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India: Dalits and Rights

Shivam Vij points to a Youtube video on the issues and troubles of the Dalit community in India.

5 comments

  • Prashant Tambe

    Has caste gone? No!! It’s still bleeding………………….. What is a caste? What does it mean to belong to a “lower” caste? Does this fact influence the way you live or the way you dream? In the Indian context, the painful fact is that yes, it does! The problem is still bleeding after the 6o years of independence and 56 years declaration of Republic India. The Indian constitution makes it punishable for anybody to discriminate on the basis on caste, colour and creed. In spite of that the caste-based atrocities on dalits or erstwhile untouchables are still continuing.

    The data on Indian economy gives the very rosy picture that India is on the way to become the economic superpower and soon we will be developed country. Many economists have tried to establish the inverse relationship between improving economic status and the caste based discrimination. They claim that as the economic status would improve, it would improve the social status too. For many years we have cherished the idea that casteism is not what it used to be. Today nobody faces discrimination on the basis of her caste. There is reservation for the socially backward classes, we are slowly nearing the much desired equity and special laws and provisions are in place against those who practice untouchability or discrimination. While instances of caste based hatred kept trying to draw our attention every once in a while, we continued to believe what we wanted to.

    The Bhotmange family of Khairlanji village of Bhandara, however, knew the truth all along. Being the only “lower” caste Buddhist household in a village of “upper” caste people was never easy and fear was a part of life. It was not unusual for this Dalit family or Buddhist one to face day-to-day caste based abuses from the villagers who were mostly from other religions and was in majority as far as the religious composition of the village is concerned. The village has 248 households of which only one belong to Buddhist (scheduled caste). The family had five acres of land and was living happily with that. The five member family with their two college going sons of which one was blind & one college going daughter were socially and geographically secluded from the village. The family as is seen in many other villages in India also, was living on the outskirts of the village thanks to the legacy of untouchability in India where lower caste people were not allowed to reside inside the village.

    It all started with the conflict over the five acre of land owned by Bhotmange family. The so-called upper caste people in the village could not digest the reality that one-Dalit family is living on their own with self-esteem. The men and women of the village from upper caste families would abuse the women members of Bhotmange family everyday. This would have continued till their death had they not protested against the dictatorship of some of the mighty people of the village. The village head had his agricultural land adjacent to the agricultural land of Bhotmange family. The family was asked to give up some of their land for the approach road to the agriculture land of village head. The family accepted this demand, but the demand of land for the road did not stop there and the Bhotmange family was asked to give up more and more land. This resulted into the encroachment on two acres of the family’s land by the villagers.

    Going through the caste and religious composition of the nearby villages, one finds that there are Buddhists families in the nearby villages but they are in minority in their respective villages. These Buddhist families consider Mr. Siddharth who lives in a nearby village and one of the relatives of Bhotmange family as active leader. Siddharth used to come to Bhotmange family often, as Mr. Bhotmange was his brother-in-law. Feeling the security from the regular presence of Siddharth, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange claimed his lost land from the villagers and farm the entire five acre of land this year. This antagonized the high caste villagers and they decided to teach bhaiyyalal a lesson. Its not that Bhaiyyalal was not aware that he had to face the retaliation but the hatred would express itself in this most brutal way he might not have imagined even in his worst nightmares. Angry with Siddharth and the sense of security that the presence of Siddharth gives to the Buddhist families in the nearby villages, villagers banned the entry of Siddharth to the village Khairlanji. This was done under the false charges that Siddharth was having an affair with bhaiyyalal’s wife. However not complying the ban Siddharth came to village and was beaten up by the villagers. Bhaiyyalal and his wife testified in front of the police about the culprits involved in this act. The guilty were arrested and were sent to jail. The matter to be noted here is that the case on these people was not under atrocities act.

    On the gory day the culprits came back to the village as they got a bail. Under influence of liquor they threatened the Bhotmange family and left in search for Siddharth and his brother. Sensing the threat the younger daughter rushed to other village for help, there she met Siddharth and her father and told them about the incident. Siddharth and Bhaiyyalal asked her to go back to village and assured her that they are coming by another road. When this duo returned, from the very outskirt they heard villagers shouting and sounds of screams and cries from their home. Villagers were asking the whereabouts of them and was beating and thrashing the family members. Sensing the threat the duo ran away. The nightmare that followed cannot be described in words. The most inhuman, shameful and brutal act came to life the morning of 29th September 2006. Four members of the households Surekha (44, the mother), Priyanka (18, daughter), Roshan and Sudhir (23, 21 sons, one of whom was blind) were dragged out of their household by a mob of about 40 people, which included women. The four members of his family were stripped naked and paraded through the village streets to the main choupal of the village. Here the victims were beaten up mercilessly. Eyewitnesses reported that the women among the mob provided their men with bamboo rods to be inserted into the private parts of Surekha & Priyanka. Chilli powder was then smeared on the wounds to increase the suffering and embarrassment. The pleadings and cries that issued from the lips of the victims went not only unheard, but were also mocked at. Instead, boys were asked to have intercourse with their younger sister and upon refusing, their private parts were mutilated inhumanly. As if not satisfied by this brutality, the boys were thrown up in the air and allowed to fall on the ground repeatedly until they breathed their last. The women also were hacked to death, but not before being raped by the village men. This nightmare went on for over two hours before the victims were finally dead. After this the four bodies were disposed of at different places.

    Bhaiyyalal says the Kherlanji villagers have issued a ‘fatwa’ against anybody who opens their mouth about the incident. It is reported that the police officials were informed about the possible attack. What police and politicians must have done is a matter of common sense. Govt. announced Rs.4,50,000 as a compensation to Bhaiyyalal the head and the only survivor of the Bhotmange family. As usual acting late police arrested some people in the matter and the Buddhist families living in minority in the nearby villages are living under terror.

    Was caste the reason behind this inhumanity? The answer unfortunately and obviously is yes! In an Indian village the “backward” caste people are supposed to be submissive and take gratefully whatever (if any) freedom they are “given” by the “upper” castes. If they do not receive any humane behavior, they have little to complaint about as they don’t deserve it anyway! Things were outwardly fine as long as this submissiveness on the part of the lower castes existed. They were treated like animals and they considered themselves animals, not deserving of any better treatment. No conflicts!! The day however arrived, owing to many factors, when these exploited human beings recognized themselves as human beings and refused to be treated like garbage any more. They demanded equal treatment; they wanted equal opportunities in their own right. The alms of mercy no longer satisfied them. That is when hatred and the feeling of loss of authority expresses itself in such outbursts of anger. This is wrong! Friends, this is a black spot on our freedom and democracy and secularism. Every human being, irrespective of caste and race has been shamed by this act. Our naked bodies remind us of the brutality that the victims faced, the joy that we get out of sex reminds us of the cries of the hapless individuals, every morsel of food that goes down the throat reminds us of them. We cannot meet our own gaze in a mirror. Help us. Help humanity live. You are requested to

    Rise above your caste, creed, and religion and
    join the protest.

    What can you do …….

    · Send protesting mails to the national and international print and electronic media who has not publicized this matter
    · Send mails to President, Human right commission, National women right commission, national and international NGOs and all the concerned.
    · Send this mail to your friends and appeal them the same

    Prashant Tambe Alpana Bose
    9860414243 9860163642

  • Prashant Tambe

    photo link for the Dalit article

    http://atrocitynews.wordpress.com/khairlanje-massacre-pictures/

  • Very moving. Esp. the video and the end…aspirations and their breaking.

    A scrapbook of some thoughts on related issues and how to address them is at socialjusticeindia.blogspot.com

    Sad that this is India Shining!

  • Respected sir/madam;
    sarc trust is a non profit indian ngo.dalits rights are not focused political parties.indian politics writer is best.political parties are worst.for example daily paper.

  • Dr. Known

    Govt must freely give Handguns to all Dalits and Tribals for their self-defense.
    Every 18 minutes:

    A crime is committed against Dalit

    Every day:

    * 3 Dalit women are raped
    * 2 Dalits are murdered & 2 Dalits Houses are burnt
    * 11 Dalits are beaten

    Every week:

    * 13 Dalits are murdered
    * 5 Dalits home or possessions are burnt
    * 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted

    http://samatha.in/2008/08/26/being-a-dalit-in-india-facts-and-figures/
    http://digg.com/world_news/Supreme_Court_s_Handgun_Ruling_Spreads

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