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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fwd: [PMARC] Dalits Media Watch - News Updates 22.12.10

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From: Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC <>
Date: Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 9:24 PM
Subject: [PMARC] Dalits Media Watch - News Updates 22.12.10
To: Dalits Media Watch <>

Dalits Media Watch

News Updates 22.12.10

Dalit sisters' murder: Caste killing or revenge? - NDTV

Dalit girls' death: It was murder, not suicide, say panels in chorus - Indian Express

ST/SC Act: State secured only 26 convictions - The Times Of India
Raja used cops to usurp villagers' land for MRF -
Express Buzz
SC commission plans awareness camps -
Indian Express

Dalits throng collectorate urging to remove encroachment - The Hindu

Tenant farmers in a loan trap - The Times Of India

Fight superstition with science - The Hindu


Dalit sisters' murder: Caste killing or revenge?

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: December 20, 2010 22:25 IST

Moradabad: The streets of Moradabad in Western UP are on the boil, after two Dalit sisters, Geeta and Monu were allegedly burnt alive on Sunday."We demand the arrest of those behind the killings," said Om Lal Valmiki, a local Dalit leader.While the community is up in arms, calling it caste killings, the police, off camera, say it is possible a case of revenge killing.

Police say, earlier this month, trader Pankaj Gagneja's wife and child were murdered. He suspected the sweeper, Rakesh, who is Geeta and Monu's brother, who is since then on the run.Now as the girls are murdered, the needle of suspicion points to Pankaj, who has been booked along with seven other suspects under the Dalit Atrocities Act.That, however, may not be enough to soothe a community, enraged by the deaths of two young lives.

Indian Express

Dalit girls' death: It was murder, not suicide, say panels in chorus

Express News Service Posted online: Wed Dec 22 2010, 01:57 hrs

lucknow : The teams of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, which visited Moradabad on Tuesday to inquire into the deaths of two Dalit sisters on Saturday, said the girls were killed, and blamed the local officials for the tragedy.

Both the teams rejected the district administration's claim that the girls had committed suicide, unable to bear the taunts of neighbours after their brothers were booked in a case of double murder.

The NCSC team was led by member Raju Parmar while Swaraj Jeevan headed the NCSK team. NCSC chairman PL Punia told The Indian Express, "The officials of the district administration and the police are responsible for the death of the Dalit sisters. Our team has conducted an inquiry and the commission would get a case under the SC/ST Atrocity Act registered against erring officials according to the findings. The girls were killed and it was not a case of suicide."

Jeevan said, "We conducted an inquiry and found that the mother of the victims had been requesting senior officials of the police and the administration for security since December 9. She feared attack on her and her daughters, but the officials hurled abuses at her and shooed her away from their offices."

He further said, "It is a case of murder and I am recommending action against the District Magistrate and the DIG of Moradabad, holding them responsible for the killing of two Dalit girls and getting a false case of robbery and murder fabricated against the Dalit girls' brothers Rakesh and Rajesh."

Both the teams visited the house in Kothiwal Nagar where the charred bodies of Geeta and Neetu alias Monu were found and recorded the statement of their mother who was present in the house at the time of the incident. The teams also spoke to their neighbours. Later, the teams met the doctors who conducted the postmortem examination of the two girls, and the forensic experts who had examined the room. They also recorded the statements of the local SHO, the Circle Officer, the SP (City), and the City Magistrate who had visited the spot on December 18. Parmar and Jeevan met the DIG and the DM and inquired about the steps they had taken in the matter.

Moradabad DIG Ashok Kumar said he gave all details to the members of both the commissions and replied to their queries. "The investigation would find out if the mother's allegation that Geeta and Neetu were set ablaze by a mob is true," the DIG said. He said the police had already registered a case under various sections of IPC and the SC/ST Act and an Assistant SP was conducting the investigation.

Rajjo Devi had alleged in her complaint that a mob entered her house and set her daughters ablaze after outraging their modesty. Her sons, Rajesh and Rakesh, were arrested after Pankaj Gagneja, who lives in the same locality, had lodged a complaint, naming them for the murder of his wife Pooja and daughter Sania, and robbery at his house on December 9.

While Rajesh was arrested the next day, Rakesh is on the run.

The Times Of India

ST/SC Act: State secured only 26 convictions

Hetal Vyas, TNN, Dec 21, 2010, 12.28am IST

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government managed to secure only 26 convictions under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and 386 cases resulted in acquittals between January 2010 and October 2010, states an affidavit filed in the Bombay high court.

The affidavit, filed by principle secretary of the social justice department Satish Gavai, also states that in Mumbai alone, 35 cases are pending investigation and 69 are pending trial under the ST/SC Act. In Maharashtra, a total of 574 cases are pending investigation and 5,221 are yet to be tried. According to the affidavit, Konkan region has the maximum number of cases that are either pending investigation (105) or awaiting trail (1,001) in the state under the Act.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO National Dalit Movement for Justice, alleging the Act was not being implemented in Maharashtra.The government, in an attempt to enhance the capacity of persons/officers to implement the provisions of the Act, has decided to part training to district magistrates, SPs, government pleaders and social activists through the Pune-based Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute, Pune, states the affidavit.

Express Buzz

Raja used cops to usurp villagers' land for MRF

C Shivakumar

Express News Service

First Published : 21 Dec 2010 03:55:56 AM IST

PERAMBALUR: The state machinery was used to procure land belonging to about 160 villagers, including 60 Dalits, in Naranamangalam village in Perambalur district after they reportedly spurned offers from former Union telecom minister A Raja to sell their land for a project by tyre-manufacturing company, MRF, according to a signed petition by the villagers.

The villagers told Express that after they fended off an attempted acquisition of their lands by the district administration in 2007, they were summ­oned by then Union Telecom Minister A Raja who urged them to sell their land to MRF for a 'good pri­ce'. He reportedly said MRF would give them jobs too.

When they refused, Raja allegedly threatened would get the land with the help of the state machinery and that they would only be paid a sum decided by the government.

Soon after, the villagers faced an ordeal as Green House Promoters, owned by Raja's aide Sadiq Basha and the minister's family members, entered the scene. Police vehicles began making rounds of the village, the locals were picked up and taken to the office of the Superintendent of Police office or the district collector and asked to transfer their title deeds to Green House Promoters. A few non-Dalits were even arrested under the SC/ST Act and released abruptly once their land was transferred to Green House Promoters. What's more, in cases where the man of the house was working abroad, even women were intimidated by the authorities and forced to sign the documents over.

When Express cont­acted district collector M Vijay Kumar, he sa­id there might have been some instances where force was used. "I am ordering an inq­uiry, and action will be taken..." However, he ruled out handing back the land to the villagers. "This is a good project for the district which is dry and backward. More than 435 acres of land have been procured for MRF to start a unit for passenger and truck radials, besides another 150 acres for a trial track. Production is expected to be­gin by April or May next year." he villagers on Monday faxed a signed petition to the PM and the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and take action against Raja, Basha, then district collector Anil Meshram, then superintendent of police Prem Anand Sinha and other officials.

Indian Express

SC commission plans awareness camps

Express News Service Posted online: Tue Dec 21 2010, 05:45 hrs

Lucknow : The National Commission for Scheduled Castes will hold "Dalit awareness camps" across the state from December 23. The camps will be held in each district and divisional headquarter and conclude on February 23. PL Punia, chairman of the Commission, will attend the inaugural camp in Gorakhpur. Raju Bhai Parmar, former MP from Gujarat and a member of the Commission, will be in charge of the camps. The concluding camp will be held in Sitapur district of Lucknow division.

"In the first phase, the camps will be held in all 18 divisional headquarters, followed by the ones in each of the 72 districts," said Punia, Congress MP from Barabanki and chairman of the National Commission for SC.

The Commission, he said, has prepared a booklet detailing various issues concerning the Dalit community, like their Constitutional rights, welfare and employment schemes from the Central and state governments, reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, special component plan and other schemes being run by the Center. The booklet will also carry detailed information about the legal safeguards they can take to counter the atrocities on them, he added.

"There is no political agenda behind this campaign," said Punia. "It is an all-India programme being organised simultaneously in all states by the Commission. All state governments have been informed. The Commission is a statutory body and we do not need any approval by the state government for organising awareness camps." The Commission, he said, has the requisite infrastructure and manpower and to hold the camps.

The issue is likely to set off another spat between Chief Minister Mayawati and Punia, a former bureaucrat who served as her principal secretary during earlier stints as chief minister in 1995, 1997 and 2002. The Mayawati government and the SC Commission have been at loggerheads since October, when Punia took over as its chairman.

The Hindu

Dalits throng collectorate urging to remove encroachment

Staff Reporter

KRISHNAGIRI, December 20, 2010

Dalits from Adi Dravidar Colony, Avadanapatti village, near Krishnagiri have accused three caste Hindu families of encroaching upon a vacant land meant for public purpose in their colony for the last eight years. In this connection, over fifty people who had thronged the collectorate and submitted a petition to District Revenue Officer, C.Prakasam here on Monday demanding that the encroachments be removed.The dalits alleged that there was erection of two flag posts and fear that it will flare up community clash.

Pressing their demand, the public were about to hand over their Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) and Ration card to the district administration. In a petition, they alleged that three persons had encroached upon the land meant for school and built houses and shops.With the result of blockage in the flow of sewage in the main outlet from the Dalit colony, the stagnation of water for more than a year poses serious health hazard to the residents, they alleged.

During the rainy season, the situation turned worst, as the overflowing sewage stagnated before the Anganwadi Centre where over 30 children study. Besides contaminating the ground water, the sewage polluted the bore well that supplied drinking water to the villages coming under Agasipalli, Periyamuthur and Devasandiram Panchayats.

The children were affected with many health problems, the women in the colony say. Receiving the petition, Mr. C. Prakasam has assured the Dalits to take action with the consultation of the District Collector V. Arun Roy, who is away in Chennai on an official visit. Over 80 families live in 50 to 60 tiled houses on 40 plots allotted to them in the survey No. 552/2 in Agasaipalli Panchayat 20 years ago by the then district administration of Dharmapuri.

The Times Of India

Tenant farmers in a loan trap

TNN, Dec 22, 2010, 12.58am IST

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh is aptly called a farmers' state. But the irony is that most of these farmers are merely cultivators who do not own the land that they plough. Yet they bear the burden of a failed crop.

Of the total 1.2 crore ryots at present, 50-55 lakh are tenant farmers. Tenant farmers are those who cultivate crops by taking land on lease. Since most of them are economically and socially backward (dalits, girijans and backward classes), crop loss means end of the world for them. Many are unable to repay the loans on land lease, seed, fertilizer and other expenses, which far outweigh the income from the crop.

The incessant heavy rainfall this season only multiplied their woes and several of the distressed farmers are dying out of shock or committing suicide. Unofficially, in the last 13 days alone, 98 ryots have died while the official toll is put at 50 plus.

But what's driving the tenant farmers to suicide? "It's a sheer frustration. They are barely able to recover the cost of cultivation. The unseasonal rain has accentuated their problems," pointed out Yerneni Nagendranath, president, AP Vyavasaya Rythanga Samakhya.

While the tenant ryots contribute 50 per cent of the sown area (36 million acres) in the state, their share goes a few notches up as 90 per cent of farming is vested in tenant hands of the fertile coastal region, which otherwise is known as the 'Rice Bowl' of AP.

Yet, a majority of shock deaths and suicides have been reported from the coastal districts of Guntur, Krishna, East and West Godavari. Having lost his entire paddy crop due to the rain havoc, Nagothu Dhana Somasekhar, a poor Girijan farmer of Pydimetla village in Tellapudi mandal of West Godavari, consumed pesticide to end his life on December 12.

Sekhar, 27, who got married in July this year, wanted to keep his wife happy by earning a little more. So, he took four acres on lease but incurred Rs 40,000 loss due to crop failure. "All his hopes of a bright future were shattered. He took his life as he wasn't in a position to repay the loans," said Gurrala Apparao, East Godavari district secretary of AP Rythu Sangham (APRS).

Though loans of Rs 11,353 crore were waived off under the Centre's farm loan waiver scheme till June 2010, a shockingly low Rs 130 crore loans of tenant farmers benefitted from this. "It is ironical that they contribute 50 per cent of the acreage in the state yet they do not get any sops since they do not own the land," rued APRS state president Vangala Subbarao.

As per the AP Tenancy Act of 1956, the tenant farmer must hand over one third of the yield to the land owner-farmer apart from paying the lease amount before taking possession of the land to cultivate.

For instance, 60 per cent of the land in East Godavari is cultivated by tenant farming community where each ryot has to shell out Rs 13,000 towards lease and Rs 12,000 for investments to sow in an acre of land.

A dalit farmer Erakaiah of Ullamparru took four acres on lease and spent Rs 60,000. While the yield is 34-38 bags per one acre, the landlord farmer gets 13-16 bags. "As per the Act, Erakaiah should hand over 52 bags to the land owner. But he's devastated with the crop going down the drain. Inevitably, death was his last resort," said Kumara Swamy of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.

With no proper documentation between the land owner and himself, the tenant farmer is at risk as the transactions are carried out in a benami manner. "Had the government acted and issued identity cards as per GO 1049 (issued on July 28, 2007) to the tenant ryots, their woes could have been mitigated. They do not get bank loans, input subsidy and insurance cover since they do not possess pattadar passbooks," explained Subbarao.

A rich farmer Chintapalli Padma Reddy of U Kothapalli mandal in East Godavari ridiculed the compensation of Rs 6,000 an acre and demanded Rs 10,000. "If our back is broken with the enormous loss, imagine the plight of a tenant farmer," he added.

The Hindu

Fight superstition with science

S. Viswanathan

"India is a curious mixture of scientific advance and traditional superstitions. Superstitions are deeply ingrained and cannot be eliminated overnight. They cannot be removed by diktat, but can be countered by rational arguments…" — Jayant V. Narlikar.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has taken strong exception to a ritual performed at a temple in southern Karnataka on December 10, 2010. After watching the telecast of the ritual on a news channel, the Chief Minister demanded an immediate ban on the practice which drove Dalits to roll on used plantain leaves with leftovers of the food eaten by "upper caste" people. Dalits did so believing that the ritual would cure them of skin diseases. Characterising the practice as "inhuman, humiliating, and derogatory," Ms Mayawati added that "it was quite apparent that the objective behind the practice was only to humiliate the socially downtrodden," because Dalits constitute the majority of the participants

The temple at the centre of the controversy is the Kukke Subramanya temple in Subramanya village in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. The village is about 100 km from the port town of Mangalore. The "urulu seve" (rolling ritual) was held after appeals from several progressive organisations to the government, the temple authorities, and math heads to put an end to the "unhygienic and unwanted" ritual failed. When the police denied them permission to stage a demonstration, the protesters left the temple premises.

Inhuman ritual

Many newspapers have published detailed accounts of the performance of the rituals by hundreds of people from different regions of the State. A number of TV channels, including popular ones, have given wide coverage. Most reporters of the print and broadcast media did a commendable job, not concealing their disapproval of the inhuman ritual. The extensive and sensitive coverage took the issue to a larger audience.

The temple authorities repeatedly "clarified" that not only Dalits, but also people from other castes, including Brahmins, performed the ritual and did so of their own accord. Journalists on the scene confirmed that the participants in the "urulu seve" included non-Dalits but pointed out that Dalit participants accounted for the majority of the participants in the ritual. Another point made in the reports was that apart from the indignity caused to Dalits on caste grounds, all participants would run the risk of getting infected. In short, the practice was depicted as inhuman as well as anti-science.

Taking on superstition

Others on the scene included activists such as social reformer G.K. Govinda Rao and folklorist Kale Gowda Nagawara. They did not succeed in stopping the performance of the ritual, or in dissuading the participants but they had struck a blow for humanity and for science. Such interventions generally take time to show results.

A curtain raiser, published in the Mysore edition of The Hindu on December 8, noted that significantly the ritual perhaps for the first time in its 400 years of existence had to confront a protest from Dalit and backward class organisations. On December 7 the activists of these organisations from Mysore, Kodagu, and Sulia arrived in substantial numbers at Subramanya village to persuade the temple authorities to stop this undesirable ritual, and advise the devotees who were inclined to participate to keep off. Just how many of the participants responded is yet to be known. The activists met the seer of the Kukke Subramanya math, who has reportedly agreed that the ritual was "a social evil" but could not go further because, in his view, a 400-year-old ritual could not be stopped "immediately."

Taking on age-old superstition is a strenuous process and demands a lot of dedication and dogged patience. What is needed to end such practices is a multi-pronged campaign by the media but also by teachers, doctors and scientists. Science journalists have the potential to educate the readers on developing a scientific temper. The government, of course, has a big responsibility in this regard. Article 51-A (h) of the Constitution of India states: "It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform." The government should take this message to larger sections of the people, especially in the countryside.

.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.

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