Caste-related violence in India

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Caste-related violence has occurred and occurs in India in various forms. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Dalits and indigenous peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or adivasis) continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local authorities.".[1]

1981 Phoolan Devi, Uttar Pradesh[edit]

Main article: Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi (1963 – 2001) was an Indian dacoit (bandit), who later turned politician. Born into a traditional boatman class Mallaah family, she was kidnapped by a gang of dacoits. The Gujjar leader of the gang tried to rape her, but she was protected by the deputy leader Vikram, who belonged to her caste. Later, an upper-caste Thakur friend of Vikram killed him, abducted Phoolan, and locked her up in the Behmai village. Phoolan was raped in the village by Thakur men, until she managed to escape after three weeks.[2]

Phoolan Devi then formed a gang of Mallahs, which carried out a series of violent robberies in north and central India, mainly targeting upper-caste people. Some say that Phoolan Devi targeted only the upper-caste people and shared the loot with the lower-caste people, but the Indian authorities insist this is a myth.[3] Seventeen months after her escape from Behmai, Phoolan returned to the village, to take her revenge. On February 14, 1981, her gang massacred twenty-two Thakur men in the village, only two of which were involved in her kidnapping or rape. Phoolan Devi later surrendered and served eleven years in prison, after which she became a politician. During her election campaign, she was criticized by the women widowed in the Behmai massacre. Kshatriya Swabhimaan Andolan Samanvay Committee (KSASC), a Kshatriya organization, held a statewide campaign to protest against her. She was elected a Member of Parliament twice.

On July 25, 2001, Phoolan Devi was shot dead by unknown assassins. Later, a man called Sher Singh Rana confessed to the murder, saying he was avenging the deaths of 22 Kshatriyas at Behmai. Although the police were skeptical of his claims, he was arrested. Rana escaped from Tihar Jail in 2004. In 2006, KSASC decided to honor Rana for "upholding the dignity of the Thakur community" and "drying the tears of the widows of Behmai."[4]

Ranvir Sena[edit]

Main article: Ranvir Sena

Ranvir Sena is a caste-supremacist fringe militia group based in Bihar. The group is based amongst the higher-caste landlords, and carries out actions against the outlawed naxals in rural areas. It has committed violent acts against Dalits and other members of the scheduled caste community in an effort to prevent their land from going to them. [5]


1996 Bathani Tola Massacre, Bihar[edit]

21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur in Bihar in 11 July 1996.[6] Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. Ranvir Sena mob killed Women and Children in particular as per the design so as to demolish any future resistance which they foresaw. [5]

6 members of Naimuddin Ansari's family members were slaughtered to death by Ranvir Sena as per the Naimuddin Ansari's witness statement.The FIR was lodged against 33 persons the day after the massacre. Niammuddin was a bangle-seller at the time of the carnage whose 3 month old daughter (who was not named at the time of the massacre) was killed. She was tossed in the air and thrust down the blade of a sword by Ranvir Sena aggressors. Ranvir Sena killed Women and Children by design and not because they came in their way. Naimuddin's 7 year son Saddam was attacked and his face was mutilated by sword lacerations. Though Naimuddin tried to save him, Ranvir Sena had cut his spinal cord and the child died at Patna Medical College Hospital after a week. [5]

On 17 April 2012, the Patna High Court acquitted 23 men convicted of the murders. A Division Bench of judges Navneeti Prasad Singh and Ashwani Kumar Singh cited “defective evidence” to acquit all of them.[5][6] The next day, the Bihar State SC/ST Welfare Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi stated that the NDA-led Govt (under Nitish Kumar) has decided to move to Supreme court challenging the Patna HC Order.[7]

A Ranvir Sena sympathizer, who spoke to the Hindu correspondent Shoumojit Banerjee, justified the reactionary mobilisation of the upper castes against those Naxals. "The land is ours. The crops belong to us. The labourers did not want to work, and also hampered our efforts by burning our machines and imposing economic blockades. So, they had it coming."[5]

Post Bathani Tola Carnage there were several retaliatory naxal attacks killing atleast 500 upper caste civilians [8] as well as attacks on Dalits and Labourers organized by the Ranvir Sena in Laxmanpur Bathe and Sankarbigha in which 81 Dalits were killed.[5]

The Counsel for the witness, Anand Vatsyayan, expressed being shocked at the High Court verdict and reportedly said that "sufficient evidence were at hand to uphold the judgement passed by the Ara sessions court. The Supreme Court guidelines in the event of a massacre are quite clear. The eyewitnesses need not remember all the names. And, of the six prime witnesses questioned in this case, all had conclusively pointed fingers at the persons convicted by the lower court.[6]

1968 Kilvenmani massacre, Tamilnadu[edit]

Main article: Kilvenmani massacre

December 25, 1968 in which a group of c.42 striking Dalit (untouchable) village labourers were murdered by a gang, allegedly sent by their landlords.

1997 Laxmanpur Bathe Carnage, Bihar[edit]

On 1 December 1997, Ranvir Sena gunned down 58 Dalits at Laxmanpur Bathe in retaliation for the Bara massacre in Gaya where 37 upper castes were killed for no reason. In particular, a specific community of upper castes was targeted in retaliation for their opposition towards handing out their land to maoists in the name of land reform. Charges were framed in the Laxmanpur-Bathe case against 46 Ranvir Sena men on December 23, 2008.[9]

On 7 April 2010 sentenced 16 convicted persons to death out of the 26 convicted at Patna court. Announcing the judgement, Additional District Judge Vijay Prakash Mishra sentenced to life imprisonment the remaining 10 convicts and imposed a fine of Rs. 50,000 on each.[9]

Around 91 of 152 witnesses in the case had deposed before the court.[9]

1997 Melavalavu Massacre, Tamil Nadu[edit]

In the village of Melavalavu, in Tamil Nadu's Madurai district, following the election of a Dalit to the village council presidency, members of a higher-caste(Thevar) group murdered six Dalits in June 1997.

Melavalavu panchayat, which was a general constituency, was declared a reserved constituency in 1996. This had caused resentment between Scheduled Caste people and Ambalakarar community. In the 1996 panchayat elections, Murugesan was elected president.[10]

In June 1997, a group of persons attacked Murugesan, vice-president Mookan and others with deadly weapons, resulting in the death of six persons and injuries to many others. A total of 40 persons were cited as accused in the case. The trial court convicted Alagarsamy and 16 others and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court by its judgment dated April 19, 2006, confirmed the trial court’s order. Alagarsamy and others filed appeals against this judgment.[10]

2003 Muthanga Incident Kerala[edit]

On 19th Feb 2003, the Adivasis/Tribals gathered under Adivasi Gothra Mahasbha (ADMS), at Muthanga faced 18 rounds of police firing in which 2 fatal casualties were confirmed officially. The Tribals gathered in protest to the Governments delay in allotting them land, which was signed on October 2001. Later, the casualty toll had reached 5 deaths among the Tribals. Vinod, a Police Constable who died was also a Dalit. [11]

1999 Bant Singh case, Punjab[edit]

In January 1999 four members of the village panchayat of Bhungar Khera village in Abohar paraded a handicapped Dalit woman, Ramvati devi naked through the village. No action was taken by the police, despite local Dalit protests. It was only on July 20 that the four panchayat members and the head Ramesh lal were arrested, after the State Home Department was compelled to order an inquiry into the incident.[12]

On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, a poor Mazhabi, Dalit Sikh, was attacked by unknown assailants. His injuries necessitated medical amputation. He alleges that this was in retaliation for actively working to secure justice for his daughter, who was gang raped by upper caste members of his village in Punjab five years earlier.[13][14]

A 55-year-old Dalit Sikh woman, Sawinder Kaur has been tortured, stripped and tied to a tree in Ram Duali village of Punjab because her nephew eloped with a girl from the same community. The police arrested four persons for allegedly committing the crime on 9 September 2007.[15]

2006 Kherlanji massacre Maharashtra[edit]

Main article: Kherlanji Massacre

On September 29, 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family belonging to the Mahar Dalit underclass were slaughtered in Kherlanji, a small village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra. The women of the family, Surekha and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public, then allegedly gang-raped before being murdered.[16] Although initially ascribed by the media and by the Human Rights Watch to upper castes, the criminal act was actually carried out by Kunbi[17] caste[18] by Government of India) farmers for having opposed the requisition of the Dalit land to have a road built over it.

On November 23, 2006, some members of the Dalit community in the nearby district of Chandrapur staged a protest regarding this incident. The protesters allegedly turned violent and threw stones. The police resorted to baton-charging the protestors to control the situation. Dalit leaders, however, denied that they had first resorted to violence and stated that they had been "protesting in peace".

2006 Dalit protests in Maharashtra[edit]

In November–December 2006, the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) triggered violent protests by Dalits in Maharashtra. Several people remarked that the protests were fueled by the Kherlanji Massacre.[19] During the violent protests, the Dalit protestors set three trains on fire, damaged over 100 buses and clashed with police[20] At least four deaths and many more injuries were reported.

.[21] [22] [23]

Rajasthan[edit]

In the Indian province of Rajasthan, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Dalits average at about 5024 a year, with 46 killings and 138 cases of rape.[24][25]

Killings of Dalits in Mirchpur (Haryana)[edit]

In 2011, dalits were mercilessly killed by jats in Mirchpur village in Narnaund, Sub District of Hissar. The houses of dalits were burned and dalits have to fled the village.[26]

2012[edit]

In December 2012 as many as 268 dwellings – huts, tiled-roof and one or two-room concrete houses of Dalits of the Adi Dravida community near Naikkankottai in Dharmapuri district of western Tamil Nadu were torched by the higher-caste group. The victims have alleged that ‘systematic destruction’ of their properties and livelihood resources has taken place.[27]

In December 2012, in case of caste violence, two men named Akbar Ali and Mustafa Ansari were beaten by the upper caste Muslims.[28]

2013 Marakkanam violence, Tamil Nadu[edit]

In April 2013, violence broke out between the villagers along East Coast Road near Marakkanam and those travelling to Vanniyar gathering at Mamallapuram. A mob indulged in setting arson to houses, 4 buses of TNSTC and PRTC. 3 people were injured in police firing,one vanniar cader died. Traffic was closed in ECR for a day.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "India Events of 2007". Human Rights Watch. 
  2. ^ John Arquilla (2011). Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits. 9781566638326. pp. 245–251. 
  3. ^ "Phoolan Devi: Champion of the poor". BBC News. 2001-07-25. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  4. ^ "Kshatriya Samaj to honour Phoolan's killer". The Tribune, Chandigarh. 2006-05-21. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Banerjee, Shoumojit (2012-04-19). "For residents of Bathani, it is a horror they cannot forget". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  6. ^ a b c Banerjee, Shoumojit (2012-04-17). "All accused in 1996 Bihar Dalit carnage acquitted". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  7. ^ "Bathani Tola case: Bihar Govt to move SC against verdict". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2012-04-18. 
  8. ^ TribuneIndia.Com/2005/20051127/spectrum/main1.htm
  9. ^ a b c "Sixteen sentenced to death in 1997 carnage in Bihar". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2010-04-07. 
  10. ^ a b "Supreme Court reserves verdict in Melavalavu case". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2009-09-23. 
  11. ^ "Two killed as tribals, police clash". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2003-02-20. 
  12. ^ Down and out in Punjab By Praveen Swami
  13. ^ Paying a price for securing justice for his daughter, The Hindu
  14. ^ Bant Singh can still sing, Tehalka Magazine
  15. ^ Dalit woman tied naked to a tree
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "Dalit blood on village square". Frontline. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  18. ^ "Age old rivalry behind Khairlanji violence". NDTV. Retrieved 2006-12-10. 
  19. ^ "Khairlanji to Kanpur". The Indian Express. 2006-12-02. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  20. ^ "Maharashtra: Dalit anger leaves 4 dead, 60 injured". Rediff.com. 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  21. ^ "Dalits force police to let off suspect in Kanpur". Business Standard. 2006-12-01. Retrieved 2006-12-02. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Dalit youth held for desecrating Ambedkar statue". Deccan Herald. 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2006-12-02. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Situation in Mumbai, state back to normal". The Times of India. 2006-12-02. Retrieved 2006-12-02. 
  24. ^ "Subhuman lives — Dalits in India". Indiatogether.org. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  25. ^ "Dalits in conversion ceremony". BBC News. 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2010-04-28. 
  26. ^ "Voilence on Dalits in Mirchpur". 
  27. ^ R. Arivanantham (2012-11-08). "3 Dalit colonies face mob fury in Dharmapuri". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  28. ^ "Disabled man falls prey to Muslim caste violence". The Hindu. 2012-12-15. 
  29. ^ "Marakkanam violence brings ECR under police surveillance". The Hindu. 2013-04-27. Retrieved 2013-05-16.