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Dalits Prohibited From Entry into Temple Due to Untouchability Practices Nimmanapalli

  • Posted by: Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS)
  • Date of incident: 02-03-1999
  • State:: Andhra Pradesh
  • District:: CHITTOOR
  • Police station:: Nimmanapalli
  • Chargesheet:: No F.I.R, No Chargesheet
  • Summary::

    Dominant caste Hindus deny Dalits, belonging to Mala (SC) community, entry into the village temple, though Dalits donated both money and labour toward its construction. In 1999, all the villagers of Kommireddi palli, including forty Dalit families, constructed a temple to the Hindu god Rama. Dalits donated money to the cause and also provided free labour, along with the caste Hindus, toward the temple’s construction. The completed temple was called Sri Ramuluvari Gudi.

     

    Once the temple was opened, the dominant caste community barred Dalits entry into the temple on the grounds that the Dalits were “untouchables.” If any Dalit wants to perform puja, he or she must stand outside the temple and depend upon the priest to collect the Dalit’s offerings and perform the puja inside. The Dalits filed a complaint to the local MRO and SP, but the officials did not register a case and no action has been taken.

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Social Boycott Imposed on Dalits for Objecting to Illegal Encroachment upon Govt. Land

  • Posted by: Dalit Sthree Sakthi (DSS)
  • Date of incident: 14-04-1998
  • State:: Andhra Pradesh
  • District:: VIZIANAGARAM
  • Police station:: S. Kota
  • Chargesheet:: No F.I.R, No Chargesheet
  • Summary::

    Since 14 April 1998, the Dalits of Vasi hamlet have been living under a total social boycott imposed by the dominant caste landlords of the village. With no means to earn a livelihood, no opportunities to buy or sell commodities or participate in the cultural life of the village, and under constant fear of attack, 65 of the 80 Dalit families originally living in Vasi have left. The remaining 15 families live in great insecurity and on the brink of starvation. No case has been filed against the landlords for the illegal social boycott. Rather, it is the Dalits who have cases pending against them on false, fabricated charges of assaulting the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO).

     

    Vasi is a small hamlet situated about five kilometers from Mandal headquarters in S. Kota. With extensive canal and bore-well irrigation, this Mandal is rich in agriculture. Sugar cane and rice paddy are the main crops. Banana groves are also in abundance. Before the social boycott, eighty Mala (SC) families lived in about forty dwellings in the Dalit colony of Vasi hamlet. Due to scarcity of housing sites, the Dalits were forced to share the same small houses as the population increased. As is the case in almost all of India, not one Dalit owns any agricultural land in Vasi. Hence, the Dalits are dependent on agricultural labour for their livelihood. Three or four generations ago, a  few Dalit families owned some land in Vasi, but due to lack of education, these lands were lost in debt repayment to toddy vendors. Surrounding the Dalit colony of Vasi hamlet are the dominant caste, land-owning families of Vasi, Timidi and Vachalapudi hamlets. Together the thirty Velama caste and eighty Kapu caste families own nearly 89% of the land in Vasi, with holdings between eight and twenty acres per family. In addition to owning most of the land, the vast majority of the landlords work as government employees. As a result of their economic dominance, the Velamas and the Kapus also dominate the village politically and socially. Prior to the social boycott, these dominant castes employed all the Dalit families as agricultural labourers.

     

    Three hundred Balija (Backward Caste) families also live in the village, either cultivating small landholdings or working as agricultural labourers. The rest of the village consists of various Backward Caste families – two clothes-washing families, twenty barbers, twenty weavers, and toddy tappers. Though these castes are considered socially low, they are still within the caste system and therefore “above” the Dalits. In Vasi, the Backward Castes look down upon the Dalits and comply with the social boycott by not rendering any services to the Dalit community.

     

    The present dispute between the Dalits and the dominant castes began in 1991 when a Timidi landlord named Papala Soma Naidu illegally occupied an expanse of poramboke (wasteland under government ownership) and dug a bore-well to supply water to nine acres of his legally-owned land situated some distance away. Soma Naidu also illegally constructed a cattle shed and a small house on the land. As this expanse of waste land (land survey no. 82, 1.90 acres) was adjacent to the Dalit colony, the consequence of Soma Naidu’s drawing water from the bore-well was that the water level in the Dalit colony’s common drinking water well lowered substantially. The community acted. The elders of the Dalit village intervened and ordered Soma Naidu not to draw water from the bore-well when the water level in the drinking water well fell below five to six feet. Soma Naidu, however, did not comply with this compromise and continued to draw water as he liked. Furthermore, he filed a civil suit in the district municipal court in S. Kota for a permanent injunction to draw water from his illegal irrigation bore-well. In the suit, he produced false witnesses and documents to claim that he had inherited the land of survey no. 82 from his father and brothers. Though the Dalits were accorded an advocate in the case, the advocate failed to properly represent them and the Dalits lacked the financial resources to support a strong and proper case. As is overwhelmingly common in India, the Dalit community lost the legal case. Not only did they lose the case, but they also lost all their savings and became trapped in debt from various court expenses and the costs of Soma Naidu’s lawsuit. Soma Naidu, on the other hand, having won the case, began drawing water indiscriminately from his now legally protected bore-well and further humiliated the Dalits by abusing them by caste name. Still the Dalits did not give up; in April 1998 they filed a case against Soma Naidu under the Protection of Civil Rights Act (PCRA). In retaliation, Papala Soma Naidu gathered all the dominant castes and, under his leadership, the caste community united to impose a social boycott on the Dalits. The present social boycott began on 14 April 1998. The significance of this date should not be missed, as it is the birthday of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. During the week leading up to 14 April, all the dominant caste landlords belonging to Timidi, Vasi, and Vechala Pudi hamlets assembled in the house of VAO Vechalapu Rama Naidu to strategize and implement the boycott. Each dominant caste family allegedly contributed Rs. 300 to support the boycott. May 1998: There was tension in the village as the Dalits organized a dharna in protest against the social boycott. A police picket was posted in Vasi village.

     

    16 June 1998: Vasi Dalits attempted to attend the village deity’s festival, as it was their traditional duty to play the drums during the festival. This time, however, the dominant castes brought Dalits from other villages to play the drums. When Vasi Dalits protested, the dominant caste community attacked. The dominant castes broke open the doors of Dalit houses and chased Dalit women and men through the streets, beating the Dalits with sticks and iron rods. Twenty Dalits were injured, some seriously enough to be hospitalised at S.Kota Government Hospital. The Dalits registered cases with the police and thirty of the accused assailants were arrested. However, the VAO, whom the Dalits alleged to be the chief conspirator and participant, was not arrested.

     

    18 September 1998: The dominant caste community again attacked Vasi’s Dalit colony. The Dalits protested the attacks and continuing boycott by holding a mass dharna and relay hunger strike near the MRO office. On the same day, the dominant castes from the three surrounding hamlets, along with local political leaders from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party, staged a dharna and rastha roko (road blockade) demanding that the Dalits who allegedly attacked the MRO be arrested. They also accused the Dalits of misusing the legal provisions of the SC/ST Act and demanded that the Act be repealed. The RDO met the protesting dominant castes and politicians and assured them that no cases would be registered under the SC/ST Act. In exchange, the landlords agreed to cancel a public meeting and procession scheduled for later the same day. This event is a strong indication of the connivance of officialdom with the dominant castes.

     

    13 October 1998: As the mass dharna and relay hunger strike had not produced any result, the Dalits publicly converted it into a fast unto death. Five days later, the police foiled the fast unto death by demolishing the tent and forcibly hospitalising the hunger strikers. Again, the Dalits protested at the MRO office and at the hospital. Senior district officials visited the scene and assured the Dalits that they, the officials, would take steps to end the social boycott and also issue pattas (land deeds) to the Dalits. On this assuran ce, the Dalits dispersedand ended their agitation.

     

    20 October 1998: To the shock of the Dalit community, false cases were registered against the Dalits on charges of attacking the MRO and others. Seventeen Dalits were arrested and it is reported that as many as one hundred Dalits were named in the FIR. As of 9.5.99 the social boycott is still total. The Dalits are barred from any agricultural work, they are not permitted to enter the village, and they are excluded from participation in any village activities. The barbers refuse to serve them and no vendor in the three hamlets sells any commodity to them. The severity of the situation has forced 65 of the 80 original Dalit families to flee from the village in search of livelihood. The remaining fifteen families lead a life of great insecurity. Legal cases are pending against them and they fear police arrest and dominant caste attack. On the day that the SAKSHI Fact Finding Team visited Vasi, a marriage was being celebrated in the Dalit colony. The usual marriage procession had been cancelled, Dalit leaders explained, due to fear of an attack. The unity of the dominant castes, with active connivance of the VAO and passive connivance of other officials, has made the social boycott devastatingly effective. Even in the construction of a road, a government project that ordinarily hires Dalits for temporary work, the Dalits were denied employment. Siva Rama Raju Peta,  a landlord from an outside village, agreed to employ Vasi Dalits in some agricultural work and paid one hundred rupees in advance. Under pressure from the landlords of Vasi and Timidi, however, Raju Peta turned the Dalits away on the first day of work. One Dalit beggar died during this period, as no one gave him any food. Indeed, those Dalit families who have remained in the village are on the brink of total starvation.

     

    Despite repeated betrayal by government officials, the Dalits of Vasi are persistent in their demands. By acting in open collusion with dominant caste landlords, local officials are engaged in the deliberate suppression of Dalits. This became evident in October 1998, when officials broke up the Dalit hunger strike and forcibly hospitalized the hunger strikers. One week later, police arrested 17 Dalits on false charges of assaulting the MRO. Open government partiality to the dominant caste community was again made clear on 18 September 1998, when the RDO assured landlords that no cases against them would be registered under the SC/ST Act. Not surprisingly, then, thirteen months after its initiation, no case had been registered against the landlords for the boycott, and the thirty dominant caste assailants arrested for the 16 June 1998 attack on the Dalit colony were not booked under the SC/ST Act. Though the Executive Director of the SC Corporation and other revenue officials intervened, they failed to convince or pressurise the dominant castes to end the boycott. The former, along with civil liberties organizations like Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Council and Human Rights Forum, visited Vasi village, organized dharnas and public meetings in support of the Dalits, but to no avail. The boycott still continues and tension remains high. The leader of Vasi Dalits, Sanyasi Rao, who is a very articulate member of the panchayat board, is under great danger for his life.

     

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Social Boycott of Landless Dalit families

  • Posted by: Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan
  • Date of incident: 10-06-1995
  • State:: Punjab
  • District:: PATIALA
  • Police station:: Sardar Patiala
  • Chargesheet:: Not Filed
  • Summary:: Bathoi Kalan is one such village which has faced social boycott for a number of years. This is predicament of some 105 Scheduled Caste families of Bathoi Kalan village of Patiala district. A social boycott has been clamped for years with no relief in sight from any quarter. Their only fault was that they had dared to ask the landlords to revise the age-old wages and rates of manual winnowing of paddy in 1995. They had left their homes five years ago following a social boycott by the village upper caste people over their demand of enhancement in wages. They still are homeless, thanks to the indifference on the p art of everybody – the administration, the police and villagers. A large number of Scheduled Caste people migrated to other villages in search of labour, leaving behind their homes. The only thing which has been driving them to fight for justice has been hope, which too is fading now. The precipitant to the incident was that a woman bonded labourer Mrs. Gurdip Kaur had taken an advance of Rs. 2000 from a village landlord and had been doing daily household chores in his house for 20 years till 1995. When the trouble engulfed her and others like her, she had been demanding for an increase in her wage from the landlord who refused to increase the wages. Subsequently other bonded labourers in the village also demanded increase in their wages from their respective landlords. Mrs. Jarnail Kaur who had worked like a bonded labourer for about three years for a mere Rs. 3000 said all labourers had refused to winnow paddy till their wages were revised. This angered the landlords so much that they unanimously decided to boycott the whole working class of the village, consisting of Balmikis, Jheors and Jogis. They were not allowed to enter the fields and were being tormented on one or the other pretext. Fed up with the humiliation, which had become a routine, they decided to move out of village and go elsewhere in search of bread and butter and settled as labourers in a brick-kiln at Chount Kheri village. The police was pressurizing them to strike a compromise with the other party. They were being asked to come to the Police station and made to sit for the whole day which will be clear from the statement of Mrs. Gurdip Kaur as reproduced here. “ We are called to the police station on one pretext or the other and made to sit there for whole of day only to be told to come next day. Can we afford to do so when we don’t have any other means to earn our livelihood than to do manual labour?” Mrs. Gurdip Kaur alleged that in spite of a direction by the High Court on August 13, 1999, the police was yet to register a case. Another victim Mrs. Tejo now working at a brick-kiln in Bhanra village, maintained that while their children were out of school, other villagers had encroached upon the small chunks of land allotted by the government to their forefathers in the form of a cooperative society way back in 1990s. Tejo said, “For fear of an attack, we don’t dare to go to our village. They have even been beating up our children”. (Reporter Varinder Singh, The Tribune, Chandigarh, November 19, 2000). • F.I.R no- 760 dated 29/11/1999 registered at Police station Sadar Patiala. • Cr.W.P No. 1369/1995. The complainant included five females of village Bhatoi Kalan whose names are indicated below:- 1. Gurdip Kaur W/o Kapur Singh 2. Roopi W/o Mahinder Singh 3. Tejo W/o Mohan Singh 4. Chand Kaur W/o Surjit Singh 5. Charanjit Kaur W/o Amar Singh A Complaint dated 2nd Nov. 1995 signed by above five women was received by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court which was also treated as Criminal Writ Petition and fixed for hearing on 3rd Jan. 1996 before Hon’ble Mr. Justice V.S. Agarwal as Criminal Writ Petition No. 1369 of 1995. On 3rd Jan. 1996 notice was issued to A.S. Punjab. Complaint was also filed by following persons belonging to depressed classes of village Bathoi Kalan: (1.) Gurdeep Kaur W/o Kapur Singh, resident of Village Bhatoi Kalan filed a complaint on 21st Oct, 1995 to the S.H.O., P.S. Dakala against a landlord named Waryan Singh of the same village. (2.) Smt. Anti W/o Hari Singh, resident of Village Bhatoi Kalan to S.H.O. PS: Dakal against Jarnail Singh,a landlord of the same village. (3.) Smt. Krishna W/o Rashpal Singh resident of Village Bhatoi Kalan filed a complaint to S.H.O., PS: Dakala against Mela Singh, a landlord of the same village. (4.) Mr. Sucha Singh S/o Chhota Singh resident of Village Bhatoi Kalan sent a complaint to S.H.O., Ps: Dakal against the landlord named Jassa Singh of the same village. The depressed and landless labourers of village- Bathoi Kalan were working as cultivators in the fields of the land owners and also worked as scavengers at their houses. The women who were working as scavengers were provided with only Lassi or Bread and were not paid any money. If a women fell sick then the landlords coerced them by beating and also by abusing them and forced them to work. The male members who worked as Siri (Bonded labour) , their claims were never settled. If a Siri wanted to change his landlord then he had to clear the outstanding loan or else he was forced to continue to working as a bonded labourer. They are often abused by landlords calling them as Chuhras and Chamaras. The children are also employed as bonded labourer for grazing the cattle in the fields. One of the women named Umi, who is a widow told that when she went out to answer the call of nature the stones were pelted at her. Other women Ananto said that the landlords duly armed were creating terror for several days. The landlords of the village also did not give the share of Shamat land to the dalits in the village. Three acres of land which was earmarked for the Scheduled Castes from Shamlat land for construction of their houses were also in the possession of the landlord. The landlords enforced the social boycott of the dalits of the village. They were not allowed to defecate in the open fields. Resistance were imposed by the landlords that the dalit will not be allowed to take fodder from their field. They were also not allowed to do work on daily wages. The dalits complaint that the reasons for the imposition of the social boycott was because the dalit claimed the share of the 1/3 of the cultivable Shamlat land but the entire 552 acres of Shamlat land was in the possession of the landlords. The imposition of the social boycott was a result of a meeting called by 100 landlords of the village on 28th and 29th December 1995. The next day they made it clear to all the dalits that they were not allowed to work because the landlords and Panchayat have imposed a ban on them. Humiliation and discrimination were perputated by the landlords on the dalits including their ladies. Ms. Gurdeep Kaur who was the mother of four children and depended on wage labour stated that when her son in law who was serving in Punjab Home Guard at Rajpura came to the village and went to the fields for answering the call of nature, then he was humiliated by the sons of the landlord. The dalits had to go half K.M away from the village for answering the call of nature where the drad animals are thrown. A woman named Ms. Jarnail Kaur belonging to Scheduled Caste said that it had become difficult for them to undertake their routine bathroom work within the precincts of the village boundary. They were compelled to go to the adjacent village to work as wage labour. The male dalit workers stated that the landlords did not allow them even to put their dung cakes on the Shamlat land. The prominent dalit elderly members had gone to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala on the 5th of October 1995 to appraise him about the entire situation. In spite of that the social boycott by the landlords continued. A complaint was filed on 2nd November 1995 signed by five women of village- Bathoi Kalan addressed to Hon’ble Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court which was treated as Criminal Writ Petition Number 1369 of 1995. The Petitioners appeared before the honorable judge on 10th September 1996 and the honorable judge appointed an Amicus Curiae. The case is still under judicial investigation. The dalits are even today deprived of the share of Shamlat land.

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