Sunday, August 29, 2010
The SC directed the Haryana govt to make all efforts to arrest those involved in
the murder of two Dalits.
The Supreme Court today directed the Haryana government to make all possible
efforts to arrest by September 10 those involved in the murder of two Dalits and
the destruction of 150 houses in Mirchpur village, Hissar on April 21.
The violence was allegedly orchestrated by people belonging to the upper castes.
The Court also slammed the Haryana government for its failure to provide relief
and rehabilitation measures to the affected families and directed authorities to
provide two quintal of wheat to each affected family.
"Some people are not being arrested. They should be arrested before the next
date of hearing," a Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said
while posting the next date of hearing for September 10.
The apex court perused the over 100-page report submitted by the state
government in a sealed cover along with the fact-finding report prepared by a
team of lawyers representing the victims.
"We have seen the report (of state government) which is contrary to the report
of the other side," the Bench said while expressing dissatisfaction over the
steps taken by the state government and directed it to file a fresh affidavit.
The fact-finding report submitted by senior advocte Colin Gonsalves, who is
representing the victims, said the state government failed to keep its promise
of providing adequate relief and rehabilitation.
He said in the report it is clearly mentioned that the authorities have not
properly implemented the MNREGA.
Further, the dwelling houses for Dalits in the village are made of mud and not
cement, the report said adding even the district collector did not visit the
village, and instead, only met the victims at the Valmiki Temple in the capital
where they were given shelter.
The apex court had on June 2 warned that it would "take a very serious view" if
such incidents recurred.
"Such incidents of killings are taking place for the last five years," the Bench
said during the hearing while expressing anguish that the administration was not
During the previous hearing, the court had pulled up the state for its failure
to prevent the incident -- reportedly a fallout of a dog of the (Valmiki) Dalit
community barking at upper caste Jat boys. A paraplegic girl was burnt to death,
trapped inside her burning home. Her father, who tired to save her, later
succumbed to injuries.
The apex court had recorded an undertaking from the Haryana government that it
would rebuild some of the houses damaged in the arson and provide employment to
at least one member of each affected family under the MNREGA or other
government-sponsored schemes by the next hearing.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Christian populations of the villages in Kandhamal district fear a repeat of the communal riots of 2008.
|The Christian populations of the villages in Kandhamal district fear a repeat of the communal riots of 2008.|
MASA DIGAL AND his wife, Sabitri, of Ladapadar village in Kandhamal district, who returned home from Bhubaneswar to farm his land.
MASA DIGAL has not gone to a church or a prayer house since the widespread anti-Christian riots of 2008 in many parts of Orissa's Kandhamal district.
“Religion carries little meaning for me today as my life continues to be full of uncertainties. I am yet to forget the harrowing time we had when we hid in forested hills braving heavy rains and survived without food for days on end – until some of us managed to get out of the district while others took shelter in relief camps set up by the district administration,” said Digal, a native of Ladapadar village in the district.
Digal, whose house was looted by rioters belonging to the majority community while he was hiding in the forests, is yet to muster the courage to lead a normal life in his native village. This correspondent met him recently at Ladapadar when he had come along with his wife, Sabitri, to grow a kharif crop on the small patch of land he owned near his house.
“We do not feel secure in our own homes in the village anymore. That is why I don't feel like leaving Bhubaneswar and coming to my village and living here the way I lived in the past,” he said. After the riots, he lived with his family in a slum in the capital city, more than 220 kilometres away from his village, and earned his livelihood as a daily wage labourer.
Digal was among the thousands of people who fled the troubled district during the 2008 communal violence. Although security personnel had been deployed in the urban areas in the wake of the riots, violence continued in the interior areas. Digal went alone to Bhubaneswar during the riots, while his wife took shelter in her parental home several kilometres away from their village.
A few weeks after the riots stopped following the arrest of a number of people who were allegedly responsible for them, many Christian families in Ladapadar were forced to convert to Hinduism at a ceremony organised by the local unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). However, many of those who changed their religion then practise Christianity now. But peace eludes them.
“We were first attacked in December 2007 following a rumour that VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda was attacked by a group of Christian youth. The village church was badly damaged in the attack. But the violence we experienced in 2008 was much worse,” he added. The church has not been repaired to date. So no prayer could be organised there so far.
There are 25 families in the village, including one that converted to Hinduism several years ago. Many of these families live below the poverty line but are yet to be issued BPL cards. Only four families have got dwelling units under the Indira Awas Yojana to date. The work on the main approach road to the village has remained incomplete for years together.
“The local sarpanch, who belongs to the ‘padma phula party' [party with the lotus symbol, or the Bharatiya Janata Party], pays little attention to our woes. We have not approached the district administration in Phulbani, just 18 km away, for BPL cards, houses under the Indira Awas Yojana, or compensation for the damage caused to our church and homes during the two successive riots, as we feel it would annoy members of the majority community living in nearby villages,” said Kishore Digal, another resident of the village.
LAMBODAR KANHAR, LEADER of the Kui Samaj Coordination Committee.
Most of the residents of Ladapadar have lived outside Kandhamal district after the 2008 riots, which had made Kandhamal look like a killing field. The story is the same in many other villages as well in the district. And peace continues to elude the poor majority who live in their villages now.
Communal violence started in Kandhamal soon after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda in one of his ashrams in the district on the night of August 23, 2008. Hundreds of houses, churches and prayer houses belonging to tribal Christians were damaged or burnt down.
Even though the Maoists claimed that they had killed the VHP leader, the Sangh Parivar preferred to believe that the crime was the handiwork of tribal Christians. Soon communal violence engulfed most parts of the district. Members of the Christian community had to run for their lives. They hid in forests until they could go to relief camps or to distant towns. More than 25,000 people were forced to live in relief camps in the district and in places like Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Cuttack for months together.
Those who failed to escape were killed by rampaging mobs. The exact death toll is still a matter of conjecture. While human rights groups estimate that over 100 people were killed, the State government puts the figure at 38.
Why are the Christian families still feeling insecure in their own hamlets tucked in the forests and hills of this picturesque district? This is because there has been little interaction or exchange of views between the members of the minority and majority communities till date. Very few meetings of the peace committee were held at Phulbani, while attacks on Christian families continued in some areas.
Besides, prosecution of many of those who had indulged in rioting, arson and killing has not been possible for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that the Christians fear to depose before the police or a court against members of the majority community who attacked them and their homes.
According to the Kandhamal police, a total of 828 cases were registered in the aftermath of the 2008 riots in different parts of the district even though filing complaints with the police was a difficult task for the riot victims. The victims say that they are not aware of the fate of their complaints.
The Kandhamal police have so far closed, and have the final report in, as many as 255 cases. Although the allegations made in the complaints were found to be true, the police had no clues, eyewitnesses or evidence to establish the cases and book those involved.
Kandhamal Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar, who has been holding his post since the time of the violence, said that while investigations into 225 cases had been closed, the police had been able to complete investigations and file charge sheets in 410 cases in the two fast-track courts set up for the purpose. The remaining cases were still under investigation, he said.
All cases relating to the 2008 riots were being handled by the district police, while the cases relating to the murder of Laxmanananda and two incidents of rape went to the Crime Branch.
Two separate judicial commissions, both headed by retired High Court judges, were set up to probe the riots of 2007 and 2008. Both have submitted their interim reports, and the final reports and recommendations are awaited.
The fast-track courts have disposed of more than 120 cases until the second week of August; of the accused, 450 have been acquitted and 150, including the BJP legislator Manoj Pradhan, convicted.
The Church and the Sangh
How did the Church and the Sangh Parivar become active in Kandhamal? The vast majority of the people in the district are poor and gullible tribal people who easily accepted any religion or belief that came their way. When Christian preachers first made headway, Sangh Parivar leaders came up with a counter-conversion campaign, said Lambodar Kanhar, the main leader of the Kui Samaj Coordination Committee (KSCC) of Kandhamal. Kanhar, a lawyer in Phulbani, has been taking up cases for members of the Kondh tribe in the district for several years now.
Kanhar pointed out that though the Church and the Sangh organisations were not active in Kandhamal in the post-2008 riots period, the situation in the district remained volatile. Tension prevailed more in the interior areas, he said. “In many pockets, both sides continue to dislike each other and are looking for opportunities to attack each other,” said Kanhar. “The tribal people were neither Hindus nor Christians originally and were leading a miserable life since the government was doing very little for their welfare,” he pointed out.
The majority of the Kondh people are now demanding government intervention to address their various problems. One of their major demands is that the constitutional rights of the tribal people be protected and they be allowed to enjoy reservation in government jobs and pro-poor schemes. Much of their land is allegedly in the custody of Christian or upper-caste Hindu families. Another demand of the KSCC is that landless tribal families be given land rights.
AT NANDAGIRI NEAR G. Udayagiri in Kandhamal district. Many of the displaced families still live in tents.
The riot-hit population blames the Naveen Patnaik government for the poor compensation and rehabilitation packages. The Sangh Parivar criticises the government for “implicating” its men in cases relating to the riots. Kanhar, for his part, alleged that the administration had failed to address the real issues facing the poor. The district lacks food security and does not have a railway link.
A senior police officer from Kandhamal said the district's plight was a complex one. It was one of the less administered regions of the State even during British rule. In fact, until the 2008 riots the district had only three revenue blocks to cater to a population spread over vast areas. When the Chief Minister faced severe criticism after the riots for not taking the problems of the poor of Kandhamal seriously, 12 more blocks were created.
The majority of the people of Kandhamal continue to live in abject poverty. They do not get adequate job opportunities under the various government schemes and just prices for their agricultural and forest produce. Patnaik, however, continues to project a clean and pro-poor image before the people. While entertaining a large number of private companies that have come forward to set up steel plants, alumina refineries, thermal power plants and ports, he and his Biju Janata Dal have been able to run the government without much difficulty primarily because the main Opposition party, the Congress, has been a divided house since he took over in 2000. Despite the various charges against his government – allegedly turning a blind eye to large-scale illegal mining, failing to address the problems of farmers and those facing displacement by industries, and so on – Patnaik has by and large managed to keep the media in good humour by blaming the Centre for all the problems of the State.
Although the BJP was a partner in his government when Kandhamal witnessed communal violence, Patnaik managed to don a secular face by severing his party's ties with the saffron party days before the 2009 Assembly elections.
The government, which described the 2008 violence as an ethno-communal conflict though both the majority and minority communities have tribal and non-tribal populations, has so far failed to bring any perceptible change in the lives of the riot victims as well as the other tribal people and Dalits. It has also not been able to do much with regard to the conflicts over land rights or the issue of reservation.
In the post-riot period, many non-governmental organisations and civil society leaders have also maintained an indifferent attitude towards Kandhamal's problems, including the rise of Maoists. Meanwhile, the National Solidarity Forum, a countrywide platform of civil society organisations, has called for the observation of August 25 as “Kandhamal Day” to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the violence. With a view to exerting pressure on the Central government, it plans to organise a people's tribunal between August 22 and 24 in New Delhi.
It is high time the State government did something to prevent a repeat of the 2007 and 2008 violence.
COURTESY FRONT LINE Aug 28 - Sep 10, 2010
|front line |
Seven persons have been awarded life imprisonment in the Dulina Dalit lynching case, but the battle for justice may not be over.
Some of those convicted, outside the court.
THE long wait for justice by the families of the five Dalit youth who were lynched on October 15, 2002, at the police post in Dulina village in Jhajjar district of Haryana is finally over. On August 9, a district court awarded life imprisonment to seven convicts in the case.
The Dalits were taken to the police post by a group of people who accused them of slaughtering a cow on Dasara day. The crowd soon swelled into a murderous mob and it beat them up in the presence of senior police officers and officials of the district administration. The police personnel did not fire a single shot to disperse the assailants ( Frontline, January 18, 2003).
The case should have been long settled as the crime happened in front of law-enforcers. But because of the caste identities of the victims and the perpetrators of the crime, it was clear that the road to justice was going to be a long one. The State government set up a commission headed by R.R. Banswal, the then Commissioner of Rohtak range, to inquire into the circumstances that led to the incident. The commission report, submitted in December 2002, summed up the sequence of events and castigated the police. It concluded that the five Dalits were murdered at the police post. The exhaustive, 383-page report recommended action against the police officials concerned for dereliction of duty.
According to Jhajjar District Special Judge A.K. Jain, the crime was “well planned and premeditated”. A total of 30 persons were accused initially in the lynching case. On August 7, the court found seven of them guilty under Sections 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 449 (house trespass in order to commit offence), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault or criminal force), 302 (punishment for murder) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Indian Penal Code. On August 9, the court awarded life imprisonment to them and imposed on them a fine of Rs.20,000 under Section 302. The accused were also awarded rigorous imprisonment (RI) for two years under Section 148; seven years' RI and a fine of Rs.5,000 under Section 449; two years' RI under Section 332; and two years' RI under Section 353. All sentences will run concurrently. However, they were acquitted under relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The court acquitted the rest of the accused.
On the basis of the evidence on record, the judge noted in his order that the seven accused (six Jats and one Dalit) – Ranbir, Om Parkash, Satbir, Ramesh, Shishupal, Jagbir and Sube – dragged the five people out after breaking open the door of the police lockup, killed them on the spot and threw the bodies of two into a fire. The order, however, noted that there was no cogent evidence to prove that the accused set on fire any building or hut or that the crime in question was motivated by the caste of the victims. The order said: “On the contrary, it is apparent that the accused were not even aware of the caste of the victims…. In this background, no offence is made out under the S.C. and S.T. (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the accused.”
On the day the judgment was pronounced, a huge crowd gathered outside the Jhajjar court in support of the accused, reminiscent of the huge mobilisation on October 16, 2002, to put pressure on the administration against their arrest. Not a word was uttered in support of the massacre victims either then or now. Slogans were raised in support of the cow. According to the report of the then Deputy Commissioner, Jhajjar, various social and religious organisations conducted meetings and took out processions through the bazaars of Jhajjar town and submitted memoranda to the authorities demanding that no action be taken against the people who had killed the “cow slaughterers”.
The mood on August 7 was no less different. All shops in Jhajjar town downed their shutters protesting against the sentence. At a meeting held in support of those found guilty, the Jhajjar Gurukul Pradhan Vijaypal and Haryana Gaushala Sangh president, Acharya Baldev, gave a call to protect the cow. On August 10, the Jhajjar Gaushala organised a panchayat to decide a future course of action. It was decided to hold a bigger meeting in which representatives of khaps, gurukuls and gaushalas were expected to participate.
At least two of the seven convicts had connections with the Shiv Sena or the Bharatiya Janta Party. One of them is a former municipal councillor and president of the district unit of the Shiv Sena. The other, the pradhan of the Jhajjar Gaushala and a former member of the BJP, is now associated with the ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INDL). It may be pertinent here to mention that in the past few years “cow rescue” operations have intensified, with vigilantes stopping vehicles suspected to be carrying animals for slaughter. Needless to add, all these activities have a “communal” subtext to them. The then Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Narender Singh, stated in his deposition to the prosecution that “the crowd was agitated communally”. Rajinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Dulina, also deposed that someone from the mob shouted that “the victims were dhedh (a derogatory term used for Dalits), they were doing the job like Muslims and they should not be spared”. In his statement as a prosecution witness, Rajinder Singh said one Mahabir had stood on the bonnet of his vehicle and announced that the victims were not Muslims but Hindus who had purchased the carcass of the cow for Rs.200.
A PROTEST in support of the convicts outside the primises.
COLLUSION OF THE POLICE
The blatantly communal and casteist character of the attack was apparent. Whether the local police colluded with the killers by remaining passive observers as the five were dragged out from a locked room, beaten and burnt alive, is a question the families of the victims are asking. Why did the main building of the police post not bear any signs of mob violence? Why did the plant pots on the premises not suffer any damage? Why was it that some policemen sustained only minor injuries in an attack by a 5,000-strong mob? These are questions that need to be answered. Dharambir Singh, who was in charge of the police post at the time of the crime, admitted in his statement that when he found that it was not a case of cow slaughter, he did not record the statement of the persons who had made the complaint; nor did he record the statement of the deceased persons. “I cannot give any reason for that,” he stated.
On October 15, 2002, as the rest of the State was celebrating Dasara, the festival symbolising the victory of good over evil, for Kailash, Virender, Tota Ram, Raju and Dayachand, it was business as usual. They were the main breadwinners of their families. The youngest of them was 17-year-old Raju, a cleaner. Tota Ram, the driver of the vehicle that was carrying the hides, had four minor children. Kailash had promised his son, Kamal, that he would return home early to celebrate Dasara. Engaged in the activity of purchasing, loading and unloading the skins of dead animals, which members of no other caste would take up, the five men had landed in Farookhnagar where a cow owned by a Brahmin was reported dead. They picked up the dead animal from a local contractor, called Hanif, and attempted to skin the already putrefying carcass.
Interestingly, the Banswal Commission report had expressed doubts about the very fact that the cow had been skinned on the road, and that too near a religious institution like the Gurukul of Jhajjar. Witnesses involved in the skinning trade, who were examined by the commission, deposed that those in the trade observed the rule that no skinning would be done after sunset. That there had been a conflict between some of the police personnel and one of the deceased over bribes for letting vehicles pass through was also hinted at in the report.
More interestingly, the five were caught by people returning after the Dasara festivities, beaten up and handed over to the police at Dulina. They forced the assistant sub-inspector, who was also a witness for the prosecution, to register a case of cow slaughter against the five men. Strangely, the Jhajjar superintendent of police in his report to the National Human Rights Commission, the State's director-general of police, and the inspector-general, Rohtak range, withheld the names of the accused persons and the inquest reports. That it was not a case of cow slaughter was verified by a team of police persons. The SP stated that by the time the verification was complete, a violent crowd had gathered outside the police post. They were shouting slogans such as “Gau mata ki jai ho”, “Gau mata ke hatyaron ko hum nahin chodenge”, “Unhe hamare hawale karo”, and “Ham Hindu hain aur tum Hindu nahin ho”. It was equally strange that the magistrates and the police present there felt that if firing was resorted to, the situation would worsen and that persuasion was a better method to calm the crowd. Clearly, their reluctance to open fire resulted in the lynching.
It is surprising that from 6-20 p.m. onwards when the five were handed over to the police and until 11-10 p.m. when the roadblocks were removed and the five men were lynched to death, the administration did not think it wise to fire a single shot in the air. The contradictory statements of the police did not help the case progress initially. While the police post in charge and the DSP reportedly described the mob as having swelled to 3,000, the SHO, the city magistrate and two other officials gave the figure in hundreds.
Banswal observed in his report that the mob strength was not more than 1,000 and the police strength was sufficient to handle the situation. He was unable to understand why the SHO, the DSP and the executive magistrate attempted to convince the crowd that the five were not Muslims. He also failed to understand why an additional police force could not reach the spot despite repeated demands by the DSP and the magistrate, while people could reach the police post from a distance of more than six kilometres through dirt tracks. Were the police deliberately disinterested?
According to the post-mortem reports, the Dalits had died of shock and haemorrhage, their bodies bore multiple injuries and fractures and their faces were “contused and disfigured” with burns. Kailash was thrown alive into a fire. The injuries on the three policemen and one city magistrate were superficial in nature, leading Banswal to conclude from the medico legal reports that “there was no such serious confrontation” between the mobsters and the police. The absence of three names, including that of the chairman of the gaushala, from the first information report, too, raised serious questions about the impartiality of the police.
Five witnesses from different castes and occupations examined by the commission stated that two of the deceased, Virender and Daya Chand, had told them that the police were in the habit of demanding suvidha shulk, or convenience tax, from them. Banswal's report concluded that the police officers and officials had exaggerated the strength of the mob in order to cover up their lapses. The record of the VT (verbal transmission) messages showed that the force, to be assembled from various police stations, was requisitioned only at 9-15 p.m. Another surprising fact, the report noted, was that the police force from the police lines of Jhajjar reached the Dulina police post after an hour and a half covering a distance of 8 km. The SHO took the matter very lightly, the report noted, and did not think of arranging first aid for the victims who had already been beaten up once by the mob.
The DSP tried to pacify the mob; the seriousness of the situation was not conveyed either to the SP or the Deputy Commissioner. “When the police force present at the police post was equipped with rifles and cartridges, why were they not ordered to be used? It shows the callousness on the part of the DSP,” the report said.
The five youth were lynched between 9-45 p.m. and 10-15 p.m. on the night of October 15, 2002. They were brought in at 6-15 p.m. to the police post, and Banswal noted that there was “sufficient time to manage and control the situation”. The report also included memoranda received from various organisations. The commission had examined 114 witnesses.
Several organisations and individuals, including the All India Democratic Women's Association, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Shri Guru Ravi Dass Sabha and the Maharshi Balmiki Mandir Samiti, condemned the incident and demanded action against the police personnel. Some others warned the administration of reprisals if the “wrong” people were arrested. The INLD and the Congress for some strange reason did not submit any memoranda demanding justice for the five slain persons.
It is quite possible that the district judge's order will be challenged in a higher court as mobilisation for this on caste and communal lines has already begun. In the interest of justice, it is felt that the government should appeal against the acquittal of the remaining accused persons so that the right lessons from Dulina are learnt.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
PROTEST IN TUTICORIN ON 14.8.10 ON THE ARREST AND REMAND OF TNUEF LEADERS IN GUDIYATHAM IN CONNECTION WITH THE RESETTLEMENT OF EVICTED DALITS/MUSLIMS
THE TNUEF,TUTICORIN DISTRICT UNIT PROTESTED BY HOLDING A DEMONSTRATION IN TUTICORIN ON 14.8.10 ON THE ARREST AND REMAND OF TNUEF LEADERS AT GUDIYATHAM IN CONNECTION WITH THE STRUGGLE LAUNCHED FOR THE RESETTLEMENT OF EVICTED DALITS/MUSLIMS BY THE ANTI SOCIAL ELEMENTS. THE ANTI SOCIALS WITH THE SUPPORT OF RULING DMK GOVT.REMOVED THE DWELLING PLACES OF 39 FAMILIES OF DALITS/MUSLIMS WHO ARE LIVING FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS.
THE DEMONSTRATION WAS PRESIDED OVER BY P.ESAKKIMUTHU(DT.CONVENER OF TNUEF).K.P.PERUMAL,DT.SECRETARY OF TAMILNADU VIVASAYA SANGAM DELIVERED THE OPEN ADDRESS.K.PONRAJ, DT.PRESIDENT OF CITU, SHANMUGARAJ,DT.SECRETARY OF DYFI ARE THE SPEAKERS.K,KANAGARAJ, DT.SECRETARY OF CPI(M) CONCLUDED THE DEMONSTRATION WITH HIS SPEECH
MEMBERS OF CPI(M), CITU , AIIEA.BEFI,AIDWA.TEACHERS ORGANISATIONS AND CHRITHTHAVARGAL VALVURIMAI IYAKKAM PARTICIPATED IN THE DEMONSTRATION
Friday, August 13, 2010
சமூக விரோதிகளால் தலித் - இஸ்லாமிய மக்களின் வீடுகள் இடிப்பு நியாயம் கேட்டவர்கள் சிறையில் அடைப்பு உடனே விடுதலை செய்க ---மார்க் சிஸ்ட் கம்யூனிஸ்ட் கட்சி