Tag Archive for violence against dalits

Statement on the rape and murder of Dalit woman in Kerala

kerala-rape-and-murder

Jisha’s rape and murder reaffirms how the bodies of Dalit women become sites for the most brutal forms of exercise of caste oppression accentuated by patriarchal power, where the control of and violence on women’s bodies become powerful mechanisms for upholding a Brahminical patriarchal order

By Pinjratod

On 28th April’16, Rajeshwari a daily wage labourer and a single parent, returned home to her one-room house at Kuruppampady village in Kerela at night, to find the body of her younger daughter, raped, mutilated and murdered. Her daughter, who was a Dalit student, had to discontinue her BA degree within a year due to financial constrains. However, she was not one to give up and had been enrolled as an LLB student of Ernakulum Law College since 2010. “She wants to fight for people like us, poor people, those who have been discriminated against,” says Rajeswari as she lies in the hospital, in shock and trauma, unable to accept her daughter’s sudden and tragic demise. Rajeshwari had rushed to the nearby police station on that fatal night, where not surprisingly, the police refused to file her case, “wait for the postmortem” they claimed, ensuring that any ‘crucial evidence’ would essentially be lost in the meantime. Five long days passed since the murder. There were no investigations, there were no arrests, there were no marches or media outrage. There was only a deafening silence and a disturbing apathy. This was not the first time Rajeswari had gone to the police station. She had lived in her one room state-allocated house for 40 years, and during that long period, all she and her family had faced was hostility and severe caste discrimination from their neighbours: their water pipes were destroyed and the women-only family was forced to draw water from a nearby canal, they were not allowed to build toilet in their house, stones were regularly pelted at their small home, they had received threats of murder and the two daughters were subject to constant sexual harassment from neighbourhood men. The police refused any action in all cases, despite repeated complaints.

After five days of silence, news of the rape and murder started to slowly appear in social media due to the efforts of Dalit Bahujan voices, forcing the mainstream media to respond. The mainstream media reports have been accompanied by sickening, voyeuristic and vivid descriptions of the ‘brutality’ of the rape, characteristic of the way in which Dalit bodies are denied respect and dignity even in death. “Kerala’s Nirbhaya”, screamed the media, while the Malayali savarna middle class unable to imagine such ‘barbarity’ to their kind, claimed (in typical display of their xenophobia), that the perpetrators “must be migrant workers”.

The ‘merit’ of the Dalit student had to be interrogated. ‘She had three papers left to clear”, the savarna media hinted slyly, as suspicions on her ‘character’ were raised “why did she not scream? why she did she not call out for help? how could this have happened inside her own house?”. The name and photograph of the ‘victim’ was flashed without consent across media in violation of the law

The media insensitivity that characterises this problematic act of naming, has been subsequently challenged by the emerging movement demanding Justice for Jisha by fighting against the very shaming in anticipation of which the law forbids the name of a sexual violence ‘victim’ from being revealed. However, in a context of upcoming elections in Kerela, the rape and murder of a Dalit woman has now become an ‘agenda’ for the predatory parties to capitalise on, to appropriate. The matter ‘shook’ the Rajya Sabha yesterday, where PJ Kurein, one of the primary accused in the Suryanelli rape case in Kerela, had the audacity to express his condemnation of this ‘heinous’ and ‘shameful’ crime.

The violence that was inflicted on the body of Jisha and what has unfolded thereafter, is not an ‘exception or an ‘aberration’ in Kerela’s ‘progressive’ society  whose impressive HDI (Human Development Index) credentials we are constantly reminded of. In fact,  it is characteristic of the tremendous everyday violence and oppression that is inherent to that state, and this country where Dalit lives are crushed, humiliated, maimed, killed, murdered and destroyed everyday with impunity.

Jisha’s rape and murder, like Delta Meghwal’s death, reaffirms how the bodies of Dalit women become sites for the most brutal forms of exercise of caste oppression accentuated by patriarchal power, where the control of and violence on women’s bodies become powerful mechanisms for upholding a Brahminical patriarchal order. Patriarchal and caste oppression do not operate in isolation, but inherently reinforce each other. When located in the context/history of persistent castiest and patriarchal violence faced by Rajeshwari’s family and the structural negligence of the police, the rape and murder of Jisha is not unimaginable or unanticipated, and almost constitutes the chronicles of a rape foretold. As some form of police investigation of this crime finally begins, we are met with the news of the rape of a 19yr old Dalit nursing student by three men in an auto in the coastal town of Varkala in Kerela. Our rage and anger is hence not to be limited to the ‘atrocity’ of the ‘gruesome’ nature of Jisha’s murder, but has to lead to a persistent struggle towards a structural annihilation of this Brahminical society that violently denies through innumerable everyday acts and practices, a life of dignity and equality to Dalits. 

Rajeswari’s all-women household was a ‘dangerous’ entity, a collective of women struggling and surviving and  a Dalit working class woman seeking education and entry into a profession dominated by savarna men, was a direct threat to a Brahminical and patriarchal society. The ‘outside’ streets and the neighbourhood never belonged to Rajeswari, Jisha and Deepa. But even their ‘home’ that defied the dictates of a patriarchal world which mandates male control over families, was not to have any illusion of ‘safety’. It was to be always vulnerable to stones, to abuse, to ostracisation and to attack by this disgusting casteist society, that all savarnas (including women) are complicit in perpetuating. This resistance, this deviation by Dalit women was an ‘audacity’ that was not to tolerated, it had to silenced, it had to be dismantled.

Pinjratod is an autonomous collective effort to ensure secure, affordable and not gender-discriminatory accommodation for women students across Delhi

Delhi police molest women protestors

Police- attack- on- women

Activists demand immediate suspension of Delhi Police personnel who physically molested women protestors who were demonstrating against the forcible eviction of Dalit rape survivors from Jantar Mantar

By Team FI

A complaint was lodged with the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, yesterday, as regards to the sexual assault on women protestors by the police men and women of the Parliament Street police station.

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, dalit villagers including the families of the rape survivors from Bhagana protested against their forcible eviction from their camp at Jantar Mantar. Led by the mothers of the two rape survivors, and accompanied by representatives of women’s organisations, Dalit organisations and students’ organisations, the protestors marched to the Parliament Street police station to present a memorandum which requested that the villagers be allowed to stay at Jantar Mantar.

The demonstrators were stopped by a barricade outside the police station and were asked to leave. When an argument broke out, the police began to attack the women demonstrators including the mothers of the rape survivors and some women activists by grabbing their private parts.

Activists have lodged a complaint against the behaviour of the police personnel and demanded that “concerned police personnel (including the officer who gave the order for sexual assault) be immediately suspended from service and charged under the relevant sections. An FIR should be filed and an enquiry instituted without delay.”

The full text of the complaint is given below:

The Commissioner of Police
Delhi Police
Subject: Sexual assault on women protestors by personnel of Parliament Street police station

We are writing to demand your immediate action against police personnel of the Parliament Street Police Station who were involved in assaulting and brutalising a peaceful group of protestors today.
The facts are as follows.

• A group of people belonging to the Dalit community from Bhagana village, Haryana, have been sitting in a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar for the last one month, in pursuit of their demand for justice in the case of abduction and gang rape of four minor girls. Early this morning, a large force of policemen appeared at Jantar Mantar and tried to evict the protestors who were sleeping there. pulled down their tent and scattered their belongings.

• The Bhagana protestors (including the families of the rape survivors and the girls themselves) went to the Parliament Street Police Station this afternoon at about 1400 hours, in order to present a memorandum to the officer in charge asking to be allowed to stay in Jantar Mantar since they had nowhere else to go.

• The Bhagana group was accompanied by representatives of women’s organisations, Dalit organisations and students’ organisations. The mothers of two of the rape survivors were leading the group.

• The group was stopped by some policemen at the barricade outside the thana. Their request to be allowed to go inside and meet the office in charge was denied. Some policemen on duty at the barricade spoke to the Bhagana group in Haryanvi and asked them to go back and not to make trouble. The women argued with these policemen, insisting on being allowed to go and meet the officer in charge.

• While the argument was going on, some policemen started pushing the group back from the barricade, using undue force and targeting the women by grabbing their private parts and pushing their hands into the anal region. The mothers of the survivors and several women activists (including Adv Pyoli Swatija of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, , Ms Sumedha Baudh of Rashtiya Dalit Mahila Andolan and Ms Rakhi – of NTUI) were attacked in this manner.

• At this point a senior police officer (in uniform but without a name badge) came out and shouted out – “Are ye aise nahi manenge – lathi ghusao.”

• At this, some 4-5 women police charged forward and attacked the women by thrusting at their private parts with batons. The women who were in the front resisted this attack and struggled with the police women. Several policemen were also in the melee and were physically attacking women protestors.

• Several activists were taken into custody and held for more than an hour, after which they were released without any charge being made against them.

• None of the police had name badges except one police woman (Suman D) who removed it after a few minutes. However, we are confident that we can identify most if not all the attackers by face including the officer who gave the order for the sexual attack.

You are surely aware that the acts committed by the policemen and women are criminal offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

We demand that the concerned police personnel (including the officer who gave the order for sexual assault) be immediately suspended from service and charged under the relevant sections. An FIR should be filed and an enquiry instituted without delay.

We are shocked to see that the police personnel under your command seem to have forgotten the bitter lessons of December 2012, and are blatantly ignoring and violating citizens’ rights of peaceful assembly and democratic protest.

We are told that much time and resources have been invested in training the rank and file of Delhi police in “gender-sensitive policing”. Our suggestion to you is: please do not waste any more of the taxpayers’ money on these futile public relations exercises. Instead, please take strong, immediate and exemplary action against personnel accused of such crimes.

We look forward to a response from you. We will be happy to come and present you with evidence in support of our complaint.

(KALYANI MENON-SEN)
On behalf of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression – 4 June 2014

Bhagana rape: Survivors and villagers protest outside Hudda’s residence

Bhagana-dalit-rape

Bhagana rape survivors, fellow villagers, activists protest against Haryana CM inaction on the caste and sexual violence against Dalits; demand one crore compensation and rehabilitation

By Team FI
Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hudda’s residence in New Delhi was gheraoed yesterday by hundreds of women, children and men from the Bhagana village of Hisar, Haryana, demanding justice for the four school-going Dalit girls who were kidnapped and raped on 23rd March.

The protestors, who were joined by an equal number of activists, students, writers, artists and other citizens of Delhi, alleged that the crime was committed by the upper caste men in the village and that the village head and his son were complicit in the act. The protestors demand that the perpetrators and the village head and his son’s names be included in the FIR and they be arrested. The memorandum submitted to the Haryana CM also demanded that the rape survivors’ families be rehabilitated and compensation of Rs 1 crore be paid to the girls.

In March 2014, the four young girls of the Dhanak community were kidnapped from their village Bhagana, and raped by five youths belonging to the upper caste Jat community. The girls were left near Bhatinda Railway station in Punjab after the alleged crime. When their families approached their village head for help, and said that they would file an FIR, the Sarpanch informed them about the whereabouts of the girls. The girls allege that when the Sarpanch and his men came and picked the girls, he threatened them to keep quiet about the rape and the identity of the perpetrators. The press release stated that, “This was one of the few cases of dalit atrocities that came into light; many such cases remain buried and unheard of.”

Jagdish Kajla, protest leader, said, “90 dalit families are living at Jantar Mantar since 16th April 2014 amid so many difficulties. The government has not provided us anything to survive, forget justice for the 4 girls. We will not take our protest back till our demands are met.”

The demonstrators also sought proper rehabilitation for the 400 displaced Dalit families who are living on the streets of Delhi and Hisar. Virendra Singh Wabhoria, who is leading the evicted group’s struggle at Hisar, warned Haryana government that if their demands are not met within a fortnight, their protest will expand to other places of the country. Virendra is sitting on Dharna with 120 Dalit families at the Hisar Collectarate for last two years when these families were displaced from the village Bhagana by the upper caste people.

The press release issued by the Samiti states that the girls are furious and so are their mothers. They say, ‘ Why every time, they make our bodies their battlefields?’ One girl studying in class 10th just wishes to someday be able to complete her studies. She says, ‘They have made us refugees. Bhagana is our own village but we can’t go there. What can be more fateful than this?’, she asks in desperation. One mother, with veil on her face, screams, ‘Aren’t we human? Why every time they do this to us?’ Huda has an answer, only in the form of huge barricades of police outside his house.

As per the press release, “at the heart of the conflict in Haryana is the struggle over land – its use and ownership by the poor Dalits which has been grabbed by the dominant castes. No land reforms, or access to use and ownership of the common land schemes, have been implemented till date. Bhagana’s Dalits have been vocal about their land rights, having faced the atrocities and land grab since 2003. Rape is one of the major tools to silence the Dalit community and displace them in the name of honor. The Huda government never took action against the upper caste as Rajani Tilak of National Dalit Mahila Aandolan cites, “Huda says openly that first I am a jat and then a CM”. This factor contributed to Dalit atrocities in a much more organized way because the state machinery does not act in accordance with the law. After 67 years of the independence and on the threshold of 16th Parliament, Dalits in Haryana are landless, without exception.

Jats dominate both the Gram Panchayats (Village councils) and the traditional Khaps. Their authority is backed by the significant presence of Jats in institutions and administrative positions. The state machinery thus is becoming part of propagating the entrenched caste ideology and hierarchies. The levying of sedition charges exposed a face of the state where it was no longer just exhibiting apathy towards tackling caste oppression, but actively using its authority and draconian laws to suppress any assertion challenging caste and class hierarchies. Protests against caste exploitation have become an expression of “disaffection” against the nation!”

However, the press statement points out that the Bhagana protests showed that the Dalits are continuously pressurizing state institutions, and winning victories like withdrawal of sedition charges, and making the political class sit-up and take notice both within the state and the center.

The protesters want the government to heed their following demands:

1. Arrest all the offenders in Bhagana case including Village head and his son and bring them to justice;
2. High level inquiry of the rape, displacement and land related cases;
3. Fast Track Court in Delhi for hearing of the case. Settle the case within 6 months;
4. Compensation of Rs 1 crore to each Bhagana gang rape victim;
5. Compensation of Rs 1 crore to each boycotted family in Bhagana;
6. A case should be filed against the KHAP and Gram Panchayat under the SC/ST Act;
7. Allot 400 yards plots in Gurgaon or Fridabad to each displaced family from Bhagana till they are suitably resettled in Bhagana;
8. Arrangement of proper education to all Bhagana gang rape victims and provision of government employment after completion of their education;
9. Ban on Khaap Panchayats;
10. 290 acre common land should be vacated from the clutch of the Dabangs and be distributed among the landless Dalits and other marginalised sections of the village .

Bhagana Kaand Sangharsh Samiti:
Sarv Samaj Sangharsh Samiti-Haryana, Hans do India, Republic Thought and Action Group, PUDR, Women against Sexual Violence & State Repression, National Dalit Women Movement, Dalit Dehat Bahujan Mahapanchayat, Youth for Social Justice-DU, All India Backward Students’ Forum-JNU, Democratic Students Union-JNU, Women for Water Democracy, NCDHR, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Ambedkar Seva Dal, National Confederation of Delit Organizations. All India Federation of Trade Unions, Nojaat Bharat Sabha, HRLN, Dhanak Sabha-Delhi, Delhi Students’ Union, Ambedkar Mahasabha, Sahitya Samvaad, United Dalit Students Forum, Avaam, Bharat Ka Manaviyekaran Abhiyaan, Dalit Utthan Samaj, Kabeer Jan Kalyaan Sangh, Haryana Kumhaar Mahasabha, National Movement for Land, Labour & Justice, Bhoomiheen Kisan Sangharsh Samiti.

India’s shame: Dalit rape survivors of Hisar still await justice

violence-against-women-India

Authorities remain indifferent to the ongoing sit-in protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi by the four young rape survivors and their families

By Team FI

A candle light protest was organised by students and human rights activists outside the Home Minister’s office in New Delhi on Sunday demanding justice for the four young rape survivors from Hisar, Haryana.

The protest was in solidarity to the ongoing sit-in protest by the four Dalit women, two of whom are minor girls. The women along with their families and neighbours have been protesting at Jantar Mantar from April 18 against the local authority’s indifference and inaction.

In March 2014, the four young girls were kidnapped from their village Bhagana, and raped by five youths belonging to the upper caste Jat community. The girls were left near Bhatinda Railway station in Punjab after the alleged crime. When their families approached their village head ( Sarpanch) for help, and said that they would file an FIR, the Sarpanch informed them about the whereabouts of the girls. The girls allege that when the Sarpanch and his men came and picked the girls, he threatened them to keep quiet about the rape and the identity of the perpetrators.

The villagers alleged that the local authorities including the Superintendent of Police Manisha Chaudhury were not only uncooperative but also intimidating. The families took the girls to the hospital in Hisar for a medical test. Though they reached the hospital at 10 in the morning, it was at 1.30 am the next morning when the tests were finally done and an hour later, the SP took their statements.

The Dalits of Bhagana village are no stranger to violence and abuse by the Jat community what with the ongoing social and economic sanctions imposed on them by the upper caste. This was because the Dalit community had protested against the appropriation of their common lands by the Jats in the village.

For these young women from Hisar, there are no hordes of protestors lining the streets of the country’s capital, no outcry of anguish, and not much show of support except from human rights activists, women’s groups and a few student organisations. There is an alarming increase in the sexual violence against Dalit women in the country and Haryana is achieving notoriety with many cases of sexual violence, assault and honour killings being recorded.

In most cases, the survivors get no assistance from the police or administration. With the perpetrators belonging to the ‘upper’ caste in most cases, the caste dominance combined with poverty and lack of political clout ensure that cases, even if an FIR is filed, do not reach resolution and justice is denied or delayed indefinitely.

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) issued a statement based on their visit and interactions with the rape survivors and their families. FeministsIndia is reproducing the full text of the statement here:

WSS condemns the Sexual Assault of Four Dalit Girls from Village Bhagana, District Hisar, Haryana

In the continuing backlash against Dalit assertion, four young girls of Dalit families (two of whom are minor) from Bhagana village (Hisar district, Haryana) were abducted on 23rd March 2014 and gangraped by 5 Jat boys (3 from Bhagana and 2 from outside of whom one was from Bhiwani). All four girls were then abandoned in the Bhatinda railway station on 23rd March itself. The sarpanch along with the girls’ fathers and brothers reached Bhatinda to bring them back. They were threatened by the head of the village sarpanch who is also the cousin of one of the accused to remain quiet; otherwise they along with their families would suffer dire consequences, even murder.

The context is as follows: In May 2012, 70 Dalit families from Bhagana Village moved with their families, belongings and cattle to the Secretariat, District Magistrate’s office in Hisar to protest against the forceful and unfair land appropriation of their common lands (Shamilat land) by the Jats of the village.
In response to their protests, these Dalits suffered widespread social ostracism and boycotts, including denial of access to water sources by destroying public taps, denial of entry to common land whether for the burial of dead animals, or for children to play games like football etc. Dalits were unable to move around freely or even go out for urination or defecation. Even access to doctors was denied as doctors were from the Jat community, who either refused to treat Dalits or charged higher fees. The sale of products has been refused and they have also been prevented from using public transport.

Despite several complaints to the village panchayat, police officials, the administration paid no heed and allowed such incidents and treatment to escalate. Instead of filing FIRs, the police arrested 45 Dalit protestors and charged 6 with sedition charges though these were later dropped. While some families continued their protests at the secretariat, a few families decided to stay back whether out of fear or due to economic necessity. It is girls from these families who were then abducted and sexually assaulted on 23rd March 2014.

In spite of threats from the Jat community not to take up this case, FIRs were filed on March 25 and the girls underwent medical examination. Cases have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and Sections 363/366/366A/376/120B/328 of the IPC. Copies of these are with the families who have come to Delhi to demand justice and are now at Jantar Mantar. While five of the accused have been arrested, the demand to arrest another seven people remains. In conversation with members of WSS who visited the families at Jantar Mantar, these details were courageously and openly shared. The girls are sitting in protest too, the youngest being 13 and the eldest 18 years. They were going to school (classes 7 to 10) but have dropped out now. Their fathers work as agricultural labourers or engaged in other daily wage work. Other women present said that such sexual violence perpetrated on Dalits by Jats is by no means new but what is new is the reasons why they attacked them in this way. ‘We have no wealth’, one of the women said, ‘so they plunder the little that we have, namely our izzat.’ ‘But we are here in this city to get justice.’

WSS stands in solidarity with their struggle and their courageous battle for justice and dignity.
We demand that:

1. All land be restored to Dalits that is due to them. This includes allotments under the Mahatma Gandhi Vikas Yojana and also the Shamilat land rights.

2. Safe passage and return to the village for Dalits must be provided to ensure that they can live in security and dignity.

3. Survivors of sexual assault must be given the full compensation according to Government of Haryana provisions. Their education which has had to be discontinued must be provided. All threats to them and their families must cease.

4. All false cases lodged in 2012 against Dalit men and women be withdrawn immediately.

5. All the accused Jats including the sarpanch, who have been intimidating and threatening them be arrested and cases taken forwarded.