Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 19.08.15
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· The Times Of India
Manual scavenging rears its ugly head in Bengaluru -
· Women Insulted during Riots: NGO - The New Indian Express
· 'Rehabilitate victims of caste clashes' - The Hindu
· Dalit family rendered shelterless as house roof collapses in rain - The Tribune
· 'Stringent action can be the only deterrent' - The Hindu
· A Pyjama Party? Rahul Gandhi Still Doesn't Get It - NDTV
· STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST DELAY IN SC SCHOLARSHIPS - The Pioneer
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The Times Of India
Manual scavenging rears its ugly head in Bengaluru
Two labourers suffocate while trying to clean a manhole in front of Minister's house; two arrested.
The scourge of the prohibited practice of manual scavenging returned to haunt the city, with two labourers suffocating while trying to clean a manhole in Jayamahal on Tuesday.
While the 12-feet-deep manhole was outside the Income Tax and Central Excise Department quarters; ironically, the incident happened in front of Social Welfare Minister H. Anjaneya's house. The Minister is responsible for monitoring and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
Around 1.15 p.m., police and emergency services personnel pulled out a barely breathing Prasanna Kumar (29), a resident of M.S. Palya, and the body of Yathiraj alias Sethu (23) of K.G. Halli. Prasanna Kumar, who died later, had married just six months ago.
Three people were working for a private contractor, Nagraja, who was assigned by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Engineer Bala Reddy to clear the clogged drains of the quarters.
Around noon, Yathiraj ventured into the manhole without protective gear. He fainted on inhaling noxious gases. Prasanna Kumar, who was monitoring the cleaning, attempted to pull up Yathiraj and fell into the manhole. Another worker, Kumar, raised an alarm, said the police.
Bhanu Prakash, Fire Officer, who headed the rescue operation, said Prasanna Kumar still had a pulse when he was taken out of the manhole. Officials attempted to administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in vain.
Relatives and friends of Prasanna Kumar, who gathered at the spot, said he was only a coordinator and had not been employed as a sewer cleaner before.
The contractor and the CPWD Engineer were arrested on the charge of death due to negligence. The duo should not have allowed the deceased to get into the manhole and should have ensured the use of a sucking or jetting machine, said Deputy Commissioner of Police T.R. Suresh.
Minister's assures support to families
Calling the incident "unfortunate", Social Welfare Minister H. Anjaneya assured the government's support to the families of the two deceased labourers. "Despite rules prohibiting manual scavenging, such incidents are recurring. These workers have neither safety nor training and are often bonded labourers," he said.
Blaming the local civic bodies for Tuesday's accident, he said the prohibition of manual scavenging would be intensified through changes in rules dealing with drain cleaning.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, relatives complained to Health Minister U.T. Khader that the ambulance did not have oxygen facility that could have revived one of the labourers who was gasping for breath when pulled out of the manhole. "The 108 ambulance control room would have GPS facility which can monitor the movements of the ambulance. We will verify the facts and take strict action if there are any lapses," Mr. Khader said.
The New Indian Express
Women Insulted during Riots: NGO
MADURAI: The perpetrators of violence against Dalits in Seshasamudram village, Viluppuram district last week even violated the modesty of many Dalit women by forcibly removing their sarees, a fact-finding report by the Dalit rights NGO, 'Evidence', has alleged.
According to A Kathir, executive director of 'Evidence' who led the fact-finding team, at least five women reported that their sarees were forcibly removed while they were fleeing their houses set ablaze by caste Hindus. Kathir said the five included a pregnant woman too.
In its report based on interviews with the affected families, the NGO alleged that the mob targeted the house of one Mahendran(22), a Dalit married to a caste Hindu girl. "It was at Mahendran's house the mob threw the first petrol bomb. They also hurled casteist abuses at him," Kathir said.
The flash point was the caste Hindu's refusal to allow Dalits to take out a procession with their newly-built temple car through the common streets of the village.
The report claims police should have taken the situation seriously at least when Subramanian, the caste Hindu panchayat president, went to the police station the previous day to issue a veiled threat about the consequences if the procession was to take place. The report claims that only around 40 policemen were present when the rampage began around 7 pm Saturday evening after nearly 100 caste Hindu youth entered the Dalit areas. Though the situation worsened quickly with more than 400 people turning violent, most of the police trooped in hours later, the report claimed.
While welcoming the arrest of more than 80, 'Evidence' claimed the main perpetrators, including Subramanian, still roamed free. It urged police to nab them.
The report also demanded that the police take note of the visit of a political party member just before violence broke out.
'Rehabilitate victims of caste clashes'
National Commission for Scheduled Castes visits Villupuram
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Tuesday visited Seshasamudiram village near Sankarapuram in the district and interacted with the Dalit residents of seven houses which were ransacked by caste Hindus.
The team led by P. Ramasamy, Director (in charge) of National Commission for SCs, recorded the statements of the victims and reviewed the prevailing situation in the village.
District officials including the police explained to the commission measures taken to protect the Dalits and ensure peace following the incident.
"It was a planned attack on Dalits because of their social status. The Commission has directed the officials to immediately accommodate the seven families, whose houses were torched, in a shed with roofing," Mr. Ramasamy told The Hindu .
The families had also lost their ration cards and documents in the incident and the Commission has recommended that officials issue new ration cards.
The victims will be provided with all assistance that they are entitled to get under the SC/ST Act. Various sections of the SC/ST Act have been invoked in the aftermath of the incident, he said.
Sources said that the team members would submit a report on findings about the incident to the National Commission for SC and ST for further action.
It may be recalled that Seshasamudiram colony bore the brunt of violence on August 16 when caste Hindus ransacked the village and also torched houses on the issue of the pulling of a temple car ahead of the Mariamman Temple festival.
Meanwhile, Rural Industries and Labour Minister P. Mohan on Tuesdaydistributed a sum of Rs. 5.50 lakh assistance from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund to police personnel and Revenue officials who suffered injuries during the clash.
Mr. Mohan distributed cash assistance of Rs. 50,000 each to eight police personnel and three village assistants. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had announced the relief assistance to the police personnel and revenue officials on Monday. District Collector M. Lakshmi and Superintendent of Police Narendra Nair were also present.
Evidence, a Madurai based non-governmental organisation, has urged the State Government to immediately reconstruct the seven houses and provide a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh for each family.
A fact-finding team from Evidence, after a visit to the village, said that the Government had announced an assistance of Rs. 50,000 each to policemen injured in the incident. However, neither the District Collector nor the Superintendent of Police had visited the village to enquire about the incident.
A Kathir, Executive Director of Evidence has also urged the police to arrest all those involved in the incident.
Dalit family rendered shelterless as house roof collapses in rain
Deepkamal Kaur Tribune News Service Kapurthala, August 18
The recent spell of rains has brought the life of a poor Dalit family at Bhawanipur village on the Goindwal road to a complete halt.
Ever since the roof of their house collapsed, they have been rendered shelterless and are forced to live under a tarpaulin put up in the verandah of their neighbours.
Bhupinder Kaur (46), a widow, her two daughters Prabhjot Kaur (22) and Geeta (19) and son Jodha Singh (17) have been forced to camp like this with their household items for the past 10 days and do not foresee any respite. The family, that has a meagre source of income from her occupation as part-time cook, neither has enough money to pay for rent anywhere else nor does it have any savings to re-construct a room in their 1.5-marla plot.
Bhupinder said, "My husband ran a small tea shop in the excise office, but he died of cancer about eight years ago. Whatever small savings we had, were spent on his treatment. My daughters are going to Hindu Kanya College and my son is in class XI. I am barely managing their fee expenditure to make sure that their studies do not get affected that our bare survival has become a problem. My kids have not gone for their studies for the past 10 days because of the injuries that we all suffered and the conditions we have been living in."
She further rued, "Even our neighbours would not allow us to camp in their house for long. More than myself, I am worried about the security of my children. I have even approached sarpanch Kuldeep Singh, seeking some financial aid from him but to no avail. He has told me that there is so such scheme available but he would try some help through other resources."
Congress MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi Navtej Cheema said he would visit the house tomorrow, meet the family and do whatever would be needful.
'Stringent action can be the only deterrent'
Lack of discernable action or convictions showed that the government "had no interest" to end manual scavenging.
It is only by sending contractors and those who employ manual scavengers to prison can the prohibited practice be stopped in the State, said Narayana, Chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Safai Karmacharis.
He told The Hindu that manual scavenging continues in spite of two legislations banning the practice and court verdicts against allowing workers into manholes.
"These incidents are due to negligence of civic officials and contractors. As they get bail easily, there is little fear of the law. Jailing them without bail for three months will act as a deterrent," he said.
Mr. Narayana, who visited Tuesday's accident spot at Jayamahal, said the police should ensure that the contractor and the CPWD engineer do not get bail until mandatory compensation of Rs. 10 lakh is given to the family of each of the victims.
Agreeing with him, B. Venkatesh, activist with Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, said the lack of discernable action or convictions showed that the government "had no interest" to end manual scavenging. "It is only when the practice leads to death that the government reacts. We have reported numerous cases where workers go into manholes. The police have closed these cases saying there was no provision to prosecute the contractors and government officials," he said.
"There should be public awareness and vigilance committees that can report these instances. It is only by constant reporting that the practice can be stopped," said Mr. Venkatesh.
A Pyjama Party? Rahul Gandhi Still Doesn't Get It
Sometime in 2010, while traveling to report from interior Maharashtra on the atrocities against Dalits, I came across a Dalit poet who had been arrested by the police for provoking Maoist ideas through his poems. During his interrogation in Nagpur, he was asked by a cop "Since when have you neechi zaat walas (lower caste people) started wearing suit-pants? You think you will be the next Ambedkar."
Babasaheb Ambedkar, the father of the Indian constitution, who fought hard for the upliftment of Dalits, used his suit as a sign of liberation from the age-old repression of Dalits, he used it as a symbol of a new India where the Western ideas of equality, fraternity, liberty would trounce the invidious caste system.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi who delivered the "suit boot ki sarkaar" phrase during the Budget session of parliament with considerable success decided to go a step further yesterday. While interacting with villagers in his constituency, Amethi, he said what was needed - and on offer by him was a 'kurta pyjama sarkaar' for the common man.
In his conversation where he spoke to villagers about bringing back the 'chappal wali (slipper) sarkaar' was the glaring answer to why the BJP, led by Narendra Modi, has so effectively sidelined the Congress, whose leaders appear to still be groping in the dark for the causes of their defeat. Rahul Gandhi may want to be seen as a jhola-wala and chappal-wearing leader, but forgets that our huge young population has moved on - or is desperate to do so. According to a UN report of 2014, with 356 million 10-24 year-olds, India has the world's largest youth population.
A population that 45-year-old Rahul Gandhi is unable to connect with at all sorts of levels. While Narendra Modi wore jade-blue dapper suits for parts of his different campaigns, Rahul Gandhi appeared uninspiring cutting archaic cloth for the lackluster kurta-pyjama. While Modi spoke about getting foreign investment for India, tapping the potential of a surging youth population that dreams big and works hard, Rahul Gandhi appeared trapped in dated symbols of politics, which the new middle class of India refuses to identify with and wants to break away from.
There is also an inherent hypocrisy when Gandhi, who does not shy away from featuring with the elite at society parties, mocks those who wear "suit-boot" or branded attire. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in wearing the kurta-pyjama or the chappal for the sheer comfort it offers, positioning it as the uniform at a time when urban India's "dil maange more" disenchants many. More importantly, the construction labourer and the farmer of the new India want to wear the shirt pant too, with belts and whistles; the new India wants to modernize and reap the benefits of that progress, compete aggressively with other countries for a larger place in the sun. If that is the idea that Rahul Gandhi is mocking, then he has (again) got his basics wrong. He should note Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was attired in "suit boot", succeeded in bringing the Dalit and backward classes to the mainstream.
If Gandhi wants to be seen as a Leftist, a trade union leader who sometimes accessorizes with a stubble or wears "pant-shirt" when he meets the students at FTII to show he's with them, he must understand that much more is needed to tap into the youth. The Left saw a decline for its refusal to accommodate the ambitions of a new India, its refusal to reinvent itself. One cannot deny that the Left has provided a moral and ideological tilt to a lopsided Indian ecomomy and polity, and that from Indira to Sonia Gandhi, senior Congress leaders have heavily borrowed themselves from the Left ideology.
Yes, the Manmohan Singh government was forced to include pro-poor decisions influenced by the Left parties which supported it and which led to another term in office in 2009. But by wearing a "coat-pant", Modi did not end up alienating the vote of the rural and poor India. Gandhi should be willing to face the fact that young voters of the country were more inspired by a rather hep 63-year-old Modi, who spoke their language, than a then 43-year-old Gandhi whose ideas were out of synch with a country hooked to mobile phones and a determination to look forward.
As Prime Ministerial candidate, Modi proved he could be all things to all people - he was thechaiwala who worked his way to the top, a leader who would use Skype chats and the latest in technology to address not just urban but rural masses, transporting them to the promise of a future gleaming with technology and its potential. On the other hand, Gandhi was the leader of a party that seemed stuck in a time warp with its talk of fighting neo-liberalism and the pro-imperialist approach of the ruling class. The sort of jargon which makes the India of today yawn while checking its mobile phone for the latest.
Rahul Gandhi, you are 45, and you are finally somewhat on Twitter, and you now see that selfies - that Modi trademark - all work to "youthify" you. But embrace modernity in your thoughts and remember that a developing , aspirational India doesn't want a kurta-pyjama,but is also confident that it is not mocking its roots and traditions by wearing a pair of boots.
STUDENTS PROTEST AGAINST DELAY IN SC SCHOLARSHIPS
A demonstration was held by students at the office of Social welfare departmenton Tuesday for delay in arrival of Scheduled Caste (SC) scholarships. The students belonging to the Pestle Weed College gathered at the office and retorted to slogan-shouting against the department. The students staged a sit-in to press for their demands. The students alleged that due to delay in arrival of SC, ST scholarships, their college is threatening to remove them.
The students complained that the students are facing problems due to long procedural delays in the arrival of scholarships in their bank accounts. They expressed anguish at the fact that there is no representation of students in the meetings of social welfare department done in this respect due to which the officials do not know about the problems faced by the students. Some of the students said that the colleges are charging full fees from them and demanded that the old practice transferring the scholarships for admissions should be adopted.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET