Narikkoravar’s constitutional struggle for dignity and representation

 

NDMJ-NCDHR

It has been four and a half decades since the Narikoravan (a) Kuruvikaran community has been waging a constitutional struggle for Scheduled Tribe status.

Narikoravan is a nomadic tribe involved in the making of 'rudrasksha malai' and other such long chains, rosary beads which have been historically part of temple economies. Their products find great demand among pilgrims who travel to Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Pathanamthita, Kerala. Narikuravars are also itinerant sellers of plastic vessels and other daily utilities. Their population is not more than 30,000 in Tamil Nadu. They have no representation in any decision-making bodies. Presently, they are listed under Most Backward Classes in Tamil Nadu and among Other Backward Classes in the Central Government List.

narikkuravar

 For Narikuravars, it has been almost impossible to transcend their traditional occupation. Several first generation learners go back to their traditional occupation due to lack of facilities and difficulties embedded in claiming and furnishing their MBC/OBC status. The first generation learners from the community who are leading the movement articulate their demand in terms of better and meaningful access to modern facilities and educational infrastructure.

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'They couldn’t stand us!': Fact Finding Report On Dalit Family set afire in Haryana village

 

They couldn't stand us!1

sunpedh 1

Fact Finding Report On Dalit Family set afire in Village Sunpedh, Ballabgarh, District Faridabad, Haryana

 Written by

 NDMJ-NCDHR

Fact Finding Team

 Adv. Mangla Verma - HRLN

 Ms.Tanvi, Programme Officer– HRLN

 Mr. Rajesh KumarHaryana State Coordinator NDMJ - NCDHR

 Adv. Balwant Singh NDMJ-NCDHR

 Ms. AbiramiNational Programme Coordinator, NDMJ NCDHR

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Introduction

Background

The immediate background of this fact finding is the deadly attack on a Dalit family in Sunpedh (village), Faridabad (district), Haryana (State). This family of four was set on fire while they were asleep2. On 19th October 2015 a Jagran3 was held in Sunpedh. Jitender S/o Dalchand, Rekha w/o Jitender and their two children attended the Jagran and went back home early. They were fast asleep on their bed, next to the window. The window was open. At around 2.30 am, Jitender woke up, after he sensed a strong stench of petrol. The men standing at the window poured petrol on the family. By the time, Jitender could wake up his wife, flames had engulfed the bed. The two doors to the room were locked from outside in order to prevent the family members from escaping the fire. Divya D/o Jitender and Rekha and Vaibhav S/o Jitender and Rekha; ten months and one and a half years old respectively, succumbed to the burns and died. Certain media reports state that the children suffered more than 70% thermal burns. Rekha, their mother is hospitalized in Safdarjung, Delhi and continues to remain critical. Jitender, their father suffered burns on his hands. He has been discharged and is back in Sunpedh, Faridabad.

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Forceful Eviction of a Dalit Community in Indore

 

Issues of Land Grab and Forceful Eviction of Dalit Community and Consequent Death of a Young Dalit

A Fact Finding Mission on Chander Prabha Shekhar Nagar, Indore

25-26 September, 2015

Written and Compiled by

Judith Anne
Kamalchand Kispotta

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Fact Finding Team

Anjali
Anand Lakhan
Kamalchand Kispotta
Judith Anne

National Dalit Movement for Justice -
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

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Fact Finding Mission

Introduction

Acts of violence against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been officially recognised as atrocities under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. To deter the occurrence of such crimes, higher penalties are awarded. These crimes occur on account of the ascribed caste in case of Dalits and ethnic identity in case of Adivasis and because, inter alia, they are minorities. Women and children from these two communities are particularly vulnerable to violence. In this process strengthening of the SC/ST PoA Act becomes crucial to curtail atrocities subjected on Dalit and Adivasi communities. However, in cases where the higher rungs of the state machinery itself is involved in acts of discrimination and violence the task for accessing justice becomes much more challenging.

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What happened in Dankaur?

 

Dankaur incident: Fact Finding Report

The Fact Finding team of NDMJ-NCDHR condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent incident of atrocity and public indignity concerning a Dalit family in Dankaur, Uttar Pradesh. The Fact finding team visited the place of incident on 10th October 2015 and met the relatives of the victims (who are in remand now), police officials and shop-owners in Dankaur Market. We also met around 50 members of victim's community to understand the facts of the case.

Members of the Fact Finding Team : Kamal Kispotta, Keshav Jaliya, Vineet Jingala, Nidhin Shobhana, Bhanu Pratap Singh (UP).

Key findings

1. Media reports have reduced the issue, quite viciously, to the question of 'who stripped whom'. Such reduction has distorted the issue at multiple levels:

• It completely displaced the fact that a Dalit family was publicly humiliated by the police machinery, in the midst of an indifferent crowd.
• A forged case of public obscenity has been charged against Sunil Gautam's family.
• The family has been booked (2men, 3 women, 3 children aged between 7 months to 2 years) under IPC sections 504, 341, 175, 148, 323, 332, 335, 394, 307, 324, 294 and 7 Criminal Law Amendment Act 1932.
• These sections have been invoked in two FIRs (FIR No 556/15 and 557/15). While FIR no.556/15 was registered by the police, FIR 557/15 was registered by few shopkeepers influenced by the police.
• None of the sections invoked are relevant to the incident. In fact these sections were deliberately used to criminalize the family. The invoked sections cover a wide range of crimes such a rioting with dangerous, deadly weapons; hurt caused during robbery; attempt to murder so on and so forth.
• The media reports and the false complaint lodged against the family has overshadowed the fact that the family was robbed and dispossessed. The dominant caste Gujjars in the area had grabbed their land.
• The family was staging a peaceful democratic protest in front of their rented shop against police laxity in filing their complaint and taking necessary actions against the accused.
• Presently the Dalit family is in Surajkund Jail and their relatives are trying for their bail.

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Why are we afraid of the caste census?

 

Bhanwar Meghwanshi

The entire debate is centred on removing the caste column in the census questionnaire while the real problem is caste itself. Why is no one talking about annihilating caste?

caste census bhanwar meghwanshi

Caste census:Crucial for identification of weakers sections of society. Photo: AP

In rural India, even today, the first words uttered by way of introduction when two persons meet are — "what is your caste....?"; a piece of information people seem most enthusiastic to elicit from each other before anything else. Political parties have caste-based cells and caste arithmetic becomes the basis on which tickets are allotted. Every caste recognises jati panchayats, has its mahasabhas and often, caste-based armed forces (senas) are constituted. Thousands of publications are brought out across the country to invoke caste sentiments in people. Whether Haridwar or Pushkar, the bathing ghats are segregated on the lines of caste. Who can offer archana in temples, bridegrooms of which caste can sit on the horse — caste governs even such specifics practised till date in our country. Even today, khap panchayats based on castes, sub-castes and further, gotras,flourish and decree inhuman decisions.

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The representation gap

 

Christophe Jaffrelot, Gilles Verniers

Decline in number of OBC MPs shows that the classic tropes of backward class politics — quotas and simple descriptive representation — no longer work.

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections produced an assembly where many voices can hardly be heard. The representation of Muslims, for instance, is at a historical low, with less than 4 per cent of the seats. But there are other groups that have also suffered a sharp decline in representation. OBCs, who over the last 25 years have dominated the political scene in the Hindi-speaking belt, are a case in point.

Since the late 1980s, one of the most significant trends in Indian politics has been the gradual decline of upper-caste representation in the Lok Sabha, and the concomitant rise of OBCs. This phenomenon was essentially due to the decline of the Congress — a party dominated by upper castes — and to the rise of regional parties, primarily supported by large, dominant OBC groups. In 1989, the proportion of OBCs in the Lok Sabha had jumped from 11 per cent to 21 per cent, and continued to grow in the post-Mandal phase until 2004, when it peaked at 26 per cent. In parallel, the representation of upper castes persistently fell, from 49 per cent in 1984 to 37 per cent in 1989 and 34 per cent in 2004. The gap between OBCs and upper caste MPs returned from the Hindi-speaking belt had never been so small. The 2009 general elections marked a reversal of that trend, as upper caste representation shot up to 43 per cent, and the share of OBCs fell to 18 per cent.

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Another Khairlanji: Rajasthan's Nagaur district is the new dalit slaughterhouse

 

Bhanwar Meghwanshi and Janani Sridharan

The following is a detailed account of the happenings leading to and on the 14th of May 2015 at village Dangawas, describing an attack by the powerful Jats on dalits – murdering 4 of them by the use of tractors, molesting their women, seriously injuring several others and setting to fire their homes. This report has been prepared after intensive fact finding exercises. Currently Rajasthan is seeing several protests and demands of an independent CBI inquiry and compensation for the affected dalits families of what is perhaps the most serious and massive attack on Dalits in recent history, reminding one of the Khairlanji massacre.

nagaur 3

Less than 250 km away from the capital city of Jaipur, the Jat - dominated Nagaur is home to several recent Dalit atrocities. If one were to examine the kind of atrocities perpetrated in the last year alone, one's heart would scream out. It is hard to believe that independent India is host to such crimes today. Such brutality and cruelty of unimaginable proportions inflicted by one community on another might even put terrorist groups to shame! Is this even possible in a democratic state? Apparently yes, with the political and administrative system that initially refused to even take notice of the happenings.

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