Caste-related violence in India


Caste-related violence in India

Caste-related violence and hate crimes in India have occurred despite the gradual reduction of casteism in the country.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Dalits and indigenous peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or adivasis) continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local authorities."[1]. Usually, the perpetrators are from the politically and economically dominant Backward Castes, asserting their primacy over local power and resources.

Contents

Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi (19632001) was an Indian dacoit (bandit), who later turned politician. Born in a lower-caste Mallaah family, she was mistreated and abandoned by her husband. She was later kidnapped by a gang of dacoits. The upper-caste Thakur leader of the gang tried to rape her, but she was protected by the deputy leader Vikram, who belonged to her caste. Later, an upper-caste Thakur friend of Vikram killed him, abducted Phoolan, and locked her up in the Behmai village. Phoolan was raped in the village by Thakur men, until she managed to escape after three weeks.

Phoolan Devi then formed a gang of Mallahs, which carried out a series of violent robberies in north and central India, mainly targeting upper-caste people. Some say that Phoolan Devi targeted only the upper-caste people and shared the loot with the lower-caste people, but the Indian authorities insist this is a myth[2]. Seventeen months after her escape from Behmai, Phoolan returned to the village, to take her revenge. On February 14, 1981, her gang massacred twenty-two Thakur men in the village, only two of which were involved in her kidnapping or rape. Phoolan Devi later surrendered and served eleven years in prison, after which she became a politician. During her election campaign, she was criticized by the women widowed in the Behmai massacre. Kshatriya Swabhimaan Andolan Samanvay Committee (KSASC), a Kshatriya organization, held a statewide campaign to protest against her. She was elected a Member of Parliament twice.

On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was shot dead by unknown assassins. Later, a man called Sher Singh Rana confessed to the murder, saying he was avenging the deaths of 22 Kshatriyas at Behmai. Although the police were skeptical of his claims, he was arrested. Rana escaped from Tihar Jail in 2004. In 2006, KSASC decided to honor Rana for "upholding the dignity of the Thakur community" and "drying the tears of the widows of Behmai."[3]

Andhra Pradesh

This state is considered[by whom?] to be one of the most caste-crime infested places of India which has had many Dalit Massacres such as the Chundur Massacre and the Neerukonda Massacre.

Ranvir Sena

Ranvir Sena is a caste-supremacist fringe paramilitary group based in Bihar. The group is based amongst the higher-caste landlords, and carries out actions against the outlawed naxals in rural areas. It has committed violent acts against Dalits and other members of the scheduled caste community in an effort to prevent reforms aimed at their emancipation.

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Tamil Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu has witnessed several caste-based incidents both against Dalits and Brahmins[citation needed]. In 2000, three young men belonging to the Dalit undercaste were killed in the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu[citation needed]. This fuelled some localized violence in the caste-sensitive region, which has seen numerous caste-related incidents in which the majority of the victims have been Dalits. Six of the killings have been registered as murders under the Indian Penal Code and others as "Deaths under suspicious circumstances"[citation needed]. No arrests have been made in these cases[citation needed].

However, several Dalits have been arrested as goondas (hoodlums)[citation needed]. Theories concerning these crimes against Dalits range from "alcohol bootleggers opposing prohibition movements among Dalits" to "inter-caste relations between an Vanniya boy and a Dalit girl"[citation needed]. Political parties sympathetic to the Dalits have protested against these incidents[4] and have alleged systemic biases against Dalits in several parts of the country.

Bant Singh case of Punjab

In January, 1999 four members of the village panchayat of Bhungar Khera village in Abohar paraded a handicapped Dalit woman, Ramvati devi naked through the village. No action was taken by the police, despite local Dalit protests. It was only on July 20 that the four panchayat members and the head Ramesh lal were arrested, after the State Home Department was compelled to order an inquiry into the incident.[5]

On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, a poor Mazhabi, Dalit Sikh, was attacked by unknown assailants. His injuries necessitated medical amputation. He alleges that this was in retaliation for actively working to secure justice for his daughter, who was gang raped by upper caste members of his village in Punjab five years earlier.[6][7]

A 55-year-old Dalit Sikh woman, Sawinder Kaur has been tortured, stripped and tied to a tree in Ram Duali village of Punjab because her nephew eloped with a girl from the same community. The police arrested four persons for allegedly committing the crime on 9 September 2007.[8]

Kherlanji massacre

On September 29, 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family belonging to the Mahar Dalit underclass were slaughtered in Kherlanji, a small village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra. The women of the family, Surekha and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public, then allegedly gang-raped before being murdered [1]. Although initially ascribed by the media and by the Human Rights Watch to upper castes, the criminal act was actually carried out by Kunbi[9] caste (classified as Other Backward Classes[10] by Government of India) farmers for having opposed the requisition of the Dalit land to have a road built over it.

On November 23, 2006, some members of the Dalit community in the nearby district of Chandrapur staged a protest regarding this incident. The protesters allegedly turned violent and threw stones. The police resorted to baton-charging the protestors to control the situation. Dalit leaders, however, denied that they had first resorted to violence and stated that they had been "protesting in peace".

2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra

In November–December 2006, the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) triggered violent protests by Dalits in Maharashtra. Several people remarked that the protests were fueled by the Kherlanji Massacre.[11]. During the violent protests, the Dalit protestors set three trains on fire, damaged over 100 buses and clashed with police[12] At least four deaths and many more injuries were reported.

Later, the Kanpur Police arrested a Dalit youth "Arun Kumar Balmiki" for desecrating the Ambedkar statue. According to the police, the youth had "admitted to having damaged the statue in a drunken state along with two friends".[13]. Earlier in a similar case, a Dalit youth was held for desecrating an Ambedkar statue in Gulbarga, Karnataka[14]

In response to these protests, Raj Thackeray drew attention to another incident in Kherlanji, in which a Dalit allegedly raped a girl and killed her. Thackeray demanded action on those responsible for the rape and the subsequent death of the girl, and also remarked that nobody helped the girl's family.[15]

Rajasthan

In the Indian province of Rajasthan, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Dalits average at about 5024 a year, with 46 killings and 138 cases of rape.[16][17]

Punjab

On 25 May 2009, violence and rioting broke out when thousands of protesters took to the streets in almost all major towns and cities in the Indian state of Punjab after a dalit preacher, Sant Ramanand, was attacked in a temple in Vienna, Austria. He was among 16 people injured, including another preacher Sant Nirajnan Dass, and later died in hospital. Both the preachers were from a low-caste Sikh sect which has a large following in parts of Punjab and had travelled to Vienna to conduct a special service. Several high-caste Sikh groups had apparently opposed his presence and threatened violence. This happened after the preacher had reportedly made remarks about the Sikh groups.[18]

Other incidents

On September 1, 2007 some Yadavs, belonging to the politically powerful backward caste Other Backward Class poured steaming dal on a Dalit woman and her infant daughter, and beat up several other Dalits, for allowing their children to play in the premises of a temple at Shivayalay Mushari, on the outskirts of Patna.

See also

References

  1. ^ "India Events of 2007". Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/legacy/englishwr2k8/docs/2008/01/31/india17605.htm. 
  2. ^ "Phoolan Devi: Champion of the poor". BBC News. 2001-07-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1456441.stm. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  3. ^ "Kshatriya Samaj to honour Phoolan's killer". The Tribune, Chandigarh. 2006-05-21. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060501/nation.htm#5. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  4. ^ Victims of bias,The Hindu
  5. ^ Down and out in Punjab By Praveen Swami
  6. ^ Paying a price for securing justice for his daughter, The Hindu
  7. ^ Bant Singh can still sing, Tehalka Magazine
  8. ^ Dalit woman tied naked to a tree
  9. ^ "Dalit blood on village square". Frontline. http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=20061201004713000.htm&date=fl2323/&prd=fline&. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  10. ^ "Age old rivalry behind Khairlanji violence". NDTV. http://origin.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?slug=Age+old+rivalry+behind+Khairlanji+violence&id=96718&category=National. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  11. ^ "Khairlanji to Kanpur". The Indian Express. 2006-12-02. http://www.indianexpress.com/story/17707.html. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  12. ^ "Maharashtra: Dalit anger leaves 4 dead, 60 injured". Rediff.com. 2006-11-30. http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/nov/30statue.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  13. ^ "Dalits force police to let off suspect in Kanpur". Business Standard. 2006-12-01. http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c_online.php?leftnm=11&bKeyFlag=IN&autono=18172. Retrieved 2006-12-02. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Dalit youth held for desecrating Ambedkar statue". Deccan Herald. 2006-09-26. http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/Sep222006/district1711462006921.asp. Retrieved 2006-12-02. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Situation in Mumbai, state back to normal". The Times of India. 2006-12-02. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mumbai/Situation_in_Mumbai_state_back_to_normal/articleshow/678044.cms. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  16. ^ http://www.indiatogether.org/dalit/articles/bidwai1002.htm
  17. ^ "Dalits in conversion ceremony". BBC News. 2006-10-14. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6050408.stm. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  18. ^ "Punjab riots after Vienna killing". BBC News. 2009-05-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8066783.stm. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 

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