The appalling practice of untouchability in India finds new forms

Publié le par hort

Untouchability finds new forms

Bageshree S.

Bangalore: The appalling practice of untouchability seems to only assume new and less obvious forms after it is exposed and causes public outrage. The situation in Kadkol village of Basavanabagewadi taluk in Bijapur istrict, where 80 Dalit families were imposed social and economic boycott by caste Hindus on July 25, 2006 for daring to draw water from a tank till then reserved for caste Hindus, is a case in point.

According to Chalavadi Ramanna of Karnataka Mula Asprushyara Manava Hakkugala Rakshana Vedike, the tank which is at the centre of the controversy, is now not barred to Dalits. However, in a strange reversal, it is shunned by caste Hindus who allegedly spare no opportunity to pollute it. They routinely leave their cattle to splash around in the tank, which is a source of drinking water, he alleges.

What is even more shocking is that one year and two months after the incident was reported, the authorities are yet to book anyone for practising untouchability and imposing boycott. “The police say it has to be handled by the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell. The cell says that it does not have adequate staff to conduct an inquiry and the police should do it,” says Mr. Ramanna. “As a result, those responsible for the act, including a member of the taluk panchayat and president of Gram Panchayat, are walking free,” he said.

In the meanwhile, the practice of untouchability, banned by the Constitution, continues in various forms. A local barber will not give a Dalit a haircut. “This is not typical of Kadkol. This is the most normal thing in many villages in north Karnataka,” says Mr. Ramanna.

The demands put forward by Karnataka Mula Asprushyara Manava Hakkugala Rakshana Vedike for rehabilitation of the 80-odd families which faced boycott are yet to be fulfilled, barring the demand for housing. Seventy-three people have been identified for giving housing sites. Local political and caste Hindu interests, Mr. Ramanna alleges, diverted the loans sanctioned meant for victims to those who did not face social boycott. The other demands, including sanction of lands and creating job opportunities, are not even under consideration at the moment.

The vedike submitted a memorandum with nine demands to the Deputy Commissioner on October 10, 2006.

“The Government has an obligation to rehabilitate people who face social boycott under sections of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, which was enacted in 1955. The sad part is even the victims of atrocities are often not aware of this,” says Mr. Ramanna.

Dalit labourer dragged by tractor over refusal to work
26 Sep 2007

MORENA: Refusal to plough a field proved costly for a Dalit labourer, who was allegedly tied to a tractor and dragged till he was injured by two persons in Murdav village of Morena district. The incident occurred yesterday when Lalsingh Jatav refused to plough the field of Kadamsingh Kushwaha and Ball Singh, saying he was sick and will do it later,police said.

Angry over the refusal, the duo abused Jatav and tied him with a rope to a tractor and dragged him in the village, leaving him injured. Some of Jatav's sympathisers also pelted stones on the duo while they were dragging him and they also sustained injuries. Police have registered a case against Kushwaha and Singh and also against Jatav and his supporters, based on complaints from both sides.

2 Dalit kids killed, eyes gouged out
15 Sep 2007

KANPUR: Two Dalit children were brutally murdered with their eyes gouged out and tongues chopped off in a village near Kanpur on Thursday.

The bodies of the children belonging to Bajrahapurva village under Chaubeypur police station were found in the nearby Kakraha village. Though it's unclear as to who killed the two kids, the locals' assertion that a self-styled tantrik could have had a role in the slayings has given police some lead. The autopsy report released on Friday says the victims — Neeraj (9) and Akshay (7) — were strangled.

While the locals believe that the tantrik kidnapped the two children and killed them in the course of some gory rituals, the family of the deceased kids discount this angle. In fact, Prema, the mother of one of the victims, Akshay, has lodged a complaint with the Chaubeypur police, on the basis of which the cops have arrested two suspects. "A few months ago, I had a tiff with a local girl. Later, she and her boyfriend threatened to kill my son," she alleged.

"We are probing the matter and would soon get to the bottom of this heinous crime," a senior police officer said. The incident triggered tension and protests in the area, with locals blocking the busy GT Road. The police took nearly two hours to arrive, and when they did, were outnumbered by the angry villagers. A second posse had to be dispatched to quell the mob with assurances of early action against the culprits.
Dalit woman branded with hot sickle

Prakash Singh
Thursday, September 13, 2007 (Patna)

A Dalit village woman in Bihar fighting for justice was branded with a hot sickle in Saharsa district.

Thirty-year-old Neelam Devi had to pay the price for complaining against her neighbours. Neelam first complained to the police after her neighbours broke her arm during a scuffle.But after the police refused to take note of her complaint, she knocked on the Panchayat's doors that ordered a Rs 5000 compensation.When Neelam did not get her due, she approached the Panchayat again. Angered by her initiative, the villagers tortured her with a sickle. The village Sarpanch, a woman herself, has condemned the action of the villagers.

''The panchayat had decreed payment of Rs 5000 to her which was not honoured by the other party. The woman is asking for monetary help from the panchayat for treatment. For this the villagers branded her with hot iron, which is a sad thing,'' said Krishna Devi.

The villagers however hold the police responsible. ''This would not have occurred if the police had taken the earlier incident seriously,'' said Indubhushan Singh, villager.No arrest has been made so far but police say the guilty will not be spared. ''I've told the DSP to take action soon. All of them will be arrested,'' said Kunwar Singh, SP, Saharsa. There is tension in the village but the incident shows law and order is still at a low ebb in Bihar despite Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's pledge to contain crime.

Publié dans African diaspora

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