Khairlanji: Gruesome Massacre of Dalits: Dalit Fury Scorches Maharashtra

 

(This report was first published in People's March in January 2007)

Avanti

MARX'S famous phrase, "people make history" was witnessed this past one month in Maharashtra when the Dalits rose as one to protest against the gruesome killings of four Dalits in Khairlanjhi village. It is a fact that people develop the tactics and revolutionaries must learn from them. The manner in which the protests in Maharashtra spread, the determination and fury of the masses as the movement built itself up over the period, the focus in the targets of their attacks were not planned, but they point to how the people have devised their own methods to express their protests.. Surekha Bhotmange, her teenaged daughter Priyanka, and sons Roshan and Sudhir were killed on September 29, but the protests began in the first week of November as the realization came that the entire case was being suppressed, by the police and political authorities to protect the perpetrators of the crime. As the casteist nature of the police and Government revealed itself over the days the masses pressed their protests forward sparing none, not their opportunist, compromising leaders, nor the corrupt Dalit officials who were also party to the coverup. It was as if the protests rose from the depths of their beings, their frustrations at the casteist oppression they continue to face in daily life, the lack of economic opportunities in "globalizing India" inspite of their struggle to educate themselves and their children. Young school educated youth and women were in the forefront of the protests. Neither the large forces of the police nor the rapid action force could stop them. They faced arrest only to be back on the streets the next day. The Maharashtra Government was just unable to stop these protests though they tried strong repression and disinformation. The appeals of the established Dalit leaders and the Buddhist clergy to use peaceful means fell on deaf ears. Though only 10 per cent of the population of the State, the Dalit masses proved their strength and capacity to paralyse the entire economic life of the State.

The Maharashtra Government has unleashed repression on the masses. Hundreds have been arrested, the police have resorted to firings and lathi-charges at innumerable places, combing operations have been conducted in various bastis in the different cities in the state, hundreds of youth have been detained. They have even imposed sedition cases on some of them, as if protesting against casteist violence is equal to overthrow of the State. Indeed the brahminical Indian State really is fearful of the militancy of the Dalit masses. They have prevented all morchas planned by the people if there is a whiff of militancy. The Long March from Nagpur to Khairlanjhi was forcibly stopped.

But to prevent the march to the Vidhan Sabha in Nagpur on December 4 the State Government pulled all the forces in its arsenal. Nagpur was converted into a police camp with ten thousand special police including the Rapid Action Force deployed all over the city to ensure that the march would not take place. All the Dalit leaders were detained. Trucks from villages were turned back and people not allowed to leave their villages. The dalit masses in the bastis in Nagpur were imprisoned in their homes and were not allowed out of their houses. Repeatedly the Government has been saying that all the demands of the masses have been met and now there should be no agitation. The Government's crass undemocratic approach is exposed before all. So the Government now decides when the people should agitate and when they should not. They decide whether the demands of the masses have been met or not.

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Report on Recent Dalit Student Suicides at University of Hyderabad

 

"Raju-Venkatesh Solidarity Committee" Report on Recent Dalit Student Suicides at University of Hyderabad

raju-venkatesh committee photo

On 24th November 2013, Madari Venkatesh (student ID: 11ACPA02), 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. He was a CSIR-Junior Research Fellow, and stayed in the campus. This unfortunate death has raised serious issues and concerns with regard to the circumstances under which such incidents recur, in the last two years, especially, among marginalized students (SC/ST/OBC) in the campus, due to institutional lapses and prejudiced negligence. This signifies an atrocious case of institutional indifference to the needs and aspirations of marginalized students, to a large extent, in the campus.

raju-venkatesh 1University of Hyderabad Students, under the banner "Raju-Venkatesh Solidarity Committee", protest at the administration building on 27.11.2013

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."

I

m-venkatesh

Mr. Madari Venkatesh, PhD Scholar

Madari Venkatesh was not allotted any supervisor, when he joined in 2011. In his notification of results for admission, he was specially asked by the administration to meet the director, considering his specialization.

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Atrocity in Beed: Are we safe in this country?

 

Are we living in our own state? Are we safe in this country?

Yogesh Maitreya

YogeshToday in the morning, at my desk in the office of the internship agency where I work, I wrote the brief story of an atrocity on a nineteen year old (SC) girl who was raped by two Maratha boys of her village. Before examining such incidences, the reality of atrocities in the villages of Maharashtra was just another story or tale for me, a story or a tale which we hear from distances, from second-hand sources and, further, leave it to die in the mind. The narratives of the victims on paper have something chilling in it; it moved me to blankness before I was able to read further. The essence of the victim's narrative was such that one could hardly avoid the misery of her social settings; the vulnerability was evident through her accounts of how they live. Now that I am seeing the face of my country more closely, I feel more gloomy and insecure about its future. I see the air around me as hostile. And how could I avoid the questions which I always ask myself: are we living in our own state? Are we safe in this country?

Case history in brief

Chandrama's family lives in Barad, in Beed district, Maharashtra. It is rarely spoken of and largely unknown to much of the Indian population, and even within the metropolitan cities of the state, but Maharashtra is an atrocities prone area. According to the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau), from 1994 to 2003, atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SC) in Maharashtra outnumbered the list of criminal cases. And according to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (Delhi) during 1990's, the 'Marathwada' region of Maharashtra, which comprises Beed district, recorded 'high incidences of caste bondage and previous records of atrocities against Dalits'. Unfortunately, its criminal glory, according to NCRB's 2012 data, shows a record of 1091 cases of crime against SC in Maharashtra alone. Chandrama's case is one among them.

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Preliminary Report: National Tribunal - Violence Against Dalit Women

 

National Tribunal – Violence Against Dalit Women

Introduction

 
"Hindu Society as such does not exist. It is only a collection of castes. Each caste is conscious of its existence. Its survival is the be-all and end-all of its existence." Babasaheb Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste, 1937.

A caste society is inherently violent in nature and this violence is most brutal and horrific towards Dalit women. However, debates on gender and violence in India have always located the privileged, upper caste women as its central subject. In such a scenario, the systematic, systemic and unrelenting violence against Dalit women is seldom highlighted in most mainstream discourses. More importantly violence against women is often seen in terms of patriarchy alone as though our society is homogenous for all women, with all of them having similar privileges and vulnerabilities. This is a blatantly false and extremely problematic discourse in a caste society. Here, the intersectionality of gender, caste and class, which is so important to understand the violence against Dalit women, goes totally unseen. In fact, the prevailing structure of caste and the secondary status of women in society are largely responsible for the violation of the human rights of Dalit women. To understand the root cause of this situation, it is essential to examine the basic factors that contribute to their vulnerability, in other words, we need to analyse how patriarchy feeds from caste and vice-versa.

tribunal banner

The human rights of Dalit women are violated in peculiar and extreme forms. Stripping, naked parading, caste abuses, pulling out nails and hair, sexual slavery & bondage are some of the few forms that are often employed in the violence against Dalit women. Further Dalit women have been subjected to various kinds of sexual violence such as rape, molestation, kidnapping, abduction, homicide, physical and mental torture, immoral traffic and sexual abuse. The National Crime Records Bureau data records reveal that more than 4 Dalit women are raped every day in India. We are convinced that this is a grossly under reported figure since hundreds of cases of rape of Dalit women are not even registered. The truth is that the question of conviction is a distant dream for many.

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Fact Finding Report on the Alleged Rape and Murder of Dalit girl in Jind

 

Report of the Fact Finding Investigation conducted to ascertain facts in the case of alleged rape and murder of Dalit girl in Jind district of Haryana

Background to the Formation of the Fact Finding Team

On 24th August, a 20 year old Dalit girl was brutally raped and murdered in Jind, Haryana, while she was on her way to write an examination. Her body was found near a canal the next day by the police. There were cigarette burn marks on her body and significant indications of sexual violence. It is clear that she was kidnapped, raped and then murdered.

However, at the time of the fact finding, even after four days the culprits had not been identified or arrested, and there was no progress on the investigation beyond sending the body for post mortem. In fact, the parents of the girl, members of her village and various Dalit activists refused to cremate the body and were sitting on dharna in front of the Jind Civil Hospital to protest against police and administrative apathy and callousness. It was very clear that the Haryana police and administration was exhibiting gross negligence in this case, ignoring the law and evading established investigative procedure.

It is at this point that the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) decided to put together a fact finding committee to visit the area, meet the key people involved and ascertain the facts of the case.

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The Ramabai Killings

 

Fifty years of independence. The salute of fifty bullets. Ten Dalits murdered. This is our independence.

~ Poster in Ramabai colony135

(Excerpt from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's 'Untouchables')

Excessive use of force by members of the police is not limited to the rural areas that are largely the focus of previous chapters in this report. Police abuse against the urban poor, slum dwellers, Dalits, and other minorities has included arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, and forced evictions.136 Because they cannot afford to bribe the police, Dalits and other poor minorities are disproportionately represented among those detained and tortured in police custody. Although the acute social discrimination characteristic of rural areas is less pronounced in cities, Dalits in urban areas, who make up the majority of bonded laborers and street cleaners, do not escape it altogether. Many live in segregated colonies which have been targets of police raids.

This chapter describes a July 1997 incident in Bombay in which police opened fire on a crowd of Dalits protesting the desecration of a statue of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in their settlement. The firing, which killed ten and injured twenty-six, was in direct violation of international standards on the use of firearms by law enforcement officials and of Bombay Police Manual guidelines. According to human rights groups and colony residents, the firing was unprovoked and caste-motivated.

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Sunita Babu's Suicide: Driven to Death by Police Harassment

 

'Suicide of Sunita Babu – Due to Police Harassment'
A fact-finding report on a Dalit woman's suicide in Kerala by Sthreekoottayma (A women's collective)

The suicide of Sunita Babu, a Dalit woman, in Eroor, Thrippunithara of Ernakulum District appeared and was discussed in the media, but not with the seriousness that it deserved. The media portrayed it as a case of suicide driven by the weight of having divulged to the police the whereabouts of her criminal husband. The society saw nothing amiss in this incident. However, the fact of the matter is that Sunita took her own life, having been driven to it by two weeks of harassment by the police hunting for the accused Babu. For two weeks, the police frequented the house of the accused in uniform and civilian clothes, and constantly harassed the women and the children in the guise of trying to get information about the absconding accused, resulting in a tragic end for Sunita who was neither involved in, nor was a witness to the incident. Below is an account of facts of this incident that has not come to light.

Sunita Babu

April 30, 2013

Chandran is a daily-wage employee working in Vimal Bazaar, owned by T.V. Ramachandran near Mathoor gate in Eroor, Thrippunithura. On the said day, he borrowed a bicycle (that belonged to Ramachandran's uncle) from this shop, to go home for his breakfast. While he was having food at home, Chandran's nephews took the bicycle to visit the temple. While the children were inside the temple, the bicycle was left outside, where it was spotted by its owner, Ramachandran's uncle who was walking along the road. He took the bicycle. When the children came out of the temple, they didn't see the cycle and went around searching for it. When they were certain that they had lost it, they informed Chandran, their uncle and all of them together started searching for it. Having lost hope of finding it, they went to Ramachandran's shop, where they saw the cycle in front of the shop. When the children tried to get inside the shop to ask what had happened, Ramachandran said 'Get out, pulayadimakkale' (this is considered an expletive in Kerala and is a casteist abuse .). Ramachandran abused the children calling caste names.

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