The National Tribunal – Violence against Dalit Women in India (on 30th September and 1st October, 2013, at the Constitution Club in New Delhi) was conceived in the hope that it would be 'one small step in the long and arduous journey of Dalit women for reclaiming their rights'.
Asha Kowtal very succinctly expressed the purpose of the Tribunal at the beginning of the first day: 'We are collected here in the hope that the government will listen to our grievances...The rape and atrocity that happened in Haryana with a dalit girl did come to the forefront but states like Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh were not lagging behind in violence and sexual violence on Dalit women...the data provided by government statistics is inadequate...In this Tribunal our sisters and brothers will discuss their cases of violence in front of the Jury...the recommendations of the Jury will be then taken back to our states and we will continue our fight and struggle against the caste-based sexual violence.'
One of the young participants also talked of hope before the event: "..it's the hope that is bringing these 45 cases and more than 200 participants together to one place...from far south to the neighboring states of Delhi...I remember Prof. Vimal Thorat saying "if the government fails to provide justice to the victims/survivors of Dalit women...should we demand a new state for Dalits...where we have our own schools and institutes, where we take the responsibility and safety of our people is in our hands"...Here is the beginning friends.."
It was that hope which did seem to bring all the participants to the Tribunal yesterday. That helped the survivors and their families recall the unspeakable violence meted out to them by caste society. The jury comprising of Farah Naqvi, Henri Tiphagne, Vrinda Grover, Gayatri Singh, Prof. Vimal Thorat, Dr. Srivella Prasad, P.Sivakami and Vidyanand Vikal (please read the Jury Profile in the second half of this report) heard patiently, horrifying accounts of atrocities wreaked upon nearly thirty Dalit women and their families.
Round Table India has tried to bring together short notes on some of those testimonies that were heard yesterday, on the first day of the Tribunal. We thank Asha Kowtal, Sanghapali Aruna Kornana, Prachi R Beula, Thenmozhi Soundararajan and many others for these short notes, because it is their words which make these notes. Thanks are also due to Joshua Isaac for compiling them all.
Dalit woman shot, husband murdered, for daring to buy land in upper caste neighbourhood, in Bihar
Dalit Rights Defender from Bihar giving an account of the case
This is a case of land grab, caste atrocity and murder with a firearm. The victim had bought land (2 katha) for Rs. 25,000 from the late Lalita Lal eight years ago. This land is surrounded from all the sides by Rambilas Yadav's land. The land in the centre belongs to the Scheduled Caste community. To forcefully acquire this land, Rambilas fought with BH-04 as well as her husband Bindeshwari Paswan. The victim and her daughter Anju Kumari tried to help and rescue Bindeshwari but Rambilas Yadav and his friends fired on the victim and started beating Anju Kumari. Then, they took Bindeshwari away to Bellai village and shot him dead. The accused argued that people belonging to Scheduled Castes cannot construct their houses adjacent to their land. The police are also in cahoots with the culprits and have not arrested them yet.