“G. Suresh, a youth belonging to the intermediate caste and a resident of Veppamarathoor village, married S. Sudha, a Dalit girl of Parayapatti village in Harur taluk, on April 21, 2010 with the consent of their parents.
“While their life was going smooth for two years, trouble started confronting the couple as villagers of Vepamarathoor came to know that Sudha belonged to a Dalit community. Subsequently, villagers ostracised the family of the couple.
“Sudha lodged a complaint with the Bommidi police and a case was registered against 22 persons, including former village panchayat president Ranganathan. However, police did not take any action on the accused.
“As cops did not provide a remedy to their problem, Sudha knocked the doors of Madras High Court on July 26, 2013, seeking adequate protection. The High Court directed the local administration and police to provide protection to the family.
“The couple also petitioned the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC), which directed the district administration and police to intervene into the issue.
“Following the NCSC direction, Revenue Divisional Officer Menaka, Harur DSP V Sampath visited Veppamarathor village to inquire into the issue. Soon after the officials left the village, villagers reportedly attacked the family members of Sudha.”
“On 24th November 2013, Madari Venkatesh, a 3rd year PhD scholar, from Advance Centre for Research in High Energy (ACRHEM), University of Hyderabad (UoH), committed suicide in his hostel room in the campus. Venkatesh came from a Dalit family from Ibrahimpatnam, Andhra Pradesh; probably, a first generation university student. [...]
“M. Venkatesh, after joining UoH for PhD, was not provided a guide and a lab, even after three years, even when other students had started their researches, and published international papers. ACRHEM director, the faculty members, and the management of the university grossly neglected to provide basic academic facilities to a research scholar, thereby, implying a casteist bias in the functioning of the University. Although continuous efforts were made by the deceased in July 2013, through a written request, to provide him a regular guide; his pleas were counter-signed, by the Vice Chancellor (who was the in-charge Director), only to be put in abeyance. In the wake of recurrent suicides in the campus, especially, of marginalized students, student groups came together under the banner ‘Raju-Venkatesh Solidarity Committee.’ [...]
“Venkatesh was worried about the non-allotment of supervisor, and therefore, this must have contributed to the slow pace of his work. However, Venkatesh could publish one paper in a reputed journal, and was about to publish two more. After Prof. S.P. Tewari's retirement, he approached many faculty members, and they had rejected to offer him guidance. On Friday (22nd November 2013), he met a faculty member in school of chemistry, with a request to guide him, and the faculty told him to start the work from the beginning. [...]
“In summary, ACRHEM allotted Prof. Tewari, two years before his retirement, as a guide to Mr. Venkatesh. This is unofficial, and clearly violates the UGC norms, as well as, the University institutional guidelines, as any about-to-be-retiring faculty should not take any new students for guidance. Further, even after repeated pleas by the deceased, efforts were neither made by the director nor the faculty, for the last three years, to allot an official guide, as well as, constitute a doctoral committee for Mr. Venkatesh. [...]
“Even after death, none of the university authorities showed any inclination to console the family members of Mr. Venkatesh. This case is not alone in its occurrence. The problem is cases like this ominously recur.
“Mr. Venkatesh's suicide represents a clear case of discrimination against the marginalized students, especially Dalits, in the campus. Two other Dalit students had committed suicide in similar circumstances: Pulyala Raju from MA Applied Linguistics, from Andhra Pradesh, in April 2013, and Senthil Kumar, a Dalit PhD research scholar in Physics, from Tamil Nadu in April 2008.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
See other anti-caste posts on the use of social boycott to enforce caste oppression
“‘They are free and we are trapped,’ says a resident, as many villagers share her fear that they may be targeted again
Sunaina Devi, who lost seven family members in the massacre
“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.”
“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.”
Parvati Devi, who lost nine members of her family in the Laxmanpur Bathe massacre.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“‘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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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).’”
“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.”
“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. [...]
“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.’”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.’”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The body of a 20-year-old Dalit youth, who reportedly died after some persons allegedly tied him to a tree and repeatedly rammed a car into him, was found in Devsar village of Haryana’s Bhiwani district on Wednesday. His body was found abandoned in a car on the roadside between Devsar and Kusumbi villages. [...]
“Based on a complaint by Jaimal’s father Rajpal, a case was registered against a few upper caste members living in the same village.
“Rajpal told the police that last year the upper caste members had attacked them and stopped Jaimal’s [cousin's] wedding procession. They also did not allow [Jaimal’s cousin] to sit on a elephant as part of the religious ceremony. Since then, [Jaimal] was being harassed by upper caste youths and hence, they could have killed him, Rajpal alleged in his complaint.”
“‘On December 4, 2011, my brother’s son (Jaimal’s cousin) Veervan was getting married. We had arranged for Veervan to be brought to the mandap on an elephant. The Rajputs in the village took offence. They said we had no right to use an elephant, which was a Rajput symbol of regality. They put a knife to Veervan’s throat and we had to send the elephant back. Praveen’s family was involved. I was the complainant in the police case, and they had been pressuring me to withdraw ever since. Things have been on the boil since then,’ Rajpal said.”
“Over 200 Dalits residing in Pabnawa village, around 25km from Kaithal, were lucky to have lost no lives to a violent mob of the dominant Ror community on Saturday night, but have been left without water supply since.
“Agitated after the recent elopement and marriage of a Dalit man with a woman from the landowning Ror community of the same village, the 400-strong mob barged into the settlement, Ambedkar Nagar, on Saturday night, and not only ransacked houses and shops but also damaged the locality's water tanks and six borewells, besides injuring three persons. Residents are now forced to procure drinking water from adjoining villages.
“As for the couple–Surya Kant (26) and Meena (21)–they have been in a protection home since their April 8 wedding, and the Kaithal police are guarding them on directions of the high court. After the attack, around 50 villagers including Surya Kant's relatives reportedly left the village for an undisclosed location. [...]
“Rajiv, another Dalit resident, insisted that the marriage had ‘indeed broken the bhaichara (brotherhood) of the village’, but noted, ‘The Rors now want to take revenge from the entire Dalit population and hatched a conspiracy to kill us. They had been asking us to hand over Meena to them, even when she married as per her free will and is staying with her husband at a police protection home.’
“Rors are a farming community who claim to be descendants of the Marathas who had fought the Second Battle of Panipat in the region and settled in pockets of Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts now. Their dominance stems from their ownership of significant chunks of land, though they are not otherwise considered high in the caste hierarchy.”
“Over 300 Dalit families of Deveerahalli Village, of Kudimenahalli Panchayat, in Krishnagiri district allege that they are being denied work by intermediate castes of the village and of six other nearby villages. The reason behind this, they say, is that a Dalit youth in their area had fallen in love with a girl of an intermediate caste from Sathinayakkanpatti under Damodarahalli Panchayat.
“The girl is back with her parents after the youth’s parents wanted her to go back, as they feared the type of mob furywhich was unleashed on three colonies in nearby Dharmapuri districtover a similar issue in November last year. But, the boycott of the Dalits of the Krishnagiri village continues though the affair had come to light in December and the girl had gone back to her home.
“Intermediate castes have banned Dalits from working on their agriculture fields, brick kilns and other income-earning activities since then. The decision to bar them from such forms of employment was allegedly taken by a ‘khap panchayat’ — a council of older persons who issue decrees to their community members on matters such as marriage — consisting of the leaders of seven villages, in and around Sathinayakkanpatti and Deevarahalli, on December 24 last year, alleged A. Manikandan, district convener of Naam Tamizhar Katchi.
“Many Dalits, who have also taken up the lands of intermediate caste on lease, for cultivation of crops, lost lakhs of rupees due to the economic boycott. They were not allowed to step into the farm lands.”
“Though the Kols are anthropologically tribal, they are recognized as a Scheduled Caste in Uttar Pradesh. Not only has this deprived them of their traditional source of living–the forest, it has largely left them dependant and landless, languishing in silica quarries and sand mines. [...]
“Landless and dismayed by the rocky terrain that makes cultivation difficult, the Kols settle down close to silica mines, crushing stones for much of the day and bearing a nomadic existence. Over the years, a large number have contracted lung diseases like silicosis and tuberculosis. Some have lost limbs or sustained crippling injuries during the blasting of the rocks. [...]
“In most cases, the landlords provide the Kols space to work and live, and in return deduct portions from their silica mining. Kol women are also invited to serve as domestic help for no or minimum remuneration. They often endure the most of police apathy, with reports of them facing sexual harassment and violence going unheard or unreported. ‘When we go with complaints, we are shooed away and asked to come back later,’ says Indu Kol.
“However, the Kol’s most grim concern remains the forest department’s restrictions on the use of forest produce. Generally, they require permission to plant or use trees such as neem, amla and mahua. The Kols complain that they face harassment from the authorities even if they collect the twigs and barks and sell them. According to Amarnath Kol, who works with a local Kol organization, at least eight Kols have been booked by the forest department for carrying wood for sale. [...]
“Today, Kols are mostly followers of Hinduism. They claim their descent from Shabari, who in the forests of modern day Chattisgarh fed berries to Lord Ram and Lord Lakshman during their exile. As the legend suggests, the Kols have a close relationship with the forest.
“This bond was disrupted in the 19th century by the British East India Company, which indulged in deforestation and introduced zamindari to extract revenue from their forests lands. The Kols protested violently, in what is known as the Kol Rebellion (1831-32), where a British Major is said to have noted their ‘courage and daring.’”
“At a time when Kathmandu Valley is reeling under an acute water shortage, a historic stone water spout at Sithu Wasah Hiti, which flows 24 hours a day, stands virtually useless in Patan of Lalitpur district.
“Only certain families at Aluko, Patan have been using water from Sithu Wasah Hiti, which was built when this historic city was ruled by Licchavi kings centuries ago.
“Some locals are always to be seen jostling for just a bucket of water at nearby Wasah Hiti, just a stone´s throw away. But, hardly anyone is seen filling water at Sithu Wasah Hiti.
Why? ‘This stone spout (at Sithu Wasah Hiti) is meant for low caste people,’ says Shayam Mahargjan, a local resident. ‘Water from this spout is useless for other people. We don’t use it.’
“Only some 35 Pode families, who are still considered by others as the lowest of low castes within the Newar community, use Sithi Wash Hiti. After the Pode families fill up their vessels, Sithu Wasah Hiti stands useless all day. So, like the Pode families, even their water spout is also treated by so-called higher castes as untouchable. Aluko is at the north-eastern edge of Patan and cane be reached from Kathmandu city in 15 minutes. [...]
“‘The water is pure and drinkable but most people hesitate to use it,’ said Prayag Lal Joshi, a local and an expert on such matters. Joshi has conducted extensive research on the stone water-spouts of the capital. He said that even educated people blindly follow the taboo. [...]
“‘Neither do people of low caste go to the public water-spouts used by the so-called upper castes,’ Joshi added.”
“The notorious blasphemy law in Pakistan has hit again at the ‘Christian’ minority when a Christian man was charged with blasphemy by a Muslim mob which tried to find him went to Badami Bagh colony of Christians and burnt over 125 houses when they could not find the man. [...]
“According to news reports that a mob of over 3000 people by Shafiq Ahmed, looked for the accused Savan, alias Bubby but due to their inability to find him the mob attacked his house, and also burnt the houses of 150 Christian families. Many residents, including women and children, hastily fled to save themselves. The police registered an FIR under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (death sentence) against Savan and ensuring that he would be given into their custody to decide his fate. They also took Chaman Masih into custody.
“World-over there is a growing concern over the misuse of anti-blasphemy law which has put minorities under deep stress and forced them to convert to Islam. Muslim fanatics have used it to grab land of the poor particularly of the Dalits in Pakistan. [...]
“It has to be understood that in Pakistan a majority of Christians are actually Dalits in general and predominantly the communities of Sweepers which is contemptuously called as ‘Bhangi’. And the Masihs who were attacked were basically sweepers who face untouchability and caste discrimination. They do not get jobs other than sweeping and people do not come near to them. They are completely outcastes and are considered as ‘charsis’ and ‘Bhangedis’ which gives the impression that all the people from the sweeper community are drunkard and chain smokers.”
“Police have been deployed in a village of Bhiwani district in Haryana following a clash between dalits and upper-caste youths during a wedding ceremony on Friday night.
“The situation had turned tense when some upper-caste youths forcibly stopped a dalit groom from performing ghurchari, a traditional marriage ceremony in which the groom rides a mare and takes a round of the village. [...] [T]he entire village is living under a shadow of fear, sources say. [...]
“The dalit groom, Rakesh Kumar, 24, who is employed as a conductor with Haryana Roadways, had got married on Friday.
“Before going to his bride's village to tie the knot, the marriage ceremony of ghurchari was being performed in the village on Friday when some upper-caste men objected, saying that ghurchari by dalits is not allowed in the village.”
“A Dalit family from Rudreshwor in the district has been expelled from the village after one of the male members married a woman from an ‘upper-caste’ Dalit family.
“Mandodari Damai and eight other family members fled to the district headquarters three weeks ago after they were chased away by other Dalit villagers belonging to Wada and Pal castes. The dispute erupted after Mandodari’s son Naresh married a woman of the Wada community more than two years ago.
“The villagers had earlier driven away Naresh and his wife from the village and of late, they were persecuting the entire family members. Mandodari said people from Wada and Pal communities started mistreating and forced her family to leave the village immediately. [...]
“Naresh’s wife Baragrathi said her relatives not only disowned her but also tried to attack her and husband’s family members because she married to a man from a ‘lower-caste family’.”
Caste aside: No haircut service for Dalits in Harda (Hindustan Times)
“Another instance of alleged caste discrimination has emerged from a Harda village. A group of Dalit villagers belonging to Pantalai in Timarni tehsil have lodged a complaint with the local sub-divisional magistrate that the village barbers do not give them shaving and haircut related services because of their caste.
“The villagers have said that, because of this discrimination, they have to go to Timarni or Rahatgaon to seek barber services, which costs them an extra Rs 40 to 50 per trip. [...]
“The population of Pantalai is about 2500, of which about 1000 are Dalit. There are only two barbers in the village, of which one does not actively work. The complaint is mainly against Mukesh Malviya, who the complainants have said only offers services to higher caste persons.
“Speaking to HT, Sanjay Pawar said that villagers have lodged the complaint because they feel discriminated and are also spending a lot of money for simply getting shaved or haircut. he mentioned that some youngsters in their families help elders in shaving, but it is just a makeshift arrangement.”
“A mob burst on the scene as night fell. Equipped with hockey sticks, bricks, stones, firearms and crude bombs it prepared for an assault.
“‘You are Harijans,’ it yelled. ‘You have no right to read and write. Your work is to mend shoes and chappals. We will keep you as servants in our houses. Your ancestors did the same work. You leave the hostel or else there will be a massacre.’ This is part of a police statement given by a Dalit student residing in the Bhimrao Ambedkar Welfare Hostel of Patna University (PU) facility.
“Last week, the hostel witnessed fierce caste violence in which three Dalit students were injured.
“‘Around 30 men came shouting Brahmeshwar Mukhiya zindabad, Mukhiya amar rahe [Long live the Mukhiya] and Ambedkar ko phuk do [Destroy Ambedkar]. They stood outside the hostel and started throwing stones. They dragged and beat up a student. Firing shots and bombs rent the air. We ran inside the hostel. All we had to defend against the armed attack were brick pieces used to support the cots in our room,’ Satyaprakash, a student at the Ambedkar hostel, told The Hindu.
“Located in Patna’s ‘coaching district’, the hostel forms part of the Saidpur hostel campus of PU. Facing it is a cluster of five hostels for general category students, collectively called the ‘Saidpur hostel’, which has gained notoriety over the years for nurturing hooligans and becoming a virtual den of anti-socials from the landowning Bhumihar caste, particularly from the badlands of Jehanabad district. [...]
“A common power grid that supplies electricity to the entire neighbourhood is one of the key triggers for such attacks, as it was last week.
“‘That evening, there was a power cut at the Ambedkar hostel, but not at the Saidpur general hostel. The Ambedkar students went to the electricity office, situated on the same campus, to take stock of the mater. Seeing them, the Saidpur boys hurtled down and started hurling caste abuses, such as “Harijans,” “dusadhs” and “chamars” [all lower caste names],’ as per another police statement of a student.
‘When we asked for power supply, they said, “Have you ever seen light in your life?”’ Satyaprakash recalled.
“The official sources said, in a situation where the Ambedkar hostel had power and Saidpur hostel did not, there was immense pressure on electricity officials to cut the supply to the Ambedkar hostel. ‘Seeing an equal distribution of facilities stokes the caste jealousies of the Saidpur hostellers. Many times fights over power supply take the form of caste clashes,’ an official source said.
“‘There have been times,’ said a general student, ‘when the whole area is plunged into darkness, but only the Saidpur hostel is lit.’ Disconnecting water supply to the Ambedkar hostel is another means of showing caste dominance. The tap dries up at 9 a.m. and its water is dirty. At any given point of time, a few students suffer from jaundice.
“At the heart of the matter, said students, lies plain caste hatred, ‘a determined effort to display caste superiority.’”
“Following swiftly on the heels of communal violence in Dhule in which six members of the minority community were killed, comes the news of physical assault on Prof. Pramod Bhumbe, a Dalit teacher at the BR Ambedkar Samaj Karya Mahavidyalay. Friends in Dhule and Jalgaon inform us that Prof. Bhumbe while teaching his students about Indian social reforms movement, discussed certain episodes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. This was videographed by a student on his cell phone and the video clip later circulated and handed over to VHP and Bajrang Dal goons. The clip was quickly construed as proof of Prof. Bhumbe’s insult to Hinduism.
“Teaching social reform movements without reference to the stinging critique of caste oppression and its implication in religious sanction is difficult anywhere. In Maharashtra, however, it is impossible. The legacy of Jyotiba and Savitri Phule, and Ambedkar is a living, thriving one. It survives in the fiery songs of Sambhaji Bhagat; in the hundreds of book festivals and cultural groups that can be found in the smallest towns and hamlets of the state. It is this culture of resistance, which often takes the form of sarcasm, and even ridicule of the superstitions of caste religion and its assorted institutions that Hindutva resents so much.
“While Muslims are always cast as the other, radical Dalit critique cannot be domesticated and absorbed into the Hindutva identity. The two incidents—of communal violence and the attack on Prof. Bhumbe–are not unrelated. They reflect the growing confidence of the Hindutva forces and the state support they enjoy, even under the rule of their political opponents. Neither the SP not the DM of Dhule have been suspended by the state government despite the clear indictment of the administration in the January anti-minority violence by civil society investigations. Can an administration, which was hand in glove with the storm troopers of VHP and Bajrang Dal in January, be expected to seriously pursue the case against Prof. Bhumbe’s attackers? We appeal to all progressive and democratic groups in Maharashtra to ensure the security and safety of Prof. Bhumbe, as the police which led the mobs against a vulnerable minority can hardly be entrusted to do so.
“Moreover, as fellow teachers, we expect the classroom to be a space of developing and nurturing social critique—precisely what Prof. Bhumbe was doing. We stand in solidarity with him and condemn the right wing vigilantism.”
Manisha Sethi, Adil Mehdi, Ahmed Sohaib, Tanweer Fazal, Arshad Alam, Farah Farooqi, Azra Razack, Anwar Alam, Ghazi Shahnawaz, Ambarien al Qadar, Adnan Farooqi, Sucharita Sengupta, Manoj Jena, MS Bhatt and Nabanipa Bhattacharya.
Also endorsed by
Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Peggy Mohan and Githa Hariharan
“Schoolchildren of Valiyampura village in Talod taluka of Sabarkantha district have been skipping mid-day meal for the past few weeks, apparently because it is cooked by a Dalit woman who was appointed as a helper in the school only last month.
“The woman alleges that students of other castes have refused to eat the food prepared by her as asked by their parents. [...]
“‘The villagers do not want me to touch the vessels I clean because of my caste. After I took the charge as a helper, the students refused to eat. Today, only those students who are from my caste eat,’ Vankar said on phone.
“When contacted, principal Jayantibhai Patel, who is on leave, said the situation had improved but added that angry villagers had threatened him after Bhavnaben’s appointment and declared they would stop sending their children to the school.”
“A case of alleged caste-based discrimination at the Government Primary School at Nada village of Belthangady taluk on Thursday took a curious turn on Friday. A School Development Monitoring Committee (SDMC) member admitted to provoking parents not to let their children have mid-day meals because the person he had chosen as cook was not appointed.
“On Thursday, parents of 15 students took them away as they opposed the appointment of Sumithra, a scheduled-caste person, as a cook at the school.”
“Five years after Madhukar Ghadge, a Dalit who decided to dig his own well, was allegedly brutally murdered by 12 caste Hindus of Kulkajai village in Satara district, his nephew and the sole murder witness Viabhav Ghadge was brutally attacked on January 22 by three persons at the same village. [...]
“Vaibhav, a postgraduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, had got married two days before the incident. He was on his way to the village temple when three persons on a motorbike stopped him and his wife and attacked them.
“Tushar, Viabhav’s cousin and son of Madhukar, said the spot where the incident took place was isolated. ‘They dragged both my brother and sister-in-law and asked them to hand over all the gold jewellery they were wearing. After that they attacked them,’ he said. [...]
“It all started in 2007 when Madhukar Ghadge, a railway employee, decided to dig a well. ‘We belong to the Mang community. Our neighbours could not fathom that a Dalit could have their own well. When my father did not heed to their threats, 12 men from the village ganged up and murdered him on April 26, 2007,’ Tushar said. But the case ended up in an acquittal and an appeal is pending before the Bombay High Court. ‘Vaibhav is a complainant in the case and also the sole witness,’ Tushar said.
Growing Unease by Lyla Bavadam (Frontline cover story, November 21, 2009):
“When [Madhukar Ghatge of Kulakjai village in Satara district] retired from his job in the Railways in Mumbai in 2007, he only had one aim–cultivate his land in the village. One of the first things he did was to dig a well after acquiring the permission from the panchayat. It was, tragically, his last action. Ghatge’s upper-caste neighbours were enraged at his ‘audacity.’ On April 26, 2007, he was attacked with rods and axes and he died on the way to hospital. Fourteen people were identified as the assailants and 12 were arrested and charged.”
“The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the Betul SP and the collector seeking explanation on the alleged incident of a dalit family being ostracized for singing bhajan at a function organized by members of the upper caste.
“The incident took place on December 15 last year, following which the upper caste people of Mathni village allegedly issued a diktat directing villagers to cut off ties with tailor Rajesh Kumar Uvnare and his family. [...]
“Uvnare said following threats from the village strongmen, villagers stopped talking to him and his family. ‘We don't get milk or grains from shops. When a friend came and met me, he was fined by the village strongmen,’ he said.
“His family members said they had to travel to the neighbouring village to get daily needs. Uvnare is also facing financial problems as residents of his village no more get their clothes stitched by him.”
“A man was attacked by his brother-in-law late on Friday following a dispute over his inter-caste marriage. An attempt-to-murder case was registered at Yerawada police station. Police said suspect Nitin Kadam’s sister married Alok Kamble of Ambedkar Nagar colony in Yerawada about two-and-a-half months ago. The Kadam family was not happy with the inter-caste marriage but Kamble went against their wishes and married Kadam's sister. This led to a dispute between Kamble and Kadam. Police said on Friday angry Kadam allegedly attacked Kamble at Ambedkar Nagar with a sharp weapon around 7 pm.”
“A 45-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly killing his 17-year-old daughter after spotting her with a young man near his house around midnight. The accused was opposed to his daughter's friendship with the young man, who belonged to a different caste.
“According to the police, Jhallar, a farmer, had gone to sleep along with other family members at his house. Around midnight, he woke up for some purpose and realised that one of his four daughters, Anju, was not in the house, the police said.
“Jhallar began looking for her and spotted her with the man at a tubewell, around near the house.
“‘The man escaped from the spot, while Jhallar caught hold of his daughter. He brought her to the house and beat her up badly. As the girl fell unconscious, he picked up a gandasa (a sharp agricultural implement) and slit her throat. The girl died on the spot,’ Station Officer (Kokhraj) Sri Prakash Yadav said.”
“In a tragic incident here, a boy and a girl hailing from two different intermediate castes in love committed suicide after their parents opposed the relationship.
“A Premkumar, 19, from Othaveedu near Alanganallur was in love with 16-year-old M Vijayalakshmi, from Kumaram, a neighbouring village. The boy was working in a company in Madurai after completing a diploma and the girl was a Class 11 student in a school near Madurai. They reportedly met on the bus they travelled on daily to Madurai and fell in love. Recently, the parents came to know of their relationship and chided them. It was also said that the girl's family was planning to stop her studies and marry her off to someone in the community. Scared that they will be separated, they committed suicide on Monday by hanging from a tamarind tree near a tank adjacent to their villages.”
“Tears rolled down Gowramma’s cheeks as she narrated how her husband, a Dalit, was beaten up and threatened with dire consequences allegedly by ‘upper caste’ people for refusing to continue with the traditional profession of their community.
“Her husband, Rangaswamy (38), a daily wage worker, has been admitted to the government hospital at Channarayapatna after he was beaten up at Baddikere in Channarayapatna taluk on December 17.
“‘They ripped his clothes off, tied him up to a pole and beat him up severely. They also threatened to harm our two school-going daughters if he refused to obey their orders,’ Ms. Gowramma told The Hindu here on Thursday.
“‘All this began after he refused to go around the village beating a drum to inform the residents about a village festival scheduled for next week. A few people came to our home in an autorickshaw around 10.30 a.m. on December 17 and took him away. I ran behind the auto only to find my husband being beaten up,’ she said.”
“Police on Saturday said the suspected murder of a 25-year-old woman was a case of dishonour killing with her parents, fiercely opposed to her affair with a dalit boy, allegedly getting her eliminated.
“Manpreet’s father Kapur Singh, mother Balwinder and two others – Satnam and Jaswinderpal – had been arrested and Rs 1.50 lakh, a sharp-edged weapon and a car used in the crime seized, he said.
“‘The girl’s mobile phone and her burnt clothes were also seized from the arrested persons,’ Gill said.”
“For 11-year-old Raja, a Dalit student, mid-day meals at school can be a painful and humiliating experience. He and other Dalit children aremade to sit separately. Sometimes the food is almost thrown at his plate from a distance. Frequently, most of the food is given to upper-caste children. Raja’s parents speak of differential treatment meted out by teachers and mention that their son often feels disturbed and avoids going to school. Yet, as daily-wage agricultural labourers, they depend on the school to take care of at least one meal for Raja. Their complaints have been ignored. In fact, teachers advise students not to complain to their parents.
“Raja’s story is borne out by a survey of 122 schools across seven states, from November 2011 through March 2012, by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS). The states include Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. As part of the survey, 1,275 parents were questioned. It threw up several notable findings. For one, Dalit children faced various forms of differential treatment. Twenty per cent of respondents said Dalit children were left hungry as they got inadequate quantities of food, certainly less than children from upper castes. Another 20 per cent said Dalit children were not allowed to serve food; 14 per cent complained of separate seating arrangements during meals. Close to 13 per cent reported Dalit children had food dropped on their plates from a distance. About 9 per cent of respondents said Dalit children had to bring plates from home so their dishes would not get mixed up with those used by upper-caste children. Around 8 per cent said upper-caste children were served first.
“Such discrimination has had clear consequences. Fifty-two per cent of parents mentioned this humiliating treatment discouraged children from going to school. Ten per cent said discrimination had affected their children’s academic performance. Nine per cent reported school had become a painful experience for their children — the unkind treatment had affected their psychological state and created tensions among students. The purpose of the mid-day meal had been to improve attendance and reduce the number of children dropping out. In these cases, the result has been the opposite.”
“One of modern India’s great shames is the official failure to eradicate ‘manual scavenging,’ the most degrading surviving practice of untouchability in the country. Merely because of their birth in particular castes, the practice condemns mostly women and girls, but also men and boys, to clean human excreta in dry latrines with their hands, and carry it to disposal dumps or lakes or rivers. Many men also clean sewers, septic tanks, open drains into which excreta flows, and railway lines. [...]
“The 2012 Bill explicitly prohibits construction of dry latrines, and employment of manual scavengers, as also the hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank. But cleaning railway tracks has not been included, and ‘hazardous cleaning’ is defined not by employers requiring workers to manually clean sewers or septic tanks, but requiring them to do so without protective gear. Our objection to manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks is not just of compromising worker safety – which is no doubt important – but of human indignity, which would continue even if such manual cleaning is done with protective gear. And it is unconscionable to let the railways off the hook.
“For sewer workers and railway workers, liberation will come by introducing technological changes which will render the occupation humane, dignified and safe, and also ensure that human beings do not have to make any direct contact with excreta. Technologies are available globally which both the Indian Railways and municipalities could invest in, which would obliterate the requirement for human beings to manually handle excreta. The fact is that central, state and local governments do not make these public investments, because human beings are available to perform this work cheaply, propelled by their birth in most disadvantaged castes and lack of other livelihood options.
“The 2012 bill places a duty of survey on all local authorities, but the past experience is that State Governments are mostly in denial. They usually reject community findings, even when backed by strong evidence. This can be prevented only if there is a continuous system of joint surveillance, beginning with a joint survey by designated teams of government officials and community members.”
“The new law would prohibit the building of non-flushing toilets that must be emptied by hand, and prescribes a one-year jail term and/or a fine of up to 50,000 rupees (S$1,000) for anyone who employs a manual scavenger.
“It also requires local authorities to monitor the implementation of the law and sets out tough sanctions if municipalities employ sewer cleaners without protective gear and equipment. [...]
“Bindeshwar Pathak, of the sanitation charity Sulabh International, says the legislation could prove helpful, but that the final test will be on the ground.
“‘In India there are many laws that have not helped so far, like (the one to prevent) dowry. Dowry cases are still going on, there is child labour,’ he said. [...]
“He says there has not been a single successful prosecution under the 1993 Act. [...]
“Vidya Rawat, director of the Delhi-based Social Development Foundation, which works with scavengers, [...] says the only solution is for the government to find jobs for the scavengers, requiring an extension of a vast affirmative action programme which reserves positions for the low-castes and marginalised tribes.
“‘Rehabilitation programmes don't work,’ he added. ‘If a community woman leaves her work and opts to open a tea shop, no one will go to drink at her place.’”
“As many as 268 dwellings–huts, tiled-roof and one- or two-room concrete houses–were torched by the mob after a caste Hindu man, Nagarajan, committed suicide over his daughter marrying a Dalit boy from one of the colonies. [...]
“It is said that Ilavarasan and Divya got married in a temple a month ago. Fearing attack by caste Hindus, the couple approached the Deputy Inspector of General of Police, Salem Range, Sanjay Kumar, only a week ago for protection. Though the police assured them safety, a kangaroo court directed Ilavarasan’s family to return the girl on Wednesday. The girl refused to go with her father, who later hanged himself at his house in Sellankottai, just half a km from the Dalit colonies. And then, the mobs went on the rampage.”
“An official estimate, though preliminary as claimed by Collector R. Lilly, has put the number of damaged households at 268. The three colonies in total have 500 houses, a strong concentration of Dalits in one single block in the district.
“Almost all the able-bodied youth from these colonies are working in Bangalore as construction workers, godown boys and collectors of used paper market for recycling. Their hard-earned money serves as solid investments in their native village. Some have become landholders. They grow maize, turmeric and tapioca in rain-fed conditions.
“‘For the past one decade, I have been working in a godown in Bangalore where they pay me Rs. 200 a day. I leave my wife and children back at the village. Our small but hard-earned savings of all these years have gone up in smoke in one single night of riot,’ laments Muniappa of Anna Nagar.
“Those who have suffered extensive damage claim that the mob, armed with deadly weapons and petrol bombs, indulged in four-hour looting. ‘We were chased out before they began their act. Almirahs were broken and valuables such as gold jewellery and cash stolen before the houses were either set on fire or damaged,’ said Rajalingam in Natham colony who runs a lucrative business in used paper market in Bangalore.”
“In an India that is fractured along caste lines, a marriage is never the simple establishment of a relationship between two independent, adult individuals. Instead, it can involve not only the two families, but whole communities as well. An inter-caste marriage without parental approval is, therefore, a potential trigger for violence in rural India. The caste group that is relatively higher in the social hierarchy sees any such marriage as a social affront, especially if the other caste group is Dalit. Wednesday’s attack on three Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, which ended in the burning down of 268 houses, is another shocking instance of how social stigmas engendered by caste identities can provoke large-scale violence. The arson was the immediate fallout of the suicide of a caste Hindu man whose daughter had married a Dalit living in one of the colonies. Apparently unable to accept his daughter’s decision to marry a Dalit, the man opted to end his life. For a bride’s family, especially if it is higher in the caste ladder, the socially-sanctioned stigma associated with an inter-caste marriage is greater. Women carry a far heavier responsibility of having to protect the “family honour”, which is a euphemism for the feudal notions of social status and acceptance held by the senior male members of the family. Indeed, the prevalence of such notions is an indicator of the secondary status accorded to women in these communities.
“Worryingly, in rural Tamil Nadu where caste conflicts over marriages, religious rituals or access to public resources are common, the police were slow to sense the potential for trouble. A few days before the violence, the newly wedded couple had approached the police for protection fearing attacks by members of the bride’s community. Other than providing assurances and holding out promises, the police seem to have taken no preventive steps. A self-styled court in the village ordered the Dalit man to send his wife back to her parents, but the woman refused to leave her husband. This should have alerted the police to the possibility of trouble. Although the suicide, the immediate trigger for the attack, could not have been predicted or prevented, the police had adequate reason to apprehend the tensions and ample time to take precautionary steps. The only reason that none in the Dalit colonies suffered any bodily harm is that all the residents had left their homes and taken shelter in another village. Social stigmas and caste inequalities cannot be wiped out overnight, but surely the law enforcers can show greater anticipation and quicker reflexes in familiar situations that give rise to tensions between caste groups.”