Fight Caste-based Discrimination/Voilence

3500-yrs of massacres of Dalit-Sudra Blacks by 

History is usually written by the victors. The Dalits have not had a voice for thousands of years. The Dalit discrimination has to be aired by all peace loving people on the planet. Many Dalits believe that the discrimination perpetuated against them for centureis is based on thier ethnicity and the color of their skin. Dalit leaders have proposed that their status in the Hindu caste system is based on their Dravidian roots. Dalits leaders are openly calling for the mass conversion of the 150 million Dalits to Islam which would offer them equality. The Hinduvata reaction to the conversion of Dalits is ferocious and violent. The poor penury stricken Dalits must remain in bondage for perpetuity! 

3 to 6 million women have been raped for being Dalit. 

3 million Dalits have been killed for being Dalit. 
Indian secularism has not touched the 150-250 million Dalits or the 150 million Muslims.
  • More than 60 per cent of Dalits are landless. Over 40 million of them are bonded labourers. Dalits are the worst victims of labour coercion
  • “The 1991 Government survey of India states that on an average day, two Dalits are killed, three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits’ houses are burned and fifty Dalits are assaulted by people of a higher caste.”
  • ” High-caste Brahmins formed a private army, the Ranvir Sena, to stop communists from encouraging Dalit field workers to demand higher wages “
  • Amnesty International lists 300 million abused Indians & Kashmiris, Naxalites.
  • “India is being ruled by castes, not laws”-Indian state machinery supports License to kill Dalits.Amnesty Int 2008 report excoriates Horrid “India”

How India's "Untouchable" Women Are Fighting Back Against Sexual Violence

Manisha Mashaal (second from right) protests with other Dalit people to end sexual violence in India. Dalit women struggle to raise awareness about caste-based sexual violence.
Manisha Mashaal was five years old when her schoolteacher first called her an “untouchable” in front of the rest of her class.

“That’s when I found out why my family’s house was so close to the trash dumpsite of the village, and why it was so separated from houses of the dominant castes,” Mashaal said.

India is home to more than 100 million Dalit women, according to the 2011 national census. The Dalit, sometimes referred to as "untouchables," have long been considered the lowest rung of the Indian caste system, despite the fact that India's 1950 constitution ostensibly abolished untouchability.

Mashaal, now 27, said she faced harassment from students and teachers alike in her village of Badarpur because of her background. She said teachers threw her schoolbag out of class and refused to check her homework, while students sang rhymes taunting her and other Dalit children.

But as she grew up, the rhymes increasingly turned into threats of sexual violence, Mashaal told Refinery29. By the age of 16, she began attending Dalit-community solidarity meetings to examine how she could protect herself.

For Dalit victims of sexual violence, Marshaal said, response from police officers is often "How can you have been raped? You’re a Dalit — touching you would make anyone spiritually impure."

And Mashaal was far from alone. A study by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights found that more than half of Dalit women had suffered physical assault. More than 46% have suffered sexual harassment. Twenty-three percent have said they had been raped.
Manisha Mashaal in Assam, India. When she was five years old, she says her teacher called her an "untouchable" in front of her entire class.
That attitude in India, plus the country's attitude toward rape in general, were both reasons Mashaal and others decided to mobilize and create Dalit Women Fight. This month, the group has been traveling across North America to raise awareness to the issues Dalit women face, finding allies in the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements.

Mashaal said the group is speaking out against what they see as the systemic failures of the Indian government to break the silence of caste apartheid and caste-based rape. Dalit Women Fight was the brainchild of the All India Dalit Women’s Rights Forum, created around the time of the brutal Delhi bus rape.

On December 16, 2012, six men brutally raped and beat a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in Delhi. The victim, who became widely known as Nirbhaya, later died of her injuries, and the horrific case made headlines around the world. It drew much-needed attention to the issue of rape in India, Mashaal said.

"Nirbhaya's gang rape on a moving bus in New Delhi rocked the world. She was flown abroad for surgery; documentaries were made about her story to highlight the issue of gender-based sexual violence in India," said Mashaal. "But what about Dalit women’s rapes that occur due to the intersectionality of gender, caste, and class? These rapes are not even allowed to be registered in police stations."

Mashaal told Refinery29 how in August 2013, Kaafee, a 22-year-old Dalit woman who was studying to be a teacher, was abducted on her way to take an examination. The next day, Kaafee was found dead. She had been raped, and had cigarette burn marks all over her body, Mashaal said.

"We had had enough. We sat outside the government hospital for four days with her body. Our pledge was that we would not move until the police registers [the fact] that she had been raped, tortured, and murdered," Mashaal said.

But the police maintained that Kaafee had committed suicide, and refused to even allow a medical autopsy, Mashaal said. "I don’t think Kaafee or thousands of other Dalit girls like her, will ever receive justice," she added.
And it isn't only sexual-based harassment that Dalit people face. On October 8, a Dalit couple were reportedly stripped by the police in Greater Noida and paraded naked around because they insisted on registering a police report for alleged robbery, the International Business Times reported.

Dalit Women Fight members told Refinery29 that caste-based discrimination is not just relegated to far-flung villages. They said the oppression is just as apparent in the massive metropolises of India.

Anjum Singh, a 36-year-old Dalit woman, was born and raised in the bustling city of New Delhi, the capital of India. Her family has lived there for seven generations.

"New Delhi may have been revamped through the construction of giant malls and flyovers, but the mindset of people has not altered," Singh told Refinery29. "They still refer to us as untouchables. Our neighborhoods are considered impure, we are not allowed in temples belonging to upper-caste people, and we are not allowed the basic dignity of eating or drinking with non-Dalits." 
Sushma Raj, a Dalit woman, said she had to fight her own parents to attend school rather than be married off as a child.

Singh joined Dalit Women Fight and said that a fact-finding mission by the group uncovered that during a two-month period, more than 40 cases of caste-based sexual violence went unreported in the state of Haryana. The majority of people in Harayana belong to the Jat caste, one of the dominant castes, according to to The Indian Express.

"The saying goes that a Jat man cannot know what his land tastes like until he tastes the Dalit women living there," Mashaal told Refinery29. "It is not uncommon for Dalit brides to sleep with their landlords rather than their husbands on the first night after their marriage."

Mashaal and Singh, along with other Dalit Women Fight members, question why ending sexual violence against Dalit women is not a priority for the Indian government or the Indian media.

"When we sit in protest, whether this is in New Delhi or in the village of Badarpur, no non-Dalit women show solidarity with us," said Mashaal. "If they show up to a sit-in or a protest, it is to ask us why we are being so dramatic or to try and make us reach a compromise with the authorities in order to silence us."

Sushma Raj, another Dalit woman who came to the United States to raise awareness, is one of the youngest members at 25 years old. Raj is a fighter; her first major battle was against her own parents, who didn’t support her education.

"They said, 'What will education do for you? It’s better to sit at home and get married,'" Raj told Refinery29.

But Raj said she believed that a life where she could not demand change was not a life worth living, so she went on a hunger strike.

"I told them they can either let me die or let me go to school," Raj said.

For four years, she cycled 22 miles to school each day. She also began tutoring other Dalit students in the community, and eventually was hired as a schoolteacher.

"Once my parents realized the difference education can make on life, and the difference women like me can make on the Dalit community, they fully began to support me," Raj said. "My mother’s only concern was my marriage, but that’s a worldwide problem, isn't it?"

Raj now lives in Patna with her husband, and they both work for the Dalit community. She is involved in fact-finding missions to learn more about rape cases, create reports, and ensure that authorities properly register and investigate these incidents.

But Dalit women often come up against significant obstacles in a system they believe is designed to work against them, activists said. Sanghapali Aruna, 34, is a Dalit activist who is also part of the Dalit Women Fight campaign.
Sanghapali Aruna said that after learning that she was from the Dalit caste, a job interviewer at one of India's big marketing firms rescinded his offer. Since then, she has worked as an activist.
Aruna said that her father is also a Dalit activist, and growing up, she was constantly taught to be proud of her identity and caste. After a job interview at one of India’s leading marketing firms, she said the interviewer asked her what caste she belonged to after congratulating her for getting the job. Aruna said she proudly told him she was from the Dalit community.

"The interviewer didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was taken aback. He took back the job offer and told me to wait for his phone call while he makes a final decision," Aruna said. 
She never received that call, or that job. But she did become involved in Dalit activism. She questions India's government on why Dalit women’s rapes are not even granted the same attention that non-Dalit rapes receive, which is hardly enough as it is. 
"Talking about rape in India without talking about caste-based sexual violence is akin to talking about slavery in America without talking about black people," Aruna said. 
Dalit Women Fight activists arrived in San Francisco on September 29, just two days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given a speech in nearby San Jose. 
"India has moved on from scriptures to satellites," Modi said in his speech. "The world has started to believe that the 21st century belongs to India." 

But Dalit women say that until caste-based discrimination and violence are eliminated, India cannot move forward. 

"Forget Modi. Currently, even local police officers are not willing to give us an audience. When we take a rape case to them, they say, 'This girl was not raped, she willingly had sexual relations and now wants to bribe the upper caste for money,' or 'Why would an upper-caste man touch a Dalit?' or they write it off as a suicide," Mashaal said. 

"Neither Modi nor the non-Dalit population of India is willing to admit the existence of caste-based sexual violence, much less address it," she added.









Dalit exclusion: The empirical evidence
By Sukhadeo Thorat
In 60% of Rajasthani villages surveyed, dalits are not hired to cook midday meals. In 25% of 555 villages surveyed nation-wide, dalits were paid less wages; in 35% they were not allowed to sell goods at village markets; and in 47% of villages they were not allowed to sell milk to cooperatives. No wonder dalits have lower human development and higher poverty levels

Social exclusion is the denial of equal opportunities imposed by certain groups of society on others, leading to the inability of an individual to participate in the basic political, economic and social functioning of society.

Amartya Sen draws attention to various meanings and dimensions of the concept of social exclusion. He draws a distinction between situations where some people are kept out (or left out), and where some people are included (forcibly) on deeply unfavourable terms. The two situations are described as "unfavourable exclusion" and "unfavourable inclusion". Sen argues that it is important to distinguish between 'active exclusion' -- fostering of exclusion through deliberate policy interventions by the government or by any other wilful agents (to exclude some people from some opportunity), and 'passive exclusion', which works through the social process in which there are no deliberate attempts to exclude, but nevertheless may result in exclusion from a set of circumstances.

Sen further distinguishes the "constitutive relevance" of exclusion from that of "instrumental importance". In the former, exclusion or deprivation have an intrinsic importance of their own. For instance, not bring able to relate to others and to take part in the life of the community can directly impoverish a person's life, in addition to the further deprivation it may generate. This is different from social exclusion of "instrumental importance", in which the exclusion in itself is not impoverishing but can lead to impoverishment of human life.

Mainstream economists have further elaborated the concept of discrimination that operates particularly through markets.

Caste exclusion and discrimination

In India, exclusion revolves around the societal interrelations and institutions that exclude, discriminate, isolate and deprive some groups on the basis of group identities like caste and ethnicity. It is caste-based exclusion which forms the basis for various anti-discriminatory policies.

Historically, the caste system has regulated the social and economic life of the people in India. The organisational scheme of the caste system is based on the division of people into social groups (or castes) in which the civil, cultural and economic rights of each individual caste are predetermined or ascribed by birth and made hereditary. The assignment of civil, cultural and economic rights is therefore unequal and hierarchical.

The most important feature of the caste system, however, is that it provides for a regulatory mechanism to enforce social and economic organisation through the instruments of social ostracism (or social and economic penalties), and reinforces it further with justification and support from philosophical elements in the Hindu religion (Lal, 1988; Ambedkar, 1936 and 1987).

The caste system's fundamental characteristics of fixed civil, cultural and economic rights for each caste, with restrictions on change, implies "forced exclusion" of one caste from the rights of the other caste, or from undertaking the occupations of other castes. Exclusion and discrimination in civil, cultural, and particularly in economic spheres such as occupation and labour employment, are therefore internal to the system and a necessary outcome of its governing principles.

In the market economy framework, occupational immobility operates through restrictions in various markets such as land, labour, credit, other inputs and services necessary for any economic activity. Labour, being an integral part of the production process of any economic activity, would obviously become part of market discrimination. This implies that the caste system involves the negation of not only equality and freedom, but also of basic human rights, particularly of low-caste untouchables, thus becoming an impediment in personal development.

The principles of equality and freedom are not the governing principles of the caste system. This is because the underlying principles of the caste system assume particular notions of 'human rights'. Unlike many other human societies, the caste system does not recognise the individual and his/her distinctiveness as the centre of the social purpose. In fact, for the purpose of rights and duties, the unit of Hindu society is not an individual. Even the family is not regarded as a unit in Hindu society, except for the purposes of marriage and inheritance. The primary unit in Hindu society is caste, and hence the rights and privileges (or lack of them) of an individual are on account of him/her being a member of a particular caste (Ambedkar; first published in 1987).

Also, due to differential ranking and the hierarchical nature of the caste system, the entitlements to various rights become narrower and narrower as one goes down the hierarchical ladder within the caste system. Various castes get artfully interlinked and coupled with each other in a manner such that the rights and privileges of the higher castes become the causative reasons for the disadvantage and disability of the lower castes, particularly the untouchables.

As Ambedkar observed, a caste does not exist in a single number, only in plural. Castes exist as a system of endogenous groups that are interlinked with each other in an unequal measure of rights and relations in all walks of life. Castes at the top of the order enjoy more rights at the expense of those located at the bottom. Therefore, the untouchables located at the bottom of the caste hierarchy have much fewer economic and social rights.

Since the civil, cultural and economic rights (particularly with respect to occupation and property rights) of each caste are ascribed, and are compulsory, the institution of caste necessarily involves forced exclusion of one caste from the rights of another. The unequal and hierarchical assignment of economic and social rights by ascription obviously restricts freedom of occupation and human development.

Forms of caste exclusion and discrimination

The practice of caste-based exclusion and discrimination thus involves what has been described as "living mode exclusion", exclusion in political participation, and exclusion and disadvantage in social and economic opportunities (Minorities at Risk, UNDP HDR 2004).

Caste/untouchability and ethnicity-based exclusion reflects in the inability of individuals and groups like former untouchables, adivasis and similar groups to interact freely and productively with others and to take part in the full economic, social and political life of a community (Bhalla and Lapeyere, 1997). Incomplete citizenship or denial of civil rights (freedom of expression, rule of law, right to justice), political rights (right and means to participate in the exercise of political power), and socio-economic rights (economic security and equality of opportunities) are key dimensions of impoverished lives (Jonas Zoninsein, 2005).

Caste and untouchability-based exclusion and discrimination can be categorised in the economic, civil, cultural, and political spheres as follows:

Firstly, economic exclusion can be practised in the labour market through denial of jobs; in the capital market through denial of access to capital; in the agricultural land market through denial of sale and purchase or leasing of land; in the input market through denial in sale and purchase of factor inputs; and in the consumer market through denial in the sale and purchase of commodities and consumer goods.

Secondly, discrimination can occur through what Amartya Sen describes as "unfavourable inclusion", through differential treatment in the terms and conditions of contract, one of them reflecting in discrimination in the prices charged and received by discriminated groups. Discriminated groups can get lower prices for the goods that they sell, and could pay higher prices for the goods that they buy, as compared with the market price or the price paid by other groups.

Thirdly, exclusion and discrimination can occur in access to social needs supplied by government or public institutions, or by private institutions in the fields of education, housing and health, including common property resources like waterbodies, grazing land and land for common use.

Fourthly, groups (particularly untouchables) may face exclusion and discrimination from participation in certain categories of jobs (the sweeper being excluded from household jobs) because of the notion of purity and pollution, and may be restricted to so-called "unclean" occupations.

In the civil and cultural spheres, untouchables may face discrimination and exclusion in the use of public services like roads, temples, waterbodies, and institutions delivering services like education, health and other public services.

In the political sphere, untouchables could face discrimination in the use of political rights, and in participation in the decision-making process. Due to physical (or residential) segregation, and social exclusion on account of the notion of untouchability, they may suffer from a general societal exclusion.

Since there is a societal mechanism to regulate and enforce the customary norms and rules of the caste system, untouchables generally face opposition in the form of social and economic boycott, violence, and such acts as a general deterrent to their right to development.

Caste and untouchability-based exclusion and discrimination are essentially "structural in nature" and comprehensive and multiple in coverage, involving the denial of equal opportunities.

Caste exclusion and discrimination: Empirical evidence

Studies show that dalits suffer from limited access to capital assets like agricultural land and non-land assets (and/or low productivity of those assets), less urbanisation and employment diversification away from agriculture, exceptionally high dependence on casual wage labour, high underemployment, lower daily wages, particularly in non-farm activities, and low levels of literacy and education compared with non-dalit/adivasi groups in Indian society.

The question is why dalits and adivasis, categorised as scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), have poor access to resources that directly and indirectly determine the level of income. Why their ownership of agricultural land and non-land capital assets is low compared with non-SC/STs. Why unemployment rates are high compared with non-SC/STs. Why daily wage earnings of SC/STs in non-farm activities are lower compared with non-SC/STs. Why literacy rates and education levels are much lower when compared with non-SC/STs.

We first need to look at the evidence on discrimination in civil, cultural and political spheres provided by official data, besides an all-India study and four regional studies. These include an all-India 2000 ActionAid study ('Untouchability in Rural India' by Ghanshyam Saha, Satish Deshpande, Sukhadeo Thorat, Harsh Mander, Amita Baviskar and research and other regional staff, Delhi), a study on Karnataka (1973-74 and 1991), Andhra Pradesh (1977), Orissa (1987-88) and Gujarat (1996). The all-India study presents evidence from 11 states. The studies based on village surveys bring out the actual magnitude of the exclusion, discrimination and atrocities against dalits.

Economic exclusion and discrimination

ActionAid's study -- conducted in 555 villages across 11 Indian states -- found that discrimination in labour markets operates through exclusion in hiring, and unfair or low wages. In about 36% of the villages, SCs were denied casual employment in agriculture. In about 25% of villages, SCs faced discrimination in wage payments. SCs received daily wages at a rate that was less than the market wage rate, or wages paid to non-SC workers. Belief in the concept of purity and pollution also impacted hiring of SC labourers -- in about one-third of villages SCs were excluded from employment in the construction of houses.

In the case of other markets, the study observed discriminatory treatment of SCs in access to irrigation water and public and private services. In a little more than one-third of the villages, SCs were denied access to water for agriculture. In case of agricultural land, selective evidence from some states brings out the restrictions placed by the high castes on SCs in the purchase of private agricultural land, and use of public land for agriculture and housing. In the case of access to common property resources like grazing land, fishing ponds, and other resources, SCs faced exclusion in about one-fifth of the sample villages.

The notion of pollution and purity reflected in the exclusionary and discriminatory behaviour of higher castes in the consumer markets -- in the sale and purchase of consumer goods, particularly milk, vegetables and other such goods. In 35% of the villages surveyed, SCs were not allowed to sell any kind of goods at village-level markets. In about 47% of villages, SCs were not allowed to sell milk to village cooperatives and private buyers. The survey data also reveals some isolated evidence of exclusion and discrimination in the sale and purchase of consumer goods like bakery products and vegetables. Such restrictions compelled SCs to go to small towns and other nearby marketplaces where their caste identity was not so obvious, or was hidden.

Micro-level studies such as those from Andhra Pradesh (Venketeswarlu, 1990) and Karnataka (Khan, 1995) provide some evidence on economic discrimination in occupation, employment, wages, and the credit market as well as in other economic spheres. The Andhra Pradesh study observed that SCs faced restrictions in efforts to change their occupation. Similarly, the Karnataka study revealed that nearly 85% of SC respondents continue to be engaged in their traditional occupations, with only 15% able to make a switch-over. The Orissa study (Tripathy, 1994) observed discrimination in land lease, credit and labour markets in rural areas. Nearly 96% of untouchable respondents in one village and all untouchable respondents in the second village were discriminated against in wage payment, with 28% in one village and 20% in another facing discrimination in payment of rent.

For urban areas, Banerjee and Knight (1991) observed that "there is indeed discrimination by caste, particularly job discrimination" and that "discrimination appears to operate at least in part through traditional mechanisms, with untouchables disproportionately represented in poorly-paid dead-end jobs... Even if discrimination is no longer practised, the effects of past discrimination could carry over to the present. This may help explain why discrimination is greatest in operative jobs in which contacts are more important for recruitment, and not in white-collar jobs in which recruitment involves formal methods."

Such economic discrimination had obvious impacts on the earnings of SC households, and reflected in the incidence of high poverty among them.

Caste discrimination and the right to food

Empirical studies also show denial of access and differential treatment in food security programmes like the midday meal (MDM) scheme and fair price shops (FPS). The study on the midday meal scheme in Rajasthan reported the exclusion of scheduled caste persons from employment as cooks and helpers in almost 60% of the sample villages (Jean Dreze, 2003). Another study based on a sample of about 550 villages in five states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan -- reported exclusion and discriminatory treatment in the operation of midday meal schemes and fair price shops (Thorat and Lee, 2003).

In terms of scale, caste discrimination afflicts more than one out of three fair price shops and more than one out of three government schools serving midday meals. In terms of geographical spread, it is unquestionably a nationwide problem -- from 24% in Andhra Pradesh to 52% in Rajasthan, to a vast majority in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, respondent villages from every state reported problems of caste discrimination and exclusion in the midday meal scheme. Likewise with the FPS, no state is free of discrimination -- from 17% in Andhra Pradesh to 86% in Bihar. For instance, every state reports a substantial percentage of dominant caste public distribution system (PDS) dealers practising caste-based discrimination in the distribution of PDS goods, for example preferential order of service by caste, or hierarchically segregated timings for dominant caste and dalit customers.

While the problem is nationwide, its degree varies considerably from state to state. Where higher percentages of midday meal cooks and organisers are dalit, and where a higher percentage of midday meals are held in dalit colonies, a lower incidence of caste discrimination in the scheme is reported. In Andhra Pradesh, where indicators of dalit participatory empowerment and access are relatively high (49% of respondent villages have dalit cooks, 45% have dalit organisers, and 46% are held in dalit localities), reported caste discrimination in the midday meal scheme stands at 24%. In Tamil Nadu, where the same empowerment and access indicators are lower (31%, 27% and 19%, respectively), reported discrimination stands at 36%. And in Rajasthan, where the indicators are alarmingly low (8% dalit cooks, 0% dalit organisers, 12% held in dalit colonies), reported discrimination was extremely high at 52%.

A similar pattern emerges in access to fair price shops, where higher proportions of dalit dealers and FPS held in dalit colonies correspond with lower proportions of reported discrimination and 'untouchability' practices.

Exclusion and discrimination in civil and political spheres

Macro-level evidence

During 1999-2001, an average of 28,016 cases per year were registered by untouchables in the country under the Anti-Untouchability Act of 1955 and the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. This comes to about three cases per 100,000 population and included restrictions on access to temples, wells, taps, tea stalls, restaurants, community baths, roads, and other services. The ratio of such cases was highest in Rajasthan (9.3), followed by Madhya Pradesh (7.7). The ratio was about three cases per 100,000 population in Orissa, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

The break-up of crimes against untouchables for the year 2000 include 526 cases of murder, 3,497 of grievous hurt, 290 cases of arson, 1,000 cases of sexual assault, and 11,587 cases of other offences. During a nine-year period between 1992 and 2000, a total of 252,370 cases of crime, including cases of discrimination and atrocities, were registered by untouchables.

Evidence from primary surveys

First, the results of the most comprehensive study based on an intensive survey of 555 villages in 11 states across India. In this section, we consider the practice of discrimination in the "secular public sphere", including access to water sources, public thoroughfares, transport, and other village-level services and amenities like tea shops, barbers' or watermen's services, and so on.

Out of all the villages surveyed, complete denial was observed in a little less than half the villages -- 48.4% in terms of access to public water/drinking places, 36% in terms of access to shops, 26% in terms of the use of restaurants/hotels, 21% in terms of entry to health centres/clinics, 9.2% in terms of public transport, and 3.2% in terms of entry to cinema halls/recreation facilities, etc.

In the case of individual service-providers also, the denial was more than apparent. Out of all the villages surveyed, denial of barber services was reported in 46% of the villages, washerperson services in 46% of the villages, carpenter services in 26% of the villages, and potter services in about 20% of the villages. While complete denial of access to particular water sources (well, tank, tubewell, etc), village shops, health clinics, transport used for public purposes, services offered by washerpersons, carpenters, tailors, potters, etc, is the most evident form of social exclusion, what is more common is the imposition of differential treatment in access to these and other public services, which takes various forms. This was observed in one-third of the villages in the form of separate seating arrangements and a separate set of cups at tea stalls/restaurants for untouchables. Similar forms of discrimination were observed in purchases from shops, entry into public transport, and treatment at private health clinics, etc.

Karnataka study

The Karnataka study for 1973-74 is based on a fairly large sample of 76 villages, 38 urban centres and 3,330 households. Of the total households, 73% are untouchables (Parvathamma, 1984). A little more than half the untouchable respondents were not allowed to draw water from the public well in the village. The magnitude of the problem was less severe in urban centres, but even in urban areas 15% of respondents reported restrictions on the use of public waterbodies. The practice of untouchability was more widespread in terms of access to the village temple and access to high-caste houses. More than 60% of untouchables were not allowed into the village temple. A little less than half the dalits were not allowed free access to the local village teashop. In urban areas, the discrimination was much less (only 6%). In essential services, the practice of untouchability was widespread. A little more than half of the respondents did not receive the services of a barber and washerman in the village. In urban areas, access improved considerably.

In public services like postal services, health and education, the practice of untouchability was much less. Almost all had access to postal services, but half of the respondents faced some kind of discrimination insofar as postmen avoided entering dalit residential areas. Generally, discrimination in services rendered by government doctors and nurses and the village school was less.

Still, in the early-1970s, one out of 10 persons among the scheduled castes was not allowed inside the village shops. One out of 10 persons among the scheduled castes could not wear clothes or ornaments of their own choice without being harassed.

Nearly 20 years later, another study was conducted in Karnataka taking 941 respondents from 52 villages and from most of the districts (Khan, 1995). In the political sphere (that is, sitting together or drinking tea in the village panchayat office), the discrimination was much less. Otherwise, not much had happened in the two decades since the previous study was carried out. About three out of four respondents were denied entry into the village temple and also denied participation in religious processions. Social mixing or relations across caste barriers were also not allowed. Most people among the untouchables did not have free access to the water taps of the high castes, and three-fourths of them had no access to the village tank.

Orissa study

The Orissa study covered 65 untouchable respondents from two villages (one small and one large) in 1987-88 (Tripathy, 1994). In both villages, the settlements of untouchables were separated from those belonging to the upper castes. An overwhelming majority -- 80% -- of respondents in the small village and 70% in the large village were prohibited from drinking water from the public well and public tubewell. In the large village there were separate pulleys in wells for the untouchables.

At village community feasts and marriages in both the villages, the former untouchables were treated unequally. The same is true of temple worship, barber services, washerman services, priest services, etc. Sixty-four per cent in the large village and 100% in the small village were treated unequally in the village meeting. Eighty per cent of the respondents in both villages did not have access to teashops; 70% in the large village and 80% in the small village faced unequal treatment or discrimination in getting services from grocery shops. Their small number, poverty and fear (in the small village) discouraged the dalits from contesting elections. But dalits had free access to schools and hospitals in both villages.

Gujarat study

The Gujarat study was conducted in 69 villages, in 1996, to observe changes in the practice of untouchability (Shah, 1998). The study examined 17 spheres of village life. The practice of untouchability in the seating arrangement of students in village schools was negligible and non-SC students mingled freely in the school. Non-SC teachers do not discriminate against SC students, but they are not easily accessible to SC students outside the school boundary.

Not all schools have the facility of drinking water for students. Where it exists, all students take water from a common vessel. Nearly 10% of village schools have teachers belonging to SCs. None of them complained that their colleagues discriminated against them in school. However, except in south Gujarat, these teachers do not get accommodation in the high-caste locality of the village. They either commute from their village or the nearby town, or they rent a house in the SC locality.

Almost all villages are covered by state transport. Except in 7% of the villages, untouchability is not observed whilst boarding and sitting in the bus.

Open or subtle untouchability is practised at panchayat meetings in 30% of the villages. The seating arrangement in panchayat offices is common for all members, but there is a tacit convention whereby certain seats are marked for SC members. Though tea and snacks are served to everyone, separate plates and cups are reserved for SC members, and they are stored separately. In most village temples, 75% of SCs are not allowed to enter beyond the threshold, though they may worship from a distance. Many villages with large numbers of dalits have constructed temples in their localities to avoid confrontation.

In 46 villages, SCs had separate water facilities near their localities. In the remaining 23 villages in which untouchables take water from a common source, SC women take water after the upper-caste women. In seven villages (11% of the sample) SC women are not allowed to fetch water from the well. They have to wait till the upper-caste women pour water into their pots. The upper-caste women shout at them constantly and humiliate the SC women: "Keep distance, do not pollute us!"

Most tailors do not practise untouchability. However, in most cases, they do not alter the used clothes of SCs. Nearly one-third of potters observe untouchability while selling pots to SC clients. Most barbers (nearly 70%) refuse their services to SC males. The extent of untouchability has remained almost intact in the sphere of house entry. Except for a few villages, SC members of villages do not get entry beyond the outer room of the houses of high castes. Even in villages where the young folk do not believe in physical untouchability, and who serve tea to SC guests in their houses, entry into the dining room is not encouraged.

The practice of untouchability has considerably reduced in some public spheres that are directly managed by state laws, such as schools, postal services and elected panchayats. The practice of untouchability on public roads, restricting free movement of SCs, has considerably declined although it is too soon to say that dalits are not discriminated against in the public sphere.

Access to justice

A number of anti-discrimination statutes and other legal provisions exist as legal safeguards against caste and untouchability-based discrimination. As mentioned earlier, the primary piece of legislation designed to provide a measure of protection to people from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and to enforce their rights are the Anti-Untouchability Act, 1955 (in 1979 it was re-named the Civil Rights Act) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

There are limited studies that examine the effectiveness of these legislations and access to institutions of justice. However, available evidence indicates that these legislative provisions are highly underutilised. SC/STs also suffer from discriminatory access to institutions of justice such as the police and the judiciary. Studies indicate that the scheduled castes/tribes face insurmountable obstacles at various levels from village-level functionaries like sarpanchs to the police, public prosecutors and other functionaries who are extremely non-cooperative and discriminatory. This is essentially reflected in denial of justice to SC/STs.

Official data on civil rights cases shows that of the total number of cases registered in 1991, only 1.56% were convicted. The conviction rate came down to .60% in 1999 and .85% in 2000. This shows that the conviction rate in cases relating to civil rights violations and atrocities was less than 1% and close to 0%.

Analysis of 100 documented cases of atrocity during 2000-2003 in Andhra Pradesh throws some light on the reasons for the low conviction rate. The case studies indicated "a disturbing trend of subversion of the rights of dalits to justice and compensation under the law once an atrocity takes place" (Agrawal and Gonsalves, Dalit Human Rights Monitor 2003). The study observed negligence and collusion at the stages of registration, chargesheeting and investigation, at seeking justice before the law in the courts and in giving compensation. About the role of the judiciary, Dalit Human Rights Monitor 2003 observed: "If the low conviction rate under the Act is any indication, the judiciary has responded poorly to the Act. Judiciary delay and dilution of the scope, applicability and meaning of the SC/ST Act has resulted in denial of justice to the dalits" (Dalit Human Rights Report -- 2000, AP 109).

The interface of caste and gender

Assessments of human development at the aggregate level hide gender differences. Women belonging to marginalised groups suffer triple deprivations arising out of lack of access to economic resources, caste and gender discrimination. SC and ST women constitute perhaps the most economically deprived section of Indian society. Most of them don't own agricultural land and work as wage labourers.

In 2001, about 57% of SC and 37% of ST women respectively were agricultural wage labour in rural areas, as compared with 29% for non-SC/STs. In urban areas, 16% SC and 14% ST women were daily wage labourers as compared with only 6% from non-SC/STs. Only 21% of SC women were cultivators compared with 51% for STs and 45% for non-SC/STs. SC/ST women also faced differential treatment in wage-earning, particularly in urban areas. In 2000, SC and ST women casual labourers received daily wages of Rs 37 and Rs 34 respectively, compared with Rs 56 for non-SC/ST women; the national average was Rs 42.

Besides this, a large number of SC women are engaged in so-called 'unclean' occupations, like scavenging. Because of their association with these occupations, the women face discrimination in the social and economic spheres.

Lack of educational development is another important problem. In 2000, the literacy rate among SC and ST rural females (aged 15 and above) was 24% and 23% respectively, compared with 41% for non-SC/ST women. The literacy rate among SC women in urban areas was 48%, compared with 54% and 70% for ST and non-SC/ST women respectively. The dropout rate among SC and ST women is also relatively high at every stage of education. The high dependence on casual labour, with relatively low earnings, among SC and ST women induced a high degree of deprivation and poverty among them.

The gender break-up of poverty is not available. However, the high degree of deprivation is reflected in other indicators of wellbeing -- under-nutrition and health. About 65% and 56% of ST and SC women respectively suffered from anaemia compared to 47.6% of non-SC/ST women. In 1998-99, 21.2% of SC and 26% of ST children under four years of age suffered from malnutrition (based on weight-for-age). Of these underweight children, 54% of SCs and 56% of STs were severely undernourished. There is a significant difference between SC and ST children and non-SC/ST children, 13.80% and 41.1% of whom are malnourished and undernourished respectively.

While the Government of India has adopted the national goal of reducing the present infant mortality rate (IMR) to 60 by 2000, the SC's IMR, child mortality and under-5 mortality is 83.00, 39.50 and 119.3, respectively. Compare this with 61.8, 22.2 and 82.6 for non-SC/STs, respectively. Similarly, IMR, child mortality and under-5 mortality are 84, 46.3 and 126 among STs.

About 72% of births to SC women and 81% of births to ST women took place at home; the corresponding figure for others is 59%.

Because of their lower social status, sexual exploitation of SC/ST women is also high. There are some caste-related social customs and religious practices in Hindu society that exploit only women from dalit communities. One of these customs is devdasi or jogini, involving religious prostitution imposed on unfortunate girls who are married to a village god and then become the subject of sexual exploitation by upper caste men in a village. A primary survey estimates the number of joginis in six districts of Andhra Pradesh at 21,421. There are similar practices in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra where dalit women are designated devdasis or devotees of god.


From the empirical evidence it becomes clear that caste-based exclusion and discrimination of SCs in the past and its continuation in the present (through residual traditional attributes) continues to be one of the main reasons for their lower human development and higher deprivation and poverty.

The approach of Indian policymakers to overcoming discrimination and addressing social exclusion include such policy interventions as legal enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, reservation and preferential and general empowering measures that form part of anti-poverty programmes. These polices have brought about positive changes, but the rate of improvement has not been fast enough to reduce the absolute level of deprivation and the gap between the excluded group of scheduled castes and tribes and other advanced sections. The continuing exclusion-induced deprivation of disadvantaged groups of SCs indicates that addressing social exclusion is often much more difficult than addressing poverty.

Social and cultural sources of exclusion (in economic, civil and political spheres) are rooted in informal social structures and institutions of caste and untouchability covering not only the private but public domain governed by the State. In this context, the inclusion of excluded groups is different from the social inclusion of materially deprived people. Poverty, even when broadly defined as exclusion from the means necessary for full participation in the normal activities of society, is largely a question of access to resources and services. The social exclusion of groups or individuals within that group is foremost a denial of equal opportunity, respect and recognition of the right to development. Fighting discrimination therefore calls for additional policies complementing anti-poverty and economic development programmes. But there is also considerable overlap, and therefore the need to combine and complement, and not divide, programmes against poverty and economic deprivation and policies for equal rights and social inclusion of disadvantaged groups.

(Sukhadeo Thorat is Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Government of India. He is also Director of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies and Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He lives in New Delhi)

The Recent History of Brahmin Massacres of Dalit Blacks

Mass Murder of Dalits : Ethnic Cleansing in South Asia 
An Account of the 3500-Year Arya-Sudra Race War During the Last 10 Years
“Indra protected in battle the Aryan worshipper, he subdued the lawless for Manu, he conquered the black skin.”[ Rig Veda I.130.8 ]
A history of massacres by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan Frontline Vol. 16, ( Feb. 27 – Mar. 12, 1999 ) No. 05 For immediate release May 1, 2007, Posted on: May 2, 2007
This bigoted genocide contineus in 2008. Here are a few stories of the actual genocide for the past 20 years
” The black skin, the hated of Indra, were swept out of heaven “[ Rig Veda IX.73.5 ]
“… The religion based on caste system has annihilated millions of Dalits over the centuries. About three million Dalit women have been raped and around one million Dalits killed from the time of Independence. This is 25 times more than number of soldiers killed during the wars fought after independence. That is why Dalits do not need Aryan culture or Hindu Dharma based on caste any more. …” [Dr. Tulsiram]
MUCH blood has been spilt in Bihar in caste violence over the past three decades. Between the first reported caste-based massacre, at Rupaspur Chandwa in Purnea district in 1971, and the latest bloodbath, at Narayanpur village in Jehanabad district on February 10, there were 59 recorded instances of mass murders, in which about 600 people were killed. The majority of these were directed at Dalits and were carried out by the private armies of the upper castes, such as the Ranvir Sena, the Bhoomi Sena, the Brahmarshi Sena, the Sunlight Sena and the Savarna Liberation Army. The Dalechak-Bagholia killings of 1987 and the Bara carnage of 1992 were perpetrated by a naxalite group, the Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC).

Killing of a woman, a Shudra or an atheist is not sinful. Woman is an embodiment of the worst desires, hatred, deceit, jealousy and bad character. Women should never be given freedom.” Bhagvad Gita (Manu IX. 17 and V. 47, 147)”

Similarly another holy script of Hindu religious book preaches looking down upon women by terming a woman equal to a dog, crow and shudra (a low cast poor Hindu who has no rights in Hindu society).

“And whilst not coming into contact with Sudras and remains of food; for this Gharma is he that shines yonder, and he is excellence, truth, and light; but woman, the Sudra, the dog, and the black bird (the crow), are untruth: he should not look at these, lest he should mingle excellence and sin, light and darkness, truth and untruth.” – Satapatha Brahmana 14:1:1:31.

According to Oliver Mendelsohn and Marika Vicziany, authors of The Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty and the State in Modern India, a comprehensive account of the phenomenon of untouchability, the caste-based massacres are brutal manifestations of the “violent and primordial casteism” that has overtaken Bihar. The authors point out that although the naxalite movement is by and large dedicated to and partly composed of Dalits, it is sometimes referred to as caste politics in the guise of radical political activity. 

According to government statistics, instances of atrocities against Dalits rose dramatically after 1977, the period when the political identity of the backward castes of the State found assertive expression in the elevation of Karpoori Thakur, a leader from a backward caste, as Chief Minister. Similarly, there has been an upsurge in atrocities against Dalits between 1989 and 1999, the period which coincided with the chief ministership of Laloo Prasad Yadav and, lately, his wife Rabri Devi.

” Stormy gods who rush on like furious bulls and scatter the black skin.”[ Rig Veda IX.73.5 ]

One explanation for this is that the upper castes, who had political, social and administrative supremacy during much of Bihar’s recent political history, were responding to the elevation of leaders from backward castes to political power by stepping up attacks against lower-caste populations. Another explanation is that the governments of Karpoori Thakur and Laloo Prasad Yadav were lax in controlling the upper-caste private armies.

Irrespective of the level of accuracy of analyses such as these, the fact remains that the number of attacks against Dalits and other lower-caste people has gone up every time a backward caste leader rose to power. The period between 1990 and 1999 witnessed 35 instances of caste-based massacres, the total number of victims being about 400. More than 350 of those killed were from among the lower castes.[ ill. - At Lakshmanpur-Bathe on December 1, 1997, when 63 persons were killed in an attack by the Ranvir Sena. ] 

The Ranvir Sena, which has been active since 1994, is one of the most dreaded private armies in the history of the State. According to informal estimates, the Ranvir Sena, which was formed by the partial or complete merger of upper-caste private armies such as the Savarna Liberation Army and the Sunlight Sena, has killed at least 200 Dalits in the last five years. Ranvir Sena leaders boast that at least 125 of these killings were carried out after July 1995, when the group was banned by the Bihar Government. As the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation has pointed out repeatedly, the ban existed only on paper.
In addition to organised massacres of the residents of entire Dalit villages, the private armies practise unlawful and dehumanising programmes aimed at insulting members of the lower castes and preventing their rise in society. The Savarna Liberation Army’s “mass rape” campaign, conducted between March and July 1992 in Gaya and Jehanabad districts, was one of the most heinous among these. More than 200 Dalit women between the ages of six and 70 were raped by a group of activists of the Savarna Liberation Army. Each of these incidents was given publicity by the perpetrators of the crime.
 The Aryans enforced the caste system on the Black population (the original inhabitants of India), with a cold-blooded racist logic with [w]hites on the top, mixed races in the middle and the mass of the conquered Blacks at the bottom. Rajshekar,`Dalit: The Black Untouchables of India’, p.44. 

Ranvir Sena leaders claim that the operation was intended to avenge the killing of 34 Bhumihar landlords at Bara by the Maoist Coordination Centre (MCC). It was a “lesson” to the Dalits, that if they tried to take on the landlords the women of their communities would be humiliated. Ranvir Sena activists claim with a macabre sense of glee that the operation was “very effective”. The stigma attached to rape victims is such that the operation broke the morale of Dalits of many villages.

Given the prevailing socio-political climate in Bihar, the Senas operate with impunity, justifying their presence with the cycle of retaliatory violence spawned by naxalite groups. Sociologists have pointed out that resort to measures that merely address the violence as a law-and-order problem will not be enough to smash these Senas. Such steps, they say, have to be coupled with bold and far-reaching measures such as land reforms, which address the fundamental problem of economic exploitation and social discrimination of landless agricultural labourers from among the Scheduled Castes by upper-caste feudal landowners. “ Author : Venkitesh Ramakrishnan,

Design : Krishna Rao, Dalitstan Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2 (Oct. 1999)


India is basically, a too bad Nation.  And what is worse, it has an intolerant Society.  It only tolerates Injustices and Dalit Exploitations.  It is thus in many respects, extremely unreasonable unfair and unjust Nation.  It does not even give the victims; any space and room to turnaround think or respond.  Worst victims, amongst all in the Country, are no doubt SC&ST Dalits.

The SC&ST Dalits, have been not only discriminated, but harassed and criminally victimised in all forms of crude violences, but are also subjected to unimaginable atrocities exploitations oppressions and suppressions.  What totally unbearable is that, the Dalits are not at all allowed to respond and react.  They are forced to accept the Atrocities, as due and destined right punishments.  Often, they are invariably not allowed to even cry in pain. They are definitely not permitted to protest, or say anything.

There had always been, in protest, lots of Dalits’ Poetry, composed and written in silence; and many sayings written in private.  Imagine their ingenuity, in composing all those Classic Protest Songs and Sayings, often as forms of Folklore or even Prayers to their own small gods and goddesses in the Villages and Slums.  One has to only refer to the great work,Grama Devathalu, that means Village Deities, by the once famous fire-band Sidharamaiah, of Bangalore University, Karnataka, who later became a Member of the Karnataka Legislative Council.  He was appointed directly intoBangalore University, and also made then a MLC, only to purchase and silence him, as well as Temper-Down, Cool Him and Mellow-Down his Fiery Writings and Speeches.

The Indian Society is always on the lookout, to grab and take away what are others; be they the animals fodder food homes land wealth women and girls, especially the charmingly beautiful young and well built ones.  And now, the Indian Society is after the well educated and better placed SC&ST Dalit Grooms earning a lot. Such Boys and prospective Grooms are poached and trapped, for the poor relatively not so good looking, even ugly and spoilt, not so much educated girls and unmarried women or the widows, from poor dominant caste families.  That, especially for those, who are not in a position to afford to spend or pay to marry them off, with their heavy huge dowry,or the conventional prices offered by brides’ parents and family and the associated big gifts.

As better prospective educated well-employed, better-earning SC&ST Boys and Grooms are lost to the cheap girls and women of the dominant caste hindus.  Thus, SC&ST Dalits loose, many likely good grooms for their girls, whom generally none else marry to live with, unless the girl herself is highly educated, better employed and earning a lot, or is extremely good looking beautiful and very charming.  Otherwise in many cases, SC&ST Girls who are picked up for marriage by the dominant caste hindus, referred to generally as DCHs, are dropped when their charm wanes.  It is, invariably sooner than later, in a matter of some months or a few years.  Even otherwise, the life of such SC&ST Girls and Women, are too miserable to narrate.


The SCs&STs as Native People bonded to the Earth, associated with Land and Soil, and tied to Nature, excel in Arts, both Performing Arts and Fine Arts.  But SCs&STs are always denigrated for their Arts and Culture, as cheap ones of the Primitive People, Tribal Dances and Arts, or some Folk Songs, Rural Music, Jungle Dances, Village Arts, and thus neglected and trashed.  Or they are crudely taken around to perform, and are displayed and exhibited in the Main Thoroughfares, Stages and in some Platforms of Delhi during the Republic Days.  Sometimes, they are asked to Dance and Entertain, Visiting Dignitaries to please and honour them.  But on the other hand, the brahmins and dominant caste hindus, who silently copy some of the SC&ST Dongs Music Dance and other Performances, are allowed to go around the whole Country, or sponsored or taken around the whole World in Phases, for performing always before some elite audiences at special venues and Theatres, for a big fee, consideration and huge returns.

Many of the Cultural Exchange Programmes and MOUs being signed during the Visit of Foreign Dignitaries; and those inked by the Indian President or PM and others Visits with the Heads of other Countries, are fully utilised by those jet-set dominant caste hindu cultural ambassadors.

Performing Arts –

There have been many eminent, well-known and most Popular SCs&STs in the spheres of Performing Arts.  Particularly in the Fields of Drama and Stage, Cinema, and TV.


There were many SC&ST Heroes, Heroines, Comedians, Jokers, Entertainers, Villains etc in the Cinemas.  The famous Tamil Comedian, NS Krishnan of Madras, is the most eminent amongst them all.  He was followed by many, till the brahmins had entered; usurped the scene completely by many respects.


There were a few SC&ST Popular Dancers.  They had all soon vanished in thin Air and been Forgotten.

Fine Arts

There had been many eminent World-Class Practitioners, Teachers and Principles of the Schools and Colleges of Fine Arts.  They were really so many Painters, Sculptors etc, right from the eminent Ram Kinker Bhoj, almost the most famous of them all, from Shanti-Niketan, West Bengal.


Not much of a Study hand been made about, Dalit Discriminations in Arts Culture Music Sports; and in Army and other Uniformed Services, except for some quite old work by a Japanese Scholar in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. That was, sometime during the early eighties.

Lots of empirical studies, collected information, buried texts, individual knowledge and accounts, about such discriminations and negligence are available scattered around the Country and Abroad.  They may be available, with a few concerned and interested Individuals.


Games and Sports, generally keep the poor and all the underprivileged busy happy and engaged.  Thus, Sports being poor peoples’ big entertainment or their business, it is natural to expect the poorest of the poor, the SC&ST Dalits in large numbers in many Sports Teams all over the Country.  But sadly again, we can hardly see any SCs&STs being eulogised or promoted in the Country.  It is not that, the SCs&STs are not playing or are not in the teams.  There are good many.  But when it comes to selecting the School Team, choosing the College Team or making the University Team, or Representing the District, Region, State, Zone or the Nation, the SCs&STs are a strict No No No.

The SCs&STs were, and even now are invariably sidelined.  And, they are often forced to sit-down and be just the spectators.  Otherwise they are made to sit in the benches as Reserves even if included in the Teams, or dropped at the first opportunity, even if by chance they have played, to show their talents, and proved that they can play well to win. There are too many such sad stories here.

The extent of corruption favouritism nepotism and demand for sex and sexual favours while making selections, forming teams, and choosing the Players in any Match, is too well-known here.


One may recall during the US Presidential Election of Jimmy Carter, there was a sort of negative Campaign ABC – Anybody But Carter.  Also in the Tennis World, there was once the famous three – the ABC that stood for the Promising Young Players in the International Circuit – Vijay Amrithraj from India, Bjorn Borg of Sweden, and the American Jimmy Connors.  The last two went on, truly as expected, to become the Tennis Greats.  Vijay Amrithraj, matched surpassed and dominated Tennis, only in India, though he played great Tennis, even in International Circuits.

In the International Circuit, Vijay Amrithraj, often faltered and failed.  Partly the blame rests at the doors of Govt of India, its Sports Ministry, and the Indian Tennis Federations, all of which saw to it that, Vijay Amrithraj was humiliated discriminated.  He was criticised at the slightest opportunity, along with his elder brother Anand Amrithraj, himself a great Tennis Player.  All the above, were all just to pull down Vijay Amrithraj, as the brahmins of this Country could not digest and tolerate the sight of a black, the utterly Coal Dark Boy, that too a SC with his Brothers dominating, the highly paying glamorous World of Tennis, in this Country and as well as Abroad.  Those in spite of his great game and contributions to Indian Tennis, including starting Amritraj-Brittania Tennis Academy at Madras, which had produced the next generation of Tennis Greats like Leander Paes for India.

The brahmins here could also not bear the fact that, it was only the Vijay Amrithraj’s elder brother Anand Amrithraj, who first became the Indian National Tennis Champion, by dethroning the then No 1 Tennis Player, Ramanathan Krishnan of Madras, the blue eyed boy of Govts, and a darling of the brahmins, as he himself was a brahmin from Tamil Nadu.  Then came Vijay Amrithraj, to rule the roost; likely to be followed then by, his younger sibling Ashok Amrithraj.  All these, naturally upset the brahmin Psyche, especially when the Amrithrajs were Tamil Christian SC Dalits, originating from theKolar Gold Fields in the then Mysore State, which was the Nursery of SC Dalit Developments and Growth.  Hence, thebrahmins then in power and position, conspired in many ways, not to allow Vijay Amrithraj Progress, and also completely block his younger Brother from Playing for the Nation, in the most important and popular Davis Cup Matches.

The brahmins did everything they could do in the rule books, to effectively sabotage everywhere VijayAmrithraj.  The brahmins also completely blocked and marginalised his younger brother Ashok Amrithraj.  Theybrahmins also tried their best, and worked very hard to somehow replace Vijay Amrithraj himself, though he had often given his heart out, and played with all his capacity energy might to win Matches for the Nation.

Vijay Amrithraj’s Game was in many ways legendary, especially in Davis Cup Clashes, against big teams of big Sporting Nations playing Tennis for Ages.  Recorded Tennis History of those days shows that, Vijay Amrithrajand his elder brother Anand Amrithraj, playing Singles, Doubles and Reverse Singles, nearly came up once to win the Davis Cup for the Country.  But, they were forced by the GoI to Concede the Matches and Title, due to India’s International Politics.  That is now almost forgotten.

These are only a few examples of brahmin conspiracy and on going sabotage in the Country.  These are only the tip of ice-berg.  The Truth stinks here.

National Game of Hockey

In the National Game of Hockey, many SC and ST Players like the great Manuel, Peter; Topno Brothers and Tirkey had played for the Nation.  But, they were never really honoured, or are being remembered ever.  Many of them, spent their post-hockey days, sadly in total misery and utter poverty, and only died as Paupers.


Similar is the case, in the most popular game of Football.  SC&ST Players like the then Mysore and East-Bengal Teams’Damodharan or Damu, were there playing for India.  They were never encouraged or promoted, like the few brahminplayers or the others from the dominant caste hindu communities.


Cricket which has now become a street game, had seen many SCs&STs.  Some of them were great outstanding players, at times even much better than the highly promoted Tendulkar.  But they were all, cleverly rather cunningly, eliminated repeatedly and almost very openly though silently.

Table Tennis

Table Tennis is the most Populous Game amongst Children.  Many great SC&ST Players were there; who were all systematically sidelined marginalised and eliminated; almost to a plan by the brahmins and dominant caste hindus.

Billiards and Snooker

There were a number of great SC Players in Billiards and Snooker, especially from Bangalore and Mysore, who had made the National Grade.  Where they went, and where they are now, no body knows.

Field and Track Events

In the Field and Track Events, there were many individuals, who had blazed through the Stadiums in their heydays, hardly to be recognised and awarded.

One can not forget the Golden Girl, Miss Vanajakshi of Mount Carmel CollegeBangalore.  She was a great SC Girl, in the Field and Track Events.  Seeing her records and performances, the then Mysore Division of Southern Railway picked her up.  Because of her Record-Breaking contributions to the Mysore Division, she was transferred to the HQrs Office of Southern Railway at Madras, to favour and benefit the Madras Division, in getting Divisional and Inter-Divisional Sports Meet Championships; the Team and Individual Championships, for Madras and the Madras Division.

Miss Vanajakshi, was an Outstanding Sports Woman, a Champion excelling in almost all Field and Track Events, particularly in the 100 and 200 metres Races, Long Jump and High Jump.  She was a very sophisticated and too stylish Sports Woman in the Stadium; was a treat for the eyes to watch, for style and track-suits which were then rarely used. Not only was she always Individual Woman Champion, but she held the All-India Record in her most Favourite event of High Jump, more than a Decade.

These are forgotten facts, remembered by only a few.  In an All India Railway Function, to honour outstanding Sports Men and Women past and then of the Railways, by the then Railway Minister, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan in 1996-97, Railways could not even locate and invite Miss Vanajakshi to Delhi, even when specifically told to.  Yes, to that extent great SC&ST Athletes are neglected by the Officials Universities Banks PSUs Departments Ministries and Govtseverywhere, be it in the Union Territories, States and at the Centre.


Music is no doubt, the most memorable heartfelt vibrant and visible of Performing Art, that touches captivates and captures the heart mind nerves imagination body and soul.  Since it is practically inborn, and intrinsic with every living species, it has been taken for separate discussion here, from all others Arts.

Music it is said is in the blood bones minds and steps of the People, who live in close proximity with Nature.  Then, there is no wonder that the SC&ST Dalits, as the true Children of the Earth, bound to their Lands and thus integral with Nature, are born as Singers and Dancers.  Truly, it is so.

It is also, said well here that –

Without Beats there are No Rhythms,
Without Rhythm there can be No Ragas,
Without Ragas there can never be any Songs,
Without Beats and Songs there can be No Steps;

Without Drums there can be No Beats,
Without Leather there can’t be any Drums,
Without Skin or Skinners, there can be No Leather,
Without Leather, traditionally there can’t be any Drums;

Without Dalits there can be No Leather,
Without the Dalits, there is No Leather, No Drums,
Without Dalits, No Body can even Play Drums for Beats,
Without these there can be No Songs, No Music, so No Dances.

But SCs&STs were and still are, carefully kept out of all the Prominent, Paying, Professional Music Performances.

Honestly Speaking – Singing and Dancing were not only relegated to the backgrounds, actually they were so condemned, to be the avocations of street singers, street dancers, beggars or prostitutes.  It was and still is, being said everywhere amongst the People that, those who sing or dance, do so only for a cheap living, or their unending carnal pleasures.  So the brahmins confined them, to certain lowly Backward Classes, Christians, Muslims.  That it is said, till the brahminsrealised that there are lots of money in these activities.  And also that they can be used to influence and trap the rich people, large traders, senior officials, big governors, and even mighty rulers.  So the brahmins, learned and adopted the art of singing and music, as part of their culture growing up and main habit.  That, to practice in privacy for the pleasures of the great powerful people, and gain access to their rich private places and individual chambers, to gain very immensely and wield big influences, for their own individual growth comforts, and for the benefits of their families.  These, they do even today.

All the above do not mean that, the brahmins learnt their music and dances only recently, as they want the common people here to believe.  No, that is not true.  Many brahmins, especially those nearer the rulers, always practiced and showed their skills in dancing and singing in exclusive privacy to the kings and princes in the palaces.  Thus they were always preying on the ruling families.

The brahmins, with professional training practice and opportunities, given to them in an organised way, by themselves have come to monopolise stage performances, drama, cinema, radio and TV.  On the contrary, as studying youngsters with an open mind, especially the SCs&STs were attracted by English and other Western Songs by Abba, Beetles, Bony M, Jim Reeves etc.  Upset by the digression and diversion of attention of many of the educated youth, the brahmins first tried to restrict, or even ban all English Music from being broadcast in the All India Radio, especially in the primetime. They in fact denigrated English Music and Songs, and looked down and insulted all those who were attracted to English and English Music.

When the brahmins could not stop the educated youth, they encouraged many brahmins, especially their own educated people – the brahmin Professionals working in the Metros.  They asked them to Compose and Play small Notes set to Western Music in Radio as a hobby to start with, at least for business and commercial Advertisements, of small and big firms on good payments, to promote their products amongst the educated youth who loved English Music.  Then, they suddenly discovered, a Madras Tamil brahmin woman, singing in the Clubs and some Star Hotels of Bombay andCalcutta.  The brahmins, naturally latched themselves quickly on to that brahmin singer, and promoted her high up up, sky high, fully using prominently her brahmin title Iyer attached with her name, till the day she divorced her husband, dropped down even her caste title Iyer, on marrying some rich North Indian.  Immediately, they dropped her Sir-Name, and now allow her to perform, only with her maiden name; and not with her new North Indian Husband’s Name.  So parochial and calculated are the brahmins, for dominance and gain control over the society.  And also absorb money riches and wealth like big dangerous leaches.

With great struggles and against lots of Oppositions and Criticisms, one Mr Illaya Raja, suddenly appeared on the Southern Music World.  He started composing Music for the Tamil Cinema, and scored many great big Hits.  He had done, so wonderfully well that, he began to dominate the Tamil Cinema etc.  He was, very uncomfortably for the till then dominating and monopolistic brahmins, a SC Dalit.  The brahmins tried, all best tricks and their known games to undermine sideline put down and marginalise Mr Illaya Raja.  And for that, the brahmins and their senior officials, even banned some of his best great hit Numbers, like Paartheylla IngeyKettaelley Angey that in the crude ungrammaticalbrahmanic Tamil Dialect, most extensively used by the brahmins all over Tamil Nadu, meant Have you Seen Here, when you had Asked There, from being Aired from any of the Radio Stations in Tamil Nadu.  For, then all the Radio Stations were then practically under their total control.  Then there was only the AIR – All India Radio.  But what was ridiculous, the same song in Kanada and Telugu Languages, as the Film was dubbed in those Languages, were broadcast from AIR Stations in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, very regularly being the most popular and successful song with too great a hit music.  And the Song in Tamil came on the air, only from the Tamil Programmes of the Commercial Broadcasting of Radio Ceylon.

Every brahmin tried their best, to promote many others, in Tamil Music, Tamil Cinema, as an alternate to Mr Illaya Raja, but all of them miserably failed.  Then, suddenly realising that SCs&STs are born singers and dancers, they promoted a SC to Sing and also set scores for Tamil Cinema Songs.  And when that SC Musician gained some popularity, they brought him over All India Radio and TV, and arranged an Interview.  During the course of that live Interview, they asked him, ‘what you think about the Music and Capabilities of Mr Illaya Raja?’  That poor SC fellow said, ‘Mr IllayaRaja is really an Ocean, and before him I am only a small petty well, or at the most a small pond.’  May be, he only spoke the truth, or what he knew or actually felt.  But the brahmins, Cheesed-Off dumped him abruptly since then, as they expected that he would criticise, and rubbish the great Music Maestro Mr Illaya Raja. The brahmins, without loosing their hearts went about seriously searching and promoting many others, to finally putdown the great Tamil Musician MrIllaya Raja.

The brahmins could never putdown Mr Illaya Raja, and he grew by leaps and bounds.  Now his brothers and their children, and Mr Illaya Raja’s own son are setting Music to Tamil Cinemas.  And thereafter, Mr Illaya Raja, was once invited for Composing Music, by the London Philomenic Orchestra.  It is reported that he did it so fast and quickly, almost in no time.  But, none was there, Nobody from the Central Govt, Nobody from the State Govts, not even any Representative of the Tamil Nadu Govt, and No Representative from the Tamil Cinema to Receive and Honour him when he Landed in Bombay on his Return from that Trip to London.  That was the greatest Insult they heaped on him. And only an handful of News Papers and Magazines Published that Story and very few Criticised the Govts and the Cine World then or later. 

The brahmins search to find an alternative to Mr Illaya Raja, ultimately appears to have ended, on finding the popular Musician AR Raguman.  In spite of, many big successes, he still could not replace Mr Illaya Raja in the Southern Films. Now Illaya Raja is really an Industry, a Music House, with a Music Family.  Almost, all his Siblings and Children are in the Music World.  His consent, appears to Signal sure Success and Box-Office Hit, of many Cinemas.  So, he and hisfamily, are in great demand to set Music for many Tamil Cinemas, to ensure their Success.

Instrumental Music

There were and are lots of Instrumental Musicians from SC&ST Families, especially in Violin and Drums.


Thappu is simple leather Drum, held in one hand and played with the other, or hung around the neck and pressed on to the belly with one hand, and played by beating the leather with another hand, or with a stick in the other hand, or two sticks in both hands, for the Street Music and Dances.  Because of its simplicity, it became a fine and fantastic popular Musical Instrument, in the skilled imaginative hands of indigenous SC Dalits.  But, as the landlords and the rich, used to humiliate and harass the SC Dalits, to play it for them at their homes and streets, for their Marriages and in Marriage Processions, other Functions, Death Processions etc, for free or a small fee, almost for a Pittance.  Hence, the SC Dalitsin protest, had given up playing Thappu completely, as that was seen as a form of Social Slavery.  Hence as part of their quest for Freedom, their Dignity, Self-Respect and Liberation from Social Slavery, from the exploitative and oppressive Landlords and the caste hindus, the SC Dalits had hung up the Trappe once and for all, almost in all Villages and Slums.

The Dalit Solidarity in boycotting the Landlords and the caste hindus was so strong that, since long, even small girls and women will throw away the Thappu, or the simplest form of it made out of Earthen Neck of a Pot, with the Leather stretched on its Mouth and tied, if they see it with any of their children.  That though the simple form of it is made in large numbers, and marketed in hundreds in every village and town, for beating and playing in the streets by the youngsters, during the Eve of the famous South Indian Harvest Festival of Pongal, being celebrated with conventional frenzy by the young children and the old alike, as Bogy.

Since SC Dalits refuse, don’t Play Thappu and its cheapest mud frame version these days, it is the Children of other caste hindus from backward castes, and even many from the DCHs – dominant caste hindus, who play it crudely on the Days of Bogy.  The boycott of the Thappu, was and still is very strong, that Thappu Beating, or Playing Thappu, and so the beats of Rhythm of Thappu for Music, had almost vanished.

Because of the big Demand for Thappu Players in Tamil and Telugu Cinemas, and for many Street Performances, it had recently been revived by some individuals, and it is now getting fresh life and re-emerging as a Powerful Protest Voice or Music of the Dalits of South India.

Some Japanese Scholars and Activists, as well as many others have come here recently, as they were interested inThappu and Thappu Players.  Some of them, were therefore sent to many parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Keralaand Tamil Nadu in South India, with a few references of Thappu Players.  And, what happened to their efforts, is as usually not known, as the scholars don’t generally give any feedback, or send any write up or even give references of their Publications, if any.


A Detailed Study and Compilation of Data, on all these Issues and in many such Areas, will go a long way, in understanding the Continuing and ongoing Problems of the existing Biases and continuing Prejudices against the SCs&STs everywhere here in this Country; to keep the SCs&STs Backward.  Everyone forgets that as long as the SCs&STs are kept Backward, this Nation is bound to remain Backward, to Lag-Behind in most Spheres of Arts Culture Music and Development.

Dalits ‘banned’ from public places
Last week, a section of the Upper caste ‘banned’ the entry of Dalits to public places at Bhivargi village of Sangli district. Tension gripped the village, about 150 km from Sangli town, after Dalits were refused entry to the village temple, public water sources, flour mill and gram panchayat office. The atrocity was due to the Dalits having allegedly protested against the presence of an idol in their colony on January 6. In the latest incident, the police arrested 10 people and policemen have been deployed in the village with a population of 2,600.
According to the Sangli Collector, Rajendra Chavan, the trouble started on January 6 when Dalits asked the upper castes to shift an idol of Goddess Yallamma from their colony as they were against idol worship. When the caste villagers did not take any action, the Dalits shifted the idol themselves to another place, leading to a clash. On Wednesday night a written assurance was obtained from the upper castes that there will be no more harassment of Dalits and agreed to life the ‘ban’.
Times of India, 12 January 2007

Dalits reach temple, yet to meet the deity

Dalits no doubt entered en masse into the Keradagada Jagannath temple in Kendrapara district on Sunday, but the sanctum sanctorum of the temple still remains a “No-Entry” zone of the Dalits. Equal entry rights into the temple have no doubt been restored for both the upper castes and the Dalits. But this equality has come because the upper castes have foregone their rights to enter into the inner temple where the Lord resides so that the Dalits cannot step into the most sacred zone of the temple.
The upper castes have agreed not to go beyond a ‘mutually agreed point’ inside the temple. An iron grille has come up at the mutually agreed point where both communities offered prayers on Sunday. But beyond the iron grille, no one was allowed to go further into the temple.
On Monday, there was a little relaxation in the rules, with Dalits getting permission to come near the steps of the inner temple. Two new steel bars, fixed horizontally, near the steps make things obvious that no one will be allowed to go beyond the steps to offer puja.
Kendrapara collector Kasinath Sahu said: “There are no special privileges for upper castes. All communities will pray from a particular point. No one is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum.” President of Orissa Mukti Morcha and Dalit leader Bhajaman Behera said: “This darshan of the deities from behind the iron grille is no solution. I refuse to accept the administration’s arguments that both communities mutually agreed to abide by this. The authorities have imposed this decision on the Dalits. If the upper castes have agreed to pray at a mutually agreed point, then it’s designed to stop the Dalits from entering into the sanctum sanctorum. This iron grille has to be removed and the High Court order, which allowed all Hindus to enter and pray at the Keradagada temple, has to be implemented in letter and spirit.”
On December 17, government officials managed to broker peace between the upper castes and the Dalits over the entry into the Jagannath temple. It was decided that there would be no bar on the Dalits to enter the temple.
Hindustan Times, 31 January 2007

Dalit woman denied water

Rashmita Sethy, a scheduled caste woman, and her family have been barred from using a community tube well near her house for the last three days after she dared to lodge an FIR against two persons, who abused and assaulted her. Rashmita lives with her husband and two-year-old daughter in Khandagiri Bari on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.


According to the FIR Report, two youths misbehaved and assaulted Rashmita’s younger sister Kalpana at a wedding ceremony on June 22. Despite the arrest of two culprits, Rashmita continued to be denied access to the tube well in front of her house so as to pressure her into withdrawing the FIR.
According to Rashmita, “till the FIR was not lodged, nobody had any problems with me using the same tube well. But after the FIR was lodged, our elected municipal corporator Pradip Mohapatra asked me not to use the tube well. I am being told that since I belong to the SC community, I cannot use the temple tube well”. (Rashmita, incidently, was a baseball player and even represented the state at the 48th  National School Games held in New Delhi.)
Hindu, 2 July 2007

Dalit homes set ablaze!

In Chandigarh on March 1, a group of incensed Rajput youngsters attacked and set fire to a number of dalit houses in Haryana’s Salwan village, destroying nearly 24 households in the dalit quarter of the village. After ransacking the homes, the mob made bonfires of the furniture and other belongings. A few policemen, who tried to stop the attacker’s were injured in the incident.
Karnal’s superintendent of police, Sibash Kabiraj told this newspaper that the attack was possibly the retaliation of the murder of a Rajput resident, Mahipal Singh, two days ago. Though it was a blind murder, police investigations led to two Dalit men who were arrested on Wednesday.
“We had anticipated trouble between the dalits and Rajputs and had already taken the village panchayat into confidence. Even though the panchayat assured us that peace would be maintained, a group of about 25 to 30 youth quietly met outside the lower caste basti and attacked the houses,” Mr. Kabiraj said. An FIR has been registered on the complaint of the dalits and the police is now seeking to apprehend the attackers who fled the village. Meanwhile, in view of the heightened caste tension in Salwan, the police has started a round-the-clock guard there.
The Asian Age, 2 March 2007

Panchayat denies tap water to Orissa Dalits

An Orissa panchayat has prevented at least 16 Dalit families from consuming tap water on grounds of untouchability. Bileisarda village panchayat in Balangir has kept pending the pipe-water connection to Harijanpada, though eight other wards of the panchayat have been given pipe-water connections. Sources say the sarpanch has allegedly refused to connect Harijanpada with the same pipe that supplies water to houses of upper caste people. The panchayat, which started laying down pipes in 2005 for fetching water from the Suktel River, has completed the work only this summer. .
“Still, we have been denied water as the sarpanch won’t take up the issue with the high caste people,” says Sarmila Chhatria of Harijanpada. “Despite drawing the attention of the district administration, no official has turned up at our village,” says another Dalit, Tulsiram Bag. The sarpanch belongs to the higher Dumbal (Kshatriya) caste. He says, “We even requested the sarpanch many times to repair the tube well, but to no avail.” While sarpanch Tapaswini Biswal refused to speak, her husband Jamidar Biswal said his wife was elected a few months ago but
she did not know much about village politics.
The Times of India, 13 July 20078

Crime against dalit every 20 minutes

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, every 20 minutes, a dalit faces atrocities in India. Atrocities of
diverse magnitudes, starting from untouchability, criminal offences like murder and rape, and other offences, like
burning of houses, land grab etc, are on the rise in various states and Union Territories, where basic provisions of
either the PCR Act 1955 or SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 are not being implemented. This was
revealed in the first national consultation of the National Commission on Scheduled Castes held in the capital on
Terming it a failure of the law enforcing machinery, Fakir Bhai Vaghela, vice-chairman of the SC Commission,
said that it is regrettable that even after 57 years, untouchability, which was “abolished” under Article 17 of the
Constitution, “we are even unable to implement successfully the basic provisions of our social laws”.
Out of every 100 petitions received by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes daily, 20 are of atrocities
against SCs. While one or more of the mandates of the POA Act have not been implemented by the different
states and UTs, alleged the commission, the trials in courts and other forms of assistance, which falls in the
domain of prosecution and social welfare departments, has also failed its purpose.
“In certain states, the pendency rate has gone up when compared to the year 2004 and the conviction rates have
gone down in some states when compared with the data of 2004 for the same kinds of offences,” said S. S.
Sharma, joint secretary of the SC Commission.
The commission also raised concern over the discrepancy in the crime data of the NCRB vis-à-vis figures
submitted to the commission by the respective states and UTs. Cent per cent accuracy and reliability of data is
necessary before any steps are taken to improve the situation of SCs in the country.
Hindustan Times, 7 February 2007
The accused had reportedly demanded a loan from Indubai. When she refused, enraged Bhagat allegedly poured
kerosene on her and set her ablaze. The deceased used to live alone as her husband had left her some time ago.
But Bhandara DSP S Sagar downplayed the incident, saying the accused and the victim had an ‘illicit relationship’.
Khairlanji is located in Mohadi tehsil, where Saturday’s incident too place.
Times of India, 2007

Caste conflict over Madhukar Ghadge’s death

When Madhukar Ghadge was beaten to death by a mob of 14 people in Satara district of Maharashtra, fact-finding report on the incident reported as follows:

On April 26, after the Ghadges began digging their well, at around 7:45 pm, his relations rushed to the construction site to find 14 people beating Madhukar to death with rocks and weapons. “While it is truly wonderful that the dalits and lower castes are getting more and more educated, and many of them are employed, it is nothing but a veil,” says Sushovan Dhar, on of the members of the fact-finding team from Vikas Adhyayan Kendra. “In reality, this progress has only brought about more hatred amongst the higher castes, and this incident is an example of that,” he adds.

Ghadge (28), an employee of the western railways at Mumbai’s Parel workshop, was planning on digging a well in Kulakjai, Man Taluka. The reason they claimed was for better irrigation of their seven gunthas (1 acre = 40
gunthas) of farmlands which they had acquired in February 2006. Despite having received a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the well, the villagers, largely comprising of the Maratha caste, got together along with three influential farm and well owners named Amar Kulkarni, Bhivaji Kapse, and Shivai Wagh and killed him.
According to the report, “Wagh and Kapse misled others into believing that the water from the village percolation
tank would be utilised by and solely for the Ghadge family.”
But the report goes on to state that, “this was not the main reason of the murder. Asserting their (the dalits’)
independence and autonomy is a bone of contention between them and the upper castes where the latter perceive this as a challenge to their ago-old hegemony and monopoly over power.”

Voluntary act better than law on job quota, says India Inc

Industry leaders on Saturday informed the government that they were against legislation on reservation in the
private sector but were ready to enhance their commitment to providing jobs and education to people from
scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
In a meeting with principal secretary to the Prime Minister, TKA Nair, present and former presidents of three apex
chambers said voluntary action would yield better results than an Act of Parliament
The chamber heads asked the government to provide fiscal incentives to industry in 40-45 districts dominated by
the SCs/STs.
Former Ficci president KK Modi said the chamber had resolved differences with the CII and Assocham on the
issue of providing SC/ST employment data in company annual reports.
“We have convinced Ficci to work together,” Dhoot said.
The meeting was convened by Nair, also the chairman of the Coordination Committee on Affirmative Action,including reservation, which monitors specific results achieved by the private sector. The committee would meet again after two months to review action on fresh promises.
In the earlier two meetings of the coordination committee, it was suggested that a positive discrimination in
recruitment of SCs and STs be followed. Mittal said against the commitment of 100 SC/STs to start their business,
the CII has generated 345 entrepreneurs among them. Besides, 50 scholarships have been given to people from
these classes.
Economic Times, 14 July 2007


While a growing number of dalits have to migrate to the cities for jobs, the report finds that this is very easy for
them as “they are comparatively more advanced in education than the middle castes.”
The report also demands the immediate arrest of Kulkarsi and four other accused who are still not in police
custody. They have also demanded the free and fair trial against Kulkarni and the others who they claim are
currently behind “shielded” by the police. And last, but not least, they have demanded police protection to the
Ghadge family until the well is completed.
Free Press Jounral, 28 May 2007

21 get life term in 1991 Dalit massacre case

The Tsundur special court on Tuesday convicted 21 people to life imprisonment in the infamous Dalit massacre
case of 1991. Another 35 were sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment.
Eight Dalits were brutally murdered by upper caste land-lords in the village on August 6, 1991, in a planned attack, which led to nation-wide protests. For the first time in the legal history, a special court was set up at the place where the savage killings were committed.
Delivering the verdict, district sessions and special court judge Anis said the charges, including murder framed
against all the prime accused (21 persons), have been proved by the prosecution. The judge, however, refused to
accept the argument of the prosecution to to hand death penalty to the convicted.
A disappointed special public prosecutor B Chandrasekhar said he would write to the government to appeal in the
HC for death penalty to the prime accused and rigorous punishment for the others. The court led off 123 others
who were booked under different sections, stating that the evidence against them was not enough to convict
Times of India, 1 August 2007

A Good Beginning

The Fedration of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has gone a step further and has already given a list of 42 Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) which it would adopt and increase this figure to 50 by the end of the year. Today 81 per cent of the seats reserved for the SC-ST students are vacant. Five thousand SC-ST students will graduate from these it is. FICCI has also said it would train 50 SC-ST entrepreneurs per mo nth at four training centres in four regions. But this may be a drop in the ocean considering there are an estimated four million SC-ST entrepreneurs per month at four training centres in four regions in the country with no training and no support system. The government’s urgency to get things going is understandable as it has a huge political constituency to address. The emergence of Ms. Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on the national scene, has only hardened the government’s position on the issue of employment for SCs and STs. The public sector had been hitherto taking on the responsibility of fulfilling the government’s political and social agenda. But with more and more PSUs being privatised partly or fully, reservation is taking a knocking. If other business organisations come up with other programmes they will be of help to SCs and STs.
The Asian Age, 17 July 2007

Govt. Panel Seeks Quota benefit for Religious Minorities

 The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities has backed the demand for extending reservation benefits to Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam.The panel has said that a clause in Constitution (SCs) Order of 1950, which restricts the SC net to Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, should be dropped to delink SC status from religion. The sensitive recommendation, however, has met with a strong dissenting note from the panel’s member secretary Asha Das, who argued that extending SC status to Christians and Muslims would amount to inserting caste in religions which don’t recognise it. She has questioned the propriety of parliament or judiciary to change the tenets of religion.
There are also strong demands from Nuslim and Christian groups for treatment of Dalit converts as SCs to entitle
them to benefits of reservation in jobs and education. The Sachar panel, which was asked to go into the matter,
left the decision for NCRLM. With the panel coming out with the recommendations, there will be increased demands from Dalit Muslims and Christians even as this will meet resistance from existing SCs. They also face vehement opposition from the saffron brigade who argue that it would encourage religious conversions of Hindus since exclusion of Dalit converts from SC list acts as a deterrent.
Head of Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz and RS MP Anwar Ali seized upon the report to demand that 1950 Presidential Order barring Muslims and Christians from SC list be revoked to ensure them SC status and benefits.
Times of India, 7 July 2007
Body wants 15% minority quota in govt. jobs
New Dehi: The National Commission for Linguistic and Religious Minorities is understood to have
recommended 15% reservation for minorities, specially Muslims, in government jobs. The commission,
in its report submitted to the PM on Monday, suggested that the break-up within the 15% should be
10% for the Muslims and the rest 5% for the remaining minority communities.


Is quota based solely on caste impermissible?
Court will also examine whether such exercise is divisive and incompatible with unity and integrity
The Supreme Court, while interpreting the provisions of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in
Admission) Act, 2006, will examine whether quota based solely or principally on caste is impermissible under
Article 15 of the Constitution.
It will also go into “whether reservation that relies significantly on ‘caste’ to identify its beneficiaries is inherently
divisive and incompatible with the unity and integrity of the nation,” a Bench, consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat
and L. S. Panta.
If the answer to the two questions is “yes”, then “how, in what way and on what basis are the beneficiaries of
‘special provisions’ to be identified, selected, included or excluded? Does the Union of India’s method, manner
and extent of identifying and compensating beneficiaries of ‘special provisions’ perpetuate caste and backwardness?”
Do Christians practise caste system?
The campaign of Dalit Christians for scheduled caste status took an another turn on Wednesday with a sceptical
supreme court responding to their demand by asking whether Christians also practised caste system.
“Would the Christians admit that they practise caste system and that the Dalits (among them) face social
discrimination requiring reservation to uplift their cause? This, is not all that easy,” a bench headed by Chief
Justice K G Balakrishnan said granting eight weeks to the Centre to report back to court.
Resisting demand for instant recognition, SC’s poser can put Christian leaders in a quandary. They have been
demanding SC status for Dalit Christians saying that the change of faith does not improve social status, but may
find it difficult to admit that Dalits in the fold faced the same sort of discrimination as their counterparts in the
Hindu community. Christians claim to be a casteless society.
Dalit Christian activists, who have agitated for Dalit status for long, recently got a shot in arm when the Justice
Ranganath Mishra Commission endorsed their case. Appearing for them, senior counsel Shanti Bhushan cited
the Mishra Commission’s report as he argued that the SC category be expanded to included Dalits who have now
embraced Christianity and Islam.
He argued for the scrapping of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, restricting reservation, benefits
to Dalits only among Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. “It is clear from the commission’s report that a mere change
in religion did not bring about a change in their social status,” Bushan argued.
He was supported by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the All India United Christian Movement for
Equal Rights. Jethmalani said the Congress government had brought in the Bill in 1996 with the objective of giving
Dalits equal rights irrespective of the religion they profess. “It is only politics that has deprived the Dalit Christians
their legitimate due,” he added.
The court, however, felt that the matter was best left to the Centre. When pressed further, it said to adjudicate the
issue it would require the views of Christians and wondered whether they would admit practising the caste system.
Additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam said the government is seeking the opinion of the National
Commission for Scheduled Castes on the report of the Mishra Commission and sought time for this purpose.
The existing scheduled castes who have watched warily the move to widen the ambit of the reservation benefits
to include Dalits among Christians and Muslims may derive satisfaction from the court’s poser. They fear that the
inclusion of Dalit Christians who have a big edge in the form of English education may hurt them.
The CJI said the legal validity of the provision depriving Dalit Christians of SC status could not be determined
without data and it is the government which is in the best position to take a call on the basis of the report of the
Mishra Commission.
Subramaniam said none should doubt the Centre’s sincerity on the issue as it had facilitated the Mishra Commission
for an expedite inquiry into the state of affairs pertaining to religious and linguistic minorities.
Times of India, 20 July 2007    
“Whether ‘caste-based’ reservation is a permissible form of affirmative action under Article 15? If the answer to
the question above is in the affirmative, then what are the permissible criteria for the identification of the ‘class’ to
whom the benefits under an affirmative action programme are to be extended under Article 15?”
Whether the reservation policy of the state, which lacks a Continuous Review Mechanism, is violative of Articles
14, 15, 21 and 29(2)?
Whether, after the judgement in Indra Sawhney’s (Mandal) case, the classification of backward classes on the
basis of caste for purposes of Article 16(4) and 15(5)? Whether 27 per cent reservation for the Socially and
Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs/Other Backward Classes is justified?
Whether the Act in so far as it mandates 27 per cent reservation in all educational institutions (including private
aided institutions) irrespective of and unrelated to the “compelling need” of the state and without any computable
data for identification data for identification of persons as OBCs is violative of Articles 14,15, 21A and 29(2)?
Is the special provision by way of reservation of 27 percent for the OBCs in Central educational institutions within
the percentage authorised in Indra Sawhney’s case? As for the averment that there will be an increase of seats so
as not to diminish the number of seats available for the non-reserved category, the question is: could such a
provision be held unconstitutional?
Whether the Act is violative of Articles 14, 15(1), 19, 21 and 29(2)?
Creamy Layer
Would the concept of “creamy layer” at all be applicable to a special provision by way of reservation for education
provided for by law made by the state?
Whether the provisions of the Act in so far as they do not exclude or made a provision for identification and
exclusion of the “creamy layer” from the beneficiaries of reservation fall foul of Articles 15 and 29(2)?
Whether the reasons given by the Union and the data furnished by it to justify and sustain the Act satisfy the
requirements of a valid exercise of affirmative action as laid down in various judgements and whether they can
provide a valid basis for reservation of the kind sought to be attained by the impugned Act?
Whether the Act is in violation of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which postulates that
technical and professional education be made generally available and higher education be equally accessible to
all on the basis of merit?
The other questions include: What is the true ambit and scope of Articles 15(4) and 15(5) of the Constitution? If
Article 15(5) is valid, what is its true scope and ambit?
What is the meaning of the term “special provisions” in Articles 15(4) and 15(5)? Does it include “quotas” by
reservation of seats especially in higher education institutions and professional and technical education institutions
(particularly those of a national stature or importance and in courses categorised as speciality or superspeciality)?
Is it a permissible measure of advancement of the SEBCs? If the answers to the above questions are in the
affirmative, then what are the necessary ingredients of any “affirmative action” programme of the state including
the “nature and extent” of the benefits proposed and the limitations thereon, in order to balance the rights between
Articles, 14, 15, 29(2) and its “facet” in Articles 15(4) and 15(5)?
Whether a rational policy of affirmative action that will ensure free and compulsory education to the illiterate
sections among all citizens including the backward classes is absent and, if so, whether affirmative action in
favour of the SEBCs is discriminatory and unconstitutional? What is the meaning of the words “for the advancement
of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens” in Articles 15(4) and 15(5)? What is the yardstick
for measuring educational backwardness under Clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15?
Whether substitution of the expression “socially and educationally backward classes of citizens” by “socially and
economically backward classes” would result in fulfilling constitutional intentions and objectives?
The Bench, while framing these questions, said, “it is needless to say that the larger Bench hearing the matter
can consider further issues or questions involved.”
The Hindu, Chennai, 18 May 2007


Andhra Cabinet for 4 per cent Muslim quota
The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has accepted recommendations of the BC Commission on providing four per cent
reservations to ‘socially and educationally backward Muslims’ in education and employment. It proposes to soon
bring an Ordinance to give effect to the decision. The reservations will come into force from the current academic
year itself.
Muslims who will get the benefit
™ Achchukattalavandlu, Singali, Singamvullu, Achchupanivallu and Achchukattuvaru
™ Attar Saibulu and Attarollu
™ Dhobi Muslim/Muslim Dhobi/Dhobi Musalman, Turka Chakla or Turka sakala, Turka Chakali,
Tulukka Vannan, Tsakalas, Sakalas or Chakalas and Muslim Rajakas
™ Faqir, Fhakir Budbudke, Ghanti Fhakir, Ghanta Fhakirlu, Turaka Budbudkhi, and Darvesh
™ Garadi Muslim, Garadi Saibulu, Pamulavallu, Kanikattuvallu, Garadollu and Garadiga
™ Gosangi Muslim and Phakeer Sayebulu
™ Guddi Eluguvallu, Elugubantuvallu and Musalman Keelugurravallu
™ Hajam, Nai, Nai Muslim and Navid
™ Labbi, Labbai, Labbon and Labba
™ Pakeerla, Borewale, Deera Phakirlu and Bonthala
™ Qureshi, Kureshi/Khureshi, Khasab and Marati Khasab
™ Shaik and Sheikh
™ Siddi Yaba, Habshi and Jasi
Panel wants religion delinked from caste, quota for Dalit Christians, Muslims
The Ranganath Mishra Commission is likely to recommend that religion should be delinked from caste while
deciding the Scheduled-Caste status. The Commission report is ready and if its recommendations are accepted,
Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims will be eligible for reservation.
The Commission was to submit its report to the Government on March 26 but has been advised to seek an
extension till May 15 to get around the problem of having to deal with recommendations that could be controversial,
just ahead of the UP elections.
The five-member Commission was set up on March 15, 2005 to look into the criteria for defining backwardness
among minorities.
The report, according to sources, is not an unanimous one but may have far-reaching consequences on the
debate whether Muslim and Christian Scheduled Caste groups should have access to the same facilities and
privileges as Hindu/Sikh or Buddhist Scheduled Castes.
The Constitution does not go into the religion of deprived caste groups, but a Government order of 1950 and
successive amendments have complicated matters for several caste groups that have converted to either Islam
or Christianity.
According to the 1950 order, only Hindus were to be considered as part of the Scheduled Caste category, though
amendments to this order in 1956 and then in 1990, added Sikhs to the pool and then Buddhists. Now, Muslim,
Christian and Jain ‘Scheduled Castes’ are not recognised as beneficiaries and there are several petitions filed by
Muslims and Christian groups pending in the Supreme Court contesting this Government order. The next hearing
for these petitions is on April 3.
Indian Express, 28 March 2007    15
Groups excluded from reservation purview
™ Syed, Saiyad, Sayyad and Mushaik
™ Mughal and Moghal
™ Pathans
™ Irani
™ Arab
™ Bohara and Bohra
™ Shia Imami Ismaili and Khoja
™ Cutchi-Memon
™ Jamayat
However, 10 sub-castes in the Muslim community have been put outside the ambit of the reservations. In other
words, about 8 per cent of 80 lakh Muslims in the state stand to gain.
The state Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, ratified the
recommendations on Wednesday. The BC Commission had submitted its report to the state Government on
Muslims will be considered as Group E in Backward Classes List, according to the Draft Ordinance, which will be
sent to the Governor for his consent.
Keeping in view the successive failures of the Government in 1968, 1982, 2004 and 2005 in extending reservations
to Muslims, the state Government followed a ‘foolproof’ system by referring the matter to BC Commission. As
courts have struck down the Government’s previous efforts that reservations cannot be extended to a section of
people based on religion, the Government this time excluded some affluent sub-castes from the purview of the
reservations, Information Minister A Ramnarayana Reddy told me diapersons.
Minority Welfare Minister Mohd Ali Shabbir, who was also present, defended the exemption of a few sub-castes.
“Earlier, attempts to provide reservations to all Muslims boomeranged. Now, at least 85 per cent Muslims will get
the benefit,” he said. In so far as creamy layer form the community is concerned, guidelines already laid down by
the Government are applicable.
Economic Times, 5 July 2007
Gurjjars ‘document’ evidence to show likeness to tribals
The Gurjjar leaders in Rajasthan are busy documenting the customs of the community which they say are similar
to those of tribals to strengthen their representation before the panel looking into their demand for Scheduled Tribe
The Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee has invited the Gurjjars to place their views before it by July 16.
A detailed survey of how many Gurjjars continue to live in groups like the gypsies and how many are socially and
economically backward will also be undertaken.
From photographs to videos, and signed statements of local Gurjjars to documents detailing the community’s
history –– the teams have been asked to collect as much data on the community as possible.
“As of now, we ourselves do not have exact figures on how many of us continue to live like tribals. The survey
being conducted will help us get a fair idea of this and we will be able to present our case better in front of the
committee,” stated Roop Singh, a Gurjjars leader.
Among other things, the Gurjjars leaders have already made videos of how the people of their community continue
to go to witch-doctors and temple priests in case of illness or injuries. Members of the medical teams which went
to Bundi to treat those injured in police firing during the Gurjjars agitation have shot these video. “Is this not very
typical of the tribals? There are several pockets in the state where Gurjjars continue to go to witch doctors,
believe in black magic and also worship lok devtas,” Roop Singh said.
He insisted that there were other customs similar to the tribals, including getting a widow married to her brotherin-law, not allowing inter-caste marriages, sacrificing animals at temples and so on. “What we want to show to the
committee is a picture of the darker side of the Gurjjars community, where poor people continue to live in own
groups, trust only Gurjjars panchayats and not the state judiciary, and are too shy to involve with other communities,”
stated another leader Brahsingh Gurjjars.
Indian Express, 3 July 2007
The Gujars
Who are the Gurjjars
™ Caste group from north-west, west India. Both Hindus and Muslims
™ In J-K & Himachal, pastoral and have ST (Scheduled Tribe) status. But in west UP, Rajasthan, Haryana
and Gujarat, are more settled, so classified as OBC
™ In Rajasthan, form 5% of population
Why do they want ST status
™ At 12-15% of population in Rajasthan, Jats dominate OBC and its 27% quota in govt. jobs. Gurjjars feel
competition unfair and deprives them of benefits
™ Festering for decades is anger over Meenas (10% of the population) being added to the ST list in 1954.
Meenas now have sizeable clout in police and administration
What’s the official stand
™ In 1981, Social Welfare Dept of Shiv Charan Mathur’s Congress govt said Gujjars were  “fairly well off”,
“suffer from no shyness of contact with people” and “don’t have primitive traits to be considered for
inclusion in ST list”
What is the politicians’ take
™ Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje promised ST status while campaigning for the Assembly polls in 2003
™ Says Sachin Pilot, Congress MP from Dausa: “The administration has been totally callous. It set up a
high-powered committee for look into the question of ST status for Gurjjars one-and-a-half years ago, but
the panel has not even been notified yet. Even the state ministers supposed to be on it don’t know
whether the committee exists”
Why is Gurjjar ST status a hot potato?
™ Meenas, the only ST at present, finding its pie cut into, might want to migrate to SC category
™ Cascading effect of this as other groups may similarly demand re-categorisation
What is at stake
™ Meena-Jat-Gurjjar social fabric is threatened. Faultlines already visible among communities. Whispers
among Gurjjars that Meena officials ordered firing on the Gurjjar demonstrators on Tuesday
How do you decide on ST
™ Centre asks State and Census Commissioner, whose Anthropological Wing checks on characteristics of
group; distinct culture, remoteness, absence of caste, dialect
™ Not so easy. In 1981, Rajasthan govt recommended ST status for Gaddia Lohars and Vanjaras. Until
now, this hasn’t been done
The Indian Express, Wednesday, 30 May 2007    17


Why elections sweep aside caste divide for scavengers In eastern Uttar Pradesh, job outsourcing has taken on a casteist hue. Of the 5,000 odd conservancy workers employed in various municipalities, 2,000 are Brahmins, Rajputs, Kayasthas and upper class Muslims, holding jobs traditionally meant for Dalits. But therein lies the catch. Most of the non-Dalit sanitary workers have in turn employed manual scavengers belonging to the lower castes to
do the job for them. But curiously, when it comes to elections, both the upper and lower caste workers seem to be opting for the same party – the BSP.
For instance, Shubhavati Devi (40), a Dalit manual scavenger from Deoria, is on the payroll of Ram Janam Shukla, a conservancy worker in the local municipality. Three years ago, both had applied for the same job, which went to Shukla. Now, Shukla gets a salary of Rs. 5,000 per month from the government, from which he pays Shubhavati Rs. 1,000 to do the work he is supposed to do. Both are getting ready to vote in the Assembly elections on May 8. While Shubhavati is a die-hard supporter of Mayawati, Shukla is backing Kamlesh Shukla, the BSP candidate from the constituency. “Sher aur bakri ek hi ghaat par paani pine ki ichcha rakhte hain. Bakri sher ki adapt se wakif hai phir bhi (The lion and goat want to drink water from the same riverbank. The goat knows the habits of the lion, but still),” says
Ramchandra Prasad, another Dalit from the same district, on this strange trend.
“The exploiter and the exploited are going to vote for the same party. Both hope their situation will improve if the BSP comes to power. The exploited thinks that the schemes which might be introduced by Mayawati would reach her one day and the exploiter, who got the job thanks to the BSP candidate’s recommendation, is hoping for more benefits from him,” he adds. Two years ago, 33 workers were appointed in the district by the state government for sanitary works. Of them, 20 belonged to the upper caste. The same ratio was maintained by the BSP while distributing tickets for the Assembly elections. It gave tickets to two Brahmins (Deoria and Rudrapur), one Thakur (Gauriganj) and one upper class Muslim (Salempur). Dalit candidates made it to three others seats. Says Munnwar Sultana, a social activist in eastern Uttar Pradesh: “We have complained to the National Human rights Commission (NHRC) that upper caste members are getting jobs meant for lower caste communities like the Valmikis and Rawats. The NHRC in turn has asked the state government to check the complaint and take corrective measures. But what can we do against a political party?”
Indian Express, 26 April 2007

Discrimination against Dalits

Crime against Dalits occur every 20 minutes in India. Every day 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered and 2 Dalit houses are burnt down! These figures represent only a fraction of actual incidents since many Dalits do not register cases for fear of retaliation by the police and upper-caste Hindu individuals. Official figures show that there are still 0.343 million manual scavengers in India from Dalit community. More than 165 million Dalits in India are simply abused by their Hindu upper castes for their birth! . [HRW Report2007]
Most Dalits continue to live in extreme poverty, without land or opportunities for better employment or education.  With the exception of a minority who have benefited from India's policy of quotas in education and government jobs, Dalits are relegated to the most menial of tasks, as manual scavengers, removers of human waste and dead animals, leather workers, street sweepers, and cobblers.  Dalit children make up the majority of those sold into bondage to pay off debts to upper-caste creditors.  Dalit men, women, and children numbering in the tens of millions work as agricultural laborers for a few kilograms of rice or Rs. 15 to Rs. 35 (US$0.38 to $0.88) a day. Their upper-caste employers frequently use caste as a cover for exploitative economic arrangements: social sanction of their status as lesser beings allows their impoverishment to continue.
Dalit women face the triple burden of caste, class, and gender.  Dalit girls have been forced to become prostitutes for upper-caste patrons and village priests.  Sexual abuse and other forms of violence against women are used by landlords and the police to inflict political "lessons" and crush dissent within the community.  According to a Tamil Nadu state government official, the raping of Dalit women exposes the hypocrisy of the caste system as "no one practices untouchability when it comes to sex."  Like other Indian women whose relatives are sought by the police, Dalit women have also been arrested and tortured in custody as a means of punishing their male relatives who are hiding from the authorities.
The plight of India's "untouchables" elicits only sporadic attention within the country.  Public outrage over large-scale incidents of violence or particularly egregious examples of discrimination fades quickly, and the state is under little pressure to undertake more meaningful reforms.  Laws granting Dalits special consideration for government jobs and education reach only a small percentage of those they are meant to benefit.  Laws designed to ensure that Dalits enjoy equal rights and protection have seldom been enforced.  Instead, police refuse to register complaints about violations of the law and rarely prosecute those responsible for abuses that range from murder and rape to exploitative labor practices and forced displacement from Dalit lands and homes. 
Political mobilization that has resulted in the emergence of powerful interest groups and political parties among middle- and low-caste groups throughout India since the mid-1980s has largely bypassed Dalits.  Dalits are courted by all political parties but generally forgotten once elections are over.  The expanding power base of low-caste political parties, the election of low-caste chief ministers to state governments, and even the appointment of a Dalit as president of India in July 1997 all signal the increasing prominence of Dalits in the political landscape but cumulatively have yet to yield any significant benefit for the majority of Dalits.  Laws on land reform and protection for Dalits remain unimplemented in most Indian states. 
Lacking access to mainstream political organizations and increasingly frustrated with the pace of reforms, Dalits have begun to resist subjugation and discrimination in two ways: peaceful protest and armed struggle.  Particularly since the early 1990s, Dalit organizations have sought to mobilize Dalits to protest peacefully against the human rights violations suffered by their community.  These movements have quickly grown in membership and visibility and have provoked a backlash from the higher-caste groups most threatened-both economically and politically-by Dalit assertiveness.  Police, many of whom belong to these higher-caste groups or who enjoy their patronage, have arrested Dalit activists, including social workers and lawyers, for activity that is legal and on charges that show the police's political motivation.  Dalit activists are jailed under preventive detention statutes to prevent them from holding meetings and protest rallies, or charged as "terrorists" and "threats to national security."   Court cases drag on for years, costing impoverished people precious money and time. 
Dalits who dare to challenge the social order have been subject to abuses by their higher-caste neighbors.  Dalit villages are collectively penalized for individual "transgressions" through social boycotts, including loss of employment and access to water, grazing lands, and ration shops.  For most Dalits in rural India who earn less than a subsistence living as agricultural laborers, a social boycott may mean destitution and starvation.
In some states, notably Bihar, guerrilla organizations advocating the use of violence to achieve land redistribution have attracted Dalit support.  Such groups, known as "Naxalites," have carried out attacks on higher-caste groups, killing landlords, village officials and their families and seizing property.  Such attacks on civilians constitute gross violations of international humanitarian law.  Naxalite groups have also engaged in direct combat with police forces.
In response, police have targeted Dalit villagers believed to be sympathetic to Naxalites and have conducted raids in search of the guerrillas and their weapons.  While there is no question that the Naxalites pose a serious security threat and that the police are obliged to counter that threat, the behavior of the police indicates that the purpose of the raids is often to terrorize Dalits as a group, whether or not they are members of Naxalite organizations.  During the raids, the police have routinely beaten villagers, sexually assaulted women, and wantonly destroyed property.
Higher-caste landlords in Bihar have organized private militias to counter the Naxalite threat.  These militias, or senas, also target Dalit villagers believed to be sympathetic to Naxalites.  Senas are believed responsible for the murders of many hundreds of Dalits in Bihar since 1969.  One of the most prominent militias, the Ranvir Sena, has been responsible for the massacre of more than 400 Dalit villagers in Bihar between 1995 and 1999.  In one of the largest of such massacres, on the night of December 1, 1997, the Ranvir Sena shot dead sixteen children, twenty-seven women, and eighteen men in the village of  Laxmanpur-Bathe, Jehanabad district Bihar.  Five teenage girls were raped and mutilated before being shot in the chest.  The villagers were reportedly sympathetic to a Naxalite group that had been demanding more equitable land redistribution in the area.  When Ramchela Paswan returned home from the fields, he found seven of his family members shot: "I started beating my chest and screaming that no one is left...."  When asked why the sena killed children and women, one sena member responded, "We kill children because they will grow up to become Naxalites.  We kill women because they will give birth to Naxalites."
The senas, which claim many politicians as members, operate with impunity.  In some cases, police have accompanied them on raids and have stood by as they killed villagers and burned down their homes.  On April 10, 1997, in the village of Ekwari, located in the Bhojpur district of Bihar, police stationed in the area to protect lower-caste villagers instead pried open the doors of their residences as members of the sena entered and killed eight residents.  In other cases, police raids have followed attacks by the senas.  Sena leaders are rarely prosecuted for such killings, and the villagers are rarely or inadequately compensated for their losses.  Even in cases where police are not hostile to Dalits, they are generally not accessible to call upon: most police camps are located in the upper-caste section of the village and Dalits are simply unable to approach them for protection. 
In the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, clashes between Pallars (a community of Dalits) and Thevars (a marginally higher-caste non-Dalit community) have plagued rural areas since 1995.  New wealth among the Pallars, who have sent male family members to work in Gulf states and elsewhere abroad, has triggered a backlash from the Thevars as the Pallars have increasingly been able to buy and farm their own lands or look elsewhere for employment.  At the same time, a growing Dalit political movement has provided the Pallars with a platform for resisting the still-prevalent norms of "untouchability."  While some Dalits have joined militant groups in Tamil Nadu, such groups have generally engaged in public protests and other political activities rather than armed resistance.  The Thevars have responded by assaulting, raping, and murdering Dalits to preserve the status quo. 
Local police, drawn predominantly from the Thevar community, have conducted raids on Dalit villages, ostensibly to search for militant activists.  During the raids they have assaulted residents, particularly women, and detained Dalits under preventive detention laws.  With the tolerance or connivance of local officials, police have also forcibly displaced thousands of Dalit villagers.  During one such raid, Guruswamy Guruammal, a pregnant, twenty-six-year-old Dalit agricultural laborer, was stripped, brutally beaten, and dragged through the streets naked before being thrown in jail.  She told Human Rights Watch, "I begged the police officers at the jail to help me.  I even told them I was pregnant. They mocked me for [having made] bold statements to the police the day before.  I spent twenty-five days in jail.  I miscarried my baby after ten days.  Nothing has happened to the officers who did this to me."
Excessive use of force by the police is not limited to rural areas.  Police abuse against the urban poor, slum dwellers, Dalits, and other minorities has included arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial executions and forced evictions.  Although the acute social discrimination characteristic of rural areas is less pronounced in cities, Dalits in urban areas, who make up the majority of bonded laborers and street cleaners, do not escape it altogether.  Many live in segregated colonies which have been targets of police raids.  This report documents a particularly egregious incident in a Dalit colony in Bombay in July 1997, when police opened fire without warning on a crowd of Dalits protesting the desecration of a statue of Dalit cultural and political hero Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.  The firing killed ten and injured twenty-six. 
Dalits throughout the country also suffer in many instances from de facto disenfranchisement.  During elections, those unpersuaded by typical electioneering are routinely threatened and beaten by political party strongmen in order to compel them to vote for certain candidates.  Already under the thumb of local landlords and police officials, Dalit villagers who do not comply have been murdered, beaten, and harassed.
Police and upper-caste militias, operating at the behest of powerful political leaders in the state, have also punished Dalit voters.  In February 1998, police raided a Dalit village in Tamil Nadu that had boycotted the national parliamentary elections.   Women were kicked and beaten, their clothing was torn, and police forced sticks and iron pipes into their mouths.  Kerosene was poured into stored food grains and grocery items and police reportedly urinated in cooking vessels.  In Bihar, political candidates ensure their majority vote with the help of senas, whose members kill if necessary.  The Ranvir Sena was responsible for killing more than fifty people during Bihar's 1995 state election campaign.  The sena was again used to intimidate voters in Ara district, Bihar, during the February 1998 national parliamentary elections.
Dalits who have contested political office in village councils and  municipalities through seats that have been constitutionally "reserved" for them have been threatened with physical abuse and even death in order to get them to withdraw from the campaign.  In the village of Melavalavu, Madurai district Tamil Nadu, following the election of a Dalit to the village council presidency, members of a higher-caste group murdered six Dalits in June 1997, including the elected council president, whom they beheaded.  As told to Human Rights Watch by an eyewitness, the leader of the attack "instructed the Thevars [caste Hindus] to kill all the Pariahs [Dalits]...  They pulled all six out of the bus and stabbed them on the road...  Five Thevars joined together, put Murugesan [the Dalit president] on the ground outside the bus, and chopped off his head, then threw it in a well half a kilometer away...  Some grabbed his hands, others grabbed his head, and one cut his head...  They deliberately took the head and poured the blood on other dead bodies."  As of February 1999, the accused-who had been voted out of their once-secure elected positions-had not been prosecuted.  Those arrested were out on bail, while the person identified as the ringleader of the attack was still at large.             
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, enacted in 1989, provides a means to address many of the problems Dalits face in India.  The act is designed to prevent abuses and punish those responsible, establish special courts for the trial of such offenses, and provide for victim relief and rehabilitation.  A look at the offenses made punishable by the act provides a glimpse into the retaliatory or customarily degrading treatment Dalits may receive.  The offenses include forcing members of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance; dumping excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in their premises or neighborhood; forcibly removing their clothes and parading them naked or with painted face or body; interfering with their rights to land; compelling a member of a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe into forms of forced or bonded labor; corrupting or fouling the water of any spring, reservoir or any other source ordinarily used by scheduled castes or scheduled tribes; denying right of passage to a place of public resort; and using a position of dominance to exploit a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe woman sexually.
The potential of the law to bring about social change has been hampered by police corruption and caste bias, with the result that many allegations are not entered in police books.  Ignorance of procedures and a lack of knowledge of the act have also affected its implementation.  Even when cases are registered, the absence of special courts to try them can delay prosecutions for up to three to four years.  Some state governments dominated by higher castes have even attempted to repeal the legislation altogether.
Between 1994 and 1996, a total of 98,349 cases were registered with the police nationwide as crimes and atrocities against scheduled castes.  Of these, 38,483 were registered under the Atrocities Act for the sorts of offenses enumerated above.  A further 1,660 were for murder, 2,814 for rape, and 13,671 for hurt.  Given that Dalits are both reluctant and unable (for lack of police cooperation) to report crimes against themselves, the actual number of abuses is presumably much higher.  The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has reported that these cases typically fall into one of three categories: cases relating to the practice of "untouchability" and attempts to defy the social order; cases relating to land disputes and demands for minimum wages; and cases of atrocities by police and forest officials.
Although this report focuses primarily on abuse against Dalit communities that have begun to assert themselves economically or organize themselves politically, it also examines the weakest sectors of the population: those with no political representation, living in the poorest of conditions, and made to perform the most degrading of tasks with little or no remuneration.  To eke out a subsistence living, Dalits throughout the country, numbering in the tens of millions, are driven to bonded labor, manual scavenging, and forced prostitution under conditions that violate national law and their basic human rights. 
An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million children, are bonded laborers, working in slave-like conditions in order to pay off a debt.  A majority of them are Dalits.  According to government statistics, an estimated one million Dalits are manual scavengers who clear feces from public and private latrines and dispose of dead animals; unofficial estimates are much higher.  An activist working with scavengers in the state of Andhra Pradesh claimed, "In one toilet there can be as many as 400 seats which all have to be manually cleaned.  This is the lowest occupation in the world, and it is done by the community that occupies the lowest status in the caste system."  In India's southern states, thousands of girls are forced into prostitution before reaching the age of puberty.  Devadasis, literally meaning "female servant of god," usually belong to the Dalit community.  Once dedicated, the girl is unable to marry, forced to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members, and eventually auctioned off to an urban brothel.
This report is about caste, but it is also about class, gender, poverty, labor, and land.  For those at the bottom of its hierarchy, caste is a determinative factor for the attainment of social, political, civil, and economic rights.  Most of the conflicts documented in this report take place within very narrow segments of the caste hierarchy, between the poor and the not-so-poor, the landless laborer and the small  landowner.  The differences lie in the considerable amount of leverage that the higher-caste Hindus or non-Dalits are able to wield over local police, district administrations, and even the state government. 
Investigations by India's National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Police Commission, and numerous local nongovernmental organizations all concur that impunity is rampant.  In cases investigated for this report, with the exception of a few transfers and suspensions, no action has been taken against police officers involved in violent raids or summary executions, or against those accused of colluding with private actors to carry out attacks on Dalit communities.  Moreover, in many instances, repeated calls for protection by threatened Dalit communities have been ignored by police and district officials.
The "National Agenda for Governance," the election manifesto for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which came to power in the February 1998 elections, outlines a program of action for the "upliftment" of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.  It promises to take steps to establish "a civilised, humane and just civil order... which does not discriminate on the grounds of caste, religion, class, colour, race or sex"; ensures the "economic and educational development of the minorities"; safeguards the interests of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and backward classes by "appropriate legal, executive and societal efforts and by large scale education and empowerment"; provides "legal protection to existing percentages of reservation in educational institutions at the State level"; and removes "the last vestiges of untouchability."  However, to date, the Indian government has done little to fulfill its promises to Dalits. 
A national campaign to highlight abuses against Dalits spearheaded by human rights groups in eight states began to focus national and international attention to the issue in 1998.  The recommendations for this report were drafted in consultation with more than forty activists who have been working closely on the campaign.  In publishing this report now, Human Rights Watch adds its voice to theirs in calling upon the Indian government to implement the recommendations outlined in this report, to fulfill the commitments made regarding scheduled castes in the National Agenda for Governance, and to take immediate steps to prevent and eliminate caste-based violence and discrimination.  We further urge the international community to press the Indian government to bring its practices into compliance with national and international law.
The Indian government should fully implement the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995.  In particular it should:
·Ensure that states constitute and oversee state- and district-level vigilance and monitoring committees, as required by Rules 16 and 17 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, for the purpose of properly implementing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 [hereinafter the Atrocities Rules and the Atrocities Act].  This effort should ensure that a sufficient number of investigators (including appropriate representation of Dalit men and women) are included in the committees to guarantee full implementation of the act.  Given the number of potential cases, the government should enlist lawyers, social workers, medical personnel, teachers, civil servants, and others involved in Dalit issues as investigators.  Nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives should also be consulted in the recruitment of investigators.  Committees should submit their reports to district collectors to pursue prosecution.  In turn, collectors should report on actions taken during committee meetings.  Reports published by the committee should be made public, and in-depth training should be provided to district officials charged with enforcing the act.
·Ensure that states establish special courts in every revenue district and appoint special public prosecutors to try cases arising under the Atrocities Act.    
·Ensure strict implementation of the Atrocities Act, as regards victims of violent abuse and other "atrocities."  Each police station should have a scheduled caste/scheduled tribe atrocities cell to handle investigations of abuses and alleged violations of the Atrocities Act.  Each revenue district should also have a special deputy superintendent of police charged with investigating atrocities under the act.  In keeping with the Atrocities Rules, police who refuse to register cases under the act should be punished accordingly.  For full implementation of the act, these cells should be statutorily empowered to receive and address complaints of violations under the act and complaints of official misconduct.  They should also be able to file "first information reports" (FIRs), the first step in prosecution of a criminal charge, when abuses are committed against Dalits.  The cells should work closely with the vigilance and monitoring committees established under the Atrocities Rules to ensure full enforcement. 
·Ensure immediate and full compensation by the district administration to victims of atrocities as per the Atrocities Rules.  The value of property destroyed and crops damaged should be included in the compensation schedule.  The committees appointed by the government under the rules to estimate loss should include NGOs in addition to government officials.  In accordance with Rule 11, the district administration should also ensure that victims' trial expenses are paid.
·Provide training to district officials charged with enforcing the Atrocities Act and ensure that a copy of the act (translated into the local language) and accompanying rules are easily available and prominently posted in all local level police stations and available in all courts trying cases under the act.
·Statutorily empower the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to oversee implementation of the Atrocities Act in all states.  Strengthen the capacity of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to operate legal cells and open branch offices in all states with enough financial resources and powers to initiate prosecution of cases.  As recommended by the commission, amend Article 338 of the constitution to empower the commission to issue directions for corrective action and implement its findings.
·Strengthen the capacity of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women to operate branch offices in all states with enough financial resources and powers to initiate prosecution of cases.  Amend the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 so that national and state human rights commissions are not automatically exempted from inquiring into matters already pending before a state commission or any other commission duly constituted under any law.
·Establish a civilian review board or civilian ombudsman committee comprising judges and lawyers to monitor police stations and ensure that Supreme Court guidelines on treatment of persons in custody, as established in D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal, are strictly enforced.  NGO input should also be solicited.  Ensure that complaints against law enforcement personnel are promptly and thoroughly investigated by adequately trained investigatory staff.  The agency should have the power to subpoena documents, summon witnesses, and enter the premises of police stations, lock-ups, and detention centers to conduct thorough investigations.
·Implement the recommendations made by the National Police Commission in 1980, specifically those that call for a mandatory judicial inquiry in cases of alleged rape, death, or grievous injury of people in police custody and the establishment of investigative bodies whose members should include civilians as well as police and judicial authorities.
·Ensure that each police station has adequate female police personnel, consistent with recommendations made by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.  Female police should record complaints submitted by women.  Each police station should also have adequate scheduled caste and scheduled tribe personnel and enough financial resources to carry out investigations.
·Ensure strict implementation of the bonded labor-related provisions of the Atrocities Act.  As Dalits constitute the majority of bonded laborers, the government should ensure that states and districts establish and oversee bonded labor vigilance committees, as required by the Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act, 1976.  The government should ensure that a sufficient number of investigators can be included in the committee to guarantee implementation of the act.  Lawyers, social workers, teachers, civil servants, and others with ties to bonded laborers and their families should be enlisted as investigators.  Nongovernmental organization representatives should be consulted in the recruitment of investigators.  The government should provide in-depth training to district officials charged with enforcing the Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act, 1976, as directed by the Supreme Court in  NeerajaChaudhary v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1984.
·Ensure appropriate implementation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, including prosecution of officials responsible for the perpetuation of the practice and non-rehabilitation of affected scavenger communities, the majority of which are Dalits.  The government should ensure that states and districts constitute and oversee vigilance and monitoring committees with adequate representation of NGOs, women, and members of the scavenger communities.  State governments should also train district officials charged with enforcing the act.
·Implement measures designed to ensure that states are in compliance with Article 45 of the constitution, which mandates free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of fourteen. Primary education is the first step in breaking the cycle of discrimination and caste-based employment. 
·Incorporate education on relevant legislation for Dalits and women into school curricula (including education on the Atrocities Act and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993).
·Launch a nationwide public awareness campaign regarding the legal prohibition of "untouchability," "atrocities" and other forms of discrimination and violence against Dalits.  This campaign should explain in simple terms what actions are legally prohibited, what recourse is available to Dalits and their families, and what the procedures are for filing an FIR.  It should also include a program of public service announcements in all states aimed at sensitizing the population on Dalit issues and creating awareness of Dalit rights.
·Make available to the public government studies on issues affecting Dalits.  Specifically, the government should release the white paper on reservations and the white paper on land reform.  The first outlines the extent to which constitutional reservations have been implemented at the state and central level since independence.  In particular, attention should be given to implementation of reservations in all ministries, in the secretariats of the prime minister and president, and in the police and judiciary.  The second outlines the extent to which tenancy acts and acts that establish ceilings on single landowners' holdings have been implemented in all states.
·Ensure that adequate financial resources are allocated to the proper functioning of the newly constituted government bodies under the seventy-third and seventy-fourth amendments to the Indian constitution.  These amendments provide that in every panchayat (village council)and every municipality, seats shall be reserved for scheduled-caste and scheduled-tribe members in proportion to their representation in the population.  Among the seats reserved for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, not less than one-third shall be reserved for women belonging to those castes or tribes. The government should work with intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations to provide appropriate training to elected members of rural and urban bodies, including gender and caste sensitivity training.  Women should take part in legal literacy workshops, and all those appointed to reserved panchayat positions should be provided legal protection to ensure that they are able to perform their duties.   
The Indian government should provide full cooperation to relevant United Nations bodies in the implementation of the following recommendations:
·Invite the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Special Rapporteurs on Torture, on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, and on Violence against Women to visit India.  The government should encourage them to include in their investigations allegations of illegal detention, abuse, and deaths of Dalits in police custody, of fake encounter killings, and of violence against Dalit women, including abuse by the police and by private upper-caste militias.
·Implement the recommendations of the 49th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).  In particular, the government should implement the recommendation that "special measures be taken by the authorities to prevent acts of discrimination towards persons belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes, and in the case where such acts have been committed, to conduct thorough investigations, to punish those found responsible and provide just and adequate reparation to the victims."  As per committee recommendations, the committee's findings should be available to the public in local languages. 
·Promptly submit the Indian government's next periodic report on compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination to CERD, as this has been overdue since January 4, 1998.  As requested by CERD, the report should include "detailed information on the legislative aspects and the concrete implementation of the Directive Principles of the State Policy of the Constitution," as well as information on the powers and functions of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
·Promptly submit the Indian government's initial report on compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, as this has been overdue since August 8, 1994.
·Ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984.
In addition to recommendations outlined for the government of India, state governments should implement the following recommendations at the earliest possible date:
·Ensure full implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, including the appointment of special courts, special prosecutors, and vigilance and monitoring committees.  Provide training in proper procedures under the act to judges and prosecutors charged with trying atrocities cases.  (See related recommendations under Recommendations to the Government of India.)
·Ensure ratification and implementation of the Bonded Labour (System) Abolition Act, 1976 and ratify and implement the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.  (See related recommendations under Recommendations to the Government of India.)
·Implement measures designed to ensure that states are in compliance with Article 46 of the constitution, which directs states to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of economic exploitation.
·Study and publicize the extent to which land and wage reforms have been implemented in the state.  In particular, state governments should determine industry compliance with minimum and living wage standards, particularly those industries that employ a majority of Dalits, as well as the status of land reforms, land ceiling laws, and distribution of surplus land.  The study should also review proof of ownership in land records, the extent of encroachment on scheduled caste/scheduled tribe lands.  NGO participation should be ensured in the investigations.
·Take immediate steps to prevent further violence, social boycotts, and other forms of discrimination against Dalits and to investigate and punish those responsible for attacks and acts of discrimination in affected districts.  Any officials or members of the police who fail to respond to repeated calls for protection from villagers, or fail to prosecute acts of violence or discrimination should also be prosecuted.
·Take decisive steps to ensure police agents use deadly force only as a last resort to protect life.  Police agents should act in accordance with guidelines established in relevant state police manuals that meet international standards on use of force.  The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force or Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials emphasize that the use of force and firearms should be in consonance with respect for human rights and that deadly force should not be used against persons unless "strictly unavoidable in order to protect life."
·Take decisive steps to ensure that police do not conduct raids on villages or engage in arbitrary and unlawful destruction and seizure of property in response to caste clashes.  Police involved in such activities should be promptly investigated by an independent judicial body and prosecuted accordingly. 
·Ensure that investigations of complaints of violence against women include women investigators.  Amend the Criminal Procedure Code so that rape victims are not restricted to approaching government hospitals for medical examinations and can instead be examined by any registered practitioner for the purposes of gathering evidence.
·Establish independent monitoring agencies to review cases of Dalits and Dalit activists detained under detention laws.  All cases found to be without merit, or in violation of proper detention procedures, should be withdrawn.
·Compile and release state-level statistics on the number of atrocities committed against Dalits, the number of cases registered under the Atrocities Act, and the extent to which reservations have been implemented in the state.  States should ensure that all NGOs and citizens have access to this information. 
·Investigate the process of recruitment of police officers in the state to ensure that requirements of reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are met and that monetary bribes are not part of the police and judicial recruitment process.  Prosecute and punish those found to have engaged in bribes or extortion while registering cases or conducting raids.
·Ensure speedy review and publication of findings by commissions of inquiry appointed by the state to investigate abuses against Dalits.
United NationsThe Secretary-General of the United Nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should ensure that all United Nations agencies working in India pay particular attention to the issue of caste violence and caste discrimination and develop programs and strategies designed to curb abuse and encourage accountability. 
·Agencies should establish consultative mechanisms to seek Dalit NGO input in project design and evaluation. 
·The World Health Organization should investigate and publicize the adverse health consequences arising from the practice of manual scavenging and promote measures to eliminate exposure of Dalits to hazardous work conditions. 
·U.N. agencies that have programs for women in India, including WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNIFEM, should use these programs to focus attention on the human rights implications of violence against Dalit women, including the role of official forces in perpetuating that violence.
·UNIFEM, in conjunction with the Indian government and NGOs, should expand its efforts in providing legal training to rural women elected as panchayat members.

Reco World Bank and Other International Lending Institutions

The World Bank and other international lending institutions operational in India should:
·Ensure that anti-discrimination measures are built into World Bank and Asian Development Bank-funded projects in areas where the problems of caste violence and caste discrimination are severe.  As part of its commitment to good governance, the World Bank, as well as other international lending institutions, should establish ongoing dialogue with Dalit NGOs at all stages of the decision-making process-before a loan is released, while the project is being implemented, and in the course of any post-project evaluation.
·Prior to approval of projects, and in consultation with NGOs, investigate the effect of proposed policies and programs on caste violence, caste discrimination, and discrimination against Dalit women, and explore ways in which programs could help alleviate violence and discrimination.

Reco Donors and Trading Partners

India 's donors and trading partners should:
·Encourage India to adopt the recommendations outlined above and use every opportunity to raise the problem of caste violence both publicly-at international meetings, congressional or parliamentary hearings, and in press conferences-and privately, at Consultative Group meetings and in meetings with relevant officials.
·Work to develop programs and strategies for bilateral and multilateral aid programs to India that would make funds available to promote legal literacy programs aimed at educating Dalits and in particular Dalit women on the laws that are designed to protect them; train rural women who are elected to panchayats; launch a series of sensitization campaigns aimed at educating the population on the rights of Dalits and human rights in general; set up the various independent monitoring agencies described above; strengthen the capacity of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Commission for Women to operate legal cells and open branch offices in all states; and train judicial and law enforcement personnel-particularly investigators of caste violence-on crimes against Dalits and gender-based crimes against Dalit women.  Programs should also be devised that would enhance the recruitment of women investigators.
·Encourage India to implement the recommendations of the National Police Commission and to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Extrajudicial Executions, and Violence against Women.

"Untouchability" and Segregation

A 1997 report issued by theNational Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes underscored that "untouchability"-the imposition of social disabilities on  persons by reason of their birth in certain castes-was still practiced in many forms throughout the country.  The report described a number of social manifestations of caste-based discrimination in the 1990s: scheduled-caste bridegrooms were not permitted to ride a mare in villages, a marriage tradition; scheduled castes could not sit on their charpoys (rope beds) when persons of other castes passed by; scheduled castes were not permitted to draw water from common wells and hand-pumps; and in many tea-shops and dhabas (food stalls), separate crockery and cutlery were used for serving the scheduled castes.
The prevalence of "untouchability" practices was also noted by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1996, while reviewing India's tenth to fourteenth periodic reports under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:
Although constitutional provisions and legal texts exist to abolish untouchability and to protect the members of the scheduled castes and tribes, and social and educational policies have been adopted to improve the situation of members of the scheduled castes and tribes and to protect them from abuses, widespread discrimination against those people, and the relative impunity of those who abuse them, points to the limited effect of these measures.  The Committee is particularly concerned at reports that people belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes are often prevented from using public wells or from entering cafes or restaurants and that their children are sometimes separated from other children in schools, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention.
Most Dalits in rural areas live in segregated colonies, away from the caste Hindus.  According to an activist working with Dalit communities in 120 villages in Villapuram district, Tamil Nadu, all 120 villages have segregated Dalit colonies.  Basic supplies such as water are also segregated, and medical facilities and the better, thatched-roof houses exist exclusively in the caste Hindu colony.  "Untouchability" is further reinforced by s tate allocation of facilities; separate facilities are provided for separate colonies.  Dalits often receive the poorer of the two, if they receive any at all.
As part of  village custom, Dalits are made to render free services in times of death, marriage, or any village function.  During the Marama village festival in Karnataka state, caste Hindus force Dalits to sacrifice buffalos and drink their blood.  They then have to mix the blood with cooked rice and run into the village fields without their chappals (slippers).  The cleaning of the whole village, the digging of graves, the carrying of firewood, and the disposal of dead animals are all tasks that Dalits are made to perform.
In villages where Dalits are a minority, the practice of "untouchability" is even more severely enforced.  Individual attempts to defy the social order are frequently punished through social boycotts and acts of retaliatory violence further described below.  Activists in Tamil Nadu explained that large-scale clashes between caste communities in the state's southern districts have often been triggered by Dalits' efforts to draw water from a "forbidden" well or by their refusal to perform a delegated task.  Dalits have responded to ill-treatment by converting, en masse, to Buddhism, Christianity, and sometimes Islam.  Once converted, however, many lose access to their scheduled-caste status and the few government privileges assigned to it.  Many also find that they are ultimately unable to escape treatment as "untouchables."

Most Dalit victims of abuse are landless agricultural laborers. According to the 1991 census, 77 percent of the Dalit workforce is in the primary (agricultural) sector of the economy.  Those who own land often fall into the category of marginal landowners. Land is the prime asset in rural areas that determines an individual's standard of living and social status.   Lack of access to land makes Dalits economically vulnerable; their dependency is exploited by upper- and middle-caste landlords and allows for many abuses to go unpunished.
India's policy of economic liberalization is also having an effect on Dalits and their livelihood.  As the public sector shrinks due to privatization, the reservations model is affecting-and able to assist-fewer people, inasmuch as government-related jobs are being drastically reduced.  Globalization has also led to coastal lands increasingly being acquired by multinationals (via the central government) for aquaculture projects.  Dalits are the main laborers and tenants of coastal land areas and are increasingly being forced to leave these areas-to live as displaced people, for the most part-as foreign investment rises
Land reform and increased wages for rural laborers are the central demands of most leftist guerrilla organizations active in West Bengal, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.  Private landlord militias and state security forces have targeted civilians thought to be guerrilla sympathizers.  The failure of most state governments to implement land reform legislation has only added to the sense of economic vulnerability that fuels militant movements. In Bihar in particular, guerrillas enjoy Dalit support, as most of the Dalit community lives on the edge of starvation.  Laws and regulations that prohibit alienation of Dalit lands, set ceilings on a single landowner's holdings, or allocate surplus government lands to scheduled castes and
scheduled tribes have been largely ignored, or worse, manipulated by upper castes with the help of district administrations.
In 1996 a nongovernmental organization undertook a door-to-door survey of 250 villages in the state of Gujarat and found that, in almost all villages, those who had title to land had no possession, and those who had possession had not had their land measured or faced illegal encroachments from upper castes.  Many had no record of their holdings at all.  Even those who had been offered land under agrarian reform legislation refused to accept it for fear of an upper-caste backlash.  In the late 1980s in Chenaganambatti village in Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, 9.5 acres of idle land belonging to a temple under the Hindu Religious Endowment Act were auctioned and sold to villagers for cultivation.  At the time, some 500,000 acres of such idle land existed in Tamil Nadu.  Caste Hindus did not allow Dalits to take part in the auction.  In 1989 Dalits began demanding participation and, in 1992, finally succeeded in entering the auction.  Caste Hindus protested and appealed to the commissioner of the Hindu Religious Endowment Act, a central government official.  The commissioner decreed that the lands, once bought at auction, legally belonged to the Dalits.  One month later, and in broad daylight, one hundred members of the Kallar community, an upper-caste group, invaded and destroyed nine acres of paddy (rice) fields belonging to Dalits.  In subsequent attacks, the Kallars murdered two Dalit men and assaulted three Dalit women, who sustained head injuries.

Violence Against Dalit Women

As Human Rights Watch was told by a government investigator in Tamil Nadu, "[n]o one practices untouchability when it comes to sex."  Rape is a common phenomenon in rural areas.  Women are raped as part of caste custom or village tradition.  According to Dalit activists,  Dalit girls have been forced to have sex with the village landlord.  In rural areas, "women are induced into prostitution (Devadasi system)..., which [is] forced on them in the name of religion."  The prevalence of rape in villages contributes to the greater incidence of child marriage in those areas.  Early marriage between the ages of ten years and sixteen years persists in large part because of Dalit girls' vulnerability to sexual assault by upper-caste men;  once a girl is raped, she becomes unmarriageable.   An early marriage also gives parents greater control over the caste into which their children are married. 
Dalit women are also raped as a form of retaliation.  Women of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are raped as part of an effort by upper-caste leaders to suppress movements to demand payment of minimum wages, to settle sharecropping disputes, or to reclaim lost land.  They are raped by members of the upper caste, by landlords, and by the police in pursuit of their male relatives.   
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, upper-caste leaders deny the prevalence of sexual abuse against Dalit women.  A prominent leader of the Thevar community in Tamil Nadu, who wished to remain anonymous, vehemently denounced the assertion that sexual relations between Dalit laborers and their landowning employers were nonconsensual.  The very practice of "untouchability," he explained, was until recently looked upon favorably by Dalits.  He added that in the present day, the practice has almost completely disappeared.  In an interview with Human Rights Watch, he claimed:
In the past, twenty to thirty years ago, harijans [Dalits] enjoyed the practice of "untouchability."  In the past, women enjoyed being oppressed by men.  They weren't educated.  They didn't know the world.  Ladies would boast to others that my husband has more wives.  Most of Dalit women enjoy relations with Thevar men.  They enjoy Thevar community men having them as concubines.  It is not done by force.  Anything with Dalits is not done by force.  That's why they don't react.  They cannot afford to react, they are dependent on us for jobs and protection.  Harijans formerly enjoyed their masters.  "Untouchability" was there in various forms, but because of education, economic improvement, now in 95 percent of places, "untouchability" is not practiced.  Thevars never say anything against them.  Without Dalits we cannot live.  We want workers in the fields.  We are landholders.  Without them we cannot cultivate or take care of our cattle.  But Dalit women's relations with Thevar men are not out of economic dependency.  She wants it from him.  He permits it.  If he has power, then she has more affection for the landlord.
Attacks on Dalit women during massacres, police raids, and caste clashes are discussed throughout this report.  Dalit women are easy targets for any perpetrator because upper castes consider them to be "sexually available" and because they are largely unprotected by the state machinery.  The Bathani Tola massacre in Bihar in 1996 epitomizes this phenomenon. 
The "landlords" wanted to reassert their feudal tyranny over the poor who have started becoming more vocal and by attacking the most vulnerable, women and children, they sent a clear message that they would not allow anyone to disturb the social structure...  Women were raped and hacked.  The huts and small houses in which the victims took shelter were burnt down.  The shrill cries failed to draw the attention of the police posted a kilometre and a half away because their food came from the landlords' houses.

The Role of the Police

In 1979 the government of India constituted the National Police Commission to analyze the factors behind the dismal performance of the police throughout the country.  The commission's eight-volume report, which includes recommendations to address the problem, is still considered by government officials and civil rights activists to be the most comprehensive and definitive document on the issue.  Moreover, the problems of corruption, police brutality, and impunity documented in the report persist to this day.  A Times of India editorial by a New Delhi-based human rights activist summarized the findings of the report as follows: 
The sum of the report, in fact, detail and verify what common sense tells us.  Subversion begins at recruitment which is rife with patronage.  Promotions follow suit depending on the "reach" of lucky people.  Transfers substitute for punishment as a bad egg is foisted on one community after another.  At the police station, a normal young recruit enters such a strong atmosphere of routine violence that in a few years he has been molded into something quite unrecognisable.  Low pay, bad housing, little insurance against the hazards of police work, absurdly long hours, practically no forensic support to assist in crime detection, and punishing demands for results, all confirm the ordinary policeman's need for a "Godfather" to guide him through the thickets of survival.  Favour for favour then ensures that the only agency legally allowed to use force against citizens gets transformed into a powerfully armed untamed assemblage that masquerades as the Law.   
The National Police Commission's recommendations include a section on "police and the weaker sections," which detailed police abuses specific to scheduled castes.  The section noted that "complaints against the police in their handling of cases arising from atrocities against Scheduled Castes often relate to refusal to register complaints, delayed arrival on the scene, half-hearted action while investigating specific cases, extreme brutality in dealing with accused persons belonging to weaker sections, soft treatment of accused persons belonging to influential sections, making arrests or failing to make them on malafide considerations, etc."  
Two decades later, none of the commission's recommendations have been adopted, and police continue to detain, torture and extort money from Dalits without much fear of punishment.  Frustration with the police has also helped to fuel armed and unarmed Dalit movements. 

Dalit Political Movements

In addition to a growing number of lower-caste-based political parties and human rights movements, Dalits have taken part in struggles against the state and their upper-caste counterparts since the 1960s to claim their rights; several of these movements have used arms and have advocated violence.  While some Dalit leaders have argued that the fundamental rights of Dalits should be addressed within a constitutional framework, many non-urbanized Dalits have taken the position that their problems cannot be resolved without a militant struggle against those in power. 
Mainstream political parties in India have generally adopted a top-down interventionist approach to Dalit problems, offering promises of loans, housing, and proper implementation of reservations (quotas allowing for increased representation in government jobs, education, and political bodies) as compensation for past mistreatment.  Issues of "untouchability," temple entry, violence, and economic exploitation were largely left unaddressed by the state and political parties. As the traditional political parties abandoned or avoided efforts to mobilize support among Dalits at the grassroots level, they paved the way for an autonomous Dalit leadership to emerge in the early 1990s.  This new leadership has been threatening for backward and upper castes.  

Violence in Bihar
The eastern state of Bihar, with a population of eighty-six million people, is notorious for its poverty and lawlessness and for an ongoing conflict between Naxalites and private upper-caste militias set against the backdrop of acute social disparities.  Since independence, Bihar has consistently ranked among the worst of India's larger states in urbanization, production, and income; it has the highest number of very large landholders and one of the largest landless populations among all Indian states.  Agrarian issues have long dominated the state's political life as the feudal nature of landholding has remained largely unchanged despite legislation establishing ceilings on the maximum amount of land one individual can own.  Political leaders who depend on landed elites for support have had little interest in pursuing reforms.  Wages for agricultural laborers are also among the lowest in the country.  In many districts workers are not paid in money but instead often work a full day for as little as two kilograms of rice.
Since the 1960s, social activists advocating on behalf of low-caste groups have attempted, through various forms of peaceful protest, to pressure the government to institute land reforms; at the same time, Naxalite groups have advocated armed resistance and have carried out targeted assassinations of landlords.  In turn, higher-caste landholders have retaliated by forming private militias, known as senas (armies), to fight the Naxalites and terrorize and kill low-caste villagers whom they believe to have provided support to the Naxalites, or who have organized to demand better wages and other reforms.  Hundreds of Dalits have been killed in sena attacks since the early 1990s.  The attacks frequently take place at night; in many cases, the victims, including women and children, have been shot in their beds while they were sleeping.  Members of the senas have also raped women and girls during the attacks.  They have often claimed responsibility for the attacks and have even announced beforehand which villages they planned to target.  However, because the senas enjoy the patronage of powerful elites, they operate with impunity.
Rather than addressing the security needs of landless laborers most affected by the violence or provide protection to villagers at risk, a series of inefficient and corrupt state governments since the early 1970s has only exacerbated the problem.  In many instances, government officials-many of whom are alleged to have caste ties or other affiliations with the senas-have acted as agents of the private armies and have turned a blind eye to the killings.   State security forces have helped train the senas, and in some cases, police have accompanied the militias during their attacks on Dalit villages.  Police have also conducted their own raids on Dalit villages in the aftermath of massacres carried out by upper-caste militias.  The ostensible reason for police raids has been to capture suspected Naxalites, but the raids are frequently used to punish villagers suspected of sympathizing with the militant groups.  Like the attacks by private militias, police raids have been characterized by violence, looting, and assaults on women.  The state's response to militant activity by Naxalite groups and by the senas is conspicuously uneven.  Sena members have rarely been prosecuted for acts of violence.  Police routinely detain and charge suspected Naxalite militants, however, and many are killed in so-called encounters with the police
This chapter traces the conflict in Bihar since the birth of the Ranvir Sena, an upper-caste militia formed in 1994.  Human Rights Watch investigated three massacres carried out by the Ranvir Sena and two raids conducted by the police in 1997 and 1998; documentation of those incidents, and additional information on other incidents, is provided below.  The chapter also describes a pattern of state collusion and police complicity in sena attacks.


Scheduled castes constitute close to 14 percent of the population in Bihar; most of the agricultural laborers belong to these castes.  The four main upper castes in the region are the Brahmins, the Bhumihars, the Rajputs, and the Kayasthas.  There are more than one hundred backward castes, the dominant of which are the Yadavs and the Kurmis.   In 1996 and 1997 the state government was led by Laloo Prasad Yadav, president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal party and member of the Yadav backward caste; although his administration was dominated by upper castes.  Laloo Prasad Yadav resigned in 1998; he was replaced as chief minister by his wife Rabri Devi.
The implementation of reservations in favor of the backward castes has improved their status throughout the state; the same has not held true of scheduled castes whose status continues to deteriorate.  Central Bihar in particular has seen a consistent rise in abuses against scheduled castes since the early 1990s at the hands of upper castes and backward castes who employ them as laborers on their lands.  Rapes and murders of Dalit women in particular have reportedly increased during this period.  As one long-time observer of violence in the state has noted, "Disparities in socioeconomic hierarchy run alongside the caste hierarchy throughout Bihar although the degree of relationship may differ in some districts...  Scheduled Castes invariably fall in the lowest category both socially and economically."  A 1995 analysis of available statistics by The Pioneer, a Delhi-based daily, concluded:
[T]he distribution pattern of land and other resources is based on caste hierarchy.  One-third of the upper castes have land worth more than Rs. 55,000 [US$1,375] whereas two-thirds of the scheduled caste households are landless and approximately one-fifth hold land with a total value of less than Rs. 5,000 [US$125].
There is little organized official effort to bridge the class gap.  Administrations that have governed the state since independence have not even succeeded in completing any land surveys.  In the districts of central Bihar, money-lending, bonded labor, sexual assaults on rural women, and abuse of the landless class by landowners have all contributed to violent clashes between various castes.   Successive Bihari governments have failed to implement land reforms and guaranties of minimum wages for agricultural laborers; as a result, disparities in wealth between landless Dalit laborers and their landed upper-caste and middle-caste counterparts have increased.  The disparity and increasing economic exploitation have given rise to numerous militant leftist groups who have increased their membership, their political clout, and their weaponry since the 1970s.  The central Bhojpur district of Bihar has long been a stronghold of these so-called Naxalite groups that operate under various political banners.  The increase in Naxalite activities has also ushered in a rise in the number of private upper-caste militias, including the Ranvir Sena, that have been responsible for killing hundreds of Dalit laborers between 1995 and 1998.  In these areas of Bihar, a class struggle has escalated into an armed caste conflict.

Shankarbigha and Narayanpur

On the evening of January 25, 1999, at least twenty-two Dalit men, women and children were killed in the village of Shankarbigha, Jehanabad district, by members of the Ranvir Sena.  The massacre was the fifth of its kind since July 1996 in which Dalit and lower-caste men, women and children were killed by the sena for their suspected allegiance to CPI(M-L) or MCC.  According to press reports, members of the Ranvir Sena entered eight thatched huts in the village during the night and fired indiscriminately on the occupants.  Many of the victims, including several children, were shot in the head and stomach at point-blank range.  Police suspected that the attacks were in retaliation for the killing of two sena activists the week before by MCC members.  According to Jehanabad District Magistrate P. Amrit, the killers shouted Ranvir Sena slogans throughout the attacks.  The village is only ten kilometers away from Laxmanpur-Bathe, the site of the December 1997 sena massacre.  Ranvir Sena supporters told Times of India that the sena had planned to kill almost all the Dalits in the village, close to seventy people, but were unable to complete their task. 
The police ignored early warnings that a massacre was likely.  On January 8, 1999, a little over two weeks before the attack, Ranvir Sena leader Bharmeshwar Singh admitted in an interview to a local daily that the sena was planning an attack in Jehanabad district, "with renewed vigour [and] in a very calculat[ed] manner."  Singh also admitted that the sena had already chosen its target and was simply waiting for the "right time" to strike.  According the CPI(M-L) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, his group made a written submission to the local administration providing a list of villages deemed vulnerable to sena attacks.  A list of "already-accused sena members" was also included.
The National Human Rights Commission, a statutory body set up pursuant to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, has asked the state government to investigate the massacre and prevent a recurrence of such incidents.  Twenty-four people were arrested in late January 1999 in connection to the massacre, all of whom belong to the Bhumihar caste.   Activists are pessimistic, however, that any will be prosecuted.
A little over two weeks after the Shankarbigha massacre, on the night of February 10, 1999, the sena attacked neighboring Narayanpur village.  Sena members killed twelve and injured seven.  According to press reports, over one hundred heavily armed sena members descended on the village during the night and forced their way into homes, shooting at will.  The attack, which began at 9:00 p.m., lasted for one hour.  The police did not arrive until 8:00 a.m. the following morning.   Bihar Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari stated that a "lack of vigil and alertness [had] led to a repeat of yet another strike by the Ranvir Sena."
In a press release issued soon after the incident, the Ranvir Sena claimed responsibility for both massacres.  Shamsher Bahadur Singh, leader and spokesman for the sena, stated that sena members were forced to "take up arms to save the honour, dignity, and life and property of the innocent farmers."  The killings were meant as retaliation for the deaths of farmers at the hands of Naxalites over the past thirty years.  The press release added:
Our fight will continue till the extremists as well as the government lift the illegal economic blockade and release confiscated land, other properties, arms and ammunition, etc. of innocent farmers...  Our main targets of future attacks will be Khakaria village in Jehanabad district, Akbarpur village under the Paliganj police station in Patna district and those villages where Naxal activists have let loose a reign of terror and become centres of extremists.


On the evening of December 1, 1997, armed sena activists crossed the Sone river into the village of Laxmanpur-Bathe where 180 families lived.  They raided fourteen Dalit homes and killed a total of sixty-one people: sixteen children, twenty-seven women, and eighteen men.  In some families, three generations were killed.  Twenty people were also seriously injured.  As most of the men fled the village when the attack began, women and children numbered high among the fatalities.  During the attack, at least five girls around fifteen years of age were raped and mutilated before being shot in the chest by members of the Ranvir Sena.  Most of the victims allegedly belonged to families of Party Unity supporters; the group had been demanding more equitable land distribution in the area. 
The village of Laxmanpur-Bathe has no electricity and is virtually inaccessible by road.  In crossing the Sone river to reach the village, sena members reportedly also killed five members of the Mallah (fisherman) community and murdered the three Mallah boatmen who had ferried them across the river on their way back.   According to newspaper reports, the main reason for the attack was that the Bhumihars wanted to seize  fifty acres of land that had been earmarked for distribution among the landless laborers of the village.  A group of peasants, reportedly affiliated with Naxalite activity, was ready to take up arms against them.  Authorities apparently knew of the tensions but "had not cared to intervene in the land dispute and nip the trouble in the bud and instead allowed things to come to a head."  Following widespread publicity about the massacre, Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi suspended the Jehanabad district superintendent of police and replaced several senior officers.     
Human Rights Watch visited the village on February 25, 1998.  According to villagers who survived the attack, close to one hundred members of the Ranvir Sena arrived en masse and entered the front houses of the village: "Their strategy was to do everything simultaneously so that no one could be forewarned."  Human Rights Watch visited a house in which seven family members were killed.  Only the father and one son survived.  Vinod Paswan, the son, described the attack:
Fifteen men surrounded the house, and five came in.  My sister hid me behind the grain storage.  They broke the door down.  My sisters, brothers, and mother were killed...  The men didn't say anything.  They just started shooting.  They yelled, "Long live Ranvir Sena," as they were leaving.
At the time of the attack, the father, Ramchela Paswan, was away in the fields.  When he returned, he found seven of his family members shot in his house: "I started beating my chest and screaming that no one is left.  No one has been saved from my family.  Then my son came out saying he that he had not been killed."
Human Rights Watch also interviewed seven female residents of the village, many of whom witnessed the rape, mutilation and murder of five girls.  Thirty-two-year-old Surajmani Devi recounted what she saw: 

Thirty-two-year-old Surajmani Devi recounted what she saw:
Everyone was shot in the chest.  I also saw that the panties were torn.  One girl was Prabha.  She was fifteen years old.  She was supposed to go to her husband's house two to three days later.  They also cut her breast and shot her in the chest.  Another was Manmatiya, also fifteen.  They raped her and cut off her breast.  The girls were all naked, and their panties were ripped.  They also shot them in the vagina.  There were five girls in all.  All five were raped.  All were fifteen or younger.  All their breasts were cut off.
Twenty-five-year-old Mahurti Devi was shot in the stomach but survived her injuries after extensive surgery.  She had returned home after a dispute with her husband and was living in her mother's house.  She recalled:
They broke in and tried to open our box of valuables.  They couldn't so they took my chain and earrings off my body.  There were ten to twelve of them in the house.  They didn't wear any masks.  I said I had nothing.  They said open everything.  My mother was shot, and she fell down.  They flashed a torch on my face.  Then they shot me, and I fell down. The police took me to the hospital.  After a three-day operation I came to, and the police took a report from me.  Some people have been arrested, others are still free.  They looted all the houses
At the time of the massacre, Jasudevi was at her husband's home in another village.  She arrived in Bathe the morning after the attack to find her two sisters-in-law and her fifteen-year-old niece shot to death.  "My niece was supposed to go to her husband's house the same day.  She was expecting a child.  When I found her it looked like she was trying to run away when she was shot."  Seven-year-old Mahesh Kumar was being held by his mother when she was shot.  She fell forward and protected his body with her own.  She then died.
Local police had been aware of the possibility of violence long before the Bathe massacre.  On November 25, 1997, sena leaders openly held a strategy meeting seven kilometers away from Bathe.  Sena leader Shamsher Bahadur Singh had also been touring the area in the months before the massacre openly seeking donations from supporters.  Police officers claimed to be aware of these meetings but dismissed them as routine-missing yet another opportunity to intervene and preempt a sena attack.  One officer was quoted as saying, "It's like crying wolf.  The Communist Party of India (M-L) keeps sending us complaint letters every week, we can't take action every time."
According to members of Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti, a grassroots organization, the events that unfolded in Bathe were more complex than a random attack on a Dalit hamlet:
CPI was organizing in Bathe because the residents were so poor and exploited, they couldn't even feed themselves after a full day's work.  When they asked for more wages, they were beaten down even more.  Some CPI(M-L) and Party Unity people had a split.  A few people left them and gave information about party activities to landlords.  The landlords contacted Ranvir Sena in Bhojpur, saying that they needed help controlling them.  The Ranvir Sena came out at 4:00 p.m.  They ate and drank liquor with the landlords and attacked at 9:00 p.m.  They had a list of whom to attack but got drunk and killed anyone and everyone.
The activists also claimed that the purpose of Bathe was "to teach others not to rebel or raise a voice.  In so doing women became vulnerable and were sexually assaultedY  They raped women and cut off their breasts.  A woman whose pregnancy was nearly complete was shot in the stomach.  They said that otherwise the child will grow up to be a rebel."
Life for most in the village has been disrupted.  At the time of the Human Rights Watch visit, children were unable to go to school because a makeshift police camp had been located on school grounds.  None of the adults were working.  Villagers complained, "There is no work, all has stopped.  Since they [Bhumihars] are the landed families, our people don't get to work in their fields."
Since the massacre, police protection in Bathe has remained grossly inadequate.  The Bihar government announced soon after the Bathe killings that police would be deployed in the area to set up camp and maintain law and order.  However, when parliamentary elections were later announced, the police force was directed to control election-related violence.  Despite their dual assignment of controlling the Ranvir Sena and watching the polls, the police seemed more intent on conducting raids on Dalit villages in the name of controlling "extremism" and seeking out Naxalite cadres than on protecting Dalit villagers.  According to a member of BDVS, "Bathe protection is near the poor but it only benefits the rich.  Police always go to the landlords' houses...  All their needs are taken care of by upper castes.  If someone calls a meeting they won't come.  They say we don't have time.  They just do flag marches."
At the time Human Rights Watch visited the village, the Dalit residents of Bathe feared another attack:
Fifteen to twenty days ago we received a message that they will sprinkle petrol on the houses of villages and set them on fire-the houses of those that didn't get killed the first time around.  We told the police.  They said we are here so nothing will happen, but the police are protecting them.  They are stationed in the Ranvir Sena tola [hamlet].  Police are helping the Ranvir Sena.  The accused are moving around freely.  So we feel that the culprits are being protected.
Human Rights Watch also spoke to police officers stationed in the village school.  Officer In-Charge Amay Kumar Singh informed us that a total of twenty-six police officers were present in the village.  He claimed that the police arrived soon after the massacre.  According to Singh, twenty-five of the twenty-six perpetrators identified by villagers had been arrested but at the time of the interview (two months after the events) had not been formally charged.  He claimed that the police were providing security for all villagers and that new threats had not been reported to them. 
Like many officers, Singh claimed that police response to attacks is hindered by insufficient funding, infrastructure, and equipment for village-based police camps.  These arguments fail, however, when one notes the frequency of police search and raid operations on remote Dalit villages.  Though Singh believed that his officers had enough guns to provide security, and were able to communicate quickly with the area police station, he claimed that more men and more facilities were needed and that the roads to the village were in very poor condition.  Road construction had begun soon after the massacre but came to a halt when "VIPs" stopped visiting the area.  "We have no car.  Look at our conditions.  We are sleeping on the ground," Singh complained.  Deputy General of Police Saxena also reported that the local police station was poorly equipped and there was not enough personnel.  "That's why we couldn't prevent this," he said.
On January 9, 1998, nine people suspected to be supporters of the Ranvir Sena were killed by CPI(M-L) activists in Chouram village, forty-five kilometers from Jehanabad.  The killings were reportedly in retaliation for the Bathe massacre.  The attackers opened fire indiscriminately on the victims as they were returning home from a funeral.   Several Dalits in the Bathe area were subsequently taken into custody by the police.  Bathe villagers claim that the sena members were actually killed by Marxist-Leninist party members who were not from their village: "Police have been harassing Dalits for fifteen kilometers around this village.  No one cares about the sixty-one people who died here.  Everyone cares about those nine.  The Ranvir Sena says that they will take ninety for those nine killed."
Despite the arrests immediately after the massacre, as of February 1999 none of the sena members responsible for the Bathe attack had been prosecuted. 


On the morning of April 10, 1997, members of the Ranvir Sena gunned down eight residents of Ekwari village in Bhojpur district in an operation that lasted two hours.  Police officers stationed nearby forced open the villagers' houses and then stood by and watched as the massacre took place.  Seven of the eight killed belonged to the lower-caste Lohars, Chamars, Dhobis and Kahars.  The village is known to many as the birthplace of CPI(M-L) in the 1970s.  The head of the lower-caste hamlet in the village described the incident to Human Rights Watch:
They were killed by the Ranvir Sena.  We recognize them.  The police were with them.  They weren't shooting.  They searched the houses.  Then they left and Ranvir Sena came in and shot everyone.  The police were still there.  They were from the new police camp, not from outside.  They sent more after the massacre.  The sena killed to get more notoriety.
An article in The Telegraph, aCalcutta-based daily, reported that the attackers raped two women before killing them: a fifteen-year-old girl and a woman who was eight months pregnant.  A ten-year-old boy was shot in the head. 
The partisan role of the police could not have been clearer.  While policemen pried open doors of houses, the Ranbir Sena activists followed them in and mowed the people down.  Sunaina Devi, an eyewitness to the murder of her father-in-law and sister-in-law, said that when they refused to open their doors, the policemen broke them open and let the killers inY  Sagar Mahato said he saw the police running away and watching from a distance
The article also reported that the CPI(M-L) Politburo member and member of legislative assembly, Ram Naresh Ram, claimed that the murders were premeditated and that police were bribed by the landlords.  A probable cause of the conflict, a villager added, was that many acres of land were lying fallow in the village due to a blockade imposed by the CPI(M-L).
The Bombay-based Times of India reported that the fifteen-year-old was raped in the presence of her father.  The pregnant woman was said to be the relative of Jai Kahar, a veteran CPI(M-L) activist and a suspect in the murder of a landlord in the area the previous year.  An eyewitness recounted, "Fifty people belonging to upper caste cordoned off the entire small tola and started searching for firearms.  I know them by their names.  They are the landlords of this region.  Indrajeet Singh, Binod Singh, Pankaj Singh, Ajay Singh are the main culprits who killed eight people in this tola."
Human Rights Watch visited the village of Ekwari in February 1998.  A police camp had been established in upper-caste territory, an area inaccessible to Dalits who were afraid to cross the road dividing the two parts of the village.  When Human Rights Watch asked the villagers to take us to the police camp they responded, "We can't take you there.  They are on Bhumihar land.  No one is protecting us."
An Ekwari village sub-inspector told Human Rights Watch that in his camp there were two sub-inspectors, one sub-inspector BMP (Bihar Military Police), and seventeen constables, making a total of twenty officers.  A second camp located near the village fields had nineteen officers.  The sub-inspector claimed that the police presence was sufficient to maintain law and order in the village.  At the time of the massacre, he was on assignment at the police station eight kilometers away.
There was a fight between CPI(M-L) and the Ranvir Sena.  One Ranvir Sena member was killed.  Eight CPI(M-L) were killed some days later.  They were not members of CPI(M-L) but were killed based on caste.  They have been fighting for years.  People are killed on both sides.  All have been arrested and charged.  Thirty-six were named; approximately thirty were from the Ranvir Sena.  All are in jail.  There is only one absconder.  He escaped from jail.  When a CPI(M-L) dies, it's always the Ranvir Sena; when a Ranvir Sena dies it is always a CPI(M-L) who kills.  We also caught the CPI(M-L) who killed the Ranvir Sena.  We are here for now and most likely will stay for a while.
In the aftermath of the killings, seven police officers were suspended.  Another police camp officer claimed that the suspensions were a political move.  "Both sides are political, so whenever there are problems there is a lot of pressure on the state, the superintendent of police, the district magistrate.  So in order to remove the pressure they suspend officers.  The same officers come back on duty in a different police station."  When asked to describe the current situation, the sub-inspector responded that it was "peaceful and normal.  There's been so much violence here that even one murder every few months is considered peaceful.  Labor is an ongoing problem.  It's a very old problem.  Whenever killings take place, there is a strike.  But now work is ongoing."
Residents of the Dalit and backward-caste hamlet agreed.  They explained that work had started again, but "there was a lot of fear" and little protection.  Although CPI(M-L) is active in the village, the lower-caste villagers claim that the "Ranvir Sena is more powerful.  They have rifles, semi-automatics, and guns.  We only have sticks."  The head of the lower-caste section of the village was also apprehensive about the police and had little faith in the protection they provided. 
Police are here for law and order.  They see what's going on, but they are allied with the Ranvir Sena.  They get money and food from the forward castes so they favor the forward castes.  The police don't care about the poor.  We don't go to the police, nor any other state agencies.  We asked for help from the Bhumihars to keep the killings low.  They said they cannot control them even though the Bhumihar population belongs to the Ranvir Sena.  We have no protection.
According to the former deputy superintendent of police (DSP) for Bhojpur district, Bihar, the April 1997 attack was due to "police negligence": 
The police completely failed in giving protection.  They went in one house, and the Ranvir Sena went into another.  The guards did nothing to protect them.  The Ranvir Sena killed everyone in the police's presence.  By the time the station police came, the Ranvir Sena had run away.
The former DSP went on to describe the situation of women and children. 
There are 106 widows in Ekwari.  At least fifty women have also been killed in the past several years.  The Dalit men go to jail and get sentenced, while the Ranvir Sena has enough money to fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court.  Dalit women are made homeless, and the children cannot go to school because the family needs the money to fight the cases against the men.  The Ranvir Sena cares only about high numbers.  They also rape the women.  The police send innocent people to jail.  No one can surrender for fear of so-called police encounters.  They do not get justice from the police.  That is the main factor.
Even the landlords of the village (members of the Ranvir Sena) complained that the police, under pressure to maintain "law and order" in their jurisdiction, have arrested indiscriminately on both sides.
First the police were with us, now they have left us.  Since 1995 the police have really bothered us.  In April, people were killed here.  They killed one farmer and destroyed all crops.  Seven CPI(M-L) were killed by Ranvir Sena for retaliation.  The police just take care of the dead bodies.  They don't really help.  In response to the April massacre, the police destroyed a landowner's house after arresting him.  They also arrested thirty-nine people.  All landowners were innocent.  They were not part of the Ranvir Sena.  The police were also involved in the Ranvir Sena massacre.  Seven people were suspended.  The police are not with anybody they are trying to scare people.  They always capture the innocent, even when CPI(M-L) strike.
As of February 1999, none of the sena members or police officers responsible for the killings in Ekwari had been prosecuted. 


On March 23, 1997, ten landless laborers were killed in Haibaspur village in Patna district, Bihar, apparently for aligning themselves with the CPI(M-L) Party Unity.  Before leaving the village, the Ranvir Sena inscribed its organization's name in blood on the rim of a dry well.  Party Unity forces retaliated within a month by killing six Ranvir Sena supporters on April 21, 1997. According to BDVS activists, alcohol and the rape of Dalit women by the Bhumihar men played a role in the attack on the village: 
The Dalits made alcohol, and Bhumihars drank it.  When Bhumihars fought among themselves, they went to the Mushahars [Dalits], gave them drinks, and got them to take revenge on their enemies by taking their field crops and so on.  But the Dalits were working for both sides so the Bhumihars killed them.  They were double-crossing them.  They only gave them liquor to get them to do the work.  Bhumihars give them money to make the liquor, then give some liquor to the Dalits to get them to do the work.  Whoever makes alcohol also pays a commission to the police.  When the Bhumihars came and drank, they also raped the Mushahar women.  Mushahar men did not like it so they protested and were killed.  The people killed were mostly innocent, but these are the two reasons it happened.
According to an article in The Hindu, a Madras-based daily, although the police were informed immediately of the Haibaspur killings, they did not arrive on the scene until the following morning, after hearing that the chief minister was due to visit the site.  When Human Rights Watch spoke to villagers in February 1998, they said they were still afraid of another massacre and had received threats from neighboring upper-caste landholders.  Apart from the promise of small compensation packages, the state had done little to protect them.

Bathani Tola

In response to the Ranvir Sena attack on the Dalit hamlet of Bathani Tola in July 1996 (see above), then-Home Minister Indrajit Gupta expressed dissatisfaction with police protection in the affected region.  Even though four police camps had been posted in the area, Gupta charged that they were, "paralysed, impotent and did nothing."  Residents of the village claimed that most of the main perpetrators were still roaming freely in their village, though the police claimed to have arrested all sixty men involved.  A new police camp was soon set up near the site but was considered largely ineffective in checking threats from upper-caste landlords.  "They are at the beck and call of the landlords.  Their food comes from the landlords' houses.  How can they render us justice?" one villager asked.
Despite signs of rising tensions in the area, police neglected to shift their picket (booth) to Bathani Tola.  On July 26, 1996, the Bombay-based daily Indian Express reported that officials had received written notification of the possibility of an attack.  In a letter dated July 4, 1996, to the district magistrate, the Bhojpur district committee of CPI(M-L) complained that the Ranvir Sena had "renewed its campaign of terror in the villages" and charged that the night before, "a gang of the Ranbir Sena [had] been engaged in indiscriminate firing."  The committee added that there was much tension and fear and urged the district magistrate to "take strong action immediately."  CPI(M-L) had also sent requests for protection on June 26, June 29, and July 2.  According to press reports, Superintendent of Police S. N. Pradhan dismissed the letters as "routine."   The killings took place on July 11.  During the attack itself, the police reportedly made no attempts to intervene despite being on duty a "stone's throw" away from the scene.   Soon after the incident the chief minister suspended police officers stationed in camps near the tola,but failed to prosecute them.  

The Killings
On July 11, 1997, residents of Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar, a predominantly Dalit-populated urban colony in Bombay, woke up to find their statue of Dr. Ambedkar desecrated by a garland of sandals around his neck.  The placing of shoes or sandals around the neck of the likeness of a person is taken as a sign of extreme disrespect and is usually an attempt to denigrate that person and his or her beliefs.  When residents complained of the desecration to Local Beat No. 5 Pantnagar Police, located ten feet away from the statue, they were told to lodge a complaint at the Pantnagar police station.  By 7:00 a.m. the growing crowd began protesting and blocked the Eastern Express Highway in front of the colony.  Within minutes, members of the Special Reserve Police Force (SRPF), led by Sub-Inspector M. Y. Kadam, arrived in a van and stopped in front of the colony, hundreds of meters away from the statue and the protests on the highway.  SRPF constables opened fire on pedestrians on the service road in front of the colony and later into alleys between colony houses.  The firing lasted for ten to fifteen minutes and killed ten people.  Most of the victims were shot above the waist.  Sub-Inspector Kadam and his SRPF constables left soon after the firing, only to be replaced by the city police and other SRPF members.
Four hours later, at 11:30 a.m., at a site 150 meters away from the firing and 300 meters away from the desecrated statute, an angry crowd set fire to a luxury bus.  At 2:00 p.m. twenty to twenty-five police officers entered Ramabai colony, started spreading tear gas, and began lathi-charging residents in their homes.  At 4:00 p.m. they lathi-charged again.  By late afternoon, twenty-six people had been seriously injured, and Local Beat No. 5 had been destroyed by protesters. Sub-Inspector Kadam, who ordered the firing, had a number of cases of "atrocities" against Dalits pending against him.  Kadam's former supervisor and SRPF commandant Vasant Ingle had previously charged Kadam with being "anti-Dalit": he had accused Kadam of mistreating a subordinate for "casteist reasons" and had ordered his suspension for violating the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.  Ingle has also charged that Kadam's excessive use of force in dealing with Ramabai residents was a direct result of his caste prejudice.  Kadam has denied this charge.
The Ramabai incident led to significant unrest throughout the state of Maharashtra, including rioting and social boycotts against protesting Dalits.  A two-member team of the Indian People's Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), a Bombay-based NGO, visited the districts of Nagpur, Amravati, Yavatmal, and Wardha in October 1997 to investigate violence against Dalits in the wake of disturbances related to protests against the Ramabai incident.  According to an article in the Times of India, the team concluded that in various villages, "the police had abetted supporters of the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliances... in committing atrocities on Dalits and terrorising them" and that "the people owing allegiance to the ruling alliance parties had made determined efforts to terrorise and punish the Buddhists [converted Dalits] for having dared to protest against the shameful act of desecration of the Ambedkar statue."  According to IPHRC, such efforts included the stripping and parading of a Dalit woman in Karanja-Ghadge village in Wardha district.  She was later reportedly framed for murder by the police after she complained of her ill-treatment.
Soon after the firing, the Maharashtra state government appointed a commission of inquiry, headed by Justice S. D. Gundewar, to determine whether "the steps taken by the police to deal with the large crowd and to disperse it were adequate, in accordance with the procedure established for riot control," or if the force used was excessive.  The commission was also asked to report on measures, general or specific, "which are required to be taken by the police and the administration to avoid such occurrence in the future."
According to several eyewitness accounts and fact-finding reports, including that of the Indian People's Human Rights Commission, the National Alliance of People's Movements, and the Air Corporation SC/ST Employees Association, the firing went on intermittently for at least fifteen minutes.  In a statement of claim submitted before the Gundewar Commission of Inquiry, an eyewitness described the manner in which the police began firing.  Before firing they "did not lathi-charge, burst tear gas shells, fire a few rounds in the air or... make any serious, positive efforts to disperse people" but instead, "in a designed manner, deliberately, intentionally opened fire on innocent masses."
A senior-level official in the Bombay police department, who wished to remain anonymous, told Human Rights Watch he believed that the SRPF engaged in excessive use of force.  This particular official did not believe that the firing was caste-motivated.  He did, however, characterize members of the SRPF as "trigger-happy."  He then added, "I would have shot at one, in the leg, to get the  message across, not killed ten.  They do commit excesses.  They killed too many people.  They sit around with nothing to do until they get called in, and then they overreact."
In February 1998 Human Rights Watch visited Ramabai colony and spoke to many of its residents.  Monk Kashyap, an eyewitness, told Human Rights Watch about the sequence of events in the early-morning firing:
I heard screaming; I went out to see.  It was early.  I was standing outside about thirty meters away.  They didn't shoot me, because I was wearing my monk's robe.  They told me to leave.  Everyone was sleeping.  I saw forty or fifty people saying, "Rasta roko" ["block the road"].  Two police cars [city police] went straight through and did not stop.  An SRPF van came.  One or two protesters must have thrown stones at private cars.  There were no shots above the head, just a direct shoot.  First they hit Kaushaliyabhai Patare.  The bullet went through her and hit the medical dispensary 150 meters away.  She was forty-five.  She died on the spot.  I kept watching.  They said, "Sadhu [monk], get out of here."  I came inside but kept looking through the window.  Sukhdev Kapadne was there.  They grabbed him and put him in the car.  Then they asked him who he was.  He said he was a social worker and they told him to go.  Then they shot him in the back.  The bullet came out of his chest, and he fell forward.  He was fifty years old. 
Monk Kashyap also witnessed the shooting of Sukhdev Kapadne, Kaushaliyabhai, Amar Dhanawade, Vilas Dodke, and Anil Garud, all of whom "died on the spot."  After the initial firing, police charged forward into the housing areas.  Once they were fully inside the colony, the firing continued.  Most residents were caught completely by surprise.  One of the bullets hit Bablu Verma and killed him: "He trembled like a fish and died.  If someone tried to help him they would shoot at him too.  He was twenty-six years old."  Shridevi Giri was also injured by bullets.  "I was hit in the arm twice," she said as she showed us her scars.  Another woman stepped into the alley and saw her husband shot: "I was standing outside my door and saw the bullet hit my husband in the stomach."  Babu Phulekar was also standing in the alley and was also injured.
V. S. Khade, a prominent member of the community, confirmed the manner of attack:  "They did not say anything.  There was no lathi-charge, no tear gas, no bubble bullets, just a direct firing."  Khade lost his nephew's son in the firing.
He used to stay with us more after his mother died in 1994.  On that day he was going to work.  The crowds wouldn't allow him to cross the highway.  So he came back and told my wife and my daughter not to go outside.  Then he went to inform his father, who was one kilometer away.  Before he could get there he was shot and killed.  His brother and uncle went to pick him up, but the police shouted, "Don't touch him or we'll shoot you too."  I heard the shots.  When I arrived he was already dead.  He was only seventeen.
Soon after the incident took place, colony residents proceeded to the Pantnagar police station to lodge a complaint against the police involved in the firing.  The police refused to record or register a complaint.  By 11:00 a.m. all the bodies had been transported to the hospital, though none had been taken by the police.  Colony residents described the scene later that day: 
There were hundreds of officers.  They tried to keep everyone quiet.  There was no firing and no lathi-charge.  Then at 2:00 p.m. twenty to twenty-five police came in the colony and started spreading tear gas.  They shouted, "Close your doors and windows and don't come out."  People went back inside.  One person was injured from the tear gas.  He was burned from the thighs down.  The police left soon thereafter, but people were still going to the hospital until 11:00 p.m. that night.  Everyone who died died on the spot.  On the spot they killed ten people.
Milind, the nineteen-year-old tear gas victim, spoke to Human Rights Watch about his experience with the police before and after being burned:
It was 6:00 a.m.; I was in my store.  I had been working there for one or two months.  Someone came and told me what had happened to the statue.  I saw the garland of shoes.  Someone said bring the dogs, bring the police.  I heard it all.  I came home because I was tired.  At around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m., they threw tear gas next door.  We heard the explosion and saw smoke, and I went outside.  I stood outside, and they threw tear gas on me.  I was only wearing a towel.  I fell down.  My legs were burning, and blood was coming out.  My underwear and towel crumbled to the floor.  My mother started screaming, "My son is dying, my son is dying."  A police officer told her, "Get in the house or I will shoot you."   
According to Milind, a police officer put him in a van to take him to the hospital, where, after an hour and a half, the doctors stitched his wounds, and the police took him to the police station to "take his statement."  Along with his parents, Milind arrived at the station at 6:00 p.m.  As of 11:30 p.m. he had not eaten and was told that he would not be fed.
I asked for water, and they said, "Drink your urine."  They kicked out my parents at 2:30 a.m. and said, "Go home or you'll also be arrested."  Then they threw me in the lock-up and started beating me.  They shouted, "Ramabai people destroyed our police station.  You won't get food or water."  They started beating me with their sticks; on my back, on my legs.  Blood started coming out of my legs.  Inspector Marate came in.  I told him what his officers were doing, and he called me a motherfucker.  "Ramabai's people should be treated this way," he shouted.  He was talking about Dalits.  Then he slapped me and told me to go to sleep.  I went to bed without any medicine or food.
According to an article in the Bombay-based weekly, Sunday Mid-Day, the senior inspector of the Pantnagar police station, where Milind was held overnight, stated that Milind was "part of the mob which set the police chowky [booth] in Ramabai Colony on fire.  To disperse the mob tear gas shells were fired, and he sustained leg injuries."  He added that Milind was brought back to the police station after treatment and kept under detention until things "cooled out."  "Why would we beat him when he was already injured?" he asked.
The following afternoon Milind's parents arrived at the police station with a letter from Bharati Jadhav, Pantnagar's municipal councillor.  Milind was released and admitted to the hospital, where he remained for one and a half months.  His family paid for his treatment and his medicines.  Although they did receive some money from local politicians, they received nothing from the government.  He also did not get the job that the government had promised him as compensation.  As Milind told Human Rights Watch, many others were left out as well:
Many people were also hurt in the lathi-charge, but they got no money either.  One person's head was split open, and one person went blind from a bullet fragment.  They got nothing.  No money for them, no job for them. [Only] the people whose family member died or who were shot got money and a job.

Criminalization of Social Activism

With [few] or no amendments to the Indian Penal Code, 1870, the Criminal Procedure Code, 1930, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the same laws that were used by the British to keep the Indians down are now being used by the upper castes to keep the Dalits down.
- Dalit attorney
It is generally known that false criminal cases are sometimes engineered merely for the sake of making arrests to humiliate and embarrass some specified enemies of the complainant, in league with the police for corrupt reasons.
- National Police Commission, Government of India
In violation of the right to equal protection before the law, as guaranteed by Article 14 of the constitution and Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, local police routinely abuse vaguely worded provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, and various preventive detention statutes to thwart attempts by Dalits to demand their legal rights.  The arbitrary detention of Dalits and treatment of Dalit men and women in custody are also clear violations of laws governing police conduct. 
State agents have acted directly and forcefully against those attempting to claim their rights.  Dalit activists throughout the country face charges as "terrorists," "threats to national security," and "habitual offenders."  Many have to spend much of their income on lawyers' fees or anticipatory bail.  Dalit activists are frequently charged under the National Security Act, 1980, the Indian Explosives Act, 1884, and even the Terrorism and Anti-Disruptive Activities Act (TADA).The most common charges under the Indian Penal Code include sections 147 and 148 on rioting and rioting with a deadly weapon; Section 341 for wrongful restraint; sections 323 and 324 for voluntarily causing hurt; sections 302 and 307 for murder and attempted murder; and Section 427 for mischief.  Provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code are also used to detain Dalit activists and deter them from organizing Dalit community members. 
The criminalization of social activism in India is a pattern that has been previously documented by Human Rights Watch.Dalits are easy targets for the police.  With little knowledge of their rights, limited access to attorneys, and no money for hearings or bail, they often languish in prison even for minor offenses.  This section briefly outlines the rights of the accused upon arrest and the treatment of Dalit activists in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. 

Rights of the Accused

When an accused is arrested, he or she has the right to: be informed of the reasons for the arrest; see the warrant if arrested under a warrant; consult a lawyer of his or her choice; appear before the nearest magistrate within twenty-four hours; and be told whether he or she is entitled to be released on bail.  
Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits any officer from making any threat or promise for the purpose of obtaining a statement from a witness or an accused.  Causing harm to obtain a confession or to obtain information regarding an offense is also punishable by up to ten years imprisonment under Section 330 of the Indian Penal Code.  Police torture of an accused is a violation of the detainee's fundamental rights to life and liberty guaranteed under articles 20 and 21 of the constitution.  Nevertheless, police torture persists.  Several Supreme Court cases have also determined that victims of police torture are entitled to compensation.

D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal

In December 1996 the Supreme Court established detailed instructions for proper police procedure to be followed by the police in cases of arrest or detention.  These requirements, as articulated in D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal,include:
·Police personnel carrying out arrests and handling the interrogation of an arrestee must wear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags giving their designations.  The particulars of all personnel who handle interrogations must be recorded in a register.
·The police officer carrying out the arrest must prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest; this memo must be attested by a witness who may be either a member of the family of the arrestee or a responsible person of the locality where the arrest has been made.
·The person arrested or detained shall be entitled to have a friend, relative or other person known to him, or having an interest in his welfare, informed as soon as practicable.
·The arrestee should, when he or she so requests, be medically examined at the time of arrest, and major injuries, if any are present on his or her body, must be recorded in a memo.  The inspection memo should be signed by both the arrestee and by the police officer concerned, and a copy should be given to the arrestee.
·The arrested person should undergo a medical examination by a trained doctor every forty-eight hours of his or her detention in custody. 
·The arrestee should be permitted to meet his or her lawyer during interrogation.   
The Supreme Court has given weight to the enforceability of these instructions-which are in line with international guidelines for the treatment of persons under arrest or detention-by adding that those in violation of these directions would be liable for contempt.  As illustrated in chapters IV and V on the pattern of abuse in rural Bihar and Tamil Nadu, respectively, police officers and other state agents have generally disregarded proper procedure in arresting Dalits, subjecting them to physical abuse and torture.  The arrest of Dalit activists on falsified charges has also been a common occurrence. 
Human Rights Watch spoke to many Dalit lawyers and NGOs with legal aid divisions in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.  Many claimed that defending Dalits against false charges constituted most of their workload.  Prominent activist Henry Thiagaraj of the Dalit Liberation Education Trust explained:
Most of [our] legal people go to court to get anticipatory bail for false arrests of Dalits...  The police will file the FIR [first information report] in such a way to say that the Dalit went to pick a fight.  They take complaints only from upper-caste people.  Then they say that the Dalits created the conflict, that they are contributing to communal violence.  Then they ask the magistrate to pass an order that they should stay fifty kilometers away from the village.  The women and children who remain behind end up starving and living in fear.
A team of Dalit attorneys in southern Tamil Nadu who represent Dalits in the Rajapalayam and Sriviliputhur districts added the following on the role of corruption:
If there is a fight between Dalits and upper castes in which a Dalit is attacked or property is damaged, and if he chooses to go to the police station, the police officer, usually an upper-caste fellow, will refuse to do an FIR, saying that his [the Dalit's] version is false.  Conversely, the Dalit gets charged by the people he is accusing.  In all police stations, all work can only be done with the aid of a lot of money.  Even for FIRs or arresting an accused, bribes are needed.  Dalit people are penniless, and the police are also influenced by caste. 

False Arrests During the Tamil Nadu Southern District Clashes

Apart from specific offenses, the police also customarily arrest large numbers of people under preventive arrest laws. This practice may be linked to caste tensions in various ways.  For example, according to the Dalit attorneys interviewed, in Tamil Nadu, Dalits are often charged under the Tamil Nadu Public Properties (Prevention of) Destruction Act, 1992.  During a June 1997 police raid on Desikapuram village, Virudhunagar district, dozens of Dalit men and women were arrested and charged under the Public Properties Act for allegedly setting fire to a Thevar van.  Several eyewitnesses reported, however, that the police themselves had set the van on fire.  Charges under the Public Properties Act are non-bailable; those arrested under the act spend a minimum of one month in prison.  The police also charge them with non-bailable Indian Penal Code offenses.  With the more minor charges, "they have to be released within seven to ten days.  But in cases of murder or charges under the Public Properties Act, it could be three months or more."
In another case, police spread an even wider net to criminalize those caste Hindus that did not toe the police line.  After a caste Hindu attack on the Dalit colony of Veludavur, Villapuram district, in January 1998, police arrested twenty-three people under the Atrocities Act.  The arrests, activists claimed, were meant to punish those caste Hindus who did not endorse the attack: "They arrested high-caste people who weren't involved, to punish non-Dalits who did not support the attacks."Affected villagers named fifteen aggressors in the FIR, but only three of the fifteen named were arrested.  The rest of the detainees, those not named in the FIR, could be arrested because of the police practice of adding "and others" to the ends of the names of the accused. "Then they can arrest anyone they want," one activist said, "usually, this is how it works." On the basis of the FIR-which concerned a caste Hindu attack-the police went on to arrest four Dalits who did not belong to the village, charging them with attempted murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code and under the Public Properties Act for allegedly carrying petrol pumps.  Two of the detainees were members of the Dalit Panthers of India.
Tirumavalavan is the head of the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) for Tamil Nadu.  DPI is a nonviolent awareness-raising and organizing movement concentrating primarily on women's rights and land issues and claims.  Since the mid-1990s, DPI has helped to promote a new Dalit political leadership in Tamil Nadu, unaligned to mainstream political parties.  Its platform includes demands for land to Dalits for living and for cultivation, for the inclusion of Dalits in government land auctions, and for implementation of the Atrocities Act.  Tirumavalavan has been involved in many protests against government inaction in Dalit murder cases, such as the Mellavalavu murders described in Chapter V.  He told Human Rights Watch about the following incident. 
In early October 1997 an armed group of caste Hindus entered the village of Nantiswaramangalam.  Six Dalit youths were taken back to the assailants' village, tied to a tree, and beaten.  The attack was reportedly triggered by a Dalit resident's attempt to draw water from the village water pond.  When the police arrived, they released the youths but did not register a case under the Atrocities Act.  After DPI's involvement, the police booked a case under Section 3(1)(10) for name-calling, the least serious offense under the Atrocities Act.  The district administration suggested that the police initiate "peace talks" between the communities, but no action was taken.  According to Tirumavalavan, "The government usually tries to make a compromise in these cases but does not take action against caste Hindu people."  Violence continued in the village for more than a week and included further beatings, arson, and physical and sexual assaults on women.  A DPI member who attempted to intervene and call for peace talks was severely beaten by caste Hindus and admitted to the hospital for head injuries after being struck with a sickle.  Dalit residents were soon forced to leave their village and sought refuge in the neighboring village of Sholadurum.  More than a month later the district administration had done nothing to get them back to their homes.
Increasing tensions in the area led to a staged roadblock in the first week of November 1997.  Buses were burned, for which thirty people, all Dalits, were arrested.  Of those thirty, five were arrested under the National Security Act, 1980, and two were below fifteen years of age.  Tirumavalavan claimed that they were not involved in the burning of buses.  He explained that the arrests were examples of a typical police pattern:
They were picked up in their house, and all thirty are still in jail.  The two underage people are no longer being charged under the National Security Act but they are still in jail because of pressure from the community.  But you cannot arrest below fifteen years of age.  The police gave their age as nineteen, but we proved that they were under fifteen.  The police have to catch someone so they indiscriminately arrest.  A lot of others burn buses and destroy property but only Dalits get arrested.  When there is any public law and order problem they come to Dalit homes.
Tirumavalavan himself has been arrested numerous times.  He told Human Rights Watch that he and other members of his movement are targeted by the police for organizing Dalits to claim their rights: 
We are very pessimistic because the government is dominated by the high castes.  They immobilize people.  I am often arrested under Indian Penal Code sections 153(a) [for promoting enmity between different groups] and 120(b) [for criminal conspiracy], and also under the Sedition Act and the National Security Act.  When I speak in a public meeting they disperse the meeting.  In late 1992 I was abducted by the police in a jeep.  They said the superintendent of police wanted to meet me.  Another accusation is that we are called extremist Naxalite groups.  We are a powerful group, so we are automatically linked with Naxalites.  We are not underground.  We boycott elections.  We do not advocate violence.  We just organize Dalits to emancipate their slavery.
The Sedition Act, embodied under Indian Penal Code Section 124A, reads as follows:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added....
In 1962 the Supreme Court held that Section 124A-though susceptible to abuse by state agents-was not in violation of the constitutional right to free speech found under Article 19(1)(a).  The court added that it is only when the words have "the pernicious tendency or intention of creating public disorder or disturbance of law and order that the law steps in."  However, as with the police's propensity to abuse vaguely worded provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, the law has been used to prohibit peaceful meetings and protests, in clear violation of Article 19 of the constitution which guarantees freedom of speech and a right to peaceful assembly.   
According to a Dalit activist working in Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts, Tamil Nadu, many "young, educated youths" were also detained under the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act during the southern district clashes in 1997.  A goonda is defined as a habitual criminal, usually associated with a criminal gang. 
Human Rights Watch interviews with activists in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu revealed that the National Security Act, 1980 is also commonly used against Dalit protesters and organizers.  One activist exclaimed, "Organizing untouchables is a threat to national security?"  The act allows the central and state governments to make orders to detain a person with a view to "preventing him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the defence of India, the relations of India with foreign powers, or the security of India," or with a view to "preventing him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State Government, or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order...". Upon obtaining confirmation from an advisory board under Section 12 of the act, a person may be detained for up to twelve months.  

Human Rights Watch spoke with several activists working to train Dalits in the registration of Atrocities Act cases in the "atrocity-prone" Marathwada region of eastern Maharashtra.  Several were suffering a legal backlash as a result of their activism.

Shankar Pawar works among Dalits in the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka-Maharashtra border region.  In 1993 he was detained under Criminal Procedure Code Section 151 for fifteen days for organizing Dalits to demand their due share of auctioned temple lands.  Under Section 151, "a police officer knowing of a design to commit any cognizable offence may arrest, without orders from the Magistrate and without a warrant, the person so designing, if it appears to such officer that the commission of the offence cannot otherwise be prevented."
Although sub-section (2) of Section 151 does not allow for the detention to exceed twenty-four hours, in the state of Maharashtra the section has been amended to allow for detention up to fifteen days.  After his detention, Pawar was jailed for fifty-two days and concurrently tried under the National Security Act.  Only after his case was pleaded before three High Court judges was he released.  
Datta Khandagale is a social worker in Chorakali village, Usmanabad district, Maharashtra.  He works with fifty Dalit families who are segregated from the majority caste Hindus in the village.  In September 1992, Khandagale asked the police to register an Atrocities Act case against upper castes who had instituted a social boycott against Dalit villagers.  The boycott was in retaliation for the Dalits' attempt to enter a village temple for prayer.  As they entered, the upper-caste villagers began to throw stones and, as a result, one woman's head was cut open.  When Khandagale approached the police with a complaint, the police responded, "You're the one making trouble in the village, increasing tensions between communities," and then proceeded to file a Criminal Procedure Code Section 107 case against him.  Section 107 allows the police to preventively detain any person "likely to commit a breach of the peace of disturb the public tranquility."  Nine Dalits were arrested, including Khandagale. Because they could not pay the bond, they remained in jail for five days.
The harassment did not end with the police.  After his release, Khandagale was approached by local politicians in his district.  He was told, "If you don't [drop] the case [Atrocities Act case] it will be bad for you."  Other politicians followed suit: "They said you should reject the case.  We said, 'No, we can't.'  Then they threatened the other eight and said, 'If you don't leave the case alone, we will kill you.'" The politicians were accompanied by ten to fifteen police during their visit.  The other eight arrestees eventually dropped the case.  Khandagale was later summoned by the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Usmanabad district.  When he arrived he found over twenty upper-caste villagers in the SP's office. 
In front of them he scolded me and said, "Why are you causing trouble and agitating the Dalits?"  "You fool," he said, "Why are you creating trouble between the two groups?"  I asked him not to swear at me and said, "You are threatening the people that need your protection, and you are insulting me in front of them [upper-caste villagers]."  Then he kicked me out of the office.  I came home and wrote down everything that happened and sent him the letter.  I asked, "If you talk against me and pressure me in front of the upper caste then what's to keep them from killing me?"
He also sent the letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  The SP eventually apologized for his behavior, but the upper castes continued with their threats.  Only after appeals to the chief minister was Khandagale granted police protection, which continued for three years.  Police presence also put an end to the upper-caste social boycott in the village, and the village temple is now open to all Dalits.  Khandagale is the only one who goes in, "[t]he others are too afraid."  The woman who sustained head injuries from the 1992 stone throwing was ultimately persuaded to drop all charges.  In 1994, the water supply to the temple was disrupted.  The upper-caste villagers attributed the problem to the presence of "untouchables" in the temple.   At the time of the Human Rights Watch interview in January 1998, Khandagale continued to be harassed by the police and threatened by upper-caste villagers for his organizing activities. 
Vivek Pandit of the NGO Samarthan, who has provided legal literacy training to these and other Maharashtra activists, had seventeen charges pending against him as of December 1998.  At one point, he had to appeal to the High Court to get back his passport, it had been impounded by the state government to keep him from leaving the country.   In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Pandit claimed that the district administration and the police were using laws to "torture and stamp out Dalit leaders."  Pandit has been actively involved in the case of a man named Digambar who, at the time of his interview with Human Rights Watch, was fighting an externment (banishment) order from his village "for creating a nuisance and disrupting law and order."  Upon receiving his externment notice, Digambar sent a thirteen-point response to district officials.  Portions of the response, translated from Marathi, are provided below:
I am a scheduled-caste youth working for my people.  I am organizing scheduled castes as per fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution, including the right to freedom of association.  Because of my work, some casteist elements are bound to get angry.  I have never committed any crimes of a serious nature.  You are a representative of the state and have a duty to protect scheduled castes under the constitution.  Instead, how can you issue [a notice against] me?  The government has to abide by law and not get pressurized by the upper caste.  Officers are violating fundamental rights, and now you are too.  My duty is to uphold these rights.  I am going to mobilize and organize against offenses.  If the cases I have registered are false, where is the proof?..  Kindly withdraw the notice.
At the time of the interview, Digambar was awaiting the district administration's response. 

Human Rights Watch came across several other cases of police harassment of NGO activists, ranging from periodic police visits, to arrests and charges of aiding and abetting in various crimes or interfering in police investigations. 

V. T. Rajshekar is the editor of Dalit Voice, India's most widely circulated Dalit journal.  Prior to running the journal, he was a journalist with Indian Express for twenty-five years.  Rajshekar has often come under attack for his writings.  In 1986 his passport was impounded because of "anti-Hinduism writings outside of India."  The same year, he was arrested in Bangalore under TADA:
The police came from Chandigarh and arrested me and took me to the Chandigarh jail for an editorial I wrote in Dalit Voice.  Another writer who republished the editorial was also arrested.  Then they came to me.  After fifteen days, after much Dalit agitation, I was released with an apology.
In addition to TADA, Rajshekar has also been arrested under the Sedition Act and under the Indian Penal Code for creating disaffection between communities-all for his writings.  He has also endured attempts on his life and has been placed on the Home Ministry's "dangerous persons list."
Gilbert Rodrigo, a member of the Tamil Nadu-based NGO Legal Resources for Social Action told Human Rights Watch that he was "visited" by members of the police special branch each year.  They inquire about the sources of his organization's funding and how the money is spent.  Nicholas, a member of the Integrated Rural Development Society, who organizes Dalits in Tamil Nadu to register cases under the Atrocities Act, has been charged three times under Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code for aiding and abetting Dalits in their alleged crimes.  According to Nicholas, the use of Section 107 "is an attempt by the state to divert us from our work.  You have to go very far for the hearings.  They make you run around.  It is mental torture."  Martin Macwan and his team of 180 social workers provide legal aid and training to Dalits in Gujarat.  His organization, Navsarjan, has also led a state-wide campaign to abolish the practice of manual scavenging.  Many of his team members have been charged under the Criminal Procedure Code for disturbing police investigations.  

Watch a short video on caste discrimination

Caste discrimination is based on a caste system where those born into the lowest castes, who call themselves Dalits, are treated as subhuman and ‘untouchables’. There are an estimated 260 million people affected by caste discrimination worldwide. They are often forced to live, eat and work in segregation from the rest of society and their basic human rights are severely restricted. They suffer violence, rape, public humiliation and murder, without being able to gain justice through the police or courts. Caste discrimination is particularly widespread in South Asia, but caste-related discrimination exists in diaspora communities, Japan, Yemen and in a number of African countries.

Despite being outlawed in many caste-affected countries caste discrimination persists, as those who are meant to implement the laws are simply not doing this effectively, if at all. The situation therefore remains desperate and has created one of the world’s largest human rights issues. It is imperative that the world react and take a stand against caste discrimination. 

If you are a journalist?

Take sustained action: Include caste discrimination in your reporting Find material on caste discrimination and consider the dynamics of caste discrimination when you report. Quote affected communities and investigate whether those responsible have lived up to their responsibilities.

Use our network and resourcesMake use of the resources and Photos provided by ISDN.  If you need photos and live pictures to accompany your story have a look at photo and video archive of ISDN. For an angle from Europe or for contacts in caste-affected countries look at the list below or contact
( courtsey: International Dalit Solidarity Network ·Fælledvej 12, 3rd Floor · DK-2200 Copenhagen N · Denmark · Tel: +45 60 43 34 32 · E-mail: Find documents

Dalit girls working under slave like conditions in India’s garment industry
  Multinational clothing brands are sourcing from cotton spinning mills in Tamil Nadu that exploit teenage girls, subjecting them to what the ILO terms the ‘worst forms of child labour’.
 The girls are not offered fair wages and work towards a promise of being paid a dowry (lump sum to help in getting married), made up of withheld wages, after three years employment. The scheme is called the ‘Sumangali Scheme’ and it is not uncommon that at the end of the three years the girls are not paid and have effectively been used as slaves. Even when the girl’s are paid, the wages are below the minimum wage and the working conditions so hazardous that many girls must use any money they make to pay for their medical bills.
  These are some of the key findings in the report ‘Captured by Cotton’ released  by the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).
The report states that about 60% of the girls exploited under the ‘Sumangali Scheme’ are Dalits. Because of rampant caste discrimination deeming Dalits polluted and ‘untouchable’, young Dalit girls are often so limited in their choice of occupation that they have no alternatives to accepting the conditions offered by the spinning mills and the recruiters also lure girls with false promises. These girls are often illiterate and therefore do not know what it is they are signing when signing a contract.
The girls are often forced to work very long hours and are not allowed to leave the factory premises or hostel. SOMO and ICN write in a press release that the situation including excessive overwork, restricted freedom of movement, lack of privacy, no possibility to lodge complaints, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions etc. fits the definition of ‘worst forms of child labour’ as laid out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The report includes a list of the multinational brands sourcing from the spinning mills who use or have used the Sumangali Scheme, features interviews with girls who have worked under this scheme and descriptions of the terrible labour conditions in the mills.
  • Caste discrimination in business operations

    Business operations in caste-affected countries are at a high risk of being based on the economic exploitation or seclusion of caste-affected communities and others at the "low" end of the caste hierarchy.
    Violations of both national legislation as well as international law, in particular the international labour standards, often occur.
    Common examples of caste discrimination in business operations are:
    • Exploitation of workers from caste-affected communities, including the use of children and bonded labourers (debt slaves), working under hazardous conditions for a minimal pay
    • Discrimination in employment practices - applicants from caste-affected communities never considered for skilled jobs
    • Discrimination in the services and utilities offered by an employer, such as housing, health care, and education and training
    • Misappropriation of land belonging or allocated to caste-affected communities
    How can your company avoid complicity?
  • If your company is either directly operating in or sourcing from a caste-affected country, your company could be complicit in the discrimination and exploitation of caste affected communities. Several tools exist to help you assess your business operations and remedy any harm done:
    > The Dalit Discrimination Check is a web-tool developed specifically to help companies identify and prevent discrimination and exploitation of Dalits in their Indian operations and suppliers. It is designed as a comprehensive checklist  with self-guided questions and indicators of possible violations of national Indian law and international law. It has been developed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IDSN and the Danish Institute for Human Rights as part of their Human Rights and Business Project.
    > The Ambedkar Principles are developed to assist foreign investors in South Asia. They include a set of employment principles as well as a set of additional principles adressing economic and social exclusion of Dalits.
    > ISO 26000 on Caste Discrimination. Caste discrimination has now been highlighted by the widely recognised standard - the ISO 26000 on social responsibility.
    > Read the IDSN submission to the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises on the first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights in connection with the public consultation on The Forum on Human Rights and Business in May 2012.
  • UN reviews by caste-affected countries

    IDSN facilitates the submission of shadow reports and supports joint NGO statements to several UN human rights bodies, including the Human Rights Council, UPR, UN treaty bodies, Special Rapporteurs and the Durban Review Conference. The outcomes are monitored and documented by IDSN, as for example compiled in the comprehensive compilation of UN references to caste discrimination by human rights bodies.
    Click on the links below or search in IDSN's database to access relevant UN-related publications, statements, reports and resolutions prepared in relation to different countries and UN mechanisms.
    Country :
    UN mechanisms:
    • UN Principles and Guidelines - Online version
  • Read the full text of the Preamble Read the full text on Special Measures
    Download a print version published by IDSN
    1. The principles and guidelines concerning discrimination based on work and descent apply equally to all States and to all local, national, sub-regional, regional, and international governmental and non-governmental bodies.
    2. Discrimination based on work and descent is any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on inherited status such as caste, including present or ancestral occupation, family, community or social origin, name, birth place, place of residence, dialect and accent that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, or any other field of public life.  This type of discrimination is typically associated with the notion of purity and pollution and practices of untouchability, and is deeply rooted in societies and cultures where this discrimination is practiced.
    3. Special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of affected groups and individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups or individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall not be deemed discrimination based on work and descent, provided, however, that such measures do not, as a consequence, lead to the maintenance of separate rights for different groups and that they shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved. (2)
    4. Discrimination based on work and descent is a form of discrimination prohibited by international human rights law as proclaimed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, inter alia, by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Labour Organization Convention No. 111. (3)
    5. Discrimination based on work and descent and other forms of discrimination are not only human rights violations but also major obstacles to achieving development. Inequalities inevitably diminish development gains and are among root causes of armed conflicts. Ineffective allocation of human resources due to discrimination based on work and descent distorts the labour market and affects the efficiency of an economy.
    6. In addressing the problem of discrimination based on work and descent, special care should be taken to address the situation of women, children, the sick or disabled, the aged and people living below the poverty line. (4)
    7. All States have a duty to acknowledge the existence of discrimination based on work and descent, to take all necessary constitutional, legislative, administrative, budgetary, judicial and educational measures to eliminate and prevent discrimination based on work and descent in their respective territories and to respect, protect, promote, implement and monitor the human rights of those facing discrimination based on work and descent. All persons of affected communities have the right to enjoy, on an equal footing with others, all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including but not limited to: (5)
    • The right to physical security and life and the right to be free from violence;
    • The right to equal political participation;
    • The right to fair access to justice;
    • The right to own land;
    • The right to equal access to public and social services;
    • The right to freedom of religion;
    • The right to marriage on free will
    • The right to education;
    • The right to cultural identity;
    • The right to equal opportunity and free choice of employment;
    • The right to equal, just and favorable conditions of work;
    • The right to be free from forced or bonded labour;
    • The right to be free from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment;
    • The right to health;
    • The right to adequate food, water, sanitation, clothing and housing;
    8. All States have a duty to make sincere efforts to dispel the prejudicial beliefs that constitute, support and reinforce discrimination based on work and descent, including notions of untouchability, pollution and caste superiority or inferiority, as well as to prevent actions taken on the basis of such beliefs.
    9. Regional and international bodies, including United Nations bodies and regional inter-governmental bodies, and national and international civil society, including private sector actors such as corporations, schools, hospitals, labour unions, agricultural associations and media practitioners, should provide assistance to efforts toward the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent.

  • General measures
    10. National and local governments should take all necessary constitutional, legislative, administrative, budgetary and judicial measures, including appropriate forms of affirmative actions and public education programmes, to prevent, prohibit and provide redress for discrimination based on work and descent in both public and private spheres; and ensure that such measures are respected and implemented by all State authorities at all levels.
    11. National and local governments should take specific and effective measures to implement laws regarding discrimination based on work and descent including affirmative action.
    12. National and local governments should take proper measures to protect affected communities against acts of discrimination and violence, and measures to end impunity for violence against members of affected communities.
    13. National and local governments should establish time-bound programmes to enforce the abolition of untouchability and segregation. Legal and judicial mechanisms should be established and enforced including by effectively punishing acts of “untouchability.” Governments should introduce and apply special measures to address the persistence of social norms of purity and pollution.
    14. National and local governments should explicitly prohibit by law discrimination based on work and descent, and explicitly provide for criminal and civil remedies in cases of violation.  Criminal and civil sanctions should explicitly apply not only to direct violations but also to complicity or aiding and abetting by other actors, including but not limited to corporations and public officials.
    15. National and local governments should  repeal all existing laws and regulations that directly or indirectly discriminate on the basis of work and descent, including but not limited to laws restricting voting or land ownership rights based on caste or analogous systems.
    16. National and local governments should adopt comprehensive plans of action, including specific budgetary measures and create an office to implement and coordinate such plans of action, for the effective elimination of discrimination based on work and descent.
    17. National human rights institutions and specialized institutions should be given power to specifically address the problems faced by affected communities. Governments of affected countries should ensure that, where they exist, national human rights institutions and specialized commissions can act independently and effectively in protecting the interest of people affected by discrimination based on work and descent by providing adequate financial, statutory and personnel support. Where such institutions and specialized commissions do not exist, they should be established. Governments should, unless better solutions are found, implement the recommendations of specialized commissions, national human rights institutions and other relevant commissions on measures to eliminate discrimination based on work and descent; and intergovernmental agencies, including UN human rights bodies and agencies, should take note of such recommendations and where necessary provide technical assistance in support of their implementation.
    18. In order to achieve not only de jure but also de facto equality and non-discrimination for those facing discrimination based on work and descent, national and local governments should take positive measures to improve the conditions of affected communities, such as special measures for the purpose of securing adequate advancement of affected groups and individuals requiring such protection as may be necessary in order to ensure such groups or individuals equal enjoyment or exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms  in education and employment. (7)
    19. Governments should ensure that timely reporting is submitted to all relevant United Nations treaty bodies, giving disaggregated data on discrimination based on work and descent.
  • Special measures
    Read the full text on special measures
    The draft Principles and Guidelines contain recommendations on the implementation of the following special measures:

Caste discrimination

Caste systems are a form of social and economic governance that is based on principles and customary rules:
  • Caste systems involve the division of people into social groups (castes) where assignments of rights are determined by birth, are fixed and hereditary.
  • The assignment of basic rights among various castes is unequal and hierarchical, with those at the top enjoying most rights coupled with least duties and those at the bottom performing most duties coupled with no rights.
  • The system is maintained through the rigid enforcement of social ostracism (a system of social and economic penalties) in case of any deviations.
The doctrine of inequality is at the core of the caste system.
Those who fall outside the caste system are considered “lesser human beings”, “impure” and thus “polluting” to other caste groups. They are known to be “untouchable” and subjected to so-called "untouchability practices" in both public and private spheres.
"Untouchables" are often forcibly assigned the most dirty, menial and hazardous jobs, such as cleaning human waste. The work they do adds to the stigmatisation they face from the surrounding society. 
The exclusion of ‘caste-affected communities’ by other groups in society and the inherent structural inequality in these social relationships lead to high levels of poverty among affected population groups and exclusion from, or reduced benefits from development processes, and generally precludes their involvement in decision making and meaningful participation in public and civil life.
The division of a society into castes is a global phenomenon not exclusively practised within any particular religion or belief system. 
In South Asia, caste discrimination is traditionally rooted in the Hindu caste system. Supported by philosophical elements, the caste system constructs the moral, social and legal foundations of Hindu society. Dalits are ‘outcastes’ or people who fall outside the four-fold caste system consisting of the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Sudra. Dalits are also referred to as Panchamas or people of the fifth order. However caste systems and the ensuing caste discrimination have spread into Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and Sikh communities. 
Caste systems are also found in Africa, other parts of Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and in Diaspora communities around the world. In Japan association is made with Shinto beliefs concerning purity and impurity, and in marginalized African groups the justification is based on myths.
Caste discrimination affects approximately 260 million people worldwide, the vast majority living in South Asia.  
Caste discrimination involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It is often outlawed in countries affected by it, but a lack of implementation of legislation and caste-bias within the justice systems largely leave Dalits without protection. 

Establishing Dalit Rights in the Contemporary World;
the Role of Governments, the United Nations
and the Private Sector
November 29 – December 1 2004
Kathmandu, Nepal
The Participants to the International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination:
RECOGNIZING that caste discrimination
 affects, in its most severe forms, at least 260 million people worldwide and is particularly acute in South Asia, Africa, and Japan, 
RECALLING the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights according to which all human beings are born free and equal
in dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms therein without distinction of any kind, including race, colour,
sex, language, religion, social origin, birth or other status,
RECALLING the terms of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights according
to which it is the duty of States, regardless of political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect all human rights
and fundamental freedoms,
RECALLING the condemnation of discrimination against persons of Asian and African descent and indigenous and other forms
of descent in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,
RECALLING also General Recommendation XXIX on descent-based discrimination of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial
RECOGNIZING the relevance of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 111) for Dalit
 Human Rights, 
HIGHLIGHTING the reinforcing relationship between poverty, landlessness, and caste discrimination,
AFFIRMING the need for the full implementation of the Millennium Development Goals as key mechanisms for the elimination
of extreme poverty and the fulfilment of other rights-based human needs. 
FULLY SUPPORTING Resolution 2004/17 of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to appoint two Rapporteurs with the task of preparing a comprehensive study on discrimination based on work and descent,
SUPPORTING also the U.N. Sub-Commission Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business
Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights,
CONSCIOUS OF the difficulties faced by Nepal’s Dalits who represent a significant sector of Nepal’s population and economy, and
who are being caught in the crossfire of the conflict being waged in the country,
RECOMMEND that concerned governments, international and national human rights bodies, U.N. and aid agencies, the European
Union, donor countries, international financial institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations adopt the
following measures:
1.  The term “caste discrimination” as used in the Declaration, is meant to cover discrimination based on work and descent and analogous forms of discrimination.
2. The term “Dalit”, as used in this Declaration, is meant to encompass Dalits, outcasts and other communities discriminated against on the basis of work and descent.1. To Governments in Caste-Affected Countries:
In particular, we call on concerned governments to:
Constitutional, Legislative and Judicial Measures
1. Ensure that all necessary constitutional, legislative and administrative measures, including appropriate forms of affirmative
action and public education programs, are in place to prevent, prohibit and redress caste-based discrimination, and that such
measures are respected and implemented by all state authorities at all levels. 
2. Establish a program and timetable to enforce the abolition of “untouchability”, segregation, manual scavenging and similar
practices. In both public and private sectors, Dalits and other outcaste communities should have full access to employment
opportunities; agricultural land; credit; adequate housing; health; and common property resources, such as forest and water
resources.  Similar programs should also be established to counter existing cultural exclusion and social discrimination, such as
the separation of Dalit children in schools and the social exclusion of inter-caste couples.  National surveys should be conducted
on a regular basis to assess the effectiveness of such programs.
3. Ensure that, where they exist, national human rights institutions, women’s commissions, minority commissions and Dalit
commissions can act independently and effectively in protecting the interests of all people affected by caste discrimination by
providing adequate financial, statutory and personnel support. Establish such institutions in caste-affected countries where
they do not already exist. 
4. Take special measures to guarantee that members of Dalit and other outcaste communities enjoy the rights to vote, stand for
election and have due representation in government and legislative bodies, revenue administration, the police, and the judiciary.  Dalit women should be proportionally represented. 
5. Ensure greater participation by Dalits in civil administration. Priority should be given to the administration of justice, particularly in key institutions such as the police and the judiciary.
6. End the culture of impunity for atrocities against Dalits through strict enforcement of relevant penal codes and legislation. 
Prosecute and condemn those responsible for incidents of caste-based discrimination, segregation, exploitation and violence.
7. Monitor and publicize the extent to which existing laws and rulings to end caste discrimination, including untouchability, have
been implemented.
8. Repeal national security and anti-terrorism laws that are contrary to the due process norms of international law.  Ensure that
anti-terrorism measures do not discriminate against anyone on any ground, including caste, and are not used against human
rights defenders, including Dalit rights activists. 
9. Uphold human rights obligations, even in the face of national security concerns.  In particular, cease diversion of state resources away from social and development programs for vulnerable communities.
10. Ensure that Dalit human rights defenders are able to carry out their mandates effectively without any illegal or arbitrary
interference or intimidation by the government or other forces in society.
11. Take the necessary steps to secure equal access to the justice system for all members of descent-based communities, including by providing legal aid, facilitating of group claims and encouraging non-governmental organisations to defend individual
and peoples’ rights.
12. Reform criminal justice systems to ensure that Dalits at the local level have an independent complaints mechanism freely
available to them in cases of police torture, other abuses or general failures to uphold justice.
13. Implement the recommendations of national HR institutions and other relevant national commissions on measures to eliminate caste-based discrimination.
Gender Equity and Violence against Women
14. Take adequate measures to address abuses particular to Dalit women and girls who suffer multiple discrimination on the
basis of caste, class and gender. Ensure the representation of Dalit women in relevant institutions referenced in this Declaration
and evolve a comprehensive development policy focused on Dalit women as a special category.   
15. Take action to eradicate trafficking, forced and ritual prostitution of Dalit girls and women; take measures to address sexual
exploitation and domestic violence, including early marriage and sexual violence in marriage, against Dalit women and girls.
16. Amend discriminatory laws regarding birth and marriage registration, and citizenship laws that confer citizenship to children solely on the basis of their father’s identity.
Media and Public Awareness
17. Take special affirmative measures to promote due representation in the mass media of members of Dalits and other disadvantaged groups, including women.
18. Carry out sensitisation campaigns and awareness-raising programs with media representatives.
19. Liaise with media outlets to profile and publicize abuses faced by caste-affected communities, including acts of violence,
discriminatory social and customary practices and exploitation of labour.
Policy Reform and Access to Land, Education, Health, Housing and Common Resources
20. Enact land reform legislation that includes land distribution clauses to counter the pervasive landlessness of Dalits, a major-ity of whom are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. 
21. Amend and enforce existing land reform legislation to prevent land alienation and ensure development of land belonging to
Dalits through, among other things, greater access to credit and markets.
22. Introduce measures to combat homelessness and discrimination in tenancy, particularly in urban areas.
23. With the involvement of and input from civil society organisations, launch nationwide public awareness campaigns regarding legal prohibitions on caste discrimination. These campaigns should explain in simple terms what actions are legally prohibited and what recourse is available to victims of such discrimination and abuse. Enlist the support of civil society groups in such
campaigns.  Ensure removal of prejudicial content from textbooks and other teaching resources and methodologies. 
24. Enlist the support of school teachers, social workers, law enforcement officials, government employees, the private sector
and other relevant actors to undertake active training and sensitization programs against caste discrimination.  Include a social
justice education component in the curricula from primary to tertiary levels as well as in all teacher training programs. Implement the U.N.’s World Program on Human Rights Education in primary and secondary schools with a particular focus on caste
25. Ensure the inclusion of all Dalit children in free, full-time formal quality education from primary level until the completion
of elementary level. All working and other out-of-school children up to 15 years of age, including Dalit children, should have
the right and opportunities to enter and finish a formal elementary education through the provision of transitional educational
support such as bridging classes and courses.
26. Introduce mid-day meal schemes in all public schools and ensure non-discriminatory access.  Where meal schemes exist,
ensure that Dalit children are not denied access to these meals and that Dalit cooks are employed by the schools in the preparation of the meals. 
27. Ensure greater participation by Dalits and other outcaste communities in educational institutions after finishing elementary
28. Introduce social justice and human rights education, including principles of non-discrimination, in public schools
29. Enact equality laws that prohibit public and private employer discrimination on the basis of caste.  Require affirmative action
programmes in the public and private sector and set up appropriate monitoring and reporting systems. 
30. Take necessary steps to remove the customary constraints on leaving traditional caste-based occupations and promote
more gainful alternative employment opportunities for Dalits. Increase access to finance and marketing to enable Dalits to set
up enterprises.  Improve functional literacy, for Dalit women and girls in particular, so they may engage in both skilled labour
and entrepreneurship.
31. Enact and enforce legislation guaranteeing decent work, a living wage, labour rights, and access to land for Dalits and other
exploited or oppressed communities, particularly in the informal economy
Development Planning and Implementation
32. Ensure that government programs are designed in consultation with Dalits and other marginalized communities at both the
state and central government levels.  In particular, infrastructure projects in the areas of water and sanitation, irrigation, rural
roads and electricity should actively involve Dalit community members to ensure access to basic services.
33. Pay particular attention to the needs of Dalit and other outcaste communities in the devising and implementation of strategies and plans to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To this end, disaggregate the data on progress achieved
on each and every MDG for Dalits.
34. Include Dalit groups and other civil society groups in discussions on priorities for engagement with the World Bank and Asian
Development Bank.
35. Allocate adequate funding for programs for the socio-economic and educational support of communities that have faced
discrimination on the basis of caste or descent. Actively involve caste-affected communities in the formulation and monitoring
of these programs.
36. Strongly support initiatives to promote and enhance the fight against caste discrimination in all relevant United Nations and
related fora, including U.N. human rights bodies, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World
Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 
37. Support efforts at the 61st session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 2005 to adopt the draft decision contained
in resolution 2004/17 of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to appoint two Rapporteurs
with the task of preparing a comprehensive study on discrimination based on work and descent.  Cooperate fully with the appointed Rapporteurs.
38. Ratify (or accede to) and fully implement provisions of the U.N. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination (ICERD).  Make a declaration under Article 14 of the Convention recognizing the jurisdiction of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) over individual and group complaints regarding violations of any rights
under the Convention committed by a State party.  Ensure timely submission of state reports to the Committee. 
39. Implement without delay recommendations contained in CERD’s General Recommendation XXIX on descent-based discrimination, including those on the administration of justice, civil and political rights, economic and social rights, the right to educa-tion, and the dissemination of hate speech
. Duly implement recommendations on descent-based discrimination addressed to
governments by CERD following consideration of state reports due under the Convention. Include in periodic reports all followup measures taken to implement CERD’s General Recommendation XXIX.
40. Promote the call for the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on Caste Discrimination by the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights.  Extend invitations to and cooperate with all relevant Special Rapporteurs to investigate caste-based abuses specific to
their respective mandates. 
41. Ratify and implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (including its Optional Protocol), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (including its Optional Protocol), the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (including its Optional Protocol), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
Cooperate fully with the treaty bodies set up to monitor these covenants and conventions.
42. Review and make effective time-bound action plans for the implementation of all ILO Conventions and domestic laws pertaining to labour rights, bonded and child labour, and manual scavenging. 
2. To National Human Rights Institutions and Other National Commissions
43. Ensure affected community representation, including women, in the membership and staff of national human rights institutions, women’s commissions, minority commissions, and Dalit commissions. Where relevant, establish state-level branches for
these institutions and commissions. 
44. Create a core group of NGOs to assist in the commissions’ work and ensure Dalit NGO representation in this group. 
45. Ensure that the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APFNHRI) discusses specific strategies to fight
caste discrimination.  The NGO Forum of the APFNHRI should include representation from caste-affected communities.
3. To U.N. Human Rights Bodies
46. Take every opportunity to raise the issue of caste and descent-based discrimination with relevant governments and encourage enactment and implementation of laws against the violations of human rights of members of Dalit communities, including laws prohibiting manual scavenging, bonded labour, caste-based violence and other abusive practices.
Commission on Human Rights and its Special Procedures
47. The Commission on Human Rights should adopt the draft decision contained in the resolution 2004/17 of the Sub-Commission
on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to appoint two Rapporteurs with the task of preparing a comprehensive study
on discrimination based on work and descent, and call upon States to extend all necessary cooperation to the Rapporteurs.
48. The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism should continue to raise the issue of caste discrimination in their
reports, make specific recommendations to concerned governments, and continue to request government invitations for official visits to the respective countries.
49. All relevant Special Rapporteurs should pay particular attention to the plight of Dalits in a manner relevant to their respective mandates. 
50. The Commission on Human Rights should appoint a Special Rapporteur on Caste Discrimination and declare in a resolution
that caste-based discrimination is prohibited by international law, and call upon all concerned States to the take necessary measures for its elimination.
51. Support the U.N. Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to
Human Rights and promote its development into an international instrument that is binding on companies in order to ensure,
within their sphere of influence, their accountability and liability with regard to the realisation of human rights. 
Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
52. The Sub-Commission’s prospective Rapporteurs on discrimination based on work and descent should be provided with all
the necessary support and resources required to carry out their mandate.
53. Subject to confirmation of the Rapporteurs’ mandate by the Commission on Human Rights, priority should be given to the
formulation of the requested Principles and Guidelines for the Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent. 
Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies
54. Treaty monitoring bodies - in particular the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the
Rights of the Child, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women, the Human Rights Committee, and the Committee Against Torture - should pay particular attention to human
rights violations against Dalits when examining the periodic reports of concerned countries, and should take into account the
recommendations contained in this Declaration when formulating their Concluding Observations, Comments and Recommendations. 
4. To the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies
55. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights should help
3.  See Appendix B.ensure that all U.N. agencies working in caste-affected countries pay particular attention to the issue of caste violence and discrimination. 
56. Assess the impact of existing programs in caste-affected countries with regard to caste discrimination. Develop social, economic, educational and health programs and strategies designed to curb abuse and encourage accountability.
57. All U.N. agencies should build partnerships with Dalit organisations and establish consultative mechanisms to seek Dalit NGO
input into project design and evaluation.  All U.N. agencies should incorporate an analysis of caste into poverty reduction strategies and ensure that all data is disaggregated on the basis of caste and gender. 
58. In its programs on HIV/AIDS, the UNDP should ensure that Dalit children are not discriminated against in their access to
health and education.  UNDP Annual Development Reports should include caste disaggregated data and analyses on patterns
of discrimination.
59. All U.N. agencies should implement affirmative action measures in order to proportionately employ Dalits, including women, in all development activities.
60. In its forthcoming Global Report on non-discrimination as one the four fundamental labour rights, the ILO should conduct a
thorough analysis of the impact of caste discrimination on labour.  The report should include a specific plan of action to address
and eradicate caste discrimination in the labour force, forced and bonded labour, and child labour, including a gender analysis.
The ILO should work closely with its social partners to eradicate caste discrimination at the national level.
61. Undertake assessments of UN recruitment policy and practice in relevant country offices to ensure non-discrimination of
Dalits and other caste affected and marginalised groups.
5. To Bilateral Aid Agencies
62. Promote the inclusion of marginalized groups such as Dalits into the consultation and design of programs.
63. Provide political and financial support for programs of the United Nations and regional bodies to assist countries seeking to
eradicate caste discrimination.
64. Provide assistance for Dalit groups at the community level to participate in the planning of infrastructure and other government programs to ensure equal access by Dalits.
65. Take every opportunity to raise the issue of caste discrimination with caste-affected country officials, and encourage enactment and implementation of relevant laws against caste-based abuses.  
66. Support civil society initiatives, including those led by Dalit organisations, that seek to eliminate caste-based discrimination.
67. Implement affirmative action measures in order to proportionately employ Dalits, including women, in all development
6. To the European Union (Member States, the Council, the Commission and the Parliament)
68. Open up political and human rights dialogue with caste-affected countries on caste discrimination and ensure the effectiveness of EU Human Rights policy in this respect by ensuring that the issue forms a central part of Ministerial-level dialogues.
69. Ensure that caste-discrimination and its consequences are effectively analyzed and included in EU country strategy papers,
reports, recommendations, resolutions, mid-term reviews and communications on affected countries. 
70. Ensure that EU development programmes in affected countries are designed to assist national Governments to counter
existing inequalities and specifically eradicate caste discrimination, and monitor the results.
71. The EU must promote and support initiatives to address caste-based discrimination in all relevant United Nations fora, including the adoption of the U.N. Sub-Commission’s resolution 2004/17 by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights at its forthcoming session in March/April 2005. 
72. Include references to and recommendations for the elimination of caste-based discrimination in all relevant EU statements,
resolutions, working papers, declarations and programs of action pertaining to relevant agenda items in the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights, the General Assembly’s Third Committee, and in the follow up to the World Conference against
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
73. As part of its policies on corporate social responsibility, encourage and provide incentives for private companies with EU
origin operating in caste-affected countries to adopt and implement the Ambedkar Principles

74. Assess the impact of trade, investment relations, and cooperation programs between EU and caste-affected countries on
those suffering from caste discrimination.  Formulate recommendations to make these programmes non-detrimental and more
beneficial to Dalits.
7. To Donor Countries
75. Fulfil commitments made under Millennium Development Goal 8 to build a global partnership for development.  Specifically
work with national governments to address the elimination of caste discrimination as pivotal to the achievement of the MDGs 1
to 7 in caste-affected countries and undertake regular reporting.
76. Fulfil the human rights obligations of international cooperation as found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
U.N. Charter and the ICESCR, toward the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights in developed and developing countries.  In this regard, provide financial support to the U.N. World Program on Human Rights Education in primary and secondary
4. The Ambedkar Principles: Employment Principles to Assist Foreign Investors to Address Caste Discrimination in South Asia, are attached as Appendix A. schools and promote inclusion of caste discrimination in the curricula. 
77. Be mindful that the obligation of States to protect economic, social and cultural rights extend also to their participation in
international organisations, where they act collectively, such as the World Trade Organisation and international financial institutions.  It is particularly important for States to use their influence to ensure that violations and discrimination such as castebased discrimination do not result from the programmes and policies of the organisations of which they are members. 
8. To the World Bank and Asian Development Bank
78. Incorporate an analysis of caste exclusion into Corporate Social Development Strategies.  For policy-based lending ensure
that Poverty and Social Assessments (PSIA), carried out before loans are approved, include investigations of how the proposed
policy changes will affect Dalit men and women, and their livelihoods.  For sector investments or project loans ensure that the
social analysis covers Dalit issues, and that measures to ensure equal benefits to Dalits - as well as women, indigenous peoples
and other disadvantaged groups - are included in the Vulnerable Communities Development Plan (VDCP).
79. As part of their commitment to good governance, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, as well as other international
lending institutions, should, together with the governments concerned, establish an ongoing dialogue with Dalit NGOs and
representatives of other marginalized groups at all stages of the decision-making process, i.e. before a loan is released, whilst a
project is being implemented, and in the course of any post-project evaluation.
80. In the design of infrastructure programs, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank should ensure that concerned governments consult with Dalit and other marginalized groups, particularly women, to promote access to water, food, sanitation, land,
rural transport, irrigation and social infrastructure. 
81. With regard to basic services in health and education, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank should design an accountability framework that allows Dalit and other civil society groups to monitor access to these services. 
9. To the Private Sector including Transnational Corporations
82. All companies investing in or operating in caste-affected countries should support and implement the U.N. Norms on the
Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights, as well as sign the
more general Global Compact, and implement changes in their business practices consistent with its principles.
83. Companies from OECD countries, should also implement the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Guidelines for Multinationals and other Enterprises, whilst all companies should implement the principles contained in
the ILO Tripartite Declaration.
84. Adopt specific policies pertaining to human rights and ensure that, within your sphere of influence, these principles are also
implemented by all suppliers and business partners.
85. Ensure that infrastructure investments are carried out in consultation with marginalized groups, including Dalits, and prioritise access of these groups to the fruits of these investments. 
86. Ensure compliance with nationally mandated affirmative action programs.  Where no such programs exist, companies should
voluntarily institute and implement affirmative action programs for Dalits.
87. As a specific development of the above, adopt and implement the Ambedkar Principles (see Appendix A). The Ambedkar
Principles are employment principles to assist foreign investors to address caste discrimination in South Asia. They are intended
to acknowledge and compensate for historic injustices against Dalits through affirmative action and the norms of non-discrimination and labour rights that are in line with international human rights standards
10. To Non-Governmental Organisations
88. Include documentation on caste-based abuses and analysis of caste-based discrimination in reporting on caste-affected
countries. Where appropriate, include critical assessments of the effectiveness of national policies and legislation addressing
caste discrimination.  Documentation of the plight of communities discriminated against on the basis of work and descent in
Africa, Latin America, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is sorely lacking and much needed.  
89. Pay particular attention to the intersection of gender, class and caste discrimination as it affects Dalit and other outcaste
90. Give due attention to the nexus between caste discrimination and other forms of human rights violations such as torture,
gender-based violence, modern forms of slavery including child and bonded labour, denial of equal treatment before the law,
and deprivations of livelihood, food, water, healthcare, education, housing and land.
91. Plan for the reduction and elimination of caste-based discrimination and violence through development programming and
monitor the impact of such programs.
92. Implement public awareness-raising and education campaigns to promote positive change in public attitudes and practices
vis-à-vis members of communities affected by caste discrimination.
93. Lobby and provide information to relevant U.N. bodies (including the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of
Human Rights, CERD and all relevant Special Rapporteurs) to increase their attention to the plight of Dalits and other caste-affected communities, and encourage the creation of social, economic, cultural and political programs to help overcome historic
94. Lobby governments to implement CERD General Recommendation XXIX as well as recommendations addressed to them fol-lowing consideration of state reports by CERD. 
95. Translate into national languages and disseminate widely CERD General Recommendation XXIX and CERD’s country-specific
recommendations.  Provide CERD’s Coordinator on Follow-up with information on the measures taken at the national level to
implement CERD’s country-specific recommendations on descent-based discrimination. 
96. Provide CERD and other relevant human rights treaty bodies with information on caste-based discrimination and encourage
them to review the implementation of ICERD and other relevant instruments even when governments fail to comply with their
reporting obligations.
97. Raise awareness among international aid agencies, the private sector, transnational corporations, and governments on the
prevalence of caste discrimination and recommend appropriate interventions similar to those outlined in this document. 
98. Develop and implement staff policies that will ensure the maximum participation of Dalits at all levels within domestic and
international NGOs. Ensure that Dalits, including women, are involved in all stages of relevant projects, including planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.  Appendix A
Employment Principles to Assist Foreign Investors to Address Caste Discrimination in South Asia
The Signatories of these Principles, building on existing national anti-discrimination laws and policies and in the spirit of internationally recognized human rights will:
Include in any statement of employment policy a reference to the unacceptability of caste discrimination and a commitment to seeking to eliminate it;
Develop and implement a plan of affirmative action, where appropriate with specific reference to Dalit women, particularly where
Dalits are under-represented as employees in relation to the local population; 
Avoid any form of bonded or indentured labour and, as the victims of these are mostly Dalits, pay specific attention to the role that
caste relations might play in legitimising or covering up such forms of labour;
Use fair recruitment, selection and career development processes, with clear objective criteria, and ensure that these processes are
open to scrutiny from Dalit themselves as well as other civil society groups;
Take full responsibility for their workforce, both direct and sub-contracted, seeking to detect and remedy any caste discrimination in
employment conditions, wages, benefits or job security;
Evolve comprehensive training opportunities for employees and potential recruits from Dalit communities, integrated with other
staff where appropriate but separate if not, and with the aim of enabling them to fulfil their potential;
Designate a manager at appropriate level to carry out the policy, aimed at meeting business needs, maximising the benefits of a diverse workforce, and ensuring the policy, its monitoring and the related practices are carried through;
Develop effective monitoring and verification mechanisms of progress with effect to the above at the level of the individual company,
and also co-operate in monitoring at the levels of sector and the state, involving Dalit representatives, including women, in these
Publish annually a report on progress in implementing these Principles – preferably in relation to an appropriate section of the Annual
Report and appoint a specific board member with responsibility for oversight of this policy area. 
Ensure that all corporate support to community development programmes and other charitable activities in caste-affected countries
or areas includes the participation of Dalits and assures their at least equal share in any benefits.
*These Principles were presented in draft form to the International Consultation on Caste-Based Discrimination held in Kathmandu between November
29 and December 1, 2004.  The International Dalit Solidarity Network hopes to receive comments and suggested amendments over a six-month period
and to adopt the Principles in final form in mid-2005.  Appendix B: General Recommendation XXIX on descent-based discrimination adopted by the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
General Recommendation XXIX
Article 1, paragraph 1, (Descent)
(Sixty-first session, 2002)
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,
RECALLING the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights according to which all human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms therein without distinction of any kind, including race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin, birth or other status,
RECALLING also the terms of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights according
to which it is the duty of States, regardless of political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect all human rights and
fundamental freedoms,
REAFFIRMING its general recommendation XXVIII in which the Committee expresses wholehearted support for the Durban Declaration
and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,
REAFFIRMING ALSO the condemnation of discrimination against persons of Asian and African descent and indigenous and other forms
of descent in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action,
BASING its action on the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination which
seeks to eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin,
CONFIRMING the consistent view of the Committee that the term “descent” in article 1, paragraph 1, the Convention does not solely
refer to “race” and has a meaning and application which complement the other prohibited grounds of discrimination,
STRONGLY REAFFIRMING that discrimination based on “descent” includes discrimination against members of communities based on
forms of social stratification such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of
human rights,
NOTING that the existence of such discrimination has become evident from the Committee’s examination of reports of a number of
States parties to the Convention,
HAVING ORGANIZED a thematic discussion on descent-based discrimination and received the contributions of members of the Committee, as well as contributions from some Governments and members of other United Nations bodies, notably experts of the SubCommission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights,
HAVING RECEIVED contributions from a great number of concerned non-governmental organisations and individuals, orally and
through written information, providing the Committee with further evidence of the extent and persistence of descent-based discrimination in different regions of the world,
CONCLUDING that fresh efforts need to be made as well as existing efforts intensified at the level of domestic law and practice to
eliminate the scourge of descent-based discrimination and empower communities affected by it,
COMMENDING the efforts of those States that have taken measures to eliminate descent-based discrimination and remedy its consequences,
STRONGLY ENCOURAGING those affected States that have yet to recognize and address this phenomenon to take steps to do so,
RECALLING the positive spirit in which the dialogues between the Committee and Governments have been conducted on the question
of descent-based discrimination and anticipating further such constructive dialogues,
ATTACHING THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE to its ongoing work in combating all forms of descent-based discrimination,
STRONGLY CONDEMNING descent-based discrimination, such as discrimination on the basis of caste and analogous systems of inherited status, as a violation of the Convention,
RECOMMENDS that the States parties, as appropriate for their particular circumstances, adopt some or all of the following measures: I. Measures of a general nature
1. Steps to identify those descent-based communities under their jurisdiction who suffer from discrimination, especially on the basis
of caste and analogous systems of inherited status, and whose existence may be recognized on the basis of various factors including
some or all of the following: inability or restricted ability to alter inherited status; socially enforced restrictions on marriage outside
the community; private and public segregation, including in housing and education, access to public spaces, places of worship and
public sources of food and water; limitation of freedom to renounce inherited occupations or degrading or hazardous work; subjection to debt bondage; subjection to dehumanizing discourses referring to pollution or untouchability; and generalized lack of respect
for their human dignity and equality;
2. Consider the incorporation of an explicit prohibition of descent-based discrimination in the national constitution;
3. Review and enact or amend legislation in order to outlaw all forms of discrimination based on descent in accordance with the Convention;
4. Resolutely implement legislation and other measures already in force;
5. Formulate and put into action a comprehensive national strategy with the participation of members of affected communities, including special measures in accordance with articles 1 and 2 of the Convention, in order to eliminate discrimination against members
of descent-based groups;
6. Adopt special measures in favour of descent-based groups and communities in order to ensure their enjoyment of human rights
and fundamental freedoms, in particular concerning access to public functions, employment and education;
2. Multiple discrimination against women members of descent-based communities
11. Take into account, in all programmes and projects planned and implemented and in measures adopted, the situation of women
members of the communities, as victims of multiple discrimination, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution;
12. Take all measures necessary in order to eliminate multiple discrimination including descent-based discrimination against women,
particularly in the areas of personal security, employment and education;
13. Provide disaggregated data for the situation of women affected by descent-based discrimination;
3. Segregation
14. Monitor and report on trends which give rise to the segregation of descent-based communities and work for the eradication of the
negative consequences resulting from such segregation;
15. Undertake to prevent, prohibit and eliminate practices of segregation directed against members of descent-based communities
including in housing, education and employment;
16. Secure for everyone the right of access on an equal and non-discriminatory basis to any place or service intended for use by the
general public;
17. Take steps to promote mixed communities in which members of affected communities are integrated with other elements of
society and ensure that services to such settlements are accessible on an equal basis for all;
4. Dissemination of hate speech including through the mass media and the Internet
18. Take measures against any dissemination of ideas of caste superiority and inferiority or which attempt to justify violence, hatred
or discrimination against descent-based communities;
19. Take strict measures against any incitement to discrimination or violence against the communities, including through the Internet;
20. Take measures to raise awareness among media professionals of the nature and incidence of descent-based discrimination;
5. Administration of justice
21. Take the necessary steps to secure equal access to the justice system for all members of descent-based communities, including by
providing legal aid, facilitating of group claims and encouraging non-governmental organisations to defend community rights;
22. Ensure, where relevant, that judicial decisions and official actions take the prohibition of descent-based discrimination fully into
23. Ensure the prosecution of persons who commit crimes against members of descent-based communities and the provision of
adequate compensation for the victims of such crimes;
24. Encourage the recruitment of members of descent-based communities into the police and other law enforcement agencies;
25. Organize training programmes for public officials and law enforcement agencies with a view to preventing injustices based on
prejudice against descent-based communities;
26. Encourage and facilitate constructive dialogue between the police and other law enforcement agencies and members of the communities;
6. Civil and political rights
27. Ensure that authorities at all levels in the country concerned involve members of descent-based communities in decisions which
affect them;
28. Take special and concrete measures to guarantee to members of descent-based communities the right to participate in elections,
to vote and stand for election on the basis of equal and universal suffrage, and to have due representation in Government and legislative bodies;
29. Promote awareness among members of the communities of the importance of their active participation in public and political life, and eliminate obstacles to such participation;
30. Organize training programmes to improve the political policy-making and public administration skills of public officials and political representatives who belong to descent-based communities;
31. Take steps to identify areas prone to descent-based violence in order to prevent the recurrence of such violence;
32. Take resolute measures to secure rights of marriage for members of descent-based communities who wish to marry outside the
7. Economic and social rights
33. Elaborate, adopt and implement plans and programmes of economic and social development on an equal and non-discriminatory
34. Take substantial and effective measures to eradicate poverty among descent-based communities and combat their social exclusion or marginalization;
35. Work with intergovernmental organisations, including international financial institutions, to ensure that development or assistance projects which they support take into account the economic and social situation of members of descent-based communities;
36. Take special measures to promote the employment of members of affected communities in the public and private sectors;
37. Develop or refine legislation and practice specifically prohibiting all discriminatory practices based on descent in employment and
the labour market;
38. Take measures against public bodies, private companies and other associations that investigate the descent background of applicants for employment;
39. Take measures against discriminatory practices of local authorities or private owners with regard to residence and access to adequate housing for members of affected communities;
40. Ensure equal access to health care and social security services for members of descent-based communities;
41. Involve affected communities in designing and implementing health programmes and projects;
42. Take measures to address the special vulnerability of children of descent-based communities to exploitative child labour;
43. Take resolute measures to eliminate debt bondage and degrading conditions of labour associated with descent-based discrimination; 8. Right to education
44. Ensure that public and private education systems include children of all communities and do not exclude any children on the basis of descent;
45. Reduce school drop-out rates for children of all communities, in particular for children of affected communities, with special attention to the situation of girls;
46. Combat discrimination by public or private bodies and any harassment of students who are members of descent-based communities;
47. Take necessary measures in cooperation with civil society to educate the population as a whole in a spirit of non-discrimination and respect for the communities subject to descent-based discrimination;
48. Review all language in textbooks which conveys stereotyped or demeaning images, references, names or opinions concerning descent-based communities and replace it by images, references, names and opinions which convey the message of the inherent dignity of all human beings and their equality of human rights.

Nørregade 13
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Telephone +977 1 4415397

international community doing to end caste discrimination and untouchability?

  • 2/1/07, European Union passed a resolution that found India's enforcement of laws to protect Dalits "grossly inadequate. Also found that "atrocities, untouchability, illiteracy and inequality of opportunity, continue to blight the lives of India's Dalits." The resolution called on the Indian government to end caste-based discrimination.
  • 2/13/07, Hidden Apartheid Caste Discrimination Against India's Untouchables-113 page joint report was published Human Rights Watch and The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at Hew York University School of Law. Report found that India systematically failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits, despite laws and policies against caste discrimination.
  • 3/9/07, United Nations Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) found that "de facto segregation of Dalits persists" and highlighted systematic abuse against Dalits including torture and extrajudicial killings, an "alarming" extent of sexual violence against Dalit women and caste discrimination in post-tsunami relief.
  • 7/24/07, US House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution condemning the caste system and untouchability in India.

For 200 Million Indians, a Life Steeped in Discrimination

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das

  • Sanjit Das
One in six Indians — approximately 200 million people in all — is born a Dalit. From the day a Dalit is born, life is predestined. Caste discrimination seeps through social symbols, practices and traditions, dooming Dalits to a lifetime of inequity and a position on the lowest rung of Indian society.
The few jobs Dalits are allowed to do demand the most from their bodies and give them the least in return. This allows those high in the caste order to live a life in which Dalits cost little and depend upon the upper caste for their economic survival. A tradition of melting caste and occupation together means that for most Dalits, work is not an escape out of poverty, but a purgatory.
Photographer Firoz Ahmed, humanitarian group NoLogo and I explored some of the discrimination Dalits face in their every day lives, as part of a project commissioned by Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS), an initiative of the U.K. government’s Department for International Development. Our work was presented at a photo exhibition that opened last week at the British Council Library in New Delhi.
Among the Dalits, the most unfortunate is the manual scavenger, a euphemism used to describe the two million people, mostly women, who are forced to remove the feces of other castes with their bare hands. While the rigidity of caste and pressures of close-knit families and societies mean that these women are forced to do this wretched, inhumane job, the real, often overlooked, nightmare is that an escape is nearly impossible.
Having been born into the caste of Valmikis, and having cleaned human excreta for their livelihood, they are now trapped in a stigma, which denies them other sources of livelihood — people won’t buy tea from a shop they may try to run, and rich women won’t hire them as household help. If a manual-scavenging community member steps out of line, the entire social system responds to close down on him or her.
Beyond the horror of their lives, there are certain forms of discrimination that I personally feel exist around us but are not visible to the naked eye. Yet if you scratch the surface, it is fairly evident. The sad part is that the social structure has complied with it for hundreds of years without questioning its legitimacy.
This invisible discrimination exists at the bus stop, where you’d see an upper caste member sitting on the bench whereas the Dalit sits on the floor. Glass cups are pre-designated for Brahmins or other members of the higher castes in case they want tea, whereas the Dalits are served in disposable plastic cups. Just as the plastic cup is weak, crushed at will and disposable, so is the Dalit who drinks from it.
This discrimination exists at the river, where upper castes have the privilege of using the upper stream to bathe and wash their clothes. But the Dalits are forced to go downstream, the shallow, dirtier end. Human excreta and other wastes often are dropped off not very far from this end of the river. The Dalits’ very presence is considered impure, so they are expected to stay out of sight when Brahmins go early in the morning to pray at the riverbanks.
At the well, there is a designated time for Dalit women to fetch water, and if they go earlier or later when the upper caste women are around, the Dalit women have to step aside for the upper-caste women to fill up their buckets first.
Almost all restaurants and sweet shops deny manual scavengers the right to sit on the benches in the premises. The sweet shop vendor selects sweets and leaves them out so the Dalits can collect them later.
Dalits are even denied the basic human right to worship freely. A Dalit is not allowed to enter the four walls of a temple. They all line up outside the temple stairs and offer their prayers from outside, and a Brahmin takes their offerings to be blessed by the gods. This entire transaction has no human touch involved — the Dalit keeps the packet on the floor and the Brahmin picks it up and brings it back after the blessing, leaving it at the same place for the Dalit to collect.
Discrimination also exists within the Dalit communities and Other Backward Classes, known as O.B.C. The barber community, which falls under the O.B.C. category, denies manual scavengers the right to get a haircut in the salon. The barbers find it beneath them to render services to Dalits.
Not willing to live with these restrictions and bindings of society, which have been practiced for hundreds of years, some women have finally decided to quit the caste’s age-old profession, and they have the law on their side. The manual removal of human excreta has been illegal since 1993, but what is most shocking is that not a single person has been convicted. Parliament is now considering an amendment that would impose a 50,000 rupee ($920) fine and imprisonment for those who break the law.
There is no dignity in what these women do every day. The community has been sidelined and discriminated for generations. The law is in place, the government is willing to act and change, but the bigger challenge is to change the mindset of people and of the community and to stop these outrageous acts of discrimination against its own people.


According to Vedas, the Hindu society is divided into four Varnas associated with particular social occupations; Brahmin (priest and teacher), Kshatriya (ruler and warrior) Vaishya (trader) and Sudra (servant). Untouchables, in fact, have no place in the varna system and are called ‘Chandalas’ or outcastes.
The ‘Caste’ does not have physical presence, it has no face, no shape, no colour, no life. There is no logic behind the ‘caste’. Still, it is thriving for the last 5,000 years or more. So far, there is no nation, community, and religion, institution that could escape its vicious grip. Yet it is invisible.
There are nearly 30 million people around the world who are being discriminated based on their descent and occupation. Descent and occupation discrimination exists in Bangladesh, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, some West African countries.

Origin of ‘Dalit’ ‘

Dalit ’ is a Marathi word; originally used by the followers of Ambedkar, now one of the most common terms identifying Untouchables as a whole; sometimes used for oppressed people in general. It seems to have originated from Sanskrit. In 1831 dictionary, the word is defined as “ground” or “broken or reduced to pieces generally” ‘Dalit’ seems to have been used originally by 19th century reformer Phule. It became synonymous with Scheduled castes from the early 1970s. The Dalits today were addressed by different names.

late 19th century to 1930s - ‘Outcastes’ - ‘Depressed Castes’ - ‘Exterior Castes’
  • 1917 -‘Adi-Dravida / Adi-Karnataka /Adi-Andhra’ originally used by Untouchables to identify themselves.

  • 1933 - ‘Harijan’ ‘Harijan’, literally means people of God, used by Gandhi ji to identify Untouchables.

  • 1936 - Scheduled Castes by the Britishers.

  • 1970s - ‘Dalits’ used by Dalits to identify themselves.
Government of India identified and located 450 Scheduled Castes and 45 unlisted sub-groups in 1963-64.
Generations of Caste-based Discrimination The origin of caste system and caste-based discrimination lies in the Hindu laws, which were authored by Manu. The utter discrimination and exclusion of Dalits can be understood from the gist of Hindu laws:
  • That the Shudra was to take the last place in the social order.
  • That the Shudra was impure and therefore no sacred act should be done within his sight and within his hearing.
  • That the Shudra is not to be respected in the same way as the other classes
  • That the life of Shudra is of no value and anybody may kill him without having to pay compensation and if at all of small value as compared with that of the Brahman, Kshatriya and Vaishya.
  • That the Shudra must not acquire knowledge and it is a sin and a crime to give him education.
  • That a Shudra must not acquire property. A Brahmin can take his property at his pleasure.
  • That a Shudra can not hold office under the State
  • That the duty and salvation of the Shudra lies in his serving the higher classes.
  • That the higher classes must not inter-marry with the Shudra. They can however keep a Shudra woman as a concubine. But if the Shudra touches a woman of higher classes he will be liable to dire punishment.
  • That the Shudra is born in servility and must be kept in servility forever.
  • The remnants of their (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya) must be given to him (Shudra), as well as, their old clothes, the refuse of their grain and their old household furniture.
  • Near well-known trees and burial ground, on mountains and in groves, let these dwell, known (by certain marks), and subsisting by their peculiar occupations.
  • But the dwelling of the Chandalas and Shwapakas shall be outside the village, they must be made Apapataras and their wealth (shall be) dogs and donkeys.
  • Their dress (shall be) the garments of the dead, (they shall eat) their food from broken dishes, black iron (shall be) their ornaments, they must always wander from place to place.
  • Their food shall be given to them by others (than an Aryan giver) in a broken dish; at night they shall not walk about in villages and in towns.
Impact of Caste-based Discrimination As a result of these Hindu laws, more than 166.63 lakh Dalits are the most oppressed, exploited and neglected communities in India. In the Indian context, their human rights are violated more frequently than any other communities. Dalits are subjected to untouchability and atrocities due to caste-based discrimination. The Constitution of India provided several safeguards for the Dalits that include reservations in education & employment, special programmes and schemes for the economic development. Inspite of the 57 years of independence and nine five-year plans, we have 85.9% illiteracy among Dalit women 61.3 % illiteracy among Dalit men (Census 2001). This has been determining the fate of Dalits, whether it is their social-economic-political status in India.
Victims of Gross Human Rights violation
Social Rights
  • Entry into non-Dalits’ houses, Hindu temples, and hotels is still prohibited.
  • Dalits have to use separate cups/glasses for serving tea or water in hotels.
  • Dalit children are to sit separately from non-Dalit children in school.
  • Marriage between Dalits and other castes is not allowed.
Economic Rights
  • Dalits are still not allowed into the shops owned by dominant castes.
  • Physical-touch between Dalits and non-Dalits is avoided during money / article transfer in any transaction.
  • Dominant castes don’t sell milk and milk products to Dalits nor buy from them.
  • Inspite of Bonded Labour Act and Child Labour Act, Dalits are found to be working as bonded labourers and child labourers.
  • Caste system is compelling Dalits to takeup occupations like manual scavenging, sanitation work, grave digging etc.,
  • Religion is still forcing Dalit women in to prostitution in the name of ‘Devadasi, Jogini’
  • Development/environment projects such as dams, wild-life sanctuaries, mining are displacing Dalits in large numbers and the rehabilitation packages are not compensatory.
Cultural Rights
  • Dalit bride and bridegrooms cannot pass through dominant caste localities during the marriage ceremony.
  • Brahmin priests refuse to perform marriage, death and other ceremonies of Dalits.
  • Inter-caste marriages are still prohibited.
Political Rights
  • Dalits still not allowed exercising their voting rights.
  • Dominant castes decide / dictate who should contest elections in reserved constituencies.
  • Elected candidates from Dalits still not allowed to exercise their powers as Panchayat Presidents or Panchayat Ward Members.
  • Dominant castes resort to arson, killing social & economic boycott if Dalits try to assert their political rights.
Dalits’ Profile
Poverty: People below the poverty line among SCs1 (49.48% urban areas and 48.11% in rural areas) is much higher than that of the average Indian population (37.27% in urban areas and 32.36% in rural areas).2
Income: The income levels disaggregated by social group suggest that both the total household and the per capita incomes levels are least for the SCs. SCs have a total household income of Rs. 17,465, a mere 68% of the national average, and a per capita income of Rs. 3,237, 72% of the national average.3
Wages: The share of income derived from wage labour (both agriculture and non-agriculture) is highest among SCs (at about 33%)
Land ownership: SCs own the least land among the groups surveyed (only 47%), reporting an average holding of only 2.8 acres. The land ownership pattern seems to confirm the historical and domiciliary or residential patterns that affect specific caste groups in India.4
Housing: The village development index is also associated with the percentage of kutcha houses (low cost house often made from a mixture of mud and tin). Over 70% of landless labourers live in Kutcha houses, as do a majority of both SCs and STs (74% and 67% respectively)5.
Basic Amenities: SCs are considerably more disadvantaged when compared with all other social groups in regards to ownership of and accessibility to amenities such as an electricity connection, piped water, and toilets.
Dependency ratio and poverty: The dependency ratios are very low among SC landless wage earners. The decline in dependency may be attributed to the higher participation of females from these groups in employment and income-earning activities. This apparent paradox supports the hypothesis that many among the marginal groups are at the risk of economic stress resulting in a higher level participation in the workforce as a coping mechanism. The evidence also suggests that low economic dependency among the low income and vulnerable population groups is the result of poverty 6 .
Participation in wage earning activities: is higher among SCs (58%)7 . The SCc are mainly landless (69.6%) with little control over resources such as land, forest, and water. There has been a marked rise in the number of agricultural labourers (49.1%), casual labourers (72%), industrial labourers (17.3%), plantation labour (6.1%), and fishing labour (92.5%)8.
Child labour:
Child labour exists in 58.7% of the SCs communities9 .
Social groups and literacy: SCs recorded a literacy level of about 40% in comparison to the national Indian average of 54%10 . Gender disparity in terms of literacy is high among both SCs11 . The school drop-out rates are substantially higher among the lower income groups, landless wage earners, females, SCs12 . SCs have lower levels of literacy, especially at the level of matriculation and above; for example, only about 5% of girls among these communities complete matriculation13.
Undernourishment and infant mortality: 57.5% SC children under the age of 4 were undernourished in 1992 while the infant mortality rate among SCs was 91 per 1000 live births 

Caste discrimination to be outlawed by Equality Act
Caste discrimination is to be outlawed in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced in what is a U-turn on previous government policy.
The House of Lords has voted twice for legal protection to be given to the estimated 400,000 Dailts - so-called untouchables - who live in the UK.
MPs overturned the first Lords vote, but after peers again backed the plan on Monday, there has been a rethink.
Mr Cable said caste would in future be treated as "an aspect of race".
Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: "We are delighted that the government has accepted that discrimination against caste should enjoy the same statutory protection as all other forms of protected characteristics.
"This is a victory for the Lords and their emphasis on protecting human rights."
Campaigners had said legislation was needed because thousands of people suffered abuse and prejudice because they were considered low caste.
They said existing laws offered no protection and said caste divided society unfairly, with those at the bottom expected to do dirty, poorly paid work while also being expected to - and forced to - look up to and respect higher castes.
Those arguing for action said such discrimination was outlawed in India and should be banned in Britain too.
In the House of Commons debate earlier this month the government acknowledged the existence of caste discrimination in Britain.
But equalities minister Jo Swinson told MPs: "This is an issue that is contained in the Hindu and  Sikh communities. That's why we are working with those communities to address these problems."
She warned of concern that legislation could increase stigma rather than ease the problem and said that was why the government favoured tackling caste prejudice through an education programme instead.
During the debate many MPs backed the protestors.
Conservative MP Richard Fuller said: "This is a straightforward issue, caste discrimination in the work place is wrong and the people who suffer from it deserve legal protection. That's it. Beginning and end."
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said that caste discrimination was "completely unacceptable".
The government has asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission to examine the nature of caste prejudice and harassment, and consider what other action might be helpful.

Caste and inequalities in health

 samathain on August 30, 2009

Source: The Hindu
K.S. Jacob
Caste is a major indicator of health outcomes and mandates the need for interventions that change social structures.
The caste system, with its societal stratification and social restrictions, continues to have a major impact on the country. The system, generally identified with Hinduism, is also prevalent among Christians, Sikhs and Muslims. While some barriers are broken in urban settings, many continue to persist in rural India. While the secular, socialistic and democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution demand equality of outcomes, the inherent caste-related inequality cont inues to dominate reality in Indian society. Much of the debate has focussed on reservation in educational institutions and employment, and rarely highlights the inequalities in health.
Social constructs: Many studies have documented that the caste system is a social construct in the absence of any real genetic differences among castes. Caste, in many ways, is similar to race, which is also a social concept without genetic basis. Nevertheless, these social constructs seem to have a stranglehold on human thought, perpetuating prejudice and propagating unjust societal structures.
Health indicators: Data from the National Family Health Survey-III (2005-06) clearly highlight the caste differentials in relation to health status. The survey documents low levels of contraceptive use among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes compared to forward castes. Reduced access to maternal and child health care is evident with reduced levels of antenatal care, institutional deliveries and complete vaccination coverage among the lower castes. Stunting, wasting, underweight and anaemia in children and anaemia in adults are higher among the lower castes. Similarly, neonatal, postnatal, infant, child and under-five statistics clearly show a higher mortality among the SCs and the STs. Problems in accessing health care were higher among the lower castes. The National Family Health Survey-II (1998-99) documented a similar picture of lower accessibility and poorer health statistics among the lower castes.
The poor, a majority from the lower castes, migrate to different parts of the country in search of work. Their migrant status means they lose many benefits generally offered to the poorer sections as their below poverty line and ration cards are not valid across State borders. The migrants find it difficult to register with the National Tuberculosis Programme at their place of work, resulting in out-of-pocket expenditure for treatment, discontinuation of medication when symptoms improve, relapse of the disease, medication resistance and premature death. Illness and its treatment usually wipe out all savings and are a common reason for indebtedness. Migrants are often considered vectors of communicable diseases and are not engaged by the public health system as they drive down indicators of health. The complete absence of schooling for their children implies a continuation of the cycle of poverty. Their inability to register with local electoral bodies means they fall off the radar of politicians and political parties.
Victims of communal violence: Dalits continue to face social discrimination and exclusion and are targets of communal violence. Assault, rape and murder of Dalits by the ‘upper’ castes are common and yet, frequently these crimes are not investigated and punished by the authorities, despite laws and protection provided by the Indian state. The Khairlanji massacre and the delay in its investigation come to mind. While many legal statutes exist, their implementation leaves much to be desired.
Health and human rights: There is an inextricable link between health and human rights. The violations of human rights (for example, violence) can have serious health consequences. The vulnerability to ill-health is reduced by taking steps to protect such rights (for example, freedom from discrimination and rights to health, education and housing). The World Health Organisation has strongly argued for a human rights-based approach to health to overcome the persistence of discrimination and human rights abuses.
Social determinants of health: It is widely recognised that the determinants of health are social and economic rather than purely medical. The poor health of people from the lower castes, their social exclusion and the steep social gradient are due to the unequal distribution of power, income, goods and services. Caste is inextricably linked to and is a proxy for socio-economic status in India. The restricted access of those from the lower castes to clean water, sanitation, nutrition, housing, education, health care and employment is due to a toxic combination of poor social policies and programmes, unfair economic arrangement and bad politics.
The structural determinants of daily life contribute to the social determinants of health and fuel the inequities in health between caste groups. Viewing health in general as an individual or medical issue, reducing population health to a biomedical perspective and suggesting individual medical interventions reflect a poor understanding of issues. Social interventions should form the core of all health and prevention programmes as individual medical interventions have little impact on population indices, which require population interventions.
Barriers to scaling up intervention: The major barrier to mainstreaming health care and to scaling up effective interventions is caste inequality based on socio-cultural issues. The systematic discrimination of lower castes based on culture, tradition and religion needs to be tackled if interventions have to work. Although the short time-lag between the (absence of) medical intervention and the health outcomes stands out as causal, it is the longer latent period and the hazier but ubiquitous and dominant relationship between caste and culture which have major impacts on outcome. Failure to recognise this relationship and the refusal to tackle these issues result in poorer health standards of the SCs and the STs. Tradition and culture maintain their stranglehold on inequality. Poverty and social exclusion have a multiplicative effect on the social determinants of health with those at higher risk for diseases also having a higher probability of being excluded from health care services.
The way forward: The World Health Organisation and its Commission on Social Determinants of Health recommend three principles for action: improving the conditions of daily life; tackling the iniquitous distribution of power, money and resources; and raising public awareness of issues, measuring the problems and evaluating actions. Providing supplemental nutrition and psychosocial stimulation improves physical and mental growth in underprivileged and stunted children. The provision of primary and secondary education and accessible health care regardless of the ability to pay is cardinal to success. Managing urban development with the provision of affordable housing, clean water and sanitation in addition to addressing rural land tenure and livelihoods is mandatory. The provision of fair and continuous employment and a universal public distribution system are necessary. The establishment and strengthening of universal social protection schemes are called for.
Continuing the current affirmative action in education and employment is crucial. Strengthening the mid-day meal scheme, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Right to Education Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Food Security Act and the National Rural Health Mission, all steps in the right direction, is essential. There is need to increase resource allocation for the social determinants of health and to reinforce the government’s primary responsibility in providing for basic needs. Gender equity and social and political inclusion of the poor and lower castes in policy and decision making are required. Critics argue that an exclusive focus on production and trade without a viable distributive policy on food and land will not make poverty history.
The limits of liberalism: The spirit of socialism enshrined in the Constitution per se has not and will not result in equality of social and health outcomes for all people. There is need to change social structures. The many small moments of justice cannot overcome the large contradictions in Indian society. Liberals, by definition, can identify the issues but do not actively seek fundamental shifts in political power or enthusiastically champion changes in social mores. They are also part of the tyrannical social order.
Caste plays out in India just as race plays out in the U.S. and the social class in Britain. Birth seems to determine health, education, employment, social and economic outcomes. Systemic injustice requires much more than a change of heart; it requires changes in social structures. Social injustice is killing people and mandates the ethical imperative of improving the social determinants of health.
(Professor K.S. Jacob is on the faculty of the Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.)

Forms of Discrimination

Injustice and inequality in India exist in the worst form by way of social stratification and hierarchy that are directly linked to religion and caste. An analysis of intersecting ways in which institutions and practices built upon caste system reproduced norms and beliefs about the social inferiority (and consequent economic and political inferiority of certain castes) and thus also explain how social and economic privileges are distributed, who gains and who is excluded. We identify the following forms of discrimination:

Caste-Intensified Discrimination

Caste-specific discrimination refers to specific form of discrimination based on cultural norms, beliefs, practices and customs deriving its legitimacy from the principles of caste system and religion. Thus, graded inequality embedded in the caste system dictates that certain occupations like performing pooja, teaching-learning and agriculture are considered pure and superior and upper castes only have the `rightful' right to perform, while occupations like scavenging, sweeping, shoemaking, haircutting are impure and polluting and are performed by lower castes. Further, this understanding of purity and pollution also throws up the practice of untouchability, physical/social distance/segregation, private/public life, language demeaning to intrinsic human value. 

Caste-Imposed Discrimination

Caste-imposed discrimination refers to the fact that caste inequality has been socially constructed through age-old norms, customs and practices to protect social, political and economic interests. This has given more power to some social groups. These groups try to dictate and are successful to an extent in imposing their own world-view, their own norms, beliefs and cultural practices on other depressed social groups. This leaves little chance of multi-cultural community to co-exist peacefully and democratically. 

Self-Imposed Caste Discrimination

The last category refers to the fact that caste inequality, practice of untouchability etc. may have been socially constructed but the members of the lower castes have internalized it and consider this position divinely given in the human order. This makes them willingly submit to the dictates of upper caste whims and fancies. 

Thus, the combinations of forms of discrimination discussed above help to socially construct and get accepted a particular nature of formal and informal social, political and economic institutions which favour certain social group over others. This results in some social groups to command and control public goods, get hierarchies of power and decision making and consequent less of social status and less access to related tangible (educational qualification, white collar jobs, productive resources etc.) and intangible (pride in one's own cultural practices and customs, identity etc.) assets to depressed social groups.


The impact of social discrimination is manifold and it is not easy to define and measure. It has many dimensions. It is felt and experienced and, at times, impossible to express or exhibit. The discrimination certainly leads to: 
  • Deprivation
  • Mental block
  • Humiliation
  • Inferiority complex
  • Communication gap
  • Escapism
  • ‘We’ and ‘they’ feeling
  • Suspicion
  • Poor performance
  • Crisis and conflict

  • Types of Untouchability Practices & Discrimination

    In the name of Untouchability, Dalits face nearly 140 forms of work & descent-based discrimination at the hands of the dominant castes.  Here are a few:
    • Prohibited from eating with other caste members
    • Prohibited from marrying with other caste members
    • Separate glasses for Dalits in village tea stalls
    • Discriminatory seating arrangements and separate utensils in restaurants
    • Segregation in seating and food arrangements in village functions and festivals
    • Prohibited from entering into village temples
    • Prohibited from wearing sandals or holding umbrellas in front of dominant caste members
    • Devadasi system - the ritualized temple prostitution of Dalit women
    • Prohibited from entering dominant caste homes
    • Prohibited from riding a bicycle inside the village
    • Prohibited from using common village path
    • Separate burial grounds
    • No access to village’s common/public properties and resources (wells, ponds, temples, etc.)
    • Segregation (separate seating area) of Dalit children in schools
    • Prohibited from contesting in elections and exercising their right to vote
    • Forced to vote or not to vote for certain candidates during the elections
    • Prohibiting from hoisting the national flag during Independence or Republic days
    • Sub-standard wages
    • Bonded Labor
    • Face social boycotts by dominant castes for refusing to perform their “duties”


The chief feature of any democratic society is to respect and value each and every human being for the intrinsic value of being human. This demands doing away with all the discriminatory practices emanating from the biases against caste, tribe and gender and starting appreciating inclusion of the others. 
The problem can be tackled at two levels; (1) At the Level of Ideas (2) At the Level of Constitutional Democracy
(1) At the Level of Ideas
Rules and procedures are not inherently Caste and Tribe ascriptive, but as noted they reproduce caste-tribe norms, practices and inequalities through their organisation. Thus, the primary task is to inculcate critical thinking for understanding the nature of institutions embodying certain unequal discriminatory rules and practices that survive because they serve the interest of few powerful caste members at the expense of many. 
(b) At the Level of Constitutional Democracy 
Constitutional Democracy arms the citizen with Acts, Laws and Statutes that can protect an individual from any discriminatory practices followed by any public institution, citizenry as well the formal laws and Acts of the Constitution. 
India needs to re-emphasize affirmative action policies, which over a period of more than 60 years have provided the framework for Social Inclusion, which is, perhaps, without parallel in scale and dimension in human history. It has to persuade its citizens to effect .

An "untouchable" Girl

(CNN) -- A man, incensed that a 6-year-old girl chose to walk through a path reserved for upper caste villagers, pushed her into burning embers.

The girl is a Dalit, or an "untouchable," according to India's traditional caste system.

India's constitution outlaws caste-based discrimination, and barriers have broken down in large cities. Prejudice, however, persists in some rural areas of the country.

The girl was walking with her mother down a path in the city of Mathura when she was accosted by a man in his late teens, said police superintendent R.K. Chaturvedi.

"He scolded them both and pushed her," Chaturvedi said. The girl fell about 3 to 4 feet into pile of burning embers by the side of the road. The girl remained in critical condition Wednesday.

The man confessed to the crime and was charged with attempted murder, Chaturvedi said.


The Chamar were the tanner and leather-worker of North-Western India, and in the western parts of the Punjab he was called Moohi, whenever he is, as he generally is, a Muslim, the caste being one and the same. The name Chamar is derived from the Sanskrit Chamarkara or "worker in hides." But in the east of the province he is far more than a leather-worker. He is the general coolie and field laborer of the villages ; and a Chamar, if asked his caste by an Englishman at any rate, will answer "Coolie" as often as "Chamar." They do all the legar, or such work as cutting grass, carrying wood and bundles, acting as watchmen, and the like ; and they plaster the houses with mud when they need it. They take the hides of all dead cattle and the flesh of all cloven-footed animals, that of such as do not divide the hoof going to Chúhras. They make and mend shoes, thongs for the cart, and whips and other leather work ; and above all they do an immense deal of hard work in the fields, each family supplying each cultivating association with the continuous labour of a certain number of hands. All this they do as village menials, receiving fixed customary dues in the shape of a share of the produce of the fields. In the east and south-east of the Punjab the village Chamare also do a great deal of weaving, which however is paid for separately. The Chamars stood far above the Chúhras in social position, and some of their tribes were almost accepted as Hindus. They are generally dark in colour, and are almost certainly of Aboriginal origin, though here again their numbers have perhaps been swollen by members of other and higher castes who have fallen or been degraded. The people say : "Do not cross the ferry with a Black Bráham or a fair Chamar," one being as unusual as the other. Their women are celebrated for beauty, and loss of caste is often attributed to too great partiality for a Chamárni. The Chamar caste appeared to be much more extensive and to include much more varied tribes in Hindustan than in the Punjab.


09-17-2008, 08:16 PM
Bravo Shiraz!

No sooner do I log on than I see you have launched a barrage of posts seething with venom and hatred and have spammed even more threads on topics for which YOU have already started threads before. There is already a thread to suit your purpose - surely you could not have forgotten that!- seeing as you were the one to make it :huh2::

Even in flood, India's `untouchables' last rescued (

Also do not think that it escapes me that you have borrowed the title of this thread from that notorious PakiDefense Forum - and have changed the title of the article as it originally appears on the website. Slithery little snake! :pissedoff4:
 4 sentenced to death for killing Dalit in Barabanki23 Sep 2008, 1400 hrs IST,PTI

BARABANKI: A fast track court has sentenced four people to death and awarded life imprisonment to 11 others in connection with the murder of a Dalit.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (fast track court) Anup Kumar Goyal on Monday pronounced the verdict in the 15-year-old case relating to the murder of Chedu, the Dalit who was killed following an old rivalry.

Those awarded capital punishment are Sagar, Nanku, Harinath and Ashok.

At present, a notified special court takes up cases of atrocities against SCs/STs only after they are referred to them by a magistrate. Now, victims can directly approach the special courts for justice. The proposed amendment reads: "Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, a special court specified under sub-section (1) shall be competent to try offences under this Act (Prevention of Atrocities) as a court of original jurisdiction without the case having been committed to it by a magistrate under the said code."

In India, SCs and STs, who account for 24.4 percent of the country's billion plus population, have been vulnerable to social atrocities but have failed to resist this unjust treatment - perhaps because of rampant poverty among them.

According to Mrityunjay Nayak, a former member of the Lok Sabha, "only all-round upliftment can insulate SCs/STs against social atrocities and discrimination."

An official estimate says that nearly 30,000 cases are annually reported and registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act across the country. In 2005, 31,387 cases were registered, with 5,970, 4,657, and 4,375 cases respectively from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The 2004-05 report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), says 36.8 percent of SCs in rural areas belong to the below poverty line (BPL) category, with the figure for urban areas being 39.9 percent. The poverty line is currently pegged at monthly per capita income of Rs.327.56 in rural areas, and Rs.454.11 in urban areas.
The level of poverty is much higher among STs, with 47.3 percent in rural areas falling in the BPL category, while 33.3 percent in the urban areas earn Rs. 454.11 or less per month. Nayak said the amendment in the POA Act would certainly improve the situation, but there is need for proper monitoring of the way the special courts function.

"Putting in place some mechanisms is good, but what is more important is how to make them effectively functional. That continues to be an area of concern," said Nayak, also a member of India's Naional Commission for SCs.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment headed by Meira Kumar, the daughter of India's great Dalit icon Jagjivan Ram, will also ensure it gets a detailed report of every atrocity committed within four days of the registration of a first information report (FIR).

At present, the Ministry or the national commission for SCs or STs has to seek such reports from the state governments or district administrations. "It takes at least 15 days to get a detailed report if we pursue the matter vigorously by sending letters and making phone calls," Nayak pointed out.

Bureau Report

10-16-2008, 06:00 AM
Dalit woman gangraped twice in one week
16 Oct 2008, 0351 hrs IST, Kshitiz Gaur,TNN

AJMER: A 29-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly gangraped in a Rajasthan village, not once but twice, with a span of one week. The second gangrape was

"to teach her a lesson" because she "mustered the courage" to go to the police to lodge a complaint.

While the first gangrape tookplace at Harmada village on September 15, the second incident took place in the presence of her father-in-law. These allegations have been made by the woman in the Ajmer SP's office. The arrests were made almost a month later following the intervention of senior police officers. She alleged that the rapists enjoyed the support of local police.

The woman alleged that two local men — Suraj karan and Raju — forcibly took her to a nearby jungle and raped her the whole night. As she did not return home, her family members lodged a missing complaint with the Bandrasindri police station.

10-25-2008, 04:42 PM
India's first female Dalit radio makes waves
26 Oct 2008, 0120 hrs IST, Roli Srivastava, TNN

HYDERABAD: Algole Narsamma makes for an unusual reporter. Every morning at 10, she starts her journey to various villages in search of stories that are neither breaking news nor juicy snippets that sell. But the 25-year-old mother of two says she is always sure her reports strike a chord with listeners every time they are aired.

Algole is a producer at 90.4 FM, the radio channel started "by Dalit women, for Dalit women". It's making waves not only in her village, Machnoor, but nationally. Algole's reports on farming tools, and folk songs are a hit in Zaheerabad, where most women her caste toil in the fields. The audience base has been expanding in the 11 days the channel has existed. Many listeners are even buying FM-enabled cellphones to catch the station.

About 70 villages in the Medak district of Andhra Pradesh have been tuning into India's first female Dalit community radio. Every night at 8, the channel airs a one-and-a-half hour package of local news and views, tidbits on herbal medicines for animals and folk songs and stories.

This all-woman, all-Dalit Sangham (community) radio station, which boasts the signature tune, 'akka chillelu kudi podame (come sisters, let us go to the sangham radio)', is seen as the first 'audible' voice of the state's Dalit women. Algole claims the station "represents" over 5,000 women. Her studio partner General Narsamma doubles as reporter and jockey. She has studied to Class 10 and is adept at the computer, editing programmes before they are aired.

The station is an initiative of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO that works with 100 groups of the poorest Dalit women. "They still earn Rs 10-15 for six to eight hours of work," says DDS director PV Satheesh. The low incomes are a reflection of Zaheerabad's poor land, which offers limited livelihood opportunities in agriculture. There is hardly any industrialization, and development plans do not reach the targeted populations. This is why Kancha Ilaiah, one of the state's best known campaigners on Dalit issues, is elated at the news. He says the radio can even generate new struggles. For instance, domestic abuse is no longer news but if they air a case of the wife resisting her husband's violence, women will be empowered.

The station has already received a congratulatory note from the upper-caste sarpanch. But the best feedback so far is from those it's meant to serve. One listener asked if her children could work as reporters. Another felt proud to be interviewed by the radio. "I always heard others," she said. "Now I hear my voice, my views. I too will be recognized some day."

Satheesh and others point out that the radio station was possible because Dalit women in the area are used to working outside the home. "Most women who joined self-help groups were Dalit. Their mobility was never a problem," says P Prasanthi, programme director of the AP Mahila Samatha Society, a part of the government's Mahila Samakhya Programme. She may have a point. Sixteen women have already volunteered to get stories for the radio station.

Hanuman Das, priest of the Hanuman temple in Khartala Nayawas village, allegedly killed 35-year-old Ramphool Koli with a scimitar after verbally abusing him this past Saturday morning. He also mutilated the victim’s body and disfigured his face.

The priest had been living in the Dalit-dominated village, 22 km from the district headquarters, for five years and had himself built the temple on a piece of government land. Later he encroached upon adjacent government land and is said to be illegally occupying the 25-bigha plot of land.

Police have arrested Hanuman Das after registering a case against him under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The accused has been remanded to police custody.

A fact-finding team of the Jaipur-based Centre for Dalit Rights (CDR), which visited Khartala Nayawas after the murder over the weekend, alleged that the police are now trying to weaken the case by diluting its caste angle. The case under the SC/ST Act did not mention that the Dalit victim was killed as a result of untouchability practised by the priest.

The CDR coordinator, Ramdayal Bairwa, said on Tuesday that witnesses had deposed to having seen the priest’s brother, Kailash Chand Rana – with a known criminal background – on the spot, giving rise to suspicion that he too was involved in the murder. However, the police have not registered any case against him. Despite being informed of the crime early in the morning, the police reportedly reached the spot four hours later, when Ramphool had bled to death.

Hanuman Das was earlier involved in several cases of untouchability against Dalits, including one against former Sarpanch Maya Mahawar.

Mr. Bairwa said Dalits in the village had brought the “objectionable activities” of the accused to the notice of the police, but to no avail. He used to demand money from Dalits for establishing a “gausahla” and constructing an inn on the illegally occupied land while not allowing them anywhere near the temple or a hand-pump nearby.

The CDR has demanded immediate arrest of all the accused in the case and payment of financial assistance of Rs.2 lakh under Section 12(4) of SC/ST Act to the victim’s family. The CDR has also demanded that the district administration make arrangements for education of Ramphool’s daughter Lakshmi and son Mukesh in a residential government school and include them in the Palanhar Yojana and provide security to his family and witnesses in the case.

01-15-2009, 05:06 AM
Dalit woman minister's entry in temple sparks tension

Bhubaneswar, Jan 14: Chaos broke out over the entry of a Dalit woman minister in the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Akhandalamani temple in Orissa's Bhadrak district on Wednesday.

An official said a section of priests protested when the Minister for Women and Child Development Pramila Mallik visited the temple on the occasion of the makar sankranti.

"A group of priests opposed the minister's entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple", said a police officer adding that the temple was reopened later.

When contacted, the minister, however, denied that her visit to temple had sparked tension in the areas.

Pramilla Mallick, the women and child development minister, on Wednesday went to the famous Akhandalamani Shiva temple at Aradi in Bhadrak, about 170 km from Bhubaneswar.

Although the priests didn’t resist her entry, they performed ‘maha snana’ (purification ritual) of the deity after she left because of her alleged ‘‘objectionable entry’’. Mallick, a Dalit, supposedly went for darshan taking a route meant exclusively for servitors, thereby upsetting the priests.

While a temple insider insisted that observance of the purification ritual shortly after Mallick’s exit from the area had nothing to do with her being a Dalit, the incident has raised eyebrows. Though muted, some feel the obduracy shown by certain priests in going for ‘maha snana’ stemmed from the BJD minister’s caste. Mallick was visiting the Akhandalamani temple, on banks of river Baitarani, at around 7.30 am on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

While a temple insider insisted that observance of the purification ritual shortly after Mallick’s exit from the area had nothing to do with her being a Dalit, the incident has raised eyebrows. Though muted, some feel the obduracy shown by certain priests in going for ‘maha snana’ stemmed from the BJD minister’s caste. Mallick was visiting the Akhandalamani temple, on banks of river Baitarani, at around 7.30 am on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.

Though entry of Dalits is no longer seen as a problem in major shrines in Orissa, the ban exists in some smaller temples. Mallick tried to downplay the incident and said she was guided into the shrine by priests she has long known. "I have been visiting the temple for years now. I had gone there as a devotee and not as a minister. As usual, priests took me inside. I paid obeisance in tune with their advice. There was absolutely no wrong committed," she said.

02-12-2009, 06:34 AM
'Dalits banned from yagna'
10 Feb 2009, 0054 hrs IST, Kshitiz Gaur, TNN
AJMER: In a shocking case of caste discrimination, nearly 450 Dalit families of Tiloli village in Bhilwara district were allegedly asked to undergo a purification ceremony by drinking cow urine if they wanted to participate in a seven-day long "sthapana yagna" at the local Hanuman mandir.

Tension arose in the village last week when Sadhu Rameshwar Lal wanted to to perform a yagna' in Hanuman temple. "We were happy to know that a religious ceremony would take place in the village and all were ready to participate in it," said Chogalal, a Dalit veteran of the village.

The village has a population of 5,000 with 450 Dalit households.

A committee was formed to perform the ritual and fund collection started. "But they (upper caste men) refused to make us part of the ceremony and Sadhu Rameshwar Lal announced that no Dalit would participate in the ritual," said Kanaya Lal Khateek.

Bhanwar Singh, deputy SP Gulabpura said: "We received the information that there was certain dissatisfaction in the village regarding a religious ceremony. We came to know that villagers were not taking the contribution of Dalits and were not allowing them to be a part of the yagna. We called a meeting of every community on Saturday night and ensured that anyone willing to contribute did so and provide them a receipt for their contribution."

In the all-community meeting called on February 7, it was decided that no member of any community would perform rituals except the Brahmins.

When the Dalits showed their eagerness to be part of the ritual, Sadhu said if they wanted to participate in the ceremony, they will have to drink cow urine with dung.

"We too wanted to participate in the ritual, after all it is a ceremony of the village," said Hari Ram Megwanshi.

Three castes -- Raiger, Khateek and Badai -- were banned to sit for the rituals and Sadhu's supporters allegedly published pamphlets stating that Dalits were not allowed to sit in the rituals. A group of Dalits then approached the district collector, asking him to intervene. "We met the district collector and told him that we want to give a memorandum to the chief minister," says Hari Ram.

This was followed by an all-community meeting convened by deputy superintendent of police Bhanwar Lal who was asked by the district collector to tackle the situation.

Despite reaching a unanimous decision that the Dalits can witness the ceremony, they were seen sitting almost 400 meters away from the ceremony.

Even as the situation remained tense, Ladhu Ram Jain of the organizing committee said: "There were some people who wanted to disturb the atmosphere. The Sadhu is performing rituals on his private property and has the right to invite anyone he wants."

TOI tried to contact district collector Bhagwan Singh Deta many times but he was busy making arrangements for the visit of chief minister Ashok Gehlot on February 10.

03-06-2009, 02:31 PM
6 Gujarat teachers get life term for gang raping Dalit student

Ahmedabad, March 06: Six teachers of a college in Patan near here were awarded life terms by a special court for gang raping a 19-year-old Dalit student on Friday, a year after the incident had led to public outrage in Gujarat. 

Manish Parmar, Mahendra Prajapati, Ashwin Parmar, Kiran Patel, Suresh Patel and Atul Patel were pronounced guilty by Additional Sessions Judge S C Srivastava at Patan, about 125 km from here in north Gujarat.

The judge imposed a fine of Rs 4,000 on each of them and said failure to pay the amount would invite additional six- month imprisonment.

The court also directed the convicts to pay Rs 10,000 each to the girl, a student of the Primary Teachers' Training College (PTC), as compensation.

The incident at the state government-run college in Patan came to light on February 4, 2008 after the victim told her parents and relatives that she was repeatedly raped by the teachers over a period of six months.

The girl comes from a poor background and was a resident-student of the college.

She was threatened by the teachers that they will not give internal marks to her and fail her if she did not give in to their sexual advances, police had said.

The six accused were convicted for multiple gang rape, physical assault on woman to outrage her modesty and charges like rape in government educational institute.

"The girl (in her complaint) had said she was gang raped at least 14 times over a period of six months," Raghevendra Vats, the then SP of Patan district, had said after the incident came to light.

The girl was so traumatised that she had once fainted during the morning prayers of the college. She had also fainted once in the court room, police said.

The incident had sent shock waves in the state, where public protests and shutdown were organised. The issue had also rocked the State Assembly.

The accused-teachers were suspended by the government, which had announced Rs 1 lakh compensation for the victim and a CID probe into the incident.

Public Prosecutor Nayna Bhatt said they had demanded life imprisonment for the accused as there was no provision of capital punishment in such cases.

The accused, during the trial, had maintained that they were innocent.

The victim or her family members were not present in the Patan court when the judgement was delivered. "I am fully satisfied (with the judgement); my daughter has got justice," the victim's father said by phone from his home.

All the six teachers are in judicial custody.

Two Dalits hacked to death in Tamil Nadu
7 Mar 2009, 1232 hrs IST, PTI

SANKARANKOIL (TN): Two Dalits were hacked to death by unidentified assailants following a dispute apparently over offering worship in the local Muppidathy Ammam temple in Tirunelveli district.

The group of unidentified persons hacked one K Paramasivan (27) when he was going to his village late last night, police said today.

E Easwaran (55) another Dalit, who was coming in a motorcycle with one Suresh, was also found hacked to death.

Suresh managed to escape from the scene. The dispute over offering worship in the temple, belonging to Konar community, started last year, officials said.

04-22-2009, 01:58 PM
Hindu priests in west Nepal go on agitation

Kathmandu, April 22: Hindu priests in a district of western Nepal have stopped performing religious rituals in protest against a three-month jail term to their colleague for refusing to the cater to two Dalit worshippers.

A court in the Dailekh district of the Himalayan country slapped priest Deepak Upadhyaya with a three-month jail term and Rs 1,000 in penalty for refusing to tie 'auspicious threads' on the arms of two men from lower casts.

A case was registered against Upadhyaya by the two men, who demanded action against the priest.

The priests, who have gone on a virtual strike on a call given by 'Panchakoshi Vaidic Sanatan Dharma Seva', a body of priests, said they would not tolerate interference in their methods of performing Hindu rituals, officials said.

The agitation has resulted in inconveniences to daily worshippers at various temples, they said.

Chief District Administrator of Dailekh district Baldev Gautam, however, said the government would take action against anybody who breaches the law.

He said it was necessary to take action against those involved in discrimination based on the caste system.

04-23-2009, 06:49 AM
Dalit minor rape case: Magisterial probe begins

Moga, April 23: A magisterial probe has been ordered into the alleged rape of a minor Dalit girl, who gave birth to a child a few days ago, official sources said here today.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Mohinder Singh Kainth on the orders of Deputy Commissioner Satwant Singh Johal yesterday visited Ramoonwala Kalan village, victim's native place, the sources said.

The ADC met the victim and her family at their relatives house, where they have been staying along with the baby after being discharged from the hospital.

Victim told Kainth that around nine-months back she was alleged raped by some masked men when she was returning from the fields and added that she cannot recognise any of them as their faces were covered.

The ADC will submit his report within a week to the District Magistrate after recording statements of the villagers and the accused.

Six youths -- Shivinder Singh, Hardeep Singh, Jasbir Singh, Gurmail Singh, Jagsir Singh, Kamaldeep Singh and Raman Kumar -- hailing from the same village are accused of raping the Dalit girl.

The Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission has taken serious note of the incident and asked the district administration to take stringent measures against the accused.

05-30-2009, 04:08 PM
Nadu village3 Dalits hacked to death in Tamil 31 May 2009, 0038 hrs IST, PTI

TIRUNELVELI: Tension prevailed in Keezha Ambur village near here after three Dalits were hacked to death by six persons on Saturday night allegedly over a dispute on conduct of a local temple festival.

The three, including two youths, were hacked to death in their fields in the village by the group armed with deadly and sharp edged weapons around 7 pm, police said.

The deceased were identified as Ganesan (20), Sudalai (42) and Muthukumar (22), all Dalits from the village, DIG Tirunelveli Range Kannappan said.

The DIG, who visited the village along with District Superintendent of Police Ashra Carg, said the situation was under control and heavy police pickets had been posted at the village to prevent further trouble.

He said police had launched a hunt for the assailants. There had been a dispute over the conduct of festival in the village temple for some time and the three deceased, arrested on a complaint from a rival group, had been released on bail about a month ago. They had also given a counter complaint against the other group.

In this Part, unless the context otherwise requires, “the State’’ includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the States and all local or other authorities within the1) All laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution, in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.04-30-2008, 11:14 AM

Caste Discrimination in NEPAL( visit site below)

Being Dalit is a crime in Indian cricket

Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yes, Kambli was just another victim of a hidden social bias in Indian cricket.
Not at all a wonder, this is not just the story of Vinod Kambli, It is the fate of all dalits from the day cricket was born in India.
Indian cricket Board has always alienated the marginalised sections, the deprived, the lowered castes, the ethnic nationalities and dalits.
Believe it or not, the 4% Brahmin's in India have on an average more than 70 pc representation in the Indian cricket teams. Its not a a mere coincidence that Gavaskar, Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Kumble, Tendulkar, Laxman and many other stalwarts of the Indian cricket are Brahmins.
As of my knowledge only two dalits have so far represented India in his 75 years of history (Balwanth Paloo from Karnataka and Vinod Kambli).
Balu Palwankar was the first Dalit to be chosen as a member of the Indian team which played in England in 1911.
Vinod Kambli , who created a world record with the Tendulkar was the second dalit member in Indian cricket member. But where is tendulkar now and Kambli is completely forgotten.
Kambli scored Bradmanesque in the first two Series While coming back with the good results in the first 4 series. He was the third Highest Scorer in the 1996 World Cup and had the second best average in the World Cup.
Vinod Kambli was forced to retire with an over 50 average due to not being given enough chances. He was surely targeted by the elite BCCI bosses who promoted only elite players in Indian cricket.
This discrimination can be seen not only seen in cricket grounds, but also in the movies which made cricket as the major theme. One classic example is the movie Lagan itself, this is indeed a movie which insults Dalit cricketers.
The main actor Aamir Khan who is the upper caste Bhuvan is the leader of the team. The untouchable Kachra finds his place in the team because he is handicapped. Why should the dalits be portrayed as physically handicapped.
The reason is simple, upper cast directior Ashutoish Gowarikar wants to portray that Dalits  as a physically inferior race. Kachra"s talent comes only because of his handicap. In the climax of the movie they even make the upper caste Bhuvan to score the winning six.
On December 21st, 2003, two Dalit youths in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh were brutally murdered by Rajputs in the village. The major cause for this murder was the defeat in successive cricket matches that was considered an insult to Rajputs who considered themselves invincible and the least to be beaten by the 'dirty and good for nothing" dalits.
The village pradhan is suspected to be behind in these ghastly murders. For poor Dalits who dare to use cricket as a way to achieve empowerment, these are the responses of upper caste elites and their institutionally entrenched cohorts.
When can a dalit dream of playing in Indian tream ? When humanity is lost so terribly?
Legendary sports broadcaster John Arlott had once said sport reflected its society. It truly does in India. While the British used it Cricket as tool to maintain their imperialistic stranglehold, today it is being very well used by the corporate capitalists to maintain the great divide in India.

Discrimination Leaves Dalits In Doldrums
(NEPAL News)
LB Thapa

March 21st is observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It reminds us to put up more efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and violence including discrimination based on caste. The Interim Constitution of the country prohibits all types of discrimination based on caste, gender or religion. Despite such provisions in the law, Dalits are regarded as untouchables and are living a life worse than that of animals. Over the years, much has been said and written to improve the condition of Dalits, but all in vain. The violence against Dalits continues unabated.

In 2002, the local authority of the Kailali District Development Committee (KDDC), political leaders, senior bureaucrats and the members of the civic society had unanimously declared Kailali district a "no caste discrimination zone". But the declaration remained limited to paper …nothing was brought into practice. Pitamber Biswokarma, a devoted social worker from Kailali district has a bitter experience to share. "I don’t think the government is serious about the implementation of the law to eradicate caste-based discrimination in the country. It’s a shame that even in the 21st century when the world has made so much progress, we are squabbling over castes…a trivial issue indeed. Until and unless all the Nepali people are united and join their hands together, the real development will remain a far cry," he emphasized.

Any discrimination based on caste is a punishable act, but hardly anyone is afraid as upper caste people openly defy the law and keep Dalits under their feet. It is obvious that the state does not look serious to implement the anti-caste law seriously. Emancipation of Dalits from the age-old social bondage has remained confined to slogans alone. Political leaders raise this issue now and then and draw attention of Dalits to win the election, but renege on after winning the same.

In many parts of the country, Dalits live under constant fear of their lives. The upper caste people don’t mind to mete out severe punishment to Dalits if they ‘violate’ the social norms prevalent in the society since time immemorial. Very recently, Manabir Sunwar, a lower caste youth form western hills, was thrashed by two men of the upper caste. Later he breathed his last in the hospital. The poor youth had committed the crime of entering the kitchen of a local restaurant, which belonged to an upper caste person. There are innumerable instances where many Dalit men and women received brutal treatment at the hands of upper caste people.

The violence and discrimination against Dalits continue in Nepal. Several cases of abuse based on caste against Dalits have been reported across the country, but the perpetrators always get off with light punishment. The cases of rape and murder of Dalits have increased in the past few years. But how many of them have received justice could be a subject of research. Reports have suggested that many Dalit women have been accused of witchcraft and thereafter violently beaten to death. One who dares to marry a Dalit must flee the village, leaving everything behind, or face the wrath of the villagers. Dalits are not allowed to enter a temple or use public tap. Unfortunately, Dalits are not only oppressed by the upper caste Hindus, but also by people within the same community. There is caste hierarchy in Dalit community as well. This has barred them from getting united and standing together to fight against untouchability. It is also experienced that caste-based discrimination is more prevalent in the western region than in the eastern region of the country. This is obvious that caste-based oppression is more severe in the less developed areas and vice-versa.

Dalits have been forced to take up caste-based jobs like black smith, goldsmith, tailoring, shoe mending, street cleaning, raising pigs and helping cremate the dead. Poverty is to blame why Dalits are unable able to raise their living standard and stick with the traditional occupations. Dalit women and their children have no option but to work in the households at a meager wage or sometimes even no wage paid to them. They are contented with food and clothes they get in return for the work from dawn to dusk. Lack of education and skills make Dalit men and women unable to get well-paid jobs.

Education sector has also been hit hard by untouchability. In many parts of the country, Dalits are not allowed to sit beside the students of upper castes. They have to sit at the windows to get their lessons taught in the classroom. They can’t even eat near the students of upper class Hindus. They should always maintain a considerable distance. All grants and scholarships are made sure to go to upper class Hindus while many talented Dalits are ignored. Not only students, Dalit teachers too are vastly discriminated. They are not promoted to higher posts where they could stand equal to upper caste Hindu teachers.

Caste based discrimination can also be seen in the mainstream politics as well. No Dalits have occupied an important political position in any political party. Political leaders give pay a service and collect sympathy of Dalits and their votes. Frankly speaking, Dalits are used by the politicians for their vested interests. This is the reason why there are very few Dalit representatives in the parliament today. In fact, Nepali constitution has reserved 33 per cent seats for women, but political parties seem reluctant to give any seats to Dalit women.

Dalits are not allowed to practice Hindu rituals like other Hindus. This has encouraged them to join Christianity. Over the last two decades, many Dalits have joined Christianity. The conversion gives them self-respect and freedom within the Christian community. Fast conversion rate of Hindus, mostly Dalits, into Christianity is the testimony to the fact that more Dalits are embracing Christianity today than ever before.

To some extent, Dalits are also responsible for the miserable condition they are in. They are not united to fight the battle of caste-based discrimination. Not only the upper class Hindus discriminate against Dalits, Dalits are also divided as they maintain caste-based hierarchy. Hence, intra-caste discrimination has left the Dalit movement isolated and weak. Unless and until all Dalits stand on the same platform and fight for a common cause, the Dalit movement cannot produce favourable result.

For many, the new constitution is a hope. Some stringent steps should be included in the new constitution where any caste-based discrimination must be pronounced a serious crime. The perpetrators must be penalized with a serious punishment that must discourage others to commit any crime against Dalits in the future. Right to compensation should also be included in the new constitution that should provide reparation to the victims of caste-based discrimination. At present, all lawmakers agree to abolish caste-based discrimination from the country. For this, they have agreed to bring a stringent law. The government’s commitment to bring a strong and pragmatic law to deal with prevailing caste-based discrimination is a welcome idea indeed.

This is also assumed that merely legal provision is not enough to eliminate caste-based discrimination. Social attitude of the people towards Dalits should be changed. The youths of upper class Hindus should take initiative by socializing with Dalits. The first step should be taken from the villages where more Dalits are forced to live a life no better than animals. Electronic and print media can also play an important role to eradicate caste-based discrimination from the country. Media can educate people by propagating right kind of information. The essence of the message should be that no one is superior or inferior by birth. All the people of the country are equal as the citizens of this country.

Economic status of Dalits should also be improved. The government should see that Dalits get proper education and employment opportunities. To encourage self-employment, the government can provide special loans to Dalits. Access to education and employment can bring a sea change in the social status of Dalits in the country.

We cannot deny the fact that caste-based discrimination has been entrenched in Nepali society and in the psyche of the people. To bring a huge change overnight is impossible, but a constant effort can bring positive changes in the long run. It is imperative for the Dalit communities, the government, and the political parties to work in tandem to root out caste-based discrimination from the country. Laws and government programmes meant to uplift the economic and social status of the Dalits should be strictly enforced. Access to education must be made easy and available to one and all. Education alone can play a pivotal role to bring different castes, creeds and communities together and keep them united.

Descent Based - Discrimination

India’s languishing countryside: A village in a million (The Economist)
“The 10,000-odd villagers—who make Shahabpur a medium-sized settlement in crowded north India—are arranged largely on the basis of caste. They live in caste-based ghettos; rarely socialise across caste lines, and never inter-marry. And the village dalits, as the former untouchables are now called, are often abused.
“The chamars, the biggest of Shahabpur’s half-dozen dalit caste-groups get the worst of it. They are, not coincidentally, the village’s poorest people. And several villagers—including from Shahabpur’s small Muslim community, well-informed observers of Hindu wiles—say they are routinely bullied and beaten. The worst dalit-bashers are said to be the patels, Shahabpur’s biggest community, which is about 3,000-strong. They are typical bullies: of a low-caste peasant order, the patels are just a rung or two higher up the caste ladder, which makes them jealous guardians of their perceived superiority.
“There is an exception to the caste divide in Shahabpur, which many Muslim and Hindu men enjoy. For a few rupees or handfuls of rice, they are said to demand and get sex with dalit women, typically just after sundown, when the villagers troop out to the fields to ablute. At an informal gathering of Muslim men outside the house of Anwar Ali—an upstanding clerk, who also housed your correspondent—it was estimated that perhaps 40% of the village’s non-dalit men upheld this ancient tradition. According to Sarju, until Sushila lost her youthful good looks, he suffered near-nightly terrors from drunken patel youths, who came clamouring for her outside his hut.
“This practice recalls a famous condemnation of village India by one of the country’s founding fathers, B.R. Ambedkar. The architect of the country’s 1949 constitution and a dalit, Ambedkar asked: ‘What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism?’ (Mohandas Gandhi, by contrast, considered the villages to be India’s ideal social units.)” 

Dalit students allege discrimination against them in MP school

MP Dalit sarpanch begs for survival

A Dalit sarpanch in Damoh district makes both ends meet by occasionally begging in the village where she is supposed to be in a decision-making role.
Unlettered, Rajni Bansal was elected as sarpanch of the reserved Bachhama gram panchayat seat in 2010 when she was forced to contest. It's been more than three years but she has not attended the office.
The plight of the mother of five seems to have worsened because she does not even get the honorarium on time and the villagers have stopped employing her labourer husband. She is called to hoist the Tricolour because that's customary, probably the only time she gets any invitation.
Moved by her plight after reading a newspaper report, BJP MLA from Hata Umadevi Khatik has decided to help her. "It's a poor, backward and undeveloped region. She does not know her job because she is uneducated,'' she said.
Chief executive officer of Hata Janpad Panchayat Anand Shukla said he had sent "a fact-finding team" to the remote village where access has been made difficult by rains. He claimed it was unlikely that the woman has taken to begging as the government was providing food grains at nominal rate to BPL and Antyodaya families.
A previous panchayat secretary had been removed because he allegedly made her put thumb impression on files. Since then development work in the panchayat has stopped. Shukla and Khatik hinted there were irregularities in the panchayat's accounts.
Executive director of Samarthan Yogesh Kumar said mere reservation won't bring about women's empowerment. He said in Rajni's case, there was a need for reforms because seats are reserved in accordance with the SC/ST population in the entire block. These reserved seats are randomly chosen creating a situation when SCs or STs are in much less numbers in that particular seat leading to unwilling candidates getting elected.

February 27, 2010


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