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J&K: Partition refugees deserve domicile status, but this is not the time to play with fire

It is enough to make one want to scream!

Just five months ago, various sections of the ruling class seemed to be at the end of their tether with regard to Kashmir. Enraged teenagers held large parts of the Valley to ransom for several months. During that time, India’s Parliament humiliated itself by knocking on various leaders doors, only to be rebuffed. The army was called out in Kupwara and right across south Kashmir – although that last resort that was not used even when there was a greater rage on the streets in 2010.

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. ReutersUnrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

Unrest in Kashmir Valley. Reuters

There is every reason to believe that the unrest of 2016 has only subsided; it is not over. Anger still simmers. Indeed, many observers within Kashmir not only predict more unrest in 2017 but that it will surface much earlier in the year than it did in 2016.

And yet, various sections of what pass for political leaders have been playing short-term politics of the sort that prioritises expected advantage to one’s party over the national interest or the objective of long-term stable peace.

Even National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah did it in early December. And Mehbooba Mufti’s government did it in July.

The latest is the controversy over granting domicile certificates to those who are called ‘West Pakistan refugees’ in the state. These are the about 100,000 descendants of those who, during the murderous mayhem of the 1947 Partition violence, scrambled across the border from Pakistani Punjab into areas around Jammu.

Many of them are of Dalit background and have little political or economic clout. Ergo, they need positive discrimination from the state more than others.

The ‘West Pakistan refugees’ are distinct from those who fled that horrible year from Mirpur and Muzaffarabad areas on what are now Pakistan-controlled parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large numbers of them and their descendants too live in Jammu – with all the rights of state subjects.

Several states, including Himachal, deny domicile rights to those who are not, or are not descended from, longtime residents. However, the denial of domicile rights — which basically boils down to access to state educational institutions, state government jobs and ownership of freehold property — to those who have been residents of the state for 70 years is clearly unjustified.

There can be no doubt that, owing to the special circumstances of their migration to the state, and the length of these families’ stay, they deserve the domicile status they were given a few days ago.

However, this is an inappropriate time to grant it. For, that grant has been resisted for decades by Kashmiri Muslims who fear that domicile status could be a first step towards their getting full citizenship of the state. That, they fear, could dilute their own demographic and political domination.

Explosive situation

I have pointed out before that the Kashmiri uprising of 2016 was different to the uprising of 2010 or 2008. One, Pakistan has been in far greater control this year than it was, particularly in 2008. Two, India does not face Pakistan alone on the battlefield that Kashmir has become. It is a Sino-Pak axis now. Three, the challenge may only have begun to emerge. Worse lies ahead than we experienced in 2016.

Of course, the BJP feels pressure to fulfill the poll promise it made to the refugees. Politically, it touches more than the 100,000 persons it directly affects, for the issue strikes a chord among many in the Jammu-Samba-Udhampur-Katra heartland of Hindu identity consciousness. So the BJP would fear an electoral backlash if its promise remains unfulfilled.

And yet, the dangers inherent in implementing this at this point are huge. Intelligence analysts may have advised that the beginning of the peak of an extraordinarily cold winter was the safest time to do it. Energy is low as people across the Valley try and cope with the cold and power outages.

Yet, anger over the issue has gathered steam. Hartals and stone-pelting demonstrations have begun again over the past few days. Independence leaders such as JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Bar Association president Abdul Qayoom have been given a fresh lease of popular support to demonstrate against the domicile status.

Once again, Pulwama has been a hub of unrest. The generally well-informed Ghulam Rasool Pandit had predicted to me that the unrest would revive again in 2017. “Why do you talk about summer?” he asked. “It could begin much sooner.” When I asked him about spring, he smiled laconically and asked why I did not consider January. Pandit is well connected on both sides of the conflict. His son, Naseer, became one of the best-known and popular militants of the area after he left the police to take up the gun. Naseer was killed last spring.

At that time, the police and government had made much of having demolished the insurgency with arrests and ‘kills’ of militants. A couple of months later, they seemed to be at the end of their tether in the face of mass rage.

The move to give West Pakistan Refugees domicile status may be entirely deserved on the face of it, but it stems from a similar sense of misplaced complacency. The nation may have to pay a huge price for such complacency and narrow political calculations.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 19:07 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: 13 coaches of Sealdah-Ajmer express derail; cash withdrawal cap may be eased; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. 13 coaches of Saeldah-Ajmer express derail near Kanpur, several injuredThirteen coaches of Ajmer-Sealdah express derail near Rura railway station in Kanpur. Read more.2. Demonetization: Withdrawal cap may be eased to Rs 4,000 per day, say sourcesAs per a reliable source, the government was seriously considering relaxing current restrictions on withdrawals from banks and ATMs. Read more.3. Rs 104 crore deposit: Mayawati plays Dalit card, says BJP misusing state power, all my cash is whiteMayawati plays Dalit card after ED disclosure on BSP a/c swelling by Rs 104 crore post-demonetization * Says BJP misusing state power to malign her. Read more.4. Demonetization | ‘Will pressure Modi to resign if fails to solve problems’: Rahul leads fractured Opposition to attack PMCongress president Sonia Gandhi, who had steered the Opposition’s unity, had invited 16 political parties, but in the end only eight turned up. Read more.5. IOA ‘honours’ tainted Kalmadi as its life presidentsKalmadi, a former Congress party Member of Parliament, has been accused of corruption while handing out contracts for the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010. Read more.

Ground reality of delivering social justice in India dismal: Vice President Hamid Ansari

Bengaluru: Vice President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said the ground reality of delivering social justice in India is dismal even after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures.

“Where do we stand on the ladder of equity? This is a question that citizens of the republic can ask the state after 70 years of legislating welfare laws and adjudicating measures to deliver social justice.”

“The ground reality is dismal,” he said during the inaugural address at the 9th National Conference of the Indian Association of Lawyers here.

Quoting from a report by wealth research firm New World Wealth, the vice president said India is the 12th most inequitable economy in the world, with 45 percent of wealth controlled by millionaires.

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

File photo of Vice President Hamid Ansari. PTI

Citing another report, published by financial agency Credit Suisse, he said almost half of India’s total wealth was in the hands of the richest one percent, while the top 10 percent controlled about 74 percent of it.

“The poorest 30 percent, meanwhile, had just 1.4 percent of the total wealth,” he added.

Ansari said despite significant social and economic transformation, caste hierarchies continue to remain deeply entrenched and caste relations often result in violent outcomes.

He also said that according to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes.

“Data culled from National Human Rights Commission indicates that, in 2012, 37 percent Dalits lived below the poverty line, 54 percent were undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in a Dalit household died before their first birthday and 45 percent remained illiterate,” he said.

The data also shows that Dalits are prevented from entering the police station in 28 percent of Indian villages, their children have been made to sit separately while eating in 39 percent government schools, and Dalits do not get mail delivered to their homes in 24 percent of villages.

India is placed 130th in the Human Development Index among 188 countries, Ansari said.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:18 IST

Rs 104 cr deposit | Being Dalit’s daughter is no licence for corruption: Ram Vilas Paswan to Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Mayawati for linking the Enforcement Directorate action against BSP to her being a Dalit, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Tuesday said her Dalit origin does not give her a “licence” to indulge in corruption and she should let the law take its own course. Paswan, a prominent Dalit face of the ruling BJP-led NDA, hit out at the former UP chief minister over alleged deposits of Rs 104 crore in BSP’s bank account following the note ban and said it was shocking that a party claiming to represent the most downtrodden sections of society has so much money. “My party LJP works for Dalits. We have six Lok Sabha members and the total money in LJP’s bank account is Rs 1,03,198. Being a daughter of a Dalit does not give you licence to indulge in corruption. She must let law take its course and let authorities probe her party’s account,” he told reporters. Mocking Mayawati’s strident opposition to demonetization since it was announced on November 8, the LJP president said it has now become clear “why likes of her and RJD chief Lalu Prasad” have been its most vocal critics.”They were hit the hardest. That is why they are making so much of noise,” he said.Referring to deposits of Rs 1.43 crore in bank accounts of Mayawati’s brother, Paswan said she must come clean on the source of the money. “Who is he? What is his source of income? Why is she afraid? She should let agencies probe all accounts and deposits,” he said.The disclosure of deposits in BSP’s bank account is not the end but only the first chapter and more details will come out soon, he said.He also took potshots at joint programme by Congress, TMC, RJD and some other regional outfits against demonetization. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who is an ally of Congress and RJD, supports note ban and they are opposing it for political reasons, he said and dared these parties to withdraw support from Kumar’s government if they are serious in their opposition.

FCRA cancellation forces NGO to lay off its 80-odd staff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing cash crunch after the cancellation of FCRA licence, Gujarat-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, which was working for Dalit rights for the last 27 years, has sought resignation of its 80-odd employees and said that the three schools run by it shall be closed.Managing Trustee of Navsarjan Trust, Martin Macwan said the NGO was unable to pay for the salaries of its staff after the Centre revoked its licence to get foreign funds under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).”It is impossible for us to pay salaries of our employees after the Centre cancelled our FCRA licence. We are facing acute cash crunch due to that move. Thus, we have asked all our 80-odd employees to tender their resignations,” Macwan told PTI.Macwan founded this NGO in 1989 to fight for the rights of Dalits and to take up issues concerning them, such as manual scavenging and social boycott.According to him, the NGO needs around Rs 2.75 crore annually to meet various expenses.”We are largely dependent on the funds from foreign sources to meet our expenses, which runs into Rs 2.75 crore per annum. About 85% of that comes from foreign countries. Now, as our FCRA licence has been cancelled, it is impossible to run our operations or to pay salaries from what we get from local sources,” said Macwan.Apart from running various awareness programs for the upliftment of Dalits across the state, the NGO also runs three schools, one each in Ahmedabad, Surendranagar and Patan district. Now, these schools, where 102 students of 5th standard to 9th standard, are enrolled, are on the verge of closure, said Macwan.”These three schools, which impart education to 102 students of extremely poor Dalit and tribal communities, are having 12 teachers. Now, we have to shut these schools too, as we are unable to pay their salaries and meet other operational expenses. These teachers will be asked to leave only after the completion of this academic session,” said Macwan.A week back, seven NGOs, including Navsarjan Trust, were barred by the Centre government from receiving foreign funds after their FCRA licences were cancelled following alleged adverse intelligence reports against them.The decision has been taken after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) conducted an inquiry into the functioning of the NGOs whose FCRA licences were renewed in the recent past.

Still awaiting reply from Guntur Collector on Rohit Vemula’s caste status: Cyberabad Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cyberabad Police on Wednesday said they are awaiting reply from Guntur Collector on the caste status of research scholar Rohit Vemula, who committed “suicide” on the University of Hyderabad (UoH) campus in Hyderabad on January 17, to enable them to finalise investigation in the case.”It (Vemula’s death) was unfortunate. To finalise investigation in the case (registered under) SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act…we need to have certificate/report from the Tahsildar or Collector with regard to the caste of the deceased (Vemula),” Cyberabad Police Commissioner Sandeep Shandilya said.”There is some problem in that regard…We (Cyberabad Police) have written several times to the Collector and that reply/report based on which we can proceed in this case that is not there. If the Collector gives reply to the letters we can finalise investigation into the case,” the Cyberabad Police chief said.
ALSO READ ‘I am a Dalit from Guntur’: New video of Rohith Vemula emerges after doubts raised over his casteShandilya said he had already met officials of National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), who are also following this case. “As of now due to police…(investigations into) this case is not delayed,” he asserted.Vemula’s suicide on January 17 at the UoH had sparked massive nationwide protests, resulting in a fierce political slugfest, with a string of political parties and Dalit organisations siding with students and accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party and varsity administration of being anti-Dalit.
ALSO READ Rohith Vemula suicide: Roopanwal commission submits report; says he was not DalitA group of students under Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, which spearheaded the protests, had held UoH Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile responsible for the suicide of the research scholar.UoH, also known as Hyderabad Central University (HCU) had witnessed sporadic protests since Vemula’s death, with students demanding removal of Appa Rao from the VC’s post and had also been demanding his arrest.Earlier, Gachibowli Police under Cyberabad Commissionerate had registered case against Appa Rao, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and others under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and for abetment of Vemula’s suicide.The suicide of Vemula had triggered a huge political furore with the then HRD minister Smriti Irani coming under attack along with Dattatreya for having written a letter related to the matter.

Kota: 16-year-old handball player repeatedly raped by teacher

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 16-year-old Dalit handball player was allegedly raped by her physical training teacher repeatedly over two years, police said on .The girl lodged a complaint against Abdul Hanif (40) of Mangrol town, currently posted as Physical Training Instructor (PTI) at a government senior secondary school, Circle In-charge (CI) Ram Singh Meena, Mahila Police Station, said.The victim has been playing for the school team for the last two years, he said. “She alleged that Abdul would take her to different cities to participate in handball events and rape her in hotel rooms,” he said, adding that he would provide fake ID for the girl to get hotel rooms.The girl in her statement said the accused raped her 7-8 times in the last two years, adding, that he last raped her on December 17 in a hotel room in Baran.The girl has been sent for medical examination and a statement before the magistrate would be recorded later on Monday, Meena said.Abdul has been booked under various sections of IPC, POCSO and SC/ST Act. He has not been arrested yet, he said.

RPI will help BJP get Dalit votes in UP, will field Rakhi Sawant against Mayawati: Ramdas Athawale

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vying to contest in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, BJP ally RPI’s chief Ramdas Athawale said the saffron party needs his support as it can’t come to power in the state without Dalit votes. The RPI president and Union Minister also announced that he will field actress Rakhi Sawant, who heads the party’s women wing, against BSP supremo Mayawati.Claiming that his party has substantial presence across Uttar Pradesh, Athwale said its support will be vital for BJP to capture power in the politically significant state.”BJP can’t win Uttar Pradesh assembly elections without Dalit votes. RPI can get them these votes. Therefore there should be alliance between the two parties and I will approach and request both BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the same,” he said.Informing that he would be happy with at least 15 to 20 seats from BJP, Athwale said, “If BJP doesn’t agree for alliance, then RPI will contest on more than 200 seats, but will continue to be part of NDA.””BSP has taken our elephant, the Dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh originally belongs to our party. RPI was in power in the state in 1967,” he claimed.”I will campaign in the state and request people that they have given a chance to their sister (Mayawati) now its time to give chance to their brother,” the Union minister said.RPI, which came into being in the late 1950s, has its roots in the Scheduled Castes Federation led by Dr B R Ambedkar.It has considerable influence among the Dalits of Maharashtra. The party split into different factions. Athawale succeeded in bringing together all these factions under the banner of RPI(A) with the exception of the group led by Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash Ambedkar.

Maharashtra: Dalit houses in Satara attacked after murder of upper-caste girl, 36 arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police in Satara district of western Maharashtra have arrested 36 persons for attacking a Dalit locality following the murder of a girl belonging to the upper-caste Maratha community.The accused, angry over the killing of the girl last month, targeted the houses and vehicles of Dalits on the outskirts of Korale Khurd village last night, police said.In July, the rape and murder of a Maratha girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district had sparked off state-wide protests and mobilisation of Marathas.Yesterday’s incident at Korale Khurd followed the murder of 21-year-old Aruna Mohite, allegedly by her estranged lover Siddharth Dhanane (24), a Dalit, police said.They were in a relationship for the last few years but her parents forcibly married her off to another person, according to the police.Dhanane asked her meet him at Thoseghar on November 30.During an argument, he allegedly hit her with a stick, killing her on the spot. He then buried the body to destroy evidence, police said.After a missing persons case was lodged, police found that she was in contact with Dhanane on phone, and questioned him.He allegedly confessed and took the police to the buried body.Late last night, several members of Maratha community attacked homes of Dalits on the outskirts of the village and torched their vehicles, police said.Stones were pelted at the houses, window panes of 18 houses were broken and 13 vehicles including three cars were damaged, police said.”We have arrested 36 persons. We also held meetings of leaders from both communities,” said Sandeep Patil, Superintendent of Police, Satara, speaking to PTI.

BR Ambedkar’s death anniversary: For his many lakhs of followers, ‘Jai Bhim’ is the only password

The sixth day of December will be forever etched in the post-Independence era of Indian history as the day that saw the destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. However, for the Dalit and the socially backward citizens of our country — many crores of them — this day marks the loss of their ‘Father’, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. From 1956 to 2016, a long period of 60 years has passed since we lost him, however, ‘the greatest Indian’, as he could be called, can never be forgotten by the Dalit community of this country. In fact, quite surprisingly, the number of people that assemble at Chaityabhoomi, a memorial to Ambedkar in Dadar, Mumbai that had witnessed the funeral of Ambedkar, only keeps increasing with every passing year — a mysterious phenomenon that is yet to be understood.

The predominance of saffrons in Dadar is intermixed with thousands of indigos, albeit for two days. Shivaji Park in Dadar, otherwise considered the citadel of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, has already become a hosting ground for no less than 1.5 to two lakh people. Some of these people will probably just have reached Dadar railway station while others may have already been queuing at Chaityabhoomi for several hours to offer their salutation to the memories of Ambedkar. Some of them will have free snacks or lunch arranged by an NGO, whereas others will likely be seeking a good read at a book stall.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

On 13 October, 1956, a few days before his death, Ambedkar accepted Buddhism in Nagpur along with his five lakh followers. He had renounced Hinduism and criticised it for its disparity. He delivered speeches and published several articles in relation to this subject in his dailies: Mukhnayak, Bahishkrut Bharat and Prabuddhaa Bharat. Most of his writings, speeches and books have been now published by the Maharashtra state government. This rich literature has been the foundation for several Dalit publishers who have made an effort by printing and publishing Ambedkar’s books to disperse valuable information to Dalit communities in the remotest villages of our country.

Any social-political-cultural event inspired by Ambedkar’s ideology is never missed by these Dalit book sellers and his presence is always felt through these books. These books are not available in other book shops housed in shopping malls or even online, however, this seldom affects the ability of these book sellers in reaching out to those who desire to understand the ideology of Ambedkar.

Except for a few English readers in India, most are not even aware that Chaityabhoomi is flooded with more than 200 stalls housing book sellers and publishing houses on 6 December. Not only this, some book sellers who do not get a stall to conduct their sales do not feel disappointed and try to create makeshift stalls by using carpets or paper on the ground or roads. Most of the books sold either pertain to Ambedkar or were written by the man himself: Buddha and his Dhamma, Who were the Shudras?Buddha or Karl Marx, Annihilation of Caste, Castes in India, Riddles in Hinduism, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables are in high demand.

Besides these, several Dalit autobiographies and books related to the Dalit political revolution published by various Marathi, Hindi and English publishers are also sold in great volumes. The 199th edition of one such book by economist Dr Narendra Jadhav, who belongs to the same caste as Ambedkar, entitled Aamcha Baap Aan Aamhi, will also be sold at Chaityabhoomi this year. It is indeed unbelievable that the number 199 reflects only the editions in Marathi language as those in Hindi, English and other languages are yet to be accounted for!

Most Marathi book sellers — publishers are Buddhists, Hindi and English book sellers belong to many other Scheduled Castes. In this respect, the contribution of the Dalits, especially from North India, belonging to the Chamar caste, in promotion of Dalit literature or Ambedkar ideology deserves a special mention. Vendors such as Gautam Book Centre from Delhi always make it to Mumbai on the 6 December to promote the sale of their Hindi and English books. A publisher like S Anand, born in a Brahmin family, is also working to achieve Ambedkar’s dream of a casteless society through his publishing house, Navyaan. His reader group mainly involves the highly educated Dalits who have a better understanding and thus a preference for intellectual books in English.

In an attempt to averse the atrocity act after the rape incidence at Kopardi, the Maratha community had organised silent rallies in different districts of Maharashtra. Although, these rallies did not directly criticise the Dalits, one of the major agendas of these rallies was to demand reservation for the Maratha community. Several other castes such as the Patidars and Jats in other states of the country have been demanding reservation for the past many years. It is ironic that up until now the writers and thinkers of Maratha community have always sought the support of Ambedkar ideology to generate awareness in the society. In the current scenario, although there exist tensions between the Maratha community and the Buddhists of Maharashtra, there are several such books for sale at Chaityabhoomi which have been written by the authors of the Maratha community to criticise the Brahmins.

It is a common misconception in the minds of people that only the Buddhist community acknowledges the memories of Ambedkar at Chaityabhoomi.

It’s not like that. With the increase in sociopolitical awareness in the past few years, Chaityabhoomi has been witnessing an increasing number of people from the Chamar community of Uttar Pradesh; the Paswans, Mahadalits and the Jatavs from Bihar as also the Valmikis of Gujarat. People from North and South India, and also the Adivasis from the North East regions visit Chaityabhoomi in large numbers to pay their salutations to Ambedkar as they feel that they are obliged to him for their existence. The barriers of language, caste and religion lose their importance at Chaityabhoomi and bow to the name of the Father of the Indian Constitution, who truly symbolises the icon that inspires the oppressed and encourages a sociopolitical approach towards the betterment of the society.

It is estimated that 10 lakh followers of Ambedkar will visit Dadar in the next two days. More than 200 officers and 6,000 employees of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation are working around the clock to ensure that the best facilities are given to these followers. Approximately, 1,500 officers from the Mumbai Police are working meticulously to safeguard the followers from any unprecedented happenings at Chaityabhoomi. In this respect, it is commendable that despite the fact that Chaityabhoomi hosts lakhs of followers every year, it has never witnessed any riot, crimes or even the slightest chaos.

Unlike the silent rallies which required the people from the Maratha community to seek support of the organisers to showcase their strength but the Dalits do not need any organisers to showcase their strength at Chaityabhoomi. The name Ambedkar is sufficient to unite them and bring them together. And, for motivating them to be strong, through their leader Ambedkar, the password that they all use is ‘Jai Bhim’.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 08:54 IST

People are free to join or leave the RSS: Mohan Bhagwat

New Delhi: Terming RSS as a unique model of human development in the world, its Chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said people are free to join or leave Sangh at their will and there is no ‘boundation’, but to understand the organisation one should have an open mind.

File image of Mohan Bhagwat. AFP

File image of Mohan Bhagwat. AFP

“It is important to make efforts to understand the RSS. But to understand the RSS one must have an open mind that is free of presumptions, biases and pure curiosity,” he said speaking at an event to mark the 90 years of the organisation.

He termed RSS as addictive, saying those who get used to it, cannot move away.

“This is the reason some might not join the organisation. One is free to join or leave RSS, on his own will. There is no boundation,” Bhagwat said, adding RSS is unique model in the world of human development.

“There is comparable to it. Very rare you came across bunch of people who work for the development of society by taking all sections along with them, he said.

Elaborating RSS’ evolution, he said the organisation was involved in the freedom struggle but we never had the time to talk about it.

He reiterated that whosoever born in India is Hindu and added that ‘Hindu’ and ‘Bharatiya’ are words with same meaning.

However, he said unity in diversity which is keeping the country together and the characteristic of India comes from culture of ancient times.

At the event, founder of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) founder Milind Kamble was also present who said that I was ABVP leader and worked for BJP also. He also welcomed the demonetisation move.

Besides him, Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsh Vardhan were also present at the event.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 09:47 IST

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit shot at, family members thrashed over ‘stolen’ radish

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 30-year-old Dalit was shot at allegedly by a gram pradhan and three others who also thrashed the victim’s family members after accusing them of stealing a radish, police said.The incident took place on Sunday when the four accused, including gram pradhan Anil, his son Nishant and nephew Sarouttem, reached Sunil Kumar’s house in a car and started beating his family members, Circle Officer Bhushan Verma said.They accused the family of stealing a radish from the gram pradhan’s fields. When Kumar protested, the accused fired at him, the CO said.He was taken to the hospital in a serious condition, he said, adding that police have registered a case against the four accused who are absconding.Senior police officers have impounded the gram pradhan’s car. Security has been tightened and extra police has been deployed in the area, the official added.

Lost the race, but won the girl: UPSC topper Tina Dabi set to marry runner-up Athar Aamir-ul-Shafi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>You often find love in strange places. UPSC 2015 topper Tina Dabi has just been struck by the cupid, and it’s the perfect match by all stretches of imagination. The genius is all set to marry the guy she beat to top place – Athar Aamir-ul-Shafi Khan. The two met during the felicitation ceremony in North Block’s DoPT office and by the evening he was knocking at her door. Dabi was quoted saying TOI: “Uske liye pehli nazar mein pyaar ho gaya (For him, it was love at first sight).”Dabi added that she was floored by his wit and charm, and added: “I thank Aamir every day for his perseverance. He is a wonderful person. We would be tying the knot very soon.” She added: “We are in love and very happy. But I must admit that I get very disturbed when I read stuff about us. We have stopped googling our names and reading news about ourselves. I think it is a small price to pay for being in the public eye.She added: “As any freethinking independent woman I am entitled to certain choices. I am very happy with my choice and so is Aamir. Our parents are happy too. But there will always be those elements, that small minority who will always pass negative comments about dating someone from another religion. It is just that 5%. The majority are very happy. You would have seen in my Facebook timeline that most of the comments are encouraging. In fact, I am overwhelmed by the support and congratulatory messages. I thought ‘yeh to achcha hai” (this is good.).”When asked how she felt about being an icon for Dalits, she said: “I don’t think I can be an icon yet because I am yet to do something concrete. By hard work, God’s grace and some luck, I managed to top an exam. But at the end of the day it is just an exam and I still have a long way to go. I still have to go on the field and do something. I still have to prove myself. I know that there is so much social stigma attached to being a Dalit that it is unthinkable for many Dalit students that they can ever top the exam. So if I can encourage any student to do better, I think it is wonderful.”

PIL against use of word ‘Dalit’ by media: Delhi HC seeks Centre’s reply

New Delhi: On Wednesday, Delhi High Court sought the response of the Centre on a plea seeking a direction to restrain media houses from using the word ‘Dalit’ in news articles, alleging it creates “inequality” in the society.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal issued notice to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and asked it to take instruction on whether there is any law to prohibit the use of the word by media houses.

“Notice to respondent no.1 (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting). Take instruction whether there is any law which prohibits using of the word ‘Dalit’, which according to the petitioner is objectionable,” the court said.

It fixed 13 January, 2017, for further hearing of the plea by Prem Kumar Singh, who has also sought a direction to the Press Council of India to restrain all print and electronic media from using word ‘Dalit’ during broadcasting of news.

The bench then asked the petitioner that if such words should not be used, than what expression can be used in their place.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the government told the bench that as of now there was no circular regarding such usage by the publishers.

The bench asked the ministry to find out and inform the court on the next date of hearing.

Representational image. News 18Representational image. News 18

Representational image. News 18

Referring to some news headlines which had used the expression ‘Dalit’, the petitioner said, “The legislature has made provisions to ensure no one may create any kind of hatred or animosity between the different communities or religions of the country, so that there may be a harmonious atmosphere in the society”.

Aggrieved by the excessive use of words ‘Dalit’ and ‘upper caste’, the plea alleged that despite a law and guidelines in place, the media houses keep on raising the issue of ‘Dalit’ atrocities unnecessarily.

“Crime is crime and can be committed against or by any community and thus cannot be treated on different footing as against the crime committed by or against the people of the general community, especially when there is involvement of Scheduled Caste people,” the plea said.

It said that “this kind of differentiation was an arbitrary act and against basic concept of equality enshrined in the Constitution of India”.

The petitioner urged the court to direct the Ministry and the press watchdog to take appropriate steps to ensure that the word may not be used unnecessarily and unjustifiably without any relevance of the same.

It said compliance with laws related to prohibition of use of community related words be ensured by the authorities concerned.

Singh in his plea has said the authorities be directed to “keep a vigilant eye upon the publication and presentation of news by the media houses so that a harmonious atmosphere among the different religions, race, castes and community people may be created in the country”.

He said that a penalty may be imposed on publishers for their act of creating an atmosphere in the country by presenting the news in a provocative and distorted manner.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 19:53 IST

Modi can’t accept ‘dalit ki beti’ is presented garland of notes: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Stung by Narendra Modi’s reference to “garlands of notes”, BSP chief Mayawati on Monday unleashed a no-holds-barred attack on the prime minister, alleging that he could not “tolerate” that a “Dalit ki beti” was presented such a garland.”BJP leaders have accepted garlands of notes and they have no problem if Modi is garlanded with notes any number of times. But, if a ‘Dalit ki beti’ is offered such a garland, it does not become palatable for the prime minister. It reflects his cheap mentality,” she said at a hurriedly convened press conference, hours after the prime minister made the remark at a BJP rally in Ghazipur. “In order to divert the people’s attention from his failures, Modi levels baseless allegations against his political opponents which is condemnable…allegations on policy matters are different, but personal ones should not be made…he cannot tolerate that a ‘Dalit ki beti’ is presented with garlands of notes,” Mayawati said, adding that he could not digest what she wore.The BSP chief described Modi’s Ghazipur rally as a “flop show” as “the crowd was brought from neighbouring Bihar”. “There were hardly 20-25,000 people…,” she said, alleging that they were “paid from the black money collected by the BJP” to attend the rally. “The Ghazipur rally was a flop show…crowds were brought from Bihar by paying them from the black money collected by the BJP in the last two-and-a-half years and also by ferrying them for free in buses and trains by politicising the railways,” she alleged. “On one hand, the prime minister says he is against corruption. On the other hand, they (BJP) have politicised the rail and people were brought for free…will he (Modi) introspect and answer if he, who is giving sermons, is so clean himself, then how much does he practise what he preaches,” Mayawati said.She said BSP workers do not offer “garlands of black money notes” but by making small donations as a mark of respect towards their leader. If, sitting in the prime minister’s chair, he makes such shallow allegations, one can understand his mindset regarding Dalits,” Mayawati said. The BSP supremo was offered a garland of currency notes at a party rally in Lucknow when she was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.Earlier, at the Ghazipur rally, without naming anyone, Modi had said, “They used to get huge garlands of notes under which their faces got hidden.” Referring to Modi’s speech, Mayawati alleged that throughout the address, he kept making “false claims”, especially on corruption that those in possession of black money since Independence will be taken to task and said the people of the country wanted a permanent solution from corruption, hoarding and loot of national resources. “Our party welcomes from the heart any strong action for it, but the present government, in the garb of checking black money and corruption, has forced the people to face immense hardships,” she said.Mayawati said the prime minister should have made adequate preparations before scrapping the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes so as not to put commoners to inconvenience. The BSP leader dismissed as “hollow” Modi’s claims on putting an end to black money and termed the demonetisation move as “anti-farmer”.Though Modi had not taken any name in his speech at the BJP rally in Ghazipur, an agitated Mayawati came down heavily on the prime minister repeatedly.Alleging that almost all the economic activities in the country had come to a “halt” and the conditions today were similar to a “Bharat bandh”, she said those waiting for “achhe din” (good days) were forced to face “burey din” (bad days) because of the demonetisation. “Now, the pertinent question is what was the need for the BJP-led government to take a decision which affects the common people in such a big way in an immature and hurried manner,” Mayawati said.”The prime minister says, preparations for demonetising the currency was on for the last 10 months and it has not been brought in a hurry…if that is so, why are the people not even getting a couple of thousands of rupees…ATMs are faulty and banks have no money,” she added.Accusing Modi of not even fulfilling “one-fourth of his poll promises”, the BSP supremo asked the prime minister what had he done for the development of ‘Purvanchal’ and for the people of Uttar Pradesh.

Asaduddin Owaisi accuses Maharashtra govt of ignoring Muslims, Dalits

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi has alleged that the BJP-Sena government in Maharashtra has ignored the woes of Muslims as well as the Dalit community across the state and discriminated them.Addressing an election rally of MIM candidate Azmat Sohel Siddiqui for Jalna Municipal Council polls yesterday, Owaisi said both the political combines (BJP-Sena and Congress-NCP) in the state kept aside the interest of these communities all these years.”They are twin brothers and have turned a deaf ear to the problems of Muslims and Dalits,” he said, urging people to vote them out of power.Owaisi alleged that BJP wanted to run the country on principles of Manu (an ancient Hindu legal code) by scrapping the Atrocities Act, which protects the Dalits.Also, they want to dilute the Constitutional framework, he alleged.On reservation issue, he sought to know why the former Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra did not ensure reservation to the Maratha community during their rule.He also slammed the current BJP dispensation in the state for skirting the issue of giving reservation to Muslims in government-run and aided educational institutes and jobs.Muslims have been demanding implementation of the Sachar Committee and 5 per cent quota for the community in Maharashtra.He also criticised the Maharashtra government for “allowing” the release of Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, which featured Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a cameo.Owaisi also came down heavily on the government over the ‘settlement deal’ of Rs 5 crore proposed to be paid by the filmmakers to the Army Welfare fund and said,” Its extortion in the name of Indian Army. Its an insult to the soldiers who are sacrificing their lives on the border.”

CM Akhilesh is enacting ‘drama’ to woo people, BSP will probe decisions: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP president Mayawati said on Friday she would order a probe into the various economic decisions taken by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in the run up to the state Assembly elections, if voted to power. “Assessing that his party will not return to power, the Chief Minister is taking big economic decisions on a regular basis and they will definitely be probed by the BSP government,” she said in a statement. “Now when the Assembly elections are just round the corner, the Chief Minister is enacting ‘drama’ to woo different sections of society and making announcements,” she said.Her statement said, “The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to raise honorarium of gram pradhan from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 and distribution of the ruling SP’s poll material in the form of steel plates and glasses to school children was aimed at gaining cheap publicity.” The Dalit leader also welcomed the “stern” direction of the Allahabad High Court to the state government for the latter’s failure to contain dengue menace.After being rapped by the HC on the issue recently, Akhilesh Yadav had directed officials to launch a campaign in every district of the state to check the disease. “Accepting apathy and laxity alone in the court will not serve the purpose…. stern measures and prompt action against those responsible for it is required,” she said.Mayawati alleged that though the state government had said that 113 deaths have taken place, but in Lucknow alone 219 people have died of dengue. “There is an immediate need to declare dengue an epidemic,” she stressed. Taking a dig at the alleged family feud in Samjawadi Party, Mayawati added that the Chief Minister should take out time from the ongoing family fight and rather concentrate on people’s sufferings. The crucial state Assembly polls are scheduled for next year.

Madhya Pradesh: SC/ST students of govt college given bags with their caste mentioned on them

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In yet another incident of caste discrimination, bags were allegedly distributed in Rajiv Gandhi Government PG College in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh which would help people identify Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students. These bags which were distributed among 250 of the 600 undergraduate and post-graduate SC/ST students, allegedly mentions that they have been distributed under the “SC/ST scheme”.According to an Indian Express report, this incident came to forefront when the pictures of students with the bag started making rounds on social media. Calling this discrimination shameful, President of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee Arun Yadav took to Twitter to criticise RSS-backed Madhya Pradesh government and the treatment they were meting out to Dalits and tribals by using them as vote banks.However, this isn’t the first time when SC/ST, Dalit students have been discriminated against. According to an article published in The Tribune last month, Lajpat Rai DAV College in Jagraon, Punjab installed a separate biometric machine to record the attendance of SC/Backward Class (OBC) students on the grounds that this would help in smooth disbursement of scholarships for these students.While the students and Dalit organisations protested against the practice, a recent report states that the state government has not reviewed its decision on making biometric attendance compulsory for Dalit students availing scholarships.Last year Indian Express reported that in schools of Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, students are expected to wear different coloured bands on their wrists, foreheads, around their necks or under their shirts to be identified by the caste they belong to. These ‘caste markers’ were used to divide students in different teams on the basis of caste while playing a game.Schools and colleges as educational institutes were supposed to preach equality. Wonder where our education system has come to!

Yadav vs Yadav: Political foes count gains and losses in UP as SP crumbles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As all eyes turn to the fierce feud within the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh’s political arena, its rivals –BSP and BJP– have started counting their gains and losses.In Mayawati’s BSP, the disarray in SP has infused fresh optimism, while BJP, which is waiting for the final scene of the SP story to unfold, has reason to be concerned and heartened. Both are banking on the anti-incumbency factor going in their favour. The BSP is eyeing Muslim consolidation, which can be a cause of worry for BJP even as it hopes to wean away some of SP’s backward class vote.A BSP leader said the developments have made the party a “more formidable player” as the credibility of the SP, which has not been able to contain a feud within, has been eroded.The SP’s arithmetic of Muslim and Yadav combination has also gone awry, according to BSP sources. They said Yadavs that constitute about 9% were in disarray and Muslims with little over 18% votes were looking at BSP as the only party that can stop BJP from coming to power.According to BSP, it’s fight was only with BJP. “This was evident from what PM Modi said in Mahoba today,” said a BSP source.BJP leaders are still persisting with the tactical line of claiming that the SP was the party’s main enemy, in a bid to send the message that BSP was not in the race. A party leader said BJP’s anti-incumbency plank has gained momentum with the feud within the SP, which has “weakened” it. Besides, it is eyeing votes of Kushwahas, Mauryas and Shakyas – non-Yadav OBCs– who may have got disillusioned with the SP. The OBCs constitute around 40 per cent of the population.”In Indian politics we have not seen such a turf war…. Now, some of its supporters will gravitate towards BJP,” said party general secretary Arun Singh.Party sources said in a triangular contest, it would require just 32 per cent to win. The BJP, which had swept UP in Lok Sabha elections, is hoping to reach out across caste lines by chanting development.According to Maulana Salman Nadvi of Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, the community was hoping for a Bihar like secular Grand Alliance in UP but with the SP plunging in chaos, the automatic choice would be Mayawati for Muslims.Nadvi, like many other Muslim leaders, suspects that the overall situation may favour the BJP unless BSP manages to unite majority of Dalit and Muslim voters and is also able to nibble at OBC votes.BSP insiders claim that the incidents of atrocities against Dalits and Muslims have emerged as a common factor that has brought the two communities together and will help the BSP to sweep UP polls. Dalits in UP constitute over 20% and with 18% Muslims can be a formidable combination.”This is why the BJP is trying hard to woo Dalits in different ways. But the series of incidents that took place in UP, Gujarat and Punjab are too fresh in the minds of Dalits to get swayed,” said sources.

A Gandhian gamble: Silent morchas by Maratha community a game-changer for political demands for reservations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mounam sarvartha sadhanam – Silence can yield results.That, says Pravin Gaikwad, is the driving philosophy behind the Maratha Seva Sangh, one of the many organisations that are backing the massive morchas the state has witnessed over the past couple of months.It might sound simple enough, but for the larger Maratha asmita movement, it is the equivalent of a tectonic shift.From a time when the Maratha identity and disaffection was known by its violent acts – the vandalising of the highly-respected Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) and stone-pelting of a minister’s helicopter spring to mind – to organising silent protests for their demands, hardline Maratha organisations seems to have made a 180-degree turn.”For years, films had put forth the image of (Maratha) Patils and Deshmukh’s as being drunkards, rapists and bereft of character. Doubts were being raised about the character of the community at large. Now, we have proved this to be false and silenced our critics,” said entrepreneur Mansingh Pawar, who was among the organisers of the first such ‘Maratha Kranti Morcha’ at Aurangabad.He described the silent protests as a means to channelise public anger against the system in a constructive manner without resorting to violence or criticism.This, community leaders note, has set them apart from other social groups like Patidars (Gujarat), Gujjars (Rajasthan) and Jats (Haryana) who protested for quotas, albeit in a violent manner, leading to erosion of public sympathy for their cause and little tangible gains.In organising people for the massive ‘Maratha Kranti Morchas,’ which are silent protests sans any slogans, leaders and, most importantly, violence, these representative bodies seem to have abandoned their earlier scorched-earth style for a mellower strategy. But what has driven them to adopt silence and non-violence as both strategy and weapon to press their demands?A key factor, of course, is the need for public acceptance of demands. For too long, such identity politics have been hijacked by violent protests, resulting in the loss of public sympathy, particularly among the middle class, which, in any case, is largely de-politicised precisely because of displays of violence associated with politics. And in successfully coalescing both political and non-political demands under a more homogeneous identity, the organisers have brought the sizeable middle class on to their side.As a result, the morchas, which went largely unnoticed initially but have seen turnouts often numbering in lakhs, including white-collar professionals, started off demanding justice for a raped and murdered minor at Kopardi in Ahmednagar, but have expanded almost seamlessly to include prevention of the “misuse” of a law to prevent atrocities against Dalits as well reservations for the Maratha community.”Mahatma Gandhi went on silent (non-violent) protests, but this led to the British scurrying for cover,” said Gaikwad. Similarly, he says, the Maratha protests have taken on a non-violent hue to avoid cases being slapped against protesters and organisers as well as to ensure massive turnouts, including from the educated middle-class, which is chary of violence.”Hence, the government is being forced to take note due to the sheer numbers turning up for the morcha… (it) is under pressure and has invited us for talks as against previously when they did not even take note,” he says. On the other hand, he notes, violent protests would lead to destruction of public property, legal complications and above all,turn the public mood against them.Pawar noted that protests in other states like those of the Patidars in Gujarat which employed aggression and violence had failed to yield anything tangible and were in a disarray. “In contrast, the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) is talking about this (demands by Marathas) every day and is saying that he agrees with it. We have come 10 steps forward,” he said.Attribute the change of heart also to legal fatigue. The Sambhaji Brigade, the youth wing of the hardline Maratha group, is spent fighting as many as 600 cases against its cadre, ranging from attacks on the BORI in 2004 at Pune and protests for quotas.”After all, the political class is very vicious and vindictive,” argues Gaikwad.Meanwhile. Dalit leaders and organisations, who point to how the Maratha morchas, which despite being silent have a strong anti-Dalit sentiment (the Kopardi accused are Dalits) are also planning to organise similar silent protests for counter-mobilisation. Dalit protesters and critics of the demand by Marathas for OBC quotas noted that these morchas by the dominant community stem from resentment at the upward mobility of Dalits and a resurgence of backward classes in the post-Mandal era. They said that the Maratha protestors have taken to silent marches realising that violent agitations are a zero-sum game.”The word ‘mook’ (meaning silent) has been used for the depressed classes till now. For instance, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar called his periodical Mooknayak (leader of the depressed). That the established castes like Marathas have been resorting to silent protests is rife with contradictions and is unique,” noted Deepak Pawar, assistant professor, department of civics and politics at the University of Mumbai.”If there was violence (in the Maratha protests) like it happened in the Jat and Gujjar agitations, it would have been easy for the government to handle… (but) now the government cannot even claim that the law and order situation is in danger,” says Prof. Pawar of the strategic shift. “The activists or their godfathers who have thought about this must be appreciated. A strong community, which is part of the ruling elite is muting its voice in this manner… going against their political mannerism.”He cautioned, however, the contradictions in such silent morchas and the prominence given to women in these protests would come to the fore when these girls would assert themselves in making choices about marriage and divorce which will then go against the established family system, creating the potential for schisms withing the community.Former legislator and activist Vivek Pandit notes that the maxim about silence speaking louder than a thousand words is potent when applied to mass movements. In the late 1980s, Pandit and his Shramajeevi Sanghatana had protested against an ashram run by a powerful godman in rural Thane for not paying workers the prevailing mandatory daily wage of Rs 12.Threatened by senior police officials of an iron-fisted crackdown if they protested during a function at the ashram which was to be attended by VIPs, Pandit and his workers tied their hands behind their backs and gagged their mouths and faced the authorities, who were finally forced to back down. In 2012, a similar Gandhian silent morcha with gagged protesters also caught a powerful western Maharashtra NCP leader – who was accused of land grabbing – on the wrong foot.Dalit leaders, too, admit that such silent protests helped prick the conscience of the society.”Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar brought about a bloodless revolution (using non-violent means),” noted Dalit activist and senior Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Avinash Mahatekar, pointing out that this had prevented India from sliding into the tyranny of the oppressed during the perilous and fragile pre- and post-Independence years.He added how peaceful protests by Ambedkarites, including a morcha in 1988 during the controversy over the publication of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s “Riddles in Hinduism”, had shaken up the establishment. The Shiv Sena had objected to its publication, alleging it denigrated Hinduism.Mahatekar pointed out that Ambedkar, widely considered the guiding force behind India’s Constitution, had laid great stress on non-violent protest during agitations such as the one at Chavdar lake in Mahad (1927) and the Kalaram Temple satyagraha (1930). In 1929, Ambedkar’s associates like P.N Rajbhoj, Shivram Janba Kamble, and Keshavrao Jedhe, Prabhodhankar K. S Thackeray, Senapati Bapat, S.M Joshi and N.V (Kakasaheb) Gadgil used similar means in Pune’s Parvati temple satyagraha. In 1947, Gandhian and social reformer Pandurang Sadashiv Sane (Sane Guruji), went on a fast at the Pandharpur to allow entry to Dalits in the Vitthala temple.”During the Mahad satyagraha, Babasaheb told his followers that even if they are attacked with lathis and their heads split open, they should just protect themselves but not counter-attack. Many of his followers were ex-servicemen (but still he preached the value of non-violence to them),” points out Suhas Sonawane, an Ambedkarite and a chronicler of the Dalit movement.Dr Kumar Saptarshi, a socialist and Gandhian, said the Maratha morchas were “not aggressive but put forth this non-aggression in an aggressive manner” and described this strategy of silent protests as a tactical strategy and “collective wisdom.””Caste itself is a concept which carries hatred for others,” said Saptarshi, adding that the Maratha leadership which was leading the protests was using it to unite a stratified community. The silent morchas helped ensure that other communities would not unite against the Maratha, who along with Kunbis, are estimated to comprise around 31.5% of the population.For now, it remains to be seen if the Maratha’s silence can carry their voice far enough.

‘I am a Dalit from Guntur’: New video of Rohith Vemula emerges after doubts raised over his caste

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A video, purportedly showing Hyderabad Central University (HCU) research scholar Rohith Vemula, who allegedly committed suicide in January, claiming that he is a Dalit has gone viral, days after a judicial panel reportedly rejected his caste status in its probe report. In the video, appeared to have been shot at a tent (named as ‘Dalit ghetto’) near the Shopcom area in HCU where Vemula and his other colleagues had stayed following their suspension, Vemula talked about himself and his background. He is purportedly seen describing himself as a Dalit from Guntur district (of Andhra Pradesh) and that his mother raised him.Vemula also talked about his suspension, his studies and students’ activism in the video clip. After he committed suicide, Vemula’s family members, friends besides political parties alleged that he was a victim of caste discrimination.Students, political parties and social groups had demanded that a ‘Rohith Act’ be brought to end the alleged discrimination in educational institutions against the students belonging to disadvantaged sections.In its report, the Justice Roopanwal Commission, set up by Union HRD Ministry, has stated that material on record did not establish that Vemula was a Dalit and attributed his suicide to personal reasons.The report also gave a clean chit to Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya besides absolving HCU authorities of any blame for Vemula’s death. The Commission is learnt to have raised questions about Vemula’s caste status as a Dalit saying that there is no proof that his mother V Radhika belonged to “Mala” community. Vemula’s suicide had triggered a huge political furore with the then HRD Minister Smriti Irani coming under attack along with Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya for having written a letter related to the matter. The Commission in its report is understood to have emphasised upon proper grievance redressal mechanisms and equal opportunity cells so that unfortunate incidents like Vemula’s suicide can be prevented.With inputs from PTI

BSP can emerge as force to reckon with in Uttarakhand: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP can emerge as a force to reckon with in Uttarakhand as people there are fed up of “infighting and groupism” in BJP and Congress, party supremo Mayawati said on Saturday.”The people of Uttarakhand are unhappy over infighting and groupism in BJP and Congress as well as their casteist politics. BSP can take advantage of this situation in the coming elections as people believe that a government of ‘sarvjan hitai sarvjan sukhay’ can be formed,” she said.The BSP chief was addressing a meeting of senior party functionaries here from poll-bound Uttarakhand. She said the successive governments led by BJP and Congress in the hill state not only “looted its resources but also failed to live up to the expectations of the people”.”Proper attention was not paid to the welfare of poor, deprived and Dalits,” she charged.Stressing that there were great opportunities for the BSP in Uttarakhand as has been proved in the recent local bodies elections, Mayawati asked partymen to work hard to strengthen the party there.The Dalit leader also discussed the prevailing political and electoral scenario in the Congress-ruled state and issued necessary directives for the future party programmes.

No one can lead UP better than BJP: Amit Shah targets Akhilesh, Mayawati at Kanpur rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyeing to conquer the throne of Lucknow after 15 years, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Friday came down heavily on his rivals in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and said neither the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) nor the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) can lead the state on the development path. “No one can lead Uttar Pradesh on the path of development other than the BJP,” Shah said while addressing a rally in Kanpur.Taking a jibe at the Samajwadi Party leadership over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, Shah advised Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav-led government to first handle the rift within the family and then think about managing the state. “The Samajwadi Government cannot tackle the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. I would like to say that a party which cannot handle its home how will it govern a state,” said Shah.Further taking on BSP supremo Mayawati, Shah dared her to disclose the assets which she held at the time of taking over as the party chief and her present possessions. “Mayawati claims that if she wins in UP then she would rectify the law and order situation and put an end to corruption. I would like to ask her to disclose the assets she and her brother had when Kashiram ji had handed over the responsibility of the party to her and the assets she holds now,” said Shah.The BJP president also used the occasion to reach out to the Dalit community. “It was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has put the portrait of Baba Sahib Ambedkar in the Parliament and not Mayawati or Congress,” he said. “No one can take care of the Dalits neither the SP not the BSP. It is only the BJP, which will work for betterment of Dalits, poor and the marginalised,”he added.

UP polls: Amit Shah to address Dalits, OBCs at Buddhist event in Kanpur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP chief Amit Shah will attend a Buddhist event on Friday which will witness large presence of Dalits who have converted to Buddhism, seen as yet another attempt by the party to reach out to the community in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Shah will attend the closing ceremony of the six-month long Dhamma Chetna Yatra at Palika Stadium and felicitate 110 monks at the event. Kanpur BJP president Surendra Maithani said the Yatra, which was held in Uttar Pradesh, will reach Kanpur tomorrow. 30,000 people are expected to participate in the event. “The programme aims at reaching out to the Dalit community and understanding the problems faced by them,” he added. Maithani said the Yatra is not related to the upcoming elections in the state. “Shah is expected to arrive at Palika Stadium around 11 AM where he will address the crowd,” he said. A big stage has been set up in the stadium for the event which will also be attended by state BJP leaders, he said.

AIMIM decides to reply to Law Commission’s questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code

Hyderabad: Stating that Uniform Civil Code is not good for the country, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday said his party would nevertheless reply to the Law Commission’s questionnaire.

File image of Asaduddin Owaisi. PTI

File image of Asaduddin Owaisi. PTI

Owaisi said that while he respects the decision of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board to boycott the questionnaire, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) as a political party had decided to respond to the questionnaire.

The Hyderabad MP, who is also a member of the board, said the AIMIM took the decision despite the questionnaire being heavily loaded in favour of Uniform Civil Code.

Talking to reporters, Owaisi reiterated that Uniform Civil Code was not good for diversity and pluralism of this country.

He said that in a country with different religions, cultures and languages, a Uniform Civil Code will not help.

“Can there be an agreement on inheritance according to Mitakshara and Dayabhaga schools? Can we take away cultural rights which Constitution has given to Nagaland and Mizoram?” he asked.

“Every community or caste in India whether it is Hindu, Muslim, Dalit, tribal Christian or Sikh has its own culture. This country celebrates the diversity of culture and religion.

“Those who want to impose Uniform Civil Code are deliberately not understanding the beauty of pluralism. You cannot impose one culture one language on the country,” he said.

He also wondered why Muslims were being denied Hindu undivided family tax rebate and asked if this was not gross violation of right to equality and right to freedom of religion.

Owaisi said the government wants polarization through efforts to impose Uniform Civil Code. He alleged that it also wants to divert people’s attention from its failures on all fronts.

He hoped that other communities would also understand that this was the real agenda of the government and not development or revival of the economy.

“Surveys show 84 percent Hindu girls who marry are in the age group of 10-16 years but they don’t want to talk about this. They just want to blame Muslims and do polarization,” Owaisi said.

The MP wanted to know why the government was focusing on one directive principle and not another which says that there should be a law banning alcohol.

“There is empirical evidence that more than one lakh people are dying every year under influence of alcohol.”

He said the government had completely failed to revive the economy.

“The industrial output is negative. The last five years have seen highest unemployment. The dollar has touched Rs 70. In the recent auction of spectrum, the government had set a target of Rs 5.5 lakh crore but got only Rs.5,000 odd crore. These are the questions which nobody asks.”

Punjab: Dalit youth found dead, left leg chopped off; six upper caste men booked

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least six persons belonging to upper caste have been booked after a Dalit youth was found murdered, with his left leg chopped off in Mansa district of Punjab.According to Indian Express, the body of 22-years-old Sukhchain Singh Pali was found on Monday night, and six people from the same village have been booked.The victim’s family has refused to cremate the body and demanded that the missing leg is recovered and the accused are arrested.Sukhchain’s father in his complaint has stated that his son was allegedly attacked by landlords of the village Amandeep, Balbir Singh and others, who are reportedly involved in liquor smuggling. “The rival group often threatened my son to give up the ‘business’,” father, Resham Singh told Hindustan Times.(More details are awaited)

Atrocity Act will stay despite demands from Maratha community to repeal it: Fadnavis assures Dalits

Nagpur: On Tuesday Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the Dalit community that notwithstanding the demand from a section of the society, a legislation on prevention of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes will not be abolished.

Addressing a huge gathering at ‘Deekshabhoomi’ on 60th Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Day, which marks the mass conversion to Buddhism by B R Ambedkar and his followers in 1956, he said there was a strong demand from a section of the Maratha community to repeal the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as it is allegedly being misused, but the act will stay.

A true follower of Ambedkar will not indulge in such misuse and hence there was no need for the Maratha community or any other community to fear its misuse, he said.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind and Dalit leader and Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale were also present.

One of the major demands of the politically dominant Maratha community, which is taking out huge silent marches in Maharashtra, is abolition of the Atrocities Act.

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFPA file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFP

A file photo of Devendra Fadnavis. AFP

Fadnavis also said the plan of the memorial of Ambedkar at Indu Mill land in Mumbai would be soon finalised.

The government had detailed discussions with top Dalit leaders including Prakash Ambedkar, Jogendra Kawade, Sulekha Kumbhare, Anand Ambedkar and others to avoid any controversy and the design of the memorial was nearing completion, he said.

He also lauded the contribution of former Governor of Bihar and Kerala R S Gavai, who headed the memorial committee till his death, and said a memorial for Gavai would be constructed in his hometown Amravati with a budget of Rs 25 crore.

Gadkari in his speech assured all necessary help from the Centre to turn Deekshabhoomi into a world-class monument.

A proposal from the state government to create a Buddhist circuit connecting important Buddhist sites was pending, and now the Centre has sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it, he said.

The Chief Minister also said the plan of the memorial of Dr Ambedkar at Indu Mill land in Mumbai would be soon finalised.

The government had had detailed discussions with top Dalit leaders including Prakash Ambedkar, Jogendra Kawade, Sulekha Kumbhare, Anand Ambedkar and others to avoid any controversy and the design of the memorial was nearing completion, he said.

He also lauded the contribution of former Governor of Bihar and Kerala R S Gavai, who headed the memorial committee till his death, and said a memorial for Gavai would be constructed in his hometown Amravati with a budget of Rs 25 crore.

Gadkari in his speech assured all necessary help from the Centre to turn the Deekshabhoomi into a world-class monument.

A proposal from the state government to create a Buddhist circuit connecting important Buddhist sites had been pending, and now the Centre had sanctioned Rs 100 crore for it, he said.

SP, BSP, Congress think only vote of minorities matter, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati for asking Muslims not to ‘waste’ their votes on the likes of the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that parties like the BSP, SP and Congress think that the votes of only 20% of the people matter while the rest don’t.”In UP, whether it is the BSP, SP or Congress, they all are running for one particular segment of votes that belongs to the minority and they feel that only 20% of UP votes, while the balance 80% don’t. And, therefore, they are running towards the minority vote,” BJP leader Siddharnath Nath Singh told ANI.Singh further said the BJP doesn’t differentiate between minority and majority votes and only works for development and good governance which will be the sole focus of the party in the upcoming 2017 elections.Addressing a rally at Lucknow to commemorate the tenth death anniversary of Dalit icon Kanshi Ram, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, on Sunday, said that voting for the Samajwadi Party or the Congress will only help the BJP come to power.Mayawati said that since the onset of the BJP-led government at the centre, the minorities have been subjected to a bias by right wing forces over issues like ?love-jihad? and cow slaughtering.She also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not fulfilling his 2014 poll promises.

35-year-old Dalit man beheaded in Uttarakhand for using flour mill; accused arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 35-year-old Dalit man was beheaded allegedly by a primary school teacher who accused him of rendering “impure” a flour mill by using it before the upper caste villagers in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar district, a senior police officer said on Friday.Sohan Ram died when he was assaulted with a sickle by Lalit Karnatak after he protested an insulting remark against his caste, Bageshwar SP Sukhbir Singh told PTI on phone.The accused was arrested on Thursday and sent to Almora jail this morning, the SP said, adding that he was charged with murder and under provisions of the SC and ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act.The incident occurred on Tuesday evening in Kadaria village of Bageshwar bordering Pithoragarh. The victim Sohan had gone to a flour mill owned by Kundan Kumar Singh to take back his wheat flour, the SP said.When Lalit, who teaches at a primary school in a neighbouring village, saw Sohan at the flour mill, he made an insulting remark on his caste, saying the flour mill had been “rendered impure” by him.As Sohan protested, Lalit attacked him with a sickle on the neck in a fit of rage, beheading him.According to villagers, both Dalits and upper castes had been using the mill. But in view of the ongoing Navratri festival the upper castes had issued a diktat to the Dalit families to use the mill only after flour has been prepared for offering to deities.

Report of Roopanwal Commission aimed at saving Ministers, HCU VC: Rohit Vemula’s brother

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rohith Vemula’s brother on Friday alleged that the report of the commission, constituted by HRD ministry after the Hyderabad university scholar’s death, was aimed at saving BJP Union Ministers, Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad Central University and ABVP members.”The entire commission report has aimed at saving BJP Union Ministers, Podile Apparao (HCU Vice-Chancellor) and BJP MLC Ramachandra Rao along with ABVP members.”Despite District Magistrate, Guntur’s report, National Commission for Scheduled Castes Report which clearly stated my brother Rohith Vemula as Scheduled Caste, the present government is making all efforts to divert the reports of authenticated bodies,” Raja Vemula said in a Facebook post.The Justice Roopanwal Commission, in its report to the HRD ministry, has given a clean chit to Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, sources said.The University authorities too have been absolved of any blame for Vemula’s death as the Commission has held that they were not working under political pressure.”The agenda of the BJP and RSS are clearly manifested in the report of the commission, which does not take in to account the butchering and enslaving of Dalits, raping and murdering Dalit woman, pronouncement of social boycotts in villages and educational institutions, instead attack on the affirmative policies extended through reservations, and demand for a ban on reservations,” he alleged.Raja claimed his mother Radhika Vemula was the one who endured a lot of sacrifices and discrimination.”She lost her son Rohith Vemula on account of the socio-political victimisation he had undergone along with four other dalit research scholars from Ambedkar Students Association,” he said.Raising questions on Vemula’s Dalit status, the Commission has said the material on record did not establish it and attributed his suicide to personal reasons, according to sources.

Rohith Vemula’s death due to ‘personal frustration’, not discrimination, says judiciary panel report

The one-man judicial commission set up to probe the circumstances that lead to Rohith Vemula’s suicide has submitted its report stating that Vemula’s mother “branded” herself a Dalit only to obtain the caste benefits, and that the Hyderabad University’s decision to expel Vemula from hostel was “most reasonable”.

The 41-page-report, accessed by The Indian Expressreportedly puts the varsity authorities in the clear stating that the disciplinary actions taken by the administration were “not politically motivated” and that personal frustration, not discrimination led to Vemula’s suicide. The report further hands out a clean chit to Union ministers Bandaru Dattatreya and Smriti Irani, who it was alleged put undue pressure on the university to act against Vemula, stating that they were “merely discharging their duties as public servants”.

Rohith Vemula. Twitter profileRohith Vemula. Twitter profile

Rohith Vemula. Twitter profile

The one-man committee, constituted 11 days after Vemula’s suicide by the then Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani to probe Vemula’s death, is based on the deposition of close to 50 people, most of whom are University staff and teachers, according to The Indian Express.

The report compiled and submitted by the former Allahabad High Court judge AK Roopanwal dismissed the allegations that Vemula was driven to suicide or faced any discrimination, according to The Quint. It came to the conclusion citing a five-day-gap between the nine-member proctorial committee’s report advising that strict action be taken against Vemula on ABVP student leader’s complaint and the letter written by Union Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya to HRD minister Smriti Irani requesting strict action against Vemula.

Who was Rohith Vemula?

Rohith Vemula was a 26-year-old PhD scholar at the Hyderabad University, who committed suicide on 17 January, 2016, after he and four other students were suspended from the college hostel following a disciplinary action initiated by the University administration on the complaint of a ABVP student leader lodged in August. The ABVP student had alleged that Vemula and other members of the the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) had roughed him up and demanded an apology for posting an ‘angry’ Facebook post, after the ASA protested against the hanging of Yakub Memon. After the ABVP leader’s complaint, the University’s proctorial board launched an enquiry into the matter and recommended strict action against Vemula and others.

The research scholars, following this, were expelled from their hostel in December. They were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus, except their classroom, library and conferences and workshops related to their subject of study. They were evicted from their rooms in January and since then they were forced to sleep in a makeshift tent on the campus. It is this committee report that the Roopanwal commission drew from, in assuming that the disciplinary action was recommended five days before Dattatreya wrote a letter to the HRD ministry, hence ruling out the possibility of political interference. The judiciary panel probe report also observes that it is highly unlikely that all nine members of the proctorial committee will come under political pressure when none of them were directly under any of the ministers, according to The Quint.

Why is Vemula’s caste important?

Ever since Vemula committed suicide his caste identity has been mired in mystery and has been at the eye of the storm. One reason for it could be that if it is established that Vemula was a Dalit and was led to suicide due to discrimination, then legal action against all accused, including Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad university Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile will be taken as per the more stringent SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act.

If found guilty, not only will the quantum of punishment be stringent, but according to the new law, there is a presumption to the offence clause in the act according to which the court may assume that the accused was aware of the victim’s caste identity unless proved otherwise.

Vemula’s caste has been mired in controversy as his father was a Vaddera (OBC) and his mother, who is separated from his father and brought Vemula up considers herself a Mala (SC). According to a report in Hindustan TimesVemula’s mother was apparently a Mala by birth and was adopted into a Vaddera family. She was thereafter married to a Vaddera but after the couple seperated after marriage, she went back to assume her Mala identity.

The report compiled and submitted by the former Allahabad High Court judge AK Roopanwal dismissed the allegations that Vemula was driven to suicide or faced any discrimination

A probe was launched by the HRD ministry into the caste identity of Vemula and contrasting evidence have surfaced thus far. First, a report published in The Hindu on 15 June states that the Guntur district collector heading the enquiry into Vemula’s caste has stated that he was a Dalit. However, later the collector in a U-turn stated that a fresh probe is needed to determine his caste as it is shrouded in ‘ambiguity.’

The Roopanwal commission has however is of the view that Vemula’s mother “branded” herself a Dalit to avail the benefits of reservations. The commission questioned that Vemula’s adoptive grandmother never revealed his mother’s biological parents’ identity so how can she be sure about their caste, according to The Indian Express report.

However, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Chairman PL Punia on Thursday rejected the reported finding of the Roopanwal Commission that Rohith Vemula did not belong to the SC community as “totally wrong“. NCSC chairman said the statutory body and the district collector have, in separate reports, found that the Hyderabad Central University research scholar belonged to the Dalit community, and not Other Backward Class (OBC).

However, according to a PTI report, HRD ministry sources have earlier said that in its recommendations, the Roopanwal commission has also emphasised that there should be proper grievance redressal mechanisms, equal opportunity cells so that unfortunate incidents like Vemula’s suicide can be prevented.

“The government will focus that those recommendations are implemented that will ensure that proper mechanisms are in place,” a source said.

The government will not go into those aspects of the report which were not in the commission’s terms of reference including determination of Vemula’s caste, sources added.

It is also understood that in the report, the commission has held that Vemula could not be held to be a Dalit. However, sources maintained that the ministry would focus on implementation of recommendations and prefer not go into aspects like determination of Vemula’s caste.

Tamil Brahmins vs Dalits: This Quora thread explains why the two communities struggle with each other

While the identity of Tamil Brahmins and their conflict with Dalits in the state is much discussed in political circles, a Quora thread tries to neatly sums up the cause of the turmoil between the communities in Tamil Nadu.

Answering the question, “Why is there so much hatred against Brahmins in Tamil Nadu?” Quora user from Chennai, Sagaran explains the issue. According to him, the Brahmin community is misunderstood and other Hindu castes have placed their blames on the Brahmins, since they don’t fight back. Sagaran who is a Dalit himself explains that Brahmins are a timid caste and that they should unite with the Dalits. He advises fellow Dalits to be wary of Brahmin baiting by non-Brahmin caste Hindus. This particular thread has garnered a lot of chatter on social media.

Here’s a reproduction of the post:

As a Tamil Dalit, my friends who were Brahmin Iyers were the only ones who did NOT question my caste. Everyone else, like the Thevars and Mudaliars criticised the Dalits without knowing which caste I belonged to. Later, they tried to casually talk behind our Brahmin friends’ backs, saying things like “Oh those brahmins propagated caste”. This is a typical pattern used by non-Brahmin caste Hindus and every Dalit should be cautious not to fall into this trap. 

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

It is not hard to reverse this interpolation into history. Probably as some say (and I don’t care much for religious texts of any faith) the caste was based on occupation not birth. The keepers of the rituals were Brahmins but the powerful ones were the ruling, and business castes. It is very easy to imagine the timid Brahmins being threatened by these powerful ruling castes to change this narrative into one of birth. I use timid not in a negative way but only to mean that Brahmins are not proud of aggression, a trait that I see to this day.

Somehow, I am not convinced that the entire caste Hindu population were asked to take up casteism by the Brahmins who still are merely a 3 percent of the population. The Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are an intelligent bunch. Do you think they would blindly listen to a minority? For a poor priest, it does not matter if a Dalit gives him a rupee or a Devar gives him a rupee. Caste matters however for a powerful landowner who works in the land for cheap. An unending supply of cheap bonded labor is what they needed.

Take a look at caste based violence perpetrated against the Dalits. Vitriolic attacks on Dalits usually come from the non-brahmin castes. Devars, Vanniyars and Gounders have taken up the mantle to attack Dalits. The Brahmins on the other hand rarely (if at all) resort to violence. I have personally seen Brahmins married into Arundhathiyar families and coexisting peacefully. I have a friend married to a Brahmin woman and the family rallies around him like he is their own. Again, these are personal examples and cannot be applied to all situations.

Read the entire Quora thread here.

Centre to commemorate Dalit icons ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Centre plans to revive the former glory of dalit icons of Congress from the state. The list being compiled by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Culture comprises of forgotten intellectuals, social reformers, freedom fighters and poets associated with the freedom movement and the Congress party. Over the next one year, these icons will be celebrated by the Centre at various fora across the state.Amongst those on the list are Congress leader and activist Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, freedom fighter Ram Prasad Bismil and poet Kabir. The two ministries are also identifying Dalit icons who didn’t get their due acclaim. “Some names have been finalised. We are in the process of fine-tuning our list, before making any official announcement,” said a senior officer of the Ministry of Culture.Political critic and author, professor Apoorvanand Jha said that Congress is in such a feeble position now that they cannot even discredit BJP for their political stand on recognising people who should have been felicitated by the former.Vidyarthi was known to be a communist within the Congress, who died in a communal riot that ensued in UP. The Centre is of the view that commemorating him will garner positive reactions from people belonging to the Kanpur belt. They also believe that since poet Kabir, who is recognised by both Hindus and the Muslims, had his roots in Varanasi, it will help in fostering a better bond amongst both communities. A grand celebration of Kabir Jayanti is being planned at Varanasi by the Ministry of Culture.“Kabir does not fit the BJP RSS ideology. Celebrating revolutionaries and genuine critics of the society however, is always better than iconising political dynasties and corporates,” said professor Ramagya Sashidhar of the Banaras Hindu University.Over the past two years, BJP has legitimised its claim over Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr BR Ambedkar, who had long been associated with the Congress. They have now shifted focus to state icons, which will help them build a stronger local connect. “As a political party, we have some social responsibilities too. There is public sentiment attached to these great men. We are not iconising dynasty politics, but are trying to give rightful recognition to the great men who have not got their due,” said BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh.

OBC community organises rally in Nashik to counter Maratha movement

The Other Backward Castes (OBCs) have united to counter the silent protests led by the Maratha community in Maharashtra seeking reservation from the government. On Monday, members of OBC community will organise a rally in Nashik, a reflection of the community’s resentment against the Maratha movement.

According to The Indian Express, the OBCs, who have 27 percent reservation, want that percentage to remain constant and regardless of whether the Marathas get reservation or not.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The community has already started mobilisation in constituencies like Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Akola, Buldhana, Yavatmal, Beed, Parbhani, Jalna, Hingoli, Solapur, Pune and Mumbai.

A rally was held in Yavatmal on 29 September to demand protection of constitutional rights for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the minority communities. The rally was held under the banner of BSP and ‘SC/ST Hak Samrakshan Samiti of Yavatmal’.

Among the major demands were scrupulous implementation of the amended Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, promotion of SC/ST employees working in different cadres in the government and semi-government departments and better facilities for students of the community in government and government-aided hostels.

Even the Muslim community is seeking reservation from the Devendra Fadnavis government.

The Maratha community’s demands include stern action against the culprits of Kopardi rape and murder case, reservations for the community and scrapping of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The silent marches began after the alleged rape and murder of a Maratha girl by Dalits in Kopardi in July.

With inputs from PTI

Gujarat: Dalits refuse to dispose cattle carcasses in protest against rising atrocities

Ahmedabad: On the outskirts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s home city, the stench from cow carcasses littering the roadside is overpowering as India’s lowest social caste keeps up protests against deep-rooted discrimination.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Dalits, previously known as ‘untouchables’, stopped collecting carcasses more than two months ago in Gujarat state, after the brutal beating of four Dalit youths accused of killing a cow, considered sacred in India.

A video of the public flogging carried out by upper-caste cow-protection vigilantes in Gujarat went viral, triggering outrage across the country.

“Our Dalit brothers were thrashed so severely merely for doing what has been their work for centuries,” said Somabhai Yukabhai, 49, among those who have stopped collecting and skinning dead cows, a traditional and grisly job restricted to Dalits.

“I would rather starve to death than collect the dead cows,” said the father of three, as a dog feasted on calf remains on the outskirts of Gujarat’s largest city Ahmedabad.

“The fight now is about our dignity. We will not sit quietly now,” he added.

The carcasses are seen by critics as an embarrassing eyesore for Hindu nationalist Modi who has long hailed Gujarat as a shining example of India’s economic progress.

His party also risks losing votes at upcoming elections because of the fury about the attack in July. Dalits have sizeable numbers in Gujarat and two other states gearing up for next year’s polls, experts say.

The attack, during which the youths were stripped to their waists before being flogged, shows violence is still being meted out to Dalits six decades after India banned caste discrimination.

Authorities have concluded a wild lion, not the four youths, killed the cow and the youngsters were legally skinning the animal for its leather. Police this month formally filed charges against their attackers.

The incident was a tipping point for many Dalits, who feel they can no longer tolerate such attacks, said charismatic Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.

“Economic exploitation on one hand and caste-based violence on the other has completely frustrated them, especially the youth,” said Mevani, a 35-year-old lawyer.

“The Una (village) incident proved to be the last straw.”

The violent protests that erupted in July over the attack, leaving one police officer dead, have passed for now. But Dalits have kept up their strike against collecting the carcasses, although municipal authorities have taken over in some areas.

AFP reporters saw about 10 dead cows next to a main road leading into the city. Cows roam freely in Hindu-majority India and killing them is illegal in most states.

Dalits, who form 16.6 percent of the national population, roughly 200 million people, performed the most dirty and dangerous jobs such as removing dead animals and human waste under India’s caste system.

Determined by birth, the centuries-old system dictated hierarchy in Indian society including profession and level of education available.

Despite the ban discrimination remains rife: Some 27 percent of Indians reported regularly carrying out “untouchability” — such as refusing Dalits entry to their kitchen, or setting aside different utensils for them — according to a survey last year by India’s National Council of Applied Economic Research and America’s University of Maryland.

Reported crimes against Dalits increased 44 percent between 2010 and 2014, official figures show. A Dalit boy was burnt to death in 2014 for letting his goat stray onto land owned by an upper-caste farmer.

Though some experts cautioned that the increase could be down to growing awareness of the need to report atrocities, rather than a jump in actual cases.

But aspirations of and opportunities for young Dalits have grown after years of India’s booming economic growth with hundreds of thousands flocking to cities for work and study.

Literacy rates among Dalits are 66 percent nationally, while government jobs and university places are reserved for a string of different low castes under affirmative action policies.

At a Dalit settlement dotted with ramshackle brick houses near Ahmedabad, residents spoke of facing discrimination on a daily basis.

“We are not allowed to enter temples, fetch water from public taps or drink from the same cups at tea stalls,” said Babulal Mackwan, a shoemaker.

Activist Mevani said Dalits would end their strike over the carcasses only if the state government vowed to stamp out caste oppression and gave five acres (two hectares) of land to every Dalit family affected.

At a skinning field strewn with cow remains in Gujarat’s Surendranagar district, Dalits said the strike was hurting them financially. Dalits have traditionally and legally made a living from the carcasses — including by selling hides to tanneries and fat to soap makers.

But they said they were tired of being relentlessly targeted by hard line Hindus belonging to cow-protection squads and were prepared to keep up the strike.

“Even when we are transporting hides or bones, we are targeted by cow mobs. We are asked to cough up bribes or face beatings,” said local Dalit activist Natubhai Parmar.

He added: “But we will not bow down this time. We are prepared for a long fight.”

‘Saamana’ cartoon row: Opposition seeks unconditional apology from Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Office of the Shiv Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ in Navi Mumbai was allegedly stoned on Tuesday over a cartoon published in the daily alluding to the silent marches being taken out by Maratha community across the state. A pro-Maratha outfit, ‘Sambhaji Brigade’, claimed the responsibility for the attack.While Shiv Sena termed the attack as “deliberate mischief” by some people to create a rift between the Maratha community, its ally BJP took objection to the cartoon and demanded public apology from the newspaper. Opposition Congress and NCP also sought government action against the Sena mouthpiece for “hurting sentiments” of the community.Giving details about the attack, police said three youths came in a vehicle at the ‘Saamana’ printing press building located at Sanpada in Navi Mumbai at around 1.45 pm. They called the guard of the press and requested him to take a letter. As the guard was approaching the vehicle, the youths got down, rushed towards the press and allegedly pelted stones damaging glasses on the outer wall of the building and fled, they said. Police reached the spot and a complaint was lodged by the office-bearers at Sanpada police station.Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale confirmed the incident. Police said an offence has been registered against the accused and appropriate action will be taken. On Sunday, a cartoon on “muk morcha” (silent march) was published in ‘Saamana’, which drew flak from political quarters.The controversial cartoon. Image Courtesy: TwitterThe Marathas have been organising silent marches across the state following the Kopardi rape and murder incident, in which the victim was a member from the community, while the alleged perpetrators belonged to Dalit community.A Sena leader requesting anonymity said, “The cartoon had no co-relation with the Maratha community. There are certain people, who want to create a rift within the community members by misguiding them. While doing that, they also got a good opportunity to defame the Sena.””(Late Sena Chief) Bal Thackeray never believed in dividing Marathi speaking people on the basis of caste and creed. For him, all were equal. Thus, we cannot go against his principles to play with the sentiments of the Marathi speaking community. This is a case of deliberate mischief,” the leader said.Sambhaji Brigade takes responsibility of the attackThe Sambhaji Brigade condemned the cartoon and took responsibility of the attack. It also demanded apology from Sena leaders.Sambhaji Brigade spokesperson Shivanand Bhanuse told PTI, “We are condemning a cartoon, which was published in ‘Saamana’. Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and ‘Saamana’ executive editor Sanjay Raut must apologise to the women of Maharashtra.””The attack was spontaneous and an expression of emotions of the Maratha community,” he said.Opposition demands apology from SenaMeanwhile, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar said ‘Saamana’ had hurt sentiments of the Maratha community and those taking part in the silent morchas. “The newspaper should offer an unconditional public apology,” he said.Hitting out at Raut, Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP, Shelar said, “Given the Executive Editor’s style of functioning, I feel like calling him a cartoon.” The BJP leader said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is trying to understand the sentiments of the Marathas and is communicating with them.”We are confident that the government will take a satisfactory decision (about the community’s demands),” he said.”By mocking the Maratha community, the Shiv Sena has insulted the womenfolk and therefore they should apologise publicly…Being a part of the government, the Sena should have taken note of their grievance and found some solution,” Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said.Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the attack on reflected the Maratha anger against the “derogatory” cartoon. He also urged the government to act against the newspaper. “The cartoon not only insulted the Maratha morcha, but also women from all sections of the society. The cartoon exposed the anti-Maratha mindset of Sena, which is known for its anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim stand,” he said.Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said the cartoon showed Sena’s “pervert mindset”. “It insulted martyred jawans, their families, police and women. The government should file a criminal case against the newspaper,” he said.Munde also accused the state government of instigating the non-Maratha community in the backdrop of the maratha morchas to create caste tensions. “The Opposition will cooperate with the government to amend laws to provide reservation to Marathas,” he said.Munde said there is resentment in the community that the government is not taking their demands seriously. “So far, chargesheet has not been filed the kopardi rape and murder case,” the NCP leader said.Marathas have planned more rallies in the state in the coming days, which would culminate in a rally in Mumbai in the first week of October.Meanwhile, late in the evening, police commissioner Hemant Nagrale informed that a case had been registered with regard to the stone-pelting at Saamana office under sections 336 (act endangering life and personal safety of others) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the property) of the IPC.The FIR identified the accused as Shrikrushna Sawant, Amol Jadhavrao, Manoj Aakhre, Purushottam Khedkar, all office-bearers of Sambhaji Brigade, and others. The accused would be arrested soon, the police officer said.

Haryana: State authorities do not take action in land grabbing case, Dalits warn of conversion

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A section of Dalits from a village have threatened to convert alleging that the state authorities were dily dallying on taking action against some persons who allegedly ‘illegally occupied’ land given to them, by the state. A cooperative society formed under the Punjab Nazul Act 1956 allotted the land to the Dalits for their betterment.But between 2010 to 2014 a number of high-profile people including some who claimed to be from BJP had illegally grabbed 600 acres of Nazul land which also included 41 acres from Dhidwara village, they alleged. They claimed that despite making a complaint on July 13 last year, the police failed to act due to the pressure from BJP leaders.However, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar assigned his OSD Jagdish Chopra to look into the matter after some of the Dalit community members met him. Protesting in front of the mini secretariat for the last four days, the Dalit families have alleged that the police had warned them of “dire consequence” if they don’t stop their protest.Congress state president Ashok Tanwar who came to support the Dalits alleged that since the BJP government came to power the atrocities against them have been on the rise. “The labour class and Dalits are targeted in the rule of BJP. The law and order situation in the state has become a joke since the day BJP came to power,” he said.The villagers have asked for a CBI probe and demanded that their land be returned or else they will convert and migrate.

Ramdas Athawale favours 75% reservation overall, demands for 25% quota for poor among upper castes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale said on Thursday the Constitution should be amended to provide 25% quota to the poor among the upper castes such as Patels and Marathas. “I will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discuss this issue with him,” Athawale told reporters here during a memorial function for Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.”I am in favour of 25% reservation for the economically backward sections among the upper castes from the general quota,” he said, adding that he, thus, favoured 75% reservation overall. “Patels under Hardik Patel’s leadership are demanding reservations in Gujarat, Jats are demanding reservations in Haryana, Rajputs and Gujjars have made same demand in Rajasthan. I am of the opinion that all these communities should be given reservation,” he said, adding that the Marathas were making the same demand in Maharashtra.To increase the quantum of reservations, constitutional amendment should be made, he said. He also made it clear that he was “firmly opposed” to the Maratha community’s demand of repealing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “If there are any specific suggestions for minor changes which would stop its misuse, my ministry will definitely examine them,” he said. Gujarat culture minister Rajendra Trivedi, BJP MP Ranjanben Bhatt and several Dalit leaders were also present during the function.”If people insist on repealing the Act, then they need to first take steps to ensure that atrocities (on Dalits and tribals) do not happen,” he said, while condemning the rape and murder of a Maratha girl, allegedly by Dalit youths, at Kopardi in Maharashtra which triggered the ongoing Maratha protest.Athawale, who heads RPI (A), said he has taken up the issue of alliance with the BJP for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections with party president Amit Shah to “prevent Mayawati from coming to power”. “We want to field 30 candidates in UP,” he said. He also alleged that the Mayawati-led BSP had “grabbed” his party’s symbol ‘elephant’, and vowed to take it back by approaching the Election Commission and pointing out BSP’s failure to win a single Lok Sabha seat in UP in 2014 polls.On the Uri terror attack, Athawale said, “Prime Minister Modi means business and India will give a befitting reply.” On the flogging of Dalit youths by cow vigilantes at Una in Gujarat, Athawale expressed satisfaction over the investigation. “I have met (Gujarat) Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and requested him to allocate a large chunk of land here for building a huge memorial of Dr Ambedkar,” he said. He said a decision on increasing the scholarships for Dalit and OBC students will be taken very soon.

BJP National Council meet: PM Modi expected to speak on Uri attack in Kozhikode

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Uri terror attack, which left 18 army men dead and triggered an outcry for punitive action against Pakistan, will be deliberated upon in the three-day BJP National Council meeting in which top party brass is also expected to articulate its ‘garib kalyan’ agenda to reach out to the marginalised like Dalits and OBCs. BJP President Amit Shah arrived in Kozhikode on Thursday for the meet, which starts from Friday and coincides with the birth centenary of its ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to arrive too in Kozhikode on Saturday and speak at a public meeting, his first such address after the attack in Uri. He will address the Council on Sunday.Party leaders and cadres expect him to speak on Uri attack as the saffron outfit has been under fire over repeated incidents of Pakistani terrorists targeting defence facilities, more so as Modi had often flayed the UPA government over its alleged soft attitude to Pakistan in the face of terror incidents. BJP National Secretary and Kerala in-charge H Raja told reporters that the party leaders will deliberate the Uri incident.The Uri attack has forced the party to recalibrate its agenda for the Council, likely to be attended by over 1,700 delegates, including all its chief ministers, all its union ministers and top brass from all states. The party is likely to use the occasion to reprise the poor-centric ideology of Upadhyay, who was elected its president in 1967 at the same venue and whose 100th birth anniversary falls on September 25. The party had earlier formed a committee under the leadership of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to prepare a garib kalyan (welfare of poor) agenda under which its state governments will be asked to achieve certain key objectives in various welfare schemes.BJP believes that effective implementation of the agenda can help it reach out more to the marginalised sections, especially Dalits and OBCs, as it has been facing flak over Dalit issues from Opposition parties and some Dalit groups. Raja also cited Upadhyay’s thrust on ‘antyodaya’ (uplift of the last man) and the Centre’s “pro-poor” schemes as he spoke about the Council’s planned emphasis on welfare of poor.Modi on September 25 will inaugurate Upadhyay’s birth centenary celebrations which will go on for over a year. The party leadership is also expected to deliberate over assembly polls in several states scheduled for early next year, including in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. BJP has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for over 14 years and Shah has claimed that it will make a come back with two-third majority by trouncing formidable regional rivals like Samajwadi Party and BSP.Cases of violence against BJP and RSS functionaries in the Left-ruled Kerala are also expected to be referred to by the leadership which has blamed CPI(M) for these incidents.

Amit Shah’s rally a flop show, bungalow remark smacks of casteist mentality: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP supremo Mayawati on Wednesday termed BJP chief Amit Shah’s rally as a “flop show” and slammed his remark that she owned several bungalows in Delhi, saying it smacks of his party’s “casteist mentality”.”It seems that BJP’s top leadership and Amit Shah are unable to digest the fact that a daughter of a Dalit can reside in a bungalow,” she said, hitting back at the BJP chief. “It only goes on to highlight BJP’s casteist mentality,” she said referring to Shah’s remark that “if she had distributed the money she spent on the bunglows…every Dalit household would have got an air conditioner”.She termed the rally, organised by her former partymen Swami Prasad Maurya, as a “flop show” and said it proved once again that “those who desert BSP are left alone”. Shah’s speech was far from the truth and was aimed at provoking people in view of the Assembly polls next year, she alleged.The BSP chief said that unlike BJP, which allowed Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya to flee, she took “stern action against all those facing corruption allegations”. Mayawati said Maurya toiled hard for months but failed to pull a crowd for the BJP’s rally and the party was now “regretting taking him in”.

Amit Shah takes on Samajwadi Party over ‘Mahabharat’, taunts Mayawati on bunglows

Lucknow: Hitting out at successive BSP and Samajwadi Party governments in Uttar Pradesh over corruption, BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday alleged that people of the state
were left empty handed while the leaders of the two parties flourished under their rule.

He also alleged that while SP was committing atrocities on Dalits, BSP supremo Mayawati was exploiting them and claimed that only BJP can ensure uplift of the community. “In the last 15 years, the people of Uttar Pradesh have been entangled between SP and BSP and remained where they were, while the leaders of these parties accumulated wealth,” he alleged.

BJP president Amit Shah. ReutersBJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

BJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

Addressing a ‘Parivartan Maha rally’ organised by former BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Shah raised questions on graft cases, from Taj corridor to alleged mining scam linked to Gayatri Prasad Prajapati.

“I want to ask Akhilesh as to why was Gayatri Prasad Prajapati was removed from the ministry…corruption was cited as the reason when he was dismissed, but he was taken back within a week…is he not corrupt now,” he asked.

“Had there been no corruption in the mining department in the state (headed by Prajapati), every household would have got a colour TV set,” Shah claimed. “Modiji is sending money to the state but it is being divided between chacha and bhatija…,” the BJP national president alleged targeting Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and state minister Shivpal.

Taking a jibe at the Samajwadi Party over the infighting, Shah said it was “bigger than Mahabharat”. “Uncle (chacha) and nephew (bhatija) are throwing each other’s supporters out and Amar Singh is playing the role of Narad,” he alleged.

Shah also tried to corner Mayawati, saying she should have used the money spent for buying her bunglows for the poor Dalits in the state. “Behenji (Mayawati) you got clear majority (in 2007)… what did you do? NRHM scam, Noida plot allotment scam, Taj corridor scam, security number plate scam, police recruitment scam,” he alleged.

“After a scam worth Rs 40,000 crore, she says that she will work for the betterment of the state’s backwards and Dalits if voted to power,” the BJP president alleged.

In the rally organised under the banner of Loktantrik Bahujan Manch of Maurya, who has accused the BSP supremo of selling party tickets, Shah asked the people to tell others about the number of bungalows owned by Mayawati in Delhi.

Questioning Mayawati’s claims of working for improving the lot of Dalits, he claimed, “If she had distributed the money she spent on the bunglows…every Dalit household would have got an air conditioner.” He also lashed out at the BSP supremo over the issue of atrocities on Dalits, saying, “As many as 1,074 Dalits were killed between 2008-2011 …Behenji, before seeking Dalit votes you will have to give an answer on the killing of Dalits (under your government) to their Samaj.”

Silent protest march by Marathas in Amravati on Thursday demanding reservation

Silent protest march by Marathas in Amravati on Thursday demanding reservation

Sep 21, 2016 16:03 IST

#Dalit #Maratha #NewsTracker #Protests #SC #ST

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Amravati (Maharashtra): Members of the Maratha community will take out a silent kranti morcha on Thursday demanding reservations in educational institutes and government jobs.

The community, pre-dominant in Maharashtra politics, has been taking out silent marches in various towns of the state over last one month, following the rape and murder of a girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district two months back. The victim girl was a Maratha, while the culprits were Dalits.

According to the organisers, nearly five lakh community members are expected to take part in the morcha that will begin from Nehru maidan here at 11 am on Thursday.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The morcha is not against any caste but against the tendency involved in Kopardi case,” the organisers said at a press conference.

A team of 750 dedicated volunteers has been formed for the security of the morcha.

The organisers said college youths alone would lead the morcha as there would be no political or other leaders involved in the march.

They said schools and colleges have been requested to declare a holiday on Thursday.

Earlier, the Maratha rallies in Akola, Latur and Nanded drew huge crowds.

The community leaders have been demanding scrapping of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), saying that it is grossly misused, and also reservations for Marathas in educational institutes and government jobs.

Shocking: 90-year-old woman attacked, harassed in Kerala

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 90-year-old woman living alone was allegedly assaulted and harassed by her neighbour after he trespassed into her house at Kadakkal in Kollam district. Police said the nonagenarian woman, a widow and a cancer survivor, was attacked by the 63-year-old man last week.”The man intruded into her house and attacked and behaved in a manner which amounted to outraging her modesty,” District police chief Ajeetha Begum said.He was arrested today and charged under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 377 (unnatural offences).”We have registered the case based on the statement given by the woman. She was sent to the hospital for detailed medical examination. The accused was arrested and IPC 354 and 377 were charged against him according to her statement,” Ajeetha Begum told PTI.However, police dismissed reports aired by some television channels that the old woman was brutally raped. Meanwhile, the state Human Rights Commission initiated suo moto into the incident based on media reports.A few months back, a Dalit law student was brutally raped and killed by a migrant labour in Perumbavur in Ernakulam district, triggering heated debates on the safety of women in the state.

UP polls 2017: RPI leader Ramdas Athawale promises to snatch elephant symbol back from BSP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at Mayawati ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, RPI leader and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Tuesday accused BSP of having “grabbed” his party’s elephant poll symbol and vowed to “snatch” it back.”Originally the elephant was the symbol of Republican Party of India, but following the split in RPI and the rise of BSP, Mayawati grabbed it,” said the Dalit leader, who is also Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment.Stating that he would be visiting Uttar Pradesh where elections are due next year, Athawale said all out efforts would be made to “snatch the elephant symbol” back from BSP. Claiming that RPI was expanding its presence in states like Odisha, West Bengal and Assam apart from Maharashtra, Athawale said he was the first to find a berth in union ministry after B R Amedbkar, who was a Minister in the first cabinet headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.While Narendra Modi government is taking a slew of measures for the welfare of Dalits and curb atrocities on them, BSP’s base has witnessed a decline and RPI would gain from the present scenario, he said.Stating that RPI is much older than BSP with strong roots in Uttar Pradesh, he said the party had 16 MLAs in UP in 1967 and four of its members were ministers. It is now time for RPI to retrieve its political base and work wholeheartedly to elevate the status of Dalits in the society and ensure their constitutional rights, he said. Athawale praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said several steps have been taken as a mark of honour to Ambedkar and for the Dalits.Referring to the terrorist attack on an Army base in Uri in north Kashmir, the union minister said it was part of a conspiracy by Pakistan which should be taught a lesson. While India is in favour of friendly ties, Pakistan is fully responsible for creating trouble in Kashmir by misguiding the youths, he said. Describing Pak-occupied Kashmir as a part of India, he said Pakistan should return PoK.

Gujarat: Jignesh Mevani, face of Dalit protest against Una flogging, resigns from AAP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Activist Jignesh Mevani, a face of ‘Dalit Asmita Yatra’ in Gujarat, resigned from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Saturday.According to Times of India, his resignation comes after a series of allegations were levelled by the BJP, Dalit rights activists and NGOs that the protest over Una incident was driven by AAP.”I have resigned from AAP as people of the BJP, some Dalit rights activists and NGOs had started a negative campaign against the Dalit agitation just because of my AAP membership,” Mevani said.Mevani also stated that he knows the BJP will suffer because of these yatras and that it should suffer. “It was under BJP that Dalits suffered most. It is under their rule that atrocities against socially-backward communities have increased sharply. Cow vigilante groups are a gift of Modi,” he said at a press conference. “I want to preserve the sanctity of the movement we’ve just started. We don’t want the movement to suffer because of my association with any party,” he added.Demanding justice for their community following the Una flogging incident, hundreds of Dalits and members of various civil rights organisations participated the ‘Dalit Asmita Yatra’, a foot march that was undertaken from Ahmedabad to Una town of Gir Somnath district.On July 11, four Dalit youths were beaten up by cow vigilantes at Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka when they were allegedly skinning a dead cow. Though the youths pleaded that they were from the skinner community, the gau-rakshaks’ thrashed them alleging that they were involved in cow slaughter.The idea of the foot march from Ahmedabad to Una was floated by former IPS officer Rahul Sharma at a mass gathering of Dalits held in the city on July 31.

Don’t discriminate against Dalit students: Union Minister Vijay Sampla to educational insititutes

Union minister Vijay Sampla on Wednesday said strict action will be taken against private educational institutions if the government receives complaints of discrimination against Dalit students or mis-utilisation of funds for post matric scholarships scheme for SCs and STs.”We have been receiving complaints against some private educational institutions about discrimination against Dalit students, which include roll numbers not being given to them or they being not allowed to sit in exams for non-payment of fees,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will take strict action against such educational institutions if we receive complaints in future,” the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment said.Under the Post Matric Scholarships scheme for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students, their entire fee is paid to the college by the government, he added. Sampla also said he had come to know that some private educational institutions were mis-utilising the scholarship schemes by making “fake” entry of the students.”We have received complaints in which we found some institutions were making double entry or fake entry of the students. We warn them not to indulge in such illegal practice otherwise strict action, which include suspension of their recognition, would be taken,” he said, adding such complaints have come from across the country.Sampla, who is also Punjab BJP President, said in Punjab about Rs 60 crore has been surrendered by the educational institutions under the scholarship scheme. He said state has also been asked to set up ‘fee fixation committee’ to bring in uniformity in the fees to be charged by educational institutions.”We have witnessed a big difference between the fee charged by a government-owned institution and private institution. The respective state’s ‘fee fixation committee’ will tell us about the fees charged by the government institution and to what extent private ones can charge,” he said.Sampla informed that his ministry had released a sum of Rs 173 crore under Post Matric Scholarships scheme for Scheduled Caste students in Punjab.”With this, backlog of fees for the year 2014-15 has been cleared and 30 per cent of the total fee for 2015-16 has been cleared,” he said.

Kerala nursing student didn’t face ragging, says university probe; claims suicide attempt

A university probe into the Kerala Dalit student ‘ragging’ case stated that the victim had tried to commit suicide because of family problems.

“It was no ragging incident. The girl tried to commit suicide due to family problems,” a report prepared by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) stated, as reported by ManoramaNews.

The girl’s uncle however dismissed the reports saying that there were no problems in the girl’s family, says the report further.

Karnataka police. Representational image. Image courtesy: PTIKarnataka police. Representational image. Image courtesy: PTI

Karnataka police. Representational image. Image courtesy: PTI

The incident came to light on 21 June, when the victim, Aswathy, a 19-year-old Dalit first year nursing student from Kerala, was admitted to admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital (KMCH) with serious stomach problems.

She was reportedly forced to drink toilet cleaner by her seniors at the women’s hostel of Al Qamar College of Nursing, Gulbarga.

The victim said the seniors abused her for her dark complexion, and for her father deserting his family a few years ago, reported The Times of India.

Based on her statement, police in Kozhikode had registered an FIR on 22 June against five of her seniors. On 25 June, three senior students were arrested from the nursing college based on the victim’s allegations and sent to judicial custody.

Meanwhile college administrator M M Baigh, said the girl had consumed the toilet cleaning solution herself. “We had rushed her to a hospital when it came to our notice. She had recovered from it and resumed coming to college,” he said, as reported by The Times Of India.

Techie’s murder in Chennai has shattered the city’s ‘safe’ narrative

Over the last couple of days, at least once every day, I have had a conversation with someone — family, acquaintance, friends — about the recent murders in Chennai. In particular, the murder of a young woman in a central part of the city, inside a railway station, has made almost all of us uncomfortably aware of just how vulnerable we are. This was not a murder involving gangs, caste fanaticism, or honour — none of those would have shocked us because they happen routinely in Tamil Nadu.

This was a young woman working in IT just waiting for the train.

Safety is a relative word

Women who regularly use public transport in Chennai will tell you that some form of ‘discomfort’, for lack of a better word, is natural to feel in buses and trains, and generally while we walk on the streets. I started using public transport in Chennai when I was in class four. From school to college, and later, for work, the one story of solidarity I have with friends who identify as women, is the various experiences of harassment, and that feeling of being exposed and vulnerable, while on the streets.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Crime, especially in public spaces, transcends class. Representational image. Reuters

We must come to terms with the fact that ‘safety’ is simply relative in our city. My husband feels safer than me. I feel safer than the girl who goes on a train or bus, on the days I drive. And so on and so forth.

Often, when I talk about the experience of feeling ‘unsafe’ on the streets, I have been shut down by people who think, perhaps because of their own class bias, that I am being classist. I would like to reiterate that some of the worst things I have seen in buses over the years were perpetrated by men dressed in ‘formals’. (The least gruesome of them is this: one guy in formals flashed tiny girls in uniforms and tried to rub up against them in a not-so-crowded bus.)

Crime, especially in public spaces, transcends class.

Women who use public transport will tell you that you are being naive if you think a man wearing a shirt, trousers and a backpack does not look like a criminal. (This is what the video released in the news shows; that the man who is wanted in this case wearing).

When fear transcends gender

Safety in public transport has been a matter of concern for mostly women and the vulnerable (sexual minorities, children) until now, because of the nature of the crimes (except for maybe pickpockets). But this time, it’s not harassment. It’s not eve teasing. It’s not flashing. It’s not cat calls. It’s not frotteurism. It’s not pickpocketing. It’s a gruesome murder — in the presence of others who were mute spectators. This time a human life has been taken away. This has made us all painfully aware of the flaw in the ‘safe’ narrative of the city.

When a murder like this happens, it is a reminder that our safety is not absolute. This murder has scared us all a little. That when it wants to, this city can let someone bleed to death is unsettling.

Recently, a few lawyers (all men) were murdered by ‘gangs’ in the streets of Chennai on various days. Dalit men being murdered for marrying Hindu women of different castes in public spaces are routine occurrences in Tamil Nadu.

We all need better policing and safer public spaces. And that young woman, who should not have lost her life, deserves justice. We need an alert civic society that demands all of this.

The author is a Chennai-based writer and founder-editor of The Madras Mag.

Mumbai: Dr Ambedkar’s office demolished, grandson mulls legal option

The iconic office of Dr Ambedkar in Dadar, Mumbai is in the midst of an ugly possession fight between People’s Improvement Trust and Prakash Ambedkar. According to The Indian Express, BR Ambedkar’s grandson Prakash is unhappy that the structure has been demolished against his consent. It was demolished on Saturday, and Prakash Ambedkar has decided to file an FIR against members of the People’s Improvement Trust. He was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “It is very unfortunate as the government and a section within the Trust have hurt our sentiments. They are trying to commercialise the place in the name of building a grand Ambedkar Bhawan” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However the trust has flatly denied the allegation saying that the house is being redeveloped as a 17-storeyed building and their work will continue. It will also have an office space for Prakash Ambedkar. According to the trust, the decision to redevelop the building was taken after a BMC notice that the building was unsafe. They claim to have government’s sanction in the entire redevelopment process. Prakash Ambedkar though claims that he has inherited the house from BR Ambedkar, and is willing to launch a legal challenge. He is against the ‘commercialisation’ of the office, saying that the building which has stood the test of the time since 1930 and was in forefront of the Dalit movement launched by ‘Father of the Constitution’ should remain as it is. BMC, meanwhile have distanced itself from the entire controversy saying they were not aware of the demolition and haven’t employed any officials for it.

Karnataka police to record statement of ragging victim on Saturday

Kozhikode: A team of Karnataka police, probing the alleged ragging of a first-year Dalit student of a nursing college in Gulbarga who is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kozhikode with severe stomach and foodpipe problems, will visit her on Saturday to record her statement, police said.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

“A team of policemen from Karnataka has already arrived while higher ranked officials will arrive here tomorrow,” Sub Inspector of Kozhikode Medical College Hospital (KMCH) police station, Habib, told PTI.

19-year-old Aswathi was allegedly force-fed toilet cleaner by her seniors at the hostel of Al Qamal College of Nursing in Gulbarga on 9 May, seriously damaging her foodpipe.

Based on her statement, city police on 22 June registered an FIR against five of her seniors. A copy was sent to Gulbarga Police Commissioner for further investigation.

Aswathi was admitted to a private hospital in Gulbarga after the incident, but her condition worsened after five days and she was sent back home with another Keralite student.

She was then admitted to Thrissur Medical College Hospital, after which she was referred to KMCH on 2 June.

Doctors at KMCH had suggested a major surgery as the chemicals of the toilet cleaner severely damaged her food pipe following which she had been admitted to the ICU.

Meanwhile, Kerala Women’s Commission in a letter to the Karnataka Women’s Commission, urged it to intervene in the matter and “take right action on the incident in which the girl was brutally harassed in the name of ragging”.

KWC Chairperson Rosa Kutty also spoke to her Karnataka counterpart before sending the letter, a KWC release said.

KWC member Noorbeena Rasheed said she visited the victim at KMCH on Thursday, based on which the letter was sent to the women’s commission in Karnataka.

The letter alleged that Karnataka Police was not willing to act against either college authorities or hostel officials. The girl was in a serious condition and she needed six months treatment and special surgery, it said.

Considering the seriousness of the matter, the KWC should intervene in the matter and take action, it added.

dna Morning Must Reads: Impact of Brexit on global economy; Google, Facebook blocking ISIS videos and more

1. Brexit vote adds to uncertainty over global economy, impact won’t be seen soonBritain voted on Thursday to leave the European Union. Full report here.2. India NSG membership: Dragon leaves Elephant licking wounds at Seoul<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 16 countries raised procedural issues during the meeting in Seoul. Full report here.3. Karnataka: Three seniors arrested for alleged ragging Dalit nursing student from KeralaThe victim is still being treated a hospital in kerala and her internal organs have been severely damaged. More details here.4.Google, Facebook quietly move toward automatic blocking of extremist videosLeading tech giant have deployed system to block or rapidly take down Islamic State videos. Full report here.5. Ek Baar Phir: Arjun-Pari pair up againFor Mubarakan, the actor who never repeats the director or heroin, is set to break this pattern. More details here.

Nursing student’s ragging: Case registered with Kerala police against two seniors

Over a month after a nursing student was forced to drink a toilet cleaning liquid, a case has been registered against two seniors.The victim, Aswathi, is a native of Pulluvanpadiyil near Edappal and was allegedly ragged and made to drink a toilet cleaning liquid by senior students at women’s hostel of the college on May 9.According to ANI, a case has been registered with Kerala Police against two senior students and a meeting with SP Gulbarga is underway.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>two of her seniors have been charged with attempt to murder in addition to ragging.Aswathi is a first semester nursing student of Al Qamar College of Nursing at Gulbarga near Bangalore and was forced to drink a toilet cleaning liquid by an eight-member gang of seniors.Currently, she has been admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Kozhikode Medical College Hospital (KMCH) with severe stomach problems.After the incident took place last month, the girl was initially admitted to a private hospital, but was sent home by college authorities as her condition worsened.The girl belongs to a financially backward Dalit family and had joined classes after getting a loan of Rs 4 lakhs, according to a report in Mathrubhumi. The girl was reportedly shifted back to KMCH after doctors suggested a six-month long treatment prior to surgery.

Rohith Vemula case: Guntur collector does U-turn, seeks fresh probe into caste

In a fresh controversy over the caste of Rohith Vemula, the Hyderabad university research scholar who had committed suicide in January this year, a fresh probe has been ordered by a Guntur district collector to determine whether he was a Dalit or not. The Guntur district collector, Kantilal Dande, has said that Vemula’s caste status is shrouded in ‘ambiguity’.

Incidentally, Dande himself had submitted a report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) stating that Vemula was a Dalit who belonged to the ‘Mala Caste’, which is listed in the Scheduled Caste category in Andhra Pradesh, earlier in June 2016. Dande’s report cited in The Hindu, also stated that Rohith’s family was living below the poverty line.

Rohith VemulaRohith Vemula

Rohith Vemula. Twitter

However, according to The Times of India, Dande has now done a U-turn and stated that a fresh probe into Vemula’s caste identity was needed as two previous reports that looked into Vemula’s roots gave contrasting accounts. One of the reports that was prepared by the Guntur administration, where Vemula was born, concluded that he was a Dalit, while another report submitted by the Gurajala district administration, where Vemula’s father is from, said that he belonged to the OBC category.

Dalit is an umbrella term used in India to denote Scheduled Castes, whereas OBC is a caste category defined under the Mandal commission and has higher social status than Dalits.

Dande said that he had only forwarded the Guntur administration report to NCSC and a fresh enquiry was needed to determine whether Vemula was really a Dalit.

However, Vemula’s caste status has been mired in mystery ever since the news of his suicide hit the news. Determining his caste status has been even trickier as his parents were separated, but never officially divorced, and Vemula was brought up by his mother and her adopted family. Vemula’s mother has claimed that though her husband was a Vadara (an OBC), she was a Mala Dalit and her husband did nothave anything to do with the upbringing of Vemula or his siblings, according to The News Minute.

The controversy around his caste first started two days after his death after a caste certificate signed by Vemula’s mother surfaced in several media reports. These reports that claimed Vemula belonged the ‘Vadara’ community which comes under the OBC category. Then, countering these claims Vemula’s own caste certificate, issued by the Government of Andhra Pradesh was cited, which categorises him as a ‘Mala’ Dalit.

The question of his identity is far from being resolved.

Vemula, who was doing his PhD from the Hyderabad University, was active in student politics and called himself an ‘Ambedkarite’. He was also a former member of Ambedkar Student Association, a student union actively campaigning for the SC/ST student’s cause. At the time of his death, he was suspended from the college under a disciplinary order issued at the behest of Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Appa Rao Podile. The varsity had alleged that Vemula and his friends had assaulted a ABVP leader — a claim that is largely contested — with whom they had fought on a previous occasion over the screening of the controversial documentary, Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai.

Rohith Vemula is dead, irrespective of his caste — an issue that will have an impact only on the legal aspects of this case.

Union Minister Dattatreya and varsity Vice-Chancellor Podile, prime accused in the Rohith Vemula case, are being charged under the SC/ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act for abetting Rohith’s suicide. If found guilty, not only will the quantum of punishment be stringent, but according to the new law, there is a presumption to the offence clause in the act according to which the court may assume that the accused was aware of the victim’s caste identity unless proved otherwise.

Moreover, BJP has drawn much flak from the Opposition over its handling of the case, the Union HRD minister Smriti Irani maintaining that the disciplinary action was required and fair, as reported in News18. Following the 25-year-old’s death, all major political parties and Dalit right activists have made a huge ruckus alleging wilful mistreatment of Dalit student and abetment to suicide, according to a Hindustan Times report.

According to the Times of India report, neither Rao nor Dattatreya have been questioned so far in the case. The police claims that the collector hasn’t sent the proper caste status of Vemula which is essential for the case.

As the controversy around his caste identity grows, it is but ironical that Vemula in his suicide letter had said, “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing… My birth was a fatal accident”

Kerala: Collector asked to submit report in Kerala Dalit sisters’ case

Kerala SC/ST Development Minister A K Balan has said that he has asked for a report from the district collector regarding the alleged harassment of two Dalit women at Thalassery in Kannur district.”I deal with the issues related to SC/ST communities in the state in a proper manner and the people know it very well. If anyone has done anything wrong in this case, we’ll deal with it sternly. My office has asked the Collector to submit a report,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Minister said that he will not allow anyone to crucify the SC/ST communities in the state.Yesterday, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi expressed concern over the arrest of two Dalit sisters at Thalassery in Kannur district.Rahul Gandhi had called up N Rajan, father of the sisters and leader of Indian National Trade Union Congress, and Akhila, one of the two sisters who was put behind bars for allegedly attacking a CPI(M) worker.Akhila and Anjana had been summoned to the police station on June 17, where a case was registered against them.They were then sent to the women’s jail after being charged with non-bailable offences.They were released on Saturday.The National Commission for Scheduled Castes Chairman P L Punia had stated that it would intervene in the matter and take steps to ensure that justice was meted out to them.

Centre to bear full coaching costs for Dalits, OBCs with income under 6 lakh

New Delhi: The entire expenditure incurred by dalit and backward class students on coaching for competitive examinations will now be borne by the Union government, according to the revised Scheme of Free Coaching for SC and OBC Students which has done away with the cap of Rs 20,000.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has revised the central sector scheme under which it will also empanel reputed coaching institutes to provide good quality coaching to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates.

“The central sector scheme of Free Coaching for SC and OBC students has been revised in order to provide good quality coaching to SC and OBC candidates to enable them appear in competitive examinations and succeed in obtaining appropriate job in public or private sector. “Earlier, the maximum ceiling of coaching fee paid to institution per candidate was Rs 20,000. Now we will fund the entire expenditure on coaching,” said a senior official from the Ministry.

Representational Image. ReutersRepresentational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Under the earlier procedure, Ministry would invite applications from institutions which offer coaching for competitive exams. The proposals were then considered by a committee, which would screen and shortlist them.

“Under the revised provisions, Centre would ask states and UTs to furnish proposals of at least 5 and not more than 10 coaching institutes with proven track record of success. The proposals for empanelment of coaching institutions will be considered by a Selection Committee and recommended for selection based on their past record of performance.

“Reputed institutions having branches in more than one district in a state will be given preference over stand alone institutions,” the official said.

Besides, the monthly stipend of such aspirants has been increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 for local students and Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 for outstation candidates.

Students with disabilities would be eligible also for a special allowance of Rs 2,000 per month towards reader allowance, escort allowance, helper allowance etc.

The grant-in-aid along with stipend will be released directly to the coaching institutes.

Students belonging to SCs and OBCs categories having a total family income from all sources of Rs 6 lakh or less per annum will be eligible for benefits under the scheme.

The courses for which the coaching is imparted include Group A and B examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the Staff Selection Commission (SSC), various Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs), Officers Grade examinations conducted by Banks, Insurance Companies and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).

It also includes premier entrance examinations in Engineering (IIT-JEE and AIEEE), medical (AIPMT), professional courses like Management (CAT) and Law (CLAT) along with eligibility tests like SAT, GRE, GMAT and TOEFL.

The performance of the coaching institutes will bereviewed at the end of the 3rd year of empanelment based on the results of SC and OBC candidates provided coaching under the Scheme.

Delhi assembly condemns attack on AAP Dalit councillor during joint MCD session

New Delhi: The Delhi assembly on Thursday passed a resolution condemning the attack on an AAP Dalit councillor at a joint session of the three municipal corporations in the city.

aap-bjp fight_380

AAP councillor Rakesh Kumar was seen on video being assaulted by BJP councillors during the joint session held at the Ramlila Maidan here.

Rakesh Kumar, councillor from ward 82 in Old Delhi, was seen on video being assaulted by BJP councillors during the joint session held at the Ramlila Maidan here.

Condemning the attack on the Aam Aam Party councillor who is a Dalit, legislator Somnath Bharti moved a resolution at a special session of the Delhi assembly to discuss the matter.

AAP legislators alleged that the councillor was attacked because he belonged to the Dalit community.

“He was not attacked because he was an AAP councillor but because he belonged to Dalit community. The BJP has always been anti-Dalit”, said legislator Alka Lamba.

Another AAP legislator, Rakhi Birla, called the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi “anti-Dalit.

“This is an anti-Dalit government, Birla said.

The AAP legislators urged the police to register a case against those who attacked the councillor.

The Delhi government had called a two-day special assembly session on Thursday and Friday to discuss issues of corruption in the BJP-led civic bodies.

In a counter move, the three civic bodies called a joint session for the first time since their trifurcation in 2012 to discuss issues related to the Delhi government.

JD(U) demands IGNCA chairman’s resignation who questioned role of Amdebkar in framing constitution

JD(U) on Tuesday demanded the “immediate resignation” of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) chairman Ram Bahadur Rai for questioning BR Ambedkar’s role in framing of the Constitution and describing it as a “myth”.The party’s national general secretary Shyam Rajak, in a statement here, also sought “registration of a case” against the chief of IGNCA, a premier government-funded arts centre. Rajak, who is also the deputy leader of the state Legislative Assembly, saw a “BJP design” behind assertions of IGNCA chief who he alleged is also a “BJP strategist.” “It is the policy of BJP to end constitutional rights given to the Dalits and the backwards and establish ‘Manuvad’ in the country,” he alleged.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rai, a former ABVP general secretary and now the Chairman of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, had said in an interview that Ambedkar merely “corrected” the language as the head of the drafting committee and the assertion that he played a key role in writing the Constitution was a “myth”. “The IGNCA Chairman’s assertion that it is a myth …is against the Constitution and also an insult to the Dalits and backward communities,” he said.”BJP is trying to befool people by garlanding the statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar and lighting agarbatti (incense sticks),” alleged Rajak, a former Bihar minister and prominent Dalit leader of JD(U). He called upon the Dalits and members of the backward class to unite and protest “BJP’s design” and also appealed to Dalit leaders in NDA to “quit” the ruling coalition at the Centre over the issue.

US commission to hold hearing on India’s human rights record during PM Modi’s visit

Washington: A Congressional commission will hold a hearing to examine the current state of human rights in India, coinciding with the White House meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama.

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission said the hearing among other things will also examine the challenges to fundamental freedoms, and opportunities for advancement in India.

A “wide variety of serious human rights concerns persist,” the commission said in a statement explaining the reasons for holding the hearing on India.

Representational image. IBNLiveRepresentational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

Despite Constitutional provisions abolishing the legal existence of “untouchable”, the caste system remains deeply
ingrained within Indian society, leading to ongoing discrimination, it said.

“Dalit communities, which make up a quarter of India’s population, are also disproportionately at risk of suffering from another major human rights concern in India, that of human trafficking.

“Tens of thousands of individuals, including children, are believed to be trafficking annually within India for the purposes of commercialised sexual exploitation or forced labour. Religious minorities also face growing challenges,” the commission said.

A large number of international non-governmental organisations supporting a range of causes, including human rights, have been added to government watch lists or had funding cut off by Indian officials, it said.

“These actions, coupled with perceived crackdowns on groups or individuals critical of the Indian government, have many concerned that the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being increasingly curtailed,” it alleged.

The hearing will examine these and other issues, while seeking to provide concrete recommendations for how US policy makers can most effectively encourage the protection of human rights given the strategic importance and continued growth of the US–India bilateral relationship, the commission said.

“In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims and Sikhs experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” the US Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its latest report.

Modi will embark on a five-nation visit from 4 June which will cover Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico.

He will travel to the US on 7 June at the invitation of Obama, with whom he will review the progress made in key areas of defence, security and energy. During his stay, he will also address a Joint Meeting of the US Congress.

Amit Shah breaks bread with Dalits in Varanasi

BJP chief Amit Shah seems to be touching all bases to ensure his party comes up trumps in the 2017 UP election. On Tuesday, he had a meal with a Dalit family in Jogiyapur village in Sevapuri Assembly segment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.Some days ago, he had created quite a stir by taking a dip with Dalit sadhus in the Kshipra river at Valmiki Ghat during the Ujjain “Simhasth Mahakumbh”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, Shah, who was on his way to Allahabad to address a farmers’ rally, took a brief halt at Jogiyapur village and had lunch with the family of Girjaprasad Bind and Iqbal Bind, who belong to the Dalit community, Sanjay Bharadwaj, BJP media-in-charge told reporters.The BJP chief sat on the ground with the family members and shared the meal with them, he said.Shah was given a warm welcome on his arrival in the city by party workers.UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the BJP leader, stating that the latter broke bread with the Dalit family purely with the UP Assembly polls in mind. “These are just gimmicks. The BJP has never been a patron of the Dalits,” he said.