Friday, 4 May 2012

Rajasthan tops list of atrocities against Dalits

Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 03.05.12
Rajasthan tops list of atrocities against Dalits - The Hindustan Times
A fence dividing two groups of Dalits removed - The Hindu
Civil engineering fosters social harmony in TN - Deccan Herald
Delhi HC directs to Delhi Govt. to appoint prosecutor in Mirchpur case - India Law
Tough law needed to implement SC/ ST sub-plan - The Hindu
Don't misuse land allocated for SC/STs, says Tahsildar - Deccan Herald
A candle in the dark - The Hindu
The Hindustan Times
Rajasthan tops list of atrocities against Dalits
Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 03, 2012
Last Updated: 00:08 IST(3/5/2012)
Rajasthan has emerged as the state with the highest incidence of registered atrocities against Dalits across the country. In 2010, the state recorded 51.4 cases of atrocities against Dalits per lakh population under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.
It had registered a similar number of cases in 2009 too.
The latest data from the ministry of social justice and empowerment show that five states – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh – account for around 70% of registered atrocities against Dalits in India. SCs account for anywhere between 15% and 22% of the total population in these states.
"As stated, these are registered cases – whereas the actual number of atrocities could be more. Though hundreds of cases still go unnoticed and unreported, Dalits now come out and complain thanks to the efforts of NGOs in states like Andhra Pradesh," Chinna Rao, associate professor, Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion, JNU, said.
Although the number of atrocities against Dalits declined in most of the states from 33,426 in 2009 to 32,569 in 2010, Kerala, Haryana and West Bengal recorded a rise. Himachal and Punjab also saw a marginal increase in 2010 over 2009.
Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh topped in atrocities against the tribal population as well. Of the 5,880 cases registered, 60% (3,505 cases) were from these states.
Cases of atrocities against Dalits are characterised by their high rate of pendency and low rate of conviction, a tendency officials term as "very worrisome". As per the National Crime Records Bureau, the pendency of SC-related cases in courts during 2008-10 was 80.6%. In eight states, the percentage is above the national average – 90% in Gujarat and 88.2% in West Bengal.
At the same time, the conviction rate in SC-related cases during 2008-10 was only 32.3%, with Karnataka registering as low as 3.3%, Gujarat 6.4%, Maharashtra 6.6%, and West Bengal 6.7%.
Though the Act specifies special courts at the district level to deal with such cases on a war footing, not many states have complied with the stipulation. "Andhra and MP have set up exclusive courts in every district, but the ratio is much less in other states," an official said.
The Hindu
A fence dividing two groups of Dalits removed
S. Sundar
A barbed wire fence put up on Government land dividing two different groups of Dalits for nearly a decade in Santhaiyur village near Peraiyur was removed by the Madurai Rural district police on Wednesday.
A section of people belonging to one of the Scheduled Castes had erected stone pillars and fenced the poromboke land for about 30 feet with barbed wires to "prevent the people of other group entering the land closer to their temple wearing footwear," the Madurai Superintendent of Police, Asra Garg, said.
The other group had recently sought to widen the narrow pathway so that they could use the road during the festival season.
"It was a problem for them when they carry fire pots (to fulfil their vow) during festival time," the Santhaiyur Panchayat president, T. Thangam, said.
"They wanted an additional two feet pathway. But, the other group refused to given in. In fact, they threatened that they would put up the fence on the entire area to construct another temple on the land," Ms. Thangam said. Later, it was found that the land belonged to the panchayat.
"Tension mounted as both sides were ready for a face off. We even passed a resolution for removing the fence to prevent any untoward incident," she said. The issue was referred to the Block Development Officer, the Tahsildar and the police.
"When it came to our notice, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Peraiyur), M. Sakthivel, held talks with representatives of both the groups. Except for a few, all of them were for removal of the fence. Today, we removed it in the presence of the Panchayat president," Mr. Garg said.
The SP said that any discrimination in the name of caste could not be allowed.
Deccan Herald
Civil engineering fosters social harmony in TN
M R Venkatesh Chennai, May 2, 2012, DHNS
Nearly eight months after a major police firing at  Paramakudi in south Tamil Nadu and related incidents which had claimed the lives of seven Dalits, a simple civil engineering solution promises to harmonise the social equations between dominant castes and Dalits.

On September 11, 2011, a large gathering of Dalits at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district to pay homage at the memorial of the late "Dalit hero" Immanuel Sekaran on the latter's death anniversary had suddenly turned violent. They began attacking police personnel and vehicles, resulting in a police firing at the mob. A piece of apparent misinformation that John Pandian, a Dalit leader, had been "arrested" near Tuticorin in the neighbouring district when the police had only "detained" him as a precautionary measure had ignited tension and anger among the Dalits waiting to pay homage to Immanuel at Paramakudi.
Immanuel was killed in the 1957 caste clashes between "Thevars"—a dominant caste in the South and the Dalits in erstwhile composite Ramanathapuram district. Since then, on September 11 every year, the police mount extra vigil to avert any untoward incident on Immanuel's death anniversary.
It is similar to the emotive outpour seen on October 30 every year when thousands of people gather to pay their respects at the samadhi of late Nationalist and Forward Bloc leader Pasumponn Muthuramalinga Thevar at his native village in Pasumponn in the same district. With the caste polarisation so sharp in the southern districts in particular, ensuring that anniversaries of major leaders on either side of the divide pass off peacefully is both a logistical and manpower issue for police.
But even as the judicial panel's final report is awaited, Jayalalitha has directed that the road leading to Immanuel's memorial close to the Parthibanur dam near Paramakudi be upgraded into a two-lane highway at a cost of Rs 2.74 crore to facilitate free flow of traffic, as it would help avert blockades and tension when large crowds bus both ways.
This thoughtful civil engineering remedy to what is basically a social issue, by helping to ease the movement of people and VIPs at Paramakudi on such occasions, was announced in the Assembly by PWD Minister K V Ramalingam as a scheme to be implemented this fiscal year.
India Law
Delhi HC directs to Delhi Govt. to appoint prosecutor in Mirchpur case
2.5.2012 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today directed the city government to issue a notification for appointing a public prosecutor to assist it in hearing appeals against a lower court order relating to the 2010 Mirchpur Dalits killings case.
A bench comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg gave directions to the Delhi government to ensure compliance of its earlier order and issue an appropriate notification at the earliest for appointing a public prosecutor in the case.
The court's direction came during hearing of appeals of some convicts, who have challenged the verdict of the lower court, which had in its order of September last convicted 15 of 97 undertrials, accused of burning alive a 70-year-old man and his physically challenged daughter at Mirchpur in Hisar district in Haryana.
The High Court was scheduled to commence hearing today on the petitions including a plea of the victim's family for enhancement of punishment for the convicts.
However, the court had to put the matter for next hearing as it was told by the lawyers that they were not ready to argue in the case as the entire records, running into nearly 7,000 pages, have not been supplied to them.
Expressing its displeasure towards the lawyers, who asked for a further date, the court said 'It had already been made clear to you that the records can be supplied to you in form of a CD only,' the bench said.
On being told by a prosecutor that the Delhi government, so far, has not issued a notification for appointing a state lawyer in the case, the bench directed the Delhi government to appoint a prosecutor at the earliest.
The court, however, did not feel the need to call the Haryana Home Secretary to the court at present and refused to issue directions to him to appear in the court personally as desired by the petitioners to assist the case as the offence was committed in Haryana. UNI
The Hindu


Tough law needed to implement SC/ ST sub-plan

Special Correspondent
Focus on building infrastructure urged to help poorest of the poor SCs and STs promote entrepreneurship among themselves.
Leaders of political parties and members of the civil society urged the government on Tuesday to give teeth to the proposed legislation for implementation of the SC/ST sub-plan component of the budget at a roundtable organised here on Wednesday.
Former Secretary to the Prime Minister K.R. Venugopal wanted the Cabinet sub-committee, now looking into the matter, to focus on building infrastructure that would empower the poorest of the poor SCs and STs and promote entrepreneurship among them.
Noting that the State would be the first in the country to pass such a law, former Chief Secretary K. Madhava Rao said that they were working towards getting a law passed at the national level too on the subject. He suggested appointment of a nodal agency for implementation of the sub-plan. He wanted the law to enable carrying forward of unused funds and ensure that they could not be diverted to other subjects.

Focus on schools, hostels

Suggesting that the focus of expenditure be on schools and hostels, editor ofVishalandhra K. Srinivas Reddy wanted the law to hold the bureaucrats accountable. The programmes taken up should address the local requirements, BJP president G. Kishan Reddy said and promised to support the movement to make it a national law. CPI MLC Chandrasekhar suggested that lessons be learnt from the failure of the implementation of SC/ ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and steps taken to make this law work.
The Ministers and officials should be held responsible for the implementation of the law, former Minister of the TDP Kadiam Srihari said. There was a need to look at the implementation at State-level, district-level and the mandal-level, State secretary of the CPI (M) B.V. Raghavulu said.
The law must allocate budgetary funds at least in proportion to their population. It should be over and above the normal allocation for accelerated development of the SCs and STs, former bureaucrat Danam said.
BJP leaders Bandaru Dattatreya and K. Lakshman, TRS politburo member A. Chandrasekhar, YSR Congress leader Suryaprakash, representative of New Democracy Jhansi, editor of Namaste Telangana Allam Narayana, editor ofPrajashakti Vinay Kumar, Mallepalli Lakshmaiah, Y.B. Satyanarayana and Anjaneyulu of the Centre for Dalit Studies and others participated.
Deccan Herald
Don't misuse land allocated for SC/STs, says Tahsildar
Mangalore, May 2 2012, DHNS:
Many take part in taluk-level SC/ST grievance meet
Mangalore Tahsildar Ravichandra Nayak has given a clarion call demanding not to misuse the land allocated for landless SC/ST families.
Addressing the taluk-level SC/ST grievances meet held in the City on Wednesday, the participants brought to the notice of the Tahshildar the instances of how the land allocated to the siteless SC/STs have been misused by them.
Responding to this, the Tahshildar said that the matter has been taken note of and the title deeds of such beneficiaries will be cancelled.
"The process of canceling the title deeds has started already. The sites will be allotted to other siteless SC/STs," he said adding that in Kannur GP, 272 title deeds have been distributed already but despite two years passing down, the beneficiaries have not built houses. 
"There are complaints that the beneficiaries are selling the land to others, which is clearly not allowed. RTC will not be given to those who are found to have purchased such land," the tahshildar said.
Ambedkar Jayanthi
The issue of celebration of Ambedkar Jayanthi in schools was raised by the participants. They said that despite the Government communication stating that Ambedkar Jayanthi must be celebrated in all the schools without fail, right on April 14 itself, many Government schools have not celebrated it. They said that though April 14 is a Government holiday, many officials did not take part in the celebration held at Town Hall.The participants sought answer from Education Department officials.
Responding to the same, the Education Department officials said that they had, well in advance directed all the schools to celebrate Ambedkar Jayanthi without fail and as per their knowledge, most of the schools had celebrated the event. "If you know any school, which has failed to observe the Jayanthi, bring it our notice, so that we can check and take action," said the official.

CET fees
Dalit leader Ramesh Kotian said that though SC/ST students have concession over CET fees, colleges have been collecting the fees from them. This is posing lot of problems to economically backward SC/ST students. 
The tahsildar directed the Social Welfare Department to urge the Mangalore University to issue circular stating that collection of fees from SC/ST students is illegal.
Misappropriation in MGNREGS, problems pertaining to Social Welfare run hostels etc were discussed during the meet.
The Hindu


A candle in the dark

Badri Narayan
Dalit writers are fast playing the role of agents of change in the lives of Dalits. The booklets they write, which are popular and on Dalit issues, reach rallies organised by the BSP. The file picture is of one such meet in Lucknow.
Not many people know them but village-based Dalit writers in Uttar Pradesh are quietly raising community awareness and holding meetings to protest the recent escalation in violence against the Scheduled Castes.
Makhdumpur is a village in Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi district. Adjoining it is a cluster of huts inhabited by people of the Nat caste, one of the lowest among Dalits. Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited a hut in the settlement just before the recent State Assembly elections. He spent some time inside the hut, interacted with the residents, shared a meal with them and then went on his way. After the victory of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the elevation of Akhilesh Yadav as Chief Minister, the hut was vandalised and burnt down by a mob claiming its affiliation to the Yadav caste. Though the act was a grave offence against Dalits, neither Mr. Gandhi nor Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) leader and former Chief Minister Ms Mayawati condemned it. In fact, atrocities against poor and vulnerable Dalits by powerful middle castes and supporters of the SP have been on the rise in the State but there have hardly been any protests by political parties.
Mainstream intellectuals and the media too have not reacted to the Makhdumpur violence. However, since the incident, some protestors have been holding meetings in Allahabad, Bhadohi and Varanasi highlighting instances of escalating violence against Dalits and also exchanging booklets on the issue.

Insights into issues

So, who are these protestors? They are Dalit intellectuals who write popular booklets on Dalit issues, which they self-publish. These publications are sold in large numbers in fairs organised in honour of Dalit heroes. They are also stocked by Dalit Chetna Mandaps — small bookshops catering exclusively to Dalits. From these outlets, the booklets (which are printed on cheap newsprint and cost between 50 paise and Rs.20) reach political rallies organised by the BSP. The literature can be easily tucked in the waistbands of dhotis worn by Dalit rickshawpullers or menial workers.
The authors of these booklets usually live in the provincial towns of Balia, Ghazipur, Etawa, Allahabad, Bahraich, Gonda, Aligarh and Hathras. Most of these authors are not well-educated and teach in local schools in these towns. Some of them are also BSP activists. Although most of them belong to the Dalit castes, some are also from the OBC social group.
Interestingly, the booklets do not feature the biographies of celebrated Dalit icons. Instead they offer social critiques against Brahminism, caste histories, narratives of struggles of Dalits, and so on. Some of them also publish songs and poems written by Dalit poets like A.R. Akela from Aligarh. Published from towns, the books are affordable and have found a new readership among Dalits who find them educative, addressing their sense of identity and nurturing their desire to read. However, the very reasons that attract Dalit readers to the books also offend the upper castes who feel insulted by the criticisms. At times they even lodge complaints against the authors who end up facing police and legal actions.
The authors don't just write in a different style from Dalit authors living in Delhi. The subjects they deal with are those that directly affect Dalits living in villages and small towns. Exploitation, oppression and land issues are the most commonly discussed topics, and the authors even organise agitations, demonstrations and protests around these subjects.
Some of them also bring out newspapers and newsletters for Dalits. One such popular writer, Dev Kumar, who lives in Duari village in Kanpur, led a demonstration against the acquisition of land belonging to Dalits. While Dev Kumar is fighting for the liberation of the Balmiki caste of Kanpur, Guru Prasad Madan, a lawyer living in Ajuha village close to Allahabad is a prominent figure who is fighting against the exploitation and oppression of Dalits in his region.
In the mould of Antonio Gramsci's "Organic Intellectuals," the authors are playing the role of agents of change in the lives of Dalits. Though they have played a strong role in strengthening the BSP in U.P., hardly any was granted recognition either with positions or with awards during the BSP regime.
Today when everyone is silent on the issue of the rise in the incidents of violence and crime against Dalits in U.P., at least the popular writers are registering their protest, even if they are like the flickering lights of candles in the darkness.
(The writer teaches at the Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute in Jhusi, Allahabad, and is an analyst of Dalit issues.)

.Arun Khote
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and  intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.