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.

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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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Brief Report Of The Killing of Adivasis by CRPF at Edesmeta, Chattisgarh

 

Brief Report Of The Killing of Adivasi Civilians by CRPF at Edesmeta in Bijapur district, Chattisgarh, on May 17, 2013

[Via Karthik Navayan]

Following media reports that eight adivasis and a CRPF constable had died in an alleged encounter on the night of May 17, 2013 at Edesmeta village in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh, a team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) from Andhra Pradesh visited the area on May 25, 26 to elicit facts. The team spoke with residents of Edesmeta as well as police officers at Gangulur. There are 67 households in Edesmeta located in six paras (hamlets). The village is in Burgil panchayat of Bijapur block and falls in the jurisdiction of Gangalur police station.

The following is a brief report of the fact-finding team. A more detailed report will be put out in due course:

It is the HRF's view that contrary to the police version of an encounter with Maoists, there was no exchange of fire at Edesmeta on the night of May 17. Eight adivasis, including four minors, all of them male, and the CRPF constable died as a result of indiscriminate and unilateral firing by the CRPF. None of the deceased eight adivasis are Maoists as the police initially claimed. The eight did not die because the Maoists used them as human shields as an improvised police version put out a day later stated. They were killed in gunfire unleashed by a specialized anti-naxalite unit of the CRPF. There was no provocation whatsoever for the firing. Four more adivasis including a minor were injured. This callous brutality is chillingly similar to the slaughter of 17 adivasi civilians (including six minors) at Sarkeguda, also in Bijapur district, on the night of June 28, 2012.

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Cops watch as Dalits are attacked by organized mob in Keesara, near Hyderabad

 

Sub-Inspector of Keesara police station, Mr Venkat, was an eye witness to the brutal assault on Dalits in Rampally Dayara: Human Rights Forum

~

To

The District Collector and Magistrate

Ranga Reddy district, Hyderabad

Dear Madam

Sub: Attack on dalits (Madigas) of Rampally Dayara JNNURM Colony- assistance to victims of attack-regarding.

You are aware that more than 10 dalits of JNNURM Colony of Rampally Dayara in Keesara mandal of Ranga Reddy district were injured in an attack on them by persons belonging to non-dalit castes of Ramapally Dayara village on May 1 and 2, 2013.

In the JNNURM Colony, Ms. Balamma of Rampally Dayara runs a belt shop which is located very close to the houses of the dalits. Inebriated customers have been creating nuisance for the past one year to which the family of Mr. Indrala Kalyan,a dalit resident of the colony belonging to the Madiga caste, have been objecting. The dalits had even a lodged a complaint in the matter at the local Kesara police station exactly a year ago on 4 May 2012. The owners of the shops have the support of Mr. Kandadi Anji Reddy and Mr Kandadi Srinivas Reddy of Rampally Dayara, the main accused in the attack of last week. While Mr. Angi Reddy is the mandal president of TDP, Mr Srinivas Reddy is the former upa-sarpanch.

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Fact finding team's report on Dharmapuri caste pillage

 

[Report translated from Tamil by Ratna Mala]

Dharmapuri violence: Caste rage, devastation and looting

Report of the Fact Finding team - consisting of Gambeeran, Yakkan, Yazhan Aadhi, K. Umadevi, Sridhar Kannan and Neerai Mahendran - on Dharmapuri caste pillage.

"My friends' mothers scolded in foul language and provoked them to set ablaze the cheri people's houses; my school mates burnt my house. The prize certificate which I got for the oratory competition was burnt. I witnessed the whole mess from that backyard. Now, how can I go to the same school"
-Vishali (name changed), ninth standard student, Anna Nagar, a survivor.


On November 7, 2012, the Dalit colonies of Natham, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti in Dharmapuri Panchayat were looted and burnt by a mob of casteist Vanniyars (an OBC caste). More than 250 houses were destroyed badly and and made unfit for living. The newspapers have reported this incident as a caste conflict with the burning of two or three huts. This is entirely absurd. This is not a caste conflict. But it is a planned attack of the dominant caste. A mob of 1000 Vanniyar casteists entered the villages with heavy weapons and petrol bombs when there were none to challenge them. They chased away the innocent women and children and looted and burnt their houses.

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