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 people (known as Scheduled Castes and 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]

1968 Kilvenmani massacre, Tamil Nadu[edit]

December 25, 1968 in which a group of c.44 striking Dalit (untouchable) village labourers were murdered by a gang, allegedly sent by their landlords, as they were demanding higher wages.

1981 Phoolan Devi, Uttar Pradesh[edit]

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 supposedly 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]

1985: Karamchedu massacre[edit]

Karamchedu massacre is a massacre which occurred in Karamchedu, Andhra Pradesh on 17 July 1985, where madiga caste dalits were killed by Kamma then ruling caste in 1985.Many people lost their lives in the incident.[5]

1990s: Ranvir Sena[edit]

Ranvir Sena is a 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. [6]

1991-Tsundur Andhra Pradesh[edit]

The village became infamous for the killing of 8 dalits on the 6 August 1991, when a mob of over 300 people, composed of mainly Reddys and telagas chased down the victims along the bund of an irrigation canal. This happened after police department asked locals to go aggressive against large number of eve teasing outsiders entering village . In the trial which was concluded, 21 people were sentenced to life imprisonment and 35 others to a year of rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs. 2,000 each, on the 31 July 2007, by special judge established for the Purpose under SC,STs Atrocities(Prevention) Act.

1996 Bathani Tola Massacre, Bihar[edit]

21 Dalits were killed by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur in Bihar on 11 July 1996.[7] Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. Ranvir Sena mob killed women and children in particular with the intention of deterring any future resistance which they foresaw. [6]

Six members of Naimuddin Ansari's family were slaughtered by Ranvir Sena according to 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 was killed. Widespread claims suggest they were killed by Ranvir Sena aggressors.. Naimuddin's 7 year son Saddam was attacked and his face was mutilated by sword lacerations.

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.[6][7] The next day, the Bihar State SC/ST Welfare Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi stated that the NDA-led Government (under Nitish Kumar) had decided to move to Supreme court challenging the Patna HC Order.[8]

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."[6]

Post Bathani Tola Carnage there were several retaliatory naxal attacks killing at least 500 upper caste civilians [9] as well as attacks on Dalits and Labourers organized by the Ranvir Sena in Laxmanpur Bathe and Sankarbigha in which 81 Dalits were killed.[6]

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.[7]

1996 Melavalavu murders[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(Kallar) group murdered six Dalits in June 1996.[10]

Melur panchayat, which was a general constituency, was declared a reserved constituency in 1996. This had caused resentment between Scheduled Caste people and Kallar (Ambalakarar) community. In the 1996 panchayat elections, Murugesan was elected president.[11]

In June 1996, 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.[11]

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. In particular, a specific Bhumihar community of upper castes was targeted in retaliation for their opposition towards handing out their land for land reform. Charges were framed in the Laxmanpur-Bathe case against 46 Ranvir Sena men on December 23, 2008.[12]

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.[12]

Around 91 of 152 witnesses in the case had deposed before the court.[12]

1997 Ramabai killings, Mumbai[edit]

On 11 July 1997, a statue of B.R. Ambedkar in the Dalit colony of Ramabai was desecrated by unknown individuals. An initially peaceful protest was fired on by the police, killing ten people, including a bystander who had not been involved in the protests. Later in the day, 26 people were injured when the police carried out a lathi charge against the protesters. Commentators suggested that the arbitrarily violent response from the police had been the result of caste based prejudice, as the leader of the team stood accused in multiple cases involving caste-based discrimination.[13]

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.[14]

On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, 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.[15][16]

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.[17]

2000 Kambalapalli incident Karnataka[edit]

On 11 March 2000, seven Dalits were locked in a house and burnt alive by an upper-caste Reddy mob in Kambalapalli, Kolar district of Karnataka state. The Civil Rights Enforcement (CRE) Cell investigation revealed deep-rooted animosity between the Dalits and the upper-castes as the reason for the violence.[18]

A division bench of Karnataka High Court acquitted all 46 accused in August 2014. The bench headed by Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar held that a conviction would be "pre-judicial" to the interest of the accused given that 14 years had passed since the incident and all the 22 eyewitnesses had since turned hostile. The court also observed that the investigating police officer and some of the eyewitnesses were not cross-examined properly.

The witnesses in the case, many of whom had narrowly escaped with their lives, had turned hostile during the trial in a lower court, resulting in a similar acquittal in 2006. Immediately after that verdict was delivered, many of the witnesses told the media that they backtracked because of threats from upper-caste groups.[19]

A subsequent plea for a retrial was rejected by the High Court.[20]

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 in October 2001. Later, the casualty toll had reached 5 deaths among the Tribals. Vinod, a Police Constable who died, was also a Dalit. [21]

2006 Khairlanji massacre Maharashtra[edit]

On September 29, 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family belonging to the Mahar community were killed by a mob of 40 people belonging to the Maratha Kunbi caste. The incident happened in Kherlanji, a small village in Bhandara district of Maharashtra. The Mahars are Dalit, while the Kunbi are classified as an Other Backward Class by the Government of India. The Bhotmanges were stripped naked and paraded to the village square by a mob of 40 people. The sons were ordered to rape their mother and sister, and when they refused, their genitals were mutilated before they were murdered.[22] An initial call to the police was ignored, and a search for the bodies was deliberately delayed 2 days. The bodies were found in a canal, and due to the length of time the bodies were in the water, much of the physical evidence was contaminated or destroyed.[23] The subsequent police and political inaction led to protests from Dalits. After allegations of a cover-up, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).[24]

Maharashtra's home minister and Indian National Congress leader RR Patil claimed that the Dalit protests were motivated by extremist elements. A government report on the killings implicated top police officers, autopsy doctors and the local BJP MLA Madhukar Kukade for covering-up.[24] A local court convicted 8 people, sentencing 6 of them to death and the other 2 to life.[25] However, the death sentences were later commuted to life by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. The High Court declared that the murders were motivated by revenge, not caste.[24]

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.[26] During the violent protests, the Dalit protestors set three trains on fire, damaged over 100 buses and clashed with police[27] At least four deaths and many more injuries were reported.[28] [29] [30]

2008 caste violence in 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.[31][32]

2011 killings of Dalits in Mirchpur, Haryana[edit]

In 2011, dalits were killed by upper caste in Mirchpur village in Narnaund, Sub District of Hissar. The houses of dalits were burned hence causing them to flee the village.[33]

2012 Dharmapuri violence[edit]

In December 2012 approximately 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 Vanniyar.The victims have alleged that ‘systematic destruction’ of their properties and livelihood resources has taken place.[34]

In December 2012, in case of caste violence, two men named Akbar Ali and Mustafa Ansari were beaten by Muslims.[35]

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 dominant caste gathering at Mamallapuram. A mob indulged in setting fire to houses, 4 buses of TNSTC and PRTC. 3 people were injured in police firing. Traffic was closed in ECR for a day.[36]

2015 Jat-Dalit violence in Dangawas, Rajasthan[edit]

On Thursday, May 14, 2015, clashes between Jats and Dalits in Dangawas village of Rajasthan's Nagaur district left 4 people dead and 13 injured.[37]

2016 Rohith Vemula Suicide in Central University of Hyderabad[edit]

The suicide of Rohith Vemula on 18 January 2016 sparked protests and outrage from across India and gained widespread media attention as an alleged case of discrimination against Dalits and backward classes in India in which elite educational institutions have been purportedly seen as an enduring vestige of caste-based discrimination against students belonging to "backward classes".

2016 Saharanpur violence[edit]

The violence broke out during the procession of Rajput warrior-king Maharana Pratap over the loud music. In the violence one man was killed, 16 were injured and 25 Dalit houses were burned. The incident was connected to the BJP MP from Saharanpur Raghav Lakhanpal.[38]

2018 Samrau Violence,Jodhpur (Rajasthan)[edit]

On the evening of 14 January 2018, clashes between Jats and Rajputs in Samrau village of Rajasthan's Jodhpur district burned shops and houses of many innocent people, and destroyed the Rawla(king's residence).[39]

April 2018[edit]

Kachanatham, Sivagangai (Tamil Nadu), May 28, 2018[edit]

Dominant caste Hindus were “enraged” that Dalits did not present temple honours to an upper-caste family, and a Dalit man sat cross-legged in front of upper-caste men. Dominant caste members also were enraged when Dalits protested the sale of marijuana in the area by people from a neighbouring village and intimidated and threatened the Dalits.[40]

When the Dalit caste protested the intimidation and threats from the dominant castes in the village with the local police in retaliation a gang of 15 dominant caste members raided the Dalit village at night attacking people indiscriminately killing three and injuring six.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "India Events of 2007". Human Rights Watch.
  2. ^ John Arquilla (2011). Insurgents, Raiders, and Bandits. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 245–251. ISBN 9781566638326.
  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. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e Banerjee, Shoumojit (2012-04-19). "For residents of Bathani, it is a horror they cannot forget". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  7. ^ a b c Banerjee, Shoumojit (2012-04-17). "All accused in 1996 Bihar Dalit carnage acquitted". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  8. ^ "Bathani Tola case: Bihar Govt to move SC against verdict". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2012-04-18.
  9. ^ Red Star over Bihar. The Tribune, 27 November 2005.
  10. ^ "Broken People Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables"".
  11. ^ a b "Supreme Court reserves verdict in Melavalavu case". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2009-09-23.
  12. ^ a b c "Sixteen sentenced to death in 1997 carnage in Bihar". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2010-04-07.
  13. ^ Smita Narula; Human Rights Watch (Organization) (1999). Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "untouchables". Human Rights Watch. pp. 137–. ISBN 978-1-56432-228-9. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  14. ^ Down and out in Punjab Archived 2008-05-18 at the Wayback Machine. By Praveen Swami
  15. ^ "Paying a price for securing justice for his daughter". The Hindu.
  16. ^ "Bant Singh can still sing". Archived from the original on 2012-09-12. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "The Hindu : Kambalapalli carnage probe completed". Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  19. ^ "HC acquits all 46 accused of Kambalpalli massacre". 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  20. ^ Krishnaprasad (2014-08-22). "HC rejects plea for retrial in Kambalapalli carnage case". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  21. ^ "Two killed as tribals, police clash". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2003-02-20.
  22. ^ Roy, A. (2014). The Doctor and the Saint. In B. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste (pp. 11-101). India: Verso.
  23. ^ Karat, B. (2016, September 29). Khairlanji, then and now. Retrieved June 2, 2017, from The Indian Express:
  24. ^ a b c "Dalit blood on village square". Frontline. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
  25. ^ Empowering the perpetrator
  26. ^ "Khairlanji to Kanpur". The Indian Express. 2006-12-02. Archived from the original on 2006-12-14. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  27. ^ "Maharashtra: Dalit anger leaves 4 dead, 60 injured". 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  28. ^ "Dalits force police to let off suspect in Kanpur". Business Standard. 2006-12-01. Archived from the original on July 4, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
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  30. ^ "Situation in Mumbai, state back to normal". The Times of India. 2006-12-02. Retrieved 2006-12-02.
  31. ^ "Subhuman lives — Dalits in India". Archived from the original on 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  32. ^ "Dalits in conversion ceremony". BBC News. 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  33. ^ "Violence on Dalits in Mirchpur".
  34. ^ R. Arivanantham (2012-11-08). "3 Dalit colonies face mob fury in Dharmapuri". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  35. ^ "Disabled man falls prey to Muslim caste violence". The Hindu. 2012-12-15.
  36. ^ "Marakkanam violence brings ECR under police surveillance". The Hindu. 2013-04-27. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  37. ^ "Land Dispute Turns into Caste Violence in Rajasthan's Nagaur; 4 Dead, 13 Injured". NDTV. 2015-05-17. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
  38. ^ PTI. "Saharanpur: Thakurs and Dalits clash over loud music, 25 houses torched, 1 killed". DNA. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  39. ^ "सुलगा उठा जोधपुर का सामराऊ! भीड़ ने एक दर्जन घर फूंके, इंटरनेट बंद, आज होगा शव का पोस्टमार्टम".
  40. ^ "Upper-Caste Men Attack Dalits in Tamil Nadu Village, Killing Two - The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  41. ^ "Kachanatham caste clash death toll touches three". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2018-06-04.