Wednesday, June 6, 2007

‘We are May 18’:Amit Sengupta९९०

‘We are May 18’
The May 18, 1980 Gwangju uprising against military dictatorship is a reminder that history is still incomplete
Amit Sengupta Gwangju (Republic of Korea)
There is a chill in the air and the flowers are blooming in orange, blue and vermilion-yellow on the beautiful, stunningly clean, pebbled, rain-washed, sunshine streets of Gwangju, the epical landmark of the great democratic uprising against military dictatorship in 1980. The city is celebrating, even as young couples walk through the inner lanes holding hands. There are banners everywhere, anticipations, tragic memories; there is the will to hope, to create new rainbows of democracy, justice and freedom.
There are old 'war-zone' landmarks, the sacred places of the dead, the missing and the murdered, the spontaneous students' protests at the Chonnam National University, the 'civilian army's' combat with the armed forces at the legendary Provincial City Hall which was captured by the people. May 18 is in the air. The Koreans call it simply: 5.18.
In down town Gwangju students are preparing for massive demonstrations, carnivals and traditional/revolutionary cultural shows. The market is overwhelmed with young people, girls and couples, schoolgirls in uniform, while food stalls in handcarts are happy with the crowds. At the Kenya Espresso coffee shop, a young history teacher sipping coffee with her school students, sums it up: “I am proud of the May 18 uprising. I was 12-year-old then, but I know that this change was necessary. Not much is mentioned in the textbooks, but I show videos, keep the memory alive,” says Kim Young Sin. Her student is not shy. “When I see the images of the massacre, tears flow down my eyes,” she says.
The May 18 Memorial Foundation is celebrating the 27th anniversary of the uprising, and the city is proud of it. Gwangju stands in world history as a city which knows how to preserve its precious memories and respect it, because the inhabitants are deeply aware that those, who inherit the fruits of democracy and then choose to forget the sacrifices of their rebels, are fated to be condemned. “South Korea is indebted to Gwangju,” says journalist Moon Tae Jeong.
That is why two Indians have been awarded the prestigious $50,000 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights this year: Irom Sharmila of Manipur, for her six-year-long fast against the repressive Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1985; and Lenin Raghuvanshi of UP, for fighting child and bonded labour and untouchability in the Hindi heartland. Ironically, the organisers said, the Indian government refused to respond.
The Foundation building in the heart of the city is a sacred space. There are 135 delegates in the East Asia peace forum shaking hands, feminists, journalists and human rights activists from Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma (exiled pro-democracy freedom fighters), Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Japan. Predictably, none from China or North Korea.
“We want a new Asian solidarity, a new vision for human rights in South Korea and Asia,” said Foundation Chairman Honggil Rhee. He was a 39-year-old history professor in 1980 who fully backed the movement and was suspended and jailed. “Korean people believed that military dictatorship under Chun-Doo-Hwan is not acceptable. Students and professors joined the struggle of the citizens. The killings started. They thought they could crush the movement for democracy and set an example. It back-fired because of the people's resilience. We learnt many things from the rising. We have to constantly fight to get and retain democracy. These were the highest form of sacrifices and we just can't afford to forget that,” he said.
During and after the democratic and peaceful uprising and the massacre that followed, the people took up arms. A civilian army was formed with students, teachers, workers, farmers, doctors, daughters and mothers. The Provincial City Hall was liberated as a symbol and the city too was liberated. People spilled onto the streets to create support systems. Weapons were looted. Food supply was restored, cooking often on the streets. The locals looked after the injured. The dead were buried.
The city's memories are full of dark anecdotes. There were stories that the clampdown was US-backed because the military dictatorship was supported by the US. The city was isolated and under siege. No news was allowed to filter out. The rest of the world, from May 18 to May 27, 1980, was blocked out, and even much later, for months. Rumours were circulated by the dictatorship that the uprising was inspired by anarchists and communists led by North Korea, which proved to be an utter lie, because it started as a spontaneous and peaceful rebellion of ordinary citizens, disgusted and angry with the atrocities of military rule.
A taxi driver saw the killings. A priest from a nearby province discovered the bloody stories. A shoeshine boy was a witness, and later, a fighter. The stories started floating out. Some people arrived from Seoul to find the city “as usual”, with not a flutter—so entrenched was the terror. Then the rebellion started spreading with word and text, the dirty official rumours began to sound dirty, protests moved in a spiral from villages to towns and cities, especially among the strong Leftist, anti-imperialist students' movement in Seoul. But it still took a while, almost a decade and more, for the military dictatorship to dismantle its ugly scaffoldings.
The official death count of the Gwangju massacre is 207. The unofficial runs in the 2,000 plus figure. There are many who have still not been identified. Many students died fighting. The missing have gone missing. Many fell to their injuries, many were tortured, many became insane, some committed suicide. All stories remain categorical yet ambiguous, moving from lips to lips, eyes to eyes, fingers to fingers, flowers to flowers.
But the spirit and the soul of the great rebellion remains. At the sublimely aesthetic National May 18 Democratic Cemetery, an hour from Gwangju, where the entire city, political establishment, students, Buddhist monks, mothers and relatives of the fighters, remember the martyrs with a series of prayer meetings and traditional Korean songs. Tears flow easily. On the mud and grass graves, they put food and Soju, the local drink. A girl student kneels and touches a grave: she has read about it, she wants to feel it herself.
A young Korean volunteer tells us that there are 481 graves, there are more 'spaces' for those yet to be discovered, “We are still looking for dead bodies.” Next to every grave, there are vases of flowers, neatly arranged, a message and name on the little monument, and a framed photograph of the rebel: girls, boys, elders, and workers. Those whose pictures can't be found, or who can't be identified, have a framed flower instead of a face: Mugunghwa, the serene national flower of South Korea, with its unique aroma.
The aroma spreads. In down town Gwanju outside the epic landmark of the City Hall, thousands are marching, screaming, shouting pro-unification (with North Korea), pro-democracy and anti-Bush slogans, grandmothers with drums, masked students with branches of the trees, girls with paper lamps, workers and activists with torch-lights, with massive music in the background. Thousands are holding hands and singing. All the delegates of the May 18 peace forum are jumping, hugging and clapping. They are all singing, laughing, shouting slogans, some with tears in their eyes. “We are May 18,” says a poster in a students' hand. “Chun-Doo-Hwan, go do harakiri,” shouts the woman leader on the loud-speaker. They hate Chun-Doo-Hwan. Thousands repeat this angry slogan. Again and again.
At the entrance of the sunshine cemetary, there are two banners, which sum it up, simply: History is Never Complete, May 18 Uprising is Continuing… It is not Finished. Yes, because 'We are May 18'.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Composite culture binds people of Varanasi

culture binds people of Varanasi
Submitted by vinayras on Tue, 05/01/2007 - 18:35.

“ The city has never seen a trend of Hindus voting for one political party and Muslims voting for another. The fact that Mufti went to Sankat Mochan temple after the blast is in keeping with the tradition of Varanasi ”- Lenin Raghuvanshi, social activist
Being a Hindu or a Muslim in Uttar Pradesh maybe a politicised identity, but not in Varanasi.
Try as they might, each political party's attempt to polarise Hindus and Muslims here has failed. The people say they are nothing without their composite culture.
Varanasi has a unique culture developed over thousands of years. The Ganga river is the heart and soul of one of the oldest cities in the world.
The communal equations of political parties strike a jarring note in Varanasi. During the current elections, the city witnessed the CD controversy. And earlier in January, it was the riots in Gorakhpur that were threatening to spread here. But as always the city foiled each attempt.
In this unique city, Hindu and Muslims have been like the warp and the weft, meshed together. But some dangerous elements have been at work trying to tear this fabric.
Last year terrorists targetted the Sankat Mochan temple and shortly after the blast, some politicians tried to gain mileage from the incident.
''The terrorists thought the blasts would cause riots. But they were not successful. There is Hindu, Muslim amity,'' said a citizen.
''In my view it was to inflame passions. Muslims can never be against us. Because this is where Lord Shiva lives. We are his children, both Hindu and Muslims. Such a major blast took place, but from the very next day the pujas were resumed. There is no sense of fear. We go to the mazhar and they visit the Sankat Mochan temple,'' said Chhannulal Mishra, singer.
Social fabric
People of the city are aware that politicians can instigate communal passions. ''The people know that politicians try to instigate them. But they are not affected,'' said a citizen.
''The city has never seen a trend of Hindus voting for one political party and Muslims voting for another. The fact that Mufti went to Sankat Mochan temple after the blast is in keeping with the tradition of Varanasi,'' said Lenin Raghuvanshi, social activist.
''But there have been two forces at work. Just as Varanasi is the city of Kabir, Agarsen, Tulsidas, Mirabai, Rani Laxmibai, Bismillah Khan and Premchand, it is also the city of troublemakers,'' Raghuvanshi added.
Take for instance the little disputes in one Laxman Yadav's locality, Gauriganj. Sometimes the dates for Moharram and Holika overlap and accommodating both religious ceremonies in the narrow lanes is an issue.
Little disputes like this one often become the cause of riots. But Laxman Yadav does not give troublemakers a chance. Along with his neighbours, he is proactive in finding a solution that is sensitive to both Hindus and Muslims.
''The elders of the community and Laxman Yadav resolved the issue and the ceremonies were beautiful,'' said a resident of the city.
Laxman Yadav says politicians try to vitiate the atmosphere. ''Politicians will do what they are not supposed to do. They will jump into any situation where ten people are involved because they want votes. A politician's work is to tell lies while a social worker is dedicated to the service of people.''
Clearly the secret of Varanasi's spirit lies with ordinary people.

Three bombs explode in Gorakhpur: possibly politically motivated

05/23/2007 15:44INDIAThree bombs explode in Gorakhpur: possibly politically motivated
by Nirmala
Yesterday evening three bombs exploded in the commercial area of Gorakhpur। Theories abound of Bjp involvement in their attempts to regain power following their defeat in recent elections in Uttar Pradesh।

Gorakhpur (AsiaNews) – Three small bombs exploded yesterday evening in the crowded commercial area of Gorakhpur, one of Uttar Pradesh’s busiest trading centres, wounding six people. Police suspect a local criminal band of being behind the attacks. Rajesh Rai, chief of police, made known that when the first device went off at 7 in the evening the area was crowded with shoppers. The second explosion followed after five minutes in Golghar market, the third at 7:10 in Ganesh Chauraha.
Police chief superintendent, Brij Mohan, speaking from Lucknow says “I have been told that they were rudimentary bombs made from bicycle parts. There were not powerful enough to provoke serious harm. The intent was probably to inseminate panic and to display a show of force to the police and local people”.
The event brings to mind a similar episode in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, last year in which three bombs caused the death of 20 people. The district judge, P K Agarwal, said that the security levels have been raised in sensitive areas of the city and that in New Dehli the Union Minister has ordered the government in Uttar Pradesh to take all necessary measure to censure peace in Gorakhpur.
Lenin Raghuvanshi, Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2007, spoke to AsiaNews. “In my opinion the incident of serial bomb blast in Gorakhpur is nothing but the reaction of fascist forces which are trying to destabilise the newly form UP Government. Mayawati- a Dalit has been the successful to win the confidence of majority of the population of the state and form the Government- As the people’s movement led by Dalit and others marginalized communities is getting strength and becoming more and more strong the fascist and other reactionary-castiest forces within the state creating more problems for the UP Government. As for as the involvement of Maoist is concern in this incident it is totally false propaganda of Aditya Nath Yogi who is a member of parliament of that area from BJP. He was already upset because of the development in Nepal, in which the King of Nepal was thrown out of the power. After that the complete defeat of BJP in UP election was big blow for Yogi and his associates. In such a hopeless situation they are trying to create the communal politics for their own revival.”

Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop of Gorakhpur, Dominic Kokkat said: “The Church condemns this violence in the Gorakhpur, it is tragic, that various elements are trying to destabilise peace and harmony in the state. Since the beginning of this year, this place has been plagued by communal violence and the Catholic Church has been spearheading Peace and Dialogues initiatives in various residential areas of this Diocese. We have set up neighbourhood where tolerance, harmony and dialogue are the core commitment. The primary task of the committee is to maintain cordial relations and broker peace. If rumours go around, they go around killing the rumours before the rumours can kill. Our religious sisters are very active here. We are just a miniscule minority in this place, around 3,500 Catholic, but the Church is always at the service of people of all castes (a big consideration here) and faiths. Today there is a bandh. However, I will visit the victims in the hospitals to expresses the concern and solidarity of the Church in these sad and tragic events”.

Uttar Pradesh elections: Mayawati, a Dalit woman, beats Mulayam

05/11/2007 14:40INDIA
Uttar Pradesh elections: Mayawati, a Dalit woman, beats मुलायम
by Nirmala CarvalhoIn India’s most populated state (175 million people), the state-based Bahujan Samaj Party gets more than 50 per cent of the vote. Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party loses big. Discussions will start to form a coalition government as people comment the results.
Lucknow (AsiaNews) – The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati Kumari, a Dalit woman, has scored an overwhelming victory in state-wide elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and influential state. The outgoing chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has conceded defeat and submitted his resignation to the state’s governor. Meanwhile discussions are underway with other parties to form a majority government whilst the results get front and centre attention.
Thousands of BSP supporters have taken to the street across the state to celebrate the victory. With almost all the ballots counted, the BSP has doubled its seats (from 98 in 2002 to a projected more than 203 this time. The hitherto ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) under Mulayam Singh dropped from 143 to about 100. The Hindu nationalist Baharatiya Janata Party also suffered major loses, going from 88 seats to about 50 (worst score since 1991). By contrast, the Congress Party (CP) remained stable (23 seats vs 25). Smaller parties won the remainder of the seats.
If current results remain unchanged, the BSP will need partners to get a majority in the 403-member state assembly.
Mayawati’s victory was made possible by her ability to broaden the BSP’s appeal from its Dalit base to include people from all caste backgrounds and social conditions.
“Our target was the decimation of the Samajwadi Party and we have succeeded in it,” a CP federal minister said as he congratulated the winner. His party is keeping its options open on supporting BSP in Uttar Pradesh noting that the “BSP is not a political untouchable.”
The Varanasi-based Lenin Raghuvanshi, the 2007 Gwangiu Prize laureate, told AsiaNews that “a new era begins in the politics of Uttar Pradesh. Ms Mayawati fought on her own terms on a platform of respect for the rule of law. As a follower of Babab Saheb Ambedkar, I am happy that a Dalit woman is going to become the chief minister of UP, but I am afraid that her autocratic style and values go against those of Ambedkar.”
For John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, “election results are a rejection of the bad governance and corruption that had become the hallmark of the Mulayam administration. Not only did Mayawati get Dalit support but she was also backed by the poor from the upper castes as well as from religious minorities like the Christians. Let us hope she may provide security to everyone”.

Commentary: Voters reject politics of crime and money

: Voters reject politics of crime and money

Guest Commentary
Elections to the 403 seats of India's Uttar Pradesh State Assembly were completed this month after seven phases of voting. In the sweltering heat of the Gangetic heartland, the elections -- after three consecutive hung assemblies -- generated enough heat to keep the country on its toes for two and a half months. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the country with an approximate population of 170 million and an electorate of about 114 million. UP is also one of the most underdeveloped states, with a high crime rate and abysmally low human development index. For the last 15 years, the state has been under several different political alliances with none of them being able to complete their term. In recent years there have been significant developments in Indian democracy, in terms of civil society participation in the electoral process. Disclosure laws such as affidavits along with nomination papers detailing criminal antecedents, assets, liability, and education of candidates, the Right to Information Act, etc. have made it possible for citizens to seek accountable governance from their elected representatives. Since the path-breaking Supreme Court judgment of 2002 ensuring the right of the voter to know the background of the candidate, civil society organizations like the Association for Democratic Reforms have been active in creating "citizens' election watch" bodies in various states to aid the citizen voter in making an informed choice. After a long struggle, in the Bihar assembly elections of 2005, the work of the citizens' election watch bore some success. Although about 49 percent of the candidates had pending criminal cases, the chief minister elect announced that anyone with even a single criminal case pending would not get a seat in the Cabinet. This was not only a triumph of citizens' vigilance, but also a wake up call for political parties putting forward such candidates. In the UP election, 882 candidates (about 15 percent) had pending criminal cases against them -- 97 were accused of murder, 204 of attempted murder, 142 of cheating, 63 of armed robbery and 51 of kidnapping. This reflects the political parties' belief that having pending criminal cases adds to the voter appeal of candidates. The analysis of the final election results, however throws some surprises. Of those elected, 155 (38 percent) faced criminal charges. Out of these, 91 were charged with heinous crimes which, if convicted, would fetch them more than five years in prison. During the election it seemed that putting up such candidates reflected political parties' desperation to win, but the results showed a contrary trend. The majority of winners were not those charged with crimes. This time round, the UP voters rejected the tainted ones by voting decisively in favor of clean candidates! This calls for a strategic debate in the think tanks of political parties for a review of the criteria constituting voter appeal. On the other hand, some of the big names in UP's crime world made it into the august house. The Bahujan Samaj Party, or BSP, under the leadership of Mayawati won 206 seats out of 402. When Mayawati selected her Cabinet this is what came out: 22 out of 41 ministers had pending criminal cases against them, 16 for heinous crimes that would fetch them more than two years of imprisonment if convicted; 10 out of 16 Cabinet ministers had pending criminal cases against them, 8 for heinous crimes; 12 out of 25 ministers of state had pending cases against them, 8 for heinous crimes. In conclusion, here are some of the trends that reflect the maturing of the Indian electorate: Political parties need to reflect on their strategies, and given the strong demand for clean candidates, they need to back up the credibility of candidates by vouching for the authenticity of their affidavits. Despite being a caste-ridden society, UP has voted decisively, breaking down all caste arithmetic. Criminalization, use of black money, and empty slogans have not paid dividends. The voice of the voter has prevailed. -- (Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi is founder of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights. He is a human rights activist engaged primarily in defending the rights of India's marginalized untouchable caste. ©Copyright Lenin Raghuvanshi.)

INDIA: Caste based discrimination and assaults against Dalits are on the increase in Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: Caste based discrimination and assaults against Dalits are on the increase in Uttar Pradesh
Urgent Appeal

1 June 2007---------------------------------------UA-173-2007: INDIA: Caste based discrimination and assaults against Dalits are on the increase in Uttar Pradesh
INDIA: Caste based prejudices; frequent attacks; police inaction; crisis in rule of law ---------------------------------------
Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Uttar Pradesh (UP) regarding the alarming increase in the number of attacks against the members of the dalit community in the state. It is reported that after the defeat of the former administration led by Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav in the state election, the Yadav community is showing tendencies of being impatient and violent against the dalits. The Yadav community is one among the backward castes within the caste structure; but this community has become powerful - economically and socially - and the sociologists in India now prefer to call this caste as intermediate caste rather backward caste. The following cases are some examples of violent repercussions of the Yadav community against dalits.
CASE 1:Mr। Virendra Sonkar is a resident of Shankarpur village in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh and belongs to Khatik community of the scheduled caste। Shankarpur village is dominated by Yadav community। He is 20 years old and a student of Bachelor of Arts. Virendra’s parents are agricultural labourers.
On May 11, 2007 at about 4pm Mr. Manoj Yadav, son of Nakhdu Yadav and the nephew of one Mr. Rajesh Yadav, son of Mr. Shyam Narayan came to Virendra’s land and started plucking unripe guava from the trees. When Virendra and his cousin’s sister Ms. Sunita asked them to stop they began to abuse them indicating Virendra’s and Sunita’s caste and went away threatening them that they would be taught a lesson soon.
Within an hour they returned with about 25 - 30 people from the Yadav community and started verbally abusing Virendra referring to his lower caste. The verbal abuse turned into physical assault. Rajesh held Virendra by his throat. Manoj hit Virendra on the right side of his abdomen. When Virendra started crying, his neighbours and other villagers also gathered and intervened and the crowd left.
The next day, on May 12, in the morning at about 7am when Virendra was on his way to the village market he stopped at a local teashop and was reading newspaper. At this time Manoj Yadav, Vinod Yadav and Rajesh Yadav approached Virendra and assaulted him. Virendra’s family members and other villagers came to the spot and intervened and Virendra was allowed to leave the place. On the same day when Virendra again got out from his house Manoj, Vinod, Rajesh and Manoj’s relatives came and surrounded Virendra and started beating Virendra with iron rods. They also took 250 rupees from Virendra and threatened that if Virendra filed any complaints he would be killed. Virendra suffered the following injuries:
1. Aberration and contusion on the right middle finger, 2. Contusion on the right side back, 3. Contusion on the left buttocks, 4. Contusion on the left side back and 5. Aberration and contusion on left wrist. These injuries are also noted in the medico-legal report prepared at about 3.15pm by two doctors at the Community Health Centre on 12 May 2007.
Virendra had informed the incident to the Station House Officer of Chaubepur Police Station Mr. Praveen Yadav on 12 May 2007 and also to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi district on 20 May 2007. Even as of today, no action has been initiated against the accused.
CASE 2:Mr. Lalji Ram is also a resident of Shankarpur village. Lalji is from the Chamar caste, a scheduled caste community.
On April 17, 2007 at around 7am Lalji and his wife Ms. Nagina Devi went to the village tube-well and demanded water for watering his crop. At this time Mr. Nathuni, son of Mr. Nakdu Yadav and Mr. Dina, son of Mr. Sadu Yadav began to abuse Nagina using filthy language referring to their lower caste. Lalji protested against this. But in response to Lalji’s protest Nathuni and Dina assaulted Lalji, his wife and also their son Sunil who as also present at the place by this time. They attacked Lalji, Nagina and Sunil by punching and hitting them. Nagina went to the Chaubepur Police Station and filed a written complaint with Mr. Praveen Yadav. The officer assured Nagina that the police would take actions against the perpetrators.
Meanwhile on April 24, at around 8am when Mr. Lalji was talking with his fellow villagers Mr. Lachiman, son of Budhiram and Mr. Ramkhelawan, son of Pannalal, in the village, Nathuni and Dina approached them and started abusing them using filthy language. Nathuni and Dina said “…you Chamar (indicating their caste) how do you dare complain against us? Mr. Praveen Yadav, the Station House Officer of the Chaubepur police station is our relative…” and they began to beat Lalji. Mr. Awadh Narayan Singh, Mr. Jhunnuram, Mr. Baijnath, Mr. Shyamlal, Mr. Sunil, Mr. Brighunath and several other villagers came to the scene and intervened to save Lalji. As a result of the beating, Lalji was seriously injured and he had to undergo medical treatment.Lalji complained to the Senior Superintendent of Police of Varanasi on 24 April 2007 about the incident but no action has been taken against the perpetrators.
The medico legal report prepared by two doctors at the Primary Health Centre of Chiraigaon at about 9.30am on 24 April, 2007 shows six injuries on Lalji and the doctors are of the opinion that the injuries were caused by blunt trauma.
CASE 3:Mr. Mithailal alias Mithairam, son of Mr. Ramdhani is a resident of Gaurdih village in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh. He belongs to Chamar community.
On May 18, 2007 at about 3pm Mithailal’s cow entered the fields of Mr. Savaru Yadav, son of Buddhu Yadav. Savru began to beat the cow and when Mithailal opposed it, Savru became angry and attacked Mithailal with his stick. Savru was joined by Mr. Panaru Yadav, son of Bubanu Yadav. When Mithailal’s nephew Mr. Balkaran went to rescue Mithailal he was also beaten by Savru and Panaru. As they were being beaten Mr. Natthu, Mr. Paras and Mr. Jiut came from the village and saved Mithailal and Balkaran. When Mithailal and Balkaran were leaving from the place Savru and Panaru threatened them that if they filed any compliant they will be shot.
Mithailal and Balkaran were injured from the assault and they had to undergo medical treatment. The medico-legal examination was conducted on 6.10 pm of 19 May 2007. The report prepared for Mithailal mentions seven injuries whereas the report prepared for Balkaran mentions eight injuries. Both reports mention that the cause of the injuries appears to be from blunt trauma. Both Mithailal and Balkaran complained at the Chaubepur Police Station and to the Senior
Superintendent of Police of Varanasi district on 23 May 2007 but no action has yet been taken against the perpetrators.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:Varanasi and other districts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh are highly divided on the basis of caste prejudices. The police department and other government institutions are not immune to this social menace. Caste prejudices of police officials is the reflection of deep rooted caste based discrimination and practices in the society. Police atrocities and police inaction based of caste discriminations are rampant in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The Yadav community in Uttar Pradesh belongs to the 'backward community' in the caste ridden Hindu society of India. However, they are not Dalits (untouchables). Since the implementation of the reservation policy, which was intended to bring the lower caste to the main stream, it was communities like that of the Yadavs who have benefited from it.
Backward communities like the Yadavs, though were not considered as Dalits also had faced social ostracism in the past from the upper caste Hindus. However, taking benefit from the reservation policy, the Yadav community has acquired power and authority in the society in Uttar Pradesh. They could not however use this authority against the upper caste. But they use it against the Dalit community who are considered to be lower to the Yadavs in the caste system.
This abuse is purely on the basis of economic and social exploitation. For further details of about the caste system in India and its various dynamics please read further the article entitled ‘The Caste Notion and the Nation’.
Exploiting the new found authority and power, the Yadavs have encroached into the lands of the Dalits and now the Yadavs are considered to be the neo-feudal in Uttar Pradesh. They use every possible avenue to establish their domain over the Dalits, including forcing the Dalits to work for them and resulting in the Dalits to be forced to appalling living conditions.
The exploitation of the poor economic situation of the lower caste, particularly in Shankarpur village is not new. The AHRC has reported instances of starvation deaths from Shankarpur in the past. (For further information please see: HU-08-2005)
The village head of Shankarpur is closely associated with those who are part of the construction mafia from the neighbouring village. This has brought in additional support for the village head in Shankarpur to get way with whatever he did. In the recent past the village head removed the dalit women who were employed to cook food for the mid-day-meal scheme at the local school and replaced them with members from his community. Though a relatively small act, such methods of intimidation send tremors of fear into the minds of the ordinary dalit in the village who is financially dependant upon the relatively rich of the village. The firing of dalit women from their jobs was a reaction of the village head after a case of starvation death was reported from the dalit community of the village. The lesson being, the more one talk, the more the possibilities of being isolated. The act is also a reflection of unbridled authority of the village head, though his office is responsible for the death of a few persons due to starvation.
Any assault or insult in public of a member of the Dalit community is an offense punishable under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In case an offense punishable under this Act is reported to any police station, the officer receiving the information must immediately inform the Deputy Superintendent of Police or other superior officer higher to the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police for investigating the case. This is because no police officer below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police is authorised to investigate a case coming under the purview of this Act.
SUGGESTED ACTION:Please send a letter to the relevant authorities listed below, particularly to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Ms. Mayavati, calling for an immediate investigation into the above cases of assault upon the victims by the caste Hindus. Necessary action should be taken against the police officers responsible for inaction. The AHRC is also writing to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance calling for an intervention in this case.
To support this case, please click:
Sample letter:
Dear _________,
INDIA: Caste based discrimination and assaults against Dalits are on the increase in Uttar Pradesh
Case 1: Name of victims:1. Mr. Virendra Sonkar son of Mr. Ramdhani Sonkar2. Ms. Sunita, wife of Virendra Sonkar (Both are residents of Shankarpur village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh)Alleged perpetrators:1. Mr. Manoj Yadav son of Nakhdu Yadav2. Mr. Rajesh Yadav son of Shyam Narayan Yadav3. Mr. Vinod Yadav son of Nakhdu Yadav(All are residents of Shankarpur village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh)Date and place of Incident: 11 and 12 May 2007 at Shankarpur village, under the jurisdiction of Chaubepur police station in Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh Case 2:Name of victims: 1. Mr. Lalji Ram, son of Mr. Neur Ram2. Mrs. Nageena Devi wife of Mr. Lalji Ram 3. Sunil, son of Mr. Lalji Ram(All are residents of Shankarpur village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh)Alleged perpetrators:1. Mr. Nathuni Yadav, son of Mr. Nakdu Yadav2. Mr. Dina Yadav son of Mr. Sadhu Yadav(Both are residents of Shankarpur village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh)Date and place of Incident: On 17 and 24 April, 2007 at Shankarpur village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Case 3:Name of the victims:1. Mr. Mithailal alias Mithairam, son of Mr. Ramdhani2. Mr. Balkaran nephew of Mithailal(Both are residents of Gaurdih village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh, India)Name of the perpetrators:1. Mr. Savaru Yadav, son of Budhu Yadav2. Mr. Panaru Yadav, son of Babanu Yadav(Both are residents of Gaurdih village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh, India)Date and place of Incident: On May 18, 2007 at Gaurdih village, Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh, India
[Mr. Praveen Yadav, who is the Officer-in-Charge of Chaubepur Police Station, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh, was presented all the above cases but no action has been taken to stop violence against Dalits and to punish those responsible on grounds for his cast.]
I am writing to you to express my concern about the three cases of atrocities committed against the dalit community in Varanasi district reported from Shankarpur and Gaurdih village. I am informed that in three separate incidents that happened on 17 and 24 April 2007 and 11, 12 & 18 May 2007 the victims named above were assaulted by various persons from the Yadav community.
I am informed that in the first case Mr. Virendra Sonkar son of Mr. Ramdhani Sonkar and his wife Ms. Sunita was assaulted by Mr. Manoj Yadav son of Nakhdu Yadav, Mr. Rajesh Yadav son of Shyam Narayan Yadav and Mr. Vinod Yadav son of Nakhdu Yadav. The incident was started off by the perpetrators intentionally destroying Virendra’s cultivation, which when opposed was silenced by the perpetrators abusing and assaulting the victims, whereby they suffered injuries.
The second case reported from the same village, though it happened in April, before the change of the government, was an incident that was triggered off after a request for water from the common tube-well in the village. In this case the assailants named above, again from the Yadav community, assaulted the father, mother and the child. All the three were injured in the incident.
In the third case the members of the Yadav community from Gaurdih village assaulted Mithailal and his nephew Mr. Balkaran because Mithailal’s cow had walked into the land of one Mr. Savaru Yadav. The arguments, between the victim Mr. Mithailal and the owner of the land Mr. Savaru, resulted in an incident where Mithailal and his nephew were attacked by the Yadavs of the village.
I am concerned about the pattern of these three incidents where individuals of the dalit community in the villages are assaulted by groups from the Yadav community. From the facts of these three cases it is also evident that the situation within the villages that are dominated by the Yadav caste must be tense, particularly after the defeat of the former government which was led by the Yadav leader. The incidents are also a probable reflection of the Yadav or the upper caste community and its apprehension of an increasing dalit resistance in villages. In this context I also wish to bring to your notice the fact that from Shankarpur village in the past there had been reported cases of starvation deaths.
I am also surprised to know that the Station House Officer of Chaubepur Police Station and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi had not initiated any action against the perpetrators upon the incident even though the cases were brought to their notice in writing soon after it happened. This also suggests the reluctance of the local police to investigate and take actions in cases where atrocities are reported against the dalit community.
I therefore urge you to immediately inquire into the matter and take the following actions:
1. To order an immediate inquiry by the local police against the incidents reported to them regarding the cases mentioned above and to charge the perpetrators named above for the crimes they have committed;2. To inquire into why the local police failed to take any action in the three cases and;3. To provide protection for the victims in the case.
I trust that your intervention will be forthcoming in this matter.
Yours sincerely,
1. Ms. Mayavati Chief Minister, Chief Minister's Secretariat, Lucknow Uttar PradeshINDIAFax: + 91-522-2230002/2239234Email:
2. Ms. VeenaDistrict MagistrateVaranasi, Uttar PradeshINDIAFax: 91 5422501450
3. Justice A.P. MishraChairpersonUttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission6-A Kalidass Marg, LucknowUttar PradeshINDIAFax: + 91 52 2272 6743Email:
4. The Director General of PoliceTilak Marg, LucknowUttar PradeshINDIAFax :+91 52 2220 6120, 2220 6174 E-mail :
5. ChairpersonNational Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled TribesGovernment of India5th Floor, Loknayak BhawanKhan MarketNew Delhi 110003INDIAFax: + 91 11 2462 5378Email:
6. Mr. Doudou DieneSpecial Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intoleranceC/o OHCHR-UNOG1211 Geneva 10,SWITZERLANDTel: + 41 22 917 93 88Fax: + 41 22 917 9006
Thank you.
Urgent Appeals ProgrammeAsian Human Rights Commission (