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Friday 25 November 2011

Harassment glare after Dalit campus suicides

Harassment glare after Dalit campus suicides
New Delhi, Nov. 21: Manish Kumar could not take it any more. The harassment he had been suffering for three years only because he was a Dalit was showing no signs of abating. So, the IIT Roorkee student killed himself.
That was on February 13 this year. Manish had been a third-year BTech student and was the only hope of his family, his shattered father Rajinder Kumar said.
“Manish was my only son and the future of our family. He was a brilliant student. He wanted to become a technocrat. But he died depressed with the constant humiliation he had to face at the institute. He was called a chamar (low caste),” Rajinder said.
After his suicide, the local police did not file a case against the accused. Only recently, a case was registered on the orders of a local court. There has hardly been any progress in I investigations.

“I have met Uttarakhand DGP J.S. Pandey and demanded a fresh probe. He has agreed,” Rajinder said.
Manish’s suicide is not an isolated case. The Insight Foundation, a group working against discrimination against Dalit and tribal students in higher education institutions, recently released a report on suicides by 18 Dalit students in the last four years.
“Despite reservation in education and jobs, most of the administrative staff and faculty in higher education institutions are from the upper castes. They think Dalit students are not meritorious. They harass Dalit students and in many cases these students commit suicide. We have found 18 such suicides in reputed institutions in the last four years,” Gurinder Singh Azad, the students’ co-ordinator of the Insight Foundation, said.
The organisation brought the matter to the notice of National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy, who wrote a letter to NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi in May this year.
The Telegraph has accessed the letters between Sonia and Roy under the Right to Information Act. In her reply to Roy, Sonia said the authorities concerned would examine the issue.
The NAC then directed the human resource development ministry to look into the alleged suicides. The ministry asked the University Grants Commission if it was aware of such a problem and if it had taken steps to prevent such incidents.
The UGC quickly issued two circulars in July to universities under it, directing them to take steps to prevent caste discrimination.
“The UGC’s circulars may not yield any result. They are advisory in nature,” said Udit Raj, the chairperson of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations.
The Insight Foundation claimed that faculty members deliberately harassed Dalit students, regardless of merit.
One such case is of Jaspreet Singh, an MBBS student of Government Medical College, Chandigarh, who committed suicide in 2008.
The suicide note found in Jaspreet’s pocket said a senior faculty member had been harassing him regularly and had failed him in one subject.
Based on a complaint filed by Jaspreet’s father Charan Singh, a team of professors from PGI Chandigarh re-evaluated the paper and awarded Jaspreet pass marks.
Jaspreet’s younger sister killed herself a year later on Rakshabandhan day, apparently because she could not tie a rakhi on her brother’s wrist.
“Is it a mistake to be born in a Dalit family in this country? My son was a brilliant student but was harassed deliberately by an HoD. I lost my youngest daughter, who committed suicide being depressed over his brother’s death,” Charan said.
“I cannot say why the HoD has not been arrested and suspended from the job. The suicide note clearly mentioned his name.”
The matter is pending in a local court in Chandigarh.
Of the 18 students who committed suicide, five are from IITs, one from IISc Bangalore and one from AIIMS.
Allegations of caste-based discrimination have earlier been filed against IIT Kanpur authorities. Many Dalit students had to terminate their courses for “bad performance” in IIT Kanpur last year.
The Times Of India
Dalit labourer dies, nephew alleges he was beaten
TNN | Nov 22, 2011, 11.29PM IST
RAJKOT: The nephew of a Dalit farm hand has filed a complaint with the police saying that his uncle was beaten up when he asked for his wages, which resulted in his death the next day.
Dadu Jadav (35), a resident of Rangpar village in Wankaner taluka of Rajkot district, was admitted to a government hospital on November 20 and died the following day. His nephewDinesh Sondarva alleged that farmer Dilip Kathi beat up Dadu when the latter asked him for his dues of Rs 1,000. On Tuesday, Dadu's body was exhumed and sent for postmortem.
A complaint has been filed against Kathi under section 302 of Indian Penal Code and various other sections of the Prevention of Atrocities against SC and STs Act.
However, the police are skeptical about it as the complainant said Dadu did not go for treatment on the day he was beaten up and instead went to Rajkot where his sister lives.
He then told his sister that he fell down from a tree and got injured. Dadu was admitted to the government hospital in Rajkot where he died on November 21.
Police said Dadu's relatives did not inform the police and buried him. Meanwhile, Dinesh got admitted into a government hospital. "Dinesh in his first statement to police in Rajkot said that he, Dadu and Kathi were drinking together and had a heated exchange over some issues, but when the Wankaner taluka police reached the hospital to take his statement, he retracted from his earlier statement and said Kathi had beaten them up,'' deputy superintendent of policeRajendrasinh Chudasama said.
The Hindu
National Commission seeks detailed report on firing at Dalits
C. Jaishankar
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has sent notice to the Director-General of Police (DGP) and the Home Secretary of Tamil Nadu demanding that they furnish all details about the need for opening fire at Dalits in three places – Paramakudi, Ilayangudi in Sivaganga district and Madurai – on the same day on September 11.
Speaking to The Hindu over phone on Tuesday from New Delhi, Latha Priyakumar, Member, National Commission for SC/ST, said Ramanathapuram District Collector V. Arun Roy and Superintendent of Police Kaliraj S. Mahesh Kumar had deposed before the full commission on Monday and they were examined by the Vice-Chairman Dr. Rajkumar Verka and other members.
She said the Commission was not satisfied with the reply given by them about the provocation, the procedures followed by the police before opening fire at Paramakudi, the details of rounds of fire opened, and ammunition stock before and after the firing, recovery of shells after the shooting and others.
Moreover, the Commission had not received the post-mortem reports of those killed in the firing and the Superintendent of Police of Madurai had not sent his report on the shooting incident in Madurai. Hence, the Commission decided to send a notice to the DGP and the Home Secretary. Ms. Priyakumar said the Commission was of the view that the arrest of John Pandian, president of the Thamizhaka Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam, snowballed into a major problem; otherwise the entire incident could have been avoided.
The Hindu
“Case against Dalit leader should not disturb peace”
Mohamed Imranullah S.
The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday asked Additional Advocate General (AAG) K. Chellapandian to come out with a solution, in consultation with the Ramanathapuram Collector and the Superintendent of Police, to curb flaring up of emotions pursuant to registration of a criminal case against a Dalit leader on charges of promoting enmity between two caste groups.
Dealing with a writ petition filed by P. Chandra Bose, general secretary of Thyagi Immanuel Peravai, to quash the First Information Report, Mr. Justice V. Ramasubramanian said that his endeavour was to ensure that the registration of the case following a public meeting at Paramakudi on November 5 should not snowball into a controversy and disturb tranquillity across the State.
The public meeting was organised to condemn the police firing, which led to the death of six Dalits at Paramakudi on September 11.
Stating that courts have to deal such issues with caution, the Judge said: “My only concern is where to put an end to this. Nowadays, courts have a greater responsibility. If it had been any other writ petition, I would have thrown it out. But this case is different.”
Earlier, the AAG contended that the speech given by the petitioner in the public meeting squarely attracted Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race and so on and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code. However, petitioner's counsel P. Rathinam said that the speech was nothing but the cry of the hapless Dalits.
When counsel referred to historic incidents related to atrocities committed against Dalits, the judge intervened and said that Mahatma Gandhi had the ability to bring about peace even in the worst of communal disturbances. “Unfortunately, we do not have someone like him. Today, nobody wants to be a Mahatma Gandhi as they do not want to be shot dead.”
He recalled that Mahatma Gandhi had written to his friend on January 25, 1948, just five days before his assassination, stating he would prefer to die chanting the name of Lord Ram if he happened to be shot dead in an attempt to bring about communal harmony. “It is amazing that he died in the same manner within five days of writing that letter,” Mr. Justice amasubramanian said.
The Hindu
Exams where caste stigma has no answer
Vijetha S.N.
The Hindu, NEW DELHI, November 24, 2011

Manish Kumar landed in the Capital from Bihar three years ago with happy thoughts that his childhood dream of becoming a doctor was almost within grasp.
He was on the right path, with a seat secured in a well-known medical college and with the realisation that he could finally shed the caste identity that was part of his small-town upbringing.
In the three years since, Manish has studied hard, seen the insides of a court room, filed RTI applications and knocked at the doors of government offices, but has still not managed to get past the second year of the MBBS course.
“I was a first year medical student at Vardhman Mahavir Medical College in 2008 when I first failed in physiology. This happened again in July 2010 and I sat for the supplementary exams in October. I did not know how to react when I found out that I had failed again in the supplementary exams along with 24 of my classmates, every one of whom belonged to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe or some other reserved category,” says Manish, adding that he received a bigger shock when he found that among the 25, there were students who had been failing only in physiology from 2004 onwards until 2009.
Manish and his friends realised something else later. “The university allots roll numbers to the reserved category candidates in a row and the answer-sheets are coded and collected in a way that the identity of the reserved category students is revealed easily.”
Ever since this revelation, the students seem to have knocked at every door that could help them -- from filling RTI applications to complaints with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and even going to the High Court.
However, the legal battle only brought them some temporarily relief. “Under the Court's supervision, we took another exam in which every one of us, including those who had failed repeatedly since 2004, passed. The Court also passed an order that we be allowed to attend classes for the second year and that due consideration be given for shortage of attendance.”
Since then the students have been attending second year classes but were prevented from taking their exams in mid-November. “We were told we did not have sufficient attendance. The Principal usually refused to meet us and whenever he had, he pretended that he was not aware of anything and seems to have washed his hands off the whole affair.”
When contacted by The Hindu , the Principal refused to discuss the matter.
These days Manish spends all his time worrying whether he would be allowed at least to take the supplementary exams in March, and praying that he would not be humiliated every time he attends class.
“Right after the court case, the lecturers would tell our classmates to look at us -- the people who could only gain entrance into a medical college through reservations and couldn't pass without a High Court order. After some complaints it has toned down,” says Manish.
The students, however, believe another legal battle is imminent. “Our lawyer has asked us to file for contempt of court. I don't see this ending easily.”
The Hindu
Dalits told to mention their caste as Madiga during census
The former MLA and Dalit leader H. Anjaneya has urged the Dalit communities to mention their caste as Madiga during the caste-wise census, which would soon be commencing in Karnataka.

Addressing presspersons here on Sunday, he said that Dalits should necessarily mention their caste as Madiga to get themselves differentiated from other Scheduled Caste communities.

“Since more than 100 communities have been categorised as Scheduled Caste, the mentioning of caste as Madiga will help in knowing the exact population of this community. This will further help the Government frame specific policies for the welfare of this backward community,” he said.

Mr. Anjaneya, who is a Congress leader, said that the Union Government had launched the caste-based census only for the purpose of framing caste-specific reservation policy.

Owing to lack of specific data, many Scheduled Caste communities were unable to take advantage of the reservation policy, he said, claiming that under the present scenario, several communities had been included in a singe category. “The completion of the census will help the Government provide internal reservation, based on the socio-economic conditions of each community,” he said.
He alleged that some caste Hindu people were availing themselves of the reservation benefits by producing false caste certificates. A few of them had even become judges while a few others had become MLAs by producing false certificates, he said.
Mr. Anjaneya alleged that K.G. Kumaraswamy, MLA from Shimoga Rural constituency, was actually belonging to Vokkaliga community but had contested in the election by claiming to be from Bhovi community “Some people belonging to Scheduled Caste have complained against him in this regard and the case is before the High Court,” he said.
Mr. Anjaneya criticised about 12 MLAs belonging to Bhovi community for not raising any objection against Mr. Kumaraswamy for producing a false caste certificate.
At present, more than 100 communities have been identified as Scheduled Castes: Dalit leader
‘Several caste Hindus taking advantage of welfare schemes by producing false certificates'

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