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UP’s Dy CM’s "Brahmin a superior way of living life" a sign of poll panic?

Dinesh Sharma says proud to be Brahmin, at the same time ‘slams’ opposition for being ‘casteist’ 

07 Feb 2022

UP

Days before Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar district of western Uttar Pradesh goes to polls on February 10, the state’s deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has made the most casteist and divisive remark. He has claimed that the “Brahmin” lifestyle was a “superior way of living a life”.

Sharma was speaking at a poll campaign for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Dhirendra Singh in Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar, on Sunday and reportedly hit out at Opposition parties for being "casteist". He claimed that he has been often asked about his views on Brahminism and the party's position on casteism to which he replied “BJP wants 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. Neither Brahmin, nor Gujjar or Jats. Every caste has its significance and that's why we have a bouquet of all castes here in support (of the BJP)." 

Sharma said he was proud of his own caste. “When I was linked to Brahminism, I said yes, I am a Brahmin and I am proud of it. I do not see it as any disrespect," he said, claiming that “a Brahmin's work is 'sarve bhavantu sukhinah', (Translation: Feeling happy in others' happiness.)" He added to his claims of Brahmin ‘pride’ as it were, and said he was a teacher by profession, and that in earlier times, “Only teachers were called Brahmins as they worked for the welfare of people and considered as gods across castes out of respect.”

He then added, “Brahmin is not a caste, a superior way of living life is called Brahmin. Whether teaching or (in the field of) education, or whatever the work, he's not in conflict with any caste. From birth to death, it is these Brahmins who work for good luck.” According to news reports he gave the credit to this definition of Brahmins to “the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'.” 

Bizarrely Sharma raised “caste” which he had just tried to dismiss when he attacked the Opposition parties saying, “BJP works for the backward classes, Jats, Gujjars, Thakurs, Vaishya and everyone. We have ministers, MLAs, MLCs across castes. We have not discriminated among people like other parties do.” He then claimed that he had interacted with the Muslim community in places like Aligarh and Lucknow and that “the BJP is getting support from across communities.”

Invoking caste in different ways is yet another sign that the political undercurrents are changing rapidly and unpredictably in Uttar Pradesh. As analysed earlier by SabrangIndia, stakes are high for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is in power in not just the state, but also at the centre – the impact of the Assembly election could be felt in the 2024 general elections. The BJP is clearly worried. 

The spate of high-profile resignations from the BJP government and party, has left the hardliners in the BJP-RSS and Sangh Parivar rather disturbed and shaky. Top ministers hailing from Other Backward Classes (OBC) have resigned from the cabinet, including heavyweight Swami Prasad Maurya. Along with them several MLAs too have chosen to quit. Almost all of them have joined the Samajwadi Party (SP).   

Western UP has reiterated yet again that it will vote unanimously against the BJP this time, especially the farmers who are upset with the BJP’s non-action with respect to promises made with respect to farm reforms. The farmers are also very angry because they have not been paid crores reportedly overdue for the sugarcane sold to the sugar factories in the region, and because of the betrayal of the Modi government on the promise of Minimum Support Price (MSP).  

“Punish anti-farmer BJP during state elections,” is the appeal sent by  farmers’ umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). “We have decided that “punish BJP” will remain the thrust of SKM’s further initiatives. We will prepare a letter to be distributed till the district-level along with village-level or mohallah-level meetings to urge citizens not to vote for the BJP in this election,” SKM leader Hannan Mollah said during a recent press conference in New Delhi.

Leaders of SKM noted that the central government backtracked on its written assurances regarding an MSP committee, withdrawal of cases against farmers, compensation and many other fronts. Similarly, the matter concerning the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre on October 3, 2021 has remained an emotional question for farmers – as has Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s continued position in the Union Cabinet. Farmers continue to demand Mishra’s suspension for his role in the incident wherein four farmers and a local journalist were run over by his son Ashish Mishra.

The SKM released a pamphlet endorsed by 57 farmer organisations that said, “What did the Yogi-government that promised to end ‘goondagardi’ do about this? It saved the accused.” According to SKM leader Rakesh Tikait this document will be distributed to the residents in UP and UK states. He said that UP sugarcane farmers have been waiting since 2017 for the government to complete procurement. Similarly, potato farmers have been suffering due to failed sales too.
 

Related:

HateBuster: Pro-Pakistan slogans raised in Samajwadi Party rally, claim rightwingers

BJP yet to deny if the man who shot at Asaduddin Owaisi was a member 

Will Bulandshahr gangrape-murder case take the Hathras route?

UP’s Dy CM’s "Brahmin a superior way of living life" a sign of poll panic?

Dinesh Sharma says proud to be Brahmin, at the same time ‘slams’ opposition for being ‘casteist’ 

UP

Days before Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar district of western Uttar Pradesh goes to polls on February 10, the state’s deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has made the most casteist and divisive remark. He has claimed that the “Brahmin” lifestyle was a “superior way of living a life”.

Sharma was speaking at a poll campaign for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Dhirendra Singh in Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar, on Sunday and reportedly hit out at Opposition parties for being "casteist". He claimed that he has been often asked about his views on Brahminism and the party's position on casteism to which he replied “BJP wants 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'. Neither Brahmin, nor Gujjar or Jats. Every caste has its significance and that's why we have a bouquet of all castes here in support (of the BJP)." 

Sharma said he was proud of his own caste. “When I was linked to Brahminism, I said yes, I am a Brahmin and I am proud of it. I do not see it as any disrespect," he said, claiming that “a Brahmin's work is 'sarve bhavantu sukhinah', (Translation: Feeling happy in others' happiness.)" He added to his claims of Brahmin ‘pride’ as it were, and said he was a teacher by profession, and that in earlier times, “Only teachers were called Brahmins as they worked for the welfare of people and considered as gods across castes out of respect.”

He then added, “Brahmin is not a caste, a superior way of living life is called Brahmin. Whether teaching or (in the field of) education, or whatever the work, he's not in conflict with any caste. From birth to death, it is these Brahmins who work for good luck.” According to news reports he gave the credit to this definition of Brahmins to “the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'sabka saath, sabka vikas'.” 

Bizarrely Sharma raised “caste” which he had just tried to dismiss when he attacked the Opposition parties saying, “BJP works for the backward classes, Jats, Gujjars, Thakurs, Vaishya and everyone. We have ministers, MLAs, MLCs across castes. We have not discriminated among people like other parties do.” He then claimed that he had interacted with the Muslim community in places like Aligarh and Lucknow and that “the BJP is getting support from across communities.”

Invoking caste in different ways is yet another sign that the political undercurrents are changing rapidly and unpredictably in Uttar Pradesh. As analysed earlier by SabrangIndia, stakes are high for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is in power in not just the state, but also at the centre – the impact of the Assembly election could be felt in the 2024 general elections. The BJP is clearly worried. 

The spate of high-profile resignations from the BJP government and party, has left the hardliners in the BJP-RSS and Sangh Parivar rather disturbed and shaky. Top ministers hailing from Other Backward Classes (OBC) have resigned from the cabinet, including heavyweight Swami Prasad Maurya. Along with them several MLAs too have chosen to quit. Almost all of them have joined the Samajwadi Party (SP).   

Western UP has reiterated yet again that it will vote unanimously against the BJP this time, especially the farmers who are upset with the BJP’s non-action with respect to promises made with respect to farm reforms. The farmers are also very angry because they have not been paid crores reportedly overdue for the sugarcane sold to the sugar factories in the region, and because of the betrayal of the Modi government on the promise of Minimum Support Price (MSP).  

“Punish anti-farmer BJP during state elections,” is the appeal sent by  farmers’ umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). “We have decided that “punish BJP” will remain the thrust of SKM’s further initiatives. We will prepare a letter to be distributed till the district-level along with village-level or mohallah-level meetings to urge citizens not to vote for the BJP in this election,” SKM leader Hannan Mollah said during a recent press conference in New Delhi.

Leaders of SKM noted that the central government backtracked on its written assurances regarding an MSP committee, withdrawal of cases against farmers, compensation and many other fronts. Similarly, the matter concerning the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre on October 3, 2021 has remained an emotional question for farmers – as has Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s continued position in the Union Cabinet. Farmers continue to demand Mishra’s suspension for his role in the incident wherein four farmers and a local journalist were run over by his son Ashish Mishra.

The SKM released a pamphlet endorsed by 57 farmer organisations that said, “What did the Yogi-government that promised to end ‘goondagardi’ do about this? It saved the accused.” According to SKM leader Rakesh Tikait this document will be distributed to the residents in UP and UK states. He said that UP sugarcane farmers have been waiting since 2017 for the government to complete procurement. Similarly, potato farmers have been suffering due to failed sales too.
 

Related:

HateBuster: Pro-Pakistan slogans raised in Samajwadi Party rally, claim rightwingers

BJP yet to deny if the man who shot at Asaduddin Owaisi was a member 

Will Bulandshahr gangrape-murder case take the Hathras route?

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Segregated burial grounds, a violation of the Constitution: Madras High Court

The court observed that allowing a separate burial ground based on caste promotes segregation, that is the opposite of the idea of Equality envisaged by the Constitution

08 Dec 2021

Madras High Court
Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

Allow entire cremation and burial grounds to be used by members of all castes and communities sans discrimination, the Madras High Court advised the Tamil Nadu government while disposing a petition requesting separate burial grounds for the Arunthathiyar community.

Earlier in 2021, petitioners B. Kalaiselvi and Mala Rajaram complained about the scheduled caste community members burying their dead in Odoi Poromboke region in Madur village of Kallakurichi district.The petitioners’ lands bound to this area receive rainwater during the monsoon season. The pleas called for the allocation of a permanent burial place for the SC folk away from their land. They argued that the nearby Manimuthaar river will be affected if the Odoi is used as a burial ground.

However, viewing the request as an act of segregation, Justice R. Mahadevan said, “Burial/cremation of bodies on the basis of caste or community within a religion, as well as preventing members of any caste/community from burying/cremating their dead in common cremation grounds… and earmarking such grounds for any particular caste/community exclusively, is violative of Articles 14, 15, 17 and 25 of the Constitution as well as against the spirit of the Fundamental Duties enshrined in the Constitution.”

Accordingly, he denied the plea for a permanent burial ground for the Arunthathiyar community, but encouraged the petitioners and the state government to earmark land for common burials and cremations. Justice Mahadevan also condemned the district officials' earlier intentions to create separate burial grounds for the community. Instead, he directed authorities to remove all boards near existing cremation grounds that only stated exclusive use of the land by specific castes and communities.

“Every citizen should be entitled to use the common burial/cremation grounds with all connected facilities and amenities attached thereto, without being discriminated against or segregated,” said the court order.

In the beginning of the order, Justice Mahadevan acknowledged how caste and class hierarchy affect the right to a dignified death due to ownership of such grounds by the privileged groups. He said it is “an undeniable fact” that several Dalits, Arunthathiyars and other marginalised groups do not have lands where they can pay their final respects to the deceased. Some members cannot even carry the dead bodies across certain lands belonging to the people of the privileged castes.

For this reason, the court directed the government to ensure the “prevention of any instance of social disability in a manner as to act towards the fulfilment of its commitment under the Constitution as well as the International Convention for Elimination of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination, and the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, to which India is a signatory.”

The “social disability” is to be addressed via the inclusion of aspects of cremation/burial for different communities in society, and specific provisions for construction and maintenance of common cremation/burial grounds for all communities.

The court also recommended awareness programmes bring about social change. For this, it suggested granting incentives, financial and otherwise to constituencies/wards, etc. for an increased acceptance for common cremation/burial grounds irrespective of caste or community with a sense of mutual respect.

Justice Mahadevan said that values of religious and communal tolerance and mutual respect for various cultures and religions should be included in school curriculum. Similarly, teachers should address issues of segregation and apartheid by instilling a scientific temper in children.

“This would go a long way in fulfilling the promise of substantive equality as enshrined in the fundamental rights as well as the ideals of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity as envisioned in the Preamble to our Constitution. This measure is particularly important, as the best way to bring about societal change is to shape young minds in their formative years of educational and socio-cultural conditioning,” he said.

The full order can be read here:

Related:

Conversion will not change caste of a person: Madras HC
Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi
Adivasi identity at stake
A Battle Over Common Lands Splinters Dalits in Periyar's Tamil Nadu

Segregated burial grounds, a violation of the Constitution: Madras High Court

The court observed that allowing a separate burial ground based on caste promotes segregation, that is the opposite of the idea of Equality envisaged by the Constitution

Madras High Court
Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

Allow entire cremation and burial grounds to be used by members of all castes and communities sans discrimination, the Madras High Court advised the Tamil Nadu government while disposing a petition requesting separate burial grounds for the Arunthathiyar community.

Earlier in 2021, petitioners B. Kalaiselvi and Mala Rajaram complained about the scheduled caste community members burying their dead in Odoi Poromboke region in Madur village of Kallakurichi district.The petitioners’ lands bound to this area receive rainwater during the monsoon season. The pleas called for the allocation of a permanent burial place for the SC folk away from their land. They argued that the nearby Manimuthaar river will be affected if the Odoi is used as a burial ground.

However, viewing the request as an act of segregation, Justice R. Mahadevan said, “Burial/cremation of bodies on the basis of caste or community within a religion, as well as preventing members of any caste/community from burying/cremating their dead in common cremation grounds… and earmarking such grounds for any particular caste/community exclusively, is violative of Articles 14, 15, 17 and 25 of the Constitution as well as against the spirit of the Fundamental Duties enshrined in the Constitution.”

Accordingly, he denied the plea for a permanent burial ground for the Arunthathiyar community, but encouraged the petitioners and the state government to earmark land for common burials and cremations. Justice Mahadevan also condemned the district officials' earlier intentions to create separate burial grounds for the community. Instead, he directed authorities to remove all boards near existing cremation grounds that only stated exclusive use of the land by specific castes and communities.

“Every citizen should be entitled to use the common burial/cremation grounds with all connected facilities and amenities attached thereto, without being discriminated against or segregated,” said the court order.

In the beginning of the order, Justice Mahadevan acknowledged how caste and class hierarchy affect the right to a dignified death due to ownership of such grounds by the privileged groups. He said it is “an undeniable fact” that several Dalits, Arunthathiyars and other marginalised groups do not have lands where they can pay their final respects to the deceased. Some members cannot even carry the dead bodies across certain lands belonging to the people of the privileged castes.

For this reason, the court directed the government to ensure the “prevention of any instance of social disability in a manner as to act towards the fulfilment of its commitment under the Constitution as well as the International Convention for Elimination of All Forms Of Racial Discrimination, and the Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice, to which India is a signatory.”

The “social disability” is to be addressed via the inclusion of aspects of cremation/burial for different communities in society, and specific provisions for construction and maintenance of common cremation/burial grounds for all communities.

The court also recommended awareness programmes bring about social change. For this, it suggested granting incentives, financial and otherwise to constituencies/wards, etc. for an increased acceptance for common cremation/burial grounds irrespective of caste or community with a sense of mutual respect.

Justice Mahadevan said that values of religious and communal tolerance and mutual respect for various cultures and religions should be included in school curriculum. Similarly, teachers should address issues of segregation and apartheid by instilling a scientific temper in children.

“This would go a long way in fulfilling the promise of substantive equality as enshrined in the fundamental rights as well as the ideals of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity as envisioned in the Preamble to our Constitution. This measure is particularly important, as the best way to bring about societal change is to shape young minds in their formative years of educational and socio-cultural conditioning,” he said.

The full order can be read here:

Related:

Conversion will not change caste of a person: Madras HC
Uttar Pradesh: Dalit school children thrashed, made to sit separately in Amethi
Adivasi identity at stake
A Battle Over Common Lands Splinters Dalits in Periyar's Tamil Nadu

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Conversion will not change caste of a person: Madras HC

Judgment addresses matter of issuance of certificates in case of inter-caste marriage, and makes observations about impact on caste-based reservations

26 Nov 2021

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court has ruled that the caste into which a person is born will not change after religious conversion. In a recent judgement the HC said, “This Court is of the considered opinion that conversion from one religion to another religion will not change the caste of a person (to) which he belongs.”

The matter pertains to one S. Paul Raj of Salem District who was born into the Adi Dravidar Community, a Scheduled Caste (SC) but later converted to Christianity, following which he was granted a Backward Class certificate. He married a woman hailing from the Hindu Arunthathiyar community, also a Scheduled Caste (SC). Based on this, the petitioner had sought an “inter-caste marriage certificate”, to avail benefits such as priority in employment as is offered in the state of Tamil Nadu in case of inter caste marriage certificate holders.

The Court observed, “In the present case, the petitioner admittedly belongs to Christian Adi-Dravidar community and by virtue of conversion to Christianity he was issued with the Backward Class certificate. However, by birth, the petitioner belongs to 'Adi-Dravidar' community and change of religion will not change the community. The classification of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Most Backward Classes, Backward Classes and Other castes will not change the caste.” Based on this, the court held, “Therefore, by conversion from one religion to another religion, the caste of the person remains unchanged and therefore based on the conversion to other religion, intercaste marriage certificate cannot be issued.”

The court further clarified, “In the event of converted person claiming inter-caste marriage certificate, it would pave way for the citizen to abuse the benefit to be granted under the inter-caste marriage quota. The repercussion will be large and therefore the inter-caste marriage certificate has to be issued only if any one of the spouses belongs to the Scheduled Caste and other spouse belongs to the other caste, but not otherwise.”

The entire order may be read here: 

 

Related:

Conversion approval not required for interfaith marriage registration: Allahabad HC

Videos of News Nation’s “Conversion Jihad” show to be taken down: NBDSA

Madhya Pradesh: NCPCR ‘inspects’ girls hostel run by nuns, alleges conversion

Conversion will not change caste of a person: Madras HC

Judgment addresses matter of issuance of certificates in case of inter-caste marriage, and makes observations about impact on caste-based reservations

Madras High Court

The Madras High Court has ruled that the caste into which a person is born will not change after religious conversion. In a recent judgement the HC said, “This Court is of the considered opinion that conversion from one religion to another religion will not change the caste of a person (to) which he belongs.”

The matter pertains to one S. Paul Raj of Salem District who was born into the Adi Dravidar Community, a Scheduled Caste (SC) but later converted to Christianity, following which he was granted a Backward Class certificate. He married a woman hailing from the Hindu Arunthathiyar community, also a Scheduled Caste (SC). Based on this, the petitioner had sought an “inter-caste marriage certificate”, to avail benefits such as priority in employment as is offered in the state of Tamil Nadu in case of inter caste marriage certificate holders.

The Court observed, “In the present case, the petitioner admittedly belongs to Christian Adi-Dravidar community and by virtue of conversion to Christianity he was issued with the Backward Class certificate. However, by birth, the petitioner belongs to 'Adi-Dravidar' community and change of religion will not change the community. The classification of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Most Backward Classes, Backward Classes and Other castes will not change the caste.” Based on this, the court held, “Therefore, by conversion from one religion to another religion, the caste of the person remains unchanged and therefore based on the conversion to other religion, intercaste marriage certificate cannot be issued.”

The court further clarified, “In the event of converted person claiming inter-caste marriage certificate, it would pave way for the citizen to abuse the benefit to be granted under the inter-caste marriage quota. The repercussion will be large and therefore the inter-caste marriage certificate has to be issued only if any one of the spouses belongs to the Scheduled Caste and other spouse belongs to the other caste, but not otherwise.”

The entire order may be read here: 

 

Related:

Conversion approval not required for interfaith marriage registration: Allahabad HC

Videos of News Nation’s “Conversion Jihad” show to be taken down: NBDSA

Madhya Pradesh: NCPCR ‘inspects’ girls hostel run by nuns, alleges conversion

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Gujarat: Dalit family attacked for entering Kutch temple

Six members of the family were attacked, their farmlands ravaged; 20 accused, five detained so far

30 Oct 2021

DalitImage Courtesy:indianexpress.com

Bloodsoaked, injured, their pain visible on their shocked faces, a Dalit family, that was assaulted by 20 persons allegedly for merely entering a Ram temple in Kutch, Gujarat, awaits justice and support. 

Six members of the family were attacked, and according to news reports, their farmlands were ravaged after they allegedly entered the village temple during a ceremony organised by another community. The attack was reported from a village in Bhachau taluka of Gandhidham city of Kutch and took place three days ago, however it came into the limelight only after media began reporting on it and images were shared on social media. The family was assaulted allegedly by a group of 20 persons, and by Friday evening police had detained only five accused, stated news reports.

The Dalit victims told the media that they were "systematically targeted" for entering a Ram temple in their village, while a ceremony, which had been organised by another community, was being held in the temple. The police on the other hand have told the media that they are “probing the allegations made by the victims”, adding that “the six persons have been admitted to Civil Hospital in Bhuj of Kutch following the attack in which they received injuries on their heads and other parts by sharp weapons.”

According to media reports, based on police information, there were two attacks on October 26 at Ner village under Bhachau taluka. A group of 20 persons first allegedly “ransacked the farmland of the Dalit family by letting cattle graze through it” and then entered the Dalit house to assault the family. Govind Vaghela (39) one of the family members reportedly said that he got to know around 10 A.M on October 26, that cattle had entered his farmland in the village. He said, “I left in an auto rickshaw with my uncle Ganesh Vaghela. Upon reaching my farmland, I saw that the crops had been ransacked and a group of men were waiting underneath a tree, holding axes, sticks, and rods in their hands. Led by the accused Kana Ahir of my village, they started assaulting us with the weapons.” Govind Vaghela has put this account on record in his police complaint as well.

He added, “They asked us as to why did we enter the Ram temple on October 20 when a ‘pratishthan’ ceremony was going on. They stole my cell phone and attacked the autorickshaw so that we couldn’t seek help and told me that they are going to the village to kill my father. My uncle and I received injuries on our heads and limbs and we were finally rescued by the police who took us to the hospital,” reported the Indian Express. Police, told the media that around 11:30 A.M, the group of 20 accused then reached the house of Jagabhai Vaghela (64), father of Govind and assaulted him, his wife Baddhiben Vaghela, son Bhura Vaghela and nephew Hasmukh Vaghela. Jagabhai Vaghela recalled that “the accused used casteist slurs… and we were hit on our head and limbs by the accused resulting in excessive bleeding.” 

Police have lodged two FIRs against 20 accused identified as Kana Ahir, Jeeva Ahir, Vela Ahir, Kesra Rabari, Arjan Rabari, Dinesh Balasara, Rajesh Balasara, Rana Balasara, Dinesh Ramji Balasara, Naya Ahir, Kana Koli, Bhanji Suthar, Rajesh Maraj, Dinesh Maraj, Paba Rabari, Chauda Koli, Sava Koli, Momaya Koli, Hema Rabari and Navgan Rabari, reported IE. They have been charged under under IPC sections 307 for attempt to murder, 323 for causing hurt, 324 for causing hurt by dangerous weapons, 452 for house tresspass for causing hurt, 120(b) for criminal conspiracy, 506 for criminal intimidation, 294b for obsceniy, sections of the rioting and sections of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (prevention of atrocities) act.

Kishorsinh Zala, deputy superintendent of police, Bhachau said, “We have detained five out of 20 accused and their covid test formalities are going on. A total of eight teams have been formed to nab the remaining accused…”

Related:

Agra: Sanitation worker dies in police custody
Do not file FIR on “third party” complaint under SC/ST Act, without approval: Punjab & Haryana HC
Hate Watch: Teacher flogs Class 12 Dalit boy in class, video goes viral
Haryana: "Upper castes" booked for social boycott of 150 Dalit families

Gujarat: Dalit family attacked for entering Kutch temple

Six members of the family were attacked, their farmlands ravaged; 20 accused, five detained so far

DalitImage Courtesy:indianexpress.com

Bloodsoaked, injured, their pain visible on their shocked faces, a Dalit family, that was assaulted by 20 persons allegedly for merely entering a Ram temple in Kutch, Gujarat, awaits justice and support. 

Six members of the family were attacked, and according to news reports, their farmlands were ravaged after they allegedly entered the village temple during a ceremony organised by another community. The attack was reported from a village in Bhachau taluka of Gandhidham city of Kutch and took place three days ago, however it came into the limelight only after media began reporting on it and images were shared on social media. The family was assaulted allegedly by a group of 20 persons, and by Friday evening police had detained only five accused, stated news reports.

The Dalit victims told the media that they were "systematically targeted" for entering a Ram temple in their village, while a ceremony, which had been organised by another community, was being held in the temple. The police on the other hand have told the media that they are “probing the allegations made by the victims”, adding that “the six persons have been admitted to Civil Hospital in Bhuj of Kutch following the attack in which they received injuries on their heads and other parts by sharp weapons.”

According to media reports, based on police information, there were two attacks on October 26 at Ner village under Bhachau taluka. A group of 20 persons first allegedly “ransacked the farmland of the Dalit family by letting cattle graze through it” and then entered the Dalit house to assault the family. Govind Vaghela (39) one of the family members reportedly said that he got to know around 10 A.M on October 26, that cattle had entered his farmland in the village. He said, “I left in an auto rickshaw with my uncle Ganesh Vaghela. Upon reaching my farmland, I saw that the crops had been ransacked and a group of men were waiting underneath a tree, holding axes, sticks, and rods in their hands. Led by the accused Kana Ahir of my village, they started assaulting us with the weapons.” Govind Vaghela has put this account on record in his police complaint as well.

He added, “They asked us as to why did we enter the Ram temple on October 20 when a ‘pratishthan’ ceremony was going on. They stole my cell phone and attacked the autorickshaw so that we couldn’t seek help and told me that they are going to the village to kill my father. My uncle and I received injuries on our heads and limbs and we were finally rescued by the police who took us to the hospital,” reported the Indian Express. Police, told the media that around 11:30 A.M, the group of 20 accused then reached the house of Jagabhai Vaghela (64), father of Govind and assaulted him, his wife Baddhiben Vaghela, son Bhura Vaghela and nephew Hasmukh Vaghela. Jagabhai Vaghela recalled that “the accused used casteist slurs… and we were hit on our head and limbs by the accused resulting in excessive bleeding.” 

Police have lodged two FIRs against 20 accused identified as Kana Ahir, Jeeva Ahir, Vela Ahir, Kesra Rabari, Arjan Rabari, Dinesh Balasara, Rajesh Balasara, Rana Balasara, Dinesh Ramji Balasara, Naya Ahir, Kana Koli, Bhanji Suthar, Rajesh Maraj, Dinesh Maraj, Paba Rabari, Chauda Koli, Sava Koli, Momaya Koli, Hema Rabari and Navgan Rabari, reported IE. They have been charged under under IPC sections 307 for attempt to murder, 323 for causing hurt, 324 for causing hurt by dangerous weapons, 452 for house tresspass for causing hurt, 120(b) for criminal conspiracy, 506 for criminal intimidation, 294b for obsceniy, sections of the rioting and sections of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (prevention of atrocities) act.

Kishorsinh Zala, deputy superintendent of police, Bhachau said, “We have detained five out of 20 accused and their covid test formalities are going on. A total of eight teams have been formed to nab the remaining accused…”

Related:

Agra: Sanitation worker dies in police custody
Do not file FIR on “third party” complaint under SC/ST Act, without approval: Punjab & Haryana HC
Hate Watch: Teacher flogs Class 12 Dalit boy in class, video goes viral
Haryana: "Upper castes" booked for social boycott of 150 Dalit families

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Punjab: Newly-weds, hacked to death, allegedly by woman’s family

Both families are from the OBC community, but were from different economic backgrounds; 16 including woman’s kin booked

18 Oct 2021

Punjab: Newly-weds, hacked to death,

A horrific crime, that seems to be rooted in caste based discrimination and patriarchy, had been reported from Fazilka district Punjab on Sunday. A Newly-wed couple was reportedly abducted and hacked to death, allegedly by the woman’s family members who had objected to their marriage.

According to news reports, the Moga police have booked 16 people, including the woman’s paternal uncles and cousins on charges of murder, kidnapping and other offences. The complaint was reportedly filed by the man’s brother-in-law Sukhdev Singh.

The victims identified as Rohtash Singh (25) and Suman (23) had got married on October 1 in Chandigarh, and the couple was reportedly staying at Rohtash’s sister Mamta’s house in Raunta village in Nihal Singh Wala of Moga since October 13. Suman’s family had rejected the alliance and this Sunday afternoon, members of her family, now accused of the murder, allegedly barged into Mamta’s house, and “abducted the couple”, reported Indian Express. The victims were beaten up, and allegedly murdered in the Sappanwali village of Abohar in Fazilka district. Their bodies were dumped at the main chowk of the village.

Police shared horrific details of the gruesome murder saying, “Rohtash’s throat was slit, and Suman was strangled”, and that other multiple injuries on their bodies were “inflicted with swords, axes and other sharp weapons.” According to Rohtash’s brother Vikram Kumar,  Suman’s family “had made life hell” for the couple and used to roam outside their house with weapons. He added that even he and his family had “left our house and hid ourselves to save our lives.”

According to news reports, even though both families are from the OBC community, they were from different economic sections. According to Vikram, Suman’s family are zamindars (landowners) and his own family is that of daily wagers, “My late father was a gardener. So they felt humiliated when their daughter married the son of a daily wager instead of a zamindar.” 

Sukhdev Singh, Rohtash’s brother-in-law, recalled, “On Sunday afternoon, around 15-16 people in three cars stopped outside my house and tried to barge in. When we refused to open the gates, they scaled the walls and came inside. They started thrashing Rohtash and Suman,” he told the IE adding, the couple was dragged outside and taken away in cars. “My wife was not at home. I started following them on my motorcycle but they sped off. Suman was terrified when the attack happened and identified four men. Two of them were her paternal uncles and two were cousins. They were carrying swords and at least 10 more people were accompanying them with their faces covered. They were shouting ‘tuhanu love marriage karwaun da mazaa chakhauney haan’ (Now we will teach you both a lesson for solemnising love marriage)’. A few hours later, we got to know that they killed both of them and threw the bodies at the chowk,” he recalled.

Sukhdev has claimed that there was no caste issue as both families were from the OBC community, but that the girl's family objected “because they felt it would be humiliating if their daughter married the son of a gardener. Both Suman and Rohtash loved each other since school days and always wanted to get married. Earlier also, 2-3 times, Suman’s family had warned us against this relationship but both were madly in love.”

According to news reports the Moga police have registered an FIR under sections 302 (murder), 452 (house trespass), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 148 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC at Nihal Singh Wala police station.

 

Related:

Kundli murder accused remanded to week-long custody

Haryana: "Upper castes" booked for social boycott of 150 Dalit families

Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

Punjab: Newly-weds, hacked to death, allegedly by woman’s family

Both families are from the OBC community, but were from different economic backgrounds; 16 including woman’s kin booked

Punjab: Newly-weds, hacked to death,

A horrific crime, that seems to be rooted in caste based discrimination and patriarchy, had been reported from Fazilka district Punjab on Sunday. A Newly-wed couple was reportedly abducted and hacked to death, allegedly by the woman’s family members who had objected to their marriage.

According to news reports, the Moga police have booked 16 people, including the woman’s paternal uncles and cousins on charges of murder, kidnapping and other offences. The complaint was reportedly filed by the man’s brother-in-law Sukhdev Singh.

The victims identified as Rohtash Singh (25) and Suman (23) had got married on October 1 in Chandigarh, and the couple was reportedly staying at Rohtash’s sister Mamta’s house in Raunta village in Nihal Singh Wala of Moga since October 13. Suman’s family had rejected the alliance and this Sunday afternoon, members of her family, now accused of the murder, allegedly barged into Mamta’s house, and “abducted the couple”, reported Indian Express. The victims were beaten up, and allegedly murdered in the Sappanwali village of Abohar in Fazilka district. Their bodies were dumped at the main chowk of the village.

Police shared horrific details of the gruesome murder saying, “Rohtash’s throat was slit, and Suman was strangled”, and that other multiple injuries on their bodies were “inflicted with swords, axes and other sharp weapons.” According to Rohtash’s brother Vikram Kumar,  Suman’s family “had made life hell” for the couple and used to roam outside their house with weapons. He added that even he and his family had “left our house and hid ourselves to save our lives.”

According to news reports, even though both families are from the OBC community, they were from different economic sections. According to Vikram, Suman’s family are zamindars (landowners) and his own family is that of daily wagers, “My late father was a gardener. So they felt humiliated when their daughter married the son of a daily wager instead of a zamindar.” 

Sukhdev Singh, Rohtash’s brother-in-law, recalled, “On Sunday afternoon, around 15-16 people in three cars stopped outside my house and tried to barge in. When we refused to open the gates, they scaled the walls and came inside. They started thrashing Rohtash and Suman,” he told the IE adding, the couple was dragged outside and taken away in cars. “My wife was not at home. I started following them on my motorcycle but they sped off. Suman was terrified when the attack happened and identified four men. Two of them were her paternal uncles and two were cousins. They were carrying swords and at least 10 more people were accompanying them with their faces covered. They were shouting ‘tuhanu love marriage karwaun da mazaa chakhauney haan’ (Now we will teach you both a lesson for solemnising love marriage)’. A few hours later, we got to know that they killed both of them and threw the bodies at the chowk,” he recalled.

Sukhdev has claimed that there was no caste issue as both families were from the OBC community, but that the girl's family objected “because they felt it would be humiliating if their daughter married the son of a gardener. Both Suman and Rohtash loved each other since school days and always wanted to get married. Earlier also, 2-3 times, Suman’s family had warned us against this relationship but both were madly in love.”

According to news reports the Moga police have registered an FIR under sections 302 (murder), 452 (house trespass), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), 148 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC at Nihal Singh Wala police station.

 

Related:

Kundli murder accused remanded to week-long custody

Haryana: "Upper castes" booked for social boycott of 150 Dalit families

Hate watch: BJP man makes racist, anti-Dalit social media posts about Dr. Udit Raj

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Karnataka: Dalit family fined Rs 25,000 for 'purification ritual' after toddler runs into temple 

Days later, police register case under the SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act, arrest five

23 Sep 2021

dalits
Representation Image / Twitter

A two-year-old innocently toddled into a temple in a Karnataka village, and his Dalit family ended up paying the price, literally! The family was fined Rs 25,000 after their two-year-old child entered a temple in the village. According to news reports, Chandru, the father of the toddler, and his family are Dalits, and are not allowed in the Anjaneya Temple in Miyapur of Koppal. It was on September 4, that the child entered the temple when his family had gone there to offer prayers for his birthday. 

After the child ran inside the temple premises the temple priest and locals objected to this, and then eventually imposed a fine on the family on September 11, stated news reports.The media reported that locals belonging to the so called ‘upper caste’ demanded money from the child’s family for 'purification' rituals at the temple they claimed had been defiled.

Speaking to mediapersons, Chandru said, “It was my son’s birthday and we wanted to offer our prayers at the Anjaneya temple in front of our house. It started raining then and my son entered the temple. That is all that happened.” After the incident and the ‘fine’ came to light, members of the Channadasar community to which Chandru belongs, held protests and approached the police, reported India Today. However, Chandru's family have reportedly refused to lodge a police complaint to avoid disrupting the harmony of the village. Nevertheless the district administration intervened, resolved the issue and warned them.

More than 10 days after the Dalit family was ‘fined’ Rs 25,000, the Kushtagi police have registered a case under the SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act on Wednesday and arrested five people of Miyapur village, reported The Times of India. Calling the penalty “inhumane and shameful”, Koppal deputy commissioner Suralkar Vikas Kishor urged the people to report incidents of untouchability without delay.

The TOI reported that DC Kishor, SP T Sreedhara and other officials visited Miyapur on Wednesday and convened a meeting of villagers. “It is not the temple that is dirty after the entry of the Dalit boy but our mind that is dirty,” the DC told villa villagers reminding them that Citizens have equal responsibility, to report such hate crimes. The DC told the media that the boy’s father had approached police on September 13 but refused to register a case. “We request victims to come forward and come forward and register a case, barring which we will register cases suo motu,” he said. Those arrested in the case have been identified as: Karakappa Pujari, Hanumagouda,  Gavisiddappa Myageri, Virupakshagouda Myageri and Sharanagouda. 

This is yet another example of biases and prejudices like looking down on one’s appearance, their mannerisms, how one chooses to pray, has the capacity to consume us within a society. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Secretary and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad explains how these biases “stereotyping, insensitive remarks, fear of differences, non-inclusive language, micro aggressions justifying biases by seeking out like-minded people, that takes shape in the form of hate.” This prejudiced attitude is the first stage in the Pyramid Of Hate’. The next stage is acts of prejudice which involves name calling, social exclusion, targeting particular sections of the society by telling belittling jokes. The third stage is discrimination, where certain communities are subject to harassment, bullying, exclusion in housing, employment, education .

 

Related: 

Why is iD dosa batter giving communal trolls indigestion?

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

Karnataka: Dalit family fined Rs 25,000 for 'purification ritual' after toddler runs into temple 

Days later, police register case under the SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act, arrest five

dalits
Representation Image / Twitter

A two-year-old innocently toddled into a temple in a Karnataka village, and his Dalit family ended up paying the price, literally! The family was fined Rs 25,000 after their two-year-old child entered a temple in the village. According to news reports, Chandru, the father of the toddler, and his family are Dalits, and are not allowed in the Anjaneya Temple in Miyapur of Koppal. It was on September 4, that the child entered the temple when his family had gone there to offer prayers for his birthday. 

After the child ran inside the temple premises the temple priest and locals objected to this, and then eventually imposed a fine on the family on September 11, stated news reports.The media reported that locals belonging to the so called ‘upper caste’ demanded money from the child’s family for 'purification' rituals at the temple they claimed had been defiled.

Speaking to mediapersons, Chandru said, “It was my son’s birthday and we wanted to offer our prayers at the Anjaneya temple in front of our house. It started raining then and my son entered the temple. That is all that happened.” After the incident and the ‘fine’ came to light, members of the Channadasar community to which Chandru belongs, held protests and approached the police, reported India Today. However, Chandru's family have reportedly refused to lodge a police complaint to avoid disrupting the harmony of the village. Nevertheless the district administration intervened, resolved the issue and warned them.

More than 10 days after the Dalit family was ‘fined’ Rs 25,000, the Kushtagi police have registered a case under the SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act on Wednesday and arrested five people of Miyapur village, reported The Times of India. Calling the penalty “inhumane and shameful”, Koppal deputy commissioner Suralkar Vikas Kishor urged the people to report incidents of untouchability without delay.

The TOI reported that DC Kishor, SP T Sreedhara and other officials visited Miyapur on Wednesday and convened a meeting of villagers. “It is not the temple that is dirty after the entry of the Dalit boy but our mind that is dirty,” the DC told villa villagers reminding them that Citizens have equal responsibility, to report such hate crimes. The DC told the media that the boy’s father had approached police on September 13 but refused to register a case. “We request victims to come forward and come forward and register a case, barring which we will register cases suo motu,” he said. Those arrested in the case have been identified as: Karakappa Pujari, Hanumagouda,  Gavisiddappa Myageri, Virupakshagouda Myageri and Sharanagouda. 

This is yet another example of biases and prejudices like looking down on one’s appearance, their mannerisms, how one chooses to pray, has the capacity to consume us within a society. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Secretary and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad explains how these biases “stereotyping, insensitive remarks, fear of differences, non-inclusive language, micro aggressions justifying biases by seeking out like-minded people, that takes shape in the form of hate.” This prejudiced attitude is the first stage in the Pyramid Of Hate’. The next stage is acts of prejudice which involves name calling, social exclusion, targeting particular sections of the society by telling belittling jokes. The third stage is discrimination, where certain communities are subject to harassment, bullying, exclusion in housing, employment, education .

 

Related: 

Why is iD dosa batter giving communal trolls indigestion?

A year on, Hathras victim’s family awaits a house, pension and employment

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Assam Tea Tribes served another set of vague promises

Despite five-hour long meeting, no commitment on granting tea tribes ST status or increasing daily wages in line with demands of tea estate workers

02 Sep 2021

ASSAM TEA TRIBE

Assam’s Tea Tribes have been given a raw deal yet again, with the state’s Chief Minister steering clear of making any concrete commitments when it comes to specific demands of the community, despite holding a five-hour long meeting with representatives of the tea tribes as well as intellectuals on August 30. The final outcome of the meeting was just a promise to set up a few sub-committees to study the needs of the community and submit a report.

At the meeting titled “Humder Moner Kotha” which means “our thoughts”, Sarma met with and held detailed discussions with community leaders and eminent citizens like Dr Bhaben Tanti, Dr Dhrubajyoti Kurmi, Smt Dulami Herenz, Dr Kamal Kumar Tanti, Sri Pawan Singh Ghatowar, Sri Sushil Chandra Kurmi and many others. But at the end of it, Sarma did not make any specific commitment towards looking into specific demands.

“We're exploring robust short to long term action plan for Tea Tribes. Assam Govt will constitute 7 sub-committees to study all issues and will submit reports by Dec 2021. Based on the recommendations, GOA will include provisions for their socio-eco upliftment in next Budget,” said Sarma with no mention at all about granting Scheduled Tribe status to tea tribes or addressing the matter of their abysmal daily wages. While he said, “Assam is forever grateful to Tea Tribes for their sparkling contributions. Their prosperity is our priority,” and that, “The deliberative process will continue for 6 months,” the vagueness of his words appears to suggest that the administration has no desire to address the elephant in the room.

To understand the full scale of this issue, we have to first understand the people constituting the Tea Tribes.

Who are the Tea Tribes?

In colonial times, after tea leaves were found growing by a British officer named Robert Bruce in 1823, the British brought several people hailing from Adivasi and tribal communities of other Indian states (present day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) to work in tea estates in Assam. By 1862, there were 160 tea estates in Assam. Many of these communities have been granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in their home states.  

In Assam, these people came to be known as the Tea Tribes. They are a heterogenous, multi-ethnic group and speak languages as diverse as Sora, Odia, Sadri, Kurmali, Santali, Kurukh, Kharia, Kui, Gondi and Mundari. They worked in these tea estates in colonial times, and their descendants have remained in the state to this day still working in tea estates, making Assam their home and adding to its rich socio-cultural tapestry. Today there are over 8 lakh tea estate workers in Assam and the total population of the Tea Tribes is estimated to be more than 65 lakhs.

Tea estates in Assam

According to the Directorate for Welfare of Tea Tribes, at present there are 803 tea estates in Assam. Dibrugarh leads with 177 tea estates, followed by Tinsukia (122), followed by Jorhat (88), Sivasagar (85), Golaghat (74), Sonitpur (59), Cachar (56), Udalguri (24), Karimganj (23), Nagaon (21), Halaikandi (19), Karbi Anglong (15), Lakhimpur (9), four each in Baksha and Darrang, three each in Dhubri, Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup (Rural) and Kokrajhar, two each in Dhemaji, Dima Hasao and Goalpara, and one each in Bongaigaon, Chirang and Morigaon.  

Electoral might of Tea Tribes

Today, Tea Tribes, comprising people of diverse ethnic groups including, but not limited to Santhal, Kurukh, Munda, Gond, Kol and Tantis, are influential in as many as 42 of the total 126 assembly constituencies in Assam. Therefore, it is impossible for any party to ignore them. But as has been the case so far, promises are made only to be broken.

The demand for ST status

Given how tea workers hail from different Adivasi communities that have been granted ST status in other states, it is understandable that they would want the same in Assam. The grant of ST status allows members certain social benefits such as reservations and exemptions, which tea tribes do not enjoy at present. In the run up to the assembly elections in Assam this year, SabrangIndia had reported how in March, Adivasi groups led by All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) had questioned the BJP as to why it had failed to grant ST status to tea tribes.

Demand for a living wage

Trouble has been brewing in Assam’s many tea estates where workers hailing from Tea Tribes have been forced to live hand to mouth, working for a measly daily wage of just Rs 167!

In February 2021, the state government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) helped pave the way for a higher wage, an increase of a mere Rs 50 to the daily wage. But the tea estates went to court against this hike. As a result, the tea estate workers were deprived of even this marginal hike pending the outcome of the court case. Then on March 22, 2021, just days before the first phase of elections, tea estates voluntarily agreed to a hike of Rs 26… another meagre amount.

Organisations representing interests of Tea Tribes such as Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA), All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) and the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) have expressed displeasure with the denial of a basic living wage.

Interestingly, the BJP had promised Rs 351 as the daily wage in the run up to the 2016 elections, a promise they clearly reneged on. But with by-elections coming up in five seats including two in Upper Assam where Tea Tribe voters will play a key role, perhaps this is just another political ploy to wrest back these two seats from the Congress that had won them in the last Assembly Polls.

Image courtesy - Official Twitter Account of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Related:

Will Assam tea party sink the BJP’s ship?
Growing disaffection for BJP among Adivasis, ethnic minorities in Assam?

Assam Tea Tribes served another set of vague promises

Despite five-hour long meeting, no commitment on granting tea tribes ST status or increasing daily wages in line with demands of tea estate workers

ASSAM TEA TRIBE

Assam’s Tea Tribes have been given a raw deal yet again, with the state’s Chief Minister steering clear of making any concrete commitments when it comes to specific demands of the community, despite holding a five-hour long meeting with representatives of the tea tribes as well as intellectuals on August 30. The final outcome of the meeting was just a promise to set up a few sub-committees to study the needs of the community and submit a report.

At the meeting titled “Humder Moner Kotha” which means “our thoughts”, Sarma met with and held detailed discussions with community leaders and eminent citizens like Dr Bhaben Tanti, Dr Dhrubajyoti Kurmi, Smt Dulami Herenz, Dr Kamal Kumar Tanti, Sri Pawan Singh Ghatowar, Sri Sushil Chandra Kurmi and many others. But at the end of it, Sarma did not make any specific commitment towards looking into specific demands.

“We're exploring robust short to long term action plan for Tea Tribes. Assam Govt will constitute 7 sub-committees to study all issues and will submit reports by Dec 2021. Based on the recommendations, GOA will include provisions for their socio-eco upliftment in next Budget,” said Sarma with no mention at all about granting Scheduled Tribe status to tea tribes or addressing the matter of their abysmal daily wages. While he said, “Assam is forever grateful to Tea Tribes for their sparkling contributions. Their prosperity is our priority,” and that, “The deliberative process will continue for 6 months,” the vagueness of his words appears to suggest that the administration has no desire to address the elephant in the room.

To understand the full scale of this issue, we have to first understand the people constituting the Tea Tribes.

Who are the Tea Tribes?

In colonial times, after tea leaves were found growing by a British officer named Robert Bruce in 1823, the British brought several people hailing from Adivasi and tribal communities of other Indian states (present day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) to work in tea estates in Assam. By 1862, there were 160 tea estates in Assam. Many of these communities have been granted Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in their home states.  

In Assam, these people came to be known as the Tea Tribes. They are a heterogenous, multi-ethnic group and speak languages as diverse as Sora, Odia, Sadri, Kurmali, Santali, Kurukh, Kharia, Kui, Gondi and Mundari. They worked in these tea estates in colonial times, and their descendants have remained in the state to this day still working in tea estates, making Assam their home and adding to its rich socio-cultural tapestry. Today there are over 8 lakh tea estate workers in Assam and the total population of the Tea Tribes is estimated to be more than 65 lakhs.

Tea estates in Assam

According to the Directorate for Welfare of Tea Tribes, at present there are 803 tea estates in Assam. Dibrugarh leads with 177 tea estates, followed by Tinsukia (122), followed by Jorhat (88), Sivasagar (85), Golaghat (74), Sonitpur (59), Cachar (56), Udalguri (24), Karimganj (23), Nagaon (21), Halaikandi (19), Karbi Anglong (15), Lakhimpur (9), four each in Baksha and Darrang, three each in Dhubri, Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup (Rural) and Kokrajhar, two each in Dhemaji, Dima Hasao and Goalpara, and one each in Bongaigaon, Chirang and Morigaon.  

Electoral might of Tea Tribes

Today, Tea Tribes, comprising people of diverse ethnic groups including, but not limited to Santhal, Kurukh, Munda, Gond, Kol and Tantis, are influential in as many as 42 of the total 126 assembly constituencies in Assam. Therefore, it is impossible for any party to ignore them. But as has been the case so far, promises are made only to be broken.

The demand for ST status

Given how tea workers hail from different Adivasi communities that have been granted ST status in other states, it is understandable that they would want the same in Assam. The grant of ST status allows members certain social benefits such as reservations and exemptions, which tea tribes do not enjoy at present. In the run up to the assembly elections in Assam this year, SabrangIndia had reported how in March, Adivasi groups led by All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) had questioned the BJP as to why it had failed to grant ST status to tea tribes.

Demand for a living wage

Trouble has been brewing in Assam’s many tea estates where workers hailing from Tea Tribes have been forced to live hand to mouth, working for a measly daily wage of just Rs 167!

In February 2021, the state government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) helped pave the way for a higher wage, an increase of a mere Rs 50 to the daily wage. But the tea estates went to court against this hike. As a result, the tea estate workers were deprived of even this marginal hike pending the outcome of the court case. Then on March 22, 2021, just days before the first phase of elections, tea estates voluntarily agreed to a hike of Rs 26… another meagre amount.

Organisations representing interests of Tea Tribes such as Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA), All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) and the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) have expressed displeasure with the denial of a basic living wage.

Interestingly, the BJP had promised Rs 351 as the daily wage in the run up to the 2016 elections, a promise they clearly reneged on. But with by-elections coming up in five seats including two in Upper Assam where Tea Tribe voters will play a key role, perhaps this is just another political ploy to wrest back these two seats from the Congress that had won them in the last Assembly Polls.

Image courtesy - Official Twitter Account of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

Related:

Will Assam tea party sink the BJP’s ship?
Growing disaffection for BJP among Adivasis, ethnic minorities in Assam?

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Chorus grows for Caste-based Census

In the rup-up to the long overdue Census 2021, many leaders among the ruling government itself are making such demands now. Will the government give in?

24 Aug 2021

Caste base censusImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The demand for a caste-based census is growing in political circles, as leaders are making a bee line to meet with, first Home Minister Amit Shah and now the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

On August 23, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar led an all-party delegation from the state to meet the PM. The regional parties, which see an opportunity to mount pressure on the BJP, particularly ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, are reportedly planning to send another delegation to the PM with the same demand later this week, reported Indian Express.

The government, during Parliament has always skirted the issue and about the data collated in the socio-economic survey of 2011, it says that no decision has been made on whether or not to share this data. However, the government made its stand clear that it will not enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in the impending Census.

Even the National Commission for Backward Classes urged the government to collect data on the population of OBCs during the Census 2021.

The political view

In the run up to the UP state assembly election that will be held next year, the demand for caste-based census has gained momentum. More and more regional parties including the YSRCP, BJD, SP, NCP, BSP, PDP, National Conference, DMK, AIADMK, TRS, Left parties and TMC are lending support to this demand.

CPI (ML) MLA Mehboob Alam said, “I told the PM that there should be a census of people of all religions and castes. Muslims too have many castes. There are about one crore Surjapuri Muslims in the Seemanchal belt. Though the Bihar government puts them under OBC, the Centre does not acknowledge them.”

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 22% OBCs voted for the BJP while 42% voted for regional parties. But within a decade, the support base of the BJP among the OBC seems to have changed dramatically. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 44% OBCs voted for the BJP while only 27% voted for the regional parties, reports IE.

Sanjay Kumar, Co-Director of Lokniti, a Research Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, speculated that BJP’s reluctance of conducting a caste census stems from the census unravelling different castes amongst OBCs giving reasons for regional parties to mount pressure on the government to rearrange reservation quota and could also give a news lease of life to regional parties and give them a chance to dominate state Assembly elections.

The Centre’s reluctance to enumerate all the castes stems from precisely the apprehension that it will lead to an insistence on another Bill in order to bypass the legal ceiling and grant quotas proportional to the OBC population that might forever marginalise the influence of the savarnas, the core support base of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, writes Radhika Ramaseshan for The Tribune.

The 2011 caste census raw data was handed over to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which formed an Expert Group under former NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson Arvind Pangaria for classification and categorisation of data. However, it is unclear whether any report was submitted. Tracing the history of caste-based census takes us back to 1931 when the last enumeration of castes was released, any other caste based census carried out after that has been under wraps as the data has not been released to date. Even the Mandal Commission based its findings on the 1931 data and determined that the OBCs constituted 52% of the Indian population. Certainly, data is bound to have changed 90 years later and it could lead to a political stir-up and demands for change in reservations will rise.

There is rising pressure on the Karnataka government as well, to release the caste census data from 2015. The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka commissioned the “Socio-Economic and Education Survey”, in 2015 at a cost of around Rs. 150 crore.

“If the census is done,” a senior BJP leader who is a state minister told IE, “it could reveal the fact that socially backward communities along with SCs and STs constitute more than 80 per cent of the population. So the concept of quota could have to be rethought.”

The socio-economic view

Even though caste drives the socio-economic arena in the country, right from birth, education, access to welfare, jobs, livelihood opportunities, housing, customs, right up to death, the lack of accounting the data on such communities and categorising them as presentable data is surprising. Census data accounts for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, religions and linguistic profiles but profiling of the castes is non existent since 1931.

Certainly, the basic argument is that such data will enable better policies and implementation of such policies enabling access to those who are in need of welfare programmes. If the ultimate social aim is to do away with caste, it is important to first identify its existence by counting the population belonging to each of these castes. Although, the political aim of a caste census has never been the annihilation of caste but only appeasement and vote bank.

Rest assured that caste can never be eliminated as long as religion exists, but to bring these castes to parity and equity in a democratic and empirical manner is what we can hope to achieve.

The Justice Rohini Committee of 2017 was set up to look into sub-categorisation of the OBC communities but in the absence of data on castes, this further categorisation is a distant dream.

The 50% cap that was imposed by the Supreme Court, on reservations, is quite arbitrary given that no data to account for castes even exists.

Yogendra Yadav, the political scientist and politician, has argued that the “caste order” fears a caste census since it would expose the “social, educational and economic privileges of the upper-caste Hindus”. It is opined that the reluctance stems from the data indicating that the upper caste population is staggeringly low which would bolster a movement for changes in reservation as high posts in governance, judiciary are usually found to be held by upper castes.

The collection of data of castes, which is a prevailing truth of Indian society has caused such a stir up among party lines, that even members of the ruling government are pushing the demand. As discussed above, the Union government’s reluctance is evident and it fears the data will shake up the socio-political scene in the country. However, a stir-up is impending, considering we are still following numbers collected about a century ago and development policy calls for fresh enumeration to encourage parity and equity. But will the ruling government swallow this bitter pill?

Related:

SC/ST scholarship denied to students in Bihar for three years!
Central universities falling short of filling up posts reserved for SC-ST-OBC
Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’
Vilas Sonawane: Tribute to a ‘Satyashodhak’ Marxist

Chorus grows for Caste-based Census

In the rup-up to the long overdue Census 2021, many leaders among the ruling government itself are making such demands now. Will the government give in?

Caste base censusImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The demand for a caste-based census is growing in political circles, as leaders are making a bee line to meet with, first Home Minister Amit Shah and now the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

On August 23, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar led an all-party delegation from the state to meet the PM. The regional parties, which see an opportunity to mount pressure on the BJP, particularly ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, are reportedly planning to send another delegation to the PM with the same demand later this week, reported Indian Express.

The government, during Parliament has always skirted the issue and about the data collated in the socio-economic survey of 2011, it says that no decision has been made on whether or not to share this data. However, the government made its stand clear that it will not enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in the impending Census.

Even the National Commission for Backward Classes urged the government to collect data on the population of OBCs during the Census 2021.

The political view

In the run up to the UP state assembly election that will be held next year, the demand for caste-based census has gained momentum. More and more regional parties including the YSRCP, BJD, SP, NCP, BSP, PDP, National Conference, DMK, AIADMK, TRS, Left parties and TMC are lending support to this demand.

CPI (ML) MLA Mehboob Alam said, “I told the PM that there should be a census of people of all religions and castes. Muslims too have many castes. There are about one crore Surjapuri Muslims in the Seemanchal belt. Though the Bihar government puts them under OBC, the Centre does not acknowledge them.”

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 22% OBCs voted for the BJP while 42% voted for regional parties. But within a decade, the support base of the BJP among the OBC seems to have changed dramatically. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 44% OBCs voted for the BJP while only 27% voted for the regional parties, reports IE.

Sanjay Kumar, Co-Director of Lokniti, a Research Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, speculated that BJP’s reluctance of conducting a caste census stems from the census unravelling different castes amongst OBCs giving reasons for regional parties to mount pressure on the government to rearrange reservation quota and could also give a news lease of life to regional parties and give them a chance to dominate state Assembly elections.

The Centre’s reluctance to enumerate all the castes stems from precisely the apprehension that it will lead to an insistence on another Bill in order to bypass the legal ceiling and grant quotas proportional to the OBC population that might forever marginalise the influence of the savarnas, the core support base of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP, writes Radhika Ramaseshan for The Tribune.

The 2011 caste census raw data was handed over to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which formed an Expert Group under former NITI Aayog Vice-Chairperson Arvind Pangaria for classification and categorisation of data. However, it is unclear whether any report was submitted. Tracing the history of caste-based census takes us back to 1931 when the last enumeration of castes was released, any other caste based census carried out after that has been under wraps as the data has not been released to date. Even the Mandal Commission based its findings on the 1931 data and determined that the OBCs constituted 52% of the Indian population. Certainly, data is bound to have changed 90 years later and it could lead to a political stir-up and demands for change in reservations will rise.

There is rising pressure on the Karnataka government as well, to release the caste census data from 2015. The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in Karnataka commissioned the “Socio-Economic and Education Survey”, in 2015 at a cost of around Rs. 150 crore.

“If the census is done,” a senior BJP leader who is a state minister told IE, “it could reveal the fact that socially backward communities along with SCs and STs constitute more than 80 per cent of the population. So the concept of quota could have to be rethought.”

The socio-economic view

Even though caste drives the socio-economic arena in the country, right from birth, education, access to welfare, jobs, livelihood opportunities, housing, customs, right up to death, the lack of accounting the data on such communities and categorising them as presentable data is surprising. Census data accounts for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, religions and linguistic profiles but profiling of the castes is non existent since 1931.

Certainly, the basic argument is that such data will enable better policies and implementation of such policies enabling access to those who are in need of welfare programmes. If the ultimate social aim is to do away with caste, it is important to first identify its existence by counting the population belonging to each of these castes. Although, the political aim of a caste census has never been the annihilation of caste but only appeasement and vote bank.

Rest assured that caste can never be eliminated as long as religion exists, but to bring these castes to parity and equity in a democratic and empirical manner is what we can hope to achieve.

The Justice Rohini Committee of 2017 was set up to look into sub-categorisation of the OBC communities but in the absence of data on castes, this further categorisation is a distant dream.

The 50% cap that was imposed by the Supreme Court, on reservations, is quite arbitrary given that no data to account for castes even exists.

Yogendra Yadav, the political scientist and politician, has argued that the “caste order” fears a caste census since it would expose the “social, educational and economic privileges of the upper-caste Hindus”. It is opined that the reluctance stems from the data indicating that the upper caste population is staggeringly low which would bolster a movement for changes in reservation as high posts in governance, judiciary are usually found to be held by upper castes.

The collection of data of castes, which is a prevailing truth of Indian society has caused such a stir up among party lines, that even members of the ruling government are pushing the demand. As discussed above, the Union government’s reluctance is evident and it fears the data will shake up the socio-political scene in the country. However, a stir-up is impending, considering we are still following numbers collected about a century ago and development policy calls for fresh enumeration to encourage parity and equity. But will the ruling government swallow this bitter pill?

Related:

SC/ST scholarship denied to students in Bihar for three years!
Central universities falling short of filling up posts reserved for SC-ST-OBC
Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’
Vilas Sonawane: Tribute to a ‘Satyashodhak’ Marxist

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SC/ST scholarship denied to students in Bihar for three years!

The number of beneficiaries had started dwindling since 2016, due to a cap imposed on fees. But in past 3 years, the state did not receive any applications due to “technical issues” with the portal

18 Aug 2021

Technical IssueImage Courtesy:thewire.in

The Bihar government has blamed ‘technical issues’ for not providing post-matric scholarship for last 3 years to students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Communities. An Indian Express report stated that Bihar has not received a single application for the scholarship for 3 years due to technical issues with the National Scholarship Portal. The officials were unable to explain why this issue was not sorted for 3 years.

Bihar has 16% SC and 1% ST population, and an estimated 5 lakh students are eligible for this scholarship every year. The report revealed that most Bihar SC/ST students have been denied this scholarship for six years now – and for an entirely different reason from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

The Bihar government had capped the fee in 2016 claiming difference in fee structures of government and private colleges within and outside Bihar. The state thus capped the fee ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 90,000. Students said that this forced many of them to discontinue higher education as the cap put a financial burden on their families.

The Scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education. These scholarships are available for studies in India only and are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs. The scheme can be availed by any SC/ST student with a family income of up to Rs. 2.5 lakh.

The scheme is funded 75% by the Union Government and 25% by the state for pursuing education, professional and technical courses, medical, engineering, management and post-graduate courses. While in 2015-16, the scholarship was provided to 1,55,000 students, the number plunged the following year to 37,372 beneficiaries. In 2017-18, 70,886 students benefited from the scheme, followed by 39,792 in 2018-19.

However, between 2017 to 2020, Bihar did not qualify for any Central share since it had spent much less than its committed state liability. The Patna High Court has sought a report from Bihar government after a PIL was filed in this matter by one Rajiv Kumar.

Sanjay Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Education, told The Indian Express, “There has surely been delay in implementation of the scheme because of technical issues with the National Scholarship Portal. We have been provided a single window on the portal. We have requested for a separate site and hope to get it streamlined very soon… But it will be wrong to assume or say that it has been discontinued.”

Related:

Central universities falling short of filling up posts reserved for SC-ST-OBC
Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’
Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

SC/ST scholarship denied to students in Bihar for three years!

The number of beneficiaries had started dwindling since 2016, due to a cap imposed on fees. But in past 3 years, the state did not receive any applications due to “technical issues” with the portal

Technical IssueImage Courtesy:thewire.in

The Bihar government has blamed ‘technical issues’ for not providing post-matric scholarship for last 3 years to students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Communities. An Indian Express report stated that Bihar has not received a single application for the scholarship for 3 years due to technical issues with the National Scholarship Portal. The officials were unable to explain why this issue was not sorted for 3 years.

Bihar has 16% SC and 1% ST population, and an estimated 5 lakh students are eligible for this scholarship every year. The report revealed that most Bihar SC/ST students have been denied this scholarship for six years now – and for an entirely different reason from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

The Bihar government had capped the fee in 2016 claiming difference in fee structures of government and private colleges within and outside Bihar. The state thus capped the fee ranging from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 90,000. Students said that this forced many of them to discontinue higher education as the cap put a financial burden on their families.

The Scheme provides financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education. These scholarships are available for studies in India only and are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs. The scheme can be availed by any SC/ST student with a family income of up to Rs. 2.5 lakh.

The scheme is funded 75% by the Union Government and 25% by the state for pursuing education, professional and technical courses, medical, engineering, management and post-graduate courses. While in 2015-16, the scholarship was provided to 1,55,000 students, the number plunged the following year to 37,372 beneficiaries. In 2017-18, 70,886 students benefited from the scheme, followed by 39,792 in 2018-19.

However, between 2017 to 2020, Bihar did not qualify for any Central share since it had spent much less than its committed state liability. The Patna High Court has sought a report from Bihar government after a PIL was filed in this matter by one Rajiv Kumar.

Sanjay Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Education, told The Indian Express, “There has surely been delay in implementation of the scheme because of technical issues with the National Scholarship Portal. We have been provided a single window on the portal. We have requested for a separate site and hope to get it streamlined very soon… But it will be wrong to assume or say that it has been discontinued.”

Related:

Central universities falling short of filling up posts reserved for SC-ST-OBC
Delhi Cantonment rape case: AIDWA demands action against police for alleged ‘silent complicity’
Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

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Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

The SFI, DSMM and AIDWA protest the rape, murder and forcible cremation of the 9-year-old Dalit girl in Delhi

06 Aug 2021

Dalit girl RapeImage Courtesy:newsdirectory3.com

Delhi’s Dalit, women and students organisations gathered for a protest on August 6, 2021 to condemn the heinous gang rape, murder and forcible cremation of a 9-year-old Dalit girl. The demonstration organised by the Students Federation of India (SFI) along with the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM), the All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA) began at 11 AM at Jantar Mantar.

Speaking out against the atrocity, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President Aishe Ghosh said, “Dalit women are doubly oppressed. We live in a political environment in which caste is being reinstated into our social order with its former vigour. It is no longer a disintegrating entity of the past but is being actively inserted into the very state's framework, and as Brahminical notions of gender and caste get legitimized, crimes against women and lower castes will be on the rise. We must resist and rise in rage!”

The girl was from the Nangal village of Delhi cantonment area. A member of the Valmiki community, Her body was forcibly cremated without her mother’s consent by the crematorium priest. The same priest was among the accused in the case.

The girl had stepped out in the evening to get cold water from the crematorium’s water cooler but failed to return. Her mother was later shown the body by the priest, who said that she was electrocuted while drinking water. The priest attempted to intimidate the mother from informing the police, saying it would complicate the matter, and that a postmortem can result in organ stealing. However, the mother did not consent for the burial and alerted her husband, villagers and the police.

The SFI noted that sexual violence against women is a larger problem concerning a patriarchial society wherein women are rendered inferior and powerless, as objects of men's carnal desires and domination. It is more about power than an uncontrollable sexual urge.

“Crimes against Dalit women have increased by six percent in the last 10 years. It is both gendered and caste-based violence. Dalit women constitute among the most powerless and oppressed in the society, owing to their gender and caste identity,” said SFI President Sumit Kataria.

SFI Delhi Secretary Pritish Menon demanded justice for the girl stating, "In many cases before too, we have seen how acts of sexual violence has been instrumentalised as 'punishment' for caste transgressions. We must raise our voice against the ideology which tries to legitimatize rape culture and caste oppression.”

Related:

And now, Hathras-like horror in Delhi!
Hathras case: Victim’s family and lawyers threatened inside court premises
Gujarat: 16-year-old girl stabbed 32 times for refusing man’s marriage proposal
Woman set ablaze by man who had raped her two years ago

Nangal village gang-rape, both gendered and caste-based violence: Civil Society Organisations

The SFI, DSMM and AIDWA protest the rape, murder and forcible cremation of the 9-year-old Dalit girl in Delhi

Dalit girl RapeImage Courtesy:newsdirectory3.com

Delhi’s Dalit, women and students organisations gathered for a protest on August 6, 2021 to condemn the heinous gang rape, murder and forcible cremation of a 9-year-old Dalit girl. The demonstration organised by the Students Federation of India (SFI) along with the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM), the All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA) began at 11 AM at Jantar Mantar.

Speaking out against the atrocity, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) President Aishe Ghosh said, “Dalit women are doubly oppressed. We live in a political environment in which caste is being reinstated into our social order with its former vigour. It is no longer a disintegrating entity of the past but is being actively inserted into the very state's framework, and as Brahminical notions of gender and caste get legitimized, crimes against women and lower castes will be on the rise. We must resist and rise in rage!”

The girl was from the Nangal village of Delhi cantonment area. A member of the Valmiki community, Her body was forcibly cremated without her mother’s consent by the crematorium priest. The same priest was among the accused in the case.

The girl had stepped out in the evening to get cold water from the crematorium’s water cooler but failed to return. Her mother was later shown the body by the priest, who said that she was electrocuted while drinking water. The priest attempted to intimidate the mother from informing the police, saying it would complicate the matter, and that a postmortem can result in organ stealing. However, the mother did not consent for the burial and alerted her husband, villagers and the police.

The SFI noted that sexual violence against women is a larger problem concerning a patriarchial society wherein women are rendered inferior and powerless, as objects of men's carnal desires and domination. It is more about power than an uncontrollable sexual urge.

“Crimes against Dalit women have increased by six percent in the last 10 years. It is both gendered and caste-based violence. Dalit women constitute among the most powerless and oppressed in the society, owing to their gender and caste identity,” said SFI President Sumit Kataria.

SFI Delhi Secretary Pritish Menon demanded justice for the girl stating, "In many cases before too, we have seen how acts of sexual violence has been instrumentalised as 'punishment' for caste transgressions. We must raise our voice against the ideology which tries to legitimatize rape culture and caste oppression.”

Related:

And now, Hathras-like horror in Delhi!
Hathras case: Victim’s family and lawyers threatened inside court premises
Gujarat: 16-year-old girl stabbed 32 times for refusing man’s marriage proposal
Woman set ablaze by man who had raped her two years ago

Related Articles


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