Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 22.07.15
Dalit woman abducted, gangraped - The Times Of India
Dalit Couple Ostracized by Khap Panchayat - The New Indian Express
Denied Entry Into Temple, Dalits Resort to Agitation - The New Indian Express
Dispute Over Rath Pulling by Dalits Resolved - The New Indian Express
One more reason to scrap death penalty - The Economic Times
Time for review as poor disproportionately awarded death penalty - The Hindustan Times
NHRC notice to DMs and SPs of Shrawasti and Mirzapur districts of UP
over allegations of bonded labour - The Times Of India
Protest march taken out to SP office - The Hindu
UP daily wage worker's son arrives in Mumbai to live IIT dream - The Times Of India
Brutal atrocities against Dalits in Tamil Nadu
a colossal failure of the Dravidian edifice - The News Minutes
The Great Wall Of Caste-Hatred - Tehelka
Hashiye Ke Log | Atrocities against Dalits
Note : Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)
The Times Of India
Dalit woman abducted, gangraped
Sandeep Rai,TNN | Jul 21, 2015, 11.05 PM IST
MEERUT: It took two days for a Dalit village woman of Bijnor district to get an FIR registered after running from one police station to another. She claimed that she was abducted and gangraped on Sunday. But every time, she was told by officials that the spot of crime did not fall in their jurisdiction.
The 22-year-old newly married woman had gone out of her house at Faridpur Dullah village to buy some medicines. On her way back home, she alleged two youths belonging to a minority community forcibly abducted her in a car, took her to an isolated spot where a few more men were present. There, she was gangraped by half a dozen men throughout the night. In the morning, they left her on the spot and fled.
She somehow managed to reach home and narrate the incident to her family members. But her torment did not end there.
When her relatives tried to file an FIR at Kotwali police station, they were asked to go to Kotwali (rural). Throughout Monday, the woman and her family kept moving from one police station to another but her report was not registered.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, they approached SP, Bijnor, HN Singh who ordered registration of an FIR against the six men, including Laalu and Intizaar, who allegedly abducted her.
The incident has now taken a political hue after BJP's district general secretary Subhash Valmiki along with RSS member Mayank Mayur met with her family.
Subhash Valmiki said, "The woman had been moving from one police station to another for the last two days and no one was there to help her. We have demanded strict action against the accused otherwise such incidents only lead to law and order problem."
Station officer of Kotwali police station Sanjay Tomar said, "The woman has been sent for medical examination at the district hospital while raids are being conducted on the houses of the culprits who are currently at large. We will soon arrest them."
Meanwhile, police have been deployed at the village to maintain peace.
The New Indian Express
Dalit Couple Ostracized by Khap Panchayat
MADURAI: Khap panchayat by Ramesh Babu, a caste Hindu, has ostracized a family from Arunthathiyar community for questioning his authority at Kattunayakanpatty village near Bodi in Theni district.
The last six months for Paramasivam, his wife Lakshmi and their three children who were forced to live in a makeshift hut in a bushy area by the village tank bunds have been a nightmare. "We have been spending sleepless nights for months fearing for our lives. Snakes and other reptiles often enter our house at night. My children refused to sleep in the house. They are now at my father's place," said Paramasivam.
Though nearly 224 Arunthathiyar families live in the village, they refused to give a house on rent to the couple. They are scared of Ramesh Babu's wrath. He is also the vice president of Theni panchayat union.
"Twice I paid advance to my community members to rent a house, but they returned the money after Ramesh Babu threatened them," claimed Lakshmi.
As the khap panchayat passed an order directing the villagers not to speak to the couple; not to allow them to walk on the village roads or collect water from public taps; and sell grocery to them, the couple has
been struggling for drinking water.
"We have to face this hardship because my husband dared to question Ramesh for misusing the panchayat for his personal gain. Though the panchayat president Panthanam belongs to our community, he keeps silence," she said.
After the couple petitioned the district police repeatedly, police registered an FIR against Ramesh Babu under the SC/ST Act in February 2015, but so far they haven't arrested him, said A Kathir, executive director, Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO.
"Everything happens in the village as ordered by the khap panchayat," said Kathir, adding that Evidence had sent a report to the DGP over the incident.
When Express contacted a senior police officer, he denied there were khap panchayats in the village.
"Two caste Hindus tried to use Dalits for their personal reasons. We have found it was a mistake of fact and closed the case. The report has been sent to the collector," he claimed.
Kathir on the other hand claims, "Without asking the Dalit couple, how is it possible for the police to close the case as a mistake of fact? Nowadays Theni police close cases booked under the SC/ST Act as a mistake of fact."
The New Indian Express
Denied Entry Into Temple, Dalits Resort to Agitation
BARGARH :Dalit families of Harijanpada in Kathaumal village under Gaiselet block of Bargarh district on Monday staged a demonstration in front of the Collectorate for not being allowed inside Shiva temple in the village though they had put in their labour for its construction.
Protesting the discrimination, the Dalits staged the demonstration after their petition to district administration in this regard failed to evoke response.
Harijanpada is inhabited by about 60 Dalit families. Some time back, the villagers decided to construct Shiva temple on the embankment of village pond.
Accordingly, a meeting of Gram Sabha was convened and all the villagers were urged to cooperate and support for construction of the temple. The Dalit families rose to the occasion and contributed financially as per their mite besides putting in physical labour.
As the temple was nearing completion, another Gram Sabha was convened on June 14. When some Dalit families evinced interest to perform puja, they were abused and assaulted. They were even asked not to enter the temple.
Next day, some Dalit families lodged a complaint at Gaiselet police station. More trouble awaited the Dalits after filing the police complaint as they were restricted from entering village haat (market) .
With police refusing to act, they met District Collector Anjan Kumar Manik on July 4 seeking his intervention to resolve the issue. They also apprised Bijepur MLA Subal Sahu about the discrimination and threatened to stage an agitation if no action is taken by July 19.
With no response forthcoming from any quarters, the Dalit families travelled about 70 kms to Bargarh on Monday and staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate seeking justice.
They called off the dharna after Bargarh Sub-Collector Vincent Ekka assured them of visiting the village on July 23 and holding a meeting to resolve the issue.
The New Indian Express
Dispute Over Rath Pulling by Dalits Resolved
DEOGARH:The deadlock over pulling of chariot, which was stopped over participation of Dalits in Kundeigola village under Reamal block, was resolved on Monday. The village has seven hamlets comprising Kamarpal, Mahalsahi, Boulasahi, Mandirasahi, Khaliposhisahi, Talasahi and Harijansahi.
Except Harijansahi, residents of all other hamlets have been participating in Rath Yatra since long. However, the Daitapatis of Puri, who were invited for Nabakalebara, decided to allow the Dalits to participate in the Rath Yatra this year. This led to resentment.
On Rath Yatra day, the chariot was not pulled after 'Pahandi Bije' following differences over participation of Dalits.
The issue was resolved after a Peace Committee decided that the chariot will be pulled with participation of Dalits on Bahuda day.
The Economic Times
One more reason to scrap death penalty
July 22, 2015, 4:49 AM IST ET Edit in ET Editorials | Edit Page, India, Times View | ET
The National Law University has produced, with help from the Law Commission, a seminal report that profiles people who went to the gallows or are on death row over the last 15 years. Over 93% of these people are Dalits and Muslims. Around 75% of prisoners on death row – slated for execution – belong to backward classes or minorities. The reason? Most cannot comprehend the charges against them and have no money to hire competent defence lawyers. This is a slap on the face of Indian democracy.
Every place in the world that has capital punishment has to come back to one basic question: did we string up the right guy? If people have been killed by the state because they could not defend themselves adequately, it is a large blot on our democratic copybook.
The founding fathers of our Constitution did not foresee this: for them, rights and liberties were guaranteed to all Indians. Yet, pernicious forces of caste, class and religious domination rule India to this day. It is easy to shrug off this fact as accepted reality, but not after being faced with hard facts about people sent to the gallows, simply because they were too poor or ignorant to defend themselves adequately. In 1978, the great American political sociologist, Barrington Moore, wrote a book called Injustice. There he argued eloquently, taking examples from India and the rest of the world, that people in general, accept hierarchical rule and do not revolt unless there is a great disruption of the system. He underlined he was no Marxist, and our policymakers must understand his message. As India has to grow, it has to deal with every issue with great sensitivity. The incompetence of policing, investigating and judicial authorities cannot be covered up with political rhetoric and death sentences.
The Hindustan Times
Time for review as poor disproportionately awarded death penalty
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Punishment is considered a natural response to crime. But, the punishment should be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime. This raises the question of whether the State can take away a life even if the crime is murder.
The death penalty has been a contentious issue across the globe, mainly for its irreversible and retributive nature. What if the person is wrongly convicted? In India, activists have been saying that most of those sent to the gallows were poor people who could not afford proper legal assistance.
Now a study done by National Law University, Delhi, and the Law Commission has confirmed this suspicion of class bias in awarding the death penalty. According to the study, more than 75% of death row convicts belong to backward classes and minorities; 75% are economically vulnerable and over 93% of those sentenced for terror crimes are minorities or Dalits.
This raises questions over the manner in the which death penalty is awarded by trial courts in India. It also underlines the need to make the legal system more affordable and accessible to the poor.
Notwithstanding the "rarest of rare" doctrine propounded by the Supreme Court in 1980, Indian courts awarded the death penalty to 5,054 convicts during 2004-13. Only 1,303 of death sentences were confirmed with the rest being commuted to life imprisonment by the higher courts.
During this period, only three convicts were executed. With the Supreme Court rejecting the curative petition of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, the issue of the death penalty is again going to dominate public discourse.
There are three parties to this debate — the convict, the victims and their families and society as represented by the State. Quite often victims seek retributive justice while the State invariably emphasises the importance of deterrent punishment. Justice is all about striking a fine balance among conflicting interests within the judicially permissible parameters of the law. It's practically impossible for the courts to reach a conclusion that satisfies all the parties concerned.
This task becomes all the more difficult, given the tough internal security scenario compounded by terrorism. The popular mood wouldn't allow the political class to take a stand on the abolition of the death penalty. But what is heartening is the stand taken by the Supreme Court, which has over the years limited the scope for the death penalty in India.
The Times Of India
NHRC notice to DMs and SPs of Shrawasti and Mirzapur districts of UP
over allegations of bonded labour
Ashish Tripathi,TNN | Jul 21, 2015, 08.30 PM IST
LUCKNOW: The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the district magistrates and superintendents of police of Shrawasti and Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, after taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that 48 labourers belonging to the scheduled castes were sold by one contractor to another on the February 28, 2015.
According to media report, carried on the July 8, 2015, the labourers included four women, six men, six girls and 32 children. They had been working for the last five months at the construction site of a bridge on 'Bannsagar' in Mirzapur and had not been paid any wages. The contractor subjected them to physical assault and intimidation. Some of the child labourers were to appear in UP Board Examination but they were not allowed.
Justice D. Murugesan, Member of the Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victims. He has given two weeks' time to the officers to submit the action taken report in the matter.
Reportedly, some of the labourers managed to escape, reached home in Shrawasti and narrated their ordeal to the district authorities. The employer chased them up to their village and threatened to implicate them in a false theft case. The family members of the victims have submitted a memorandum addressed to the district magistrate, Shrawasti and sub-divisional magistrate, Bhinga, praying for action against the offenders.
Protest march taken out to SP office
Scores of people took out a protest march on the office of the district police chief demanding immediate steps to bring to book those responsible for the death of Siby, a Dalit youth, allegedly following torture at the Marangattupilly police station. The SP office march, organised by Pattikajaathi Kshema Samithy (Scheduled Castes' Welfare Committee) and the LDF, wanted the culprits to be charge sheeted for murder.
The march was blocked by the police at the gates of the district headquarters even as the protesters staged a sit-in. Inaugurating the march, Samithy State general secretary K Somaprasad wanted the government to disburse financial aid to the next of kin of the victim.
He also wanted the government to take care of the victim's family.
Any move to protect the culprits would result in agitations, he said.
CPI(M) district secretary V.N. Vasavan alleged that the police, through their contradictory reports, had proved that a major cover-up was on to protect the culprits.
The Times Of India
UP daily wage worker's son arrives in Mumbai to live IIT dream
Vinamrata Borwankar,TNN | Jul 22, 2015, 05.50 AM IST
MUMBAI: "I have seen a lot about Mumbai in the movies. People constantly running to work, the glamour of the film industry... When I came to the city, it was exactly like that. It already feels amazing," says Brijesh Saroj (19), who has come to the city from Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, after securing admission in IIT Bombay.
Brijesh and his brother Raju, who are sons of a daily wage worker, got high ranks on the JEE merit list—167 and 410. TOI reported on June 20 that the brothers were faced with the challenge of putting together the Rs 1 lakh they would be required to pay to get in (Rs 50,000 each; Rs 30,000 admission fee and Rs 20,000 the first semester fee). Soon, help poured in from around the globe. Also, the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry gave them a fee waiver, letting their dream come true. While Brijesh has chosen engineering physics at IIT-Bombay, Raju will pursue electronics and electrical communication engineering at IIT-Kharagpur.
Brijesh, who arrived in Mumbai on Sunday, is living with his uncle in Govandi. "A lot has changed in the past month. Back in the village, there has been a lot of development. Children are extremely charged up about studying and making a mark," he says. "Out of the funds we received after the news report, I have set aside Rs 2 lakh for the education of children in my village. I have adopted 10 children. I hope they will excel and each will adopt 10 more, thus creating a chain."
Brijesh will report at IIT-Bombay on Wednesday afternoon to complete admission formalities. He says there is some confusion over the hostel fee of Rs 30,000. "We have spoken to the HRD ministry. They are supposed to speak to IIT authorities and sort out all fees. I am a bit nervous."
He says life at IIT will not be about just academics. "After completing my degree, I want to earn money the right way and want to give back to society. I already have a few friends studying at the IITs. I want to bring them all together and form a group where each one will help the other in the development of villages and districts. We can ensure that students in these areas get the best opportunities and are motivated for studies."
The News Minutes
Brutal atrocities against Dalits in Tamil Nadu a colossal failure of the Dravidian edifice
Tamil Nadu / OpinionTuesday, July 21, 2015 - 20:07
By C Lakshmanan
Tamil Nadu has many distinctions in terms of development indicators, compared to other states. In contrast, intra state comparisons between rural and urban, land owning and landless, organized and unorganized workers and the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and others section of the population, provide an altogether different picture. These have been highlighted in recently released socio-economic survey data. Further, social change or transformation espoused by the state's anti-Brahmin politics is yet to translate into reality to the benefit of the people at bottom of the socio-economic structure. Even the traditional caste rigidity hasn't changed in any substantial and meaningful sense. Hence, one has to understand the qualitative difference between anti-Brahmin politics and anti-caste politics, which remains only at the level of rhetoric. The manner in which Dalit aspirations are rumpled by the ruling class/caste in the state and the widespread prevalence of untouchability and violence against Dalits are a testimony to this fact.
The Dalits have gradually realized the betrayal of anti-Brahmin and Dravidian politics. As a result, they have begun to organise themselves, reconstruct their identity, assert their rights, alter caste customs and idioms and demand land and increased wages. They have begun claiming their independent identity outside the arena of anti-Brahmin politics. In the process they haverejuvenated their collectivity on the basis of their cultural moorings. This has resulted in a heavy backlash from different agencies in every state apparatus, particularly as the Dalits become conscious of their objective conditions and assert their rights over public space and their personal liberty. A decade ago writer S Viswanathan made emphatic an observation, "Numerous are the ways in which Dalits are tormented. They are murdered and maimed; women are raped; their children are abused and deprived of schooling; they are dispossessed of their property; their houses are torched; they are denied their legitimate rights; and their sources of livelihood are destroyed." One can cite several examples of caste oppression in social and cultural expressions of the Dalits. The oppression that Dalits experience today is caused by the intermediary caste groups – vanguard of casteism and reserve army of the Hindutva. The equality and justice that the Dravidian movement fought for, and to a measure achieved, were limited to the Non-Brahmin dominant, intermediary castes.
The response of the government of the time has been limited to the setting up of 'judicial' enquiry commissions to investigate causes for violence against Dalits and recommend measures to prevent such violence and create conducive atmosphere for peaceful co-existence of diverse social groups. Notable are Justice Panikkar Commission, 1956, Muthukalthur violence; Justice Ganapthy Pillai Commission 1969, Keezhavenmani violence; Justice Sadasivam Commission 1978, Villupuram violence; Justice RamamoorthyCommision, 1981, Sangarangulam violence; Justice Bashkar Commission, 1989, Bodi violence; Justice Gomathi Nayagam Commission, 1996, Kodiyangulam violence; Justice M. Kamatchi Commission, 1997, Thuraiyur Police Firing (Tirunelveli); Justice Mohan Commission 1997, Riots against Dalits in southern districts; Justice Nainar Sundaram Commission, 1997, Riots against Dalits in southern districts; Justice Murugesan Commission, 1998, Gundupatti violence; Justice Mohan Commission, 1999, Tamiraparani Massacre; Justice Sampath Commission 2011 and Justice Venkatachalam Commission. Apart from these commissions there are other Commissions as well to investigate the series of violence against Dalits that took place during 1989-91 in the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
These commissions were headed by mostly retired judges, who happen to be from dominant caste background, and had hardly any Dalits as a member or head of a commission. For each commission, the state spent average Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 1 crore for the investigation and sought recommendations for preventing atrocities and violence. It is regretful to note that these commissions' reports were not placed in the state Legislative Assembly, state administrative meetings or meetings of bureaucrats to translate it into implementation. It is to be noted that Tamil Nadu has highest number of commissions on Violence against Dalits. These Commissions have been appointed by DMK and AIADMK regime and it is evident that both political parties handle atrocities on Dalit in similar manner.
When compared to Tamil Nadu, states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have had very few commissions on Dalit atrocities, such as Justice Punnayya Commission and Justice Gundewar Commission respectively. For instance, Maharashtra had only one commission which recommended that "Manohar Kadam, Officer in-charge, be held responsible for culpable homicide (of 10 Dalits in Ramabai Nagar, in 1997)". Those commissions identified the culprits for the violence and recommended action and also reconciliation programmes. And also those commissions' reports and recommendations have been widely discussed in the Legislative Assembly as well as in the public forum, which resulted in policy formulations to prevent atrocities on marginalised. In contrast, Tamil Nadu had more than 15 commissions of enquiry on violence against Dalits, which hardly found and punished any one for the culpable homicides whether it is Villupuram case in 1980s, Tamiraparani of late 1990s and Paramakudi of 2010. Indeed it is painful to note that then chief minister of Tamil Nadu made a public statement that he cannot take any action against district police officer because he belongs to dominant caste of the state. It is interesting to hear state administrations concern about officers' caste than their transgression (Death of River, documentary film, 1999). In Paramakudi police firing, in which more than six Dalits had been killed, the Sampath Commission (2010) appreciated the police officers for firing that prevented major caste violence.
In 2013, speaking at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Justice K. Chandru remarked, "not just the enquiry commissions' reports but even the orders delivered by the high court were not implemented in some cases by the governments". Further he observed that "the Madras High Court had directed state government to ensure the participation of Dalits in pulling of the Kandadevi temple car and performing other rituals. Many Dalits were stopped and arrested before they could reach the temple. Then a small group of Dalits was taken to the spot and photographs taken as if to show that they were pulling the temple car. That's how the then Tamil Nadu governments established that the court order was being implemented".
Activist Haragopal said in 2013 that "most of the enquiry commission reports mostly ended up as unworkable as the state governments tried to circumvent the court orders through camouflage and deceit". Further he observed that "whenever the oppressed class fought for rights, the protesters were termed as Naxals and in my three decades of closely studying social issues, I have seen several incidents of poor protesters being punished by not just the dominant caste people but even the state machinery".
Data on crimes against Dalits in Tamil Nadu show an increasing trend: The total number of cases for trial for crimes against Scheduled Castes by courts in Tamil Nadu was 3659 in 2011, 4039 in 2012 and 4630 in 2013. Cases of atrocities on the Scheduled Castes registered under the Prevention of Atrocity (PoA) Act were 829 in 2005, 1064 in 2007 and 1194 in 2008. These figures are, however, a gross understatement. It is only under exceptional circumstances that a Dalit musters courage to complain against his caste-Hindu tormentors, says Anand Teltumbde. Further, as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes noted, atrocities against SCs and STs have increased in absolute numbers and have assumed newer forms, some of which perhaps the PoA Act is not currently equipped to address such as case of "Honour" killing. Madurai based organisation, Evidence is meticulously collecting data on these kinds of violence for public concern.
Society ought to be judged fundamentally by the quality of social relations. Our colossal political vacuum understandably leaves much deeper socio-political issues of how citizens relate to each other in shared public spaces. Baseline ethical value of any democracy should be the absence of discrimination. Justice is about how we treat each other. One should take interest in taking moral and ethical positions about transforming social relationships. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta argued, the texture of social relations between marginalized communities and others is deeply debilitating for marginalized groups in ways one cannot imagine. Therefore, the challenge of combating discrimination and violence against the marginalised is challenging. The state abdicates its responsibility for basic security of Dalits. It is not only indifferent to, but also appears most times actively protecting perpetrators of atrocities and tacitly promoting them. Indeed, it is time to rethink to what extent the contemporary society is fed by casteist rituals and tradition and to what extent by modern institutions. In a society undergoing rapid change in social norms, how do we ensure that these evolving progressive norms are not truncated by regressive violence? This is not just a matter for law. On equally serious note, how do we explain the fact that politicians, judges and police officials are not doing anything to diminish the enormity of the crimes being committed.
The writer is an Assistant Professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.
The Great Wall Of Caste-Hatred
Dravidian politics is playing to the tunes of anti-Dalit groups leading to perpetuation and escalation of honour killings and other atrocities against the community
2015-07-25 , Issue 30 Volume 12
The recent murder of aDalit engineering graduate Gokul Raj in Namakkal, has taken the number of honour killings in Tamil Naduthis year to an appalling figure of 16. Gokul was beheaded and his private parts were cut off. The state government has been in a state of denial about the situation.
Earlier this year, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam denied the occurrence of 'honour killing' in the state. While making such a statement, Panneerselvam conveniently forgot that 44 cases of honour killings were reported in the state in 2013 and 2014. When confronted with the statistics, the shrewd politician termed them as suicides.
Tamil Nadu, according to statistics, has even surpassed Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the two states which have earned the dubious distinction of being honour killing capitals of the country. Panneerselvam, who later relinquished the post to his mentor J Jayalalithaa, also dismissed the need of a separate legislation to prevent such murders although as many as 22 other states and union territories have demanded it from the Centre.
Anti-Dalit sentiment is growing in the state with various casteist leaders belonging to Vanniyar community in the northern region, Thevar and Nadar community in the southern region and Gounder community in the western region dominating the discourse. These leaders are fast undermining the ideology of the state's famous anti-caste crusader, Periyar.
In stark contrast to the stand taken by the Tamil Nadu government, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (ncsc) Chairman PL Punia described the situation of Dalits in the state as "unsatisfactory". He pointed out that Tamil Naduis among the top five states in the country where a high number of cases of atrocities against Dalits are filed, with a majority of them being closed, citing lack of evidence. He said that cases such as the death of Gokul should not be treated as mere cases of murder.
The tacit silence maintained by the Dravidian parties emboldens the atrocities against Dalits by various dominant caste (OBC) movements in the state. With Gokul Raj's murder, honour killings, once seen as a menace only in the southern regions of Tamil Nadu, are now threatening to be a feature in other parts of the state as well, especially in the Kongu region in the west. The reason for the perceived calm in the region is that Arundhatiyars (most backward among Dalits) are heavily oppressed by the Gounders, leaving no question of retaliation unlike the Dalits in the southern region.
Gokul was last seen talking to Swati from his village who was reportedly his lover. Swati belonged to the dominant Gounder community. According to the confession made by some of the arrested, Gokul was picked up by the members of an anti-Dalit group, Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder Piravi, at the behest of its local leader Yuvraj, who is still at large. Yuvraj allegedly strangulated Gokul to death and threw his dead body on the railway tracks.
Yuvraj was involved in campaigns against inter-caste love and marriages since 2012. He was viewed as a messiah by the majoritarian caste-obsessed sections of the society. His role in the murder has allegedly been downplayed by the police as the entire administrative class is made up of the dominant castes.
"Unlike the honour killings that happened in the past which were all done by family members, Gokul's murder is an organised murder by a caste movement, similar to the khap panchayats in north India," says Kathir, executive director of Evidence, an organisation working among Dalits. The gruesome nature of honour killings is maintained in this case as well. "By beheading, the murderers may have intended to give a message to the Dalit boys that they would not have an identity of their own if they fall in love with upper caste women. The chopping off of the private parts also indicates that no Dalit youth can have physical intimacy with an upper caste woman," added Kathir.
Many such anti-Dalit groups exist in the state in the pretext of protecting culture and keeping the caste pride intact. It all began with S Ramadoss, who consolidated Vanniyars and formed his party Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) in 1989. After he failed miserably in electoral politics, Ramadoss started spewing anti-Dalit venom. He even demanded a ban on marriages between Dalits and caste-Hindus and a dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. His partymen accused Dalit youths of fomenting social tension by filing false complaints under the Act and ensnaring girls from other castes by wearing jeans, T-shirts and fancy sunglasses.
If in the beginning of Dravidian politics anti-Dalit activities were implicit, it has become very explicit these days with the advent of numerous caste movements which were inspired by the pmk. Having tasted success with the prominent Ilavarasan Divya case and the subsequent caste conflicts in Dharmapuri, these anti- Dalit fringe outfits play cultural police by distributing anti-Dalit pamphlets and conducting anti-Dalit conferences. "To counter the Dalit upsurge, the dominant castes invent images from the past to celebrate annual festivals and mobilise large crowds. Thriving on the silence of the changing governments, these groups use these festivals not just to protect their caste identity and maintain the hegemony but also to intimidate Dalits," says Dalit writer Stalin. "Altogether there are around 200 such small movements of the major caste groups like Vanniyar, Thevars, Nadars and Gounders alone," he added. Existence of such groups not only shames but also questions the values of radical and progressive politics of the state.
Tamil Nadu's political and economic power currently revolves around casteist forces. Whoever mobilises caste successfully gains control in the structures of the State, which in turn perpetuates caste. "Since 1950, there have been 15 judicial enquiry commissions set up to look into atrocities against Dalits. But none of these commissions have recommended severe punishments for the culprits. All of them invariably directly or indirectly blame the Dalits for the violence or 'crossing the boundary','' says C Lakshmanan, assistant professor of Madras Institute of Development Studies, who headed a fact-finding team in Gokul's case. If the State had adhered to the rule of law irrespective of caste and community, then this would not have happened.
Ramadoss is projecting himself as the chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming election, signalling trouble for the Dalits in the state. His claims are not without substance as the dmk is reeling under corruption charges and rumours of serious health issues are doing the rounds about Jayalalithaa.
"With anti-Dalit politics being set in motion, Tamil Nadu is setting a trend in Dalitatrocities. With the murder of a Dalit man in the neighbouring Karnataka for giving a love letter, it is quite clear that south Indian states started taking cue from here when it comes to Dalit atrocities," added Lakshmanan. As long as the Dalits continue to be denied social and political inclusion, the situation is not going to change.
With 16 cases of reported honour killings this year, how is the government going to explain its denial and stony silence over the issue for so long? Why is the government turning a blind eye towards these brutal murders and other atrocities even while ncsc takes cognizance of these issues? How many more lives do we need to lose before the government finally wakes up?
News monitored by Girish Pant & AJEET
On behalf ofDalits Media Watch Team(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
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