalits. A group of Dalit youth wore T-shirts bearing the image of “Ondi Veeran,” a Dalit icon.
“Objecting to this, the Vanniyar youth picked up a quarrel with the Dalits and coerced them to remove the T-shirts.
“A few days later, four Dalit youths were assaulted by a group of Vanniyars, for wearing the T-shirts. The same day, a case was registered and arrests were made on both sides.”
Honour killing: parents confess to daughter’s murder
(Hindustan Times, September 30, 2013):
“In a statement issued on Monday, superintendent of police Sibas Kabiraj said, ‘The victim's parents admitted that they poisoned their daughter and then strangulated her. With the help of close family friends, they tried to cremate her in the morning. Suspecting foul play, the villagers informed the police.’
“According to the police, the victim, who belonged to Gadaria caste (a backward class) was in love with Jaswinder Singh, a mazhabi Sikh (a scheduled caste), but her family was against the inter-caste relationship.
“The couple ran away to Ludhiana in Punjab on September 22, but Manjit’s parents forcibly took her back home the next day.
“On September 29, they killed Manjit for going against the family’s wishes by marrying out of her caste.”
Dalit man murdered allegedly by in-laws, honour killing suspected (IBNLive, September 24, 2013):
“In a suspected case of 'honour killing', a Dalit man was murdered allegedly by his in-laws at Mehrama village of Bihar's Nawada district on Tuesday, police said.
“‘The victim identified as Naveen Kumar (25), was hanged with a rope and his stomach was pierced,’ SP Manavjeet Singh Dhillon said. Naveen had married a girl from another Dalit caste two years ago much to the disapproval of her family, the SP said.”
Yet another doctored riot by Harsh Mander (Hindustan Times)
“A people who have never fought each other in history are today bitterly estranged, fearful and angry. ‘Not even during the Partition riots of 1947 did a drop of blood flow in our villages’, they repeatedly told us. And today, some 50 lie dead, and 50,000 have fled their homes in terror.
“Cramped into makeshift camps in madrasas and mosques, many resolve never to return to the land of their ancestors. The Muzaffarnagar countryside in western Uttar Pradesh is reeling under the gravest communal clash the country has witnessed since the 2002 Gujarat carnage.
“People of diverse faiths who live together do not spontaneously turn against each other. There are three requisites for mass communal violence to occur.
“The first is the deliberate manufacture of hatred. The second is the manufacture of a ‘riot’. The third is a complicit State: no riot can continue beyond a few hours unless the state actively wishes that it does so. [...]
“In Muzaffarnagar, in the patriarchal Jat community, the issue chosen to foment hatred was women’s ‘honour’. The claim was that ‘love jihad’ was being waged, by which Muslim boys were equipped with smart clothes, deodorants and sweet talk to entice Jat girls into ‘love’ traps.
“An unfortunate incident on August 27 in Kawal, in which three young men, one Muslim and two Jat were killed in violent clashes, was deployed as evidence of ‘love jihad’. The claim was that the Muslim youth was killed by the brothers of a Jat girl who he was stalking, and these brothers in turn were killed by a violent Muslim mob.
“BJP MLA Sangeet Som uploaded a video of two boys being killed by a mob in Sialkot, Pakistan, claiming that the footage was of the Jat boys being killed by a Muslim mob. This video was circulated widely through mobile phones, and fuelled mass rage against local Muslims. Later evidence suggests that the death of the three young men resulted instead from a hot-headed clash between the boys after a motorcycle accident.
“The second requirement for communal violence to occur is the manufacture of the riot itself. Building on the groundswell of local Hindu fury against their Muslim neighbours because of their alleged deliberate assaults on the ‘honour’ of Hindu girls, a mahapanchayat on September 7 was convened with the explosive theme ‘Save Your Daughters’.
“Fiery speeches were made against Muslims, and after the frenzied crowd dispersed, they attacked Muslim settlements. In the majority of villages, Muslims were labourers in the sugarcane fields of Jat landowners. Their small houses were set aflame and looted, some were killed, and terrified people fled to the safety of numbers in Muslim majority villages.
“The third prerequisite for a manufactured riot is a complicit State administration, which fails in prevention, control, rescue and relief. The administration took no steps to quell the rumours, arrest those stoking hatred, or prohibit the mahapanchayat. Once violence broke out, the police forces mostly stood watching as the crowds attacked Muslim settlements, without using force or firing to disperse the furious mobs.
“They did not rescue the escaping people; instead survivors depended on Muslim wealthy landowners to protect them as they fled. The administration did not establish relief camps; instead these were organised by the victimised community in Muslim majority villages. We found little presence of the State in these camps: it did not organise sanitation, healthcare, child care or police outposts to record people’s complaints.”
Lessons from Muzaffarnagar (editorial) (Economic and Political Weekly, September 28, 2013):
“The communal violence in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring areas is a warning of the days to come. Uttar Pradesh (UP) is crucial to the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if its prime ministerial aspirant, Narendra Modi, has to have a plausible chance of coming to power. There has been a rise in incidents of communal violence since the Samajwadi Party (SP) government was elected to office last year, but the “riot” earlier this month – when close to 50 people were killed, a few hundred injured and tens of thousands fled from their homes – stands distinct in its scale and is clear evidence of what Paul Brass has termed the ‘institutionalised riot system’. The ‘Gujarat model’ of using the terror of communal violence to forge communal unity among ‘Hindus’ to build an invincible vote bank appears to be the strategy that has been employed [...].
“That the ‘Hindus’ in this riot are largely Jats has been acknowledged. However, Muslims too have caste and class markers. Some reports talk about Muslims being farm labourers, carpenters and blacksmiths to the landowning Jats. That clearly indicates a subservient relation with the dominant caste. In fact, one report quotes a Hindu Jat villager, ‘There will be no peace until the balance of power is sorted out. One community in each village will remain dominant.’ This then raises the question of why the dominant agricultural caste would want to drive out farm labour at the very time when agricultural operations are at their peak and the harvest is only weeks away. Another newspaper reports that Muslims who have run away from their villages to relief camps claim that they have left behind acres of cultivated land with standing crops, but fearing for their lives they would not want to return. The report estimates that in total there would be thousands of acres of such land and most landholders fear that these will now be encroached by members of the dominant caste. Does this indicate that landless lower-caste Muslims are now becoming landed? Or does it mean that a section of the dominant Hindu agricultural caste is willing to forgo the services of its (Muslim) farm labourers, even when labour supply is a problem, only to be able to appropriate prime agricultural land of the landed Muslims?
“The shifting of communal violence to rural areas perhaps cannot be understood without understanding the major changes in agriculture over the last few decades [...]. But it is equally clear that after the Nellie and Bhagalpur killings of the 1980s, this is perhaps the first large-scale rural communal violence and a warning about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s new strategy of breaking out of its urban enclaves.
“This particular incident also built on the other trajectory of reactionary politics in the region – of trying to control the sexuality of women – which has expressed itself regularly in ‘honour’ killings and khap panchayat embargoes on lifestyle. That the present killings, which appear to have a land-labour angle, were planned at a mahapanchayat of Hindu Jat khaps calling for the protection of the ‘honour’ of their women illustrates the continuities between caste, class, patriarchy and property.”
Muzaffarnagar 2013: Violence by Political Design | Report of an independent fact finding group by the Centre for Policy Analysis (September 17, 2013)
Evil Stalks the Land: Fact Finding Report on Muzaffarnagar Riots (September 24, 2013)
30 days and counting... The aftermath of violence in Muzaffarnagar & Shamli Districts, Uttar Pradesh, report by Joint Citizens’ Initiative (October 11, 2013)
The riot route (Frontline, September 18, 2013)
The chilling familiarity of Muzaffarnagar by Farah Naqvi (The Hindu, September 18, 2014)
Communal violence raises fears of turmoil ahead of India election by Amy Kazmin (Financial Times, September 22, 2013)
Muzaffarnagar 2013: Meanings of Violence by Hilal Ahmed (Economic and Political Weekly, October 5, 2013)
Their revenge on her body (The Hindu)
“A Dalit woman in a Patna village was stripped and paraded in the streets by dominant caste men to avenge an affront to their pride.
“They were six. She was all alone. They held her arms, her legs and dragged her out of her house in broad daylight. An entire village watched as six men tore off Sarita Devi’s (named changed) clothes, paraded her in the streets, in a shocking spectacle of humiliation very near to Bihar’s capital city.
“Like scores of Dalit women, her body became the site of revenge for the dominant castes in her village, who sought to strip off her dignity to avenge an ostensible affront to their caste pride.
“Sarita Devi, a washer woman, belongs to the lower dhobi caste. The yadav caste dominates her village (named withheld) in Patna district, whereas there are only two dhobi homes. One of the yadav households accused her 15-year-old son of having an affair with a girl in their family. Later, there was a quarrel between the boy and the girl.
“This acted as a trigger and on February 16, at 7 a.m., the girl’s family and relatives, namely Naval Rai, Atma Rai, Parmatma Rai, Manoj Rai and Sanjay Rai, descended upon Sarita’s hut.
“‘I was brushing my teeth in the courtyard, when they came and held me. They were saying “Dhobi jaat ka hoke itna hai” [You have so much nerve despite being a dhobi.] Then they stripped me. They were taking me to their house to further humiliate me. They asked for my husband and son and threatened to kill me. Manoj was carrying a sword and the rest lathis. Everyone watched as they ripped off my sari and blouse and scratched my body,’ recalled Sarita with tears welling up in her eyes.”
“Nidhi Barak, 20, was lynched by her own family and they broke the limbs of Dharmendra Barak, 23, before beheading him and dumping the body in front of his house. The police have arrested Nidhi’s parents, brother and uncle and are on the lookout for others involved in the killing. [...]
“Nidhi and Dharmendra were studying in Rohtak, 10 km from their village, and were in a relationship for almost three years. When both went missing on Tuesday, Nidhi’s family got in touch with her and persuaded them to return home, with the promise that they would not be harmed. As they returned on Wednesday, Nidhi’s family took them to their house and killed them.
“The families, of the same ‘gotra,’ told the police that the couple eloped on Tuesday to get married in Delhi, 90 km away.
“The brutal killing is yet another reminder of the power ‘khap panchayats’ wield, issuing diktats against marriages within the same ‘gotra’ (clan) and in the same village or even ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood). In Haryana, there have been numerous cases of couples having defied the Khap diktat and paid the price with their lives.”
In the name of honour, again (Frontline, November 1, 2013):
“Dharmender and Nidhi of Garnawathi village in Rohtak district of Haryana were in the prime of their youth. On September 17, they decided to elope and get married in a court. They left the village clandestinely to an unknown destination in Delhi. They knew the village community would not accept their communion as they shared the same gotra. But they were lured back to the village by a close friend of Dharmender, who is learnt to have been under pressure from the community.
“The couple was running out of money and the friend convinced them that their families were reconciled to their marriage idea. They were murdered on their return to the village. The girl’s parents, uncle and younger brother allegedly tortured and hacked the two of them into pieces. They decapitated the boy and threw his head and torso in front of his modest dwelling and challenged his family to come and claim the remains. None of the residents of the village dared to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime.
“The twin murders came to light when somebody tipped off the police as Nidhi’s body was being prepared for cremation. Some reports said that the bodies were dragged through the village to a send a message across to society, but this could not be confirmed. [...]
“Barring the Left parties and their mass organisations, all the other political parties in the State declined to come out openly and condemn the heinous crime. Billoo, the girl’s father and a former wrestler, proudly claimed before the media that he had done the right thing. [...]
“The people in the village were unanimous in their opinion that the couple had left the girl’s parents with no choice. ‘The girl’s father should have got her married instead of sending her to the city to study. The laws are made for society but our society doesn’t accept it. The age of marriage should be reduced from 18 to 14. This will solve a lot of problems.’ [...]
“[T]he concept of property is very strong in Haryana and the three Js—jar (property), joru (wife) and jameen (land)—are the cornerstones of patriarchy in Haryanvi society. To this extent, and to protect and preserve property, levirate marriages, where the widow is married off to the husband’s brother, are common. It has happened even in cases where the groom was much younger than his widowed sister-in-law.
“Another elderly man from the village said that townspeople found it difficult to understand village customs. ‘There is no concept of brotherhood in the cities. No one cares for the other,’ he said. He said when such transgressions took place, the influential people involved would resort to murder. Among the other forms of ‘punishment’ for those who violate the ‘norms’ are social boycott (hukka-paani band) and economic ‘sanction’, which prevents people from tilling or sowing the fields of the families concerned.”
“‘Acting on the directives of the school authority, the cook in our school forced us sit separately from the upper caste students during mid-day meal. Few days back I was assaulted and humiliated by the lady who prepares our mid-day meal and my fault was that I touched the salt jar. It’s very painful for me to go to the school any further,’ said [thirteen-year-old] Bikram.
“‘Sometimes the food is almost thrown at the plates of dalit students from a distance and frequently most of the food given to upper-class students,’ he added. [...]
“This is not the lone story of discrimination at this particular school in the state. According to a study carried out by Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), twenty percent of students left hungry as they served inadequate quantity of food. Another 20 percent said dalit children were not allowed to serve food, whereas other 14 percent alleged separate seating arrangements during mid-day meals. Likewise 13 percent pupil complained that food dropped on their plate from a distance.”
See also on anti-caste:
Brothers kill girl for loving dalit man (Indian Express (Chennai))
“In an incident of honour killing on Friday, two brothers of a caste Hindu family were arrested at Seevalaperi here on charges of murdering their sister who fell in love with a Dalit boy.
“Police sources said Gomathi (17) had gone to work in a mill at Puthukottai area in Thoothukudi district and had fallen in love with Murugan (22) of Thiruvenkadanathapuram in Thoothukudi district, also a worker there. Gomathi’s caste Hindu family opposed their marriage as the boy was a Dalit. However, Gomathi went to Murugan’s house on Thursday, and decided to stay with the boy.
“As she did not return to her house, Gomathi’s brothers Murugan (24) and Sudalaimuthu (20) went to Murugan’s house and brought her back by promising that they would help her marry the boy she chose.
“Believing their words, the girl returned home. On Friday, the brothers reported that the girl had committed suicide. But investigation revealed that the brothers had poisoned and then hanged her. Seevalaperi police arrested the duo.”
Dishonour killing in Tirunelveli keeps police on tenterhooks (NDTV, September 17, 2013):
“There's a pall of gloom and fear at the home of Murugan, a Dalit science graduate residing in the Pudukottai village in Tuticorin district. A 17-year-old girl from the upper caste Thevar community, who had eloped with him, was found murdered a few days ago in the neighbouring Tirunelveli district.
“The police suspects the family of the girl to be behind the murder and has arrested her two brothers.
“Murugan, however, hides in fear that he may be attacked next.
“At his home, however, no one is willing to speak out. The family exercises abundant restraint.
“‘They have done no harm to us. Why should we blame anyone for this and make it a big issue? My brother should not have fallen in love with an upper caste girl. He should have found a partner in our own Dalit community,’ Murugan's elder brother Ottaikaran says. [...]
“For years, the Dalits have largely depended on their Thevar landlords for their livelihood in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. And they became easy targets when their menfolk married Thevar women. The early nineties saw bloody communal clashes in the region.
“More recently, upper caste women have become victims of the dishonour killings, with at least six in the last two years alone.”
“A Dalit woman was allegedly beaten up by members of upper caste for drawing potable water from a government-dug deep tube well in their area at a village in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, police said on Wednesday.
“The woman was thrashed by upper caste groups in Pikirali village, about 25 kilometres from Kendrapara, on Monday. The upper caste groups said Dalits were not allowed to draw water from their wells.
“The sole tube well in Dalit Sahi area, which served about 10 Dalit families, had been lying defunct since last month. The poor families were forced to use polluted water from a pond nearby.
“Driven by compulsion, a Dalit woman, Kalpana Sethi, 25, decided to fetch water from a tube well in front of the house of an upper caste person, Bhamara Jena.”
See also on anti-caste:
Caste-based discrimination still pervades Bajura (Republica (Kathmandu))
“Many villages in Bajura have separate drinking water taps for the Dalit and the non-Dalit communities as the caste-based discriminate continues unabated in this hilly district in far-western Nepal.
“Take, for instance, the remote village of Aamkot in Biramhatola VDC. Of the total 60 households in the village, around 45 families belong to the so-called upper castes.
“There are two sets of water taps in this predominately non-Dalit village–borne out of the notion of ‘untouchability’–not to allow the Dalit residents from using the tap meant for the so-called upper castes.
“So deep-rooted is the Hindu religious orthodoxy in the village that the discrimination is not merely confined to the caste system, and extends to gender as well.
“Next to the drinking water taps set up for the Dalits and the non-Dalits, there is yet another tap for menstruating women in the village. [...]
“A woman from the Dalit community said that though some literate upper caste youths were liberal, most of the elderly remain strictly conservative.
“‘To this day, some old people from the so-called upper caste sprinkle water dipped on gold to sanctify their water tap if they saw any of us using their tap,’ she adds. ‘And, it really depresses us and makes us feel humiliated.’
“According to her, things do not end just by purifying the water tap. The so-called non-Dalit locals make it a point to berate them–using foul language. [...]
“In Piluchaur, a common market for around five Village Development Committees, no one from the Dalit community is allowed to spend a night in any of the local hotels, says Bhuwan B.K, a student.
“‘We are not allowed to enter a hotel, and we are forced to eat outside even if we pay for food,’ he bemoans.”
See also on anti-caste:
“The victim was 16 when she was snatched from the street as she walked to school and raped by two men in a moving car.
“She reported the attack to the police but three weeks later, on a date etched on to the wall of her home, her mother disappeared.
“Two days later she was found dead in a canal. Doctors said she too was raped before she was murdered.
“Now the teenager’s fight to see the men accused of her rape sent to jail has pitted her and her family against a hostile neighbourhood.
“They are Dalits, India's lowest caste who are derided as 'untouchables'; the suspects, who police say also raped and killed her mother, are upper caste. [...]
“The victim’s widowed father, a day labourer, said neighbours had repeatedly told them to drop the charges.”
Dalit boy stabbed for talking to non-dalit girl (Times of India)
“A -year-old school going dalit boy was inflicted with multiple injuries on his face for allegedly speaking to a non-dalit girl, aged 14, in Kumaram village near Madurai. [...]
“Police said the boy, N. Gokulakrishnan, was standing on the outskirts of his native Kumaram village near Alanganallur on the night of August 21 and was taking to his uncle Manimaran and relative Bharathi when the girl’s father, a non-dalit of the same village, attacked him. Mani, who came to the spot pulled out a knife and started stabbing the boy on the face. ‘The boy suffered deep cuts on the face, wrist, shoulder and ear. His uncle and relative Bharathi rescued him and fled the place,’ police said. [...]
“Two days before the attack, Mani had visited the house of the 14-year-old boy and threatened him of dire consequences if he continued speaking to his daughter. Subsequently, the boy’s relatives took the boy to Mani's house and explained that he was not harassing the girl. In spite of that, the boy was attacked, alleged the complaint.”
Caste barriers not older than 2000 years - Indians mated across ethnic groups till 2nd century: Study (The Telegraph (Calcutta))
“People across India mixed and mated without class, caste, or ethnic barriers for about 2,300 years until strict endogamy emerged across the subcontinent around the 2nd century AD, a new genetic study has suggested.
“The study by scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the Harvard Medical School has indicated a staggering level of population admixture that they say had not been previously suspected.
“The scientists said that ancient, pervasive and widespread mixture of genes showed up in the genetic makeup of virtually all of India’s present-day populations — upper-castes, lower-castes, and even tribes such as Bhils of Gujarat, the Kallars of Tamil Nadu, and another tribe from Uttar Pradesh, long viewed as genetically isolated.
“The study, based on the analysis of the genetic make-up of 571 persons from 73 well-defined ethno-linguistic groups — 71 from India and two from Pakistan — has found evidence of widespread population mixture between 4,200 and 1,900 years ago.
“‘With the dawn of endogamy, genetic mixing became rare — that’s what we see in present-day Indian genomes,’ Priya Moorjani, a graduate student at the Harvard Medical School and the first author of the study, told The Telegraph. The findings will be published tomorrow in the American Journal of Human Genetics.”
Genetic Research Suggests Indian Caste System Began 1,900 Years Ago (Slate, August 20, 2013):
“But when did the caste system actually begin? One team of researchers believes the country’s genetic history holds the key. In a recent paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad assembled what they call the ‘most comprehensive sampling of Indian genetic variation to date,’ using samples collected from 571 individuals belonging to 73 ‘well-defined ethno-linguistic groups.’ The data allowed the authors to trace not just the genetic mixture between these groups but how long ago this mixture occurred.
“Five thousand years ago, the ancestors of modern Indians were comprised primarily of two groups: ancestral North Indians, who related to people of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Europe, and ancestral South Indians, who are not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. The mixture between these two groups and their many subcategories happened mostly between 4,200 and 1,900 years ago, according to the study. The authors note that this period is significant as it was a ‘time of profound change in India, characterized by the deurbanization of the Indus civilization, increasing population density in the central and downstream portions of the Gangetic system, shifts in burial practices, and the likely ﬁrst appearance of Indo-European languages and Vedic religion in the subcontinent.’
“Around 1,900 years ago, the mixture largely stopped, as Indian society moved toward endogamy—the practice of avoiding intermarriage or close relationships between ethnic groups—which reached its most extreme form in the creation of the caste system. As one of the study’s authors told the Times of India, ‘the present-day structure of the caste system came into being only relatively recently in Indian history.’”
But not cast(e) in stone (DNA (Mumbai), August 31, 2013):
“It seems the first set of modern humans to have migrated to the Indian subcontinent were the Andamanese 65,000 to 75,000 years ago. They then migrated to coastal areas in South India and mixed with Dravidian population groups. Scientists refer to these first inhabitants of India as Ancestral South Indians (ASI). The second wave of migration from Africa took place 40,000 to 45,000 years ago. During migration this group probably split into two — one inhabiting Europe and the other heading towards Middle East and then India.
“This group has been dubbed Ancestral North Indians (ANI). This explains why ASIs don’t show any genetic affinity to groups outside the Indian subcontinent and ANIs show 30 to 70 percent genetic affinity to West Asians, Middle Easterners, Europeans and Caucasians. Most Indian population groups descended from a mixture of these two genetically divergent populations — ASI and ANI. This study had major implications for Indian history because it clearly showed that the origin of genetic diversity found in South Asia is much older than 3,500 years when the Indo-Aryans were supposed to have migrated to India. This means, genetically speaking, there was no Aryan invasion at all.
“Now CCMB scientists have been able to put a date to admixture between ASI and ANI — crucial for a fuller understanding of Indian history. The admixture, according to findings of the study published by Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj and colleagues this month, probably took place 1,900 to 4,200 years ago.
“The most remarkable aspect of the mixture is its pervasiveness. It affected not just traditionally upper-caste groups, but also traditionally lower-caste and isolated tribal groups such as Bhils or Palliyars, all of whom are united in their history of genetic mixture in the past few thousand years. The time-frame implies that India experienced a demographic transformation during this period — from being a region in which major population mixture was common to one in which mixture even between closely related groups became rare as reflected in a shift to endogamy (a key attribute of the caste system).
“The fact that Indians evolved from randomly mixed groups suggests that social classifications like the caste system did not exist in the same way before the mixture. In other words, the present-day structure of the caste system came into being only relatively recently. But once established, the caste system became genetically effective because mixture across groups became very rare. The Vysya community from Andhra Pradesh, which has experienced negligible gene flow from neighbouring groups for 3,000 years, is an illustrative example of this. Many population groups have evolved in genetic isolation during this period.”
‘Send us anywhere, but we won’t go back to Mirchpur’ (The Tribune (Chandigarh))
“The Dalit families that fled Hisar’s Mirchpur village after caste violence in 2010 today told a Supreme Court-appointed team they would not return as they feared for their safety. [...]
“‘How can anybody live under constant threat? The situation has not changed much in our village. The Jats are still as inimical to us as they were before. Move out the CRPF deployed in the village and you will see the consequences in two days,’ Ramesh Kumar, a middle-age Dalit man, told the team. About 135 families have been living at a farmhouse on the outskirts of Hisar since January 2011.
“Dalit settlements were targeted and torched in Mirchpur village by members of the dominant caste on April 21, 2010, resulting in the death of Tara Chand, 70, and his physically-challenged daughter. The court had convicted 15 persons and acquitted 82 in the case.
“Mincing no words, Gulab Singh, an elderly man, said: ‘Send us to other states or even Pakistan, but we will not go back to Mirchpur. There is no work for us in 20 adjoining villages. Nobody offers us even a glass of “seet” (left over after extracting butter from yogurt, “seet” is usually distributed by cattle rearing farmers free of cost to lower caste).’”
“With the country engulfed in a crisis over the war crimes trials, the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry shocked the country and the world. The Rana Plaza factory building collapse in April annihilated more than 1100 mainly women garment workers. This act of industrial murder showed the real workings of the capitalist market in one of the poorest countries in the world. Some 5000 factories in Bangladesh produce garments for major North American and European brands. The workers toiling in near-slavery in these deathtraps are paid the lowest wages in the world for that industry — as low as $37 (£24) a month, far below subsistence, often working 15-hour shifts.
“At the same time, the garment industry is a cornerstone of the country’s economy and the millions of workers in these factories have potential social power. To prevent such power from being unleashed, the local garment bosses, aided by the Awami League government, brutally suppress trade unions, to the point of targeting union activists with murderous violence (see Workers Vanguard no 1023, 3 May). Nevertheless, a number of strikes have swept the industry in recent years. And when news of the Rana Plaza disaster spread, hundreds of thousands of these workers walked out of work and marched on the headquarters of the garment manufacturers’ association demanding ‘we want execution of the garment factory owners!’
“The women who work in these factories are drawn from the villages, where illiteracy rates are high and the influence of religion and anti-woman prejudices are pervasive. For these women, a job in the garment industry opens up the possibility of escaping from the backwardness of village life. The ability of women to find employment in the cities breaks the taboo on mixing with men outside the home and enables women to become financially independent of their families. This fuels a backlash by the Islamists because it undermines the material basis for the traditional village and family hierarchy, within which women are blatantly traded as property. Dowry was prohibited by Bangladeshi law in 1980 but the legislation had little effect and the practice remains widespread. All aspects of personal and family law — regarding marriage, separation and divorce — are religion-based. Muslims are subjected to Islamic law, Christians to laws agreed by Christian churches and Hindus to Hindu codes. Numerous reports have documented an extremely high level of violence against women in Bangladesh. ‘Sulfuric acid — able to burn through skin, muscle and bone — is thrown on women for various reasons including “refusal of marriage offers, rejection of male advances, dowry disputes, domestic fights, property disputes, and even a delayed meal”’ (quoted in ‘Bangladesh: Violence against women’, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 2004). In 2002 the government introduced special laws to stop acid attacks; in 2011 the state restricted the sale of certain kinds of acids in an effort to reduce the number of these gruesome attacks.
“Women have most to gain from the overthrow of capitalism in Bangladesh and, as indeed in all of South Asia, they will be a motor force for socialist revolution. The fight for the most basic needs of women — for literacy, education, contraception, an end to forced marriage and a way out of grinding poverty and oppression — requires a struggle to root out the very foundations of capitalist society. In 1994, when Jamaat launched a murderous anti-woman campaign against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin, we wrote that ‘Nasrin’s case raises questions far beyond the important democratic issues of women’s rights, freedom of speech and the separation of religion and the state’, questions ‘that only a revolutionary socialist program can answer’.”
Couple ends lives over ‘honour’ (Deccan Chronicle)
“Twenty-four-year-old Shravanthi, who works in a private firm in Banjara Hills, wanted to marry a man she was in love with. Her parents, Raja Ram Shetty, 45, and Vasantha, 40, residents of Beerappaguda in Jeedimetla, wanted her to consider other proposals but she wanted to marry the man of her choice.
“Raja Ram is an Arya Vysya, a forward caste in Hinduism. The man Shravanthi wanted to marry belonged to Kapu caste, which is also a forward caste, but different. The Shettys refused to agree to the match. When Shravanthi refused to be browbeaten, her orthodox parents took the extreme step.
“On Saturday evening, they locked their house and went to their other house in Rajiv Gruhakalpa in Jagathgirigutta. That is where they hanged themselves. They were found by a visitor next morning who saw their vehicle parked outside and went in to meet them.
“‘We found a suicide note which mentioned they have taken the extreme step due to fears of facing society, in case she marries a man of another caste,’ said Mahender Reddy, SI Jeedimetla.”
No exits from these tunnels of death (The Hindu)
“Sewerage workers, traditionally Valmiki Dalits, employed by civic bodies such as the Water Board, Public Works Department (PWD), and Municipal Corporations, have, for generations, relentlessly toiled, continually risking their health and life to ensure upkeep of the sewerage system. But save for hurt, exploitation and untouchability, they have received little in return. Despite proactive orders of the Gujarat High Court (2006) and Madras High Court (2008), the implementation of the directives remains unrealised, in the wake of frequent deaths.
“The task of inspecting, repairing, unblocking and maintaining sewers exposes workers to the sordid, sewage gunk that is generated in our homes, factories, hotels, hospitals and workplaces each day — an odorous mix of human excrement, food waste, plastic, used sanitary materials, and industrial effluents. This rotting refuse ferments to produce noxious gases, commonly methane, hydrogen sulphide and nitrogen oxide, which routinely threaten the workers’ lives besides causing respiratory, gastric, spinal and skin diseases.
“To guard themselves against exposure to these gases, most workers express a strong preference for protective gear such as full body suits. However, maintaining that the ‘unlettered’ workers fail to appreciate such technology, most Water Board officials approach the issue of workers’ safety with unabashed negligence. Some alcohol, the workers say, is the first buffer against this gaseous attack, for without it, it is unthinkable to survive the nauseating odour. Often what passes off as safety equipment is an oxygen cylinder, the weight of which, not cushioned by a body suit, is too burdensome and inconvenient for workers to work with.
“‘It is not our death that we fear but the fate of our families after our death.’ This is what Delhi’s Jal Board branch workers say — every one of them. This is the workers’ deepest insecurity, compounded by the complete absence or wretched provisioning of social security support.”
Spectre of caste trails yet another couple (The Hindu)
“G. Suresh (31) belongs to the Vanniyar community and his wife S. Sudha (23) is a Dalit. Village elders belonging to the Vanniyar community have ordered a social boycott against them. [...]
“Trouble began around May-end when villagers at Veppamarathur collected Rs. 1,000 from every house to celebrate the Mariamman Temple festival. When they came to know that Suresh was married to a Dalit, they returned the money his family had contributed. [...]
“The village elders then convened a ‘panchayat’, which ordered that none from Suresh’s family should enter the temple. They were also barred them from drawing water from common facilities and other villagers were asked not to have any contact with the couple’s family. [...]
“Only then did the couple get their marriage registered (on June 12). They feared an attack on the scale of the November 7, 2012 mob fury on Natham Colony [in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu].”
See also on anti-caste:
A Small Town Near Gurgaon Wrestles With Change by Asgar Qadri (New York Times)
“Twenty years ago, Dharuhera was a quiet village of famers, who mostly worked on the lands of the local feudal lords, the Rao clan. The Raos owned most of the land and controlled the lives of people.
“‘We fought the Raos like our fathers had fought against the British,’ Suresh Chand, a farmer in his 70s, told me. In his youth, Mr. Chand worked as a laborer on the Rao lands. ‘It was pure bondage,’ Mr. Chand said. ‘There was no morning or evening for us. We worked on their lands all the time and got almost nothing in return.’
“The Raos had collaborated with the British and were given thousands of acres of land by the colonial authorities. The fortune is now divided among the various Rao scions. They continue to be the most powerful and the richest family in Dharuhera. The Raos too have made a transition like the town they ruled: they have reinvented themselves as real estate moguls. Daruhera is dominated by buildings carrying the Rao name: Rao Inderpal Shopping Complex, Rao Matadin Shopping Complex, and Dilip Rao Market. Each complex houses 100 to 150 shops. [...]
“The feudal world of Dharuhera began to crumble in the early 1980s after the Haryana government acquired a large swath of agricultural land and designated it as an industrial estate. Companies with large operations, like a paper producer, Sehgal Paper Mills, and a synthetics group, East India Synthetics, came and began employing thousands of locals as workers in their factories. A few years later, in 1985, Hero Honda, India’s largest scooter and motorcycle manufacturer, set up its manufacturing plant in Dharuhera. Thousands of jobs were created. Indian Oil, the state-owned petroleum company, set up a plant.
“A job in a factory brought freedom from centuries of feudal servitude and bonded labor. The great transformation of the feudal town also tore through the hierarchies of the oppressive caste system. Tej Kumar, a Dalit now in his 50s, was one of the workers to get a job at the Hero Honda factory in 1990.
“‘We were forced to wear a piece of shroud,’ Mr. Kumar recalled. ‘Our huts were made to face south to ward off the dirty winds.’
“He earned 2,000 rupees ($33) per month in his factory job — a princely sum for him at the time. A few years later, he was promoted as an electrician. After two decades at the factory, Mr. Kumar, who now makes 22,000 rupees ($367) a month, bought a modern double story house in one of the newly built housing complexes in Dharuhera. Mr. Kumar’s was the first Dalit family to move into the new residential complex. ‘I am hoping to buy a car now,’ he said.
“Over the last decade, however, the enthusiasm that the workers of Dharuhera had about factory jobs has been tempered. Hero Honda, like other manufacturers, has reduced permanent workers and turned to employ more contract workers, who are paid much less. [...]
“Although the Kumars have been able to move out of the confines of the feudal bondage and the persistent caste system, the old heart of Dharuhera continues to be divided into the upper caste Yadav quarter with spacious houses, clean, wide streets, and the derelict lower-caste Dalit quarter.
“‘They still refer to us as Harijans,’ said Makhan Lal, a shopkeeper in the Dalit neighborhood. ‘At least now we live in houses instead of thatched huts.’”
Knot scared: Rajasthan dalit groom defies threats, rides horse (The Times of India)
“A dalit groom rode a horse for his marriage procession defying threats from upper caste villagers for the first time under tight police security at Neemada village in Rajasthan's Ajmer district on Friday night. Dalits are not allowed to ride a horse especially for marriage processions.
“Ranjeet Singh Berwa's family had sought police help after the villagers had threatened him against riding a horse for his marriage procession. But the cops had told them to follow the village tradition forcing the family to file an application before the Center for Dalit Rights (CDR), which informed the district collector Vabhav Gallaria about it. [...]
“The district administration took the complaint seriously and Gallaria instructed police to ensure the marriage procession's security. [...]
“Even under tight security, many were not sure whether to break the custom. ‘No one, even me, my father and my five sons ever had the courage to go through the roads in the village on a horse,’ said a resident. [...]
“When the procession reached the center of the village, celebrations erupted. ‘It is like dream for us and felt that we too have right to dignity,’ said Peeruji.
“Another resident, Ram Karan Berwa, said thousands of marriages have taken place in the village but no dalit family had ever dared to ‘break this law’.
“As per the tradition, a dalit groom has to step down from the horse within Neemada’s limits and go to bride’s house on foot. ‘Those who have tried breaking this custom were punished severely mostly with heavy penalties,’ said Berwa.”
See also on anti-caste:
UNTOUCHABLES ATTACKED OVER MARRIAGE RITE RESERVED FOR CASTE HINDUS (March 5, 2013) and
Girl battered to death by father (Indian Express (Chennai),
July 7, 2013):
“In a shocking incident, a young girl was battered to death by her father as she had refused to marry a youth selected by him and insisted on marrying a Dalit youth of the same village. [...]
“According to the police, Konda Mamata (20), a second-year student of government degree college here, had allegedly been in love with a Dalit youth for the past three years and pressing her parents to allow her to marry him.
“But her request was turned down by the parents, particularly her father, Chandraiah, a tailor, and they fixed her marriage to a youth belonging their caste (Merudarji). A function, as part of the wedding preparation, was held at the house on Friday. It was attended by scores of their relatives. After all the guests had left the place, the girl again expressed her strong desire to marry the man of her choice which led to yet another bout of heated argument between the two. In a fit of rage, Chandraiah hit his daughter with an axe, which resulted in the girl’s death on the spot.”
Man kills pregnant daughter for marrying out of caste
(Times of India, June 28, 2013):
“In a shocking incident, a man allegedly strangulated to death his 18-year-old pregnant daughter here today as he was miffed with her for marrying a person outside their caste, police said today.
“Eknath Kisan Kumbharkar (38), a resident of Hanumanwadi locality, strangled his daughter, who was around eight months’ pregnant, with a rope in an autorickshaw near Gangapur road locality. [...]
“The autorickshaw driver tried to prevent the man from attacking his daughter, but in vain.
“While the victim died on the spot, Eknath ran away from there.
“The victim had last year married Deepak Kamble, a resident of Kamgar Nagar locality at Satpur, apparently against the wishes of her father since her husband happened to be from another caste.”
Roma Children Kept Separate, and Unequal (New York Times)
“Roma students in the Czech Republic are still routinely put at a disadvantage because of their placement in either segregated schools or school for children with learning disabilities, despite criticism from rights groups and a 2007 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that called the situation discriminatory.
“A disproportionate number of Roma are placed in what are called ‘practical schools,’ meaning institutions that use a simplified curriculum for children who have mild mental disabilities or who need remedial training. In a parallel problem, others are segregated into Roma-only schools that keep them isolated from the mainstream education system.
“In 2010, about one-third of Roma students in the Czech Republic were in practical schools, according to the Czech Schools Inspectorate. In 2012, that number dropped to 26 percent, though Roma children were still overrepresented, given that the Roma make up less than 3 percent of the population.”
Hairdressers Fight Caste Prejudice With Upscale Salons (New York Times)
“Beyond improving the looks of young men, Bangalore’s, and urban India’s, increasingly narcissistic culture has had an unexpected, more profound effect on society. It has freed an entire generation of hairdressers from the burden of their caste tag, giving them dignity, even celebrity. Members of the traditional chaurika caste, who stood among the lower rungs of India’s social order for doing ‘impure’ hair work, are now much sought-after hair professionals.
“‘We are no longer known by the derogatory barber or hajam terms,’ said Ramesh Babu, 42, who has clipped men’s hair for over two decades. Hajam is Urdu for barber. He now owns several salons and runs a luxury car rental service, often arriving in his personal Rolls Royce Ghost to trim clients’ hair. ‘We want to eliminate these disparaging labels entirely.’ [...]
“It’s a stark contrast from when his grandfather practiced the profession, making house calls in a village in Bangalore’s outskirts. His customers — who were men, as women back then kept their hair long — always paid in kind, usually grain and vegetables. [...]
“Many customers will still have a ‘cleansing’ bath straight after a haircut.
“But the past stigma about the profession is definitely fading. Proof is in Mr. Kambaya’s thriving training classes for the younger generation of his caste people, where the emphasis is on polish and demeanor. ‘The sessions will help them prosper in the stylish surroundings of high-end salons and reap the rewards of their inherited skill,’ he said.
“Mr. Kambaya wants his children to carry on his forefathers’ professional legacy. His daughter, a management student, will start assisting him as soon as she is finished with school.”
“A 19-year-old girl has been burnt to death and her mother beaten after pleading with village elders to be allowed to marry a boy from the same village and same caste, Indian police have confirmed.
“Anju Yadav, 19, from Karahkol village, in Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh, was set on fire at her home while her mother, Gyanwati Devi, 48, was on the other side of the village pleading with the village council to allow Anju to marry her boyfriend of two-years, Ranjit Yadav, 21.
“But the village council, along with the boy’s father, Jai Hind Yadav, 52, rejected their pleas insisting it was against tradition.
“Instead, the boy’s father rushed over to the family home and set the girl alight, it was claimed.
“Indian society is well known for its complex caste system [...]. However, what is less well known is that it is equally unacceptable for people from the same caste and village to marry. [...]
“Her mother, Gyanwati, said both her daughter and Ranjit loved each other very much and wanted to marry.
“Gyanwati went to Jai Hind’s house on Wednesday evening to discuss the marriage proposal but when he and the family refused she went to village council for help, which is usual in India.
“Gyanwati said: ‘I wanted to see my daughter happy. They loved each other; I had no problem with the marriage. But when I went to Jai Hind with the proposal he told me it’s a sin to marry within the same caste and would not accept the marriage.’
19-year-old girl burnt alive by lover’s father in UP village (Indian Express, June 14, 2013):
“Anju, who was enveloped in flames, ran to the terrace of her house and jumped down. She suffered fractures in her arms and legs, too. The villagers poured water on her, but by then she had already suffered over 85 per cent burns.”
“Just 45 kms from the cosmopolitan hub of Ahmedabad, a village in Bavla Talika district has been found to be using caste as a parameter for distribution of water supply. On the scale, the highest castes of Rajputs and Patels have exclusive access to the well in the morning from 8 to 10 am, with Bharwas and Vaghris using the well from 10 to 12 am. Dalits, or Harijans as they are locally known, are only allowed access after 12 am till 2 pm.
“According to a report, the pipelines carrying water are also arranged so each caste has a different one for their exclusive use. While the two upper castes can and do use each other’s water interchangeably, graphic warnings levying ‘strict penalties’ on Dalits if they are caught using others’ water decorate the surrounding walls. [...]
“Surprisingly [sic], the casteist practise has the backing of village panchayat.
“‘We have put up the notice to streamline water distribution as we have separate pipelines for areas where people of different castes reside,’ Pratapsinh Dodia, the husband of sarpanch Nimisha Dodia was quoted saying by DNA.
“‘And people don’t like when those from other communities use the same well. Villages are different from cities,’ he conceded.
“Throwing light on what upper castes call ‘tradition,’ local NGO Navsarjan Trust workers told DNA that even Dalits have stopped protesting against ‘inferior treatment’ as they have become used to it. Startlingly [sic], coordination officer of the NGO Ramila Parmar was quoted by DNA claiming that such water distribution procedure can be found all over the state.”
Tension prevails over denial of cremation to dalit woman (The Times of India)
“Police resorted to mild force to disperse warring groups following denial of cremation to a dalit woman by people belonging to upper caste at Gandlavedu village in Atmakurmandal of Nellore district on Tuesday.
“According to Atmakur police, a group of upper caste people objected to the cremation of D Kondamma (80), a dalit woman, who died in the early hours of Tuesday. The dalits wanted to cremate the woman in the vicinity of a crematorium belonging to upper castes.
“This led to protests by dalits. With two groups resorting to physical attacks, tension prevailed in the village. The police used force to disperse them.
“Senior police and revenue officials rushed to the village and convinced the upper castes to allow Kondamma's cremation. The revenue authorities promised to earmark land for an exclusive crematorium for the dalits.”
Dalit boy forced to carry footwear on his head (The Hindu)
“At an age too young to comprehend the ugly face of caste system, a school-going Dalit boy of Vadugapatti in Usilampatti taluk has become a victim of the worst form of ill-treatment.
“On Monday, the 11-year-old boy was allegedly humiliated by a caste Hindu youth who paraded the boy on the streets of the village with a pair of footwear on his head. [...]
“The boy and two of his friends were returning from the Government Kallar Government High School in the village after checking out their annual examination results on Monday when the caste Hindu youth P. Nilamaalai (27) caught hold of them near a huge tree adjacent to the school. ‘He let my friends go because they were not wearing footwear and asked me to stay back,’ the boy told The Hindu.
“Questioning the boy for gathering guts to wear footwear through a locality occupied by caste Hindus and asking him if his mother had not taught him the ‘etiquette’ he had to follow while passing through ‘upper caste areas,’ the youth forced him to carry the footwear on his head and paraded him up to a podium [meant for performing dramas], about 60 metres from the tree.
“His mother took up the issue with Nilamaalai on Wednesday. ‘He justified his act and threatened to kill me if I dared to go to the police.’”
They dare not wear footwear here (The Hindu, June 9, 2013):
“The humiliation underwent by an 11-year-old Dalit boy, who was reportedly forced by a caste Hindu youth to carry his footwear on head at Vadugapatti in Usilampatti taluk near here, has brought to the fore years of subjugation and maltreatment suffered by Dalits of the village.
“The discrimination began right at his residence. Around 250 Dalit families in the village were segregated from the rest and living in a separate locality called a ‘colony.’
“Over 650 caste Hindu families occupied the remaining parts of the village.
“The two groups of families also had separate temples and priests. ‘We have to cross their (caste Hindus) locality to reach our temple. And we dare not wear footwear. Our ancestors had been following it [not wearing footwear] without protest,’ said P. Azhagu, a Dalit priest.
“L. Azhaguraja, a Dalit driver of the village, said Dalits are prohibited from even riding bicycles and two-wheelers through the caste Hindu locality. ‘We cannot even travel as pillion riders. Any violation of the diktat would provoke the ire of the dominant community,’ he said.
“Concurring with him, R. Palpandi, a casual labourer, said the village ration shop was located in the area occupied by caste Hindus. ‘We cannot even take a two-wheeler there to bring home provisions. We have to carry the provisions on our heads. It is an unwritten rule,’ he rued.”
Dalit discrimination takes different forms in Vadugapatti
(The Hindu, June 12, 2013):
“Multiple forms of discrimination exist in Vadugapatti village near Usilampatti, where a 12-year-old Dalit boy was made to carry his footwear on his head recently.
“Dalits can neither walk on the streets of caste Hindus with their footwear on nor can they enter common pathways on bicycles. If they violated the rule they had to face the wrath of the dominant caste in the village, the Piramalai Kallars. [...]
“Dalits in the village cannot enter the Santhana Mariamman temple in the village; nor are they allowed to use the village square space. They have no access to common property resources. Even at ration shops, Dalits are abused by caste Hindus if they get close to them, said Vairupandy (25) a Dalit youth.
“Dalits cannot sit in front of caste Hindus at bus shelters; there is no pathway for them to approach the graveyard and even during an emergency they have to use a circuitous route. The law of the land is that all issues pertaining to the villages should be dealt within the caste panchayats (kangaroo courts).
“Maayakkal (60) and other Kallar women in the village square said that they don’t eat food or drink tea in Dalit houses. When asked why they said it has been the tradition for centuries.”
Dalit youth killed for marrying caste Hindu (Indian Express (Chennai), June 7, 2013):
“A Dalit youth who fell in love and married a caste Hindu girl was found murdered on a field here on Thursday. Police have arrested the girl’s father and brother in this connection. [...]
“In April this year, the girl eloped with Parthiban, who married her with support of his friends. When the marriage came to the knowledge of Ochammal’s family, they refused to admit the couple in their house. Besides, whenever the girl’s family members came across Parthiban, they used abusive words and threatened him. Sources said, a few days back, the girl’s father went to Parthiban’s shop and threatened him.”
Honour killing: Youth hacked to death by young woman’s kin (Business Standard, June 1, 2013):
“Dhaka, who belonged to pre-dominant Jat community, had married Shabnam Balmiki (22), a Dalit woman, last year in a temple at Hisar.
“However, the family members of Shabnam, who reside in Fatehabad, did not approve of the marriage and also did not allow her to go with her husband.
“On May 30, when Satpal Dhaka went to meet his wife, to invite her for his brother’s marriage, the irate relatives tried to thrash him, but he managed to escape. [...]
“Last evening when Satpal was out for distributing invitation cards of the marriage of his brother Suraj Bhan, the girl’s father Mukesh and her brothers Shubham and Sagar, along with three others, allegedly attacked Satpal, killing him on the spot, police said.”
“When Gangu Chaudhary got a call to come to Kathmandu from his home in western Nepal, all he knew was that his 12-year-old daughter, Srijana, had fallen sick. He arrived at the family house where she had been working to be told that his daughter had doused herself in kerosene and then set herself alight, dying of her injuries shortly afterwards.
“Srijana was a ‘kamlari’, a domestic slave.
“As bonded labourers working off debts, Srijana’s family remains trapped in the quasi-feudal caste system still operating in parts of the country.
“Since the 1950s, young girls from Nepal’s Tharu community have been sold or given away by their families as a way of repaying debts to higher-caste families. Many face years of menial and unpaid domestic labour, violence and abuse. Chaudhary says that he was pressured by his landlord to hand over his daughter in exchange for some land. He never saw her again.
“But now, two months after her body was cremated, Srijana’s death could mark a turning point in Nepal’s battle to end this ancient form of slavery. Last week, the government pledged to end the enslavement of all remaining kamlari girls by the end of the month, help to rehabilitate them once free, and prosecute the families that had enslaved them.
“The government’s decision followed a wave of protests and strikes, in the capital and across southern Nepal, over continued discrimination against kamlaris. The unrest was prompted by the refusal of the police to investigate Srijana’s death, which was ruled suicide. [...]
“Officially, all forms of bonded labour, including the kamlari system, have been banned in Nepal since 2000.
“Yet campaigners believe that thousands of young girls like Srijana are still living as indentured slaves throughout the country.
“‘It is the powerful politicians from the upper castes who typically keep kamlaris, so they have no incentive to abolish the system,’ says Churna Chaudhary, the executive director of Backward Education Society, which has been campaigning for an end to all forms of bonded labour since 1985.”
See also on anti-caste:
CHILDREN AND CASTE-BASED BONDED LABOR IN NEPAL (February 26, 2011)
The last of the blacksmiths (The Hindu)
“Blacksmithing is one of the last vestiges of caste-based hereditary occupations. It is practiced by a few families at Nagamalai Pudukottai on the Madurai-Theni highway. They make tools for agriculture and construction purposes.
“Their spades, hoes, picks and trowels attract customers from all over south Tamil Nadu. S. Krishnamoorthy (50) and his wife Chithra (45) belong to the fourth generation of a family of blacksmiths. [...]
“[Chithra’s] ancestors [...] were brought to Nagamalai Pudukottai [...] as the village did not have a blacksmith then. ‘It was part of the system to have various service castes within a village, and we were given land to stay and thus have remained here for the past 100 years,’ says Lakshmi (70), [Chitra’s grandmother].
“Though the blacksmiths traditionally — within the Hindu hierarchy — did not have power over land, they were the ones who made all agricultural tools such as hoes, spades, plough tips and picks, the mainstay of the village economy. [...]
“The advent of tipper lorries and earthmovers has resulted in decrease in demand for hoes. Six men used to carry a hoe each to unload sand from a lorry. Now a single person with a hoe can complete the work, he said.”
“At least 17 people, including senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, were killed and former union minister V C Shukla and 19 others injured when heavily-armed Maoists ambushed a convoy of party leaders inside a dense forest in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district.
“Karma, a former home minister of the state, who was a guiding force behind ‘Salwa Judum’ (anti-Naxal operation by vigilante groups), was surrounded by about 100 to 150 Maoists who peppered his body with bullets.
“The Maoists also kidnapped PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh after attacking the convoy of Congress leaders in Darba Gati Valley near Jagdalpur, headquarters town of Bastar district, police said.”
Mahendra Karma and his cynical form of vigilantism by Sudeep Chakravarti (live mint/The Wall street Journal, May 28, 2013):
“Salwa Judum vigilantes destroyed homes, and stores of grain and any other food they had; killed dozens of men, women and children; maimed and—or—raped several. Children were forced to watch the death and dismemberment of parents. Pregnant women were disembowelled. The death and torture of those suspected of allying with Maoist rebels was instant. This intimidation, blessed by posses of state police and Union government paramilitaries who have their own record of blood, lust and war crimes in the region, at one point herded in excess of 50,000 tribal folk into little more than concentration camps across Dantewada district—since last year further split to create the additional districts of Bijapur and Sukma.
“To be fair to Karma, there was a method to his madness. Maoists had begun to infiltrate the Dantewada region as far back as the 1980s—it was then part of the vast Bastar district of the undivided Madhya Pradesh—to establish what would later enlarge into the rebel-influenced Dandakaranya zone. Landlords such as Karma, himself a child of a tribal landed family, increasingly began to see left-wing extremists, then spearheaded by the vanguard of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War, as a threat. The perception was mutual.
“For the rebels, Karma and his ilk symbolized the class enemy—worse, a tribal who came from traditionally, socio-politically oppressed stock was the class enemy of fellow tribal folk. For Karma & Co., the stealthily and rapidly infiltrating rebels represented a threat in several ways. For one, at the barrel of the gun they could redistribute land to the landless. For another, they were a direct threat to the local practice of Malik Makbuja, the right of the Adivasi to cut trees on his own land that had been subverted to benefit middlemen and various vested interests.”
The war in Bastar (Frontline, June 29, 2013):
“The CPI (Maoist) has grown in strength in Bastar primarily because of three factors. One, it fought alongside the Adivasis against the local contractors and ensured that the contractors paid the Adivasis the minimum wages for tendu leaf (used for bidi manufacturing) collection, the main source of income for the Adivasis. It also helped people out of the exploitative Maalik-Makbuja bonded labour system in timber felling. Two, it organised people against the excesses of forest officials who took them for a ride. Three, through force, it distributed the lands of the malguzars (feudal lords) to landless Adivasis.
“Karma came from a feudal Manjhi family. He was one of the tribal landlords in the area who, like many other landed people, turned against the Maoists in the 1980s. Because of the land distribution process, initiated forcibly by the Maoists, Karma had always been working to form an alternative front that could fight the Maoists. Therefore, he developed strong associations with big businesses and feudal lords from across party lines. He supported land acquisition by the government, conducted Jan Jagaran campaigns against the Maoists, and advocated industrialisation and mining activities in Bastar. Because of such activities, many Congress leaders too were against him.
“In the early 2000s, he founded a group called Salwa Judum (Movement for Peace), ostensibly as a Gandhian movement. But it went on to appoint landed Adivasis as ‘special police officers’ (SPOs) and became a militant force. The State government used the Judum to its advantage as the SPOs helped the security forces in navigating the dense forests. Various civil rights groups strongly opposed the organisation. Many official and unofficial reports claimed that it displaced about 50,000 people from their villages and destroyed 650 villages in the area. Activists claim that constant plundering, torching of villages, rapes and killing of innocent Adivasis became a norm in Bastar. Salwa Judum was disbanded following a 2011 Supreme Court decision that declared the organisation ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.”
46 Farmer Suicides a Day in India: Farm Suicides Soar
by P. Sainath (Counterpunch)
“Suicide rates among Indian farmers were a chilling 47 per cent higher than they were for the rest of the population in 2011. In some of the States worst hit by the agrarian crisis, they were well over 100 per cent higher. The new Census 2011 data reveal a shrinking farmer population. And it is on this reduced base that the farm suicides now occur. [...]
“‘The picture remains dismal,’ says Prof. K. Nagaraj, an economist at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. Prof. Nagaraj’s 2008 study on farm suicides in India remains the most important one on the subject. ‘The intensity of farm suicides shows no real decline,’ he says. ‘Nor do the numbers show a major fall. They remain concentrated in the farming heartlands of five key States. The crisis there continues. And the adjusted farmers’ suicide rate for 2011 is in fact slightly higher than it was in 2001.’ [...]
“At least 270,940 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995, NCRB records show. This occurred at an annual average of 14,462 in six years, from 1995 to 2000. And at a yearly average of 16,743 in 11 years between 2001 and 2011. That is around 46 farmers’ suicides each day, on average. Or nearly one every half-hour since 2001.”
Couple thrashed for marrying out of caste (Hindustan Times)
“A couple who had married against the wishes of the girl's parents were thrashed by the girl's brother and an uncle on Wednesday, and have been admitted to the local civil hospital. Jasleen Kaur, a Jat and Pankaj Agnihotri, a Brahmin by caste, had been forced to marry in court in August 2012,as the former’s parents did not approve of their relationship due to their different castes. They said they had since been running from one place to another as Jasleen's maternal uncle had threatened to kill them.
“‘On Facebook, he had posted messages threatening to kill my brother and and also insulted my sister,’ said Pankaj.
“He claimed that they had returned to their native village Motian on May 6 as his father was ill. However, on May 8, his in-laws thrashed them up severely.
“‘A mob, including my younger brother, uncle, grandmother, aunt and others arrived at our doorstep. Without a word, my brother and uncle started beating me and my husband,’ said Jasleen.
“‘They were carrying baseball bats, rods and an iron chain. They dragged us out and tore my husband’s clothes. They threatened to drag him naked by tying him to their jeep. However, the villagers intervened and they left the place,’ alleged Jasleen, exhitibiing the bruises on her body. She said her uncle had threatened them to leave the village or face certain death.”
“Barely a week after the Texas explosion, the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on the planet, collapsed on more than 3,000 garment workers toiling in five sweatshops. Mostly young women, they had resisted going to work after walls in the building began to show cracks the previous day. ‘Management forced us to go up and said there was no problem with the building,’ recounted one survivor. ‘Just after that, I sat at my table to work, and the building just collapsed’ (Democracy Now!, 25 April). Despite heroic efforts by firefighters and other rescue personnel to find survivors, nearly 400 dead bodies have been dug from the rubble in what is the worst disaster in the history of clothing manufacture. More than 1,200 other people were injured.
“Mass protests erupted as news of the disaster spread, with hundreds of thousands of outraged workers walking out of plants in and around the capital city, Dhaka. Highways were blockaded and two factories whose bosses refused to shut down production were set ablaze. Protesters marched on the headquarters of the garment manufacturers association, chanting: ‘We want execution of the garment factory owners!’ When police firing rubber bullets and tear gas could not quell the crowds, the industry announced on April 26 that all factories would be shut for the upcoming weekend. The Rana Plaza building owner was subsequently arrested trying to flee across the border into India.
“The giant retailers who subcontract production to the Savar sweatshops—e.g., J.C. Penney, the French retailer Carrefour and the British Primark—expressed “shock” about the collapse and denied any complicity. But the depraved indifference exhibited by the capitalist magnates to the lives of those they exploit plumbs new depths when it comes to the semicolonial world, where the U.S. and other imperialist powers have imposed the most wretched conditions. The 5,000 factories in Bangladesh that produce garments for major U.S. and European brands are a cornerstone of the country’s economy. The millions of workers toiling in near-slavery in these deathtraps are paid the lowest wages in the world for that industry—as low as $37 a month, far below subsistence, even after working 15-hour shifts.
“The long trail of capitalist industrial murder in Bangladesh includes an earlier building collapse in Savar that left 73 workers dead and a fire at Tazreen Fashions in nearby Ashulia last November that took more than 100 lives. At Tazreen, a source for Wal-Mart and Sears, managers blocked the stairs to keep workers at their sewing machines even as flames spread on floors below. The truth of the matter is that the multinational corporations are calling the shots and are well aware of what it takes to produce clothing at the prices they contract for, aiming to squeeze out the maximum profit. If orders go unfilled, they pick up stakes and move elsewhere. The local bosses are simply the whip hands, lining their own pockets in the process. (For more on conditions in Bangladesh, see ‘Women Garment Workers Fight Starvation Wages,’ WV No. 974, 18 February 2011.)
“To facilitate their many crimes, the garment bosses, aided by the government in Dhaka, brutally suppress unions, the only effective safeguard workers have against the rapaciousness of the capitalist profiteers. Trade unionists are banned from organizing in the factories and are frequent targets of arrest, torture and killing. A key organizer of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Aminul Islam, was murdered a year ago. As a result, labor unions are almost nonexistent in the garment plants; none of the Rana Plaza factories was unionized. Nevertheless, a number of strikes have swept the industry in recent years.
“The industrial murder at Rana Plaza, and Tazreen Fashions before it, is a searing indictment of the daily workings of capitalist-imperialism. The situation cries out for union organizing drives—backed in action by the labor movement internationally—demanding decent wages and working conditions. These sweatshops are the first links in a ‘just-in-time’ global cargo chain extending all the way to the retail stores in the imperialist countries, with key choke points at the ports and in the warehouses. Coordinated solidarity action could go a long way toward advancing the cause of labor in the semicolonial world and imperialist centers alike.”
See also on anti-caste:
BANGLADESH FACTORY COLLAPSE: HUNDREDS OF WORKERS KILLED (April 25, 2013)
INDUSTRIAL MASS MURDER: 112 BANGLADESHI GARMENT WORKERS KILLED (December 17, 2012)
“According to the locals, the violence erupted around Thursday noon when a small group of Vanniyar Sangam members were drinking near the social forest on the side of ECR. When they were questioned, a larger group assembled immediately and entered the Kattayantheru area of the Marakkanam Colony through the forest armed with sticks and petrol bombs.
“In the violence that ensued, huts, temples and even a cowshed and haystack were burnt. Other houses were attacked with stones and sticks. On Friday morning, the residents of the colony are trying to assess their loss and pick up the pieces of their lives.
“The residents of the colony were forced to flee into the forest when they saw the mob approaching.
“‘Most of us don’t have anything left except the clothes that we are wearing. Most of the area has been destroyed and even the electric lines were cut in the violence. The attacks took us by surprise, since we did not expect anyone to enter through the forest. Unless they know the area well, they would have not known that the Colony is located just beyond the forest,’ one of the residents said. [...]
“In the Koonimedu Village, another site where there was extensive violence, the Muslims, Vanniars and Dalits joined hands to fight the members of the Vanniar Sangam, the villagers said.”
Tamil Nadu: Stoking caste flames (Frontline, May 31, 2013):
“On April 25 afternoon, a mob of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) workers, all of them caste Hindu Vanniyars, stormed into Kattayan Theru and threw petrol bombs at Dalits’ huts. [...] It is not surprising that Kattayan Theru was chosen for the attack. Most of its Dalit residents belong to the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK, or the Dalit Panthers), headed by Thol. Thirumavalavan. The animosity between the VCK and the PMK goes back a long way.”
Outrage Builds After Collapse in Bangladesh (New York Times)
“As rescuers struggled on Thursday to reach survivors in one of the worst manufacturing disasters in history, pointed questions were being raised about why a Bangladesh factory building was not padlocked after terrified workers notified the police, government officials and a powerful garment industry group about cracks in the walls. [...]
“‘Even in a situation of grave threat, when they saw cracks in the walls, factory managers thought it was too risky not to work because of the pressure on them from U.S. and European retailers to deliver their goods on time,’ said Dara O’Rourke, an expert on workplace monitoring at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that the prices Western companies pay ‘are so low that they are at the root of why these factories are cutting corners on fire safety and building safety.’ [...]
“What is increasingly clear is that the collapse should not have been a surprise. Factory fires have killed hundreds of garment workers in the past decade. At the same time, many factory buildings are substandard and unsafe. Bangladeshi fire officials say the upper floors of Rana Plaza were illegally constructed. [...]
“Bangladesh is the world’s second-leading exporter of apparel, and the domestic garment industry depends on a low wage formula in which the minimum wage is about $37 a month. Garment exports are a critical driver of the Bangladeshi economy, which creates pressure to keep wages low and workers in line. Labor unions are almost nonexistent in the industry; one labor organizer, Aminul Islam, was brutally killed last year in a case that is still unsolved.”
Death Toll in Bangladesh Passes 1,100 (AP, May 11, 2013)
And see on anti-caste:
INDUSTRIAL MASS MURDER: 112 BANGLADESHI GARMENT WORKERS KILLED (December 17, 2012)
“Even as half of Gujarat is parched, shocking instances of inhuman behaviour have come forth in the Jasdan sub-division of state’s Rajkot district where Dalits are being deprived of water by people from upper caste.
“The Khadwadi village in the sub-division is virtually divided into half as Dalit women and children are made to walk miles in summer for water although there is a hand pump in the village that is used by the upper caste.
“The Dalits are disappointed because they feel ditched as the hand pump came to the village with their effort but now they are not allowed to use it.
“‘The upper caste people do not allow us to use the hand pump. They tell us to use it after they are done with it. The upper caste is full of discrimination against us,’ a villager said.”
Dalit woman attacked for drawing water from handpump (Times of India, May 13, 2013):
“A dalit woman was injured when a man attacked her with a sharp weapon today for drawing water from a handpump in a village in Bihar’s Madhubani district, police said.
“Mantorami Devi (33) was attacked by Marhu Yadav who was infuriated with her for drawing water from a public handpump at Jhauwa village.
“The woman was injured in both her hands when she tried to fend him off, police said.”