“‘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.”
“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 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.’”
“A good 65 years after Indian Independence, there is spatial isolation or exclusion of dalits in villages. Villages in Karnataka clearly provide this picture. The results of a study show that in most villages in the state, dalit families are located near the boundaries of a village or completely isolated from the main village.
“The finding is mentioned in the executive summary report of Indian Council of Social Science Research study titled: Discrimination and Social Exclusion: A study on the development experience of dalits in Karnataka. It was carried out by Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSEIP) of Mangalore University.
“According to the study, only 4.2% of dalit houses are located in the middle of the villages. The remaining dalit families’ houses are near the boundaries of the village. [...]
“Overall, 95% of dalit families in the ‘study villages’ are located at margin of the village.”
“Ayurveda describes ghee (clarified butter) as nectar and suggests its use for healing. The Hindu scriptures term it an essential requirement for sacred rituals.
“But for the dalits of Chakwara village, in Jaipur district, ghee is a weapon against untouchability. The dalits of this village have been cooking their food in ghee for the last 76 years as a mark of protest. [...]
“‘Despite all odds, we use strictly ghee,’ he added. In 1936, the village’s dalits had organised a community feast and dishes were cooked in ghee, a privilege of caste Hindus. ‘Our defiance invited the wrath of the Hindus who considered it an insult,’ said dalit rights activist Harinarayan Bairwa.
“‘Suddenly the caste Hindus attacked the dalits who had gathered for the feast and they threw dust and dirt into the dishes and sweets,’ he added.
“Dr B.R. Ambedkar also mentioned the Chakwara incident in his writings.
“‘The caste Hindus told us, “If you cook in ghee, then what will we do?”’ said Srikrishan, a dalit from the village.”
“Dangariya village in eastern Rajasthan’s Karauli district is still separated from the nearest city by 80 kilometers of a long, deserted road. [...]
“Last month, an NGO put out an online petition on a shameful custom that forced married dalit women passing by the houses of upper caste families to take off their footwear and carry it in their hands. The campaign was accompanied by a video that actually showed a few of them removing their slippers as they crossed the dwellings of the sawarna community.
“‘If we walk by wearing our slippers, our husbands are taunted in the village meetings,’ said one of the women in the video that was first put up on the internet two years ago. [...]
“Now, villagers from both sides of the caste divide are afraid to discuss the matter with outsiders. Skirting the issue, they grow defensive, even hostile. Those from the Dalit community, who agree to speak, refuse to divulge their names. Initially, there is an outright refusal that the custom of removing footwear ever existed at all. But persistence yields problematic qualifiers. ‘We ask them to wear their slippers if they’re carrying them in their hands. This custom has been around since our grandparents’ time,’ says Kailash Sharma of the sawarna community in the village. [...]
“Dalits in the village almost seem to have internalized and accepted caste interactions as they take place. Saubhagyawati (name changed on request), a farm-worker, adds her own two matter-of-fact cents. ‘If someone of authority sits on a chair, won't we sit on the floor?’ she asks. Ram Shahe Meena feels there is merit in the argument that Dalit women observed the ritual of their own volition. ‘Would women go into a temple wearing slippers? Baat maryada ki hai (It’s about boundaries),’ explains Meena, beginning to get agitated. In other words, the problem is not just that of caste discrimination, but also of gender. [...]
“‘Dalits who depend on the ‘upper’ castes for their livelihood are usually afraid to speak up. In the last 20 years, we’ve heard of fewer instances of such discrimination, particularly in Bhilwada,’ says Bhanwar Meghwanshi, an activist working on caste issues in Rajasthan.”
“Nearly 300 families living at Jailpettai, a slum in Palakarai, face a July 30 deadline to vacate: Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) will soon begin constructing tenements under a housing project that hoped to provide urban slum dwellers with basic amenities. [...]
“Though the residents were initially promised alternative accommodation, they came to know through an RTI application (dated 08.03.2012) that they have to make their own arrangements.
“‘Though there are a few who have managed to find rented houses elsewhere, most of us have not been able to do so,’ says S. Francis, a resident of the slum.
“While a majority of people in Jailpettai, who work as daily wage labourers, cannot afford rented houses in the city, Francis says there is a cluster of other discriminating factors at play.
“‘House owners refuse to give us houses on rent either because of our caste or the fact that we are from a slum,’ he alleges, adding that a majority of them belonged to scheduled caste.
“‘Some managed to get houses on rent by lying about their caste, but they have always been exposed,’ says M. Senthil, another resident. According to him, people who left the slum to move into a rented house have often returned because the house owners found out they lied and even gave back the advance paid.”
“Call it a segregation or discrimination, but the hard truth is in Dailekh’s Bastakot village one cannot miss the spectacle of four separate water taps for four different castes. [...]
“According to locals, these taps were constructed according to the caste hierarchy. Lowest tap has been allotted for Damai, medium sized for Kami, a bit higher for Karki and highest for Brahmin communities.
“Local Dalit women said that the trend to give priority to the higher caste people to use their taps first then only the lower castes people can do their daily works is still prevalent here.”
“A private school in Bangalore, India, is accused of cutting off tufts of hair from poor pupils in order to distinguish them from its better-off students.
“Children from a lower caste Hindu community, attending The Oxford School in accordance with an anti-discrimination law, were forced to wear different uniforms and had some of their hair cut off, claim the parents of four of the pupils.
“Under the Right to Education law, which was passed last year, private schools must reserve a quarter of their enrollment slots for low-income families. Millions of children cannot afford to go to school in India. The law allows poor children between the ages of 6-14 to have free primary school education. There has been a great deal of opposition to the law from schools, and this week more than 1,000 schools in Karnataka are on strike to protest it. The schools claim that the law restricts their autonomy and is a drain on resources.”
“Members of the Kambalathu Naicker community in Kammapatti near here prevented their 50 children from attending classes at the local panchayat union school on Tuesday protesting the posting of two Dalit women as cook and helper at the noon meal centre of the school. [...]
“‘We are not against any particular caste. We maintain cordial relationship with the Scheduled Caste people. But, it is our practice that our people, especially girls and women, do not eat food cooked by people belonging to any other community,’ said B. Sanjeevi, ward member of the Kammapatti panchayat. [...]
“District Revenue Officer, R. Raju, who holds additional charge as District Collector, said that the BDO had proposed to transfer the employees.
“‘This is a peculiar habit of this community. We cannot treat this as a practice of untouchability. Posting of people belonging to Kambalathu Naicker can be considered only when the next round of recruitment takes place,’ he said.”
“Pinki Rajak, a 22-year-old member of the Dhobi community, which traditionally washes and irons clothes, caused outrage among her group's elders when she accepted a lowly sweeper's job at a local school near Raipur, Chhattisgarh. [...]
“Sweeping work in India, including shoe polishing, is reserved for members of the Chamar ‘untouchable’ caste, along with other ‘dirty' jobs like ‘night-soil carrying’ of human waste and tannery work. The Dhobis however are regarded as a ‘cleansing’ caste, said Dr Vidhu Verma, a caste expert at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
“[The caste] elders believed [Ms Rajak] had stigmatised them by associating them with one of India's lowliest and most shunned castes.”
“Nearly 300 km from Raipur, the stigma of a ‘menial’ job is threatening to blow apart the lives of 22-year-old Pinki Rajak and her family. A member of the dhobi samaj (washermen community) in Koriya district’s Bardiya village, Pinki invited the wrath of her people for accepting the job of a sweeper at a school.
“The community has handed the family an ultimatum: Forget the job or be ostracised for 60 years. Quitting the job is not an option for Pinki.
“Repeatedly ill-treated by her husband, she had returned home to her parents. But her father Budhulal Rajak, who has a small cycle repair shop, already has three daughters, a son and wife to support.
“After endless rounds of offices, Pinki finally got this job.
“Then the community struck — notwithstanding Budhlal’s position as a regional secretary of the samaj. Pinki’s husband Kapil Dev was told that he would not be allowed to live with her till she quits the job.
“‘No one can live without money. Why should the caste system be tied to employment now?’ said Pinki.”
“Maregoan Village has a population of approximately 2000 individuals. Out of these, 100 families are of the Ahirwar community. Dalits make up most of the agricultural labourers in this area, where Ahirwars (Chamars) compose a majority of the Dalits. The Ahirwar are classified as a Scheduled Caste in India. Ahirwar are spread across Gadarwara and in nearly all adjoining villages, playing an important role in the socioeconomic activities of the region. The Lodhi community in Maregaon village belong to what is termed in India as the ‘Other Backward Class’ (OBC). They own farmland and generally hire Ahirwar to cultivate their fields.
“Division of labour in the community has resulted in the imposition of certain menial and lowly occupations upon the Ahirwar. For centuries, the Ahirwar have been tasked to do ‘dirty’ jobs such as carrying the carcasses of animals. Despite the necessity of such workers, and for forcing them to take up such jobs, the Ahirwar are seen as being polluted by death and greatly despised. The Ahirwar are made to live in a hamlet separated from the main village.
“In 2009, the Ahirwar Samaj Mahaparishad built a consensus among the Ahirwar community to abandon the practice of carrying the carcasses of animals and shake off the label of ‘untouchable’ imposed by the dominant castes. This decision was first acted upon by three or four individuals and was soon claimed by other Ahirwar. In response, individuals from dominant castes began a social and economic boycott against the Ahirwar. The Ahirwar were not permitted to pass through the village and were forced to take a longer route in order to travel to other villages. The Ahirwar were prohibited from taking rations from the local shopkeeper; even the local milk vendor was intimidated by the Lodhi into not selling milk to the Ahirwar. The Ahirwar were even more cruelly persecuted through the denial of water from the hand pump located near the village temple. Prior to their decision to abandon the practice of carrying animal carcasses, the Ahirwar were still permitted to use this hand pump because there had been two at the time and the villagers were not facing a shortage of water. Today, the Lodhi have fenced in and put wire around the temple and areas surrounding it – this includes the hand pump the Ahirwar depended on for their water. In addition to such mistreatment and deprivation, the Ahirwar were further prohibited from using water from a communal water tank. This tank was also fenced in with wire by the Lodhi. The Ahirwar's cattle were also not permitted to partake of water from the tank. The Ahirwar face a severe shortage of water at this present time.
“Children of the oppressed castes are forced to clean the school while children from dominant castes are not. The school also discriminates through seating arrangements in class. To exacerbate the situation, the cook engaged in preparing the Mid-Day-Meal in Maregaon Village is a Lodhi. Despite efforts by authorities to relieve malnutrition in the area by implementing a Mid-Day-Meal scheme, the Ahirwar children who most require the sustenance are discriminated against. They are served only leftovers, if there are any, and the food is given to them from a distance. The Ahirwar children are also forced to bring their own plates while other students from the dominant castes are served from plates provided by the school. The children from the Ahirwar community are also fed insufficient amounts of food and punished for asking for more.”
“Selvam is a postgraduate who works in a private company. Neither his economic or educational status can guarantee social equality at a tea shop in his village where he will be served tea only in a separate tumbler. [...]
“The village has a population of 90 families belonging to Dalits and 400 belonging to Piramalai Kallars.
“The village had already earned notoriety for its practices of untouchability where Dalits were prevented from using footwear in the caste-Hindu area.
“A few months ago, police intervened and filed cases against those who practised the discrimination after which it was stopped.
“The practice of having two tumblers has undergone many changes with subtler forms to escape the attention of monitoring agencies. Citing pollution, once Dalits were served tea in coconut shells; then came separate glass tumblers for Dalits which they had to wash themselves, while everyone else was served tea in steel cups.
“Then, Dalits were given tea in separate glass tumblers and in order to prevent the mixing of tumblers owners used red/yellow/green paint marks on the bottom of tumblers meant for Dalits. In many places, they were asked to bring their own cups. Now, for Dalits, it is disposable plastic cups and for others it is stainless steel cups. In most cases, Dalits can't sit on benches in tea stalls but have to squat or sit on the floor.
“A recent study by an NGO, Evidence, found that the two-tumbler system is in vogue in 104 villages in Tamil Nadu. Its prevalence was found to be high also in 14 villages in Coimbatore district. The practice was found in 14 villages in Dindigul district and in 13 villages in Salem.”
“‘The question is simple - why do the Dalits of the village have to go all the way to the nearest city for a haircut when there are three barber shops right there? I posed this question to both an educated Dalit boy from the village and a non-Dalit barber. The barber hems and haws until his prejudice is split wide open, even in his denials. The Dalit youth, ends up saying a lot, despite being in an understandable, evasive hurry. This is the silent vocabulary of caste, of both the oppressed and the oppressor. This is how people really speak when they speak of caste. This is the status quo that must be challenged. This is where the camera comes in between,’ says Parmar.”
“For Dalit students in Perali village in Tamil Nadu’s Perambalur district, the route to school is long and dangerous. To reach the Government Higher Secondary School in the village, they need to carefully avoid streets that run through upper-caste neighbourhoods. They must instead risk the busy traffic of a highway as they circle these localities.
“Violating the village’s unofficial diktat could cost Dalit families their employment, as upper-caste communities control most of the economic opportunities even in the state that, for the past four decades, has seen politics centred on backward communities. [...]
“Statistics offer a reason for optimism, with Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Muslim students increasingly as likely to enroll in schools as students from upper castes. [...]
“But these statistics also hide the challenges these students face once enrolled in school.”
“The important part in the case is Karthigaisamy coming out in support of his friend in spite of earning the ire of his relatives and villagers of the dominant caste.
“He had given a statement to police accusing Thavam and Balamurugan of attacking Karmegakannan, clearly stating all the facts.
“In his statement, he had narrated how Thavam was threatening Karmegakannan to break his friendship with him. He had warned us not to go ahead with the friendship, warning of dire consequences if we continued our friendship, Karthigaisamy stated. On February 16, Karmegakannan called him from a mobile phone stating that he was attacked by Thavam and Balamurugan who left him to die after causing him serious injuries. He had reached a poultry farm in Kovanur village and alerted his friend about the incident. Karthigaisamy rushed to the spot and found his friend in a pool of blood, and rushed him to hospital, he told the police.
“A. Kathir, executive director of Madurai-based NGO Evidence who had sent a fact finding committee in this incident, stated that Karthigaisamy, in spite of hailing from a dominant caste, was leading the legal battle to seek justice for Karmegakannan.”
“Rajesh was called by a private contractor at Daulatpur village for doing labour work in some fields there. The incident took place when he went to the field of Rajender alias Pappu for drinking water from an earthen pot kept there. Pappu was also in the field at that time.
“After coming to know that Rajesh is from a Scheduled Caste, Pappu in a fit of anger allegedly attacked Rajesh with a sharp-edged weapon that left his hand dismembered.”
“The pain is perceptible in nine-year-old Shankar’s voice as he recounts how he’s made to sit at the back of the class with other children from a ‘low caste’ group. He says his teacher doesn’t wish to accidentally touch them, keeping them as far away as possible from the rest of the children. His peers from the ‘upper caste’ call him an ‘untouchable’; when he complains to the teachers, they see no issue. ‘You are untouchable – what else should they call you?’
“His sister, who is 8, is asked to clean the classroom – that’s her task because she’s a girl and an ‘untouchable.’ At lunch, Shankar says the children from the other castes are served food provided by the government, while his fellow caste children are asked to wait outside the classroom; should any food remain after the teachers and ‘upper caste’ children have eaten, it may then be offered to Shankar and other children from ‘lower castes.’
“The children’s parents point out that a child who’s gone hungry for several meals is unlikely to be able to pay proper attention to classroom instruction. Shankar’s eyes well up with tears as he responds to questions about life as a Dalit child attending the local school. Other Dalit children tell of similar discrimination, complaining that the teachers don’t pay attention to them, call them outcasts and run down their abilities and enthusiasm for education. That’s why the Dalit children rarely go to school; their visits reinforce the feelings of persecution and discrimination.”
“Dalit families in Kasuvanahalli village of Nagamangala taluk who demanded money to beat drums during the Ganesha idol immersion have been socially boycotted. Upper caste members had approached two Dalits, Shivaraj and Seetharam, to play drums during the Ganesha idol immersion procession.
“When they demanded Rs150 per person as wages, they were summoned near Mayamma temple by the village headmen and abused. When they further refused to play the drums, village headman Mudde Gowda, Parigowda and others abused their caste. They were forced to fetch water from a borewell were cattle are fed.
“The Dalit families were denied entry into the village. In fact, Dalit women have been removed from the self-help groups and humiliated constantly.
“As there was no electricity, the Dalit women had to collect water from a tank only to be threatened by upper caste youths that they would be paraded in nude.
“Meanwhile, MLA Suresh Gowda, who hails from Kasuvanahalli, held a meeting with the two groups and appealed to them to bury their differences. Shivaraj and Mayanna lodged a complaint with Nagamanagala town police station, charging that they fear for their lives and property.”
“A barber and his father allegedly severed the nose of a dalit when he went to them for a shave in Kirugavalu of Malavalli taluk on Sunday.
“Police said Chikkamanchaiah, 51, requested Mahadev and his father Mariyayya to shave his beard. The duo not only refused to do it, but also asked him to leave the shop. A quarrel ensued, and Mariyayya grabbed Chikkamanchaiah's hands and Mahadev chopped off his nose. He was rushed to the district hospital where doctors reattached the nose.
“Chikkamanchaiah said poor dalits in the village are not allowed to enter shops. According to him, only rich and powerful dalits have access to barber shops. He requested police and the district administration to act against the culprits and put an end to untouchability.”
“One of Dalrymple's strengths is his refusal to render judgment, but when it comes to the question of caste, he throws in the towel. In a section about a sacred dance form called theyyam, he tells us that the performers who take on the aspect of the gods are ‘the shunned and insulted Dalits.’ When the performers remove their costumes, he tells us, they're no longer treated like gods but, once again, like untouchables:‘In the presence of persons of the upper castes,’ he writes, ‘Dalits are still expected to bow their heads and stand at a respectful distance.’”
“Members of a dalit family at Kalyanpur VDC-7 have been mercilessly roughed up after a daughter of the family happened to touch the feet of an upper caste woman. [...]
“Roji complained that Narayan Khadka, Yasoda Khadka, Bikas Khadka, Deepak Khadka and Bishnu Maya Khadka Rimal barged into her home and thrashed the family members. [...]
“The unruly group attacked Roji's family after Sujana Pariyar inadvertently touched the feet of Bishnu Maya while boarding on a bus. Sujana is a tenth grader at Ajingare higher secondary school, Kalyanpur.”
“The scenic environs of Pollachi-Coimbatore’s most well-known tourist destination may welcome outsiders with open arms, but when it comes to treating their own Dalit villagers, tea stall owners here follow the socially abhorrent practice of the two-tumbler system.[...]
“In many stalls, tea is served in disposable plastic cups to Dalit villagers, whereas for customers belonging to the so-called upper castes, it is served in a glass. Worse, tea shops in villages such as Guruvekoundenpalayam, Kappilipalayam and Mettuvavi, have come up with an innovative two-tumbler system to deceive authorities in case of a surprise inspection.
“‘At the tea stalls in these villages, separate tumblers for Dalits are identified by dots marked in green or yellow at the bottom. In some cases, there is a cut mark on the top edge of the tumbler for Dalits,’ alleged K Marimuthu, president, Makkal Viduthalai Munnani, a local outfit which fights for the rights of Dalits.
“Tea shop owners, however, are hesitant to admit that Dalit customers were discriminated against and claim that they do not have separate tumblers for the caste Hindus. But a visit to most tea stalls proved otherwise.
“While elders belonging to the oppressed sections have accepted the practice, presumably out of fear for caste Hindus, Dalit youth have begun to assert themselves against the practice.”
“Caste Hindus of a nondescript village on the outskirts of Coimbatore allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old dalit boy on Sunday for attempting to fetch drinking water from a public tap in the area.
“The boy, A Vasanthakumar, is now recovering at a government hospital in Annur, about 25 km away from Coimbatore. A Class X student, Vasanthakumar belongs to the dalit Chakkiliya community. He resides at Nallichetty Palayam, a dalit hamlet outside Annur town. The area is reeling under extreme water scarcity.
“As per the complaint lodged with the police, Vasanthakumar on late Sunday evening went on his bicycle with empty pots to Karikkilipalayam, about 4km away from his home, to fetch water. Dominated by Kongu Chettiyars, classified as a most backward caste, Karikkilipalayam is blessed with round the clock water supply as a pipeline of the Pillur water scheme passes through it. He reached a public tap located at around 9 pm and started collecting water. Three women of the Chettiyar community, who had come to the tap, started abusing him using caste names. When he protested, they beat him up. The women told him that they would not allow any untouchable to fetch water. A local butcher named P Damodaran Chettiyar also roughed him up.
“Vasanthakumar, who sustained injuries in the attack, was admitted to Annur hospital. His father Anandan, a coolie, said dalits were prevented from cutting hair at saloons in the locality and prevented from using mobile phones outside their huts.”
“An Uthapuram-like situation is developing in a small village at Srivilliputhur in Virudhunagar district following the construction of an ‘untouchability wall’ by a dominant community there in the aftermath of violent caste clashes that rocked the hamlet on May 15.
“Strongly segregated in terms of caste, W Pudupatti, near Sivakasi, has seen conflict and tension between the Naidus, Saliyars, Pallars and Paraiyars since the 1960s. The series of clashes, the latest between the Pallars (backward Hindus), numbering about 500 families, and Paraiyars, comprising 300 Dalit Christian families, was the result of a ‘hidden apartheid’ prevailing in the village, rights activists have alleged.
“Signs of the confrontation were visible in the Dalit settlement, which bore the brunt of the attacks, even after a fortnight. The clash reportedly broke out when a Dalit youth Jayaram Anthony (24) went to buy a mirror from a shop near a Pallar street and was threatened and beaten up by two Pallar youth. [...]
“Claiming that the State machinery was siding with the higher-caste groups, the villagers said after the incident, a wall, segregating the higher caste Saliyars and the Dalit quarters, was constructed under the supervision of the district SP and tahsildar. Official line: The new wall marked the boundary of a Saliyar-run school.
“Describing the structure as an ‘untouchability wall,’ the Dalits, however, said they had been using the path for several years without causing inconvenience or obstruction to anybody. They alleged that the real purpose behind the sudden construction of the structure was to cut off the main escape route for the Dalit men in the event of caste clashes, which have become an annual feature.
“A life lived in perpetual fear, the status of Dalits in W Pudupatti reflects the general pattern—discrimination and abuse at the hands of higher-caste groups. Denied access to land, they roll cracker sticks for their livelihood. [...]
“Nevertheless, academic forte appears to be the silver lining as well as the sore point. A Jayakumar (28), a B Ed graduate, said the higher-caste groups could not digest the development of the community through education.
“It has also inculcated in them a deep awareness of their rights and intolerance to oppression.”
“When G Thangapandian (27), a dalit youth, decided to challenge the caste diktat that dalits should not ride motorcycles on Kaliamman Street, it ended in a brutal attack on his house by a mob of over 500 persons, including women armed with broomsticks.
“‘If I am alive now it is because of this grill gate,’ pointed out G Murugan, Thangapandian’s brother. The gate was damaged in several places. ‘The mob tried to break open the gate with boulders, but left later on Saturday night,’ said Murugan, fear still evident on his face.
“The dalits, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and economic status of the more influential Thevars, obeyed the diktats: they did not wear footwear and they did not ride bicycles or motorcycles on Kaliamman Street. ‘We are served tea in different tumblers and we are not entertained in the barber shops in the village,’ said Murugan’s father Guru.
“The village has been a witness to the worst forms of caste discrimination, as even schools have become a platform for such practices. ‘My non-dalit classmates would demand that I address them as Ayya [sir]. If I call them by their names they would abuse me with filthy words and threaten me,’ said M Palani, who just completed his Plus-Two in the higher secondary school in the village.”
“A survey conducted by Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) in 22 districts has revealed the prevalence of 86 forms of untouchability in the state’s villages.
“Dalits are not even allowed to use ringtones of movie songs. ‘A dalit in Coimbatore was beaten by caste Hindus for using MGR movie song Naan Aanaittal Adhu Nadanthu Vittaal as his ringtone,’ TNUEF convenor P. Sampath said.
“The discrimination against dalits even exists in matrimonial websites. ‘We have come across entries made by upper caste persons stating that dalits need not apply,’ he said.
“In the survey, Mr Sampath said they come across the practice of dalits being prevented from walking on the public road wearing slippers, riding bicycles, wearing dhotis folded or polyester dhotis, wearing towels on their shoulder, wearing cloth headgear, sporting thin line moustaches and getting clothes washed or ironed.”
“Dalit children at a school in Jagatsinghpur district do not know where they went wrong with their studies because teachers refused to check their notebooks. ‘Ame achuta (We are considered untouchables). The teachers refuse to touch our books and our homework is never corrected,’ said Bijaya Mallick, a student of Class IV at the school at Keutapala in Balikuda block. ‘If we even touch our teachers by mistake, they scold us for polluting them,’ he added.
“The 40 odd Dalit students in the school were allegedly singled out and made to clean classrooms and toilets. ‘I clean toilets at school,’ said Samir Mallick, a Class V student. He looked puzzled when asked why he agreed to do so. ‘The teachers tell me to do it,’ the 11-year-old boy said. ‘We are not even allowed to take water from the drinking pot at school,’ he added.
“Several students and their parents complained that they were victims of caste discrimination by the school staff since long. The final straw, however, was when teachers refused to serve mid-day meals to the children. This prompted incensed parents not to send their wards to school for the past one week.”
“In a shocking incident, the office room and furniture used by a senior government official belonging to a scheduled caste community here were ‘cleansed’ by sprinkling cowdung water, allegedly by some employees shortly after his retirement from service. A K Ramakrishnan, who retired as Inspector General of Registration on March 31, has moved the State Human Rights Commission seeking an inquiry into the incident. He said in the complaint that he had reliable information that some employees in the office sprinkled ‘cowdung water’ over the tables, chairs and even inside the office car used by him while in service. He said he believed that the ‘cleansing’ was performed as he belonged to an SC community and it amounted to violation of his human rights and civil liberties. [...]
“Asked about the incident, Ramakrishnan said he would vigorously pursue the case as he considered it as an insult to the socially depressed class. ‘I take this not just as a personal insult. This is a humiliation heaped on the socially depressed classes as a whole. If this is the experience of a person who had held the topmost post in a government department, what would be the situation of ordinary people belonging to the lower rungs of social strata?’ Ramakrishnan told PTI. ‘All these five years when I worked as IG of Registration I had bitter experiences. But I have suffered them without getting worked up. But what has happened even after my retirement is really painful,’ he said.”
“The scourge of untouchability has raised its ugly head in Hosapura village of Malavalli taluk, Mandya district, where a group of ‘caste' Hindus allegedly created ruckus over the appointment of a Dalit as a valve-man.
“The incident took place early last week and threatened to split the community on caste lines. Police have arrested three persons in this connection but this served only to escalate the tension as ‘caste' Hindus questioned the ‘temerity’ of the Dalits to lodge a police complaint against them.
“Sources said the genesis of the tension could be traced to the decision of the Gram Panchayat Secretary Siddaraju, who appointed Venkatesh, a Dalit, as the valve-man to release water to the village. When a group of persons saw Venkatesh releasing water, they raised a hue and cry on the ‘propriety’ of using the water released by a ‘Dalit valve-man,’ said sources.
“As a result, tension built up in the village and a section of the aggrieved community lodged a police complaint, following which three persons, identified as Shivu, Basavaraj and Prakash were arrested and later released on bail. Irked by the ‘audacity’ of the Dalit community, they have been allegedly boycotted by people from other communities, sources said.
“However, Shivaramu, Social Welfare Officer of Mandya told The Hindu that he had visited the village and inquired into the incident which presented a different picture.
“He said the village community had strong political affiliations and was split along party lines. ‘It transpired that the appointment of a Dalit was not the issue. The warring groups wanted one of their confidantes to be given the job of the valve-man. However, a few outside elements gave a caste twist to the appointment of Mr. Venkatesh, which led to tension following which three persons were arrested and later released on bail,’ Mr. Shivaramu said.
“‘I visited the village twice after the incident was reported and the allegations of Dalits being denied work in agricultural farms was false. Landlords and landless labourers are mutually dependent and one could not do without the other,’ he added. Mr. Shivaramu said the situation was now under control and the district administration has ensured supply of groceries and other essential commodities to the Dalit colony.”
“The dispute over access to burial ground was on for quite sometime in the village and on December 22, 2010, the caste Hindus of the village had organised a meeting which was presided over by the panchayat president, in which, Revenue Inspector Kodangipatty, Inspector of Police Palani Chetti Patty and Sub-Inspector of Police Veerapandi participated. In the meeting, it was decided that the Dalits should not use the common burial ground and even if there was a dispute they should refer it only to the revenue authorities and police and decide on the place of burial.
“Meanwhile, on January 2, when an elderly Dalit person died, the Dalits of the village decided to bury him in the common burial ground meant for Hindus, but the dominant castes objected to this and attacked them. The Dalits staged a protest, following which the government authorities organised a peace meeting. However, the dominant caste members did not allow the Dalits to bury the deceased in the common burial ground. The body had to be buried in Dalits'own land.
“Tension between the Dalits and caste Hindus had been brewing for sometime and on January 27 a group of caste Hindus attacked Chinnayi [a 55-year-old-Dalit woman] by hurling petrol bombs, in which she suffered injuries [and died]. Raja (35), son of Chinnayi, lodged a complaint with the Veerapandi police who registered cases against Rasu Thevar, Damodaran, Markandan Singam and Dhanasekaran under Sections 147, 148, 436, 307 of IPC and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 3(1)(10), 3(2)(5) and [they] were arrested.”
Director: Amit Kumar | Producer: Video Volunteers
Produced In: 2010
Synopsis: In the state of Haryana, Dalit communities (including the correspondent filming this video) are forbidden to enter temples. In Barot village, the temple allows only the villagers who belong to upper castes to worship, though most of the villagers belong to the Dalit community. The Constitution of India ensures equal rights for all citizens. This includes the right to “opt, embrace and practice any religion.” However, in Barot the Dalits have always been denied this right. They have been treated as “dirty” and asked by both the upper caste and the temple priest to keep away from the temple. Amit says that though the older generation have accepted this denial of rights as fate, youth in his community are angry about being treated as untouchables. Amit shot this video to share with viewers the humiliation he is made to feel every day for being a “Dalit youth.”
“On 20 July 2010, some manual scavengers of Savanur, a small town in Haveri district of north Karnataka performed a novel act in protest against their helplessness. They smeared themselves with human excreta in public before the municipal council office. [...]
“The issue was simple, so at least the people in Municipal Council of Savanur thought and ignored it. But it spelt virtual death to Dalits. They were suddenly asked by the Municipal Council to evict the land they lived on for generations just to construct a commercial complex there. The orders in terms of law were illegal but who would contest the authorities. The Dalits kept on pleading but their plea fell on deaf years.On the contrary, to pressure them the Municipal authorities cut off their water connection. Poor Dalits who belonged to the Bhangi sub-caste, would be forbidden to take water from any other source because of their untouchability. Buying it was out of question as they barely subsided on a pittance thrown to them for cleaning dry latrines. What may appear simple to others was thus a death knell for them, which drove them to the desperate act of daubing themselves with human excreta.The sensational act attracted media and thereby swarms of politicians. The ministers came, held meetings, issued orders and at least temporarily saved the Bhangis from devastation. As it happens, the action taken may prove to be mere wash up as suspected by the PUCL (Karnataka) fact finding (preliminary) report on the incident.”
Former Independent journalist Sarah Harris has made a documentary about India's temple prostitutes – Devadasi are young girls who are dedicated to a Hindu deity at a young age and support their families as sex workers.
The first instalment of the four-part exclusively online documentary “Prostitutes of God” goes live today on VBS.tv.
Harris talked to The Independent Online about making the film:
“I first went to India after I left The Independent three years ago. I wanted to run away and do something really different, so I went to volunteer with a charity in southern India which rescues victims of sex trafficking.
“On my very first day there I stumbled into a meeting of Devadasi prostitutes. I was told that they were temple prostitutes, but didn’t have any understanding of what that meant. [...]
“The only thing that has changed since the Devadasi practise was made illegal in 1988 is that the ceremonies have been driven underground. It’s still very common in some parts of India. A Westerner wouldn’t know to look at the girls that they are Devadasi, but Indians know on sight who they are and what they do. Really it comes down to caste. [...]
“Girls from the Madiga caste, otherwise known as the ‘untouchable caste,’ have really limited prospects. They can be agricultural labourers, sewage collectors or prostitutes, essentially. As prostitution is the most lucrative, a lot of Madiga women get into sex work.”
“On Thursday, TOI discovered that out of total 135 students, hardly 50 students–mostly Dalits and OBC–were eating the meal that comprised daal, chapati, rice and kheer. The remaining 85 students, mostly Thakurs and Brahmins refused to eat the food or boycotted classes, a practice that started on July 1, 2010, the day the school authorities appointed two new Dalit cooks. There are two upper-caste cooks in the school as well.
“The upper-caste villagers, who were protesting against the issue, said their children would not eat food prepared by Dalit.
“Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA), Ramabai Nagar, Sanjay Shukla, who was present at Jasapur primary school on Thursday, told TOI that the matter had been sorted out and food would be prepared by upper-caste cooks only.
“However, parents were adamant on their stand. ‘Us school mein hum apne bacchon ko nahi padhayenge jahan par “achooton” se khana banwaya jata hai’ (We will not let our wards study in a school where Dalits prepare food, said a villager, Lalla Bhadauriya.”