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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NHRC notice to Punjab government on social boycott of Dalits in Sangrur

Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 23.06.14

NHRC notice to Punjab government on social boycott of Dalits in Sangrur - DNA
Badaun: Relatives of Girls Who Were Raped and Hanged May Take Lie Detector Tests- NDTV
Jaitley to present budget on July 10 - The Hindu
Annihilation by Caste - EPW
The will of a disruptor - Business Standard


NHRC notice to Punjab government on social boycott of Dalits in Sangrur

Monday, 23 June 2014 - 2:43pm IST | Agency: ANI

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 105 families of Scheduled Castes have been facing social boycott by upper caste people in Baopur village of Moonak Sub-Division of District Sangrur, Punjab since May 15 of this year.

They are reportedly facing this situation since they decided to cultivate 26 acres of Panchayat land reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

Earlier, this land was being cultivated by the upper caste people who used to getting on contract through auction in the names of Dalits.

The commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raises a serious issue of violation of human rights of Dalits. It has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab calling for a report within four weeks.


Badaun: Relatives of Girls Who Were Raped and Hanged May Take Lie Detector Tests

All India | Reported by Tanima Biswas, Edited by Abhinav Bhatt |
Updated: June 23, 2014 18:40 IST

Badaun:  For two families whose teen daughters were raped before being hanged alive, more challenges lie in store than coping with their over-whelming grief.

The CBI, which is investigating the double murder in the Badaun district in central Uttar Pradesh, wants the relatives of the victims, who were cousins, to go through lie detector tests. The father of one of the victims was among the relatives who first alerted the police that the girls were missing. The police refused to help, allegedly because the girls were Dalits, and the men identified by the families as their abductors were higher-caste Yadavs.

The relatives have agreed to the CBI's request for a lie detector test, said sources; now, a court will have to sanction them.

The egregious contours of the case elicited international attention. When the girls, aged 14 and 15, were found hanging side by side from a mango tree, their families refused to allow policemen to bring down the bodies till the alleged killers were arrested.

The five suspects jailed since then include two policemen who are accused of being criminal accessories. The top cop in Uttar Pradesh, Director General of Police AL Banerjee had recently denied the girls were raped and was quoted as saying their deaths were "an honour killing."

At the start of the month, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, attacked for his administration's handling of the case, asked for a federal investigation by the CBI, which then sent forensic experts along with investigators to collect evidence.

The families of the girls have said they had no faith in the impartiality of local police, accusing them of being "hand-in-glove" with the killers.

The father of one of the victims said his daughter and her cousin were attacked at night when they went to the fields to relieve themselves as there house had no toilet. The family reported the girls' disappearance to the police which refused to search for them.

The Hindu

Jaitley to present budget on July 10


The budget session of Parliament will be held from July 7 to August 14 and the first general budget of the Narendra Modi government will be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on July 10.

The rail budget will be presented on July 8, while the Economic Survey will be released on July 9, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) decided on Monday.

The CCPA decided that Bills to replace ordinances, including the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (Amendment) ordinance, the one on Polavaram project, the TRAI Act (Amendment) ordinance and the one on SEBI, will be brought on a priority basis for consideration in the session, official sources said.

The ordinances have to be converted into Bills before third week of July.

The over month-long session will have a total of 28 sittings.

The opposition is likely to rake up the issue of hike in rail passenger fares and freight rates ahead of the presentation of the rail budget.


Annihilation by Caste

Lessons from Budaun and Beyond

Vol - XLIX No. 25, June 21, 2014 | Kalpana Kannabiran

Budaun is not an isolated story. It illustrates the vulnerability and disentitlement of dalit-bahujan groups everywhere.

Kalpana Kannabiran ( is director of the Council for Social Development, Hyderabad, an ICSSR-funded institute.
Budaun is not an isolated story. It illustrates the vulnerability and disentitlement of dalit-bahujan groups everywhere.

The murder of two children in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh, forces us to re-examine our understanding of aggravated assault, murder, sexual assault, atrocity, annihilation (ital)by (ital) caste and structural violence that is constitutive of the rogue state – not an exceptional state, but the rogue state as the norm in a caste ridden society. This is not an isolated story. These children were not victims of exceptional violence and brutality. Rather, routine heightened violence and torture of the worst kind are constitutive of caste society, with the condonation (indeed tacit acce­ptance of the necessity) of such violence written into inaction and equivocation at every level.

My raging grief is about the loss, the deaths of these children, both girls; but there are accounts of a boy killed here as well not so long ago after being brutalised; it is about the unspeakable torture they were subjected to, of which sexual assault was part; it is about our collective inability as people committed to the annihilation of caste, to make any difference in a context where caste atrocity is at best a spectacle for consumption and speculation; where images of children who have been brutally assaulted and murdered are traded by the media in ­unthinkable ways and their experience negated by the rogue state. Where does one begin to roll this back?

Although the writing on the Budaun violence has opened out several discussions – from eliminating open defecation to increasing helplines to castigating the Government of Uttar Pradesh. I think this is an issue that goes far beyond the sexual politics of the Samajwadi Party (SP), or the tasks before the toilet ambassadors of the Ministry of Rural Development. Can we forget that Mathura was sexually assaulted in the toilet of a ­police station? While unarguably women need access to secure basic facilities, this issue is quite separate from their vulnerability to sexual assault. Days have rolled into years and years into decades with us speaking out about the sexual politics of each of our political parties and their treatment of sexual assault. The only difference perhaps is that the SP has perfected the art and woven it densely into statecraft.

‘Legal’ Atrocities
 Early reports of the Budaun murders suggested the victims were dalit children. Later reports identified their caste as a backward caste. The question see­med to circulate around whether these murders were situated within the legal definition of “atrocity” in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 [hereafter PoA Act]. Of course they were not, because the children who had been killed did not belong to a scheduled caste. So although the PoA Act is the single legislation that attempts to address targeted assault based on caste, the technicality of classification put these murders and aggravated sexual assaults in the cate­gory of a lesser crime. But was it a lesser crime?

Related to this is the question of whether sexual assault and murder of women and children should be understood in terms that are common and unmindful of class or social category. Is it material to our understanding that these children belonged to a “lower caste” than the perpetrators? Is it accidental that the perpetrators belonged to the local dominant caste, and shared social location with the police and indeed the party in government? Is it coincidental that a policeman from the dominant caste was one of the perpetrators?

Should we, in the light of the facts of this case, revisit the category of “dalit” – re-examining what “broken people” means in a context where caste dominance renders entire groups powerless and vulnerable to grievous hurt and murder (which includes sexual assault in several instances) even though they may not belong to a “scheduled caste”?

Discussions on amendments to criminal law in the deliberations of the Justice Verma Committee, and in the discussions around the protests that followed the assault and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012, saw dalit groups and anti-caste intellectuals raising the question of the inequality of protest. Why did the country not come to a standstill after the Khairlanji massacre, which in sheer terms of numbers ass­aulted and killed was far graver? The Delhi victim had demonstrated resistance that earned her the sobriquet “Brave­­heart”. The Bhotmange family in Khair­lanji too had paid dearly for demonstrating their resistance. Both belon­ged to working class families. On both sides there was pain and suffering and loss. The Delhi victim’ s suffering led to the immediate constitution of a committee, legislation in her name, and trial and convictions at the speed of light. Despite the Bhotmange family’s suffering, aggravated sexual assault as part of targeted caste violence was not included in the new expanded definition of sexual assault, and justice continues to elude the sole survivor. My intention is to demonstrate that all are not equal either in public perception or in the criminal justice system in India. Given the heightened protest against the murderous assault on the young woman in Delhi, followed by lightning response in revamping criminal justice for women, why has the “climate of deterrence” not spread to other locales?

From Delhi to Budaun
 For the Delhi victim,1 education was a struggle – a working class father who dared to dream for his daughter. Her expe­rience of sexual violence and murder however was unrelated to that struggle. The struggle that is memorialised is the struggle against the perpetrators of the assault that took her life. For the Bhotmange family, the struggle that led to their annihilation was a struggle aga­inst caste domination in the belly of the beast, so to speak, by challenging its supremacy through education and small attempts at building family assets in their native village. This critical difference, in my view, must guide our understanding of the socio-political basis of sexual violence, assault and murder. While all murders result in loss of life and human suffering, targeted murder against members belonging to a social group that is vulnerable is more serious because it reflects a systemic pattern that systematically reinforces power and subjugates entire communities through violence.

What is the relevance of this comparison above to the assault and murder of the two children of Budaun? We know from Ambedkar and from bearing witness to countless incidents of caste violence that “[c]astes form a graded system of sovereignties, high and low…”2 and power is asserted through violence along the ladder of graded inequalities. Bec­ause “caste is impregnable,”3 the sexual appropriation of women – through endo­gamous marriage, bondage and female servitude, and habitual assault on women of dependent castes form part of the commonsense of the caste system. This also is the way in which resistance is policed, endlessly, in eerily repetitive, timeless fashion: “the worst evil of this code of ordinances is that the laws it contains must be the same yesterday, today, and forever.”4 Age has never been a bar for sexual assault. And impunity is guaranteed to perpetrators of targeted assault – through police complicity/­calculated inaction (as the case may be); through prosecutorial negligence; thro­ugh judicial misdemeanor and through the disabling of justice claims in constitutional courts with easy recourse to ­legal technicalities. There are startling par­allels between Khairlanji and Budaun.

Increasingly, the true import of the words of anti-caste philosophers hits us rudely with each passing day. With the annihilation of caste not happening, what we are witnessing is annihilation by caste. In a country ruled by caste in the constitutional era, annihilation by caste is a self-perpetuating patriarchal project that reinvents itself constantly, stalking the powerless and those that resist, blocking their flight from caste generation after generation. The creation of an atmosphere of terror and sexual ­terrorism is the means through which an entire people are kept subjugated. This is not the place to recount the horrific methods of terror deployed by the dominant castes.

Notwithstanding the technical inapplicability of the PoA Act to the Budaun murders, what is telling is the extreme vulnerability of dalit-bahujan communities – in a state with the most powerful political mobilisation that rose to occupy state power. Far from being an indication of the ineffectiveness of dalit-bahujan mobilisation in UP, it is rather a sign of the encrusted power of the dominant castes and an indication of how Sisyphean the struggle is. It is neither inappropriate nor inaccurate to characterise this as an attack on dalit children – in the context of caste atrocity the term dalit encompasses the dalit-bahujan experience of caste discrimination.

And that is really at the heart of the contradictions that Budaun throws up – there is a commonality of experience in disentitlement and vulnerability across dalit-bahujan groups that quotidian separations in administration and law negate. But those are the limits of the law. There are also shifting gradations of status, class and power within this large category, these contestations absorbing the ideology and methods of caste in inter caste relations. Is it methodologically possible to offer protection and legal redress to victims across the ladder of graded inequalities and graded exclusions except through blanket criminal law provisions? And yet, viewing assaults such as these in terms of the Indian Penal Code alone reduces the gravity of the offence by removing the targeted nature of the assault from consideration and defining it outside the purview of caste atrocity.

The Rogue State
 And finally we come to the rogue state. How many times have we seen this? Karamchedu, Chunduru, Khairlanji, Bud­aun, Mathura, Rameeza, Bhanwari – different states at different times, different courts of different jurisdictions, and the story is the same. Despite the constitutional ban on untouchability and protections against discrimination based on caste, the patriarchal caste order con

Business Standard

The will of a disruptor

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay 
June 22, 2014 Last Updated at 22:25 IST

Badri Narayan
Penguin; Rs 499

In early 1990, when Indian political reporting was widening its base from limited and structured coverage of government and Opposition politics, this writer was told by a newspaper's political bureau chief of that time to go and spend some time with Kanshiram. Parliamentary polls were held a few months before that and Rajiv Gandhi had been unseated. Assembly elections were being held in several states and, though the paper for which I was working was still at the "dummy stage", it appeared to be a good idea to spend time with the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which performed creditably without winning any seats.

Caste was one issue that was yet be embedded in journalistic discourse. The only time that one heard - or wrote - about caste combinations was when it came to talking about Ahir-Jat-Gujjar-Rajput or Muslim-Ahir-Jat-Gujjar-Rajput combinations that were forged from the time Charan Singh experimented with alternative vote banks to replace the Congress combination of Brahmin-Harijan-Muslim. Strangely, until then, Harijans - which is how they were referred to at that time - were seen as a mere add-on and were not perceived as a community capable of articulating its voice independently. In such a scenario, Kanshiram was an oddity; his arguments appeared to be those of a disruptionist leader.

Badri Narayan traces the evolution of this odd political leader, who kept chipping away at the block of old political ethos and values. The book underscores the reasons Kanshiram developed the ability to charm potential supporters and disarm critics. The book also enables readers to grasp Kanshiram's no-holds-barred style and what led him to be unabashed about the manner in which he went about making upper-caste journalists acutely conscious of their caste identity, though many of them did not profess belief in varna vyawastha. "You have to undergo the feeling of discrimination and resulting humiliation in your growing up years to understand our motivation," Kanshiram would often tell the growing tribe of journalists who would gather at his house.

It was this sense of discrimination during schooldays that motivated B RAmbedkar to venture on the path he took and become the foremost articulator of the political aspirations of Dalits in the country. Yet Ambedkar remained somewhat detached from the masses - both because of his sartorial choices, which projected him as a brown sahib more than anything else, and because he did not practise mass politics. What was it that made Kanshiram steer clear of the Ambedkarite path and branch out on his own and set up one organisation after another till he eventually founded the BSP in 1984? Yet why did Mayawati and her mentor not jettison Ambedkar from their pantheon of icons? These are not easy questions, and the book explores them creditably.

Badri Narayan is at his best in the intensely polemical chapter titled "The Chamcha Age". It is a take-off of The Chamcha Age: An Era of the Stooges, a book that Kanshiram wrote in 1982. The author shows how Kanshiram stood out from other Scheduled Caste leaders. One gets to see Ambedkar, Jagjivan Ramand even a contemporary, Ram Vilas Paswan, through the prism of Kanshiram and understand why they fell in the category of what he derogatorily referred to aschamchas, or stooges. In the history of the Dalit movement in India, the Poona pact, an agreement between Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi, is quite often presented as a major watershed that greatly benefited the cause of the Dalits. But Kanshiram had a different view, and chose to release his book on the golden jubilee of the pact. While the Congress celebrated the Poona pact with much fanfare, Kanshiram's portrayal of Gandhi was at odds with the official view; he argued that the Poona pact was responsible for putting back the cause of the Dalits and their politics.

The author is clearly handicapped by a paucity of material on Kanshiram, especially of his formative years. As a result, it is difficult to form a comprehensive view of what led him to embark on the path that he consciously chose. The motivation stated in the book - that Kanshiram was propelled by the desire to secure more dignity for his people - does not take into account personal motivations. This results in the creation of a halo around Kanshiram's personality, and this is disconcerting.

There can be no comprehensive study of Kanshiram without a detailed assessment of his relationship with Mayawati and vice versa. But the book sticks to the approach often adopted by serious scholars who steer clear of personal relationships of leaders. Kanshiram's "will" is revealing; it said that, after his death, his ashes were not to be immersed in holy rivers, as is common practice, and instead should be kept in the party office. He also "willed" that after Mayawati's death, her ashes should not be immersed but be placed next to his. In presenting this without comment, the author becomes a dutiful biographer - which is a running deficiency through the book. It is rich in narration and analysis, but we do not get to read the mind of the author.

News monitored by Girish Pant-PMARC

.Arun Khote
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of “Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC”)

Pl visit on FACEBOOK :
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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