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Re: "Broken People"



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[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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I read parts of the report on the atrocities committed against Dalits even
before I saw Henri's message. 

To say that I AM SHOCKED BEYOND BELIEF IS A GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT!!!! 

I would request every member of IPI to please visit the website
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/india and spend some time going through
the various chapters of the Report. 

Can this happen in India which we proudly call the world's largest
democracy?  Is there rule of law in India? What's wrong with Indians? What
are the MPs and MLAs elected from the reserved constituencies doing to
protect the Dalits? I thought the administrative services, including the
police administartion, should now have a fair representation of Dalits. 
Where are they? What are they doing? 

Ram Narayanan

----- Original Message -----
From: hremi <hremi@vsnl.com>
To: <debate@indiapolicy.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 1999 11:20 PM
Subject: Re: flyer suggestion


> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> [Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
> ___Help make this manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!___
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> The text of the press release accompanying the publication of
>      the report: Broken People. This press release is available online
> at:
>      http://www.hrw.org/press/1999/apr/ind0413.htm
>
> Violence Against "Untouchables" Growing, Says Report
>
> Indian Government Fails to Prevent Massacres, Rapes, and Exploitation
>
> (London, April 14, 1999) -- The Indian government has failed to prevent
> widespread violence and discrimination against more than 160 million
> people
> at the bottom of the Hindu caste system, Human Rights Watch charged in a
>
> report released today.  The report, Broken People: Caste Violence
> Against
> India's "Untouchables," calls on the Indian government to disband
> private
> militias and implement national legislation to prevent and prosecute
> caste-based attacks.
>
> "Untouchability" was abolished under India's constitution in 1950.  Yet
> entire villages in many Indian states remain completely segregated by
> caste, in what has been called "hidden apartheid." Untouchables, or
> Dalits_the name literally means "broken" people_may not enter the
> higher-caste sections of villages, may not use the same wells, wear
> shoes
> in the presence of upper castes, visit the same temples, drink from the
> same cups in tea stalls, or lay claim to land that is legally theirs.
> Dalit children are frequently made to sit in the back of classrooms.
> Dalit
> villagers have been the victims of many brutal massacres in recent
> years.
>
> "`Untouchability' is not an ancient cultural artifact, it is human
> rights
> abuse on a vast scale," said Smita Narula, researcher for the Asia
> division
> of Human Rights Watch and author of the report.  "The tools for change
> are
> in place_what is lacking is the political will for their
> implementation."
> Human Rights Watch is an international human rights monitoring
> organization
> based in New York.
>
> Since the early 1990s, violence against Dalits has escalated
> dramatically
> in response to growing Dalit rights movements. The release of the
> 291-page
> report today is timed to coincide with the birthday of Dr. B. R.
> Ambedkar,
> architect of the Indian constitution and revered Dalit leader who died
> in
> 1956.  The National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, the first of its
> kind
> in history, will be marking the occasion with rallies in ten states.
>
> The report includes more than forty specific recommendations to the
> Indian
> government at the central and state level, many of them focused on
> implementing a 1989 law banning atrocities against Dalits. According to
> that law, it is illegal to force Dalits into bonded labor, deny them
> access
> to public places, foul their drinking water, force them to eat
> "obnoxious
> substances," or "parade them naked or with painted face or body." The
> recommendations also call for the establishment of special courts and
> atrocities units to prosecute crimes against Dalits, and more women
> police
> personnel to register complaints by Dalit women.
>
> "The violence will only grow without these measures," said Narula. "It
> is a
> crisis that calls out for national and international attention."
>
> At the international level, the report calls on India's donors and
> trading
> partners to build anti-discrimination measures into all aid projects
> where
> problems of caste violence are particularly severe.  All of the
> recommendations were formulated in consultation with Indian activists
> involved in the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, founded in
> 1998.
>
> Upper-caste employers frequently use caste as a cover for exploitative
> economic arrangements. With the exception of a minority who have
> benefited
> from India's policy of reservations (affirmative action), Dalits are
> relegated to the most menial tasks.
>
> An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million
> children, are bonded laborers, working in slave-like conditions in order
> to
> pay off debts. The majority of them are Dalits.  At least one million
> Dalits work as manual scavengers, clearing feces from latrines and
> disposing of dead animals with their bare hands.  Dalits also comprise
> the
> majority of agricultural laborers who work for a few kilograms of rice,
> or
> 15-35 rupees (less than US$1) a day.
>
> In India's southern states, thousands of Dalit girls are forced to
> become
> prostitutes for upper-caste patrons and village priests before reaching
> the
> age of puberty.  Landlords and the police use sexual abuse and other
> forms
> of violence against women to inflict political "lessons" and crush
> dissent
> within the community. Dalit women have been arrested and tortured in
> custody to punish their male relatives who are hiding from the
> authorities.
>
> The report documents violence in the eastern state of Bihar and the
> southern state of Tamil Nadu.  In Bihar, high-caste landlords have
> organized private militias, or senas, which have killed Dalit villagers
> with impunity.  Extremist guerrilla groups have retaliated by killing
> high-caste villagers, leading to an escalating cycle of violence.  Such
> attacks on civilians constitute violations of international humanitarian
>
> law. Human Rights Watch has called for independent investigations into
> the
> killings and for the disarming of the militias.
>
> One of the most prominent militias, the Ranvir Sena, has been
> responsible
> for the massacre of more than 400 Dalit villagers in Bihar between 1995
> and
> 1999.  Within a span of three weeks in January and February 1999, sena
> members killed 34 Dalit villagers in two separate attacks.  On March 19,
>
> 1999, members of the Maoist Communist Centre, a guerrilla organization
> with
> low-caste supporters, beheaded 33 upper-caste villagers in retaliation
> for
> the sena killings.  Both sides have threatened more "revenge killings"
> in
> the weeks to come.
>
> The senas, which claim many politicians as members, operate with
> impunity.
> In some cases, police have accompanied them during their attacks and
> have
> stood by as they killed villagers in their homes.  In other cases,
> police
> raids have followed attacks by the senas.  The purpose of the raids is
> often to terrorize Dalits as a group, whether or not they are members of
>
> guerilla organizations.  During the raids, the police have routinely
> beaten
> villagers, sexually assaulted women, and destroyed property. Sena
> leaders
> and police officials have never been prosecuted for such killings and
> abuses.
>
> Dalits throughout the country also suffer from de facto
> disenfranchisement.
>  During elections, Dalits are routinely threatened and beaten by
> political
> party strongmen in order to compel them to vote for certain candidates.
> Dalits who run for political office in village councils and
> municipalities
> (through seats that have been constitutionally "reserved" for them) have
>
> been threatened with physical abuse and even death to get them to
> withdraw
> from the campaign.
>
> In the village of Melavalavu, Tamil Nadu, following the election of a
> Dalit
> to the village council presidency, members of a higher-caste group
> murdered
> six Dalits in June 1997, including the elected council president, whom
> they
> beheaded.  As of February 1999, the accused murderers_who had been voted
>
> out of their once-secure elected positions_had not been prosecuted.
>
> In cases investigated for this report, with the exception of a few
> transfers and suspensions, no action has been taken against police
> officers
> involved in violent raids or summary executions, or against those
> accused
> of colluding with private actors to carry out attacks on Dalits.  In
> many
> instances, Dalits have repeatedly called for police protection and been
> ignored. Even national government agencies concur that impunity is
> rampant.
>
> "Talking about the problem is not enough," said Narula. "The Indian
> government must act now to demonstrate its stated commitment to ensuring
>
> equal rights for Dalits."
>
> This report is also available online at:
>
> http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/india
>  The second Dalit press release below. It is available online at:
>      http://www.hrw.org/press/1999/apr/ind0423.htm
> STATE, CENTRAL AUTHORITIES IN INDIA "CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT"
> (New York, April 23, 1999)_ Human Rights Watch today condemned the Bihar
>
> state government for refusing to heed warnings that the Ranvir Sena, a
> private militia of  upper caste landlords, was planning a revenge attack
> on
> lower caste villagers.  Yesterday, gunmen belonging  to the upper-caste
> Hindu militia killed twelve people in an attack on two neighboring
> villages
> in the Gaya district, south of the state capital, Patna. According to
> press
> reports, the victims included four women and a baby. The hands of some
> victims were reportedly bound together before they were shot. The
> killings
> were in apparent retaliation for the killing of thirty-five upper caste
> villagers by Maoist guerrillas last month.
>
> As rival political parties in New Delhi struggle to form a new
> government,
> violence against the country's most marginalized groups continues. In a
> 291-page report released on April 14, "Broken People: Caste Violence
> Against India's `Untouchables,'" Human Rights Watch documented other
> recent
> incidents of violence in Bihar in which private militias like the Ranvir
>
> Sena have killed Dalit villagers with impunity.  Extremist guerrilla
> groups
> have retaliated by killing high-caste villagers, leading to an
> escalating
> cycle of violence. Such attacks on civilians constitute violations of
> international humanitarian law.  Human Rights Watch has called for
> independent investigations into the killings and for the disarming of
> the
> militias. The group has also urged that authorities provide full
> security
> to villagers against further Ranvir Sena attacks.
>
> "The government's failure to stop the Ranvir Sena this time and protect
> these Dalit villages amounts to criminal negligence," said Patti
> Gossman,
> senior researcher for the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
>
> The Ranvir Sena, which is one of the most prominent militias, has been
> responsible for the massacre of more than 400 Dalit villagers in Bihar
> between 1995 and 1999. Within a span of three weeks in January and
> February
> 1999, sena members killed 34 Dalit villagers in two separate attacks.
> On
> March 19, 1999, members of the Maoist Communist Centre, a guerrilla
> organization with low-caste supporters, beheaded 33 upper-caste
> villagers
> in retaliation for the sena killings.
>
> Despite the fact that the senas frequently give warnings before they
> attack, little has been done to protect vulnerable villages and prevent
> attacks. The senas, which claim many politicians as members, operate
> with
> impunity.  In some cases, police have accompanied them during their
> attacks
> and have stood by as they killed villagers in their homes.  In other
> cases,
> police raids have followed attacks by the senas.  The purpose of the
> raids
> is often to terrorize Dalits as a group, whether or not they are members
> of
> guerilla organizations. During the raids, the police have routinely
> beaten
> villagers, sexually assaulted women, and destroyed property. Sena
> leaders
> and police officials have never been prosecuted for such killings and
> abuses.
>
> Human Rights Watch reiterates its call on the Indian government at the
> central and state level to implement a 1989 law banning atrocities
> against
> Dalits.
>
> The report on caste violence is available online at:
>      www.hrw.org/reports/1999/indiAt 12:05 PM 4/30/99 -0700, you wrote:
> >---------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> Henry Thiagaraj
> Managing Trustee, Dalit Liberation Education Trust
> 46 Main Butt Road, St. Thomas Mount, Chennai 600016, India
> Phone +91- 44-2341146 / 2331199         Home phone 4421676
> Fax +91-44-4913365
> email:  hremi@vsnl.com
>
>
>
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