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Archives for : Caste Discrminination

Pranay’s murder and opposition to inter-caste unions: Why is the state not doing more?

Political parties are aware that they cannot come to power without the support of Dalits, and yet, they don’t take a serious stance on these atrocities and killings.

Pranay’s murder, a consequence of the patriarchal institution of marriage, was also perpetuated by caste arrogance – something that is normalised in society. There are two important factors to be considered when we try to engage with what is commonly called “honour killing”. First, the gender and caste question. And second, positioning “honour” above an individual’s right to self-respect. Both patriarchy and caste are socially venomous systems which create the hierarchical notion of “honour”.

The fundamental question is this: Why are families, communities, and the society so challenged by the love between two individuals and their decision to marry?  This is because what we call “love marriage” is a kind of public statement that says the choices of individuals are paramount, and are independent of societal and cultural norms. This “public” nature of love and love marriage destabilizes all the social institutions – namely, patriarchy, caste, class, and arranged marriage. As a result, the actions of individuals in love are subjected to social judgment.

What is “honour”?

Society identifies these couples as “deviants” and their families are shamed for their actions. Such families think that “honour” can be restored by killing the people who are responsible for this “shame”. This kind of crime has very dangerously gained symbolic weight and has undesirable ramifications for society at large. However, “washing shame with blood” is not an act which restores “honour” but a crime according to law. Calling a caste killing as an “honour killing” helps to deconstruct the term but also ends up validating it. And by validating the killing, one not only justifies the crime but also patriarchal ideas that subordinate women and the caste system that is rooted in inequality.

In such a society, these criminals are seen as “protectors of honour” and are glorified, making them exhibit their sense of impunity. A society which does not take an unequivocal position on these matters is equally responsible for the crime. The collective silence will only pose serious danger to our collective future. Those who justify these acts – overtly or otherwise – are social criminals, too.

Love, by nature, doesn’t (or does not have to) follow societal or cultural norms. The society that treats certain castes as privileged over others, which infantilises individual’s choices (especially those of women) in matters of marriage, which is suspicious about love and covers its bigotry in the name of culture, and says the “honour” of a family is dependent on controlling women’s sexuality, does not understand this. However, these norms are not rules which individuals need to follow.

What is the state doing?

Crimes of this kind violate all the important rights of an individual. In cases of ‘legally allowed but socially unaccepted’ issues, the state’s role is very crucial to bridge the gap between the society and legality. Because, the state’s role is not only to uphold the constitution but also bring the society in line with the constitution. But if traditional-cultural morality prevails over constitutional morality, the question to be asked is: What is the state doing? Is it that the state is incompetent? Or is it that the state is complicit in this? Why is it that these caste-based atrocities and killings consistently happen although almost all political parties speak of Dalits and their rights?

Caste killings are not only a social issue. They also raise a serious political question. Political parties are aware that they cannot come to power without the support of Dalits, and yet, they don’t take a serious stance on these atrocities and killings. The reason could either be that they don’t seem to know how to take a firm moral stand on such matters without disturbing their upper caste sentiments or that they don’t want to get involved at all. Given that the “ruling class” comprises upper caste and upper class people, one is not surprised by the lack of seriousness in dealing with caste killings despite how common they are. A state that doesn’t proactively promote constitutional morality in general, and doesn’t have a moral standing on this issue, is equally culpable.

In this context, the role of the Dalit movement and Dalit politics is very important. Though representation is a sign of success for the consolidation of Dalit politics, it has failed to persuade political parties and the state to take a very firm stand on these crimes. Further, they have not done enough to transform societies on cultural lines. In other words, the slogan “Rajyadhiakram Anthima Lakshyam” (Political power is the ultimate goal) has, unfortunately, reduced Dalit politics to the level of ‘mere representational politics’ instead of being ‘both representational and reformatory politics’.

As Dr. B.R Ambedkar has said, the political representation of Dalits is meaningless if there is no social transformation on caste matters. It is by now clear that political power doesn’t automatically translate into social transformation when it comes to caste. Mere representational politics has led to a situation where the larger society feels it can engage with Dalits politically but when it comes to culture, marriage, and caste, Dalits are not considered equals. The caste hierarchy remains intact and these cultural boundaries cannot be encroached and if they are, it’s seen as a threat and will not be tolerated.

As long as this situation persists at the societal level, caste atrocities and killings will continue to happen because they are seen as the problems of “encounter of cultures”. Society’s response to love marriage, in general, is problematic. However, it is more accepting of love marriage matches between upper caste and upper class people. When it involves a Dalit, however, the person’s class position does not matter – it is simply not considered acceptable. One must understand that knee-jerk condolences and candlelight marches for caste killings do not resolve the issue.

Ignorance about Dalit histories

As a matter of fact, Dalit histories and lived experiences were never and are still not a part of school or college curricula. It is possible that in the present education system, which is segmented along class-caste lines and is obsessed with job-oriented curricula, the question of caste (and for that matter, gender) will never reach the classroom. So, genuine and consistent engagement with Dalit issues has to be there at different socio-cultural spaces.

Otherwise, these constitutional guarantees and political representation, will end up merely as tokens for the average Dalit.

Because, it’s not just about the Pranays or Manthani Madhukars. It’s also about Sai Deepthi, a 9th standard Dalit student who committed suicide after being humiliated by the principal for not being able to pay the school fee of Rs 2000. It’s also about T Kavitha, a Dalit girl who mortgaged her earrings for a bus ticket for the NEET exam; Rishidev, a landless Dalit man who was forced to bury his wife, who’d passed away, inside his house after villagers refused to grant her some space; countless others who don’t easily get a house on rent unless they hide their Dalit identities and many, many more. In other words, it’s not just about caste killings, it’s also about the day to day lived realities of structural violence and the persecution of Dalits.

Pranay’s bereaved father asks this, “Is being born into a low caste a crime?”(Thakkuva Kulamlo Puttadame Neramaa?) Kulam (caste), and its practices are a crime, not a person’s birth.

Raviteja Rambarki is pursuing his Ph.D in Sociology at the University of Hyderabad

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/pranays-murder-and-opposition-inter-caste-unions-why-state-not-doing-more-88770

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I am this #SundayReading

Strong show: Fans at a Chennai theatre cheer Rajinikanth in his role as a Dalit character in the film Kabali. Photo: K Pichumani   –  The Hindu

In a film industry that greatly shaped and reflected Tamil Nadu’s political landscape and caste equations, one vital missing component was that of the Dalit — among the most marginalised sections of society. In recent years, a growing band of directors is drastically changing the script to put this ‘outcaste’ front and centre

“If your problem is that I am progressing, then I will indeed progress.

“Iwill wear a coat and suit.

“Iwill cross my legs and sit with style and a flourish.

“Deal with it, or die.”

The year is 2016. The film is Kabali. The director, Pa Ranjith. The actor, Rajinikanth. And the character is Dalit.

Two years later, the Dalit is once against the protagonist in Tamil cinema. It is not just Kaala, a film released in June. Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal, produced by Ranjith, will be released on September 28.

More, more: Dalit director Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal will be released next week

And October 17 will mark the grand release of the Dhanush-starrer Vada Chennai, directed by Vetri Maaran. Both films revolve around Dalit themes.

Tamil cinema is unspooling a new genre of films, all directed by brilliant, mostly young filmmakers, that are filling theatres across the state and putting Dalits centre stage.

Cinema undoubtedly reflects a slice of society. But Tamil cinema, more than any other regional industry in India, has played a significant role in shaping the history and politics of Tamil Nadu. What began in the 1920s as a movement for social justice — primarily against Brahmin domination in the erstwhile Madras Presidency — soon transformed into the Dravidian movement, started by ‘Periyar’ EV Ramasamy. The ideology of Periyar’s organisation, Dravidar Kazhagam, and later its political arm, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), was taken to the masses through cinema, powered by mesmeric heroes and dialogue.

The MGR-Sivaji era

Tellingly, however, the Dalit caste did not figure in a major way in the movement. The anti-Brahminical struggle propelled the intermediate castes — those above the so-called lower castes but below the Brahmin and other upper castes — into positions of power. But the “outcastes” remained just that.

“The Dalit characters in the films of that era were poor, wretched souls who needed to be ‘rescued’ by the hero — whether it was MGR [Ramachandran] or Sivaji Ganesan,” says Pa Ranjith, referring to the two biggest stars of the time. “In those films, the aggressor was from the intermediate caste and the saviour too was of the same caste. The problem and the solution both came from the intermediate caste. The Dalit had no role in the film except as a figure of pity,” he adds.

The portrayal of Dalits was stereotypical — oppressed, but without a spark of rebellion. They wore very little clothing, with many in just a komanam or loincloth. A few wore veshtis (dhotis) but no shirts. And they were the darkest of the dark-skinned Tamilians in the films. In Kabali, Ranjith takes on this stereotyping with roaring derision. Warming up for a fight scene, Rajinikanth mouths these lines: “In Tamil films you have a character with a huge mole on his cheek, who twirls his moustache, wears a lungi… and as soon as Nambiar (the actor famous for his villain roles) shouts, ‘Eh, Kabali’, the character would bow low and say, ‘Yes, Master’… Did you think I am that kind of Kabali?” Then, gesturing toward himself in his spiffy suit — a nod to Dalit rights icon BR Ambedkar’s attire of choice, and today the Ambedkarite movement’s mark of pride and resistance — Rajini growls menacingly, “Kabali, da (I’m this Kabali)!”

Caste and Tamil cinema

During the 1980s and ’90s, caste began to appear as a divisive factor on the big screen. This was the time MGR and Sivaji had been replaced by the newer stars — Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. A host of other actors such as Vijaykanth, Mohan, Ramarajan and Bhagyaraj, too, entered the scene. Among the many feted directors of the time were K Balachander, P Bharathiraja and Mani Ratnam.

Balachander chose to show overpowering Brahmin heroes who “educated” the “others”, whereas Bharathiraja set his stories among the grassroots — his characters belonged to the Tamil village and the dominant non-Brahmin castes.

In his first film, 16 Vayadhinile (1977), his villages and the castes peopling them were ambiguous. After that, however, clearly delineated caste identities began to creep into his cinema, and the lines were no longer drawn in sand.

A native of Madurai, in southern TN, Bharathiraja helped groom a number of younger directors from his hometown. All of them went on to make films that centred around the life and politics of that region, where the Thevar caste is dominant.

Similarly, actor-director K Bhagyaraj introduced to the film world a host of cast members, crew and directors from his hometown, Coimbatore. Their films prominently featured the caste politics back home, where the Gounder caste is dominant.

Bharathiraja’s Mudhal Mariyadhai (1985) revolves around a Dalit girl (played by actor Radha), who loves an upper caste man (Sivaji Ganesan). Although he loves her too, he is unable to reciprocate her feelings as he is unhappily married. The villagers gossip about them. The outspoken Dalit girl, however, has to pay the price of “forbidden” love. She murders the film’s villain, as he was out to destroy Ganesan’s reputation, and goes to jail. By the time she is released, Ganesan is on his deathbed.

This theme of “forbidden” inter-caste love soon became the mainstay of many films, complete with swift retributions. In 1997, Cheran’sBharathi Kannammahas Kannamma (Meena), belonging to the Thevar caste, in love with Bharathi (Parthiban), a Dalit youth who works for her father.

Wages of love: Actors Meena and Parthiban in Bharathi Kannamma, a film about ‘forbidden’ inter-caste love and swift retribution   –  The Hindu Archives

As the lovers elope, they are hunted down by the furious Thevars. “We gave you the land to live on and you try to marry into our family. How can we keep quiet at this? Thevars are not cowards who will shed tears of anguish… We will kill them and drink their blood,” declares the girl’s father.

The film was not released in Madurai, over fears that it might incite violent caste clashes. The film shows Kannamma committing suicide, and the distraught Bharathi following suit by jumping into her funeral pyre. The repentant father gives bags of grain to Dalit families as penance for his wrongs.

Director Vetri Maaran points out that in most Tamil films, Dalit characters were shown as unquestioningly accepting their so-called place in society. And those who did question, ended up dead, he adds.

Dalit women, in particular, were poorly represented, he rues. When present at all in a film, their role was limited to being at the receiving end of derogatory remarks on their skin tone or eating habits or cleanliness.

Breath of fresh air

The recent clutch of Dalit-centric Tamil films is path-breaking in more ways than one. Besides the four-time National Award-winner Vetri Maaran and the commercially successful Ranjith, newer directors such as Gopi Nainar are making films that refuse to conform to caste codes. With its strong rural Dalit characters, Nainar’s Aramm (2017) makes a political statement about the powerful state’s indifference to the marginalised.

Gopi Nainar, director of Aramm, a film that has strong rural Dalit characters.

“As creative people, we need to have social awareness,” says Ranjith. “I am very happy that many directors… are creating this much-needed social awareness.”

Most of them happen to be from Chennai. Relatively well-to-do and socially aware, they are turning the prevailing narrative on its head. Ranjith and Mari Selvaraj are Dalits, and their films reflect their lived realities and ideology.

Pa Ranjith’s films reflect his lived realities and ideology as a Dalit man   –  The Hindu

Vetri Maaran’s films largely focus on social ills while hinting at the Dalit identity. His Visaranai (2015) was about police atrocity against a Dalit man.

Vetri Maaran, director of award-winning film Visaranai   –  The Hindu

“Very few films have been made with Dalit lifestyle as their central theme. There have been pro-Dalit films in the past, but it took nearly a hundred years to have someone like Ranjith make politically-correct Dalit films,” says Maaran.

Rise of Dalit activism

Ranjith had debuted with Attakatthiin 2012, and followed it up withMadras (2014) — both films dealt with urban and semi-urban Dalit life, and were critically acclaimed.

The significance, says Maaran, lies in the fact that Dalit stories are being told by Dalits. “These are not just films sympathetic to Dalits, but films on the lives and rights of the oppressed made by the oppressed themselves… which gives it legitimacy. This is a movement of Dalit liberation through films, in my opinion,” he adds.

Much before the rise of Dalit-themed films, Dalit literature had begun to storm the mainstream in the 1990s, thanks to fiery writers such as Ravikumar. Around the same time, Thol Thirumavalavan and his Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) party began to demand equal rights for Dalits, specifically the Paraiyar sub-caste. In southern TN, another Dalit sub-caste, the Pallars, began agitating for their rights. It was also a time of frequent caste clashes and violence.

But cinema remained impervious to Dalit concerns. Director RV Udayakumar’s superhit Chinna Gounder (1992) has the comic duo Goundamani and Senthil poking fun at the Dalit characters in the film. Senthil’s character even tricks a Dalit man of his veshti, leaving him squatting on the ground in just his loincloth. Goundamani’s character insults him further by deriding his looks.

In Vettri Kodi Kattu (2000), a character is shown cleaning toilets — a job traditionally forced on the Dalit community — in Dubai, and another character chides him saying, “Don’t come near me, you smell bad…” and, in what is meant to be humour, asks whether he “clean the toilets of camels”.

And where the Dalit narrative did manage to surface in a film, it was usually distorted. The 1997 film Aravindhan, directed by T Nagarajan, shows a radical Dalit leader killed for revolting against zamindars (landlords). When the zamindars refer to them as dogs, the Dalits stop working for them. This story was strongly reminiscent of the 1969 massacre at Keezhvenmani village, in Thanjavur district, where zamindars burnt the huts of Dalit workers, killing 42 of them. Except, in the reel version, the radical Dalit leader was gunned down by the police and his murder was avenged by a member of the upper caste.

A decade later, director Ameer’s Paruthiveeran showed a Thevar girl gang-raped and killed for daring to fall in love with a mixed-caste man.

Hate story: In Paruthiveeran, Priyamani and Karthi play lovers who defy caste barriers with tragic consequences

Tamil cinema certainly has no dearth of films that celebrate the common man and his struggle against oppression by the rich. Like MGR, Rajinikanth has donned the roles of a milkman, an auto driver and an unemployed villager, all of whom fight to alter the status quo. But it is only with director Ranjith that the superstar has spoken out as a Dalit in his cinematic outing.

“All actors with political aspirations have played roles where they are for the Dalits and the marginalised,” says Maaran. “But in their quest for box office numbers, all the top actors have also played roles that glorify one of the oppressive castes,” he adds.

Among the rare bursts of social awareness back then was director V Sekhar’s Onna Irukka Kathukkanum (1992), which shows a village headmaster (Sivakumar) teaching Dalit children to read and write, defying upper caste diktats against it. When one of the Dalit children is poisoned to death by dominant caste members, the Dalits rise against their oppression with renewed awareness.

“In the olden days, Dalits were stereotypically a Muniya or a Kabali,” smiles Ranjith. “In recent times, their portrayal has changed a little. They are still black-skinned, they have long hair, which is streaked with colour. They are ‘naagareegamaana rowdigal’ (civilised rowdies),” he says. In his own work, the stereotype of disgust is celebrated. For instance, in his film Kaala, black — the skin tone and dirt associated with Dalits — becomes the symbol of labour and revolt.

Black and white: Superstar Rajinikanth’s second outing as a Dalit character was in Kaala, a Ranjith film that was released in June this year. Photo: M Prabhu   –  The Hindu

A voiceover in the film intones: “Kaala na karuppu… kaalan… karikaalan… sanda pottu kaakuravan [Kaala (in Hindi) means black… kaalan or karikaalan (a celebrated king of the Chola dynasty)… is the warrior who protects].” The film’s finale is rousing — an uprising of Dalits. If Kabali sought to educate Dalits, Kaala teaches them to agitate. Ranjith’s next is likely to be the most fiery of his films yet.

Sandhya Ravishankar is an independent journalist based in Chennai

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When Brecht speak as Ambedkar

Citing literary sources, turning to parables, prose, plays, poetry is the wherewithal of political discourse

Policemen and policewomen are not mindless digits in khaki. They have all been to school. Many of them are MAs, some PhDs. And they have families, friends just like anyone else who has not been clad in hide-tough uniforms the whole day. When at end of duty hours they return home, get back to home-clothes, settle down to a tired day’s evening, like anyone else, they talk of all they went through during the day, good and bad, honest and wicked, how they had to respond to political orders, ‘high’ influence, low intrigue. They laugh then at the ways of the cunning world of which they have become part, and feel sometimes proud of what they did and sometimes not. And then turn on their television sets to watch not news — of which they have had enough and more — but, to lighten their minds, old and new cinema, hear Lata Mangeshkar singing through the lips of Meena Kumari, or Asha Bhosle through those of Madhubala. In States like West Bengal and Maharashtra, with their strong traditions of theatre and musical arts, they can well go to see a play, ‘with family’, based on old epics or written by bold new playwrights staged in theatre-houses invariably named after Tagore, in his grey-flowing beard or the great Chhatrapati Shivaji in his sharp-pointed black one.

Brecht at Bhima-Koregaon

Yet, Bertolt Brecht’s is not a name all policemen on duty in Maharashtra’s Bhima-Koregaon village on January 1, 2018 are likely to have known. The great German playwright is, sadly, ‘niche’. Why sadly? Because he is bound to have amused, inspired, delighted, enthralled the non-kitabi, the not-a-bookworm-at-all as much as the bespectacled ‘intel’. And because Brecht speaks the truth and doesn’t care a hoot whether his truth is seen as the truth or is not. And Brecht’s truth, rather like truth itself, is non-denominational, non-sectarian. The Marathi translation of his timeless play The Good Person of Szechwan is more than likely to have passed by the police force on duty at the village celebrating, as it has done for decades, on that day the great Dalit-Mahar battalion’s vanquishing – disputed by some – of the much stronger army of the Peshwa order known for its rough-handling of Dalits. Only, this year the celebration was the more celebratory, being the centenary year of that 1818 victory. And since one group’s celebration is seen as another group’s lamentation, ‘law and order’ was a concern. And rightly so. Violence and counter-violence saw ‘the law’ swing into action, ‘order’ asserting itself. And months later, arrests are still being made. Has all this been without ‘fear or favour’? The courts will, without doubt, tell us.

Those who know Brecht’s play laugh at lines in it like these:

“I am afraid of making enemies of other mighty men if I favour one of them in particular. Few people can help us, you see, but almost everyone can hurt us.”

“Stomachs rumble even on the emperor’s birthday.”

“The First God: Do people have a hard time here? Wang the water-seller: Good people do.”

“The First God to Shen Te the prostitute: Above all, be good, Shen Te, Farewell!”

“Shen Te: But I am not sure of myself, Illustrious Ones! How can I be good when everything is so expensive?”

“The Second God: We can’t do anything about that. We mustn’t meddle with economics!”

And they would have understood, with a sigh, the line: “No one can be good for long when goodness is not in demand.”

The same play, one of the funniest, wittiest, most profoundly thoughtful and mind-rinsingly disturbing in that genre, has the woman prostitute-protagonist burst out with the words: “Unhappy men! Your brother is assaulted and you shut your eyes! He is hit and assaulted and you are silent!… What sort of a city is this? What sort of people are you? When injustice is done there should be a revolt in the city. And if there is no revolt, it were better that the city should perish in fire before the night falls…”

In Ambedkar’s words

In words that powerfully echo Brecht’s, the architect of our Constitution, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar, said in the Constituent Assembly: “How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

 

Here is a great, perhaps the greatest, German writer of our times, using a Chinese parable to give the world a touch of truth about the human condition, the human propensity for domination and the human impulse for freedom, justice. And when on January 1, 2018, in the Bhima-Koregaon event these lines with a timeless and location-free message were recited in their Marathi rendering, they were seen as “an incitement to violence”. If, instead of Brecht’s the reciter had cited Babasaheb’s words, would he have been charged with incitement to violence? Today, who can tell?

Mohandas Gandhi was charged, likewise, in the spring of 1922 “for inciting disaffection towards His Majesty’s government” for articles by him published in Young India. In one of them, titled ‘Shaking the Manes’, he used a phrase from then current political discourse and ‘shook’ the Raj. The accused said in his famous trial: “I have no personal ill-will against any single administrator, much less can I have any disaffection towards the King’s person. But I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a government which in its totality has done more harm to India than any previous system.”

We have our own Brechts.

Just before the declaration of the national emergency in 1975, Jayaprakash Narayan had, before a massive rally in Delhi, quoted the great Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s lines: “Singhasan khali karo ki janata aati hai (vacate your throne, here come the people).” We know what happened thereafter to JP, to India. Also, what happened subsequently to the system that imprisoned him.

We shall see

Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhenge (We Shall See) is a classic in the same vein, quoted time and again as a call against oppression.

Citing literary sources, turning to parables, prose, plays, poetry is the wherewithal of political discourse. Our Prime Minister has in a Dinkar commemoration cited the same line with pride.

Just as policemen on duty are only human beings in uniform, so are lawyers in black silk. They know true from false, fact from fiction.

India, the theatre from time immemorial of a hundred injustices, a thousand oppressions is also the site of a million awakenings. Therein lies its strength.

Kuchh bat hai (there is that something), as Iqbal sang, about Hindustan that cannot let its self-hood fade.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, a former Governor of West Bengal, is distinguished professor of history and politics, Ashoka University

Source- The Hindu

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Attacked by father for marrying Dalit man, Madhavi battles for life in Hyd hospital

Madhavi is critical in a hospital, while Sandeep is also injured. Her father, who allegedly attacked them, is absconding.

A couple is sitting on a two-wheeler that is parked on a busy main road in Hyderabad’s Erragada main road. A man wearing a helmet pulls up next to them and parks his bike right next to them.

The man is seen getting down from the two-wheeler, he removes his helmet and then pulls out a sickle from his bag. He then proceeds to ruthlessly attack the young man, who is sitting on a bike with his wife. The attacker slashes the young man, as the woman then pulls the attacker down on to the ground. He then attacks the woman. As other bystanders attempt to intervene, the attacker threatens them with his sickle before slashing the woman again. At one point, a bystander kicks the attacker, who then walks out of the frame, as the young woman sits up.

This was the scene that played out in the heart of Hyderabad city around 3.30 pm on Wednesday and was caught on CCTV cameras. Madhavi (20) and Sandeep Didla (21), a couple (both students) who got married in a temple exactly a week ago have been hospitalised. The key suspect in the case, according to the police, is Madhavi’s father Manohar Chari, a goldsmith by profession. The incident took place under the jurisdiction of the SR Nagar police near Gokul theatre. Manohar Chari is absconding after the attack.

While Sandeep suffered a deep cut on his face and is getting treated at the Neelima hospital, Madhavi remains critical and has been shifted to Yashoda hospital. Sandeep is out of danger, according to the police.

Madhavi, who hails from the Viswabrahmin community, met Sandeep, a Dalit man, five years ago, while they were both in school. According to friends, he is doing his final year of B.Com from the Vivekananda College, while she is studying in the Hindu college in the city.

A friend of the couple at the hospital told TNM that they had gotten married just a week ago at a temple in Hyderabad. Reportedly, the girl’s father asked the couple to meet them at Erragada, Gokul Theatre.

Speaking to TNM, ACP Vijay Kumar said, “The man is out of danger, the woman is critical. She is seriously injured on her neck and her hand. Three teams have been formed to nab the culprit.”

“We are still scanning the CCTV cameras,” he added. The ACP said that according to eyewitnesses, Madhavi’s father was drunk.

The ACP also confirmed that her family had approached the police against the relationship, and the police had counselled them first at the Sanath Nagar then at the SR Nagar police stations. “Her father asked her to come back to the family, but she rejected this. Her family then agreed to their wedding,” he said.

Speaking to the media, Sandeep’s brother Madhu said, “One week ago, her parents and Sandeep had gone to Sanathnagar Police Station for talks. The police intervened and counselled her father. His main concern was that my brother was from a different caste. He kept bringing it up and was not ready to compromise. Later, the police spoke to him and finally, he seemed reconciled to the situation. It looks like he was acting and was not really okay with them getting married.”

“I had attended their wedding, they had called me all of a sudden and told us that they were getting married. We were surprised,” said Shravan Goud a college friend of Sandeep. According to his friends, Madhavi’s father had been coming to Sandeep’s house since September 15 and telling the family that they should take care of his daughter. The families had been called to the SR Nagar police station for counselling but Madhavi’s father had raised no objection then, according to Sandeep’s friends.

Gory visuals of the crime scene after the incident, showed the woman screaming in pain on a busy road, even as onlookers watched.

A case of attempt to murder has been registered by the police.

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/attacked-father-marrying-dalit-man-madhavi-battles-life-hyd-hospital-88637

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Bhima-Koregaon probe: Activist seeks sanction to file defamation case against cop

Bhima-Koregaon probe: Activist seeks sanction to file defamation case against cop

Pune Police had on August 28 raided Teltumbde’s Goa residence. On the same day, they arrested five activists for suspected Maoist links and as part of the probe into Bhima-Koregaon violence.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Updated: September 19, 2018 9:53:40 am

The Koregaon Bhima violence had claimed one life and left several others injured. (File)Civil rights activist and professor Anand Teltumbde has written to the government, seeking prosecution sanction to initiate criminal defamation proceedings against Maharashtra Police Additional Director General (Law & Order) Param Bir Singh. Pune Police had on August 28 raided Teltumbde’s Goa residence. On the same day, they arrested five activists for suspected Maoist links and as part of the probe into Bhima-Koregaon violence.

Teltumbde has written that he was defamed after Singh, in his press conference, referred to him as an accused. In the letter written on September 5, Teltumbde said: “Mr Param Bir Singh, along with other police personnel, held a press conference on 31.08.2018… I was alleged to be an accused, though not named in the FIR. Mr Param Bir Singh…, stated that he had ‘conclusive proof’ to link me with some terrorists associated with CPI (Maoist) (which is a banned organisation in India).”

He added: “All the allegations made by Mr Param Bir Singh against me are palpably false. The letter which was brandished and read out by Mr Param Bir Singh as apparently a ‘conclusive proof’ are not letters written to me at all. Even the entire exercise of raiding my home in Goa and thereafter, holding the press conference to malign me is nothing but a part of the larger attempt to discredit all persons who are critical of the policies of the present government. The fact that I have been critical of certain policies of the present government are clearly borne out by some of my books, writings, articles and interviews…”

“The entire exercise of raiding my home in Goa and the press conference by Mr Param Bir Singh have sullied my reputation before my students, academic colleagues, corporate contacts and the public at large… Since the injury caused to me has been a direct result of Mr Param Bir Singh’s malafide and motivated actions, and since Mr Param Bir Singh has publicised falsehoods against me knowing them to be untrue. Therefore, I am desirous of filing a criminal defamation proceeding against him, and am accordingly request you to grant sanction against him under CrPC,” the letter reads.

When contacted, Singh said that he had not read the letter and, hence, was unable to comment on it.

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The life and death of Kedar Singh Jindan- RTI Activist #mustshare

He was a crusader for Dalit rights and rattled Himachal Pradesh’s caste-ridden society.

Sitting behind the polished wooden desk in his office, Sirmaur’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Rohit Malpani looked like a man who hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in days but wore a look of slight satisfaction.

The Director General of Police had just left Sirmaur Police Station after holding a press conference earlier during the day. “This is the biggest case I’ve touched so far,” said Malpani, who has been an SP in Sirmaur for the past 14 months. “But only masala gets covered in Crime Patrol, so you won’t see this on TV. It is a proper UP-Bihar style murder: first hit him with sticks, then throw his body on the road and run a car over him frontwards, then backwards, and then frontwards over his face again—all of it in broad daylight at around noon. Even though there is a school nearby as well as a Block Education Office, not a single person is ready to speak.”

The case Malpani is referring to is the murder of Dalit RTI activist Kedar Singh Jindan (43) that took place on September 7 at Bakrash village in Sirmaur District’s Shillai Block, Himachal Pradesh, around noon. A ‘one-man army,’ Jindan, who was also a practising advocate at the Shimla High Court, worked for the rights of Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as for those who brought their cases of inter-caste marriages to him. He had also contested last year’s Assembly elections from Shillai on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. 

Jindan, who belonged to the Koli community, had held a press conference earlier in June in Shimla, wherein, using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, he had claimed that Below Poverty Line (BPL) certificates were being tampered with in his native place of Shillai. He said certificates were being issued to people belonging to the upper castes, who not only have heavy incomes but also lead a well-to-do life adorned with houses, multiple vehicles, etc.

Kedar Singh Jindan with his younger daughter

He alleged that Jai Prakash, the up-pradhan of Bakrash panchayat and a Rajput, had tampered with the BPL list and got a few of his family members’ names on it, thereby making them eligible to reap the benefits that should have rightfully gone to someone who was from SC/ST background. Following this, some members of Jai Prakash’s family lost their BPL privileges—something that they held Jindan solely responsible for. Also, to have a Dalit show you up in this manner, wasn’t something that sat well with the rest of the Rajputs in Bakras village.

In the June press conference, Jindan had also stated that his life was in danger. He had lodged a complaint with the NHRC for an incident dating June 12, 2017. The “place of the incident” was “Shila area” and “Simla” and the case was “disposed with directions” on August 23 2017, stating that “the complaint be transmitted to the concerned authority for such action as deemed appropriate. The authority concerned is directed to take appropriate action within 8 weeks and to inform the complainant of the action taken in the matter.”

***

Jindan’s wife said he was attacked last December as well. Hemalata  lives in Shimla, along with their two daughters, Vanshika and Dikshika, who study in Standard X and VII, respectively. She had met Jindan when she was 22 years old and studying in the first year of her B.A course. They both had a love marriage—Hemalata belonged to an upper caste from the town of Rohru village in Himachal Pradesh, and Jindan was a Dalit from Paab in Shillai.

“He was going to Shillai by bus and was dragged out of the front seat, where he was sitting when the bus reached Sataun village (in Kamrau Tehsil, Sirmaur) at around 4 pm. A mob of 50 men beat him up with sticks in the middle of the street, and no one came to his rescue. Sab tamasha dekh rahe the. Even the bus driver didn’t object or try to stop the act.” She further stated: “They hit him a lot…he was bleeding and very badly injured. The attackers then dropped six buckets of sand over him and left him to die.”

Jindan’s wife, Hemalata, at her home in Shimla

However, Jindan regained consciousness after 45 minutes, and in his bloody stupor, started shouting for water. “No one gave him a sip to drink,” said Hemalata. “He roamed the roads in his blood-stained clothes but no one gave him a lift. Maybe nobody recognised him. He was finally taken away in a police van to a hospital in Nahan.”

Hemalata also stated that Jindan had made a list of 35 names from whom he thought his life was in danger, and that this was submitted to police authorities as well. She also pointed out that Jai Prakash’s name was present in the list. “We used to be harassed when we lived in Shillai; people used to knock on our doors late at night and also give dhamkis over the phone. They said: ‘Sataun mein bach gaya, agli baar haddi bhi nahi milegi.’”

On September 7, Jindan was brutally beaten up with sticks and his face mutilated at the Block Primary Education Office (BPEO) in Bakrash village, Shillai, after which he was thrown onto the main road below and then crushed thrice by Jai Prakash’s Scorpio. Jai Prakash then himself called the Sirmaur police authorities and said he was involved in an accident. However, two people—who have now turned witness and are in police’s protective custody—saw the event unfold, or at least, are the only ones willing to come forward and say that they did. They are Raghuveer, son of Nain Singh, the local teacher at a school that is located right next to the BPEO in Bakrash where the incident took place. Nain Singh and his son are residents of Paab village—a remote and backward hilly village with no more than 10 houses—located above Kumrau tehsil in Shillai; the former, higher altitude area is where the Dalits live, while the latter lower-ground area is where the Rajputs reside.

Bakrash, where the murder took place, is only a few kilometres away down the curving mountain road, an area that can be seen from Paab. The other witness is Jindan’s nephew Suresh, who happened to be passing by the spot when Jindan was thrown onto the road.

Bakrash, as seen from Paab

According to Nain Singh, Jindan had arrived at his house in Paab the previous evening and had spent the night there. In the morning, while Nain Singh had gone to the fields, Jindan took off with Raghuveer on the motorbike for a ‘meeting’ at the BPEO office. Now, with his son Raghuveer turning witness in the case, Nain Singh puts on a brave front in the battering rainfall below his terrace roof in Paab village, but his fear is both, visible and justified. “If they can kill such a big leader in broad daylight, then what stops them from killing us?” he asked.

“This is a murder case—even the post-mortem report has found that,” said SP Malpani. “Three people have been arrested so far—Jai Prakash, Gopal Singh, and Karm Singh a.k.a Kaku.” SP Malpani also pointed out that Jai Prakash was an accused in another SC/ST atrocities case in Shillai earlier in March this year. He added: “Raghuveer’s 164 statement has been conducted on September 12; this is the testimony a witness gives in front of the court, as the statement given before police does not count in a court of law. We got his 164 done before a judicial magistrate in Paonta Sahib on Tuesday and his testimony is that it was a murder and that all three people who have been arrested, were involved.”

Malpani also confirmed that the prime accused, Jai Prakash, had initially tried to pass off the murder as an accident, but did not succeed. “The story that was recited by the accused was that it was an accident and that Jindal came under his vehicle, but after seeing the body, we knew this wasn’t an accident. The body was brutally murdered and face was crushed by the Scorpio. We have seen accidents: we investigate them daily. This was not a routine run-over by a vehicle.” He also said: “Jai Prakash has accepted that he has committed the murder—we didn’t disclose this before because we wanted to corroborate information with our witnesses. He (Jai Prakash) did deny it, but later, when he was confronted and questioned, he admitted to doing it.”

However, when asked whether this was a caste-based atrocity—since Section 3 (2) (5) of the SC/ST atrocities act has been implemented on the case—SP Malpani said: “This is not really a caste-based violence; it is more of a personal enmity between the accused and the victim.”

***

Jindan’s older brothers’—Bahadur Singh and Hira Singh—who live in Paab, told Newslaundrythat after Jindan had moved to Shimla with his wife and children more than eight years back, they had specifically warned him not to come back to the village.

“We felt there was some conspiracy being plotted against him that posed a threat to his life,” said Bahadur Singh. “When he came to the village on September 6, he didn’t stay here—he spent the night at Nain Singh’s house and went to the BPEO from there itself next morning,” said Hira Singh. “I was in the fields at the time when I got a call saying that Jindan had been killed and run over by a vehicle. I called the police authorities to provide me with protection so that I could go near the dead body, but the police had already taken the body away, that too without informing the family.”

 

(R-L) Jindan’s brothers Hira Singh and Bahadur Singh, along with their uncle

When asked if Jindan had ever asked for police protection, Hira Singh said: “Every office knew that he had been threatened and there was a serious threat to his life. None of this would have happened if he had police protection.”

While the gruesome details of this murder have shaken the state of Himachal Pradesh, no politicians from national parties have commented on this atrocity. Out of the 68 MLAs present in the state, only Rakesh Singha of the CPI(M) has stood in solidarity with the deceased Jindan’s family—an act for which his effigies have been burnt across the state of Himachal. “I need the government’s help, but all I have been given till now are promises,” said Hemalata.

She wants the compensation provided to be Rs 20 lakh and not Rs 8.5 lakh as the SC/ST Act makes provisions for. “I want a job (she has an MA B.Ed) and a full education for both my daughters. We don’t have any money in our banks and are paying Rs 5,000 as rent for this house (in Shimla)—we need a house too.” A CBI probe too, is one of her demands, although a five-member SIT has already been assigned to the case, headed by ASP Virender Thakur.

The trans-Giri area of Sirmaur (known so because of the Giri river’s presence running through this remote and untouched part of Himachal Pradesh) is no stranger to caste-based discrimination and violence. Ashish Kumar (35), District General Secretary of the Dalit Shoshan Shakti Manch (DSSM) of Sirmaur Parishad, said there was a case that occurred in trans-Giri area earlier in August this year wherein a Dalit by the name of Rajender Singh had suffered 18 fractures on his body after he was beaten up by a mob of upper caste men. His crime? Entering the village temple. “The police tried to register only a case of violence here, but after DSSM built pressure, the SC/ST Atrocities Act was included,” he said.

Another case in trans-Giri area was that of a Dalit being beaten up at a marriage ceremony for eating at the same time as people belonging to the savrna group. Many villagers narrate incidents of how they often had to give goats in compensation for not turning up when summoned by the Rajputs, sometimes up to seven goats, with each goat costing around Rs 7-10,000 each. “Most of the people belonging to SC/ST in trans-Giri work in the fields of the Rajputs and so-called higher caste people. They are dependent on them for work and an income,” said Kumar.

Even in the case of Jindan’s murder, the Sirmaur police had first registered an FIR under Section 302 (Punishment for Murder) and not under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. It was only after an all-night protest march along with Jindan’s body on The Ridge in Shimla on the night of September 8 that the following morning the SC/ST Act was included.

Dr Tanwar Singh, Secretariat of the CPI(M) and President of Himachal Kisaan Sabha, who spearheaded the protest march of nearly 300 people that night, said: “At first, the case was only registered under IPC 302 but after we protested all night, the SCT/ST atrocities Act was included the next morning.”

Hemalata too doesn’t seem to trust the Sirmaur Police. “I wanted the post-mortem to be conducted in IGMC in Shimla because earlier when he (Jindan) was attacked in Sataun (in Shillai), the police had not taken any action. After his post-mortem was conducted in IGMC, I didn’t even get a receipt intimating me of his release, and they (police) tried to take his body away back to Sirmaur.” That is when the protest broke out.

***

Three days after the death of Jindan, on September 10, a Rajput Sabha gathering was held in Shillai. SP Malpani was present in Shillai along with other police personnel at the time, to maintain law and order. “Nearly 500 people had assembled; their demands were varied,” he said. “They wanted the SC/ST Atrocities Act should be removed from the case, said that the death was due to an accident, that there was too much heavy a police force deployed in the village which was not required, and lastly, that MLA Rakesh Singha (CPIM) should not have come along with Jindan’s post-mortem body to Shillai to attend the cremation. I personally interacted with them (Rajput Sabha) and invited them to have a dialogue with me; I suggested they come and meet me, in as many numbers as they please, and have a dialogue with me.”

The Rajput Sabha gathering

SP Malpani explained his reason for suggesting so: “If anger comes out in phases, it helps in maintaining the peace. I wanted to dissipate their anger in pieces so that it wouldn’t all come down at one time—like in a typical mob mentality.”

When asked about the suspicions on police personnel in Sirmaur, Malpani dismissed these claims and said they had always treated this as a murder case and not tried to hide anything. “Our investigation is on the right track. We have done a good job. We have collected all material evidences—forensic reports, post-mortem reports, etc. There were two big challenges to the case: investigation, as well as maintaining law and order. We have managed to do both.” He also pointed out to the sheer strength of the police force deployed to maintain law and order in the area. “We went with 225 policemen; there were two reserves from Solan and two from the 6th battalion and two reserves from our own district Sirmaur, to Shillai with the dead body for cremation on September 9. These numbers are unprecedented—it is not a Mumbai or a Delhi.”

According to him, the last time such a heavy force was deployed in the area was around 10-12 years back, when there was a triple murder case in Paonta Sahib, Sirmour. “It was the impact of these high numbers of police personnel that got everyone scared; even the upper caste knew that we would arrest them if they tried to break the peace. We had planned that if anything speech was given in Sirmaur on that day, we would arrest people.” Speaking of the post-mortem incident that led to the protest, he said: “It is procedural for police officials to first hand over the body to doctors, and once the post-mortem is done, take it back from the doctors and then hand it over to the family.”

The five-member SIT team assigned to the case comprises SI Jeetram, the investigating officer from Paonta Sahib, SI Mohar Singh, the SHO from Majra, ASI Vidyasagar IO from Paonta Sahib, SI Virochen Negi who is the SHO from Sangda, and DSP Rajgarh Dushyant Sarpal— all led by additional SP Virendra Thakur, and supervised by SP Malpani.

***

Newslaundry also accompanied a seven-member independent fact-finding team of Human Rights Defenders and Activists visiting Shillai, in the Jindan murder case. The team comprised Kuldeep Verma, Birbal (Dalit Vikas Sangathan Sirmaur), Sukhdev Vishwapremi (Centre for Mountain Dalit Rights), Advocate Sanjay, Rajkumar (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights & National Dalit Movement for Justice), Raja Velu from Human Rights Defenders Alert and Manshi Asher from Kangra Citizens Rights Group. The team interacted with members of the community including the Pradhaan of the Gundaha Panchayat (of which Paab is a part) as well as members of the administration and the police.

The fact-finding team visiting Paab

On September 14, the team published an interim statement and expressed some concerns: “…the police had not responded adequately to the repeated threats received by Jindan from different members of the community who were irked by his work. Last year too there was an attack on Jindan at Sattaun where he was pulled out of a bus and beaten up badly by people who were enraged that he supported an inter-caste marriage in the area. Jindan’s family informed us that he was left buried in a heap of sand and left there to die. While he survived that attack, he had exposed that a large number of people from the area who were out to get him and they are all complicit in the murder according to the kin of Jindan. This needs to be investigated.”

***

Not so long ago, Kedar Singh Jindan used to run a Superlative Academy For Competition (SAC) in Shimla. A dusty old business card with his name emblazoned next to the SAC logo shows him as its Managing Director. The card reads: “What makes the difference between others and us? We create the talent, while others hunt for it.” The lines printed on the bottom of this piece of paper reads: “Every successful person has a painful story, and every painful story has a successful ending. Accept the pain and get ready for SUCCESS.” Jindan was a crusader for all causes: he fought for the rights of the oppressed SC/ST community, favoured inter-caste marriages, and was a voice that rattled Himachal’s deeply caste-ridden society. His murder will not be an easy pain to accept for those he fought for and indeed his family.

Disclaimer : Newslaundry.com is determined to include views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. This doesn’t mean we agree with everything we publish. But we do support their right to the freedom of speech. In case of columnists and non-Newslaundry staff articles, the information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not reflect the views of Newslaundry.com. Newslaundry.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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Statement condemning the government for inaction on death of manual scavengers

A Continuing Blight and Shame – an indictment of the Indian Government 

Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)

The MKSS is shocked by the many disturbing reports of deaths of workers when cleaning sewers. According to the Safai Karamchari Andolan, there have been 11 deaths  in 7 days of karamcharies in sewers. The government stands guilty for not implementing the law and not using its much touted technological advances to address this most inhuman and criminal use of human labour. In each specific case those responsible for making people work in such dangerous conditions must be held accountable, and cases of criminal liability must be established. Those responsible must be prosecuted as per the criminal law in force.

A government that is promoting ‘Swachh Bharat’ with so much vigour,  should begin with addressing the  plight of manual scavenging and use of human labour to clean the gutters which carry the excreta and filth of people who speak of sanitation. The  manual scavenging and cleaning of gutters must be stopped forthwith and those displaced provided with alternative occupation.

We demand that  “The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act” be law be stringently enforced with immediate effect.

 

 

Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh and Nikhil Dey on behalf of the MKSS

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Sairat alive and well in Telangana

Telangana honour killing: ‘Father wanted me to abort baby,’ says victim’s wife; blames dad, uncle for murder

Updated Sep 16, 2018 | 21:26 IST | Times Now Digital

Nalgonda honour killing: Amrutha Varshini, who is five months pregnant, said that her family didn’t approve of her marriage with Pranay Kumar and that her father had asked her to abort the baby.

telangana honour killing

Amrutha Varshini and Pranay Kumar |Photo Credit: Facebook

Hyderabad: Amrutha Varshini, the wife of 23-year-old Pranay Kumar, who was hacked to death in front of her at a hospital in Miryalaguda town, has alleged that her father and uncle were responsible for his murder. Amrutha, who is five months pregnant, said that her family didn’t approve of her marriage and that her father had asked her to abort the baby.

The sensational killing of the 23-year-old man in broad daylight at a hospital’s premises on Friday has sent shockwaves throughout the country. In a chilling CCTV footage of the incident, the man can be seen walking out of the hospital with his wife. Shortly after, a man with a machete attacked him, hitting him on the head.

As Pranay collapsed on the road, his attacker fled the crime scene. The police have arrested Amrutha’s father, Maruthi Rao, and uncle Shravan in connection with the alleged honour killing case. Cops reportedly believe that the two, who are in custody, might have hired a contract killer to execute the murder.

Speaking on this, the young woman said, “My father said, ‘you abort the baby now. Live with him (Pranay) for 2-3 years, after that I will accept the marriage’.” While Pranay belonged to a ‘lower caste’, 22-year-old Amrutha hailed from an ‘upper caste’ family and hence her family disapproved of their relationship.

The couple knew each other since school and had decided to get married despite their families’ opposition. The two tied the knot on January 30 at Arya Samaj office and had been living away from the girl’s family, the Times of India reported. Amrutha said that though they anticipated a threat from her family and even “went into hiding” for some time, they did not imagine that her family could plot such a “cold-blooded murder,”  NDTV quoted her as saying.

A distraught Amrutha, who has been hospitalized after the incident, said,  “I have no intention of aborting my baby. Pranay’s baby is my future. He was such a nice person. He looked after me so well, especially after I became pregnant. I don’t know why caste is so important in this time and age.”   The murder of Pranay Kumar is reminiscent of the killing of a young man in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur, who was murdered in front of his wife two years ago. The woman’s father and a few other relatives were later convicted in the case.

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India – Dalit RTI Activist Murdered in Himachal, Kin Demand CBI Probe

The RTI activist was attacked and then run over by a Scorpio on Friday, 7 September.

The RTI activist was attacked and then run over by a Scorpio on Friday, 7 September.(Photo: Ashish Kumar/Altered by The Quint)

Days after the alleged murder of Dalit RTI activist Kedar Singh Jindan in Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district, his family has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter. Under pressure, the slain activist’s wife and daughters have shifted to Shimla, The Quint has learned.

WHAT WE KNOW

Kedar Singh Jindan was allegedly murdered on Friday, 7 September, while he was on his way back home. The RTI activist was first attacked and then run over by a Scorpio, the Himachal Watcher reported.

Initially thought of as an accident, the police later registered a murder case against the SUV owner and up-Pradhan of Bakras gram panchayat, Jai Prakash, and Gopal Singh under Section 302 of the IPC, ANI reported.

Both the accused were arrested on Saturday, 8 September, after outrage mounted over the inaction of the police for the same. Social activists and locals protested on Saturday, demanding security for Jindan’s wife and family.

Photo of the Scorpio that ran over Kedar Singh Jindan.
Photo of the Scorpio that ran over Kedar Singh Jindan.
(Photo Courtesy: Ashish Kumar District Secretary, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Sirmaur)

Several people from different organisations took out a protest march in Nahan under the banner of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch. A memorandum was also submitted to additional deputy commissioner Aditya Negi to demand action, The Times of India reported.

Ashish Kumar, the district secretary of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch of Sirmaur, told The Quint that the protests died down after the police arrested the Panchayat officials.

WHAT THE FAMILY AND THE EYE-WITNESSES ARE SAYING

The eyewitness and family members have alleged that those accused in the murder are influential people, and therefore they feel unsafe in the region.

Many from the victim’s family did not attend the cremation out of fear, Ashish Kumar told The Quint. The protesters further alleged that there were five people who were involved in the murder, The Wire reported.

Hem Lata, wife of the slain RTI activist, told ANI:

“My husband was the only bread earner and now there is nobody in the family to take care. He had already asked for security as he was threatened for life and police did not take any action. He was attacked by these people earlier also.”

She told The Statesman that the culprits should be hanged to death. Fearing a threat to her life and the lives of her family members, she has also demanded police security.

Sita Ram Bansal, state president of Welfare Association of Schedule Caste and Tribe Employees, told ANI that there had been a attempt to take his life earlier as well and despite asking for protection, the police failed to provide him support.

People crowd at the funeral of slain RTI activist.
People crowd at the funeral of slain RTI activist.
(Photo Courtesy: Ashish Kumar, District Secretary, Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Sirmaur)
“The deceased was fighting social issues in the society and he had already demanded security, but police failed to provide it and he was murdered. The witness in the case is also a daily wage government employee and has demanded his posting at a safe place as his life could also be a threat. The Association has also demanded to refer the case to the CBI and has also asked for a job for his wife.”
Sita Ram Bansal

Member of CPM state secretariat, Rakesh Singh, said it was the inability of the government to provide security to the weak and the Dalits that led to the murder of the RTI activist.

WHAT THE POLICE IS SAYING

Himachal Pradesh police chief Sita Ram Mardi on Wednesday, 12 September, claimed that the activist had never sought police protection as he never felt any threat to his life.

According to the police, the autopsy report indicated that it was a case of murder. On Wednesday, DGP Sita Ram Mardi told PTI:

“Jindan had met me in my Shimla office but never felt any threat to his life nor he demanded any security.”
DGP Sita Ram Mardi

The DGP accompanied by Sirmaur Superintendent of Police Rohit Malpani told reporters that a Special Investigative Team (SIT) has been constituted to investigate the case and it was doing a good job.

Police added that three arrests have been made in connection with the death.

THE BACKDROP

In June, at a press conference in Shimla, Jindal had claimed that 6 families related to panchayat people got government jobs using fake BPL certificates.

He had alleged that by forging records using his position in the panchayat, Jai Prakash had managed to get government jobs for his family members in government jobs, Himachal Watcher reported.

He had raised several issues of atrocities on the lower class by the higher class. He had unsuccessfully contested Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections thrice on BSP and NCP tickets from Shillai seat.

THE IMPACT

According to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative which maps cases of attacks on RTI users, there had been 419 cases of such attacks till August 20, and 72 people had lost their lives. The attack on Jindan takes the toll up to 73.

(With inputs from PTI) Quint

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Girl child marriage rate highest among SC/ST: NCPCR Report

 

 

West Bengal has the highest rate of child marriage amongst SC girls, while in Arunachal Pradesh it is highest among Scheduled Tribes. In other castes, Maharashtra has the highest percentage of girl child marriage.

The prevalence of child marriage in India is the highest amongst Scheduled Tribe girls (15 per cent) followed by Scheduled Castes (13 per cent), according to a report released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The report which was released on the NCPCR website on Wednesday, is based on a comparative analysis of data on child marriage in the 15-19 age group from the third and fourth rounds of the National Family Health Survey (NHFS) conducted in 2005-2006 and 2015-16. The report has been prepared by Young Lives India, a research centre, in collaboration with the NCPCR.

According to the report, this phenomenon is evident among the top 10 states with the highest prevalence of child marriage.

West Bengal has the highest rate of child marriage amongst SC girls, while in Arunachal Pradesh it is highest among Scheduled Tribes. In other castes, Maharashtra has the highest percentage of girl child marriage.

Furthermore, Bihar, Gujarat and Telangana report very high prevalence of child marriages amongst OBC girls below the age of 18.

However, according to the report, a comparative analysis of child marriage for 15-19 year old girls as reported in NFHS-3 (2005-06) and NFHS-4 (2015-16) reveals that the overall prevalence of child marriage has reduced to a large extent in the last 10 years in a large number of states.

Substantial reduction of child marriage (more than 20 percentage points) is observed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the age group of 15-19.

The findings also reveal that prevalence of girl child marriage in the age-group 15-19 years is significant in rural areas as well as certain states and UTs which have large pockets of child marriage within urban areas such as Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Manipur.

According to the release, some factors like economic status and women’s educational level are associated with child marriage. It is observed that child marriage is more prevalent amongst women from bottom wealth tercile households.

In 13 states and one UT, more than 40 per cent of the child marriages took place amongst the bottom wealth tercile households.

The findings also show that completion rate of secondary schooling is considerably higher amongst unmarried girls aged 15-19 years in almost all states.

Source : NewsD, Sept 13, 2018

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