25, Sep 2023 | CJP Team
From the second half of September 2023, Sabrang India brings to you a coverage of the reported issues of violence against Dalits. From a minister being discriminated against in a Kerala temple to a semi-conscious man forced to sign papers of a compromise in Punjab’s Jalandhar, it is not easy being a Dalit in India.
When violence against the community keeps rising like an epidemic. Different political parties govern these states, from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress (INC) to the CPI-M yet this systemic violence continues!
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In Jalandhar, a Dalit youth was reported to have been kidnapped and beaten by the son of an Aam Aadmi Party leader. The victim Aakash Bangar shared details of the incident as reported by the Tribune India on September 16, 2023.
Source: Tribune India.
Bangar recounted, “I was coming from near Dakoha last evening in my Baleno car. Dhall’s son and his friend were following me and continuously using a hooter, which irritated me. I got out of the car and asked him why he was using it when he was no big shot. On this, he and his friend got agitated. They bundled me in his car, covered my face with a cloth and kept on beating me throughout. Since I hail from Phagwara and run an NGO for blood donation there, I did not even know who Dhall is till he joined them to beat me up.”
The situation escalated further when Dinesh Dhall the AAP leader himself reportedly joined the episode and took the victim to the Rama Mandi police station where another round of physical abuse reportedly occurred in the presence of law enforcement officers.
However, the harrowing incidents did not end there. Bangar asserted that he received inadequate treatment from the on-duty doctors at the Civil Hospital after he arrived at the hospital around 11:30 pm at the behest of AAP leaders. Later, Bangar’s friends and family had to transfer him to a private hospital where he finally received proper medical attention.
Furthermore, the Jalandhar city police opted not to file a case, instead attempting to broker a compromise between the AAP leader’s son and the victim while the latter was still undergoing treatment, according reports. Senior police officials categorised the incident as a minor “road rage” altercation, stating that both parties had agreed to reconcile. This compromise reportedly took place even as Congress MLAs, including Bawa Henry and Pargat Singh, as well as District Congress chief Rajinder Beri, met with Police Commissioner Kuldeep Chahal urging for the registration of an FIR in the case.
Balwinder Kumar, a leader from the BSP also came forward in support of Bangar. He alleged, “Senior police officials in Jalandhar tend to take action against Dalit activists or individuals from marginalised sections even for minor offences, such as protesting over delays in the SC Post-Matric Scholarship. In this case, where prominent figures like the AAP leader and his family are implicated in an attack, the authorities are treating it as a minor offence.”
Later in the evening, Bangar denied claims of a compromise and alleged coercion and stating that the police had made him sign on papers when he was barely conscious at the hospital, “While I was semi-conscious in the hospital, the police repeatedly sought my signatures on various documents. I signed these papers without understanding their contents. Subsequently, someone informed me that one of the documents concerned a compromise, which I plan to revoke. After such an incident, I have no intention of reaching a compromise.”
Ballia, Uttar Pradesh
A teenage Dalit girl was raped in Ballia, the news arose on September 15. In connection with the case the police have arrested one accused. Circle Officer Mohammad Usman has reported that both the minor victim and the accused, a 22-year-old named Tufani Yadav, are residents of the same village. The alleged incident of rape occurred on September 11, according to the the police.
A formal complaint was lodged by the girl’s brother after which the arrest took place and a case was registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the SC/ST Act against Yadav, according to Usman.
Ballia, Uttar Pradesh
Another harrowing story emerges from Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia. A Dalit youth Sandeep Kumar and his cousin Vikas were brutally attacked with knives near Chilkahar railway station under Gadwar police station’s jurisdiction.Sudeep and Vikas were at the railway platform. A group from their village attacked them with knives, causing chaos. Sandeep succumbed to his injuries, while Vikas was rushed to a Varanasi trauma centre.
The incident also gave rise to local protests and a road blockade from the community and further developments led to Inspector Rajkumar Singh of Gadwar police station being suspended. An FIR under sections of the SC/ST Act has been filed. Three people have been remanded out of the twelve accused. The outraged public conducted a road blockade of the Ballia-Lucknow highway with demands for compensation for Sandeep’s family, and government employment for his widow. After officials assured of swift action, the protest was called off. The family alleged that previous attacks had also been taken out by the accused on Sandeep, however the authorities had not taken his complaint seriously. Following Sandeep’s death, the SHO has been suspended from duty.
In the rural corner of Gujarat, caste discrimination seems to have led the district administration to over 400 ration card holders to buy their ration from the neighbouring village of Edla instead of the village they reside in. District collector Arvind Vijayan issued the order on September 12 after villagers refused to buy ration from a Dalit man named Kanti Parmar in Kanosan.
A year and a half ago a majority of ration cardholders from the Thakor community, which dominates Kanosan, stopped buying their monthly rations from Kanti Parmar’s FPS over a year ago. They also alleged that Parmar had threatened to file the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act against them, according to the Indian Express.
To address this dispute, the district administration gathered statements from 268 Kanosan residents. Of these, 260 expressed their willingness to switch to neighbouring FPS options, while only eight still favoured buying from Kanti Parmar.
Following this consensus, collector Arvind Vijayan ordered the transfer of all ration cards to the FPS run by Visabhai Rabari in Edla village, located just 1.5 km from Kanosan.
Kanti Parmar has vehemently denied all false allegations against him, asserting that the dispute originated when he refused to provide rations to a Thakor leader who was actually ineligible to receive the ration. Speaking to the Indian Express, he stated clearly that his shop had been targeted for boycott by the Thakor community.
The issue got extremely pressing and concerning to that point that Kanti attempted suicide by ingesting poison in a public park. Following this incident his son, Mukesh, filed a police complaint against four Thakor community members, alleging that they had encouraged villagers to boycott the shop and falsely accused Kanti.
Collector Arvind Vijayan defended his order as a result of an internal inquiry and strong opposition from villagers. He assured that Kanti would have an opportunity to present his side before any decisions about shop licence cancellation are made.
Mukesh Parmar has further expressed fears that their shop would now be closed, and it would be a disaster for the family given it was their only source of income.
A 15-year-old Dalit girl was reportedly subjected to months of rape by two men in an area under the jurisdiction of Roza Police Station. The teenager used to visit a woman’s house in her neighbourhood which was where she was introduced to Tanveer and Dilbag. The additional Superintendent of Police Sudhir Jaiswal has stated that according to the victim’s father’s complaint, Tanveer and Dilbag raped the minor girl over a four-month period and had also threatened her not to disclose the abuse to anyone.
Tanveer, Dilbag, and the neighbor Nisha have been booked under sections 376 D (gang rape), 354 (assault with intent to outrage modesty), and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The victim has undergone a medical examination and authorities are actively pursuing the accused individuals according to the ASP.
On September 16, in Dugaar village in the Begun area of Chittorgarh district, Rajasthan, an elderly Dalit man was subjected to gross humiliation. A video recently surfaced on social media, revealing that he was coerced into making an apology before the village panchayat by placing shoes on his head. Following intervention by Dallit activists, the police took action on Monday night by registering a case against seven individuals under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Subsequently three individuals, namely Sukhdev, Dinesh, and Behru Lal, were further arrested in connection with this incident.
The video depicted villagers surrounding the elderly man, who stood with a bundle of shoes on his head while repeatedly offering apologies with folded hands. After his apology, he was instructed to sit down.
Deep rooted Casteism in Rajasthan, a Dalit elder was publicly insulted and apologized by placing shoes on his head. pic.twitter.com/bF1WWEK8LS
— The Dalit Voice (@ambedkariteIND) September 20, 2023
According to SHO Devendra Kumar, the police initiated proceedings upon receiving a complaint. Allegedly, during one of his religious recitations, Salvi made remarks that offended members of the Gurjar community. Initially, these remarks went relatively unnoticed during the recitation. However, the situation escalated when a video of the incident started circulating on social media which received with anger by the accused.
A Dalit man lost his life to suicide after he was abused with casteist slurs and beaten by a broom at Haralugere village in Kolar district of Karnataka.
The man had apparently made an inappropriate remark about a friend’s wife which led to the violent altercation where the husband and his friends assaulted the man. The complaint that was lodged at the Malur police station stated that the man committed suicide due to humiliation meted out by his friends. Inspector Vasanth Kumar ha stated that a case has been registered against the five accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Following the man’s suicide, the accused fled the place.
Kerala’s Minister for SC/ST Welfare, K Radhakrishnan recently spoke up about an incident of caste discrimination he himself faced during a temple function in the Kannur district of Kerala. Radhakrishnan who also holds the portfolio for Devaswom temple affairs has called for a fundamental shift in the mind-set that perpetuates such discriminatory practices.
“I believe that the general public of Kerala will not accept it. The caste system is a stain on society, and as long as it exists, the fight against it will continue,” asserted the minister, according to Deccan Chronicle. The incident in question took place during the inauguration ceremony at a temple when Radhakrishnan found himself side-lined based on his caste. Two temple priests, he revealed, declined to hand him the sacred flame, which is customarily used to light the main lamp at such events.
— The Dalit Voice (@ambedkariteIND) September 20, 2023
Radhakrishnan recounted the incident during a gathering at a Bharatiya Velan Service Society program in Kottayam, and asserted, “I pointed out that they don’t discriminate against the money I give but they discriminate against me. The caste system may not disappear overnight, but it has not gone away from people’s minds. I expressed my disappointment that they discriminate against people while not showing any discrimination towards the money donated by the poor, which changes hands from the butcher or fish seller and comes out of their trousers.”
Radhakrishnan has decided not to pursue legal action in the Kannur incident, advocating for resolving the issue through dialogue. Meanwhile, the state committee of the Akhila Kerala Thanthri Samajam has responded saying that priests conducting ‘deva pujas’ do not make physical contact with anyone, irrespective of their caste, until the ceremony concludes.