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Saturday 31 March 2012

War against words

Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 31.03.12

War against words - The Week
 Commission member visits Betul - IBN Live
Funds crunch hits SC/ST schemes - The Times Of India
Unstoppable crusader - Deccan Herald
Akali sarpanch booked - The Tribune
26 villagers acquitted in arson case - The Tribune

The Week

War against words

Story Dated: Saturday, March 31, 2012 8:53 hrs IST

Sudhir Dhawale was arrested for alleged Naxal links in January 2011. A Dalit activist and freelance journalist, he wrote and published booklets on oppression of Dalits. He was arrested at Wardha railway station while returning from a Dalit literature conference. When he was in jail, his two sons and wife were dependent solely on her salary as a nurse.

The police said Bhimrao Bhoite, an alleged Naxal, had known Dhawale and gifted his computer to him. Dhawale was booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and sections of the Indian Penal Code which deal with sedition and declaration of war against the state. The Mumbai Police raided Dhawale's Byculla house and took away his computer and around 90 books. He has been charged with more cases, making his release on bail difficult.

IBN Live

SC/ST Commission member visits Betul

PTI | 09:03 PM,Mar 30,2012

Betul, Mar 30 (PTI) Bherulal Meena, member of National Commission for SC/ST, arrived here today on a two-day visit to probe the incident of murder of tribal woman, who was killed allegedly because she refused to withdraw the complaint against her daughter's rapists. Meena told reporters here that he will talk to the murdered woman's daughter and also the district officials. He said that Commission Chairman Dr Rameshwar Oraon had asked him to visit Betul. The tribal woman, Imarti Bai, was shot dead allegedly because she had refused to withdraw the FIR against the alleged rapists of her daughter. All the accused in the case have been arrested. The state government subsequently transferred Betul SP, B S Chouhan. According to Imarti Bai's daughter, police did not take any action despite complaint of threats to her mother. PTI COR MAS KRK

The Times Of India

Funds crunch hits SC/ST schemes

TNN | Mar 31, 2012, 01.01AM IST

BHANDARA: People are deprived of benefits under various welfare schemes for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes due to shortage of funds, said Hansa Khobragade, chairperson of social welfare committee of Bhandara Zilla Parishad.

Khobragade claimed that the government has not given funds for schemes to be implemented in Dalit localities for the last two years. Though the district needed Rs 55-60 crore, only Rs 3 crore were given in the last financial year. This is year is also no different as a meagre fund was sanctioned, she said. 262 proposals were sent to the state government but not a single one was approved. A government resolution has stipulated that Rs 20 lakh be given to a Dalit locality with a population of 250. There are many such areas, but the government is ignoring the demand for funds, Khobragade said.

Self-help groups of SC/ST are formed to work as micro entrepreneur. But nationalized banks are reluctant to finance SHGs so that they do not become financially stronger, she claimed. Crores of rupees are spent on publicity material but there is no fund for construction of Gharkul for SC/ST families. The social justice department gives Rs 65,000 to construct Gharkul. There are 10,000 SC/ST persons who have already applied for it, but funds shortage has made them remain on paper only, sources said.

Deccan Herald

Unstoppable crusader

Mar 31, 2012 :
She is a social activist with a clean conscience.  M A Siraj meets Jothi Mani who fought for the cause of the Dalits in her village, and despite the odds, won.

This lanky girl with her large expressive eyes carries a quaint charm about herself. Her manner of speaking with determination and resoluteness is further enamouring.

At 37, this woman political activist from Periya Thirumangalam village of Karur district, Tamil Nadu, is wedded to the cause of changing the way politics is practiced and bureaucracy operates in the country.

A public grievances meeting with the district administration in her village changed the course of her life, hurling her into public life. She cried all night, after listening to a Dalit woman describing her painful experience of fetching water from the public well at the edge of the village's uppercaste habitation. Another Dalit woman had died due to snakebite as she was allowed to draw water only after dusk fell.

"I will not rest content until I wipe the tears off their eyes", she had resolved. Since then she has not looked back. After nearly 17 years of activism, Jothi Mani has mellowed down, but refuses to sit quiet.

Politics for her is the "pursuit of truth". Jothi says, "Politics cannot be taught in Political Science departments of colleges but should be gained through working among people. Money of course, plays a big role. But if you are righteous, people help you to realise both public good and personal ambition."

Having finished her degree from GVG College in Udumalpet in Coimbatore, Jothi Mani plunged straight into social activism. Tamil Nadu was witnessing its first panchayath elections in 1995. Jothi says, "I announced my candidature. I belonged to a feudal uppercaste family in the village, but those Dalit women's grievances were my foremost concern."

She only had Rs. 2,000 with her. Her mother had decided not to spare any money for her venture, although she was supportive otherwise. Ideologically, legendary Congress leader Kamaraj's philosophy, his frugal lifestyle and his concern for the poor were her ideals. "But overall, politics for me was to serve the people," she adds.

Jothi was elected with a thumping margin for the panchayath which had 15 villages under it. Seven of them were Dalit dominated and were without water supply, power lines and all-weather roads.

The panchayath headman and non-Dalit members kept postponing the decision to lay pipelines to the Dalit quarters although water would overflow in other quarters of the village. "This went on for four years. I was being tormented by guilt as people were raising fingers against me for failing to deliver on my promise", observes Jothi.

But she and other supportive members took advantage of the absence of the headman at a particular meeting, pushed the tender for pipes and pumps and were helped by district collector Murganandan in laying the pipeline, fixing pumps and constructing a pump house.  That night when the Dalits received tap water in their section of the village, they celebrated the event the whole night.

"Tears welled up in my eyes, as I saw them dancing till dawn. I had crossed the first milestone, though a full four years after my election", Jothi says.

Jothi's next moment of trial came when she took up the case against the village mafia engaged in illegal mining of sand from the bed of the Amravathi river passing through the village. "They had threatened me of dire consequences and even the Dalit women were refusing to support me as they were getting Rs. 100 a day for sand mining from the mafia lords against Rs. 30 as farm hands," says Jothi. She was helped by a village elder, Sadasivan, a true Gandhian and a Congressman, who she says stood by her through thick and thin and was absolutely incorruptible.

Jothi won two consecutive terms for the panchayath but lost the third time when all forces aligned against her. "When I lost, my supporters came to my doorsteps, cried and vowed to make me successful next time', she observes. But she continued her struggle against the mafia and got a stay from the court.

A fact-finding team from the Perarignar Anna University of Technology in Chennai in its report held the mining responsible for environmental damage. This helped her bring a permanent ban on sand mining, from the court. "Our lawyer was being wooed by the other side by huge sums of money, yet he remained steadfast to help our cause. I came to know how politics was being played and how bureaucracy stonewalled people's voices", Jothi says.

By this time Jothi had ascended to the top echelons within the Youth Congress and had been vice president of the body in Tamil Nadu. She says, Anand Patwardhan's films on public causes left a deep imprint on her mind. Amid all this activism, Jothi went on to complete her MA and then secure an M.Phil.

She has also published a novel, a short story collection, an auto-biographical sketch titled My Experiences and a poetry collection. She was adjudged the winner of the Elakkiya Chananai award for the best short story in 1999.

The Tribune

Akali sarpanch booked

Tribune News Service
Muktsar, March 30

After Congress MLA Amrinder Singh Warring lodged a protest last night, the police registered a case against an Akali sarpanch and three others for making casteist remarks and threatening a Congress worker.

On a complaint filed by Sukhpal Singh, whose house was demolished yesterday to make way for the construction of a boundary wall at Madhir village, the Kot Bhai police booked village sarpanch Birdevinder Singh, his father Gurdeep Singh, nambardar Baldev Singh and an unidentified person.

The Tribune

26 villagers acquitted in arson case

Tribune News Service
Assandh (Karnal), March 30

All 26 accused in "Salwan arson" case which rocked the state five years ago were acquitted by a local court here on the ground that charges against them could not be proved.

Mahipal, a Rajput, was murdered in Salwan on February 27, 2007. Members of the Rajput community had allegedly attacked and set ablaze houses of Valmikis while returning from the cremation ground after picking up the ashes on the fourth day .

The police intervened in the matter and some policemen were also injured. As many as 26 persons were arrested in this connection. The assailants had also used objectionable casteist remarks against Valmikis which further provoked them.

The case had been pending in the court of Ravi Sondhi and 70 persons, including the witnesses produced by the prosecution, were examined in the case but the charges were not conclusively proved.

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