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.

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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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Liberal Democracy and Kymlicka’s Conception of Minority Rights: Towards a Perspective of Dalit Rights

 

Dr. P. Kesava Kumar

Abstract

The recognition of minority rights is an issue for debate in recent times. It has implication for a theory of liberal democracy. Especially, the communitarian critique of liberalism has come in strong defense of community against individualism. Will Kymlicka proposes minority rights in the multicultural context of the west by internalizing the wisdom of liberal and communitarian debate. He argues for cultural rights of minorities on its own merit within the liberal framework. Western nations, like India, live with pluralism and have an established tradition of recognizing the autonomy of individual as well as community. Ambedkar offers a different kind of framework for minority rights. He views dalit rights as minority rights in a hindu majoritarian society. He defends the minority rights within the framework of liberal democracy based on disadvantage, oppression and injustice experienced by dalits in the hindu social order. He mediates both liberalism and communitarianism. His conception of minority rights goes beyond western liberalism and offers one kind of liberal and democratic multiculturalism evolved from Indian experience.

Introduction

Today the issue of minority rights is a debating point for many nation-states. It often throws challenges to liberal democratic governments. On one hand communitarian thinkers are critical about liberal theory for its emphasis on individualism. In the wake of identity politics, demands for rights of specific social group/community have not only got currency but have its moral legitimacy on different grounds. Especially the rights of recognition for ethnic, cultural, social, linguistic, religious minorities located in a nation state require a different kind of political and philosophical articulation against the existing political practices and theories. The liberal theory is one such grand political theory based on the principles of individualism, egalitarianism and universalism, has been adopted by the nation states of the world in one form or other. Individualism and individual rights are often viewed as the defining characteristic of liberalism. The liberalism has often been criticized for being excessively individualistic and for not recognizing group rights. The liberal theory is under attack from different fronts such as communitarians, Marxists, feminists and post modernists on different grounds. The autonomy and freedom/rights of the individual have taken a new turn in the context of demands for collective rights. Especially, the struggles of new social movements and claims of ethnic groups, immigrant groups, indigenous and aboriginal groups both in the West and Postcolonial nations have compelled them to reformulate the existing principles of governance.

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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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A sure way to produce Dalit dropouts

 

Udit Raj & Hany Babu

The article in The Hindu by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, on the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in the University of Delhi (Op-Ed, "Drop the rhetoric, start the debate," June 1, 2013) raises certain important issues.

du multiple exit points

The multiple exit points could become traps for students who are less privileged. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat

Mr. Tharoor, like most of the mainstream media in India, seems to be unaware of the arguments that are currently being made in opposition to the FYUP. The issue is no more confined to course structure or syllabi. Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class (SC/ST/OBC) groups have advocated caution on the potential of the new programme to make the reservation policy mandated by the Constitution nugatory, as a large number of students from SC/ST/OBC groups may not be able to complete four years of education. The multiple exit points may become death traps for these students. In spite of the claims made by the university that every student can do a four-year honours degree in the new scheme, the percentage of reserved category students will dwindle in the third and fourth years. They will exit with unequal degrees, the equalising force of education will be lost, and the social stratification will be further hardened.

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