Dalit Caste violence

Ambalapattu violence
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2018 Ambalapattu violence refers to the violence on New Year's Eve of 2018 in a Dalit settlement in the village of AmbalapattuTamil Nadu. The settlement was attacked by dominant caste villagers during the New year celebrations by the Dalit community. Around 80 dominant caste villagers damaged Dalit homes, motor-bikes and properties. 8 Dalits were injured and 4 were admitted to the hospital.

The attacks led to protests and road blocks by thousands of villagers and political parties across the state to bring the attackers to justice.

6 men from the dominant caste community were arrested in the next two days for the violence.

Background

The Dalit villagers reside in the settlement of Kudikadu, in the south of the large village of Ambalapattu. This settlement has an dominant caste group consisting of at least 300 Kallar caste families, and a relatively small Dalit Paraiyar population consisting of about 60 households. The villagers are relatively well-off in both areas, with at least one person of each family employed in Singapore. The area is also reportedly known as 'Little Singapore' and it is also reported that Dalit families were well-educated, with many members working in government jobs. And the area has been a Communist heartland for over 6 decades, with inhabitants opposing oppression by Zamindars and supporting relationship and economic development for all classes.
New year celebrations

The Dalit community in Kudikadu had planned for a new year celebration on the mid-night of 31 December 2017. The people festooned the colony's entrance with a balloon arch and celebrated the new year by boiling over milk, a Tamil tradition connected to Pongal festival. They also celebrated the new year by cutting a cake. For a dance program in which the children of the colony took part, a sound system had been set up. Each year, the colony's youth organize this festivities after raising money from the colony's residents.
Scuffle between the villagers

Some Dalit villagers saw a group of youngsters from the dominant caste Kallar group standing close to the entrance of their colony at around 12.30am on 1 January 2018. These men were in the northern area of the village, from a settlement about 3 km away. The Dalit villagers asserted that the men damaged the arch which they built for celebration. This led to a scuffle between the two groups which led to injury to one Dalit man. The scuffle was quickly broken up.
Attacks

After an hour, a group of around 80 dominant caste members belonging to the Kallar caste, armed with knives, rods and other weapons, reached the Dalit colony in Kudikadu. They also allegedly brought the weapons in a van. The dominant caste members reportedly stirred up a quarrel over the sound system which were used for the celebrations. Then they went on rampage, damaging properties and ransacking Dalit houses. They reportedly cut off the power supply to the Dalit colony before their attacks The dominant caste members reportedly screamed ,"Why do you have to wear pants and shirts?" and Why do you need to celebrate New Year, lower caste dogs? during their attacks.

The Dalit men begged the attackers to spare their families while the women locked themselves up in their homes in panic as the mob attacked. The attacks lasted for thirty minutes before the attackers left having taught the Dalits "a lesson." Some Dalits locked them up inside their houses while others escaped to the nearby fields.

The villagers alleged that the violence ended with very few casualties because the Dalit men refrained from fighting back.
Damages

15 motor bikes and 15 houses belonging to the Dalits were damaged. House hold articles including utensils, furniture, water pipes and Televisions were also destroyed. The sound system was also reportedly destroyed.

The attacks left 8 Dalits seriously injured and 4 men were hospitalized.
Protests

The next morning on 1 January 2018, more than a thousand villagers protested to arrest the attackers, to provide compensation to the affected and also demanded the District Collector to visit the spot. The protesters blocked the roads and the traffic was disrupted from 10 am to 1 pm and the vehicles were diverted. High level functionaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India and founder of the Adi Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam and members of various parties took part in the road blockade and raised slogans.

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front made a demonstration in front of the Tiruvallur bus stand condemning the attacks.
Arrests

Two days after the attack 6 men from the kallar community were arrested for the attacks.
Investigations

Kathir, the founder of Evidence, a Non-governmental organization based in Madurai, said caste discrimination is deeply rooted, though in a dormant form, in the social structure of villages in this area. He added that the involvement of many left-wing parties in the area may also have been the explanation for fewer attacks in the recent times. He said these attacks typically occur when Dalits speak up against attacks against them, or when they progress economically. He said that the society was assaulted as this colony has a lot of members in good government positions.
Bara massacre-1992
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

At midnight on 12–13 February 1992, the Maoist Communist Centre of India (now the Communist Party of India (Maoist)) killed 40 Bhumihars at Bara Village near Gaya District of Bihar, India.[1][2] The MCC's armed group brought the 35 men of Bara village to the bank of a nearby canal, tied their hands and slit their throats. As many as 36 people were accused of the crime, but charges were framed against only 13. The police failed to arrest the others, who had defied their summons.

Bara Massacre
Part of Caste wars of Bihar
Date February 1992
Deaths 35-40 killed
Victims Bhumihars
Perpetrators Maoist Communist Centre unit containing Schedule Castes and OBC

Trigger

The massacre which targeted primarily upper caste Bhumihars, was thought to be a deleterious consequence of the social justice politics in the Bihar of 1990s unleashed by Lalu Prasad Yadav. According to an India Today report, the Yadav leaders were openly preaching vendetta against the Bhumihars after the "Barsingha massacre" in which ten Dalits were killed by "Swarna Liberation Front", a caste army of Bhumihar landlords.The Congress leaders claimed that the MCC, though composed primarily of Dalits, has linkages to Janata Dal and Yadavs. According to a report of Indian Express:-


"The Bara massacre, in which MCC (now CPI-Maoist) members killed 34 Bhumihars, was part of a string of caste clashes in the area. The 1992 massacre itself was believed to be the fallout of six previous killings in 1990-91 in which 59 Scheduled Caste men and agricultural labourers were killed."

The upper caste killed 58 Dalits in "Laxmanpur Bathe" in response to the attack.

Trial and aftermath

After a prolonged trial, nine people were convicted by the Court of District and Sessions Judge, Gaya, Jawaharlal Chaudhary, in its judgment and order dated 8 June 2001. The court handed down death sentences to Nanhe Lal Mochi, Krishna Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh, life sentences to Bihari Manjhi, Ramavtar Dussadh, Rajendra Paswan and Vakil Yadav, and imprisonment to Rabindra Singh. The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences on 15 April 2002.

In further trials Gaya District and Sessions Judge Daroga Prasad designated the special TADA judge, pronounced Vyas Kahar, Naresh Paswan and Yugal Mochi of the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) guilty of involvement and were to death. The court acquitted Tyagi Mahto, Vijay Yadav and Madhusudan Sharma, on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt The death sentence of the four convicts, Krishna Mochi, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Bir Kuer Paswan and Dharmendra Singh, was later commuted by President Pranab Mukherjee on 1 January 2017, as the result of a mercy petition.
Beaten for wearing 'royal' shoes

Mahesh Rathod, a 13-year-old Dalit boy, was allegedly attacked in the western state of Gujarat for wearing a pair of "mojris" - leather shoes traditionally seen as royal footwear and worn by upper-caste members in some parts of India.

According to local media, he was approached by a group of men who asked him which caste he belonged to and when he said he was a Dalit, they abused him for "posing as an upper-caste member by wearing jeans, mojris and a gold chain".

IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGESImage caption,
Discrimination based on caste is outlawed in India, but remains widespread


In a video that went viral last week, a group of men can be seen beating Mahesh with a stick while he pleads for mercy.


He is reported to have been given police protection after that.
Boy killed for writing love letter to u/c girl

Anil and the girl were studying in the same school at the taluka level and were friends.

Aravind GowdaBengaluruJuly 8, 2015

ADalit boy was bludgeoned to death by three people after he was caught handing over a love letter to a girl belonging to the "upper caste" in Mirji village in Bagalkote district, central Karnataka. Read: Dalit girl thrashed after her shadow falls on upper caste man

The girl's father, brother and another relative are absconding after launching a murderous attack on 17-year-old Anil Parashurama Methri on July 1. The boy succumbed to injuries on Tuesday. His parents, who were also badly assaulted by the girl's family, are undergoing treatment for their injuries in a government hospital.

According to the police, Anil and the girl were studying in the same school at the taluka level and were friends. On July 1, around 8:30 pm, Anil went to the girl's home secretly and was handing over the love letter to her through the window. He was caught red-handed by the girl's father and brother.

After reading the letter, the girl's brother took a wooden log and hit him on his head, it is alleged. Then, they tied him to a pole in the backyard of their home and beat him. On hearing that their son has been caught, his parents rushed to the girl's home. They begged the girl's family to let go off Anil, but it is alleged that even they were assaulted badly.

According to the police, the accused dumped a severely injured Anil in a nearby sugarcane field around midnight. In the morning, Anil's relatives found him in an unconscious state and admitted him to the nearby government hospital. As his condition was critical, they shifted him to the BLDE Hospital in Vijayapura. However, the boy did not survive.

His death led to a tense situation in Bagalkote district. Anticipating trouble, the district administration has deployed additional forces in the village where the incident took place. The police have also launched a search operation to apprehend all the three accused in the case.
Belchhi Carnage

In August 1977,less than six months after she was voted out of power post-Emergency,Bihar’s first caste carnage brought Indira Gandhi to Belchhi...

Written Santosh Singh | Belchhi (barh) |

In August 1977,less than six months after she was voted out of power post-Emergency,Bihar’s first caste carnage brought Indira Gandhi to Belchhi atop an elephant,an image that transfixed the nation long before TV,a photo-op which lifted hopes of the Congress reeling across the Hindi heartland.

Backward Kurmis had burnt 11 landless Dalits in Belchhi,the spark being a dispute over land. For Indira,the elephant was the only option to get past waist-deep water and slushy roads.

Thirty two years later,on Indira’s 25th death anniversary,not much has changed in Belchhi — the people there swear they still “do not feel connected” to development,their village a picture of neglect,ignored by successive governments. No top leader from Indira’s Congress or,for that matter,any other party has cared to visit Belchhi,barely 90 km from Patna. Incidentally,this is Barh,the home turf of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and a Kurmi stronghold.

All that the kin of the massacre victims can show as compensation are three litres of kerosene oil on ration cards every month,one acre each of barren gairmajurua land and an open pan toilet. Nitish Kumar’s welfare schemes have not reached these people — no Indira Awas,no job card,no school uniform. Gyanendra Singh,local Barh MLA of the JD(U),hardly visits the village.

Only the district board road from Harnaut to Saksohra which takes one to Belchhi (13 km from Harnaut) has been converted to National Highway-30A. But even this road is full of potholes,any ride on it very bumpy. Belchhi,a panchayat during the time of the carnage,is a block now but minus the infrastructure.

Residents say time has stood still in Belchhi. Had it not been for the symbolism of Indira’s “accidental elephant ride” it probably would have never been even noticed.

And the least talked-about are the Belchhi massacre victims and their families. Janardhan Paswan (47),who lost his elder brother Nawal Paswan,then 26 and just married,recalls how 11 Dalits were torched and shot by the powerful,landed Kurmis.

“We used to work in the fields of the Kurmis. But Singho Paswan (also killed) had begun dominating village politics in the early 1970s. And then the carnage took place.”

Janardhan said his sister-in-law sought remarriage after his brother’s death. “What we got after Indira Gandhi’s visit was Rs 5,000 compensation each and assurances of agricultural land,” said Janardhan. His younger brother Visheshwar,now 36,was a child at the time of the killings.

Of the 11 killed,three were Sonars and eight Paswans. The families of the three Sonar brothers — Uday,Keshu and Kharo — have moved to other villages. Singho Paswan’s family now lives in neighbouring Masiya village under Nalanda. The families of most victims are back at work in the same fields of the Kurmis — they say there’s no alternative.

Janaki Paswan,the main carnage witness,remembers how 60 women walked behind Indira in waist-deep water,shouting slogans against the Janata Party government.

Jageshwari Devi,relative of victim Ramashish,said: “Indira Mata assured us help and justice. She stayed with us for hours and went door-to-door,looking up every victim’s family.”

But now,after all these years,Jageshwari is very disappointed,very bitter. Pointing to a toilet pan outside her hut,she said: “It has no fencing. It is an insult. Don’t the poor need cover?”.

All houses are still made of mud and bricks and have thatched roofs. No Indira Awas for the families of the victims.

Suchit Paswan,nephew of victim Rajram,said they never got job cards and have to move out of Bihar for three-four months to support their families. “Four persons,who hadn’t lost any family member in the carnage,got jobs. But there is no inquiry despite complaints,” he said.

The one acre of government land each got as compensation after 10 years of the killings is of no agricultural use. The families claim local contractors have been digging up their plots for soil. “Our land is a pit of sorrow. We cannot even protest,” said one who didn’t wish to be named.

Senior Congress leader and AICC member Umakant Singh,who belongs to Bhavanchak near Belchhi,said: “No Congress leader ever thought of revisiting Belchhi after Indiraji’s historic visit. We have requested Soniaji to visit the village in the 25th year of Indiraji’s death anniversary. It will be a noble gesture.”

Eleven were convicted for the Belchhi massacre. While two were sentenced to death,nine others were handed life terms. One died while out on parole — Indradev Choudhary had even become an Independent MLA — while the rest completed life sentences.


Bihar: Dalit woman burnt alive for demanding her due
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

Gaya, October 08, 2012
A demand for the money allotted to her under Indira Vikas Yojana cost a mahadalit woman her life in Bihar's Gaya district. The former block pramukh, who had siphoned off the funds, allegedly sprinkled kerosene on Putukwa Devi and set her on fire. Putukwa Devi died in hospital on Sunday.
The 35-year-old woman was a member of the poorest of dalits. The category was created by chief minister Nitish Kumar to provide them with special benefits.
An FIR has been lodged and accused Subedar Yadav is on the run. Indira Awas Yojana is a Centrally-sponsored housing scheme for the poor.
“In 2008, the money had been sanctioned in Putukwa Devi's name for the construction of her house, but Yadav had kept it,” said Pitamber Roy, station house officer, Mohanpur.
She had been repeatedly demanding for the return of the money, said Roy. On Saturday, he barged into her house in an inebriated state along with a few other men.
“The woman's husband Barhan Manjhi works in Bhutan and neighbours allege that she had illicit relations with the ex-pramukh. But that day, heated exchanges followed when she objected to the entry of his associates,” the SHO said.
Then Yadav, who was already peeved over her demands for money, sprinkled kerosene on her and set her on fire.

“Then they left, but Putukwa Devi, despite her condition, followed Yadav to his home. He took her to the hospital where she died a day later,” said Rajesh Kumar, deputy superintendent of police, Sherghati.
Caste protests in India
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

April 2018 caste protests in India
Date 2 April 2018
Location
Caused by The Supreme Court order on the Atrocities Act
Status ongoing
Casualties
Death(s) 14
Arrested 100 (Haryana)
32 (Uttar Pradesh)


In early April 2018, lakhs of people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) protested across India against an order of the Supreme Court on the Atrocities Act. In subsequent violence, ten people died and hundreds were injured.

Background

The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 protects the SC/ST caste groups. The act does not allow the court to grant anticipatory bail to accused person. The police must file a First Information Report (FIR) and arrest the accused on receiving a complaint. In 2016, the conviction rate under the act was 25.7% in cases of atrocities against SC and 20.8% in cases against ST in 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. On 20 March 2018, the Supreme Court of India ruled that no arrests can be made without prior permission and allowed a court to grant an anticipatory bail if it, prima facie, finds the complaint an abuse of the law. The Attorney General of India, on behalf of the Government of India, filed a review petition against the order of the Supreme Court.
Protests

The people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) protested against the Supreme Court order. Thousands of people took to the streets on 2 April 2018, when a national strike was announced by representatives of the SC/ST caste groups in protest of the decision. The protests turned violent across several states in India as the protestors blocked trains, damaged property, and clashed with police and other civilians. There were also incidents involving arson, vandalism and gunfire. At least fourteen people were killed: nine in Madhya Pradesh, Three in Uttar Pradesh, two in Rajasthan; hundreds of others were injured. Violent incidents were also reported in the states PunjabBiharJharkhandOdishaGujaratHaryanaMaharashtra and Delhi.

Suspected non-Dalit groups, who were angered by the rampage, targeted Dalit slums in retaliation and burnt the house of Bharosi Lal Jatav, a former Indian National Congress (INC) legislator, and ransacked the home of Rajkumari Jatav, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Hindaun, Rajasthan. A curfew was imposed in Hindaun following the violence, and later extended.

Twenty four government vehicles and sixty private vehicles were damaged in Haryana. 84 police officials and eight civilians were injured during the violence on 2 April in Haryana. Nine policemen were injured in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
Response

Thousands of protesters were arrested and curfew was imposed in several places. 1700 anti-riot police were sent to states by the Government of India. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) (which prohibits assembly of more than four people) was imposed in HaridwarUttarakhand. Police had filed reports against 5,000 unidentified and 285 named miscreants, while 32 agitators were arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code in Ghaziabad. At least fifteen FIRs were registered by the police in Ludhiana, Punjab against hundreds of unidentified protesters for alleged road blockades and for causing obstructions. The Haryana Police booked around 4,000 persons and 100 others were arrested for indulging in violence while as many as 47 FIRs were lodged. The internet services were suspended in Punjab and Rajasthan.
Aftermath

The Supreme Court held hearing on the review petition on 3 April 2018 but did not stay the order and have called to hear the matter in ten days.
Dharmapuri violence 2012
From Wikipedia
2012 Dharmapuri violence
Caste-related violence against Dalits
Date 7 November 2012
Location
Caused by Caste tensions
Methods Arsonvandalismlooting
Casualties
Arrested 142
Damage
268 Dalit houses set on fire
1500+ people left homeless

While Ramadoss, belonging to Vanniyar political outfit Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), had rubbished allegations that his party orchestrated the incident, many Dalits believe otherwise. His party is said to have fomented tension between Vanniyars and Dalits by publicly condemning marriages between the two.On 8 November 2012, about 268 houses were set on fire in Natham, old and new Kondampatti and Annanagar Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri districtTamil Nadu. When a Vanniyar girl from Sellankottai village, and a Dalit boy, from the neighbouring Dalit colony of Natham, fled due to parental opposition to get married, a caste panchayat held on the morning of 7 November by leaders from both communities ruled that the girl be returned to her family. Distraught at her decision to stay with her husband, her father allegedly committed suicide. The discovery of his body later that day is said to have provoked a 1,500-strong mob to rampage through Natham and two smaller Dalit settlements, Kondampatti and Anna Nagar, where it set ablaze over 200 houses, damaged at least 50 others, and allegedly looted valuables and cash worth lakhs of rupees. The mob rampaged for four hours and was brought under control after arrest of 90 men and an additional deployment of 1000 policemen.

Many of the victims had blamed the fecklessness of the police and the district administration as this was a planned incident where a caste mob had been mobilised from 22 neighbouring villages. Though around 300 policemen were present on the spot anticipating trouble, they failed to control the violent gathering as the mob was eight times higher than the number of deployed forces. The Sub-inspector of Police, belonging to same caste of boy, and the constables responsible for maintaining peace in the area have since been transferred or suspended.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) described the attack as well- organized and pre-planned.

Background

The Vanniyars are an intermediate caste dominant in northern Tamil Nadu and form 12-13% of the state's population. The Adi Dravidar community, formerly called Paraiyars, make up approximately half of the state's Dalit population and form around 10% of the state's population. Vanniyars who were renowned for their opposition to untouchability and discrimination, were now lured by caste identities and the promise of power. Thus began an era where Dalits were made vulnerable by radicalised groups and Vanniyars turned sanctimonious about their perceived position in society. This inevitably led to clashes between the communities. These caste attitudes were strengthened by politicians, especially those of Vanniyar political outfit PMK. In April 2012, PMK MLAKaduvetti Guru incited caste fanaticism when he asked the members of community to kill non-Vanniyar men who marry Vanniyar women at a Vanniyar youth meeting held in Mamallapuram.

Incident

The unrest was sparked with the eloping of 20 year-old Divya, a Vanniyar from Sellankottai village, with 19 year-old E. Ilavarasan, a Dalit from the neighbouring Natham colony. Both were college students, and had been in a relationship for a long time. Their relationship was known to Ilavarasan's parents for at least a year before their elopement. The couple fled from the area when their parents opposed the marriage, and got married in a Salem temple on 12 October 2012. After their flight, Ilavarasan's parents fled too, fearing an outburst of violence from the Vanniyars. Two weeeks later, on 7 November, a caste panchayat of both communities was gathered, in which the couple were ordered to come home. When they refused, many Vanniyar community members taunted Divya's father, G. Nagaraj, for bringing "shame" to the community. Facing humiliation and distraught over the refusal of his daughter to return, he hung himself on the same evening.

His body was discovered the next day. For his funeral, Vanniyars from 22 other villages had gathered. That afternoon, a 1500-strong Vanniayar mob marched towards the Natham colony, bearing Nagaraj's body, shouting caste slogans and cutting trees to block the Tirupattur highway. At the time, most of the Dalit men, who were daily-wagers in Coimbatore and Bangalore, were away, and the women and children that were there fled into nearby fields. Around 4:30, the mob charged into Natham bearing petrol and weapons. They looted every house, and torched many of them. The mob then moved on to Anna Nagar, 1.5 km away, and repeated the process while shouting obscenities. 36 out of 50 houses in the colony were set on fire. In Kodampatti, the mob was able to torch 14 houses but broke apart when a police team arrived. The head of the Sellankottai village claimed the villagers of Sellankottai had nothing to do with the violence.

Aftermath

As many as 268 homes of Dalits (of the Adi Dravida community) near Naikkankottai in Dharmapuri district were torched by the higher-caste group. The victims have alleged that ‘systematic destruction’ of their properties and livelihood resources has taken place. Around 1500 who were homeless after the incident were put up in a ground nearby and were provided food and clothing and also sanctioned Rs 50,000 as relief from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The affected people staged a fast demanding Chief Minister to visit the affected areas and to increase compensation.

Dalit man beaten to death for attending garba event in Gujarat

The accused said Dalits “do not have any right to watch garba. He made casteist remarks and asked some men to come to the spot”.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2017
Press Trust of India, Ahmedabad
Hindu devotees perform Garba, a traditional folk dance, during the celebrations to mark the Navratri festival at Surat in Gujarat. (Reuters Photo)

A 21-year-old Dalit man was allegedly beaten to death by a group of men belonging to the upper caste Patel community for attending a garba event in Gujarat’s Anand district in the early hours on Sunday, police said.

The incident took place around 4 am.

Jayesh Solanki, cousin Prakash Solanki and two other Dalit men were sitting near a house adjacent to a temple in Bhadrania village when a person made “derogatory remarks about their caste”, police said quoting a complaint filed in connection with the incident.

The accused said Dalits “do not have any right to watch garba. He made casteist remarks and asked some men to come to the spot”, an officer at the Bhadran police station said.

The upper caste men allegedly thrashed the Dalits and banged Jayesh’s head against a wall, the officer said.

Jayesh was rushed to a hospital in Karamsad, where doctors declared him brought dead in the morning.“We have registered an FIR under IPC sections related to murder and the Prevention of Atrocities Act against eight men,” the official saidy

Deputy SP (SC/ST cell) A M Patel said it did not appear to be a pre-planned attack.

“Jayesh was killed in the heat of the moment, as there was no rivalry between him and the accused. We are probing the case from all angles. The accused will be arrested soon,” the officer said.

Recently, two Dalit men of a village near Gandhinagar were allegedly thrashed by members of the Rajput community for “sporting a moustache” in separate incidents, on September 25 and 29.

The state had witnessed massive protests in July last year over the brutal thrashing of four Dalit men at a village in Una town.

Dangawas Violence - 2015

As the Dalits Injured in the Dangawas Violence Languish in Hospital, Constructed Narratives Muddle The Case Further
ATUL DEV/27 May 2015

On 14 May 2015, violence broke out over a land dispute between a Jat in Dangawas, a village near Jaipur in Rajasthan. The incident claimed the lives of four people were killed while several more were left injured. An investigation into the case is currently being conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

HINDUSTAN TIMES

Dangawas is a village located in the Nagaur district of Rajasthan, about 200 kilometres to the west of Jaipur. Hoardings of mobile network providers haven’t yet reached here, and window-sized shops mostly sell grocery items and unfamiliar candy. The government hospital in the area, while equipped for procedures such as childbirth, mostly receives visitors suffering from diarrhoea. Almost all the women I saw here, covered their faces when they were outside their houses, while the men flaunted their impressive moustaches. With a population of about 7,000, spotting an outsider is easy; curious eyes follow your footsteps as you stroll through the by lanes. Most motorcycles—a common mode of transport in this region—are adorned with number plates that, apart from the registration number of the vehicle and the state of registration, announce the owner’s caste in fancy fonts.

On 14 May 2015, around noon, violence broke out in this village over a disputed piece of land, leaving four people dead. The incident took place on 15 acres of agrarian turf, the ownership of which has been a matter of dispute between two families—one Jat and one Dalit—in the village for the past several decades. When I visited the village on 22 May, a week after the incident, few people seemed concerned about the violence. During the course of my reporting, no conversation I had, appeared to be complete without an interrogation about my surname. While members of the Dalit family told me that they had ancestral ownership over the land, the Jats I met maintained that the land was sold to them in the early 1960s and they had been farming on it ever since.

According to the villagers I spoke to, although a case over the disputed territory was underway in the Merta district court, that morning they had called for a meeting along with Kanaram, the Jat who claimed ownership over the land, to speak to Ratna Ram Meghwal, the Dalit who claimed to own the land and had been squatting on it with his extended family for the past few weeks. They meant to tell Ratna Ram to stay off the property until the matter was resolved in court. But Ratna Ram did not turn up. “That land is ours, so why should we go to any meeting?” Kishan Lal, one of about two dozen Dalits who had been living there, said when I asked him why they didn’t go. “The Jats should have come to us instead,” he added

“A few people went to fetch [Ratna Ram] for the meeting—he wasn’t answering calls—soon, the Meghwals started shooting. That’s how they killed my son,” Dharmpal Goswami, the father of Rampal Goswami who died in the shooting, said when I met him. The Goswamis had no stake in the land and they don’t belong to the Jat community either. According to Dharmpal, Rampal was a bystander and one of the many villagers who went to call Ratna Ram to the meeting.

Kishan Lal denied this. “We have no weapons and nobody came to call us. They had come to kill us,” he told me. “Why would the villagers try to kill you?” I asked. “Because we are Dalits,” he replied. Kishan Lal didn’t seem to believe that Rampal had died; “He’s hiding somewhere,” he told me. Investigating Officer PR Dudi, who is the deputy superintendent at the Merta police station, told me that while the police haven’t yet been able to locate the gun, they believed they had found the gauge of the rifle, from which a bullet was fired and subsequently found in Rampal’s body. According to Dudi, “No matter what the Meghwals claim, they had the gun.”

“I have no idea what happened next. I didn’t care. My son died,” Dharmpal told me during our conversation. What he didn’t want to talk about was the brutal retaliation that followed the alleged shooting. According to the villagers I spoke to, the mob that had gathered on the plot after, was a predominantly Jat gathering. It killed three men of the Meghwal family and disabled 13 others—women and the elderly included—fracturing their hands and feet by beating them with lathis and whatever they could get their hands on. Ratna Ram, along with his two brothers Pancha Ram and Pokha Ram died on the spot. “The Jats drove tractors over them,” said Tularam, one of the members of the Meghwal family.

It has been reported that the the three men from the Meghwal family were killed by tractors, but Dudi told me that post-mortem reports don’t support that claim. “They were beaten to death with lathis and rods, the tractors were used to demolish the house constructed on the property,” he said. OP Inani, the doctor who conducted the post-mortem, told me over the phone that, “since there were multiple injuries, it is very hard for us to determine whether the men died by getting crushed under the tires of a tractor or getting hit repeatedly by lathis and rods.” However, a forensic expert who has worked in the All India Institute of Medical Science for six years and whom I spoke to, to ascertain the validity of this claim, said the injuries inflicted by the two would be “poles apart” and it was “rubbish” that the doctor couldn’t tell the difference.

Earlier this week, Dudi and Nagaram Choudhury, the Merta police station in-charge, were suspended for their negligence in the land dispute case. Manoj Bhatt, the director general of the Rajasthan police said that “ An inquiry is being set up against the concerned officers from Nagaur to ascertain the level of negligence. We definitely feel that there has been some negligence in this case." I spoke to Gulab Chand Kataria, the home minister of Rajasthan, who confirmed this development to me. He told me that, “The investigation has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and we have recommended that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry be set up so that nobody feels that they are being treated unfairly. He added that, “The CID is investigating the matter as an instance of violence over a land dispute, and not as a case of caste violence. “ Six people—all of them Jat according to Kataria—have been arrested in relation the case. These include Kanaram Jat, who claimed ownership of the house, his brother Omaram Jat, and Kaluram Jat.

The houses of Kanaram and the Meghwals are located in separate colonies situated on either side of the same lane. There is no forbidding force that made it so, but a middle-aged man who has lived in Dangawas his entire life, replied to my question about the history of the segregated placement by saying, “Everyone wants to live with their own kind. Don’t you?”

I couldn’t find anyone at Kanaram’s house, but a group of eight policemen were lounging under a tent in front of the house that belonged to the Meghwals. They checked my press identity card and told me that they were there to “protect the oppressed.” “Oppressed,” a man who sat in civilian clothes repeated, chuckling this time. The uniformed men chortled in approval and went on to talk about the policies that exonerated the Schedule Castes. “All these policies were drafted in Russia sometime in the 1960s,” the plain-clothed man said. The policemen did not appear to doubt him. I asked him for his name, but he said it was irrelevant. Soon after, one of the officers asked me to go ahead and talk to the family—a group of about half-a-dozen men who were sitting under another tent, smoking bidis.

Most of the Meghwals I met in front of the house worked as daily-wagers, except for those who were too old for manual labour anymore. They didn’t waste any time before presenting their version of the story: “no shooting happened,” said Tularam, even before I had a chance to present any of my questions. “We are being discriminated against … the police favours the Jats … we should be awarded the land now,” He went on, “and the compensation as well.” Tularam told me that in order to understand what really happened, I should go with a cameraperson to Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Ajmer, where the injured had been referred. As I closed my notebook and started to get up, he asked, “Which caste is Dev?”

At Goswami’s house, the tent was bigger, with as many people as there had been at Meghwal’s, but there was no police in the vicinity. “The police is where the criminals are,” Dharmpal said. Goswami’s family appeared aggrieved because they thought the media wasn’t interested in Rampal’s death. “You people only care when a Dalit dies. Our lives are not lives for you?” said one of Rampal’s cousins. When I asked them about what happened on that afternoon, they said they didn’t care. “They kept fighting, but my son was dead,” Dharmpal said, sitting in front of a framed portrait of Rampal. The men from the Goswami family also work as daily-wagers, but the bond of the same occupation has been unable to defy age-old grievances. “Soon enough, these people [Dalits] will start asking for compensation when a mosquito bites them,” said Dharmpal, as he showed me the way out, before asking, doubtfully, “Devs are Jats, right?”

No one seemed to know what really transpired that afternoon. No one seemed to care either; everyone had a different pair of eyes, and I left Dangawas no wiser. Back in Ajmer, at the JLN hospital, the only victim who wasn’t asleep in the room allotted to those injured in the attack was Kishan Lal. I approached him and introduced myself. He asked if I was a part of the television media and when I replied in the negative, he seemed to be disappointed. We talked for about ten minutes; no details of his account—from the time the police reached the site or the number of people who had gathered—corroborated with what his uncle, Tularam, had told me earlier.

I looked around the room. Men and women, young and old, lay sedated. Their limbs were plastered, and in some cases held together by metallic frames. I could occasionally hear sounds of whimpering from some bed or the other. That these injuries were a result of the afternoon of 14 May, was the only concrete truth I could arrive at. A nurse told me these patients were fine, but when I asked about the two who had been referred to the intensive care unit earlier in the day, she said, “They might not make it.”.
Dalit family 'attacked for entering temple
Six of Dalit family 'attacked for entering temple' in Kutch, five detained
Gujarat: Six of Dalit family ‘attacked for entering temple’ in Kutch, five detained
Six members of the family were assaulted by 20 persons and their farmland ravaged after they allegedly entered a Ram temple in the village during a ceremony organised by another community.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: October 29, 2021
Five accused have been arrested on Friday by the police for allegedly assaulting and grievously injuring six members of a Dalit family in a village in Bhachau Taluka of Gandhidham in Kutch. (Express Photo)

As many as six members of a Dalit family at a village in Bhachau taluka of Gandhidham city of Kutch were allegedly assaulted by a group of 20 persons, three days ago, following which police have detained five accused in the matter by Friday evening.

The injured persons have claimed that they were systematically targeted after they entered Ram temple in the village during a ceremony organised by another community in the temple. Police said they are probing the allegations made by the victims.

Police said that the six persons have been admitted to Civil Hospital in Bhuj of Kutch following the attack in which they received injuries on their heads and other parts by sharp weapons.

According to police, two attack incidents occurred on October 26 morning at Ner village under Bhachau taluka in which a group of 20 persons first allegedly ransacked the farmland of the the Dalit family by letting cattle graze through it and then entered their house to assault them.

In the first incident, Govind Vaghela (39) has claimed that he got to know around 10 am on October 26 that cattle had entered his farmland in the village.
“I left in an auto rickshaw with my uncle Ganesh Vaghela. Upon reaching my farmland, I saw that the crops have been ransacked and a group of men were waiting underneath a tree, holding axes, sticks, rods in their hands. Led by the accused Kana Ahir of my village, they started assaulting us with the weapons,” said Govind Vaghela in his complaint.

“They asked us as to why did we enter the Ram temple on October 20 when a ‘pratishthan’ ceremony was going on. They stole my cell phone and attacked the autorickshaw so that we couldn’t seek help and told me that they are going to the village to kill my father. My uncle and I received injuries on our heads and limbs and we were finally rescued by the police who took us to the hospital,” Govind added.

According to police, around 11:30 am, the group of 20 accused then reached the house of Jagabhai Vaghela (64), father of Govind and assaulted him, his wife Baddhiben Vaghela, son Bhura Vaghela and nephew Hasmukh Vaghela.

“The accused used casteist slurs… and we were hit on our head and limbs by the accused resulting in excessive bleeding,” said Jagabhai Vaghela.

Taking cognizance, two FIRs were lodged against 20 accused identified as Kana Ahir, Jeeva Ahir, Vela Ahir, Kesra Rabari, Arjan Rabari, Dinesh Balasara, Rajesh Balasara, Rana Balasara, Dinesh Ramji Balasara, Naya Ahir, Kana Koli, Bhanji Suthar , Rajesh Maraj, Dinesh Maraj, Paba Rabari, Chauda Koli, Sava Koli, Momaya Koli, Hema Rabari and Navgan Rabari under IPC sections 307 for attempt to murder, 323 for causing hurt, 324 for causing hurt by dangerous weapons, 452 for house tresspass for causing hurt, 120b for criminal conspiracy, 506 for criminal intimidation, 294b for obsceniy, sections of the rioting and sections of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe (prevention of atrocities) act.
Dalit groom, on horse-back, pulled down, beaten up
Press Trust of India | Chhattarpur

A Dalit groom was allegedly beaten and forced to get down from the horse he was riding as part of a pre-wedding ritual, by upper caste men at Sadwa village in the district, the police said here today.

The incident took place two days ago, when as part of a pre-wedding ritual, the Dalit groom Manoj Ahirwar (21) went around the village on horse-back, seeking blessings of village elders, when upper caste members objected to it, Chhattarpur's Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Neeraj Pandey said.

He said that the police arrested seven people identified as Ladle Yadav, Khadia Yadav, Ammu Yadav, Mitthu Yadav, Jaahar Yadav, Ram Singh and Pavrat Pal, while six other accused are absconding.

As per village "tradition", only upper caste grooms are "allowed" to ride on horse-back, while lower castes have to walk on foot to seek blessings of elders.

However, when the Dalit groom was on his procession along with others on a horse-back, a few among them allegedly commented something about upper caste women, which led to a scuffle and they strongly objected to the lower caste groom "violating" village "tradition".

Upper caste men including village headman Khuman Singh, allegedly attacked the Dalit groom, who was pulled down and beaten mercilessly. Allegedly, they also attacked women members of the procession and later escaped the spot.

The Dalit groom and others went to the Badamalhera police station and lodged a complaint, after which a case was registered against 13 people including Khuman Singh and his two sons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act.

How Ranvir Sena killed Dalits: An exposé by Cobrapost and some more delusionary denials of the existence of caste

Why do we refuse to accept that caste is still a reality and an ugly one at that?

ByArunabh Saikia18 Aug, 2015

There were many things that caught me off-guard during the screening of Cobrapost’s latest sting operation, Black Rain. I’ll begin with the pleasant aspects, for there’s very little that’s pleasant about the rest of the story.

First, IST, for a change, actually meant Indian Standard Time and not Indian Stretchable Time. The screening began at sharp 3 pm as promised in the invite.

Second, there was no pretense of being politically correct. In the post-screening panel discussion, the panelists spoke their minds. They questioned the lack of transparency in the country’s judicial machinery – usually a holy cow. In fact, much of what was said would perhaps amount to “contempt of court” (whatever that means), but there was (gladly) no attempt to sugarcoat the criticism.

However, what was not so pleasant, and rather startling, was the fact that more than a few journalists — so-called writers of the first draft of history — present seemed to believe that caste-based discrimination in India was more of an anomaly. “Why is it being projected as a case of caste-based violence? Violence has no caste,” remarked an agitated freelance journalist, upset that the sting portrayed his caste (Bhumihar) in a bad light.

In the unlikely event that you consume your news exclusively from the English mainstream media (which chose to largely ignore the story), the Cobrapost sting was about “the perpetrators of six major massacres of Dalits in Bihar between 1994 and 2000, confessing to their involvement in the mass murders”. The six massacres being referred to took place in Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Shankar Bigha, Miyanpur and Ikwari in central Bihar.

All the men caught on Cobrapost’s hidden cameras belong(ed) to the Ranvir Sena – an organisation that the South Asian Terrorism Portal describes as a “private army of upper-caste landowners known to be operating in central Bihar”.

The reporter, K Ashish, had posed as a documentary filmmaker who wanted to make a film on the Ranvir Sena. The men Ashish approached, it appears from the sting’s footage, were more than happy to oblige. The men – two of whom have been acquitted by the Patna High Court after being convicted by the district court – nonchalantly own up to orchestrating the attacks. Along the way, the men also claim to have been supported by a “former prime minister” and a “former finance minister”, as The Indian Express and Huffington Post chose to call them but The Hindu in their report went with the names taken in the Cobrapost sting.

According to one of the men, the former prime minister had helped them procure modern weapons the Indian Army had rejected, while the finance minister apparently had assisted with finances. The men also claim that retired and on-leave Indian Army personnel had helped them execute the attack by training the foot soldiers. You can watch the entire operation here.

Now, the question that is asked of Aniruddha Bahal, Editor of Cobrapost, each time the organisation comes up with a nuke like this: Why now? Is it a ploy – releasing stories about forgotten incidents at a time when people are bound to take notice? “The elections haven’t even been notified,” he told me, almost amused.

When I asked him why he didn’t pursue the story further since the men caught on the cameras dropped big names, and even suggested that certain soldiers from the Indian Army had helped them, Bahal said the reporter did corroborate the versions recounted by the men he met. “There’s no reason not to believe them; they are almost reliving their experiences by sharing them with the reporter and all the references add up,” he told me.

Is it disappointing when stories with such incriminating evidence are not taken up by investigative agencies? “Yes and no…we live in a time where people’s attention span is really short.” Bahal said bigger news organisations would have to follow up on stories like these for more noise to be created. “TV news editors who take a high moral stand have no right to do so, considering their choice of stories.”

The screening was followed by a panel discussion. Moderated by Bahal, the panel comprised journalists Siddharth Varadarajan, Manoj Mitta, Urmilesh, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and activists V Ramesh Nathan and Asha Kowtal. Quoting statistics, both Nathan and Kowtal contended that justice paralysis when it came to Dalits and lower castes was an institutionalised feature.

Bhushan was even more scathing in his critique of the Indian justice system. “It is an illusion that the country works under a system of law – there is a deeply entrenched caste/class bias,” he said. Bhushan lamented that no one spoke about judicial reforms or questioned the selection process of judges.

Varadarajan said the sting operation “ought to be seen by everyone of voting age”. Speaking about the ethicality of stings, he said public interest should be the only yardstick. Mitta recounted the story of the Karamchedu killings in Andhra Pradesh – which was similar in the way that it had casteist overtones and the High Court had acquitted the perpetrators after the trial court found them guilty. (The Supreme Court then overturned the High Court’s judgment and convicted 31 people.) “I hope a public interest litigation is filed in the Supreme Court and the case is reinvestigated as it was in the Karamchedu killing, and justice is served,” he said.

Urmilesh then narrated from his experience as a reporter in Patna incidents about how the Bihari media for the longest time refrained from reporting on caste-based violence. “The media just looked the other way when it came to Dalits who were often referred to as ugrawadis [extremists]; only that these ugrawadis had no food to eat even, forget guns,” he said.

Not everyone was convinced by the sting and the panelists’ dissection of it, as was evident in the press conference, which turned out to be a stormy affair. “Violence is just violence; it has nothing to do with caste or religion,” claimed a person who described himself as a journalist. Another complaint that people had was with the timing of the release of the sting. “The idea of it is to vilify the Bharatiya Janata Party,” another journalist said visibly agitated. Fair point?

Well, not really as Varadarajan patiently and eloquently explained: the sting dedicates a fair amount of time to expose the fact that an enquiry commission set up by the Rashtriya Janata Dal to investigate the killings was disbanded by the BJP-Janata Dal (United) alliance government. In fact, the footage has Justice Amir Das (who was heading the commission) himself claiming so. So, the sting is bound to hurt the JD(U) as much as the BJP – and the two are direct competitors in the upcoming elections. The RJD, too, would have to explain the rationale behind allying with a party – JD(U) – that allegedly conspired to sabotage justice. In short, the story would hurt every party.

Why would journalists, seemingly well-versed with the realities of the country, be so defensive about the role of caste in society, though? After all, the Ranvir Sena was quite unabashed about it being a group of upper-caste landowners. Have we then finally become desensitised towards the idea of caste? Journalist Manu Joseph, who had been sitting through all of it quietly in a corner seat in one of the back rows, said people still definitely believe in caste. “People are pretty aware of caste…only when you are in McDonalds that you don’t think about caste,” he told me. Joseph said he wished the panelists had been more direct about the question on the relationship between the killings and caste.

Joseph was also surprised by the English mainstream media’s reluctance to cover the story. “Is it because the BJP is mentioned? If yes, then in the next two-three years we’ll have to rethink the idea of English TV channels representing the mainstream media,” he said.

Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association calls the refusal to acknowledge the role of caste in the killings “willful manipulation”. “Their own questions reflect that they know it’s an important factor — why would they bring it up otherwise? Cobrapost never talked about Bhumihars or any particular caste,” she said.

The Ranvir Sena is accused of killing almost 150 people, many of them women and children, in a series of violent massacres. Its very foundation is based on the idea of upper caste supremacy – and unapologetically so.

The killings carry a very strong subtext of caste bias for all to see. It is strange that some journalists present at the conference refused to even see the caste bias in Ranvir Sena’s ways when they should be calling it out. To not acknowledge a problem, when there is clearly one, is not only ignorant but also massively insensitive. But then sensitivity is not the preserve of the fence-sitter in any case.

In case you are wondering, most English prime-time news channels last night broadcast a speech being delivered at the Dubai Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates. Far away from central Bihar.

The author can be contacted at arunabh.saikia90@gmail.com and on Twitter @Psychia90
Dalit Houses Burnt Down at Gohana

A Preliminary Fact Finding Report

By

N. Paul Divakar
National Convenor, NCDHR

Dr. Vimal Thorat
National Co-Convenor, NCDHR

Ms. Shabnam Hashmi
ANHAD

Dr. Umakant
Secretary-Advocacy, NCDHR And Others

National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) 8/1, 2nd Floor, South Patel Nagar, New Delhi-110008

Dalit Houses Burnt Down at Gohana in Haryana

Gohana is a small Tehsil, a local administrative unit, in Sonepat District in the State of Haryana. It is situated about 60 kilometers away from the National Capital, New Delhi. It witnessed a caste rivalry between Dalits and the dominant caste ‘Jats’, culminating into mass exodus of Dalits and finally burning down of about 55 to 60 Dalit houses with full support of local Police from 27 August 2005 upto 31 August 2005. A violent mob of about 1500 to 2000 Jats armed with spears, batons, petrol and kerosene oil went on a maddening spree burning down hoses belonging to a particular Dalit caste ‘Balmikis’, who are other wise called ‘Bhangis’, the manual scavengers.

This is a preliminary report as a full report, after assessing the damages, would be prepared very soon.

Particulars of the Incidents
On 27 August 2005 one Dalit named Shivpal, a resident of Balmiki Basti, went to a Photo Studio to get a photograph clicked for himself. At the Photo Studio itself there were some quarrel between Shivpal, another person named Baljit and some others. After this minor scuffle, Shivpal was joined by some other Dalits from the Balmiki Basti and in the fights which ensued Baljit, who was Jat by caste, died.

The dominant Jat community of Gohana took it as insult on their caste pride and protested with the Police on 27 August itself. Immediately on the basis of their FIR in which 7 Dalits were named, four Dalits were arrested by the Police. Massive manhunt is still on for the remaining culprits.

The case was lodged under Section 148, 149, 302 and 323 of Indian Penal Code.

The names listed in the FIR are: 1. Shivlal, S/o, Ram Kishan, 2. Gola, S/o, Ramesh, 3. Lara, S/o, Mangla Das, 4. Ponda, S/o, Mangal das, Biru Akom Balmiki, and 10-12 others whose name and addresses are not available.

Not happy with the arrest of four Dalits, the Jats convened a Maha Panchayat on 28 August and gave an ultimatum to the Police and Administration that if within 48 hours the culprits are not apprehended and justice done to the Jats, the Jats would burn the entire Balmiki Basti.

Fearing retaliation from the dominant Jat community and also harassment by Police, Dalits in the Balmiki Basti started fleeing from their houses in search of security to their kith and kin in the neighbouring places like Sonepat, Panipat and others from 29 August 2005. It is also alleged that Police was also asking them to leave the Basti.

Around 1500-2000 Dalits living in the Balmiki Basti left their houses by 30 August 2005.

On 31 August, another Maha Panchayat of Jats took place and as it was still going on, a large group of 1500-2000 Jats fully armed with batons, axes, spears, petrol and kerosene oils entered the already deserted Balmiki Basti and started burning the houses.In the entire operation which lasted about four hours, around 55 to 60 Dalit houses were burned by the rampaging mass of Jats.

They also damaged TV, Refrigerators, and other useful items in the Dalit houses.It is also alleged that valuables have been looted from the dalit houses. Even food grains were not spared.

In the mayhem which lasted for about four hours, the rampaging mass of people were ably assisted by the local Police. The Police claims to have fired 12 rounds in the air to disperse the mob. They did not take any credible action to stop the mass of 1500-2000 from burning and looting of Dalit houses.

There were only about 150-200 Policemen present on the scene and were merely a silent spectator and later on also alleged to have helped the perpetrators in many ways.

It was a very planned attack on the Dalit houses as the attackers knew it very well that there would not be any retaliation from Dalits since they had already deserted their houses. The manner in which houses have been ransacked, valuables looted other useful items destroyed and finally the burning of the houses reveals a pattern which was aimed at destroying everything in front of their eyes.

The Police filed an FIR under Section 148, 149, 109, 427, 435, 436, 307- 120B of IPC and Section 3(2) (IV) of SC and ST Act against 23 persons.

The Police claims that Praddep Sangwan,S/o, Kishan Sangwan, the Member of Parliament from Sonepat, and Ranveer Sangwan, brother of Kishan Sangwan have played a leading role in this whole incident.

Background of the Present Crisis

As revealed by the Balmikis, the dispute over the construction of a Balmiki Ashram over the Panchayat land arose in August 2001. A case was filed in the local court by some Jats which later on was found to be fictitious. But in this crisis the Jats were ably aided and assisted by the then Deputy Superintendent of Police at Gohana, Mr. Kuldeep Sivach. The tension has been simmering since a long time. The Balmikis and other Dalit families in Gohana have refused over the years to do begaar (forced labour) and also after getting educated have been working at various places engaged in Government jobs and some petty businesses too. The killing of Baljit Singh on 27 August 2005 gave an opportunity to the Jats to teach a lesson to Dalits especially the Balmikis about showing them their place in the society.

The Role of Police and Administration in the Present Crisis

Inaction by the Police and the Administration finally leading to complicity resulted in to ransacking, looting and burning of Dalit houses in Gohana.

Knowing it very well that the killing of a Jat by Dalits might see retaliation from the Jats on Dalits, no preventive measures were taken at all by the Police and the Administration.

It is alleged by the some of the residents of the Balmiki Basti who have now returned to their burned houses that Police itself was forcing them to leave their houses.

Without verifying the facts in the alleged killing of Baljit Singh on 27 August, the Police immediately arrested four Balmiki youth and launched a manhunt for the remaining alleged culprits.

The argument by the Police that 8 -10 Dalit youth in the Balmiki Basti has a criminal past and were always engaged in anti-social work including drug peddling is highly objectionable.It clearly shows that in order to cover up their lapses, they are resorting to defame the Dalits by making such kind of allegations against them.

Another argument by the Police and the Administration that it is very normal and it has happened in the past that Dalits generally desert their houses whenever any criminal activity takes place in Gohana also does not help in explaning that how around 2000 Dalit families were allowed to flee from their houses.

The claim by the Police and the Administration that they have filed cases against 23 persons on charges of arsoning and burning of Dalit houses does not seem to be satisfactory as only two persons have been arrested till date. The thrust seems to be to treat this incident as a normal case and in the process also cover up their own lapses and complicity.

The argument by the Police that they did not fire on the mob because that would have led to killing of people also does help in explaining that why it remained a mute spectator and on many occasion abettor of this crime in Gohana.

The Deputy Commissioner of Spnepat, Mr. S.K.Goyal and the Senior Superintendent of Police at Sonepat, Mr. A.K.Roy, have failed to handle this crisis therby leading to large scale caste violence.

So far no arrangement have been made to assess the damage to the property in the Dalit houses by the District Administration. · Neither immediate relief nor any compensation have been provided to the Dalit families.

Mr. Goyal says that Dalits in the Balmiki village are exaggerating the details of damage in order to claim high compensation.

Mr. Goyal’s behaviour was very rude and unapologetic when confronted over the question of their lapses and complicity in this grave crime. He said that only damaged property can be compensated and not the human lives. He went to say that do not try to accuse us and the same time do not try to be judgemental about our roles.

The Police claims that the operation lasted for only 15 minutes is untenable as it is not possible to destroy properties, loot the valuables and burn the houses by exploding LPG cylinders on such a large scale in only 15 minutes.

It is not enough to put the blame on the opposition parties especially the Member of Parliament from Sonepat, his brother, his son and others for inciting and committing this kind of heinous crime. If that is the only reason, then why they have not been apprehended so far and action taken against them.

Our Demands

Immediate action by the Government under Section 4 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, against the Deputy Commissioner, the Senior Superintendent of Police and the Deputy Superintendent of Police and other others for their willful negligence in providing protection to Dalits and their property and their complicity in the rioting incident.

The Government should create confidence in the Dalit communities as well as the wider society by: o Creating a safe environment for Dalits o Deployment of armed police in the Basti o making immediate arrangements for return of Dalit families who had fled from their houses.

Accurate enumeration of damage and loss of property of the affected Dalit families.

Ensure appropriate relief package reaches the all the affected Dalit families.

Ensure complete rehabilitation package to compensate the loss not only to build their houses but also to provide financial assistance and other facilities to restart their livelihood.

Immediate arrest of the culprits who indulged in ransacking, looting and burning of Dalit houses.

A CBI Enquiry to know the true story behind the gory and terrorist attacks on the Dalit (Balmiki Basti). The terms of reference for the CBI enquiry should also include the role of the Police and the Administration.

A White Paper by the Central Government should be tabled in the winter session of the Parliament on the growing atrocities, untouchability and other multiple forms of exclusion and discrimination faced by Dalits.

As we post this, the Haryana Chief Minister has finally announced a CBI probe, following violent protests in different parts.

Hashimpura Massacre - 1987

22nd May (1987) brings bitter memories when Hashimpura massacre took place where 42 innocent Muslim youths were killed by Indian armed forces and no justice was ever delivered. Hashimpura became red with the blood of innocent. It is undoubtedly one of the most brutal cases of state-sponsored violence against Muslims in independent India. It all happened in the month of Ramzan.

In February 1986 centre government ordered that Babri Masjid’s locks be opened and after that, the situation in the Uttar Pradesh state had become intense. Riots and killings were reported in many districts of the Uttar Pradesh. By April-May in 1987, many vehicles, shops and homes were set on fire and armed forces were called.

The Hashimpura massacre was mass murder incident of Muslims, which took place on 22 May 1987 near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, during the 1987 Meerut communal riots. Congress was ruling the state of Uttar Pradesh during this period. 19 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary rounded up 42 innocent Muslim youths from the Hashimpura mohalla (locality) of the Meerut city in the middle of the night and took them to the outskirts of the city, shot them in cold blood and dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal.

A few days later, the dead bodies were found floating in the canal and a case of murder was registered. Eventually, 19 men were accused of having performed this heinous crime. In May 2000, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered and were later released on bail, the other three accused had died in the intervening period. In 2002, the Supreme Court of India ordered that the case trial be transferred from the Ghaziabad district court to a Sessions Court at the Tis Hazari complex in Delhi.

Government agencies did everything to save criminals. After almost 30 years, on 21 March 2015, all of the 16 men accused in the Hashimpura massacre case of 1987 were acquitted Tis Hazari Court due to insufficient evidence. It was another case of denial of justice to minority communities in India.

All the accused of Hashimpura massacre were released by the court but then WHO KILLED those 42 innocent Muslims? Is there any justice for Dalits and Minority communities in Brahmin India? Such an incident of the barbaric use of brute state force to kill minority communities must be condemned and justice should be delivered. We can never forget the injustice and crimes committed against minorities. Pledge to fight for justice for Hashimpura massacre victims.

1995 Kodiyankulam violence
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1995 Kodiyankulam violence occurred on August 31, 1995 when a force of 600 policemen attacked the all-Dalit village of Kodiyankulam in Thoothukudi districtTamil Nadu, India and destroyed property and took away cash and jewellery worth several lakhs of rupees. The police raid was on the instruction of the dominant caste officials. The raid was reportedly held to destroy the material prosperity of the Dalits.

Background

With 287 households belonging to the Pallar caste, Kodiyankulam is a village located in the Thoothukudi district. The Human Rights Watch reported that the Dalits of the village have benefited from the influx of financial resources from family members working in KuwaitDubai and the United States, since 1980. The Parakirama Pandian Tank, built under British rule in the 1940s and subsequently renovated and restored by the Indian National Congress government in the 1960s, helped agriculture flourish and made Kodiyankulam prosper. The literacy rate in many Pallar villages in the region was better than the state and district average. Women were also educated in the village, with a large number of female graduates and postgraduates which made them assertive. The village gave leadership to the other Pallar villages in the area due to its comparatively higher wealth and higher level of education and awareness.

Discrimination also prevailed against the Dalits in the region, they were prevented entry in many temples and wells in the village, they were served separate glasses in tea shops, they were not allowed to travel in Maravar dominated streets and were made to sit on the floor during village council meetings. When the Dalits became assertive they started to resist the discrimination.

Causes

On July 26, 1995, a quarrel started between a Dalit bus driver and some school students who belonged to the Maravar caste, the bus driver was beaten up by Maravars. The incident led to Dalits attacking the village of Veerasigamani which was dominated by the Maravars and damaged a statue of U. Muthuramalingam Thevar, a controversial nationalist and a Thevar caste leader The Maravars put provocative posters abusing Pallars in government buses and all over the region. Posters urging Thevars to murder Pallars and kidnap their women were also put up. The policemen were only spectators and in some occasions they also took part in the attacks against the Pallars. This led to violence against Dalits and their properties which lasted for a week. The violence left at least 18 people from both sides dead and crores of property damage apart from numerous government buses burnt or destroyed.

Police attack

In the presence of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police, 600 policemen raided Kodiyankulam at the instruction of Thevar offcials on August 31, 1995, destroying properties. Televisions, tape recorders, fans, sewing, motorcycles, machines, tractors, farm equipment and food grain storages. They burnt the passports of educated Dalit youth in bonfire along with clothes. The only well present in the village was reportedly poisoned by police. They harassed the women and assaulted the elders. The attack began at 10.45 am and continued until 3.15 pm. Cash and jewellery worth several lakhs of rupees were also taken by the policemen. The police raid was reported to target the material prosperity of the Pallars.

Investigations

The raid in Kodiyankulam was reportedly intended to apprehend suspects in a murder investigation and recover explosives and deadly weapons suspected to be in the hands of Dalits. Observers said that the police accused the residents of this prosperous all-Dalit village of providing material and moral help to criminals in the region. According to observers, the police raid's objective was to destroy the village's economic base.
People's Union for Civil Liberties

The People's Union for Civil Liberties's (PUCL) advocates made a visit to the Thoothukudi district. They said that the police assaulted the villagers with aruvals, iron rods, hammers and axes, causing property damage. The police used metal detectors to find gold jewellery, which they stole along with cash and valuables. The Thoothukudi district PUCL demanded that the President of India order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the incident and take action against the District magistrate, whom they said was responsible for the violence.
Gomathinayagam Commission

The Tamil Nadu government ordered the payment of around ₹ 17 lakh in assistance to the affected people of the incident. The government named P. Gomathinayagam, a former district judge as a one-member commission of investigation. Gomathinayagam paid a visit to the riot-affected areas. He investigated only one house in Kodiyankulam and then immediately left when the people told him that they were boycotting the Commission.

On March 12, 1996, the Commission delivered its report to the government. Since the Devendra Kula Vellalar Federation petitioned the High Court for a CBI investigation, Dalits from Kodiyankulam and other villages decided to boycott the commission. The Commission heard from 26 government witnesses, mainly police officers, including the Superintendent of Police, as well as 133 people. Since Dalits boycotted the Commission, the Thevars provided the majority of the public witnesses.

On the Kodiyankulam incident, the Commission claimed that there was no police excess. The Puthiya TamilagamDravidar KazhagamViduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Communist Parties opposed to the inquiry of the commission.
Aftermath

The incident created widespread outrage, and villagers publicly protested against the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). They were successful in electing K. Krishnaswamy, president of the Federation of Devendrakula Vellalar Sangam, to the state legislative assembly.

In popular media

The storyline of the movie Karnan (2021 film) is loosely influenced from this incident.
Dalit Groom Beaten Up For 'Daring' To Use A Decorated Car

CHHATARPUR (MADHYA PRADESH)
REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE


Incidents of members of upper castes objecting to dalit grooms riding horses or using fancy vehicles during weddings have been reported in many areas, especially in Bundelkhand region.A dalit bridegroom was allegedly beaten up for "daring" to ride a decorated car at Deri village in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, police said today.

Arvind Singh, Akhand Singh, Prithvi Singh and Pintu Vishwakarma attacked Prakash Bansal, who was heading for the wedding venue in a decorated car last night, Inspector Rameshwar Dayal of Orchha Road police station told PTI.

The group of four men forced Bansal to alight from the car and thrashed him and six others of the marriage party, he said.

They also allegedly smashed up the camera of a photographer hired to click the pictures of the wedding, he said.

On getting the information, the police reached the spot and arrested Prithvi, Dayal said, adding a hunt has been launched to arrest the other suspects who fled from the spot.

A case under relevant sections of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been registered, police said.
Kandan murdered for defying caste norms
Vanjinagaram is a nondescript village situated on the Madurai to Tiruchi highway near Thumbaipatti the village of former Madras Presidency(now Tamil Nadu) home minister and Congress leader Kakkan. After you enter the Dalit section of the village and walk a few paces ahead a cement plinth of 3ft height carries a painted image of a man and below his image it is engraved Kandan (03.09.1959 – 08.10.1987). There exists a practice that all the auspicious events of the villagers in this area are marked by worship to the built structure and even festivals too. This practice reminds us of an extension of the ancient hero stone worship practiced among Tamils. Heroes who lay their lives fighting for the community to save them from enemies or fighting a beast were remembered through erection of hero stones where their images are also carved. If so then what was Kandan’s struggle and loss?

Caste oppression that is prevalent in the Melur region of Madurai is comparatively harsh and rigid than other parts of the region. The caste system practiced here is regional in nature, Ambedkar himself has written about the caste practices (Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches (in Tamil) Volume-9). Seeing the level of caste discrimination prevalent Gandhi’s Harijan Seva Sangam also functioned from the region, in 1992 two Dalits Ammasi and Velu of Chennagarampatti and in 1997 Murugesan and 6 others of Melavalavu were hacked to death and these two villages also comes under this region. In most of the villages in this region there was a system called Kudikallar where the member of the intermediate caste Kallars can possess ownership to a Dalit family to work either in their house or their lands. The Kallar family then becomes the patron for the respective Dalit family and the latter’s everyday life revolves around them. If anyone in the village has a complaint over the Dalit member they would directly approach the Kudikallar and this form of social contract was in place. So the Dalits in the region were unable to unshackle themselves from this oppressive system and gain mobility or access towards education or remove themselves from doing menial jobs. Even basic civil rights were denied to them.

Villagers posing in front of a concrete plinth carrying the mural of Kandan who was brutally murdered for defying caste norms.

Given these social realities in place, Kandan who had a basic education to the level of eighth standard joined his brother Subbaiah at a stone quarry in Kidaripatti village and was involved in stone cutting work. The Dalits who work, as daily wage labourers in these quarries never rose up to the stage of owning a quarry. Following the death of Kandan’s brother Murugan in an accident the family received an amount of Rs. 1.75 lakh(1,900 GBP) as compensation. Keeping their four year experience in the quarry and this amount of 1.75 lakh rupees the brothers gained sub-contract for a quarry. This was the first time a Dalit had got a sub-contract to a quarry in this region. When they started their quarry business they were able to hire Dalits for quarry work and also were able to procure tools and machines for stone quarrying on their own. This effort by the Dalit brothers threw up questions of caste restrictions in place and there is no need to explicate how much frustrated and angered was the caste Hindus about this initiative. Moreover Kandan was centrally involved in sending numerous petitions to the Government to intervene and prevent the various practices of untouchability, prominent among them were restrictions to have footwear on and to draw water from public wells. The persistent efforts of petitioning made the district administration to convene a peace committee to discuss these issues of untouchability.

During the peace committee meetings the Dalit youth not only claimed for equal civil rights but also rights over common property resources. However, the administration prioritized civil rights issues and efforts were taken to address the restrictions on wearing footwear. The Dalits continuously attempted to draw water from the public well; Kandan’s family spearheaded these efforts. After a few years a decision was made by the villagers to build a temple. Meanwhile the tender to re-auction a quarry went to a caste Hindu, he also demanded that the stones that were cut earlier prior to his re-auction should be given to him, however Kandan’s side refused to do so. During this time the Dalits through relentless struggles were questioning their oppression and were utilizing the various opportunities available to gain upward mobility and were moving towards a life of self-respect. This angered the caste Hindus further as their hold over the Dalits was losing grip.

Meanwhile funds were collected to murder Kandan, and he had just escaped a murder attempt during the Jallikattu (Bull baiting) event. Kandan who had gone out to a nearby village following his marriage engagement to send some message was brutally murdered with 27 cuts by sickles and machetes on his body and his body was found on a hillock. Most of his body parts were found to be mutilated, Dalit leaders L.Elayaperumal and Vai. Balasundaram helped Kandan’s family to their extent with legal measures. To remember the struggles carried out by Kandan for gaining civil rights for Dalits the villagers memorialized him by erecting a plinth carrying his image in his honour.

Koothirambakkam Violence-2003

The communal clash at Koothirambakkam, in Kancheepuram District on 29th March 2003. Hearing about the incident on the same night, human rights activists from Kancheepuram rushed to the village on 30th March 2003 in the early hours. The team has met both sides of the community. It has met with the daliths as well as the vanniar representatives, particularly the village Panchayath President Ms.Kasthuri.

Koothirambakkam village lies about 15 kms from kancheepuram on the National High way. This village consists of around 300 families of caste Hindus predominantly vanniars and about 58 dalit families. The dalit colony is prominent by the group houses constructed by the state government. The clashes between the caste hindus and dalits is a long standing one. There are several incidents of caste clashes on village deity festival celebrations, leasing temple land, etc.,

Many a times the villages under the leadership of Mr.Madurai has threatened to convert to Islam. Everytime the District administration seems to have appeased them with some immediate benefits. It is believed that 3 years back the district administration gave fishing permission in the Periyeri tank which lies 5 kms away from the village to the dalits and this permission was got in the name of Mr.Arumugam. The same year when they decided to catch fish there was heavy rain and they were not able to catch fish in the particular season. Since then every year when the dalits attempted the caste hindus objected. The year 2003 being an unusually drought year, Periyeri tank was almost empty and the dalits decided to execute their rights.

They sold their right to a Kancheepuram based fishing community which is locally referred to as Sembadavars. On Friday they approached the local Panchayat President Ms.Kasthuri wife of Mohan who happened to be a caste hindu seeking permission to catch fish. They however denied permission saying that fishing would leave the tank water very slushy and it will be difficult to use the water for irrigation purpose. The dalits realised that by denying permission to them the vanniars have already started stealing the fish from the tank and so they decided to execute their rights on Saturday the 29th March. Eight fishing community members and around 10 dalit community members went to the tank for fishing around 2 p.m. Nearly 200 members from the vanniar community came with deadly weapons to the tank and objected and there were wordly quarrel. The use of derogative words against paraiyar caste resulted in clash. The vanniar group caught hold of 8 members and they were beaten and locked inside the Perumal temple which is located in the vanniar side of the village around 4 p.m. Of these 8 people 2 were from the fishing community (Mr.Durai Nadar and Mr.Ramakrishnan) and the other 6 were dalits.

Those dalits who were chased away from the tank ran to the colony. The caste hindu group which preceded to the dalit colony after the lockup show under the leadership of their panchayat president Kasthuri with sticks, Sickles and stones. They stoned the dalits and ransacked the group houses and huts. Household articles, cycles were broken to pieces and is found scattered all over the colony. They beat up old persons who were unable to run for safety. Mr Pandurangan S/o of Anandan whose house was broken and was pulled out of the house and beaten up. The incident was reported at the taluk office by Mr. Madurai around 3 p.m. When many of them ran to the fields, they were beaten up in the fields also. All these incidents happened in a matter of one hour. The people who ran away reported at the local police station.

The police came to the village around 8 p.m. and rescued the locked up people and they also took the injured to the Kancheepuram government hospital. About 18 injured are admitted in the hospital of whom 11 are women and 7 are men. The oldest is Visalam wife of Velu 80 years old and the youngest Rajiv Gandhi 12 yers old son of Murugan. It is said that 3 children Raja (14 years), Rajesh (8 years), Anbu (9years) are found missing from the village. Ms. Amsaveni W/o Anandan, who was returning to the village after some errand at Kancheepuram was beaten up in the field on her way back to the village. The FIR was filed on the basis of her statement.

Findings

The tentacles of untouchability entangle the dalit people even though they stand so close to the State Capital Chennai.

The dalit people are panic striken and could not go for job or send their children to school which is situated in the vanniar area.

The clashes are common and frequent where only the dalit casuality is high.

Three children Raja (14 yrs), Rajesh (8 yrs) and Anbu (9 yrs) are missing from the incident time.

Old women, men and children were the main targets.

There is an ongoing clash between the community particularly the recent incident of government ordering re-auction of Pillaiyar palayam, Thirumateeswarar temple land as Dalit protested the Hindu Religious Charitable Endowments department's failure to inform both the community.

The caste hindu women leading the clash with deadly weapons in hand shows the degree of prevailing caste hatred.

The attack on hapless old persons like Visalam (80 years), Ekambaram (75 years), Annammal (70Years) and Shanmugam (70Years) shows the extend of cruelty of the caste hindus.

Recommendations

We would like to place before the government of Tamil Nadu and the Public the following:
Steps must be taken immediately to give confidence to the members of the dalit community by giving full protection and taking rehabilitation methods immediately.

The dalit of Koothirambakkam have to be compensated for the losses incurred by those families by the district authorities.

The dalit colony is minority colony and so protection must be given to them from the caste hindu community.

Cases have been filed against the caste hindus under section 147, 148, 234, 307, 312, 506/2 and 1989 SC/ST prevention of atrocities act , immediate action should be taken. On the FIR.

All injured dalits should be adequately compensated under 1989 SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The long pending issues of the temple deity festival should be peacefully negotiated by the district authority.

List of injured

1. Mr. Pandurangan S/o. Anandan (18 yrs)

2. Ms. Amsaveni W/o Anandan (35 yrs )

3. Mr. Karunanidhi S/o.Sanmugam (40yrs)

4. Ms.Thenniammal W/o Jayaraman (35 yrs)

5. Mr. Shanmugam S/o Ellan (70 yrs)

6. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi S/o.Murugan (12 yrs)

7. Ms. Annamal W/o Erangasamy (70 yrs)

8. Mr. Duraisamy S/o.Sanjeevi (55 yrs)

9. Mr. Subramani S/o Karuppan (50 yrs)

10. Ms. Vanitha W/o Kuttiappan (40 yrs)

11. Ms. Padma W/o Kanniappan (37 yrs)

12. Ms. Batha W/o.Madurai veeran (34 yrs)

13. Mr. Velmurugan S/o Arumugam (35 yrs)

14. Ms. Chellamal S/o Mari (22 yrs)

15. Ms. Visalam W/o. Velu (80 yrs)

16. Ms. Krishnaveni W/o. Sundaram (55 yrs)

17. Mr. Murugasen S/o.Durai (45 yrs)

18. Ms. Athirupavathi S/o. Sundaram (25 yrs)

19. Mr. Ekambaram S/oNeenchimotha (75 yrs)

[Courtesy: PUCL, April, 2003]


Details

On August 11, 1928 a gang of armed men enter the cheri(Spatial location outside of proper village) of a village called Angambakkam near Kancheepuram district, Madras Presidency(now Tamil Nadu). The gang numbering around 70 men go on a rampage attacking the Dalits and their houses in the colony. Unanticipated of such attacks the Dalits run helter-skelter. After the attacks the gang torches the houses of Dalits and moves forward approaching towards the house of Kuppusamy. The gang tried to break the front door of his house, Kuppusamy who was returning to his village came to know about the attacks against the Dalits in the colony and also found out that his house is also under attack. He rushed towards his home to find out the fate of his family, when he entered his house the gang armed with weapons laid siege to his house. He locked from inside and to chase them away and protect his life, he took his gun and fired shots towards the roof. The gang then took haystack and tried to set his house on fire.

Unable to escape from the dangerous situation he started firing shots towards the gang and in total he fired 21 shots in which fifteen members were injured and nine members were heavily injured and five died. When all this rioting was over it was almost 6 a.m. in the morning. After sending telegrams to the Police Commissioner and District Collector of Madras Presidency, police came to the spot and Kuppusamy handed over his rifle to them. The police arrested him and seven Dalits in connection with the murders.The major reason behind the plan to attack Angambakkam Kuppusamy was nothing but caste-hatred. Kuppusamy, a Dalit joined the British Indian Army as a Havildar and came back to his native village and was involved in activities attempting to uplift the Dalits. People who return to their villages after serving in the army were involved in replicating the discipline that they learned from their military life among the villagers as a way of life based on the notions of self-respect. Immauel Sekaran was one such activist.

The oppressed classes who were working through various forms towards their emancipation utilized the spaces that modernity had carved out. In that sense Kuppusamy founded an educational society in the village and established learning centres for the uplift of the villagers. Kuppusamy who was influenced by Pandit Iyothee Thass’s Buddhism had already embraced it and through his connections with the Buddist Society was involved in collecting funds and had constructed buildings for schools bought educational tools and provided salaries to the teachers. He established contacts with the British civil servants and through Cooperative Societies got assistance for the agricultural wage labourers and also helped them acquire the wastelands to engage in agriculture. The Dalits who were caught in the quagmire of poverty and bonded labour due to debts and agricultural loans were trying to break their shackles through these efforts.

This economic independence and its subsequent result of self-respect in everyday lives became a challenge for the existing traditional caste norms. So the members of castes like Mudaliar and Vanniyar and others who were the traditional landholders in these areas came together planning to attack the Dalits and Kuppusamy who was instrumental in the uplift of the Dalits. The above said incident was what happened when they decided to carry out an attack. It was an incident of violence orchestrated by caste Hindu groups who had strength of 150 families against the 60 families of Dalits who were living in the colony.

Following the arrest of Kuppusamy, eighteen members from the dominant castes were arrested. The Court while sentencing others under various sections of the criminal law ruled life imprisonment for Kuppusamy for his involvement in five murders. The Dalits were unable to take the sentence, during this time Dalit politics was highly conscientised in and around Madras and this case was highly influential. Prominent Dalit personalities of the time and people got themselves involved in the legal proceedings of the case with great interest. The Kolar Gold Field based journal Tamilan provided the space for Kuppusamy’s arguments and published all the details of the case till the very end and took it among the readers. First a forum called ‘Angambakkam Grief Compensation Forum’ was established under the leadership of V.P.S.Mani with an idea to go for an appeal in the higher court. In relation to that, a lengthy appeal was made through the Tamilan journal on March 20 1929. Prominent members of the Depressed Classes, G.Appadurai, M.C.Rajah, Swami Sahajananda and V.I.Muniaswami Pillai evinced interest in this legal battle and also contributed funds.

The case was shifted from Saidapet Court to the Madras High Court and whenever the case came for hearing it saw a good turnout of people assemble at the court complex. Handbills were distributed at times carrying details of how the case is proceeding. Advocate V.L.Ethiraj argued efficiently for Kuppusamy and on May 29, 1923 following the final hearing Kuppusamy was acquitted from all charges in the case. His acquittal was hailed as a victory of the Dalits. A short book carrying the details of the funds collected and spent on behalf of the ‘Angambakkam Grief Compensation Forum’ for Kuppusamy’s case was released on July 12, 1929. Moreover in the same year, a ballad titled Angambakkam Sriman Ebaiyan Kuppusamiyarukku Jaathi Hindukalal Nerndha Aabathin Tharkappu Sindhu ( A Self-Defense Ballad protecting Angambakkam Sriman Ebaiyan Kuppusamy from the dangers posed by caste Hindus to his life) created by J.I. Paul Vannam was sung in Chennai and on the trains from Chennai to Bangalore to collect funds for the case.

A ballad of self-defense sung in honour of local hero Kuppusamiyar who fought against caste atrocities.

The ballad printed in the name of Tuticorin Adi Dravida Union apart from a few handbills remains as a major source of evidence about this case. Stuart Blackburn in his study on the ballads of the Tamil-speaking people finds himself in an cultural domain where there exists an alternative hero, another type of hero, who he terms as “local hero,” who differs from the courtly model precisely because he represents a different social class and Kuppusamy can be hailed as a local hero who fits the cultural framework posited by Blackburn.
Kachanatham Bloody : Tamil Nadu

On May 28, eight Dalits from the village of Kachanatham were hacked with knives and sickles by members of a caste Hindu family – despite the Dalits having asked for police protection just days before.


Kachanatham village. Credit: Jeya Rani


Kachanatham (Tamil Nadu): On May 28, eight Dalits from the village of Kachanatham, in the Manamadhurai circle of the district of Sivagangai, were hacked with knives and sickles by members of a caste Hindu family from the same village. Among those hacked, Arumugam (68) and Shanmuganathan (31) were killed immediately. Chandrasekaran (34) died in an ambulance on his way to hospital. Dhanasekaran (52), Malaichamy (50) and Sukumaran (22) were admitted to Meenakshi Mission Hospital in Madurai with at least 40-50 cuts on each of their bodies. Deivendran (45) and Mageshwaran (18) were taken to Madurai Rajaji Government Hospital with severe injuries.


Skeptical contentions like the ones listed above started swirling around as soon as news of the assault began to spread. Long before the Dalits in their singed and broken houses had mustered the courage to wash away the blood of their loved ones, efforts were already underway to misrepresent a blatant caste attack as a non-caste issue.


Kachanatham is situated 30 km away from the atrocity-prone Sivaganga. To get there, one has to cross the villages of Aavarangaadu and Maaranaadu, where at least a thousand Agamudaiyar families live. They, along with Kallars and Maravars, are a socially dominant community. Hedged in by water tanks, farms and groves, the village of Kachanatham is “geographically vulnerable” for its Dalit inhabitants. No immediate attention would be paid were they to be attacked, locals say.


The village itself has 35 Pallar (Dalit) families and just one Agamudaiyar family. The Agamudaiyars have for many years perpetrated caste discrimination and oppression against the Dalits, demonstrating the Sanatana rule that strength lies in hegemony, not in numbers.


Where those hacked to death have been buried. Credit: Jeya Rani


On the day of the incident, several people – including relatives of the inhabitants and natives of the village who now live elsewhere – had come to Kachanatham to attend the temple festival of Karuppannasamy, the tutelary deity of the Kachanatham Dalits. The festival had started two days before, on May 26. On that day, Prabhakaran, a relative of Kalaiselvi living in Kachanatham, was allegedly abused by two young Agamudaiyar men – Suman and Arunkumar – while speaking on the phone outside his house. The two men said they were irked that a low-caste man like him dared to obstruct their way and attempted to physically assault him, the victims alleged. Deivendran, the son of Arumugam, warned them that he would complain to the police, but they were not deterred. They continued to assault both Devidenran and Prabhakaran and stopped only when other locals intervened. Before leaving the scene, they allegedly issued a warning: “How can the Pallars become this arrogant? They will be killed.” Prompted by the death threat, Prabhakaran and Deivendran lodged a complaint against them at the Thirupachethi police station.

Suman and Arunkumar fled when the station inspector came looking for them. The inspector brought their father Chandrakumar to the station and warned him of consequences were his sons to continue such behaviour. After that, Chandrakumar was let off. The police, moreover, ignored requests from the Dalits to offer protection for the festival. On Sunday, the second day of the festival, the village was calm. The Dalits participated in the festival believing all was sorted. Yet what awaited them the next day was a brazen, cold-blooded murderous assault, for which the caste Hindu perpetrators had taken the Sunday to prepare.

Arumugam’s family. Credit: Jeya Rani

Deivendran says, “Since I had lodged a complaint, I was their main target. I am a soldier in the army. I had come on leave not just to attend the temple festival but to get married. After the festival ended, we left for Manamadurai that very night to look after the wedding preparations. My father Arumugam chose to stay back. At around 9 pm on that night, a group of people carrying weapons barged into our house. They were looking for me. When my father told them that I was away, Meenakshi – Suman’s mother – ordered the mob to kill my father. ‘So what if the son is not around? Kill him,’ she had said, pointing to my father. My old father was dragged around and hacked to death. He died on the spot. They also took Rs 3,70,000 in cash and 35 sovereigns of gold that I had saved for my wedding expenses. My house has been ransacked. I work to protect my country. But who could offer protection to me and my family?”

Deivendiran. Credit: Jeya Rani

Heading a mob of 20 people, Suman and Arunkumar had switched off the street lights before committing the horrendous act, the Dalits alleged. Some families were watching television while others had gone to sleep. The mob hacked everyone they could lay their eyes on. “They said that we wouldn’t dare to go to the police only if at least ten of us Pallars were killed,” recounts Kaleeswari, a villager.

Shanmuganathan, killed in the gruesome assault, is a local hero of sorts. An MBA graduate, he rejected many corporate offers to farm his 20-acre plot of land. His father Arivazhagan is a deputy trainer in a government ITI institute and his mother is a school teacher. Shanmuganathan was a much-loved young man. He was an inspiration and a mentor to local youth – he helped them obtain student loans and guided them in their studies.

When he returned from the festival that night, Shanmuganathan went immediately to bed. The mob hacked him to death in his sleep. In the same house, Chandrasekar was hacked by the mob while watching TV. He died on his way to the hospital. Days have passed since Shanmuganathan and Chandrasekhar died, but when this reporter visited, the house still stood witness to the horror which unfolded that night. Blood stains were still visible in the spot where Shanmuganathan was sleeping. Chandrasekhar left a trail of blood prints on the door and the staircase where he had tried to run away from the mob.

Shanmuganathan’s mother Maragatham dreads going back to the house where her son was hacked to death. “How can I see his blood? He was my precious child,” she wails. His father refused to see Shanmuganathan’s face until his burial. “It will haunt me for the rest of my life to see him in that state. How can I ever recover?” he asks.

Arivazhagan. Credit: Jeya Rani

Engulfed by personal sorrow, Arivazhagan nonetheless seeks to explain what went wrong. “We have land. Every house has graduates. Some of us work with the government. There are policemen, teachers, engineers, VAOs (village administrative officers), government bus drivers, auditors, conductors, soldiers among us. We have been doing respectable work. Some of us are working abroad. The Agamudaiyars could not accept the fact that people like us who were once their slaves are now educated and earning well. We developed this village on our own and they cannot accept that we are developing. Our educational and economic growth troubled them. We stopped them from stealing and selling ganja. They tried to dope our children. My son would create awareness about this. He loved this village and its people and he was killed for that.”

Arivazhagan’s brother Dhanasekaran and his son Sukumaran are still in hospital, recuperating from wounds that will forever change their lives. Sridevi is fatigued from taking care of her still-unconscious son in the ICU and her husband in the orthopaedic ward, whose his hands and legs were chopped off.

“There are many cases against Suman and Arunkumar. But the police took money from them and let them go. On the three occasions when the police did arrest them, they were released in a few days. We work in agriculture. My husband cannot even hold a spade now. He has been hacked in fifty places. My son wanted to become an IAS officer. Now I feel that it would suffice if he just recovers from this. We work hard, we study and lead a dignified life, yet we are killed. But those who kill us in the name of caste live well. You can go around and ask about our children. There is not a single case against them. Even when confronted with knives, we only sought the help of police. But they turned a blind eye,” rues Sridevi.
Dhanasekaran and Sridevi. Credit: Jeya Rani

A day after perpetrating that gruesome horror, five persons including Suman and Arunkumar surrendered before a magistrate court in Madurai. The police filed an FIR against 17 persons, but not all of them have been arrested. Suman and Arunkumar live with their parents, Meenakshi and Chandrakumar, in Kachanatham along with relatives Suresh, Selvi, and a few others. But they do not belong to Kachanatham. It was the Dalits who gave them land when the family migrated to Kachanatham a generation ago. Dalits say that the house the family lives in belongs to one of them. The caste Hindu family takes water for drinking and other purposes from a well that belongs to Shanmuganathan. Despite all this help, the caste Hindus – including Suman and Arunkumar – would verbally and physically abuse the Dalits.

The Dalits in Kachanatham say they were subjected to untold miseries and atrocities by the family. They would tease the women bathing by the motor pumps by appearing only in their undergarments; take baths in tanks meant for drinking water; harass women with sexually degrading words; barge into houses and walk out with whatever they wanted; steal chickens and goats; use casteist slurs; snatch the jewelry worn by Dalit women; and insist on being given priority in queues in public places like PDS shops.
The caste Hindu family’s house. Credit: Jeya Rani

“Last year, they (caste Hindus) taunted four members from our community – Malaisamy, Dhanasekaran, Chandrasekar and Sadhasivam – and even chased them with knives threatening to kill them. We lodged a complaint in the police station. They assaulted another person – Pandi – and after he lost consciousness, ran away with his chickens. When Pandi later questioned them about it, they threatened to kill him too. Sadhasivam was also beaten up. Ramu is a priest in our temple. He sustained head injuries after being beaten with a belt. Raaku – a widow – was beaten at her legs for crossing their path. She cannot walk now. Every single time we are beaten up, every single time we have had a casteist slur hurled at us, we have complained to the police. But no action has been taken against the family. Had only the police taken some action, we need not have lost so many lives,” says Revathi.


Malaichamy and his wide Pachaiammal. Credit: Jeya Rani


On July 2, 2017, the Dalits lodged a complaint at the police station against Suman and his family and demanded protection. On July 20, 2017, they took their complaint to the Sivagangai superintendent of police, and on July 31, 2017, they petitioned the district collector, the Adi Dravida welfare department officer, and the public grievances cell, all to no effect. This apathy on the part of all wings of the administration has emboldened the caste Hindu family to brazenly commit such a gruesome crime.

Tamil Nadu ranks among the top ten states in atrocities against Dalits. And the number of crimes committed against Dalits is increasing. One in six cases filed with the National Scheduled Castes Commission is from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Of the 32,000 cases filed between 2015 and 2017, 5,300 are from Tamil Nadu. At least 2,000 of those cases include murder, rape and physical and verbal assault. And yet this data does not even begin to capture the actual number of atrocities suffered by Dalits.

Punitha Pandiyan. Credit: Jeya Rani

“The six lakh villages in India are divided into two categories: oors (where dominant castes live) and cheris (where Dalits live). Dalits living in cheris are subjected to atrocities by caste Hindus living in oors. They are subjected to untouchability. Not all of these cases are reported. In Kachanatham, Dalits face caste atrocities every day. The murders are only the continuation of the humiliations they suffer every day. Yet only this one gruesome incident will be reported and discussed – not the everyday atrocities. For Dalits, atrocity is normal life. The general society and the media respond only when murders or rapes occur,” says Punitha Pandiyan, editor of Dalit Murasu magazine.

The media’s reporting of Kachanatham in Tamil Nadu was a sham. While the 13 murders during the anti-Sterlite protests continued to occupy the headlines for several days, the hacking of eight Dalits by caste Hindus was not deemed significant enough to warrant a news headline for even a day. Several newspapers reported it as a clash between two communities. The people of Kachanatham took offence at this.

“How can you call it a clash? Had it been a clash, shouldn’t we have hacked two of their people? We have been peaceful and they attacked us only because of caste hatred. Why can the media not write that Agamudaiyars murdered Pallars? They manufacture these reasons: That we did respect them in our temple, that we sat cross legged, that we opposed their selling of ganja. How can they expect to be given priority in our temple? Why do they consider it disrespectful if we sit cross-legged? Isn’t caste the reason behind it? Before the attack, they said that Pallars should be decimated. They said constantly that they were born to rule and destroy us. Sadly, the media doesn’t mention this caste hatred,” says Kalaiselvi.
A banner with Muthuramalingam’s photograph. Credit: Jeya Rani

As many as 275 places in 28 districts across Tamil Nadu have been declared by the government as atrocity-prone for Dalits. Except for districts like Ariyalur, Chennai, Krishnagiri and Tiruppur, Dalits have been assaulted everywhere else. In Sivaganga, caste Hindus are blatantly dominant. It is hard to spot banners without photographs of Muthuramalingam – a Thevar leader – in districts like Madurai, Theni, Sivagangai and Tirunelveli, where Mukkulathors live in large numbers. Every child born in the community is also raised on caste pride. It comes as no surprise that they treat Dalits with hatred right from their school-age. They learn of caste as their own culture. In most films with a rural setting, the hero is inevitably a Thevar. Twenty-something Suman and Arunkumar are living examples of how the idea of caste is fed to children as a matter of pride and honour.

Dalit activist K.S. Muthu has been a government school teacher for many years. He says, “Schools in southern districts are centres of casteism. After Immanuel Sekaran’s murder in 1957, the Mukkulathors became pointedly aggressive in exhibiting caste pride. Even school children flaunt their castes by wearing pendants or t-shirts that have photographs of Muthuramalingam. Some of them wear wristbands in the colours of the flags of their caste organisations. Girls sport bindis in those colours. Muthuramalingam statues are garlanded in schools. But it is unthinkable to garland an Ambedkar statue in a school in a southern district. We have failed in introducing Ambedkar properly to the students. That is why Ambedkar and Dalits continue to be hated. Some students who are socially and politically powerful can assault their teachers and get away with it. Cultural institutions work hard to protect caste. But there is no institution that works towards the annihilation of caste. I speak here about the education sector, but it’s the same in every sector.”

Oppression of Pallars by Thevars is age-old. Certain organisations – the Puthiya Thamizhagam, the Thevendrar Voluntary Movement and the Mallar Meetpu Kazhagam – have made efforts to politically consolidate the Pallars of the southern districts. They claim that untouchability is not an issue. They consider the Pallar inclusion into the SC list to be a “mistake” made during British rule. Together they held a conference last year – at which BJP leader Amit Shah was present – rejecting reservation and seeking to leave the SC list. What these organisations claim, however, is false. Dalits face discrimination every day. They do not suffer because of some pre-independence census mistake, but rather because of centuries of Thevar oppression.
Women in Kachanatham. Credit: Jeya Rani

The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has laid down guidelines to help stop atrocities against Dalits. Creating district-level monitoring committees, conducting peace meetings involving both communities, confiscating weapons from dominant castes, granting licenses to carry weapons to Dalits and tribals to safeguard their lives if necessary, ensuring representation of Dalits and tribals in government institutions (especially in the police), and appointing Dalits as SP’s in atrocity-prone places are some such recommendations. These guidelines are, however, not followed by the state government.

“Over 40 organisations – both political and non-governmental – visited us. We have already lost three lives. But can any of them assure us that such an atrocity will not happen again? We place our trust in education, in our labour, in peace. We do have knives and sickles in our homes, but not even for a moment could we think of using them to hack people. We are civilised. Some people want to treat others as their slaves and that needs to end. That will be real justice for us,” says Arivazhgan. This remarkable civility was evident among every Dalit family in Kachanatham. They are not baiting for blood in revenge. Even after all this they pin their hopes on peace and justice.

Members of the caste Hindu family that the Dalits have blamed for the violence have left the village and were not available to be interviewed. When The Wire spoke to people from neighbouring villages, they refused to comment on the violence. Police has now been deployed in Kachanatham.
Translated from the Tamil original by Kavitha Muralidharan.
Jeya Rani is a journalist from Tamil Nadu with over 15 years experience.
Kilvenmani massacre : 25-12-1968
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Raised fist carried as part of the 2014 inauguration of the Keezhvenmani martyrs memorial
Part of a series on
Violence against Dalits in Tamil Nadu

The Kilvenmani massacre (or Keezhvenmani massacre) was an incident in Kizhavenmani village, Tamil Nadu on 25 December 1968 in which a group of around 44 people, the families of striking Dalit (oppressed community) village labourers, were murdered by a gang, allegedly led by their landlords. The chief accused was Gopalakrishnan Naidu.

It became a notable event in left wing political campaigns of the time and in Dravidianist ideology. The incident helped to initiate large-scale changes in the local rural economy, engendering a massive redistribution of land in the region..

Massacre

The incident occurred when some poor labours were influenced by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to organise themselves into a campaign for higher wages following the increase in agricultural production as the result of Green revolution in India. The lands were controlled by powerful families, while the labourers were from a oppressed community. In 1968, the agricultural labourers of unified Tanjore district formed a union seeking better working conditions and higher wages. To mark their union the workers hoisted red flags in their villages, irking their landlords. The landlords formed a separate union with yellow flags and started laying off workers belonging to the Communist unions.

This led to tensions and finally a boycott by all labourers. The peasants withheld part of the harvest as a negotiating tactic. The Paddy Producers Association, representing the local landlords, organised external labourers to continue the harvest. Matters became fraught when a local shopkeeper who supported the protesters was kidnapped by supporters of the landlords and beaten up. Protesters attacked the kidnappers, forcing them to release their hostage. In the clash, one of the landlords' agents was killed.

44 people burnt alive

According to eye witness accounts, on 25 December 1968, at around 10 p.m., the landlords and their 200 henchmen came in police lorries and surrounded the hutments, cutting off all routes of escape.[10] The attackers shot at the labourers, mortally wounding two of them. Labourers and their families could only throw stones to protect themselves or flee from the spot. Many of the women and children, and some old men, took refuge in a hut that was 8 ft x 9 ft. But the attackers surrounded it and set fire to it, burning them to death. The fire was systematically stoked with hay and dry wood. Two children thrown out from the burning hut in the hope that they would survive were thrown back into the flames by the arsonists. Of six people who managed to come out of the burning hut, two of whom were caught, hacked to death and thrown back into the flame. Post this heinous crime, attackers went straight to the police station, demanded protection against reprisals and got it. The massacre resulted in death of 44, including 5 aged men, 16 women and 23 children.

Reacting to the carnage, the then Chief Minister C. Annadurai, sent two of his Cabinet Ministers – PWD Minister M Karunanidhi and Law Minister S. Madhavan – to the site of the incident. He also conveyed his condolences and promised action.

In the subsequent trial, the landlords were convicted of involvement in the event. Ten of them were sentenced to 10 years in jail. However, an appeal court overturned the conviction. Gopalakrishnan Naidu, leader of the Paddy Producers Association, was accused of being behind the massacre. The Madras High Court acquitted him in 1975, quashing the Nagapattinam district court judgment awarding him 10 years of imprisonment in 1970. He was murdered in a revenge attack in 1980.

Names (age) of the victims

As per the documentary Ramiahvin Kudisai (The Hut of Ramiah)
1 Dhamodaran (1) 12 Aasaithambi (10) 23 Ranjithamal (16) 34 Pappa (35)
2 Kunasekaran (1) 13 Jayam (10) 24 Aandal (20) 35 Rathinam (35)
3 Selvi (3) 14 Jothi (10) 25 Kanakammal (25) 36 karuppayi (35)
4 Vasugi (3) 15 Natarajan (10) 26 Mathambal (25) 37 Murugan (40)
5 Rani (4) 16 Vethavalli (10) 27 Veerammal (25) 38 Srinivasan (40)
6 Natarasan (5) 17 Karunanidhi (12) 28 Sethu (26) 39 Anjalai (45)
7 Thangaiyan (5) 18 Sandra (12) 29 Chinnapillai (28) 40 Sundaram (45)
8 Vasugi (5) 19 Saroja (12) 30 Aaachiammal (30) 41 Pattu (46)
9 Jayam (6) 20 Shanmugam (13) 31 Kunjambal (35) 42 Karupayi (50)
10 Natarasan (6) 21 Kurusamy (15) 32 Kuppammal (35) 43 Kaveri (50)
11 Rajendran (7) 22 Poomayil (16) 33 Pakkiyam (35) 44 Suppan (70)

Aftermath

The massacre led to widespread demand for changes in land ownership and to attitudes regarding caste. Gandhian reformer Krishnammal Jagannathan and her husband led a series of non-violent demonstrations, arguing for the redistribution of land owned by the local Hindu temple and Trust lands in Valivalam to members of the Dalit caste. The couple also founded an organisation to promote their aims. Krishnammal Jeganathan later said, on the eve of a commemoration of the massacre, "I could not sleep last night, and the sight of the violence feels fresh in my mind - fresh blood of a butchered child, and charred bodies of women and children, who had taken refuge in a hut".

Feminist activists played a significant role in making the massacre well known. Six years after the killings the first state conference of the Democratic Women's Association was held in Kizhavenmani. Mythili Sivaraman helped to publicize the atrocities through her articles and essays. A collection of her writings about the incident was released as a book named Haunted by Fire.
Commemoration


The opening of the new memorial

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) organises an annual "Venmani Martyrs Day" to commemorate the massacre. Foundation stone for memorial was laid by Jyoti Basu in 1969 when he was Deputy Chief Minister of West Bengal. The memorial was erected by the party in the form of a black granite monolith carved with the names of the forty-four victims, including fourteen victims from one family. It is topped with the hammer and sickle of the CPI(M). A plantain bud "carved out of monolithic red granite mounted on a platform serves as a memory of the dead". Other political groups have also participated in the commemorations. The Dalit political party Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi have objected to Communist control of the event. Its district secretary S. Vivekanandam said, "We also want to pay tributes to the martyrs. But the CPM does not allow us to arrange for any programmes during the anniversary saying that only their party stood in support of the farmers of Keezhvenmani. They also said that they had got the place of massacre registered in their party's name. It is unacceptable that a single party claims ownership of the historical place".

In 2006, the CPI(M) announced that it would begin the construction of a much larger memorial (referred to as "Mani Mandapam"). In 2014, the partially completed new memorial was inaugurated by the party. It comprises 44 granite pillars, representing each of the victims, surrounding a large building functioning as a museum and centre of commemoration.

Books and film

Tamil film Virumaandi by Kamal Haasan has a character named Anjelina Kaathamuthu played by Rohini. She will be from Keezhavenmani.
The Incident became the main background subject in the 1977 Sahitya Akademi winning novel Kurudhippunal, by Indira Parthasarathy.
The 1983 film Kann Sivanthaal Mann Sivakkum was based on Parthasarathy's novel.
The massacre was the main subject of the 1997 Tamil language movie Aravindhan starring Sarath KumarParthiban and Nagma.
In a 2006 documentary film, Ramiahvin Kudisai (The Hut of Ramiah) in Chennai, survivors told their stories.
The 2014 novel The Gypsy Goddess by Meena Kandasamy is based on this incident.
The 2019 film Asuran starring Dhanush has references and similarity to such an incident of burning huts of Dalit community.
Kambalapalli Dalit Massacre-2000
By Team Ambedkarite today

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

Written By Oruvingal Sreedharan & R. Muniyappa
Published by Babasaheb Dr.B.R. Ambedkar

Adhyayana Kendra, Bangalore-9 Dedicatedtolate Sriramappa and other Six Dalits who were burnt alive at Kambalapalli We sincerely acknowledge the support given by the following DSS/BSP activists for bringing out this small booklet O. Rajanna, N. Shivanna, Krishna Chinthamani, Dr.L. Hanumanthaiah, Marasandra Muniyappa

Venkatarayappa lost five members of his family in the carnage in 2000.

Will history repeat itself ?

On 26th January 1950, India will be an Independent country (Cheers). What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people…

Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds, we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indians place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost for ever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood. (Cheers).
~ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

in the Constituent Assembly
On 25th November 1949.

Kambalapalli Carnage Burning Alive of 7 Dalits – Genesis

Kolar is one of the 27 Districts of Karnataka State in India. There are 11 Taluks and 12 Assembly Constituencies out of which 3 are reserved for Scheduled Castes. There are 2 Parliament seats in Kolar district – Kolar and Chickaballapur. Kolar seat is reserved for Scheduled Castes and K.H. Muniyappa, a Scheduled Caste is the sitting Member of Parliament. Chowdareddy has been elected from Chinthamani Assembly seat, where the carnage took place.

Out of the 27 districts Kolar has the highest SC/ST population bordering about 30% of the total pupulation of the district. They are agricultural labourers working under the upper caste feudal landlords. A large number of them continues to work as bonded labourers in the house of Vokkaliga landlords.

The entire economy of the district and the industrial establishments are under the control of Vokkaligas. Out of the 12 MLAs 7 are Vokkaligas, 3 SCs and 2 Balijigas who are also upper caste. This shows that the Vokkaligas not only posses lands in the district but also wield political power. Thus what ever Vokkaligas say in the district is the law of the district and the writ of the State does not run there. The entire administration including the police force is at their beck and call.

The hopeless state of affairs of Dalits in the district can therefore very well be imagined from the facts given above.

The head quarters of the district is at Kolar. 2 students from Mulabagal Taluk were studying in the Government college at Kolar during the academic year 1974-75 of whom one was from Vokkaliga caste and the other belonged to Scheduled Caste named Munivenkatappa. Both of them appeared for PUC examination together and the Vokkaliga boy failed and Munivenkatappa passed in FIRST class.

The Vokkaligas could not tolerate passing of a Dalit with distinction and failure of the student of their own community. Without any hesitation the Vokkaligas murdered Munivenkatappa and packed his dead body in a gunny bag and threw it in the Kolaramma Tank. This incident was the turning point in the awakening of Dalit consciousness among the Dalit students in Kolar district and from them to Dalit masses.

There were demonstrations and public meetings by Dalits who began to group together and started the district unit of Dalit Sangharsha Samithi (DSS) in Kolar. As usual the murder case did not end up in conviction and all the accused persons were acquitted for want of evidence. This was due to the interference of political forces in the investigation of the crime.

The next notable incident was the gang rape and murder of one Chinnamma belonging to Scheduled Caste by Vokkaligas in Doddi Halli village about 5 kms away from Chinthamani Town. The dead body was thrown into a well and she wore injuries on her face, breasts and on private parts. The political forces got her body burried after a fake postmortem.

The DSS took up the case, got the body exhumed and got a re-postmortem conducted by a panel of 3 Doctors. But the accused could not be convicted for want of evidence. This also led to the awakening of dormant Dalit forces not only in the district but also in other parts of the state.

During 1975-76 a Scheduled Caste woman was gang raped. Nallagutta Halli village is about 37 kms from Kolar Town and comes under the Chinthamani Taluk. Smt. Nagamma belonged to Scheduled Caste and one day along with her husband went to Nallagutta Hill for collecting fire wood. About 6 rowdys, one belonging to Brahmin and other 5 belonging to Vokkaliga community were enjoying drinks and after seeing the couple went to them tied the husband with creepers and gang raped the wife in the presence of her husband. In this case also there was no conviction.

The DSS took active role in organising the Dalits and agitating against these barbaric acts of the upper castes. The agitation was led by N. Shivanna, Gaddam N. Venkatesh and others and an attempt was made by the caste Hindus on the life of N. Shivanna in a hit and run case in which he sustained severe head injuries.

During the 1978 Assembly Elections N. Shivanna contested from Chinthamani Assembly general constituency. The opposite candidates belonged to Vokkaliga community. In that election Chowdareddy won. The upper castes were not happy that a Scheduled Caste person contested in a general seat against Vokkaligas. After a few weeks they organised Vokkaligas, late in the evening forcibly entered Vinoba Colony where the Madigas (SC) were residing.

They consisted of more than 200 persons armed with deadly weapons and entered into the houses of Dalits breaking the doors open and dragging the inmates out. There after they set their houses on fire. One Dalit Pedda Patelappa was stabbed to death and about 30-35 Dalits sustained bleeding injuries. Though the police came they were few in number and could not control the situation. The unruly mob attacked the police and the Circle Inspector of Police sustained grievous injuries.

This incident led to the unification of various factions created by the Vokkaligas in the Dalit community. A complaint was lodged by N. Shivanna and under his leadership DSS started agitations which led to externment of 4 persons. The Vokkaligas influenced the witnesses and the case ended in acquittal of the accused.

It was during this period one Sambaiah, a Dalit lost his valuable land. A landlord in Chinnapagana Halli, Malur Taluk, Kolar Dist., became a defaulter in payment of land revenue and his land was ordered to be sold in auction. The auction notification was issued and in the auction notification the survey No. of the land of Sambaiah was inserted after striking off the survey No. of the land of the landlord. Thus the land of Sambaiah was auctioned and the same was purchased by the Vokkaliga landlords of the same village with full knowledge of the forgery and fraud.

Helpless..hopeless

Sambaiah had no other means of livelihood and during his old age he became a landless agricultural labourer. He filed an appeal against the auction and the case went upto the High Court of Karnataka and after about 20 years of litigation the land was restored to his widow. By that time Sambaiah had died and his son Munivenkatappa was also dead unable to bear the great mental agony. The Lawyer O.Sreedharan, one of the founder leaders of DSS, took the certified copy of the final order of the High Court to the village and handed over the same to his widow and visited the place where the father and son were buried and all the villagers who had assembled there observed two minutes silence.

The Dalits of the village had organised a small function in the evening and the leaders like Muniyappa BSP State Vice President, Mavalli Shankar State Organising Convenor DSS, R. Muniyappa State Executive Committee Member DSS were to address the gathering. Suddenly electric current was cut.

For about 20 years the Vokkaligas enjoyed the land knowing fully well that it belonged to Sambaiah and that they got it through fraudulent means. The attitude of the Vokkaligas towards Dalits can very well be imagined from the above incident.

Novel Protest by DSS

Next notable event was the brutal murder of Kumbara Sheshagiriyappa a person belonging to Kumbara (Potter) community coming under most backward castes and gang rape of his daughter Anasuyamma at Hunasi Kote, Malur Taluk, Kolar Dist. This was one of the watersheds in the onward march of DSS. This incident took place in the year 1979. At that time one Krishnegowda, a Vokkaliga was the Malur Taluk Board President. Kumbara Sheshagiriyappa was brutally murdered by Krishnegowda and other Vokkaligas because he opposed Vokkaligas when they tried to snatch away the piece of land belonging to him.

They also raped Anasuyamma daughter of Sheshagiriyappa. The police force was not able to arrest all the accused persons because of the political clout of the Vokkaliga community. DSS took up the issue though Sheshagiriyappa was not a Scheduled Caste. The DSS conducted a 2 days camp and prepared a dedicated set of processionists to take Sheshagiriyappa’s JYOTHI to Vidhana Soudha.

The JYOTHI was lit from the grave yard of Sheshagiriyappa in Hunasi Kote Village. It symbolised his spirit and it marched towards Karnataka Legislature which was in session at that time. It represented Sheshagiriyappa going to the Assembly to ask the Government as to why he was not given protection and as to why the culprits were not arrested and punished. The processionists numbering about 500 were lathi – charged when they attempted to go near the Assembly.

Leaders like Prof. B. Krishnappa, O. Sreedharan, M.D. Gangaiah, N. Giriyappa Devanur Mahadeva, Siddalingaiah, L. Hanumanthaiah, O. Rajanna, N. Shivanna, N. Venkatesh, H. Govindaiah, N. Muniswamy, Indudara Honnapura, C.M. Muniyappa, K. Ramaiah, Vijayakumar, V. Narayanaswamy and others led the procession. Many sustained injuries in the police lathi-charge and all of them were arrested and removed and cases were booked against two dozen leaders.

The Opposition Party in the Legislative Assembly under the leadership of late Devaraj Urs staged a walkout. The 3 days protest march from Hunasi Kote to Bangalore and the latti-Charge at the end resulted in wide awakening particularly among Dalit masses and in the emergence of DSS as a strong force in Karnataka.

H. Nagasandra village in Gowribidanur taluk of Kolar District had a large number of bonded labourers. They were made to eat compulsorily the food supplied by the Vokkaliga landlords under whom they worked. They were not even allowed to cook their own food even during festivities. Though the Bonded Labourers Abolition Act was in force, the authorities took no action to release and rehabilitate them.

The DSS took up that issue during 1982-83 and got them liberated and worked for their rehabilitation. An agitation was launched for the distribution of Government land. The release of bonded labourers infuriated the Vokkaligas and they demanded banning of DSS. The Vokkaliga community thought that if the DSS was allowed to function in the state it would bring about a revolutionary change in the existing structure of the society and in the economic and administrative systems. So they created disharmony among the top Dalit Leaders.

There after the Vokkaligas formed an organisation called “Vokkaligara Yuva Vedike” and it was inaugurated by Sri Balagangadhara Swamiji. During his inaugural speech he exhorted his followers to liquidate their enemies and whenever their interest was in danger all the community leaders irrespective of their political affiliations should join together and fight against it. After a few weeks a girl belonging to Vokkaliga community tied “Rokky” (rakhi) on the hand of a Dalit boy Venkatashiva, both were classmates in the Government First Grade College Chinthamani, as a mark of her brotherly feeling towards him.

Aquital in an atrocity case is very sad but its regular feature in India

This incident resulted in protest by the Vokkaliga students who approached the Vokkaligara Yuva Vedike leaders. The students and the Vedike leaders came to the college, entered into the class and dragged Venkatashiva out of the class room and assaulted him. The victim along with some Dalit students went to the Chinthamani Police Station to lodge a complaint and sat in Dharna in front of the police station demanding the arrest of the culprits.

At that time the Vokkaliga students and members of the Vedike went to the PUC Hostel run by the Government at Shidlagatta road with deadly weapons like sickles, iron rods, cycle chains, etc., They destroyed their books, files and furniture and the food cooked for the lunch and the provision including rice etc. They did not forget to remove Bharatha Rathna Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s photo from the wall. They threw it on the ground and trampled on it with their boots and chappals.

Next day the then Social Welfare Minister K.M. Krishnareddy, a Vokkaliga hailing from Chinthamani town called a peace committee meeting and stopped all further prosecution proceedings and hushed up the matter.

Kambalapalli Carnage

During August 1997 a flock of sheep belonging to both Vokkaligas and Dalits was stolen from Kambala Palli Village. In this connection a ‘Panchayath’ was held in the village and it was unilaterally decided that Venkataramanappa, Anjanappa and Ravanappa, all Dalits had stolen the sheep inspite of their denial and it was also decided to file a police complaint of theft against them. Fearing police action the above named Dalits left their village along with their families.

A police complaint was filed in this connection and during investigation it came to light that the sheep were stolen and taken to Andhra Pradesh and sold for Rs. 9,000/- by K.M. Maddireddy, Anjaneyareddy, Reddappa, Narayanaswamy, Kittanna alias Krishnareddy (waterman) and their followers all belonging to Vokkaliga community of the same village. The sheep belonging to the Dalits were recovered and brought back and handed over to the owners.

Dalit Venkataramanappa and his two brothers who had left the village took leading part in the detection of the stolen sheep which resulted in the exposure of Vokkaligas’ conspiracy. Further it also brought contempt and ridicule to Vokkaligas as a whole in the village. They wanted to do away with Venkataramanappa and were waiting for a chance for him to come back to the village.

According to Section 3(1) (VIII) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 1989 whoever not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe institutes false criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than Six months but which may extend to 5 years and with fine. The police should have booked a criminal case against the Vokkaligas who had filed false complaints against Dalits in the matter under the above provision of law. That would have checked them from advancing further with their criminal activities.

On hearing the delivery of his wife Venkataramanappa came to the village on 5-6-1998 at about 10.30 p.m. On getting information about his arrival Maddireddy, Anjaneyareddy and other 39 persons including Kittanna alias Krishnareddy (waterman) formed an unlawful assembly and chased him to his house and stoned him to death in the presence of his wife and other family members. He was buried under the stones numbering about 50. All the above 41 culprits were released on bail and were roaming in the locality.

In many villages like Vaijakur, Burudagunte, Suladhenahalli, Eragampalli, Sitampalli there were social boycotts engineered by the Vokkaligas and a murder was also committed by them in Eragampalli village. All these above incidents clearly show that the Vokkaliga community is uncivilised exhibiting criminal tendencies.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri S.M. Krishna belongs to this Vokkaliga community and he is considered as a leader of Vokkaligas. His assumption of Office as Chief Minister of Karnataka was celebrated by the Vokkaligas.

During December 1999 the Assistant Commissioner of Chikkaballapura Sub-Division conducted a meeting in Chinthamani Taluk Office attended by DSS leaders, Taluk Social Welfare Officer, Municipal Commissioner, BDO, Police Officers and the Tahsildar to look into the grievances of Dalits in the taluk and to find out solutions for the same. During the meeting Dalit Sriramappa of Kambalapalli, the younger brother of murdered Venkataramanappa told in the meeting that they were forced to leave the village by the Vokkaligas who had destroyed their bore well, murdered his elder brother and waiting to liquidate him and how long he could live outside the village and he wanted to go back to his village to lead a peaceful life and sought the help and aid of the authorities.

A meeting was fixed on 8-1-2000 to take Sriramappa, his brother Anjanappa, his father Venkatarayappa and mother Ramakka back to the village and settle them there with all protection. Accordingly these said persons were taken back to the village on that day. By noon the authorities wanted a conciliation meeting to be held between the Vokkaligas and the members of the Dalit family. The Vokkaligas decided to hold the conciliation meeting in the temple located at their locality. Fearing reprisal from the Vokkaligas, the Dalits were afraid of going to the area of the Vokkaligas and they requested the authorities to conduct the meeting at ‘Arali Katte’ near their colony. The Vokkaligas did not agree to this for reasons best known to them. So the conciliation meeting did not take place.

On 10-3-2000 at about 6p.m. one Shankarappa and his friend Narasimhappa (both Dalits) were bringing tender coconut to the ailing father of Shankarappa along the Yanamalapadi road. K.M. Venkatareddy S/o. Maddireddy and Ravi S/o Kittanna (both Vokkaligas) were coming in a TVS XL from the opposite direction. Venkatareddy brought the vehicle so close to Shankarappa as if he wanted to hit him with the vehicle and suddenly stopped it. Shankarappa asked when he had so much space in the road what was the need for him to take his vehicle so close to him. To this Venkatareddy retorted why should he (Dalit boy) come by that road.

Thus a quarrel ensued between them. K.M. Venkatareddy and Ravi threatened stating that the Hole-Madigas have grown too much and they would see that they were suppressed as they did in the case of police personnel and returned back to their Kambalapalli Village. By the time Shankarappa and Narasimhappa reached their village by walk about half a km Venkatareddy, Ravi and Kittanna alias Krishnareddy (waterman) organised about 11 members with deadly weapons and confronted the Dalits Shankarappa and Narasimhappa, assaulted them, inflicting bleeding injuries on Shankarappa. Those two Dalits ran away from the scene fearing for their life.

The above unruly mob of Vokkaligas roamed about in the Scheduled Caste colony broke the houses and assaulted the inmates. Shankarappa and Narasimhappa and others ran to Yanamalapadi Village and contacted through phone the Kencharlahalli Police Station and reported the matter. The Sub-Inspector Venkataramanappa came in a jeep along with a van of police to Kambalapalli village. He visited the Vokkaliga houses talked with them and left the place without visiting the Dalit colony, the houses destroyed and the Dalits who were assaulted, leaving behind the police in the van.

The next day morning i.e. 11-3-2000 Shankarappa, Narasimhappa and other Dalit victims came to the house of DSS leader N. Shivanna at Chinthamani. N. Shivanna contacted the Circle Inspector over phone but he was told that the Circle Inspector would be available only in the afternoon. Then he contacted the Superintendent of Police (SP) at Kolar. He was told that the SP was on leave then he contacted the Additional SP informed him about the occurrences. The Additional SP told Shivanna that the Circle Inspector would be coming in the afternoon and he could send the vicitims of assault to him.

The Dalit victims without waiting for the arrival of Circle Inspector and because some of the victims were suffering from the injuries went to the jurisdictional police station and gave a written complaint to the Sub-Inspector Venkataramanappa who refused to receive the complaint and asked the injured to get out from the police station. Then the victims came to Chinthamani to meet the Circle Inspector. When the Circle Inspector came they narrated the incident and told him that the SI at Kencharlahalli had refused to receive the complaint. Then the Circle Inspector contacted the Sub-Inspector over the phone and called him to his office. The Circle Inspector handed over the complaint to the Sub-Inspector and directed him to register the complaint.

The victims came to the bus stand and boarded a private BKR bus to go to their village. One Anjeneyareddy who was supported by Dalits but failed to win the village panchayat elections also boarded the same bus. After seeing the plight of the victims he enquired what had happened to them. The victims explained what happened to them and Anjeneyareddy became furious and felt enraged and told them that it had happened in his absence and he would meet the criminals and ask them why they assaulted them.

The bus reached the village at about 7 p.m. By that time the police in the van had already left the place and when the victims alighted from the bus the Vokkaligas had by then collected 40-50 persons and were waiting for the complainants at the bus stop. Those people who alighted from the bus included Sriramappa, Anjanappa, Shankarappa, B.K. Anjenappa, Ravana and Anjeneyareddy and others. They were proceeding towards their houses. At that time the Vokkaliga unruly mob started throwing stones at them.

The Dalits ran towards their houses and bolted their doors from inside. Anjeneyareddy went to his house and came back angrily with his Vokkaliga followers, went to the unruly mob and started questioning them as to who were the persons who attacked the Dalits in his absence. In the Vokkaliga unruly mob belonging to one Buchanagari Byreddy who won the election against the Anjeneyareddy, Kittanna alias Krishnareddy (waterman) was also present. The altercation between the two groups started and it developed into a physical fight between two groups.

In this scuffle Kittanna alias Krishnareddy (waterman) fell down and died. Immediately afterwards Anjeneyareddy and his supporters ran away from the place. After hearing that Kittanna alias Krishnareddy had been killed other Vokkaligas in the locality rushed to the place of occurrence and joined with the followers of Buchanagari Byreddy. Maddireddy and his son Venkatareddy who were the supporters of Byreddy led the mob towards the houses of the Dalit Teacher Anjanappa and Sriramappa, Kunti Papanna and Subbamma. Maddireddy was the prime accused in the sheep theft case. He is also accused in the murder case of Venkataramanappa elder brother of Sriramappa. His son Venkatareddy is an accused in the case of assault on Dalit Shankarappa.

They went to the 3 Dalit houses bolted all the doors from outside and brought straw and covered the houses all around and also inserted straw through chimney into the houses. Then Maddireddy and his son Venkatareddy and others brought kerosene and petrol and poured it over the straw and over the straw inserted into the houses through chimney. They also poured the oil into the houses through the gaps of the doors and windows and set the houses on fire. On hearing the news, the fire tenders rushed to the spot but prevented on the way by the unruly mob from reaching the spot. Though the police had full information none of them came to the rescue of the victims and all those inside the houses were burnt alive.

Dead bodies of seven Dalits Sriramappa (25), Anjanappa (27), Ramakka (70), Subbakka (45), Papamma (46), Narasimhaiah (25), Chikkapapanna (40), were removed from the houses. The Vokkaligas did not permit to burry the dead bodies in the victims’ own lands. The Government ordered a Judicial Enquiry by a sitting Judge of the High Court only to be withdrawn later. No case was booked against the police. No attempts were made to trace the main accused Vokkaligas who are now protected by the Vokkaliga political leaders.

The Vokkaligas would not have dared to commit such an heinous crime had they not felt safe under the leadership of S.M. Krishna the Chief Minister of Karnataka. The DSS has therefore demanded the resignation of S.M. Krishna and if he failed to tender his resignation the Congress (I) party should remove him as the party did in case of Orissa Chief Minister when Staines and his two sons were burnt alive.

On 18th March 2000 hardly a week after the shocking incident the shameless Congress (I) Government of Karnataka wanted to go ahead with their “Samatha Sambhrama 2000” a two days festivities of performing art. Artists from all over the State assembled in the Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bangalore. Rani Satish, Minister for Kannada and Culture, Government of Karnataka came to inaugurate the function. The inaugural function was about to start. Noted poet Dr. L. Hanumanthaiah, Kamala Hampana and other Dalits got up and went to the stage and prevented the organisors from inaugurating the function.

They told the organisors about the incongruity of conducting a festival within a few days after burning to death of 7 helpless human beings when the memory of the incident was still fresh in public mind and started shouting slogans. After finding that the audience present were sympathising with protestors the Minister who came to inaugurate the function changed the “plate” and said that she had come to announce the cancellation of the function. Many of the artists who had assembled there said they were busy with their rehersals and were not aware of the incident and if they had known it earlier they would not have come to participate in the festivities organised by the Government.

The burning alive of 7 Dalits to death did not shake the conscience of the people of Karnataka ruled by the Congress (I) Party nor did it stir the conscience of the nation ruled by Bharathiya Janatha Party. There was no call for a Karnataka Bundh or National Bundh. Bhagavat Geetha has taught us to remain unperturbed amid sorrows and pleasures. One has to withdraw his senses from all sense – objects like a tortoise which draws in its limbs from all directions.

Yada samharate cayam kurmonganiva sarvasahindriyanindriyarthebhyastasya prajna pratishita

True to the teaching of Bhagavat Geetha Indian intellectuals have withdrawn from this sorrowful event. Buddha, the compassionate one alone would have shared the sorrow of the bereaved. After Pokhran tests the mischievous Brahmin intellectuals said “Buddha smiles”. Buddha never waged any war. It was Sri Krishna who was involved in Kurukshetra war in which bows and arrows were the weapons used. Therefore after Pokran tests Sri Krishna and Sri Rama who also fought with bows and arrows during Lankan War would have smiled but not Buddha.

A large No. of political leaders visited the place of occurrence. Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress (I) President and Opposition Leader in the Lok Sabha too visited the Kambalapalli Village on 18-3-2000 and met members of bereaved families. She also met the Dalit families who had left the village fearing further attack on them by Vokkaligas, during her visit to Chinthamani Camp.

A delegation of DSS led by N. Shivanna met her at Raj Bhavan on the same day and a 15 page Memorandum was presented to her containing various demands including the resignation of the Chief Minister S.M. Krishna. The delegation explained to her the various incidents of atrocities committed by Vokkaligas on them and as a person belonging to Vokkaliga community and as a leader of the community at least he should have owned the moral responsibility for burning to death of 7 Dalits and resigned.

The demand of the DSS for the removal of S.M. Krishna from the Chief Ministership was rejected by Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Further emboldened Vokkaligas organised a Bundh in Chinthamani on 22-3-2000. They shouted slogans against Bharatha Ratna Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and DSS and its leaders. They demanded banning of DSS and externment of N. Shivanna. They forced Bundhs in a number of Cities and Towns in the state and they continue to do so. It should be noted that the Vokkaligas are doing so not to protest against the burning alive of 7 Dalits but against stabbing to death a Vokkaliga during a scuffle between two rival political factions. Central Ministers Ram Vilas Paswan, Hon’ble Minister for Communications and Sharad Yadav, Hon’ble Minister for Civil Aviation also visited the place on 25-03-2000. The DSS submitted the memorandum to them also.

Condemning the brutal act of Vokkaligas the DSS under the leadership of M. Jayanna, Mavalli Shankar, Sridhar Kaliveer, N. Shivanna, Verupaksha, M. Devadas etc. had organised rallies, Dharnas throughout the state.

The memorandum submitted by the DSS to the Chief Minister of Karnataka on 13-03-2000 in the matter is given below :

Memorandum Consequent on the burning to death a large number of Dalits in Kambalapalli Village Chinthamani Taluk, Kolar District, the DSS demands that :

1. The sites and houses where Dalits were burnt alive by Reddys (Vokkaligas) should be preserved as it is as a monument of National Shame. It should be declared as protected monument immediately.

2. The DSS considers these murders as the result of defective police policy of the Government. Withdraw forthwith the Secret Circular issued by the Government not to book cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 1989 filed by Dalits before investigation. Implement the Act with all its vigor and force. Failure to book cases when atrocities are reported should be declared an offence and should be entered compulsorily in the confidential reports of police officials and such officials should be barred from promotion. Introduce special courses on untouchability and the disabilities arising out of it in police training curriculum.

3. Book cases under Section 302 of IPC against the Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Circle Inspector and Sub-Inspector and keep them under suspension forthwith.

4. Withdraw the entire State Police Force from the area as we have lost faith in Karnataka Police and post Central Forces in the area.

5. Hang the enlarged photos of the burnt houses at conspicuous places in Raj Bhavan, in the chamber of Chief Minister and all other Ministers and on the walls of Legislative Council and Assembly and in all Police Stations.

6. The State should observe 5 days state mourning.

7. Constitute State Human Rights Commission forthwith with persons of proved integrity and ability having concern for human values.

8. Punish the officials who are responsible for not utilising funds allotted for the development of SC/ST.

9. Form Village Defence Forces recruiting unemployed Dalit youths.

10. The investigation should be entrusted to the CBI since the State Police is partial and this horrible incident occurred due to their fault and they are likely to spoil the investigation for helping themselves.

11. Owning responsibility Sri S.M. Krishna, Chief Minister, should submit his resignation forthwith.

No demand for a Judicial Enquiry was made because the Government of Karnataka had already suo moto ordered for it. The Judicial Enquiry was later withdrawn on the false notion created by Vokkaligas that every thing would come out during the CBI investigation. There are clear distinctions between a Judicial Enquiry and a CBI investigation. In the case of assasination of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi both Judicial Enquiry and CBI investigations were there. In Karnataka in the case of murder of Chittaranjan, a BJP MLA there were both Judicial Enquiry and CBI investigation. Burning alive to death of 7 Dalits abundantly qualifies for both Judicial Enquiry and CBI investigation.

There is a political dimention to the occurences in Kambalapalli. Krishnareddy was the Social Welfare Minister in the Janatha Dal Government. It was he who hushed up the attack of Vokkaliga Yuva Vedike activists on Venkatashiva and the distruction of PUC College Hostel and desecration of photo of Bharatha Rathna Babasaheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. It was he who took action to prevent Dalits from holding their cultural function and opening a DSS village unit at Billandla Halli. He was known for his anti – SC/ST behaviour. He contested to the Legislative Assembly during last general elections on Janatha Dal (U) ticket but lost. He wanted to be in the ruling party always. So he joined the Congress (I) when it came to power.

Chowdareddy was a Congress (I) Minister. When he was refused Congress (I) ticket to contest the election to Legislative Assembly during last general election he contested as a rebel candidate and won the election. It is said that Chowdareddy is not so harsh as Krishnareddy towards Dalits. It was the followers of these two political leaders who faught the street battle on that fateful night.

Anjanareddy who was supported by Dalits in the Panchayat Elections but lost, is the follower of Chowdareddy while Buchannagari Byreddy who won the election is the follower of Krishnareddy. If it were only a battle between two political parties the followers of one party should have burnt the houses of the followers of the other political party irrespective of their caste or atleast the houses of the followers of both the parties should have been burnt.

That is not the case here. The attackers had chosen those houses of Dalits who had returned to the village on the advice and the assurances of the local authorities. It was clearly an attack by the powerful Vokkaligas on the weak Dalits. By committing this heinous crime the Vokkaligas have proclaimed that they are barbarians. Now the question is how these two communities can live together in a locality or village. One suggestion is that the Dalits should leave the villages where they are in a minority to cities or towns or to places where they are in a majority.

This will no doubt reduce tension between the two communities. But at what cost? The other effective solution is a political one. Instead of supporting one political party of upper castes against another and incurring its wrath, the Dalits can have their own political party. They need not go for a new party. There is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Kanshi Ram and Mayavathi. It is a National Party of the Dalits, by the Dalits and for the Dalits. Political Power and Political Power in the hands of Dalits alone can solve their problems.

[Courtesy: ambedkar.org, Round Table india,
Keezhvenmani Dalit Massacre-1968

Nithila Kanagasabai

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to reconstruct the Keezhvenmani dalit massacre of 1968 by placing it in the larger socio-political scenario, giving it a ‘pre-history,’ scouring the various narratives of the incident and its aftermath, the emotions and movements it spurred, and finally how it lives on – constructed and shaped by memories. Keezhvenmani often finds mention in the discourse of dalit atrocities as one of the earliest and most violent crimes in post-independent India. But the passage of time, lack of proper documentation and multiplicity of narratives have buried the incident in mystery and uncertainty. The incident in which 44 people, mostly women and children, belonging to dalit agricultural families, were burnt alive by landlords and their henchmen is more than just a class clash. Politics, caste and class issues are so inextricably intertwined that it is impossible to know where one ends and another begins. But at its core, it is a gruesome reminder of the treatment that is meted out to the oppressed when they start demanding what is rightfully theirs.

Keywords: caste, class struggles, Dalit, higher wages, Keezhvenmani, Kilvenmani, massacre, tamil nadu

What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past.

-Victor Hugo

The shooting at Paramakudi and Madurai on September 11, 2011, in which seven people died when police opened fire on dalits who had gathered to pay their respects to their leader Immanuel Sekaran, is only one among the long list of dalit atrocities in Tamil Nadu. Even as fact finding teams and judicial enquiries ascertain the facts of the incident, one cannot ignore the voices of human rights and dalit activists who allege government complacency, police torture and mishandling of the issue. Suspicion about the State’s anti-dalit psyche is deafeningly loud and so is the fear of the recurrence of widespread caste clashes witnessed by the state in the mid 1990s (Dorairaj, 2011). Paramakudi now joins the lexicon of anti-dalit atrocities in Tamil Nadu- Mudukalathur (1957), Keezhvenmani (1968), Melavalavu (1997), Paralipudur (2011) The list is endless.

Keezhvenmani, often finds mention in the discourse of dalit atrocities, as one of the earliest and most violent crimes in post- independence India (Teltumbde, 2008); but the passage of time, lack of proper documentation and multiplicity of narratives have buried the incident in mystery and uncertainty. My interest in the incident springs from my identity as a Tamil, tracing my roots to a town near Thanjavur district where the incident happened, and deeply discomfited due to my caste identity – belonging to a non-brahmin land owning caste that traditionally practiced untouchability against farm labourers. My family hails from Chidambaram, which lies hardly a hundred kilometers from Keezhvenmani, and yet nobody from my family was able to recollect details of this event**. This tells a lot about the obscurity of the event in collective memory.

This essay is an attempt to reconstruct the event, looking at it not in isolation but by placing it in the larger socio-political scenario, by giving it a ‘pre-history’ (Amin, 1995) as it were, by scouring the various narratives of the incident itself, the aftermath, and the emotions and movements it spurred among the people and finally how it lives on, constructed and shaped by memories.

Introduction

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting

-Milan Kundera

Keezhvenmani, an obscure village in the Nagapattinam taluk of erstwhile Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, shot to significance when in 1968, 44 dalits were locked in a hut and burnt to death. The violence was a response to their demand for wage hike. Keezhvenmani marked a defining moment in the discourse of violence against dalits in post-independent India. But while history books chronicle Periyar’s Self Respect Movement in great detail and even the anti-Hindi movement finds mention, Keezhvenmani for most part is shrouded in silence. While the incident has been of immense significance to the Left politics of the area and to land reform movements like LAFTI, outside of the dalit imagination and academic interest, it has almost ceased to exist.

On the night of 25th December 1968, 44 people, mostly women and children, belonging to dalit agricultural families were burnt alive by landlords and their henchmen in Keezhvenmani (Sivaraman, 1973). But the Keezhvenmani incident is more than just a class clash. Politics, caste and class issues are so inextricably intertwined that it is impossible to know where one ends and another begins. But at its core, Keezhvenani is a gruesome reminder of the treatment that is meted out to the oppressed when they start demanding what is rightfully theirs. To assign the dead agency only as daily wage labourers who demanded an increase in wages would be both misleading and unjust.

Context

Labour is the father of material wealth, the earth is its mother.

– Sir William Petty

Land and labour were the sites upon which these contests – of caste and class – in Keezhvenmani were played out. In the 1960s, Thanjavur district, the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, accounted for almost one third of the state’s paddy production. Large tracts of land belonged to temple trusts. These were leased out to prominent members of the society who would then become cultivating tenants and exercise control over these lands. A mere 4 per cent of the cultivating households held almost 26 per cent of the cultivated land under their control. Conversely, Thanjavur also had the highest proportion of landless labourers in the state – an appalling 41 per cent (Sivaraman, 1973). Most of them were dalits- untouchables, impure. Extreme poverty and abject pollution made these people the lowest in class and caste. All of these factors contributed to a long history of oppression in this region.

The dalits who tilled the fields were usually bonded labourers. When the Communist movement started gaining momentum in the region and the labourers started demanding their rights, the zamindari system was abolished and the Tanjore Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952 (later repealed) and the Tamil Nadu Tenants Protection Act, 1955 were passed. The labourers though, did not really benefit from this, because they just went from being bonded labourers to being highly exploited daily wage labourers. In 1966, due to fall in agricultural produce and various other economic reasons, the price of paddy shot up, and this led to the dalit labourers demanding half a litre more of rice. This new found voice of the traditionally oppressed, caused much trepidation among the Mirasdars, the land owning class that quickly organised itself into a union called the Paddy Producers Association (PPA), to safeguard its own interests (Viswanathan, 2006).

When the Left Communist kisans started taking out protests, claiming wages above the mamool wages, the Association refused to comply and instead tried to arm-twist the landless labourers into withdrawing from the Communist parties and becoming a part of PPA. When the labourers resisted, the association brought in workers from outside for harvest. The local labourers tried to prevent the outsiders from working in the fields. Pakkirisamy Pillai, a labourer from outside the village, was killed in the ensuing clashes. Also in the month leading to the massacre itself, three agricultural workers and prominent members of the CPI (M) led Agricultural Workers Association were also ruthlessly killed (Sivaraman, 1973).

By November 1968, the fault lines began to deepen. In fact, according to the farmers in the village, in a PPA meeting held on 15 November 1968, the Mirasdars openly threatened Keezhvenmani with arson if the farmers didn’t comply. Following this, the Thanjavur District Secretary of the agricultural workers association wrote to the then Chief Minister C Annadurai, seeking protection. The letter was acknowledged in January, a week after the massacre (Krishnakumar, 2005). The letter was also published in Theekadhir, the political organ of the Communist Party of India Marxist Tamil Nadu wing – the only paper that covered the Keezhevnmani incident extensively.

According to eye witness accounts, on 25th December 1968, at around 10 p.m., the mirasdars and their henchmen came in police lorries and surrounded the cheri (hutments), cutting off all routes of escape. They shot at the labourers and their families who could only throw stones to protect themselves or flee from the spot. They also started burning the huts in the vicinity. Many of the women and children, and some old men, sought protection in a hut that was 8 ft x 9 ft. The hut was burnt down, and the people with it. Both the sessions court and the high court that later heard the case, held that those who committed the arson were not aware of the presence of people in that particular hut (Krishnakumar, 2005). But eye witness accounts by the survivors point to an altogether different truth.

“They speak of the heart rending cries heard far far away, of the bolted door, of the burning hut surrounded by bloodthirsty murderers with lethal weapons, of two children thrown out from the burning hut in the hope that they would survive, but thrown back into the fire by the arsonists, of six people who managed to come out of the burning hut, two of whom were caught, hacked to death and thrown into the fire, of the fire systematically stoked with hay and dry wood, of the leading lights of the PPA, who led the rioting, going straight to the police station and demanding protection against reprisals and getting it. They were arrested much later after the matter had got out of the hands of the local police” (Sivaraman, 1973).

But these descriptions came much later. This for instance, is an account from the article titled ‘The Gentlemen Killers of Kilvenmani’ that appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly after the accused in the case were acquitted by the Madras High Court. The reportage of the event, immediately after it happened, did not quite run on these lines.

The ‘Free’ Press

The Untouchables have no press.

– B R Ambedkar

Most dailies – both Tamil and English – that covered the event saw it in isolation, shorn of its caste and class dimensions, and reported it as a conflict between two groups of farmers instead. The Hindu’s headline on December 27 read: “42 Persons burnt alive in Thanjavur Villlage following Kisan Clashes”1. Though the article goes on to mention that all the people burnt alive happened to be ‘harijans’ (a term used for dalits in that period); the event itself is not reported to have a caste basis. It is seen rather as a clash between two groups of peasants (1968). The Indian Express said, “Kisan Feud Turns Violent, 42 burnt alive in Thanjavur”2 (1968) Even Tamil newspaper Dinamani said, “Clashes between Kisans- 42 burnt alive” (1968).

The simplistic reporting masked caste identities and brought to the fore the media’s indifference to the dalit cause. When in 1973, the Economic and Political Weekly featured an article on the incident, post the Madras High Court ruling in the case, it scathingly attacked the media of the time for unquestioningly lapping up the state’s version of the incident. “The newspapers had informed us at that time that as labourers persisted in demanding wage increases year after year, the landowners exercised their ‘constitutional right’ to hire labour from wherever they liked. Outside labour was imported; local labour attacked outside labour; the poor fought the poor. What else could you expect from illiterate, uncultured labourers” (Sivaraman, 1973).

Anand Teltumbde commenting on the indifference of the media towards caste issues, argues that caste violence, even when viewed superficially, complicates reality. This is because it centres around the discourse of non-dalits attacking the dalits, and it becomes difficult for both the producer and the consumer of the news to then distance themselves from the story because they share the same value system that caused the violence in the first place. He also clarifies that even before the neoliberal reform, the media has had a dismal record vis-a-vis the dalits. This he reasons, is because dalits and adivasis who comprise one fourth of India’s population did not exist for the ‘nationalist’ media (Teltumbde, 2008).

The Judiciary’s Response

It is that privileged connotation which kneads the plurality of these utterances recorded from concerned individuals – from a mother, a sister and a neighbor – into a set of judicial evidence, and allows thereby, the stentorian voice of the state to subsume the humble peasant voices which speak here in sobs and whispers.

Ranajit Guha

Keezhvenmani massacre is an undeniable ugly truth, but it does not lend itself to clarity due to the various versions of the truth. The police for instance claimed that it came to know of the incident only the morning after, this, despite the fact that there was a police station barely three miles from Venmani. Discrepancies arise in the basic details of the case itself, like the number of people killed. While police records and post mortem reports fix the number at 42, the villagers and the union that took a census of the survivors the next day pin the number at 44 – 45 men, 20 women and 19 children (Krishnakumar, 2005).

Two court cases – Pakkirisamy’s murder case and the murder of 42 dalits – were held simultaneously at the Nagai Sessions court. The court ruled that while the former was not a planned attack; the latter was a preconceived and deliberate act. In the former, one of the accused was given a life sentence and the other seven were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for varying number of years; in the latter, the accused were sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. Both the cases were taken to the Madras High Court. In the former case, the ruling was upheld; in the latter, it was quashed.

In 1973, the learned judges of the Madras High Court ruled thus,

“… there was something astonishing about the fact that all the 23 persons implicated in the case should be mirasdars. Most of them were rich men, owning vast extent of lands and Gopala Krishna Naidu possessed a car. However much they might have been eager to wreak vengeance on the kisans, it was difficult to believe that they would walk bodily to the scene and set fire to the houses, unaided by any of their servants. They were more likely to play safe, unlike desperate hungry labourers. One would rather expect that the mirasdars, keeping themselves in the background would, send their servants to commit the several offences which according to the prosecution the mirasdars personally committed… The evidence did not enable Their Lordships to identify and punish the guilty” (Sivaraman, 1973).

This was confirmed by the Supreme Court. In 1980, Gopalakrishna Naidu was waylaid by a group of people and hacked to death. The main accused in this case was a youth in his mid twenties called Nandan. Villagers say he was one of the eyewitnesses on that fateful winter night 12 years ago (Krishnakumar, Ramiahvin Kudisai (The Hut of Ramiah), 2005).

The Politics of it all

Oppression can only survive through silence

-Carmen De Montflores

When the HC verdict was passed there were no mass protests, no uprisings. Only a few hundred workers of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) marched to the High Court protesting the injustice. Even before the massacre, Theekadhir the political organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Tamil Nadu was the only newspaper to document the brewing tensions in the region (Krishnakumar, 2005). Immediately post the massacre, the only people that reacted strongly were the Communists, under whose umbrella the kisans had protested. In 1968, when the incident occurred the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was in power at the State. Just a year before that, they had won the state elections, becoming the first party other than the Indian National Congress to win state level elections with a clear majority on their own. Reacting to the carnage, the then Chief Minister C Annadurai, sent two of his ministers – PWD Minister M Karunanidhi and Law Minister Madhavan- to the site of the incident. He also conveyed his condolences and promised action (Clashes between Kisans- 42 burnt alive, 1968). But nothing much happened. In fact, Anna’s government was later accused of downplaying the incident (Krishnakumar, Ramiahvin Kudisai (The Hut of Ramiah), 2005).

When the Communist Party (Marxist) represented by MLA A Balasubramaniam sought an adjournment motion in the state assembly, regarding the Keezhvenmani incident, he said that it was a matter of emergency and great public importance. He also spelt out that the reason the party didn’t demand a judicial probe was to ensure that the offenders could be tried in a court of law and punished. The Deputy Speaker ruled out the adjournment (Venmani Incident, 1969).

Gopalakrishna Naidu, the president of the PPA, was known to be a supporter of the Congress (Venmani Incident, 1969). The DMK had completed just one year in its first tenure in power, in a country in which the Congress was not just the ruling party at the Centre, but also the only major pan Indian political party. That the DMK didn’t want to upset the power equations is more than plausible.

One of the most important features of DMK’s 1967 election manifesto was to provide 3 measures of rice for a rupee. Post the elections the new government was able to do only partial justice to this promise, by enabling sale of rice at a rupee a measure in Madras City (Chennai) and its suburbs, and in Coimbatore. According to the newly declared policy, the government was to procure the surplus produce of those holding more than 40 acres of land and distribute the same. But this policy was not strictly implemented. Furthermore, the ban on movement of rice within all districts except Thanjavur was lifted and free rice shops were given licences even in statutory ration areas. This meant that the DMK had to appease the powerful landlords for it to keep up its poll promises (Sivaraman, 1970).

Ironically, the DMK itself was founded as a breakaway faction of the Dravida Kazhagam popularly known as the Justice Party headed by Periyar, the pioneer of the Self Respect movement that sounded the clarion call for the annihilation of caste and religion. But while it encouraged the contravention of caste identities, it also facilitated the consolidation of non-Brahmin land owning castes. The irony is exacerbated when one notes that this caste-class dominance was precisely what the DMK, before it came to power, had accused the Congress of. Mythily Sivaraman, in her essay, notes how one of the couplets used widely by the DMK in its campaign is a lament of the widow of a DMK labourer who demands higher wages and is punished for the same.


My love, he asked for a tiny rise (sic.) in wages,

My love, he slumped dead with a bullet in his guts!

She points out that it is ironic that this was ‘enacted’ under the DMK rule (Sivaraman, 1970).

Teltumbde notes that since the 1960s, non-Brahmin castes have been responsible for most atrocities against dalits. These castes had emerged into a dominant position, becoming landowning peasant castes, and were then taking on the landless dalit labourers (Teltumbde, 2008). But these upwardly mobile backward castes also formed the major vote bank for the newly elected DMK government. The DMK’s sway over the Tamil public was tenuous and the times, tempestuous. The government chose to remain a mute spectator.

Following the massacre the DMK government appointed the Ganapathi Pillai Commission to look into the relation between the labourers and the landlords, and suggest remedies for the ‘existing tensions’. The landlords threatened to let 8 lakh acres of land lie fallow if the government failed to extend ‘protection’ to them. According to reports a large number of police personnel were sent to the field in the pretext of security, but clearly to prevent labourers from agitating further. Even when the report was released it recommended only a ten per cent increase in wages, which according to the Commission itself was measly and did not come near a ‘living wage’ (Sivaraman, 1970).

Keezhvenmani, forty years hence

Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!

-Karl Marx

“The saga of struggles and steady political mobilization by the dalits in Nagapattinam district- despite setbacks such as the court rulings on the Keezhavenmani murders and periodical dilution of land ceiling laws in Tamil Nadu- stand out as a success story in the fight against exploitation and casteism in the country” (Forty years since Keezhavenmani, 2009).

On the 40th anniversary of the Keezhvenmani massacre, this is what an EPW editorial had to say. The flashpoint in 1968, became a shot in the arm for the political movement for higher wages. By the 70s, workers were earning much higher wages than before. This in turn was consolidated into a political movement, and the area remains a Left bastion till date. In fact, in the 2011 State Assembly elections the Kilvelur, the constituency that Keezhvenmani is part of, set a record with 91% voter turnout, the highest registered in an assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu (Satyanarayana, 2011). Land ownership patterns have also changed, thanks to the concerted efforts of the public, the state and NGOs. Many dalits who were previously landless labourers are now small farmers with land holdings.

Changing Lives

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.

-Marianne Williamson

In an attempt to glean some counter narratives and understand the event from the perspective of those for whom it is a lived experience, I spoke to Krishnammal. For 85 year old Krishnammal Jeganathan, Keezhvenmani was a turning point in her life. She was around 200 km away from Keezhevnmani when the incident happened. She recounts the gory sight of violence that greeted her when she reached the place the next morning:

“I saw Ramaiyyah’s hut in which the people had taken refuge. Charred limbs of women and children were in a heap3. On a coconut tree near the hut, there were large blood stains. On enquiring, I found that one of the women had thrown a baby out of the hut, hoping to save it, but the men outside had butchered the child and threw the body back into the flames. I will never forget the horror of the event. At 85, it is the unfading memory of this event and the knowledge that the Dalits will remain oppressed till the time they are landless labourers, which inspires me to spend my life to empower rural poor through the redistribution of land” (Jeganathan, 2011).

Krishnammal and her husband Jeganathan shifted to Keezhvenmani post the massacre. Now forty three years later, they continue to live in the region. She initially started educating the children of the Dalits. But being born to landless dalit labourers, she knew only too well that the only way to ensure a better life for them would be to give them land. She recalls the barrage of opposition – from political parties, from landowners – she had to face in the initial years. Their organization, Land for Tillers Freedom (LAFTI) founded in 1981 has till date, she says, distributed 15,000 acres of land to 15,000 Dalit women. “I was not doing charity. When a woman eats her meal at the end of the day, it is not my charity. It is her hard work. I just facilitated that hard work. But I’m grateful to god I was at least able to do that.” Speaking about Keezhvenmani, she says,

“Now almost all dalit families there now own 2 to 3 acres of land. Most children belonging to these families have been educated and have found jobs in cities- in Mumbai, even in the Andamans. But if there’s one thing that disheartens me, it is the apathy of these very people who have suffered much injustice in the past. They have moved on, but they fail to see that many others have not. They think solely of their journey forward, breaking away from the shackles that once bound them. It doesn’t bother them that they are doing nothing to help those less privileged. The past seems forgotten.”

It’s not just the dalits who were subjects of change, Krishnammal continues –

“Many years after the massacre I got a call from Venugopala Naidu, a mirasdar, who initially opposed my initiatives to distribute temple land to Dalits. He wanted to meet me. I was surprised when he told me that he was bequeathing his vast tracts of land and his huge bunglow to the trust. He wanted me to use it for my work. The place is now called Jothi Illam and functions as a hostel for young boys who are being educated for free there.”

While interviewing Krishnammal, I bring up the topic of the HC verdict that acquitted all those accused, she brushes that aside, “What has happened, is in the past. A verdict cannot right those wrongs. Land reform can. Giving the dalits a chance at a livelihood can. That is what I want to do” (Jeganathan, 2011).

Krishnammal was not alone when she visited Keezhvenmani. She was accompanied by Mythily Sivaraman. Mythily was back in India after a four year stint in the United States of America during which she worked as a research assistant in the Committee on Decolonisation at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations. She was interested in the Sarvodaya ideals she met with Vinoba Bhave’s followers Krishnammala and Jegannathan. In fact, when Mythily and Krishnammal, accompanied by a CPI comrade, arrived at Keezhvenmani, the police suspected them of being ‘militants’. Mythily’s well-placed friends had to intervene for the women to be able to meet the villagers (Sivaraman, 2013).

The smell of smouldering ash and the howl of a dog looking for the family that had been there until the night before would continue to haunt Mythily throughout her life (Sivaraman, 2013). Her essays on the incident remain one of the very few documentations of the event in the English language and have been an invaluable resource for this research as well.

In the introduction of the book Haunted by Fire (2013), V Geetha and Kalpana Karunakaran write,

“That episode and visit brought home to Mythily the starkness of life in this grain rich part of Tamil Nadu… She realised that the price for dignity, for daring to declare oneself a communist was very high in these parts – many had paid with their lives… Unsurprisingly, in her subsequent reflections, she refused to concede that the monstrous incident at Kilvenmani was only a wage dispute gone wrong, and argued passionately for it to be recognised for what it was: class struggle in the countryside” (Geetha & Karunakaran, 2013).

It would not be off the mark to say that the incident and her experience of it laid the foundation of Mythily’s life-long mission of empowering the marginalised.

Fictionalising Fact

Truth is so hard to tell, it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.
– Francis Bacon

Popular culture – books and films – enables access to the larger ideological polemics and political concerns underpinning the society at a particular point in time. Two years post the Mardas High Court Verdict in the Keezhvenmani massacre case, in 1975, noted Tamil novelist Indira Parthasarathy, wrote Kuruthipunal (The River of Blood) that was a fictionalized account of the tragedy. It was serialized first in Kanaiyazhi, a literary magazine based in Delhi at that time. It was later published as a novel and won the author the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1977 (Viswanathan, Dalit struggle and a legend, 2003). He himself admitted that writing a story based on a real life tragedy was one of the most difficult exercises he undertook as an author. This he attributed to the fact that both the author and the audience knew the ‘real’ story. In Kuruthipunal, the assassin mirasdar employs a façade of machismo to hide his impotence. The CPI (M) condemned it as ‘a Marxist novel with a Freudian twist’ (Ramnarayan, 2010).

In the forty years since the event itself not more than a couple of mainstream movies have drawn from it. Among these, the most viewed is the 1983 film Kan Sivandhal, Man Sivakkum (which roughly translates to ‘The earth turns red, if the eye reddens’). Directed by Sreedhar Rajan, the movie tries to understand the power equations at play in a rural set up through the lens of a city based photographer journalist. The movie also employs koothu (dalit folk music and dance) to talk about the rampant oppression against the tillers of the land. In the movie, the agricultural labourers who demand for a wage hike are threatened and their houses are set on fire. The portrayal of media in KSMS is interesting. When one of the main characters Kaalai, a protesting agricultural labourer, dies in the process of fighting the landlords’ henchmen, the local newspaper reports that he was a Naxalite and died while manufacturing country bombs that the naxals were planning to use to attack the pannaiyar (landlord). This addresses the dubbing of Leftist agricultural protestors as Naxalites, by the State and the fourth estate thereby justifying the violence perpetrated against them by hegemonic powers, which has become a trope in every struggle against oppression (Rajan, 1983).

The movie Aravindhan (1997), takes off from the Keezhvenmani incident and dalits raising their voices against oppression. But soon, it digresses into a one man’s fight against the system. In fact the protagonist who is a college educated young man, turns to violence and guerilla warfare to change the system as it were (Nagarajan, 1997).

A comparative study of these two movies, lends itself to interesting observations. Both movies portray two characters that adopt different approaches to the problem of oppression. While one strongly believes that the fight against oppression can be won by peaceful means, the other is convinced that under the given situations, violence was the only option left for the suppressed. And surprisingly in both these movies, the latter dies while the former, in desperation, resorts to violence.

Ramiahvin Kudisai (Ramiah’s Hut 2005), is probably the only documentary based on the episode. The film weaves in interviews of dalit eyewitnesses who lost their kin in the massacre, retired local police officers and even a mirasdar who was initially convicted of the crime. One of the interviewees is Selvaraj, who recounts how he lost eleven of his family members to this horrendous crime. What makes the scene poignant is the fact that he does not break down like the others. There is an undefinable expression on his face which haunts the onlooker and conveys the fact that he is unable to come to terms with the incident even after 40 long years. Some survivors bear scars from gunshot wounds that have become perpetual reminders of their ill fate. These remnants of the massacre have been much projected and valourised by the CPI(M) members for lending impetus to their agitations4. But for the survivors and the relatives of the victims, the burden of this disaster has now become an indelible part of their lives and weighs down their hearts (Krishnakumar, 2005).

Speaking to Bharathi Krishnakumar, who made the documentary, gave a whole new perspective on how the massacre is perceived in the same place in this day and age. He talks about the irony in not having to face any opposition from political parties or the local police when he went to film his documentary 36 years after the massacre,

“Those in power don’t even perceive any threat from this incident. The memories are so vague and the people so powerless, that even raking up memory from four decades ago, they were sure, would not lead to any major agitation.”

Talking about the lack of this narrative in mainstream cinema he says,

“The untouchability continues. The victims of the massacre continue to be victims of untouchability even after their death. Mainstream cinema will draw from the terrorist attacks and other social issues that affect the ‘common man’… Even the LTTE question. But nobody is interested in the plight of the untouchables, a plight that has not changed much in more than half a century since independence. Art they say reflects life. It sure does, mass media practices untouchability as firmly as the society itself” (Krishnakumar, 2011).

He also believes that the incident has been shorn of political or social semantics, “Some people for whom Keezhvenmani is a lived experience, try to keep it alive through folk songs and laments. But for a whole generation that came after this massacre, it does not hold much importance. Large crowds gather at the monument every anniversary to pay their respects. But it has become more of a habit, a symbolic act more than anything. Even the grandchildren and children of those who lost their life in the massacre, remember it as some sort of a personal family history devoid of any political agency. This is mainly due to the fact that text books and media don’t give it the attention it deserves.”

Conclusion

It is often easy to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.

–Carl T Rowan

One of the most important questions I had to grapple with while working on this paper was that of collective memory and its exclusivity. According to the figures of the National Crime Bureau, every single day two dalit houses are burnt, three dalit women are raped, two dalits are murdered and eleven dalits are beaten. But compounding this fact, and make it even worse is the knowledge that only a miniscule percentage of crimes against dalits even gets registered. How does a collective memory deal with a human tragedy of this scale? What gets remembered, recorded for ever by posterity, commemorated, read and re-read? What gets forgotten, hidden in the crevices of our past? How does one make sense of the vast, varied instances of oppression?

Another issue I had to grapple with was the veritable absence of women in the narrative. According to village reports, of the 44 people murdered that night, 20 were women and 19, children; but surprisingly women seem missing throughout every commentary of the event. They merely feature as those acted upon. Never once, in all these narratives – political, economical, social, fictional and even subaltern – are they given agency. The ways in which women were affected by the movement, their struggles for survival and growth remain unexplored. They remain the sub-subaltern, relegated to the margins of even the subaltern. A critical historiography archiving women’s experiences can help in not just giving these unheard voices a platform but also invest them with legitimacy, enabling them to become if nothing, a site for textual struggle, an attempt at reclaiming history.

Remembering Keezhvenmani demands a reality check. It forces one to look at the long history of oppression against a group of people. But most importantly it compels one to think of silences, silences against oppression – big or small, extraordinary or quotidian, contiguous or distant, past or present.

Bio-note

Nithila Kanagasabai works on the issue of gender violence at the Prajnya Trust in Chennai. She completed her Masters in Media and Cultural Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai in May 2013. She was a television journalist for two years between 2009 and 2011. Her interests include gender studies and cultural studies. She has co-directed two films – Badalte Nakshe (Changing Maps) that traverses the tenuous realm of children, memory and the 1992 Bombay riots; and Daane Daane Pe (On Every Grain…) that explores street-food politics in the city of Mumbai.

Interviews

Krishnammal Jeganathan, Female, 85, from Keezhvenmani- Founder of the Land for Tillers’ Freedom (LAFTI)
Bharathi Krishnakumar- Male, 45, from Chennai- Documentary film maker, Director of Ramiahvin Kudusai.
**P.R. Venugopal- Male, 85, from Chidambaram- Retired horticulturalist.

Kalapatti violence : 2004 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2004 Kalapatti violence refers to the violence against Dalits by dominant-caste villagers in the village of KalapattiTamil Nadu on 16 May 2004. About 100 Dalit houses have been burned down by a mob of 200 villagers and Dalits who attempted to escape were attacked, including the reports of sexual assaults against Dalit women. The attacks lasted for 2 hours and 14 people were seriously injured in the violence including a man's arm reportedly hacked off.

Tensions reportedly started after Dalits in the village boycotted the 2004 Lok Sabha election as a protest because some of their grievances remained unattended. This is said to have angered the dominant caste villagers and also the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers when the dalits remained unconcerned during the BJP general secretary's visit to the village. Other incidents include an attack against a Dalit youth who was pasting posters to celebrate Dr. Ambedkar's birthday and an altercation between Dalit youths and the dominant-caste men in an auto-rickshaw.

The attacks started after the loss of BJP's state general secretary in the polls. The United states Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor reported that the attackers blamed the loss of their candidate on the Dalits. Several Dalit leaders and political parties blamed the BJP for the violence.

Background

The village of Kalapatti is situated in the district of Coimbatore, the village comprised 2,000 families of the Gounder caste, the politically and economically powerful caste in the village. The Dalit settlement comprised 250 families belonging to the Arunthathiyar caste, 10 families of the Parayar caste and 150 families of the Boyar caste.

Caste discrimination

The World Organisation Against Torture reported the members of the Dalit community in the village were not allowed to walk in the streets belonging to the dominant caste members, not allowed entry inside the village Mariamman temple and were not allowed to walk in the streets talking among themselves. Casteist slurs and intimidation were often used against the Dalits and they were forced to lower their heads in public to punctuate their lower status. Dalit women were often subjected to sexual assaults and harassment. Dalits also had to use separate glasses in tea shops.

Election boycott

During the 2004 Indian general election, the Dalits in the village announced that they would boycott the elections as a protest because many of their problems remained unconsidered. One of their key demands of the Dalit community is their entry into the common village temple which had been opposed by caste-Hindus for years. Nothing could be done about it by the State Government or Sangh Parivar, which exerted significant influence over the Dalits in the region. However, the Dalits were resistant on their resolution to boycott the polls. It is reported that when the Bharatiya Janata Party's state president visited the village, the Dalits remained unconcerned which angered the BJP cadres. The local dominant caste members were also opposed to the boycott decision of the Dalit community. The BJP candidate C.P Radhakrishnan lost the polls to K Subbarayan of the Communist party of India.

Incidents preceding the violence

A Dalit youth was attacked on 14 May by some men from the Gounder caste when he was pasting posters to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. On 15 May, a group of Dalit youth who traveled with a group of Gounder men in an auto rickshaw were allegedly verbally abused them in derogatory words because the Dalit youth were enjoying themselves in front of the dominant caste men and slapped one of them after getting out of the rickshaw. The Dalit youth who went to the Kovilpalayam Police to complaint about the incident but the police men took no action and allegedly told the youth to leave out statements mentioning the use of derogatory language by the attackers but when the Dalit youth included everything in the complaint, the police did not register the complaint. Although, this incident was believed to be the immediate cause for the assault, the underlying cause is assumed to be the growing fear of the development of Dalits in the village due to the active position played by certain Dalit organisations.

Attacks

The attack occurred on 16 May 2004 within the fortnight of the elections in the Dalit localities of New Colony and Shastri Nagar in the Kalapatti village by 200 dominant-caste villagers, armed with swords, iron rods and other weapons. They ransacked about 100 homes and damaged the household items and television sets. When the Dalits ran for their safety, they were attacked with sickles, iron rods, long sticks and knives. The attacks lasted for two hours and 14 people including a 75 year old man were seriously injured and were hospitalized. Several women were allegedly sexually assaulted and the attackers used derogatory language against them during the attacks. The attackers also set fire to cattle sheds, bikes and the Dalit temples, a man's hand was cut off during the attack. It is reported that 100 homes were completely burned and were razed to the ground, some of the attackers molested the Dalit women and also looted jewelry and money from the houses.

As per the 2005 annual report of United Nations special rapporteur on Racism, the dominant caste villagers forced the Dalits to the ground and stomped on them using derogatory caste terms against them. The saris of the Dalit women were stripped off. In other cases, an 8-month-old infant was thrown against a wall, a 75-year-old man was assaulted, and a middle-aged woman was struck in her head while she attempted to defend her son. Almost 100 homes were burned down and cattle belonging to the Dalits were also killed.

The offices of the Adhi Thamizhar Viduthalai Munnani were among the places attacked. A photo of the B.R. Ambedkar is reported to have been burned down. University and School certificates and land pattas have been burnt according to the reports of a number of fact-finding committees, such as the People's Watch-Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu Division of the People's Congress for Civil Liberties and the Dalit Human Rights Monitoring. As per the reports of these teams, the attackers had not even spared the cattle belonging to the Dalit people.

Many Dalits of the village of Kalapatti escaped to neighboring villages out of fear. The Government allotted ₹ 20 lakh for relief work to the Dalits, but only ₹ 2,42,000 was granted as immediate remuneration. Despite this, there were reports that the Dalits have been forced by the police to conceal the burning items and are trying to mitigate the extent of the atrocities.

Arrests

The cops detained 54 people and filed cases on them under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act on Atrocities and Indian Penal Code. The research teams, argued that the police appeared on the scene only after 2.5 hours after the attack, while the closest police station is inside 7 kilo-meters of the village but some Dalit youths had made complaints to the police when the mob was on the attack.

Investigations

The United states Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor reported that the violence was because the dominant caste members blamed the Dalits for the loss of their candidate.

The local villagers alleged that C.P Radhakrishnan, the then general secretary of the BJP threatened to "deal with them later" for boycotting the elections. Dalit leader, Thol. Thirumavalavan, who visited the village after the violence, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party for the violence. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India (CPI) members also accused the BJP and called for the arrest of all those implicated in the crime and the payment of compensations to those affected in the attacks.

Hindutva factions have been using Arunthathiyar youngsters to commit violent activities in and outside of Coimbatore until the attacks. Dalit leaders said the tragedy only demonstrates that the Sangh Parivar, which is evidently continuing to lose its grip on the Arunthathiyars, as indicated by the choice of the Dalits to boycott the polls in which the BJP tried to preserve its seat.
Khairlanji massacre-2006
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Khairlanji massacreDate 29 September 2006
Location Kherlanji located in the Bhandara district
Cause Revenge, Casteism
Deaths 4
Charges Slaughtering

The Kherlanji massacre (or Khairlanji massacre) refers to the 2006 murders of Scheduled Caste citizens by villagers of Khairlanji. The killings took place in a small village in India named Kherlanji, located in the Bhandara district of the state of Maharashtra.

History

On 29 September 2006, four members of the Bhotmange family belonging to a Scheduled caste were murdered in a small village called Kherlanji in Maharashtra. The women of the family, Surekha and Priyanka, were paraded naked in public before being murdered. Enraged by a police complaint lodged the previous day by Surekha over a land dispute, the accused dragged out Surekha Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange and two of her sons and daughter, paraded naked in the village and then hacked them to death. The accused were members of various backward castes. The incident was the offered as by the Scheduled Caste/ Neo-Buddhist organisations for the well planned Nagpur riots. The criminal act was in fact carried out by assailants from the numerically dominant Kunbi caste (classified as Other Backward Classes) for "opposing" the requisition of their field to have a road built over it. Initial reports suggested that the women were gang-raped before being murdered. Though CBI investigations concluded that the women were not raped, there were allegations of bribery of doctors who performed the post-mortem, and of corruption.

There were allegations that the local police shielded the alleged perpetrators in the ongoing investigation. A government report on the killings, prepared by the social justice department and YASHADA—the state academy of developmental administration, has implicated top police officers, doctors and even a BJP member of the Legislative Assembly, Madhukar Kukade in an alleged coverup and hindering the investigations. Kukade has denied these charges, saying that he had not even been in Kherlanji in months. The state Home Minister R. R. Patil admitted to initial lapses in police investigation and said that five policemen suspended in the investigation of the killings have been dismissed. In December 2006, CBI filed a chargesheet against 11 persons under charges of murder, criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly with deadly weapons and outraging the modesty of women. CBI also said that it will investigate the role of the 36 people under detention.

The media coverage of the incident was initially weak, but picked up momentum after an investigative feature article by Sabrina Buckwalter with the help of social activist Deelip Mhaske in The Times of India provided the first mainstream, in-depth coverage of the massacre.

In September 2008, six people were given the death sentence for the crime. However, on 14 July 2010, the Nagpur bench of the High Court commuted the death penalty awarded to the six convicted to a 25-year rigorous imprisonment jail sentence.

Protests

Protests against the killings in the Kherlanji village took place in various parts of Maharashtra. On 19 November 2006, over 4,000 Scheduled Caste citizens gathered at the Azad maidan in Mumbai to protest against the Khairlanji incident. On 23 November 2006, several members of the Scheduled Caste community in the nearby district of Chandrapur staged a protest over the Khairlanji killings. The protesters allegedly turned violent and threw stones. The police baton-charged the protesters to control the situation. Scheduled Caste leaders, however, denied that they had caused any violence and claimed that they were "protesting in peace".

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 600,000 to the next of kin of the victims' family, and housing and job awards to the affected family members. He also assured that his government would give an additional Rs 200,000 to them from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

In November and December 2006, the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in KanpurUttar Pradesh triggered off violent protests by Buddhists in Maharashtra. Several people, including the Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and the Mumbai Police Commissioner A N Roy remarked that the protests were fuelled by the Khairlanji killings.

Court case

2008 September Verdict by the Bhandara court

The verdict in the 2006 Khairlanji court case was announced on 15 September 2008. Bhandara Sessions court has held eight people guilty of murder and acquitted three.

List of people held guilty of murder:
Gopal Sakru Binjewar
Sakru Binjewar
Shatrughna Dhande
Vishwanath Dhande
Prabhakar Mandlekar
Jagdish Mandlekar
Ramu Dhande
Shishupal Dhande

List of acquitted people:
Mahipal Dhande
Dharmpal Dhande
Purshottam Titirmare

The first ad hoc sessions judge, S S Dass, had heard the arguments of prosecution and defence on the quantum of punishment and had fixed 24 September for his pronouncement. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had made a forceful plea for capital punishment to all the convicts. Defence lawyers Sudip Jaiswal and Neeraj Khandewale pleaded for leniency in view of the act committed in the heat of the moment and clean past record of the convicts.

On 24 September 2008, six people were awarded the death sentence, while two others were given life imprisonment. The ruling was appealed to the Nagpur division bench of the Bombay High Court where hearings began in April 2010. Justices A P Lawande and R C Chavan heard arguments in the case until 21 April 2010, at which point they announced the verdict would be announced on 15 June 2010. However, Justice Lawande on 15 June said the decision would be deferred until 14 July 2010 as Justice Chavan is posted in Bombay.

2010 July verdict by the Bhandara court

On 14 July, the Nagpur bench of the High Court commuted the death penalty awarded to the six convicted to a 25-year rigorous imprisonment jail sentence. The two others who received life sentences received a similar sentence.

The ruling touched off statewide protests and re-kindled the fury of injustice felt by local Scheduled Caste organizations and the sole survivor, Bhaiyalal Bhotmange. The court ruled that the murders resulted from an act of revenge and was not caste related.

Bhotmange was told that the CBI would appeal the commutation to the Supreme Court, however, after over two weeks of no action, Bhotmange announced he would appeal the decision himself.

An appeal against the judgment of the High Court is pending before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. It was last listed for hearing on 14 August 2015.

Death of Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange

The lone survivor of the 2006 Khairlanji Scheduled Caste family massacre, Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange died on 20 Jan 2017 due to heart attack

Killed for sitting cross-legged


Two Dalit men in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were killed by upper-caste Hindus after a Dalit man sat cross-legged in front of them during a temple ritual.

The upper-caste Hindus called it a "dishonourable and insulting" gesture. About 15 of them went to the Dalits' neighbourhood and mounted an ambush. In addition to the two men killed, six others were injured and houses were damaged, according to police.

"The men who suffered injuries had deep cuts on their bodies made with sickles," a senior police officer is quoted as saying in the Indian Express newspaper.
Karamchedu massacre AP : 1985

It was July 17, 1985. Madigapalle, a Dalit colony in Karamchedu in Andhra Pradesh’s Prakasam district was attacked by a large group of Kammas (a dominant caste) who were armed with deadly weapons, killing six Madiga (Dalit sub-caste) men and raping at least three women. A month later, the accused killed a woman who was witness to the massacre.

The reason for the violence was a brawl between a Madiga woman and a Kamma man over access to a drinking water tank. The brutal killings and the rapes shook the entire state and highlighted the caste discrimination that was prevalant in the region. Many observers and activists believe that the incident changed the social and political dimensions of caste in the state.

The incident had sparked outrage and triggered a widespread movement by Dalits, for Dalits. Kathi Padma Rao, a noted Dalit activist and Bojja Tarakam, an advocate and human rights activist, launched the movement by establishing the 'Dalita Mahasabha.’Featured Videos from TNM00:0305:49

Thirty five years later, incidents of violence against Dalits are still common with varying degrees of punitiveness in Andhra Pradesh and for that matter, in India.

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2017, Andhra Pradesh, where Scheduled Castes constitute 16.41% of the population, stands in fifth position when it comes to crimes against them. It is the worst-ranked among the five southern states.

TNM spoke to several activists who participated in the movement and asked them about what it was like, and what has changed since then.

Tadi Prakash, a senior journalist who then worked with 'Udayam' daily, opined that a lot has changed when it comes to the lives of Dalits in the state.

“There are visible changes in the lives of Dalits to some extent in terms of their presence in different streams, ranging from holding political positions and bureaucracy. But the situation in villages has not yet changed. It is not a matter of despair as three decades is very little time to change centuries of oppression,” he said.

While pointing that there is a change in the pattern of violence, he said, “given their population, they could not be ignored by any political party. However, they are considered purely as vote banks and there is no respect for them.”

A memorial for victims of the massacre at Karamchedu. Image: Mahesh Kongara

AM Khan Usha S Dany, a senior activist who was a member of the People’s War Group and participated in the movement at Karamchedu, said that the Dalit movement in the state has made some progress, though it not as much as expected.

He added, “I'm not happy with where it is now, but it (Karamchedu movement) brought a sea of changes in the lives of Dalits. It is because of that movement that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act came into being in 1989.”

Dany argued that the Karamchedu movement created an ‘intellectual enlightenment’ among Communists. “Communists who were in denial of caste-based violence had started agreeing to the existence of it,” he said.

While stating that the increased presence of Dalits in bureaucracy and legislative positions has created scope to access the power corridor, even if symbolic, he said, “Change will come through political means.”

Dany said that violence against Dalits was always followed by their assertion in social and economic realms.

Dalita Mahasabha founder and author, Katti Padma Rao, opined that the Karamchedu incident “ignited the spirit of self-respect and fighting” among Dalits, while stating that Dalit labourers have been liberated from the clutches of dominant caste landlords.

He said, “Until then, labourers were confined to the cattle or farm houses of Kammas or Reddys or Rajus. Later, at least they have become independent. Education has put them in a better place and political representation has increased.”

Katti stated that the Dalit movement that began with the Karamchedu incident was a success in many terms. “The movement will continue till Dalits get political power and land. We have enough self -respect and spirit to carry the struggle forward,” stated Katti.

As far as the criminal cases registered in connection to the event are concerned, a lower court in Guntur in 1994 sentenced 46 people to three years in prison and fined four accused who were aged over 65 an amount of Rs 10,000. The case was then appealed in the High Court, which struck down the lower court verdict in 1998, following which the victims appealed in the Supreme Court.

It was only in 2008 that the Supreme Court gave its verdict that the prime accused would serve a life sentence, while 29 others would serve three years in prison. By then, many of the accused had already died.
Laxmanpur Bathe massacre-1997
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre
Date 1 December 1997
Deaths 58 killed
Victims scheduled caste people

The Laxmanpur Bathe massacre was a massacre conducted in the village of Laxmanpur Bathe in southwestern Bihar, where 58 scheduled caste people were allegedly killed by members of the Ranvir Sena in retaliation for the Bara massacre in which 37 upper castes were killed. Laxmanpur Bathe is a village in Arwal district in Bihar, on the Son river about 90–km from Patna.

Killings

The village was the site of a massacre of 58 Dalits allegedly killed by the upper-caste Ranvir Sena on the night of 1 December 1997 for revenge. All the victims were Dalits and many among them were children, the youngest being a one-year-old, and pregnant women. To remove the last shred of evidence of their outrageous act, they crossed the river and slit the throats of the two boatmen who had rowed them, before disappearing in Bhojpur district. Laxmanpur-Bathe was targeted because Ranvir Sena members believed the village's Dalits, mostly poor and landless, were sympathizers of the Maoists behind the killing of 37 upper caste men in Bara in Gaya district in 1992. Ranvir Sena, a far-right wing militia of landlords, was created by Bhumihar caste to take on the Naxalites.

In the well-planned operation, about 100 Ranbir Sena activists carrying firearms had descended on Lakshmanpur Bathe at around 11 pm. They forced their way into huts by breaking open the doors and fired indiscriminately at people who were asleep. The entire hamlet located on the banks of the Sone river was virtually decimated in the attack that lasted more than three hours. The youngest victim was one year old.

The incident sent shockwaves across the country. The Lalu Prasad-led RJD government was then ruling the state. The then President K R Narayanan had expressed his shock and dismay over the mass murder of 58 Dalits in Central Bihar. In his strong-worded reaction, he had termed the massacre as "national shame".
Trial

In December 2008, charges were made against 46 Ranvir Sena men. Sessions Judge Mishra, on conclusion of trial in the case on 1 April, fixed 7 April 2010 as the date for announcing the verdict. Earlier, the case was transferred to Patna from Jehanabad following a Patna High Court order in October 1999.

On 7 April 2010, the Additional District and Sessions Judge Vijai Prakash Mishra of the Patna Civil Court sentenced 16 men to death and 10 to life imprisonment for the massacre. While pronouncing the verdict, sessions judge Mishra described the killings as a “stigma on civil society and rarest of rare cases of brutality.

On 9 October 2013, Patna High Court acquitted all 26 accused persons, due to "lack of evidence". The CPI (ML) staged a Bandh throughout central Bihar.

Reaction

Some commented that the High Court judgement did not get the attention it merited in the media. The acquittal of massacre-accused were overshadowed by another big news of that time - the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar from cricket. There was an angry reaction from the Bihar government and various political parties in the state. The government replied that it will appeal against the order, while CPI(M) termed the verdict as “unacceptable” and asked the Nitish Kumar government to immediately file an appeal against it. The CPI-ML criticised the state government and said that it would appeal in the apex court to appoint the SIT(special investigation team) probing all the massacre cases in Bihar. Other state parties LJP and RJD demanded CBI investigation in High Court's decision and alleged that the state government is protecting the interests of Ranvir Sena.

Maoists called for a 24-hour strike against the court's decision in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, and the police advised that the banks and shops remain close. Seven people, including one suspected member from the Ranvir Sena, were killed in Aurangabad district on 18 October. The Dalits in the area feared that there may be a retaliation from the Ranvir Sena.
1996 Bathani Tola massacre
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1996 Bathani Tola massacre was an incident of Hindu caste-related violence in which an upper-caste militia killed 21 Dalits, including women and children, in the Indian state of Bihar on 11 July 1996. The attacks were allegedly by members of the Ranvir Sena, in response to Dalit labourers' demand for wage increase.

Bathani Tola massacre
Date 11 July 1996
Deaths 21 killed
Victims Dalits


Perpetrators Ranvir Sena


21 Dalits were slaughtered by Ranvir Sena militiamen in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur, Bihar on 11 July 1996. Among the dead were 1 man, 11 women, six children and three infants, who were deliberately singled out by the attackers. 60 members of the Ranvir Sena reportedly descended on the village and set 12 houses on fire. Using lathis, swords and firearms, the attackers continued the onslaught for two and a half hours. The attack was reportedly in retaliation for the earlier killing of nine Bhumihars in Nandhi village, by the CPI(M-L). The conflict began when CPI(M-L) began organizing the agricultural laborers to demand the statutory daily minimum wage of Rs. 30.75. Landowners were willing to pay only Rs. 20. CPI(M-L) members convinced the laborers to refuse employment at that wage and called for an economic blockade against landowners. The attack on Bathani Tola, was an effort to weaken the resolve of CPI(M-L) cadres organizing in the village and to prevent a labor boycott on hundreds of acres of land. None of the Ranvir Sena leaders were ever arrested for the Bathani Tola massacre.

Following the massacre, there were further attacks on Dalits and Labourers organized by the Ranvir Sena in Laxmanpur Bathe (1 December 1997) and Sankarbigha (January 1999) in which 81 Dalits were killed.

The Landlords wanted to reassert their feudal tyranny over the poor who have started becoming more vocal and by attacking the most vulnerable, women and children, they wanted to send a clear message that they would not allow anyone to disturb the social structure.

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

Trial
12 July 1996 - First information report lodged against 33 persons the day after the massacre
24 March 2000 - Charges framed against 64 accused
5 May 2010 - The civil court at Ara sentences three persons to death and 20 others to life imprisonment. The court acquitted 30 others for want of evidence.
Ajay Singh - charged with killing 10-year-old Phool Kumari - death sentenced
Manoj Singh - charged with murder of 3-month-old daughter of Naimuddin - death sentenced
Nagendar alias Narendra Singh - charged with murder of Sanjharu and Ramratiya Devi - death sentenced
17 April 2012 - The Patna High Court acquits 23 men convicted of the murders. A Division Bench of judges Navneeti Prasad Singh and Ashwani Kumar Singh cite "defective evidence" to acquit all of them.
18 April 2012 - Bihar State SC/ST Welfare Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi told PTI in Patna that NDA led Govt (under Nitish Kumar). has decided to move to Supreme court challenging the Patna HC Order.

16 July 2012- The Supreme Court admitted appeals filed by the Bihar Government and some of the family members of the victims against acquittal of 23 persons, allegedly responsible for the massacre.
Muthanga incident
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Muthanga Incident
Location Muthanga village of Wayanad district, Kerala, India
Date 19 February 2003
Deaths 5
Perpetrators Kerala Police
Motive eviction / protest

The Muthanga Incident refers to an incident of police firing on the Adivasis (tribal clans) in the Muthanga village of Wayanad district, Kerala. On 19 February 2003, the Adivasis had gathered under Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS) to protest the Kerala Government's delay in allotting them land, which had been contracted in October 2001. During the protest, Kerala Police fired 18 rounds resulting in two immediate fatalities (one of which was a police officer). In a subsequent statement, the Government placed the official death toll at five. A video of the firing was aired on several news programs.

Background

The Adivasi people began to protest in August 2001 after many of their members had died of starvation in Kerala. The protest was carried out primarily by setting up "Refugee Camps" in front of AK Antony's (state chief minister) official residence. The protest continued for 48 days, forcing the Government of Kerala to promise the disbursement of land and other rehabilitation measures for the Adivasi people living in the state. 

When no action was taken by the Indian National Congress led administration to make the promised measures, the tribal alliance (similar to tribal groups of the Nagarhole) renewed their protest. The indigenous people of Wayanad decided to enter the forest under the banner of Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (AGMS). The Muthanga forest where AGMS put up huts is recognized as the homeland of different Adivasi communities in Wayanad, such as the Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka, the Andhra Pradesh, the Adivasi and the Kerala. Adivasi families had been forcibly evicted from Muthanga during the 1960s after the area was declared a sanctuary and again in the 1980s to make way for eucalyptus plantations. The evicted tribal groups were compelled to live in difficult socioeconomic conditions as part of several other tribal colonies.

The Adivasi families who entered the forest sought to assert their traditional right over the Muthanga forests, by restarting the Adivasi Oorukootams  (similar to Panchayati raj) and setting up subsistence agriculture. A minimum program for Self Rule under the spirit of the Panchayati raj was drawn up. Maintaining a self-supporting and regenerative natural ecosystem, primarily with regard to water sources and vegetation, was an important goal of the Adivasi moving into the forest.


As part of the eviction, the Forest Department was alleged to set the Adivasi huts on fire and fed domesticated elephants with alcohol to induce the animals to attack Adivasi huts.

Incident

This section needs expansion with: add details of the events of 19 February 2003 here. You can help by adding to it. (January 2014)

The operation to evict the tribals began in the morning with the Government forces, made up of personnel of the Police and Forest Departments, moving into the sanctuary around 9 a.m. A `check-post' put up by the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha to restrict entry of non-tribals was demolished.

The activists then retreated into the forests. About 2 km into the sanctuary from the road, the large posse of Government forces came face to face with nearly 200 tribal people and the bloody battle began. The agitators refused to disperse even after teargas shells were fired in the air. The advancing forces ran into stiff resistance. The tribals, comprising men and women of all ages, surged ahead brandishing deadly weapons.

Aftermath

However, being outnumbered, the tribal agitators retreated. The activists struck again and information about two members of a small group sent to search for the tribals hiding inside the forests being taken hostage reached the authorities.

Police reinforcements sent to the area also ran into stiff resistance forcing them to open fire. The situation in the sanctuary is still tense. After the incident, actions by Police Forces of the Kerala State tribal members were arrested in connection with the eviction operation in Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary in the Wayanad district.

Police said that all the accused, along with 37 children, were deported to Central Jail in the Kannur district. A total of 33 men were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 99 women were charged under sections of the Wildlife Protection Act. On 20 February 2003, 132 people were remanded to Judicial custody for 15 days, including 99 women volunteers of the Adivasi Gothra Maha Sabha (ADMS).

On 21 February 2003, AGMS leaders C. K. Janu and M. Geethanandan were arrested. The two were spotted by locals at a roadside, near Nambikolli, about 4 kilometers from the town of Sulthan Bathery on the Bathery-Ootty road. K. K. Surendran, a lecturer in DIET, was also arrested in connection with the tribal agitation in the sanctuary.

Then Chief Minister of the State of Kerala, A. K. Antony, rejected the demands of the opposition for a Judicial probe into the Muthanga action which led to the killing of two persons. The then United Democratic Front (UDF) convener, Oommen Chandy, added: "apart from the liberal attitude towards the tribes, the Government has already distributed 1800 acres of land to the landless tribals, besides allotting 60 million for tribal housing schemes. The Government is targeting 1840 acres to be distributed to tribals". Then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Muraleedharan countered statements by the UDF leaders, stating that there is not enough land to distribute equitably among the tribal groups and that the calculations being cited are erroneous.

On 24 February 2003, social activist A. Vasu spoke to Janu and Geethanandan in Calicut District Jail. He quoted the agitation leaders as having said that nearly 15 persons were fatally wounded in the course of the police firing. After this information became public, the government issued a statement stating that the death toll was five.
Man killed for eating in front of upper-caste 

By Vineet Khare
BBC Hindi, Uttarakhand

Image caption,Jitendra was a carpenter and the only breadwinner in his family

A helpless anger pervades the Dalit community in the remote Indian village of Kot.

Last month, a group of upper-caste men allegedly beat up a 21-year-old Dalit resident, named Jitendra, so badly that he died nine days later.

His alleged crime: he sat on a chair and ate in their presence at a wedding.

Not even one of the hundreds of guests who attended the wedding celebration - also of a young Dalit man - will go on record to describe what happened to Jitendra on 26 April.

Afraid of a backlash, they will only admit to being at a large ground where the wedding feast was being held.

Only the police have publicly said what happened.

The wedding food had been cooked by upper-caste residents because many people in remote regions don't touch any food prepared by Dalits, who are the bottom of the rigid Hindu caste hierarchy.

"The scuffle happened when food was being served. The controversy erupted over who was sitting on the chair," police officer Ashok Kumar said.

The incident has been registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) - a law meant to protect historically oppressed communities.
Melavalavu massacre-1997
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1997 Melavalavu massacre refers to the murder of a Panchayat President of the village and six other men, all members of the Dalit community by dominant caste members in Melavalavu, Madurai on 30 June 1997. The men were hacked to death after some dominant caste members refused to accept a Panchayat president from the Dalit Community.

Seventeen men were convicted for the crime and were sentenced to life imprisonment and three men were released in 2008. Thirteen of the convicted were released in 2019 during the AIADMK regime. The families of the victims claimed the early release had political overtones.

Background

The Melavalavu panchayat located near Melur in Madurai district. Melavalavu village, is dominated by the people of Kallar caste, while the people of the Scheduled Castes are a minority in the village residing mostly in Ambedkar Nagar area. The village Panchayat was allocated to the members of the Scheduled Castes as a reserved constituency in 1996 by the government. But the Dalits were threatened by the dominant castes that they could not contest the election as the Head of the Village Panchayat.

Following this, elections were held on 31 December 1996 due to the inability to hold elections on 9 October 1996 and 28 December 1996. Murugesan, a member of the Dalit community won the election. He went to the district collectors Office and asked the district collector and the Tamil Nadu government for protection for himself and his dependents after threats by dominant caste members who denied Dalits as their president and vice president of Panchayat. He along with six other men were murdered when they were returning in a town bus from Madurai after meeting the Collector office on 30 June 1997. The gang stopped the town bus near the village tank and hacked the Dalits to death

Village Panchayat President, Murugesan, Vice President Mukan, Raja, Sellathurai, Sevmoorthy, Bhupathi and Soundarrajan were murdered. The Village Panchayat President K.Murugesan's head was cut off and thrown into a well, half a kilometer away.
Convictions

This case was investigated as a criminal prosecution and was not investigated under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. 44 people were accused in the case while 17 persons were sentenced to life imprisonment on 26 July 2001.

In 2008, three men were released on C. N. Annadurai's birthday during the DMK regime. While one of the remaining 14 has died of snake bite during his trial. The remaining 13 people were released in 2019 during the birthday of M.G.R in AIADMK regime. The men were not allowed to enter the village and were made to stay in Vellore till a petition which demanded against their early release is completed. The families of the victims had also sent a petition to the state government against the early release of the convicts. They also claimed that the release had political overtones.

On February 2020, The Madras High Court withdrew the interim order which restricted the 13 convicts to Vellore district.

Reactions

The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi(VCK) and the Marxist Communist Party of India commented against the release of the prisoners. The VCK built a memorial for the victims of murder and thousands of the party cadres gather there every year to pay their respects.

On 22 November 2019, police arrested Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front protesters at Madurai for protesting against the release of the prisoners.

Mangarh Massacre



Leora Pezarkar

Six years before the infamous Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 there was another brutal repression and massacre which took place on the border of Rajasthan and Gujarat. While this tragedy never seems to have reached our history textbooks, over 1,000 people, all members of Bhil tribe, lost their lives. Mangarh, in the Aravali hills was washed in blood on 17th November 1913.

Bhils, a tribal community living across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh faced great harassment under the old feudal structure and British rule made it worse. By the early 20th century, the Bhils especially in Rajasthan and Gujarat, mostly worked as bonded labour. The great famine of 1899-1900 across the Deccan and the Bombay Presidency claimed over 6 lakh victims and the tribals were among the worst affected. The princely states such as Banswara and Santrampur were particularly affected by the drought.


Govind Giri, the man who led the Bhil Uprising|Wikimedia Commons

From this tragedy emerged a social reform movement that aimed at bettering the lot of the marginalised. The movement was led by social reformer Govind Giri, who was also popularly called as Govind Guru . Govind Giri was born to a Banjara (gypsy) family near Dungarpur, Rajasthan in 1874. He served as a bonded labourer in the princely state of Santrampur. It was during the great famine that he started working with the Bhil community. During this time, desperate Bhils had resorted to banditry for survival. He realised that the socio-economic setup and a prevalence of alcohol addiction among the Bhils was to blame for their desperate plight.

To address the challenges faced by the community, Govind Giri started the Bhagat Movement in 1908. This was a movement to propagate orthodox Hindu practices like vegetarianism and abstaining from alcohol among the Bhils. He also encouraged them to reject bonded labour and fight for their rights.

Map of Rajasthan in 1909|Wikimedia Commons

The princely states of Dungarpur, Banswara and Santrampur where this movement was strongest were quiet vary of this Bhil ‘awakening’. The growing awareness among the local Bhils meant that they demanded better wages from the rulers and the British. As they took up arms and stopped work, the local economy suffered.

In October 1913, Govind Giri and his followers reached Mangarh, which was situated in middle of dense forests, on the border of Banswara and Santrampur state. Giri sent out a call to all his followers to gather there for a religious fair on the day of the waning moon in the month of Kartik, corresponding to 13 November. A large havan or sacrificial fire known as Dhuni was to be organised on that day. It is estimated that one and a half lakh Bhils began to gather on Mangarh hill. Rumour spread that they were planning to revolt against the princely states of Banswara and Santrampur, and establish a Bhil state. The worried rulers, turned to the British for help.


Famine relief in 1901|Wikimedia Commons

The British political representative to the region, R.E Hamilton, decided to take action. The combined forces of the princely states of Banswara, Dungarpur and Santrampur, along with the Bhil Corps of Mewar state (Udaipur) were asked to surround the hill. The operation was commanded by a British army officer, Colonel Sherton, along with Major S. Bailey and Captain E. Stiley. The forces surrounded Mangarh hill on all sides, machine guns and artillery were deployed. An ultimatum was given to the gathered Bhils to disperse by 15th November 1913. When the Bhils refused to surrender and disperse, the gathering was literally bombarded with bullets and artillery fire from all sides. Even automatic machine guns loaded on mules and donkeys were let loose on the crowds at Mangarh hill. Around 1000 to 1500 people are said to have been killed on that day.

After the massacre, hundreds of Bhil protesters including Govind Giri were arrested. On 11th February 1914, a special court found him guilt of waging war against Santrampur and Banswara states. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Because of his popularity and good conduct, he was however released from jail in 1919 but was banned from entering many of the princely states where he had a strong following. Govind Giri died in 1931 near Limbdi in Gujarat. As a tribute to his legacy and his teachings, the Govind Guru University was established in Godhra, Gujarat in 2015.

Mangarh witnessed one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of British India. And what’s worse, here it wasn't just the British at fault. The Princely states turned against their own.

Cover Image - Bhil Woman in the 19th century \ WIkimedia Commons
Marakkanam violence-2013
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2013 Marakkanam violence was a violent clash between Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) cadres and Dalit villagers at Marakkanam in Viluppuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, in which two people were killed.

Background

The incident took place on 25 April 2013, the day PMK and Vanniar sangam organised a youth festival in Mamallapuram near Chennai. Police said PMK cadres, who were on their way to attend the youth conference at Mahaballipuram, stopped near a bus stop at a Dalit village near Marakanam and consumed alcohol. When a few villagers questioned them, the PMK men assaulted the villagers and fled the scene.[As a result two PMK cadres named Selvaraj and Vivek were killed.

Aftermath

PMK founder S Ramadoss and party president G K Mani were arrested on 30 April in Villupuram who want the probe in the incident. This arrest spread the violence across the Tamil Nadu PMK cadres stoned the buses to protest against the arrest of their leaders. In the districts of ThiruvannamalaiVillupuramCuddaloreVellore and Kanchipuram, some 1,601 buses were not operated even during day time due to violence. The violence took place till the release of S Ramadoss who was released on 11 May from Tiruchirapalli Central Prison. Totally, 853 buses were damaged and 165 trees were cut down during violence. The Government of Tamil Nadu threatened to ban PMK party over the violence.
Court proceedings and Conviction

Marakanam police filed case against 1,512 persons from both sides and inquired further. Initially it was said by police that Selvaraj was killed by accident but after post mortem reports revealed stab injuries on his body, the police changed the accident case to murder case. On 9 May 2013, the CB-CID officials registered a murder case against six Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) cadres for brutally attacking PMK cadre Selvaraj. On 3 February 2016 sessions court in Tindivanam pronounced the judgement that all the six accused VCK cadres were found guilty and convicted to life imprisonment for brutally killing Selvaraj. The judge pronounced the crime to be ‘rarest of rare’ while awarding the life sentence. The case on other person killed named Vivek is still under proceedings.
Manjolai labourers massacre-1999
From Wikipedia

Manjolai labourers massacre

Show map of IndiaShow map of Tamil NaduShow all
Location of Tirunelveli in India
Location Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
Date 23 July 1999
2:40 pm (UTC+5:30)
Target Manjolai Labourers and Public

Attack type Massacre
Weapons Lathi-charge, Teargas
Deaths 17
Perpetrators Tamil Nadu Police

Part of a series on
Violence against Dalits in Tamil Nadu
Incidents

Manjolai labourers massacre

Manjolai labourers massacre or Thamirabarani massacre of 23 July 1999 was the death of 17 labourers, including two women and a two-year-old child, when they got into the river to escape Tamil Nadu Police lathi-charge. Public were going in procession to Tirunelveli Collectorate to submit a memorandum demanding wage settlement for the tea plantation workers of Manjolai estate. An altercation between the police and the marchers resulted in a lathi charge by police. When the marchers ran helter-skelter, many fell into the river and died.

Background

On 23 July 1999, a large number of labourers from the Tea estates of Manjolai congregated in Tirunelveli and marched towards the Collectorate demanding the release of a number of estate workers, who were arrested earlier for staging protest demanding better wages. The workers were being paid  70 per Day then and they were demanding the pay to be increased to  100. The workers were also demanding maternity leave, periodical breaks for women during the eight-hour-long duty. They were also opposing the decision of the estate owners to force workers to stay in sheds with poor facilities and deny right to rear cattle or even raise Gardens. A large contingent of stone throwing and lathi-wielding police brutally assaulted the protesters forcing them to run towards the river. As police continued to chase them to the river, many got into the river and drowned. Justice Mohan Commission that probed into the incident submitted that 11 of the 17 died due to drowning, while rest died due to injuries. Even now, much of their demands have not been met, but the estate workers have since been kept satisfied with a pay of  138 per Day.
Documentary film

The theme of the incident Death of a river (Oru Nathiyin Maranam) a Tamil language Documentary film was released in 1999, The 59-minute film this Tamil film works by Kanchanai Film Society. And producer, script, videographer, and directed by R R Srinivasan.
Mirchpur violence-2010
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2010 Mirchpur caste violence
Date April 21, 2010
Location
Caused by Caste tensions
Methods ArsonRiotingMurder
Casualties
Death(s) 2 Dalits burnt alive
Injuries 51 Dalits
Arrested 103
Buildings destroyed 18 Dalit houses burnt down

The Mirchpur caste violence also known as the Mirchpur Dalit killings was an incident of violence against the Balmiki Dalits by upper caste Jat villagers in the village of MirchpurHaryana on April 21, 2010. A 70 year old man and his polio affected disabled daughter of 17 years old were burnt alive when a mob of 300 to 1000 Jat villagers set fire to houses in the Balmiki colony where 18 houses were burnt down. 258 Dalit families fled the village over a span of the next eight years.

The problems started after a dog barked at a group of Jat youth while they were passing by a Balmiki colony. One of the Jat youth hurled a brick at the dog, only to be objected by a young Dalit which turned into an altercation between both parties. The Jat threatened all Balmikis with dire consequences. The Balmiki Dalits went to Jats of the village to douse the issue but they too were beaten badly.

On August 2018, the High court convicted 33 people for the violence and sentenced 12 to life imprisonment.

Background
Dog barking incident

On April 19, 2010, a dog belonging to one of the Balmiki Dalit villagers started barking at a group of Jat youths who were returning to the village. One of the youth took offense at the dog's barking and threw a brick at the pet dog. The Dalits were threatened with dire consequences by the Jats when the owner of the dog and his nephew came out and protested. An altercation broke out that was somehow solved by the villagers and the youth left. The Jat community members then demanded the dog owner to apologize in order to prevent any problems. When he arrived at the home of one of the Jat with his neighbor to make peace, they were badly beaten. One of them was seriously wounded and admitted to a hospital. In the First Information Report (FIR) No 166 registered at Narnaund police department, the dog was constantly referred to as a bitch.

Tensions

A sizable number of young people from the Jat community assembled in the village the very next day on April 20, giving rise to fear of an impending violence among the members of the Dalit community. On the morning of April 21, while traveling near the village, one of the suspects reportedly threatened some of the Dalit young people with the burning down of their homes, leading to another heated argument between both the sides.

After these incidents, a fake news was created by the Jats that the Dalits had assaulted one of the members of their community.

Attacks

April 21, a large mob of Jats, armed with lathis, stones, petrol and oil cans, arrived in the village and began pelting rocks at the Dalit villagers. There were originally 100 to 150 members of the Jat community, but this figure went up to 300 to 400 members later. Other reports also put the figure to 1000.The outnumbered Dalits retaliated by throwing bricks, stones and whatever they can lay their hands on. One of the Jat, in the meantime, went to the village and reportedly asked all the men in the Dalit community to gather at a spot. When the men were gone, the Jats set their houses ablaze.

The Dalit men fled towards their homes after hearing the screams of female family members and saw the Jat mob burning their houses, including that of Tara Chand's, a 70-year-old Dalit man. He was rushed to a local hospital where he succumbed while treatment and his 17 year old polio affected disabled daughter was burnt alive in the house. 51 people belonging to the Balmiki group were wounded in the attack and 18 of their houses were burnt down in the Balmiki colony. Large-scale rioting and theft of property also took place during the violence.
Aftermath

Around 150 victims escaped to Delhi and took refuge at the Balmiki temple near Connaught after the incident. Nearly a dozen Dalit families fled the village during 15 days of January 2011 due to fear of attacks by the Jats. Nearly 254 families fled out of the village during the span of eight years after the violence, till 2018.
Court verdicts

The police of Haryana arrested 103 accused on August 2010 after orders from the supreme court. On January 9, 2011, 98 of the accused were transferred to Tihar Jail from Hisar Jail. On January 15, some members of the Jat community protested to start a fresh probe. The court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the case on January 20, 2011.

On 10 March 2011, the Trial court ordered charges against 97 individuals. On September 24, 2011, the Trial court acquitted 82 people and 15 individuals were convicted, but no one was found guilty of murder. Three have been accused of a guilty homicide which does not amount to murder with a maximum imprisonment of 10 years and five were jailed for five years, and seven were released on probation.

On October 31, 2011, three convicts were sentenced to life, five were given five years in prison with a fine of Rs 20,000 for each, and the other seven were placed on probation. On October 6, 2012, the trial court acquitted one convict from all charges who had previously absconded.

The High Court upheld the conviction and imprisonment of 13 convicts and reversed the acquittal of 20 persons who were previously acquitted and convicted them on August 24, 2018.

On August 2018, the court sentenced 12 out of the 33 convicted to life imprisonment. The court also found that people of the Jat community intentionally targeted houses of people of the Balmiki community, and the principal objective in the case was to "teach a lesson to people of the Balmiki community, and this was entirely accomplished by the accused individuals."

Continued tensions

On February 2017, a clash erupted out among a group of Dalits and a group of upper-caste men in Mirchpur where 9 Dalit youths, aged between 14 and 25, were badly injured. The attack occurred at a local playground where a cycle-stunt contest was being organized, according to the villagers. It began with a dispute about a group of upper caste youngsters reportedly passing casteist comments against one of the contestants. Within moments, after several individuals from the upper castes jumped in and began violently attacking the Dalit contestant, the altercation escalated into a full-blown assault. His friends and cousins who attempted to interfere were also thrashed. The situation brought under control by the police.

The next day 40 Dalit families left their homes in the village temporarily.
Namantar Andolan

Pradnya Jadhav

~ I have seen you
At the front of the Long March
The end of your sari tucked tightly at the waist
Shouting "Change the name"
Taking the blow of the police stick on your upraised hands
Going to jail with head held high......... ~ Jyoti Lanjewar

Namantar means Renaming. Few decades ago, the word Namantar had galvanized the entire Maharashtra, especially the Marathwada region, as the demand for renaming Marathwada University after Dr. Ambedkar started to evolve. In recent times, renaming places, institutions does not demand rigorous engagement and constant follow up, provided, the suggested name represents the true spirit of nationalism. However, the renaming of Marathwada University took more than 17 years causing severe damages to the lives of Dalits and yet without meeting the actual demand of the movement. The renaming was perhaps replaced by expansion of the previous name. Keeping the word "Marathwada" intact, on 14th January, 1994 the university was named as "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University".

(Namantar Shahid Smarak, Nagpur)


Marathwada was formerly a part of Nizam's territory, and was deprived of any educational institutions. Babasaheb had entered into the Marathwada region with the vision of uplifting its educational status. He established huge, spacious, well-equipped modern infrastructure with constructions themes echoing Buddhist culture. This history reflects his grand ideas about educational institutions. He created the safest, most accessible and affordable spaces for the students in the form of hostels. The unique features of the hostels allowed students to cook their own food in the hostel rooms, so that they could easily manage with their limited support from their families and concentrate on studies and needn't have to drop out due to hunger. The educational institutions started by Babasaheb laid the foundation of setting up a separate University for Marathwada region.

The Namantar Andolan lasted for around 20 years from the 1970s to 1994. The history of the Namantar struggle is presented in different and often disconnected versions, sometimes treating it as a site of investigation, or documentation of events spanning the whole time of revolt, analysing the roles of its proponents and opponents, functioning of the State machinery and so on. The patronizing group of researchers have referred to the Namantar struggle mostly in the context of how Dalits were exploited; making evident their fear that after Namantar the entire Marathwada might become the land of Dalits.

The history of Namantar Andolan cannot be concluded on the note of its failure or success. The task of understanding the Namantar struggle from the perspective of constructing the history of Ambedkarite assertions all over the country illustrates why Babasaheb's name was so important. This movement introduces leaders like Pratibha Tayade, Suhasini Bansode, Gautam Waghmare, Vilas Dhone, Narayan Gaikwad, Pratima, Sharad Patole and several thousand others and their sacrifices. It is a movement with women leading from the front, captured so well in Jyoti Lanjewar's poem "Ai". In a song by Vitthal Umap, he rightly conveys the importance of Babasaheb in our lives saying "because of my Babasaheb, mute have a voice, the incapacitated have started to walk, hear, see and read." The name of Babasaheb is important for us, and so is Namantar crucial for us.

Namantar Andolan has continuously asked and will continue to ask why it took so long to rename the University? Until we find a more plausible answer, let us say, it was probably because, "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar" is a dangerous name! It is Hazardous to the existence of Savarnas and injurious to the "Indian Social Structure". Namantar Din Long Live!

Jai Bhim!
Paramakudi riots-2011
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Paramakudi riots were a series of riots that happened from 10 to 13 September 2011 in Paramakudi, in the Ramanathapuram district. The riots were held in response to the detention of Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) leader John Pandian who was detained while heading to Paramakudi to commemorate the 54th death anniversary of Immanuvel Devendrar, a revolutionary leader from the Pallar caste.

Violence

On 11 September, the second day of rioting, five rioters were killed and 50 injured. Two later died of their injuries. Hundreds of policemen were injured. Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Sandeep Mittal and Superintendent of Police, K. A. Senthilvelan and DSP Ganesan were grievously injured in the stone-pelting.[2] According to district collector Arun Roy, the police opened fire when the mob refused to disperse after an attempt to use tear gas. According to Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalithaa Jayaram, "What happened at Paramakudi was unfortunate and we are forming an inquiry commission under a retired high court judge to probe the whole incident". Justice Sampath commission justified the police firing without which there would have been loss of lives and state property. The report suggested that sensitive caste gatherings must be avoided.
Ponparappi violence-2019
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2019 Ponparappi violence
Violence against Dalit community in Ponparappi, Tamil Nadu
Date 18 April 2019
Location
Caused by Caste tensions, Political tensions
Methods Riotingassault
Casualties
Injuries 18
Damage
65-115 Dalit houses damaged
25 Dalit houses completely damaged

Tensions started during the polling for the 2019 Indian general election where some members of the Hindu Munnani reportedly broke a pot which is the election symbol of the VCK and when some members of the PMK reportedly prevented an elderly Dalit person to vote in the elections. These tensions led to scuffles and stone pelting between the two parties. Later a mob of 100 people reportedly belonging to the PMK went on to attack the Dalit colony, damaging Dalit owned houses, house hold items and vehicles and assaults against the Dalits including attacks against the women and children. There were also reports of sexual abuse on Dalit women.The 2019 Ponparappi violence happened on April 18, 2019 during the polling day for the 2019 Indian general election in the village of PonparappiTamil Nadu. The violence reportedly started as scuffles and agitations between the supporters of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and the members of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) together with the members of Hindu Munnani, which reportedly led to violence by the members of the PMK on a Dalit colony. 60 to115 Dalit houses were damaged and Dalits were also assaulted during the violence.

The Study carried out by the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) blamed the Hindu Munnani and the PMK for the Violence. MIDS also reported that the attack was "pre-planned and murderous".

Background

The village of Ponparappi is situated in the Ariyalur district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The village had over 300 families belonging to the Dalit community and 1000 families belonging to the Vanniyar caste. The Dalits also had to cross into the area of the dominant caste Vanniyars for Swachh Bharat and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) schemes.

The Hindu Munnani, a Hindutva outfit, had grew in popularity among the dominant caste Vanniyars owing to the presence of Christians among the Scheduled Caste population.

Election violations

Frequent violent incidents, repeated casting of votes, mass deletion of names of voters and such were recorded on polling day from several parts of the State. In the Dharmapuri lok sabha constituency's Nathamedu village in Pappireddipatti, men reportedly belong to the PMK were seen casting fraudulent votes. A security officer of the CISF at Keezhvisharam in Vellore fired shots in the air to break two different groups of party members engaging in fist fights.

Tensions

Tensions reportedly began when some people belonging to Vanniyar caste tried to prevent an elderly person to vote, the person voted with the help of the police and when members of the Hindu Munnani shattered an earthen pot under alcoholic influence at the front of the panchyat office where the polling took place for the 2019 Indian general election. The earthen pot was the election symbol of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi. MIDS blamed PMK that it spread a rumor that a Dalit youth assaulted a differently abled Vanniyar man, who used to sell alcohol in the region. The animosity between the two parties intensified, leading to scuffles, stone pelting and damaging of the VCK party flag on the road side.

Attacks

The attacks started on April 2018 when a mob of about 100 dominant caste members, reportedly belonging the PMK party, an ally of the AIADMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), entered the Dalit colony on the polling day of the 2019 Indian general election and went on a rampage attacking the Dalits including the children and women and damaging motor bikes. The violence lasted for an hour and left 2 Vanniyars and 16 Dalits injured. Nearly 65 houses and 12 two-wheelers were reportedly damaged as per initial reports.

Over 100 people had abstained from voting as a result of the attack, though some Dalit students who graduated classes 10th and 12th did not go to get their certificates since their schools were located in the Vanniyar region.

Investigations

The Madras Institute of Developmental Studies (MIDS) carried out a study on April 25 which reported that the PMK and the Hindu Munnani were responsible for the attacks. The team also reported that the Dalit women were pulled out of their homes, and were verbally and sexually abused by the assailants. While women pleaded them to leave, the assailants proceeded to abuse the women. The team also termed the violence as "preconceived and murderous".

Evidence, a rights organization based in Madurai, which conducted an evaluation on the spot and reported that 115 houses had been damaged and 25 among them were completely damaged, 13 people were hospitalized and many sustained injuries to the head. The organization reported that the attackers have used derogatory language against women and victims. The founder of the organization, Kathir reported that the residents of the Dalit colony voted overwhelmingly for the VCK, which angered the PMK and led to the violence. The organization also requested to call the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) instead of allowing the police to investigate the violence.

Arrests

25 cases were filed against the members of the Hindu Munnani and the PMK by the police which included a member of the Hindu Munnani who was also accused in the 2016 Ariyalur gang rape case.The police also filed 24 cases against the Dalits as counter FIR's to force them to come into terms.

After the violence 9 men belonging to the VCK were also arrested for circulating offensive audio related to the violence.

Political reactions

The fact-finding team of the Tamil Nadu state unit of the Congress SC and ST cell reported that the police officers stayed as a silent spectator as of the dominant caste group targeted Dalits and their properties. They also claimed that the PMK and the Hindu Munnani were responsible for the violence. The Party's general secretary K. Jeyakumar, said that violence happens only in the areas where the PMK is in the majority.

The Amma Makkal Munnetra kazhagam (AMMK) general secretary TTV Dinakaran also blamed the police for failing to prevent the attack.

The PMK asserted that the conflict on the day of polling was staged by the VCK to frame the PMK.

M K Stalin, the president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam condemned the violence and also urged the Chief Electoral Officer and DGP for Election to take measures to develop the people into fraternity.

Thol Thirumavalavan, the general secretary of the VCK blamed the PMK and the Hindu Munnani for the violence and also said that the AIADMK and BJP have unleashed violence in various places for fear of losing the elections in Tamil Nadu. In particular, the PMK is inciting caste-based violence to win the polls. He also stated that he would seek for a re-poll and said that 150 homes were damaged during the violence. He also said that the police remained as a mute spectators.

Vaiko of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam condemned the violence and also blamed the police for failing to stop the violence.

Kamal Haasan compared the violence with his delayed drama Marudhanayagam which talks about caste violence 300 years ago. He also said that the violence is a shame to the entire Tamil race.
Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar Violence
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1997 Ramabai killings
Part of Caste-related violence in India
Date 11 July 1997
Location
Ramabai colony, Mumbai
19°04'26.9"N 72°55'10.6"E
Methods Police violence
Parties to the civil conflict

Special Reserve Police Force (SRPF) Dalit protesters

Lead figures

Manohar Kadam (SRPF sub-Inspector)

Casualties and losses

10 killed, 26 injured

The 1997 Ramabai killings were a mass killing of Dalit residents of the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar colony in Mumbai on 11 July 1997. A team of State Reserve Police Force members fired upon a crowd protesting the recent desecration of a statue of Dalit micon B. R. Ambedkar. 10 Dalits were killed and 26 injured in the incident.

The statue of Ambedkar was decorated with a garland of shoes which angered the Dalits. The Dalits took to the street and the police opened fire killing 10 dalits. Police officer Manohar Kadam, who allegedly ordered the firing, was released on bail in 2009

Attacks

Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar is a predominantly Dalit urban colony in the city of Mumbai. On 11 July 1997, a statue of Ambedkar in front of the colony was found to have had a garland of sandals placed around its neck, in an act widely seen as a desecration. The outraged residents of the colony complained to the nearest police station, Local Beat No. 5 Pantnagar Police, which happened to be located a few metres from the statue. The complainants were instead directed to the Pantnagar police station. A crowd of protesters began to form, and by 7 AM had blocked the highway that ran in front of the colony.

A team of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) members arrived a few minutes later, and opened fire on the crowd with live ammunition. The firing continued for 10–15 minutes, and killed 10 people, including a bystander who had not been involved in the protests. The protests then grew more violent. At approximately 11:30 AM, a luxury bus was set ablaze. In response, about 25 police officers entered Ramabai Colony, deployed tear gas and began a lathi charge. By the end of the day 26 people had been seriously injured, and Local Beat No. 5 had been destroyed by the protesters.

Commentators on the event suggested that the excessive use of force was motivated by caste-based prejudice against the Dalit protesters. This was because the sub-Inspector who led the police force stood accused in multiple cases involving caste-based discrimination. Vilas Ghogre, a Dalit activist, poet, and artist, committed suicide in protest at the event.

Trial

Following the killing, the Maharashtra Government appointed the Gundewar commission to enquire into the issue in November 1997. In 1999, the commission published its report. Two years later a case was filed in a sessions court against Manohar Kadam. A few years later, it was transferred to the Crime Investigation Department, which filed a charge-sheet in 2006. In 2009, the sessions court found Kadam guilty of "homicide amounting to murder," and sentenced him to life-imprisonment. However, the sentence was later revoked by the high-court, and released him on bail. In April 2011, the protesters who had been arrested for setting the bus on fire were acquitted, with the court finding that they had not been present during the incident.

In media

Indian documentary film-maker Anand Patwardhan, a friend of Vilas Ghogre, created a documentary based on the incident, entitled Jai Bhim Comrade. Patwardhan stated that the filming took 14 years because he was waiting for the accused policemen to be jailed, and the residents of the colony to be acquitted
Seshasamudram violence-2015
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 2015 Seshasamudram violence also known as the Villupuram violence refers to the violence that took place on 15 August 2015 in Seshasmudram, a village in Viluppuram District, Tamil Nadu. A crowd of 500 dominant-caste villagers attacked a Dalit colony over a dispute over a procession of a temple car. 15 houses belonging to the Dalits were burnt down and 40 Dalits were injured during the violence.

Background

In the village, there were 2000 Vanniyar families and 75 Dalit families.

Festival tensions

The Dalits were denied entry to at least 5 temples controlled by the Vanniyars. The Dalit community constructed a Mariamman temple in the village and for four years, they were refused permission to conduct a procession by the local administration as it was opposed by the Vanniyars and that it could also cause tensions in the village.

The Dalits threatened to accept Buddhism if they were not permitted to take the car out in 2015. Peace committee meetings were held by the Villupuram district administration, attended by a 100 members from Vanniyar community and 5 members from the Dalit colony, and it was agreed that Dalits will be allowed to conduct the procession.

In the year 2015, The Dalit colony's Mariamman temple car festival was planned for August 16. Following 2012, when the temple car was constructed, policemen have been posted regularly in the village. While the whole Dalit colony was involved in the arrangements, the Vanniyars, mainly young people, departed for the neighboring town of Kallakurichi, where Anbumani Ramadoss, one of the leaders of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), was taking part in a demonstration.

Attacks

The attacks began at 8:30 pm on August 15 on Independence day. Police stated that even after the peace negotiations, a group of Vanniyars dug up the route to block the temple car procession. The mob of 100, including women, began hurling stones on the police when they tried to stop the mob and threw petrol bombs at the temple vehicle, burning it. Police claimed that this attack was made by the Vanniyars returning from the demonstration held by the PMK.

A mob of 500 people armed with crow bars, stones, sticks, sickles and petrol filled bottles reached the Dalit colony. They took positions on the rooftops watching over the colony at the same time. By vandalizing the transformer in the area, the mob had turned off power supply. When the lights went out, they hurled petrol bombs and stones from the rooftops into the colony. Another party stormed in the colony and quickly smashed the tube lights and the bulbs. Then they burned huts and properties after discovering nobody there. Then the group attacked the badly outnumbered policemen, who attempted to stop the attackers. The police team had relocated the Dalits to the fields and told them to stay there before backup reached the village. Some of the policemen also suffered injuries. At least 15 houses were burned down and about 40 Dalit people were injured. 8 police officers and 3 village assistants were also injured. Vehicles of Dalit families were also burned by the mob. The police discovered that half a dozen goats were killed. During their attack the mob also shouted "Burn them! No Paraiyars should be let off". Many of the Dalits lost money, jewels and their bona fide records.

The police had to shoot in the air several times to enter, as the Vanniyars blocked the policemen to go through their area to enter the Dalit colony. It eventually took a rain that lasted almost an hour to extinguish the fire.

On September 2015, a house belonging to a Vanniyar were set on fire. A local source said it was an accident, not an act of retribution. Later, 2 Dalit houses were again torched on september with petrol bombs, the victims claimed that their houses were burned when they spoke to the media about the recent violence.

Investigations

A human rights organization based in Madurai named Evidence, claimed a number of Dalit women had been abused in the attack. They had been stripped and told to run away, abandoning their children in the house. The riots which started on 8:30pm at night was reported to have continued until early in the morning of the next day.

As per police reports and residents, in the countdown of the 2012 panchayat election, a Vanniyar contestant named Subramanian pledged to help the Dalit community to buy a temple car in an effort to attract the Dalit vote. He helped them buy the car after winning by collecting funds and using the money of the Dalits. Vanniyars objected taking the car through the streets where they lived. Local officials refused permission for the procession for the past three years as they were unable to solve the issue. The district magistrate granted permission on 2015 to the Dalits being unable to withhold approval forever.

After the violence, the police arrested and jailed Subramanian for being responsible for the riots and jailed him in Vellore central prison. Local news sources stated that Subramanian of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam disrupted the villagers unity by inciting a caste clash between both the communities. Subramani confessed that other than him, over 100 Vanniyar men were preparing an attack together.
Arrests
85 people, including 18 women and seven minors, all from the Vanniyar caste, were detained by police. Two more people were later arrested.
Ramnad riots : 1957

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ramnad riots or the Mudukulathur riots were a series of violent clashes that occurred between July and September 1957 in the Ramnad district and in southern Tamil Nadu, India. The violence was between Thevars supporting the Forward Bloc, and pro-Congress Dalit Pallars, and was triggered by a by-election held in the aftermath of the Madras Legislative Assembly elections of earlier that year. 42 Dalits were killed during the riots.

Background
Treatment of Dalits

Ramanathapuram district was deemed to be infamous for its brutal caste-based discrimination during the colonial era of the 1930's. Dalits were denied any type of symbols linked with superior social position. In his book, J. H. Hutton, the then Census Commissioner, explained the eight restrictions enforced on Dalits by Upper castes, including a ban on the use of jewelry, ornaments and education. This system was subsequently re-established with a stricter collection of 11 restrictions.

Rise of Dalits

In the 1930s, with the support of Christian missionaries, Dalits became educated and economically strengthened. Migration and religious conversion to a certain degree, allowed them to gain access to jobs and education and thus they started to assert themselves. But at the other side, the Thevars stayed disadvantaged in education and, as reported in the Government Order in 1957, they were unable to "align themselves with the present democratic reality and could not accept that the feudal system was rapidly disappearing."

Due to the rise of Immanuel Sekaran, there was a huge change in society in the form of resistance to caste exploitation by low caste and Dalit workers, particularly in the southern districts as well as from left-wing movements in the Thanjavur district. This led to increased awareness amongst Dalits, who used the opportunities available in the government through the policy of reservations. The Social Scientist M. S. S. Pandian described that migrating to greener pastures and later returning to their villages and investing in agriculture enhanced their financial base, which ultimately led to Dalits, starting to assert themselves.

Elections

The Congress Reform Committee (CRC) was formed one month before the 1957 elections to the Lok Sabha and the Madras Legislative Assembly, and soon began cooperation with the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) of U. Muthuramalingam Thevar. The CRC-AIFB combined contested 59 seats in the assembly election, 54 candidates from CRC, and five candidates from AIFB. There was also an informal agreement with the Communist Party of India, which did not oppose the CRC.

In the 1957 general elections, U. Muthuramalingam Thevar had contested both the Srivilliputhur parliamentary seat and the Mudukulathur seat in the Madras legislative assembly. He won both, defeating the Congress candidates. The combined CRC-AIFB formulated a 12-point election manifesto and emerged as the major opposition alliance in these elections, but could not defeat the Congress government. CRC won 14 seats and AIFB won three. Half of the seats won were from the Ramnad and Madurai districts. Following the election, a joint 'CRC opposition' group was formed in the legislative assembly, to counter the bid of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (which had 16 seats) to hold the post of Leader of the Opposition. Soon five independent assembly members joined the CRC opposition group, and V.K. Ramaswamy Mudaliar was elected leader. After the election, Thevar chose to retain his parliamentary seat, and a by-election was called for the Mudukulathur assembly constituency.

The by-election was held on 1 July, and when the results were released on 4 July, the situation in the area grew tense. The Forward Bloc candidate T.L. Sasivarna Thevar won the election. Gradually, incidents of violent clashes between Thevars (who generally supported the Forward Bloc) and pro-Congress Devendrakula Velalar began to occur. Initially these clashes were limited to a handful of villages, but after some time the violence spread throughout the constituency. In order to offer sacrifices to the Badrakali temple, the Maravars kidnapped 9 Dalit men from the Katamangalam village and took them.

Events during the riots

A 'peace conference' was held on 10 September, attended by U. Muthuramalinga Thevar (who had returned day before from Delhi), T.L. Sasivarna Thevar and Velu Kudumbar from the Forward Bloc party, a delegation of six representatives from Devendrakula Velalar from the Congress party and Veluchamy Nadar and Soundara Pandian of Kamuthi (a representative from the Nadar caste). The conference was convened by the Ramnad district collector. The peace meeting was held in a nearby village called Mudukulathur. Initially all delegates, including Immanuvel Sekaran and the district collector, appealed to Thevar to campaign for peace in all riot affected areas but Veluchamy Nadar did not agree. The conference delegates finally decided to give statements independently.

On 11 September, Emmanuel Sekaran, a member of the Congress delegation at the peace conference, was murdered in Paramakudi by Maravars.

On 13 September, clashes erupted at Arumkulam. Five Devendrakula Velalar and three Thevars were killed, and their bodies were thrown into a fire. Two of the Thevars and one of the Devendrakula Velalar were women.

On 14 September, a group of armed police entered the village of Keelathooval in order to arrest suspects in the Emmanuel Sekaran murder case. Five Thevars were killed in police gunfire. According to Forward Bloc sources, the five were blindfolded and executed. A police inquiry commission later refuted that claim.

On 16 September, clashes erupted in villages including Veerambal, Arumbakkan, Irulandapatti and Sandakottai. In the two latter places sixteen Devendrakula Velalar, including one woman, were killed by Kallars. On the same day, the Thevar village of Ilanchambol was attacked by a Devendrakula Velalar mob; the village had been deserted by the police two days earlier. Two Thevars were killed in the attack. The attack was interrupted as Thevars from the neighbouring village of Keelapanayur arrived, driving off the pallar and killing four people.

On 17 September, police opened fire on Forward Bloc cadres in the village of Keeranthai. Five of those killed was Thevars and one was a Devendrakula Velalar. On 18 September, Devendrakula Velalar houses were torched in Thandikudi. On 19 September, hundreds of houses, belonging to both Thevars and Devendrakula Velalar, were torched in the villages of Piramanur, Vadi, Tiruppuvanam, Nallur and Tiruppachatti. On the following day police opened fire on a Thevar mob, but with no casualties.

On 20 September, police gunfire killed five thevars, four in Uluthumadi and one in Malavavanenthall. In Veerambal, Kallar and Maravar stormed a church where a group of Devendrakula Velalar had sought refuge. Two Devendrakula Velalar were killed and a further 32 were injured. On 21 September, more clashes occurred, but from the following day onward there were no reported incidents.

On 28–29 September 1957, CRC held a state conference and reconstituted itself as the Indian National Democratic Congress. U. Muthuralinga Thevar, one of the inaugural speakers of the event, was arrested just after having delivered his speech. Later, a court in Pudukottai acquitted Thevar of all charges. The Judge who handled the case called Muthuramalinga 'a lookalike of Vallalar'.
Samrau-2018
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Samrau

town

Samrau
Location in Rajasthan, IndiaShow map of RajasthanShow map of IndiaShow all
Country  India
Tehsil Osian

Samrau is a medium-sized village located in Osian, Tehsil of the Jodhpur District, Rajasthan, with a total of 244 families residing in it. According to the 2011 Population Census, Samrau has a population of 1,554 people. Of that number, the census identifies 822 individuals as male and 732 as female. As per the constitution of India and Panchyati Raaj Act, Samrau village is governed by an elected representative called a Sarpanch (Head of Village). Samrau has one Primary Health Center and more than 10 Schools within its territory, including Rajputs, Jats and Bishnoi's. The village has temples of almost all the Hindu gods.

Samrau violence

On the evening of 14 January 2018, a 36-year-old liquor trader, Hanuman Ram Jat, a history-sheeter was shot at and ran over by a vehicle in Samrau. After the murder around 10 thousand Jaat people gathered at Samrau along with few local Jaat MLAs. Tension prevailed at the village due to the villagers being in a strike along with the body of deceased, demanding the arrests of all the accused in this connection. The protesters set many shops and houses of the Rajput people in the village on fire, damaged police vehicles, and also pelted stones. They also destroyed the old Raawla (King Residence); this incident is considered as the failure of Jodhpur Police. After the civil unrest, the Home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, state police DGP and many MPs as well as MLAs visited the village.

Geography

Samrau is located in the Thar Desert at an elevation of 230 meters above mean sea level. The village is 90 km from district headquarter Jodhpur and 40 km from Osian.
Saharanpur violence : 2017 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2017 Saharanpur violence
Date April–May 2017
Location

Caused by Protest against Maharana Pratap's procession
Casualties
Death(s) 2 (One Rajput and One Dalit)
Injuries 16

Saharanpur
Location in Uttar Pradesh


The Saharanpur violence was a dispute in April–May 2017 between the Dalit and Rajput communities.
Violence

There had been an incidence of trouble between the Dalit and Thakur Rajput communities on 20 April 2017 when the Dalits were celebrating the birth anniversary of B. R. Ambedkar. On 5 May 2017, a group of Rajputs entered into dalit colony when they were on their way to a garlanding ceremony in honour of Maharana Pratap in spite of denial by administration to enter this colony and on this occasion the violence escalated, resulting in death of one rajput, several injuries and the burning of as many as 25 Dalit houses. The Dalits claimed that the 20-25 strong Rajput group was an unauthorised procession. Security forces were subsequently deployed to monitor the locality.
Aftermath

An attempt by Dalits to protest on 9 May in Gandhi Park against the troubles was denied permission by city authorities, leading to more violence as the people turned instead to the streets. It was alleged that the Dalit protestors set fire to a police base and various vehicles. Subsequently, on 22 May, around 5000 Dalits peacefully protested at Jantar Mantar, led by the Bhim Army. Organisers later claimed that the actual attendance was around 1500-2000 people.

On the same day as the Jantar Mantar event, 180 families from Rupdi, Kapurpur, Ighri and Unali villages near Shabbirpur protested by immersing Hindu worshipping elements in a river and converting to Buddhism. They claimed that Hinduism did not give them equal status.

Raj Babbar, an Indian National Congress politician, later said that the "UP government failed to protect victims of caste-based violence". The Dalit leader Mewani said, "When the procession was being taken out, preventive measures should have been taken by the police and the administration. But nothing of the sort was done. And now Dalits are being targeted and are being hunted down. It is evident that CM Yogi and PM Modi want to replace the Constitution with Manusmriti."

Violence broke out again between Dalits and Thakurs on 23 May 2017 at three different places. One Dalit was killed.
Shankarbigha Massacre

The Republic Day-eve massacre of 23 Dalits by the Ranbir Sena has further intensified the strife between upper-caste landlords and naxalites in central Bihar and strengthened the political mobilisation against the Rabri Devi Government.

TWENTY-THREE residents of Shankarbigha village in Bihar's Jehanabad district, all from families of landless agricultural workers belonging to the backward communities of Paswan, Chamar, Dushads and Rajwar, were murdered in cold blood on January 25. The killers were members of the outlawed Ranbir Sena, a private army of upper-caste Bhumihar landlords. Five women and seven children, including a 10-month-old, were among those killed.

The incident is but part of a series of massacres that mark the recent history of the central Bihar districts. Killings have occurred with frightful regularity - in Arwal and Kansara in 1986, Golakpur (1987), Malibigha (1988), Lakhawar (1990), Sawanbigha (1992), Aiara (1994), Khadasin (1997), Lakshmanpur-Bathe (1997) and Chouram and Rampur (1998).

Shankarbigha is located near Lakshmanpur-Bathe where the Ranbir Sena killed 61 agricultural workers belonging to backward communities in December 1997. To the east of Shankarbigha is Dhobibigha, a village dominated by upper-caste Bhumihars. To its north is Chouram, another Bhumihar village, where a landlord was killed by naxalites in retaliation for the Lakshmanpur-Bathe massacre. Consi-dering the intense caste and class struggles that go on in central Bihar, Shankarbigha's 68 households were clearly vulnerable. It was more so after the Ranbir Sena's self-styled chief, Brahmeshwar Singh, told a local Hindi daily that his army had planned a genocide much larger in scale than the one it carried out in Lakshmanpur-Bathe, to avenge the killing of seven persons belonging to an upper caste by naxalites at Rampur in November 1998. He stated that the site of the massacre had been chosen and the targets identified. Preparations for the operation were under way, he said.

On the eve of Republic Day, about 100 Ranbir Sena activists carrying firearms descended on Shankarbigha, 126 km from Patna, around 10-30 p.m. They broke into huts and opened fire on people who were asleep. The objectives of the killers were, first, to terrorise the residents, who were getting attracted to the ideology of two prominent naxalite groups - the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Party Unity - and, second, to seek to establish the supremacy of landlords.

According to reports, the killers entered Shankarbigha, which is not accessible by road, by crossing a canal branching off from the Sone river. Ramnath, whose sister and her three children were killed, said: "The toll would have been higher had people from neighbouring villages such as Dhebai, Rupsagarbigha and Karamchebigha not opened fire. Before fleeing the village, the killers shouted 'Ranbir Baba ki jai' (Long live Ranbir Baba) and 'Ranbir Sena jinda rahenge' (Ranbir Sena will remain alive)." Brahmeshwar Singh had declared in the wake of the Rampur killings: "Hum saat ka badla shatak se lenge" (we will avenge the murder of seven of our men by killing 100 people).

Eyewitnesses said the assailants came from the villages of Dhobibigha and Shahbajpur and escaped towards Dhobibigha. They took just 20 minutes for the operation. The survivors were too numb to react. Six-year-old Tarania said she crept under bundles of hay with her one-year-old brother while her mother was shot in the chest. Sonadhari lost her only son and a daughter. The six-member family of Mohali Paswan was wiped out. Jagmohan Sah, his wife and one of their two sons were killed. Bindheswar is among the 14 persons who were seriously injured and are being treated at the Patna Medical College Hospital. He scaled a mud wall and hid himself in a mustard field.

Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi and Laloo Prasad Yadav at the site of the carnage in Shankarbigha village on January 26.-RANJEET KUMAR

At the break of dawn, people from nearby villages made a beeline for Shankarbigha. The bodies were strewn around, and the villagers did not allow the police to remove them until Chief Minister Rabri Devi visited the village. "Give us guns, not compensation. We do not want your money. We want to fight with those who have been killing us and moving around freely," Ramwatia Devi told Rabri Devi when she visited the village along with her husband and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav the following day.

Rabri Devi promised to bring the guilty to book. But the villagers pointed out that the perpetrators of the Lakshmanpur-Bathe carnage were yet to be arrested. The Chief Minister announced a compensation of Rs.1.4 lakhs, free rations for six months, a government job and pucca houses for the victims' kin. She also announced that a special court would be set up to try the accused: 24 of them have been identified and six arrested from Dhobibigha village. The administration imposed a collective fine on Dhobibigha village.

Describing the attack as a mindless massacre, police officials of Magadh range said that they had no information about Shankarbigha's residents having links with naxalite groups. Some of them might be supporters of the CPI(M-L) Liberation and the CPI(M-L) Party Unity, but they are poor landless people earning their livelihood by toiling in the fields of the Bhumihars. There were no reports of any land dispute either. Ramjatan Sharma, secretary of the Bihar unit of the CPI(M-L), which claims a marginal following in the village, said: "The villagers are not actively involved in naxalite politics, and we are not leading a movement at Shankarbigha."

THE killings at Shankarbigha and Lakshmanpur-Bathe have focussed attention on the Ranbir Sena and Brahmeshwar Singh. The Ranbir Sena was formed in August 1994 by the landlords of Bhojpur district with the objective of wiping out the naxalite movement in the State by killing their supporters and sympathisers. No important member of the Sena has been arrested till date. Brahmeshwar Singh - a farmer who owns 97 bighas of land - was arrested on two occasions earlier but was released.

Brahmeshwar Singh, a graduate from the Jain College in Arra, along with Dharicharan Chowdhury, a prosperous landlord of Belaur village in Bhojpur district, organised the Ranbir Sena and started the mass killing of Dalits and the landless in order to terrorise them into staying away from naxalites. The Ranbir Sena has 300 well-trained Bhumihar youths as its members and has sophisticated arms in its possession. The Sena has insured the lives of its activists and provides them monthly allowances and other benefits. It depends on the Bhumihar community for financial support. That political patronage, cutting across party and caste lines, is available to the Sena is evident from the fact that despite an official ban no major crackdown has been launched against it.

The situation in central Bihar has become grim with the outlawed naxalite group, the CPI(M-L) People's War, retaliating against the Shankarbigha killings. The People's War is a new, ultra-Left outfit formed with the merger of the People's War Group of Andhra Pradesh and the CPI(M-L) Party Unity of Bihar. An eye for an eye being the guiding principle of politics in Bihar, the CPI(M-L) PW killed two suspected associates of the Ranbir Sena - Bageswar Sharma, a leader of the Jehanabad district unit of the Communist Party of India, and his son Lalan - at Usri Kharia village on January 27, barely 8 km from Shankarbigha.

The retaliatory action is likely to worsen the Ranbir Sena-naxalite strife. Issuing a press statement over telephone, Ranbir Sena's spokesman Shamsher Bahadur Singh claimed responsibility for the Shankarbigha massacre and said that it was a warning to the naxalites. He said that blood would continue to flow unless naxalites restrained themselves.

The CPI(M-L) PW has, meanwhile, come out with a hit list; it has vowed to eliminate the Ranbir Sena and its chief. It said that it had chosen 119 Ranbir Sena targets, which included 35 hideouts and 32 villages. "We will impose capital punishment on the killers and their sympathisers in a ruthless manner," the State secretary of the CPI(M-L) PW, who calls himself Shravana, told journalists.

A child who survived the massacre, amid some bodies.-RANJEET KUMAR

Shravana said his party would continue a sustained campaign against the Sena. As part of this, the CPI(M-L) PW has urged agricultural workers to widen and deepen their economic blockade against rich landlords. Land disputes are at the core of the strife between the Ranbir Sena and the naxalites. "We are going to take drastic steps. We will deliver death to people who carried out the massacres," he said.

THE Shankarbigha massacre drew a chorus of condemnation from various quarters. President K.R. Narayanan virtually ticked off the Bihar Government for laxity and called for "stringent and urgent action" against persons responsible for the slaughter. "Law-enforcing agencies have a responsibility, by timely and decisive intervention, to prevent recurrence of such acts and obvious reprisal action," President Narayanan said in a statement.

On January 30, the Janata Dal and the Left parties, including the CPI(M-L) Liberation, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the CPI observed a bandh in Bihar.

Using the Shankarbigha massacre as another piece of evidence of lawlessness in Bihar, Governor Sunder Singh Bhandari has presented to Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, a fresh case for the dismissal of the Rabri Devi Government. Nearly five months ago Bhandari had made out a case for dismissing the State Government on the grounds of constitutional breakdown in the State, but the President returned for reconsideration a recommendation to this effect by the Union Cabinet.

The massacre has made the detractors of Laloo Prasad renew their demand for President's Rule in Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party-Samata Party alliance, which has consistently demanded the imposition of President's Rule, has been joined by the Janata Dal's sole Member of Parliament from Bihar, Ram Vilas Paswan. A Janata Dal delegation met the President and submitted a memorandum seeking the dismissal of the RJD Government.

However, the BJP's efforts to gain political mileage from the carnage and put the Rabri Devi Government on the mat have been undermined by the intense power struggle in the party's State unit. While the pro-Mandal and pro-Other Backward Classes (OBC) sections in the Bihar BJP, led by Sushil Modi, Sarju Rai and Nand Kishore Yadav, are believed to be keen to use the Shankarbigha killings to win over the OBCs, the Central leader in charge of the State BJP, Kailashpati Mishra, does not want to antagonise Bhumihars and Thakurs. Besides, the Bihar BJP is a weaker force incapable of planning an effective campaign against the RJD Government. The party suffers from groupism and rivalry following the recent expulsion of three of its leaders - Tarakant Jha, former State president, Yashodanand Singh, former State vice-president, and Kameshwar Paswan, former MP.

THE Left parties' fresh campaign against the growing lawlessness in Bihar under Rabri Devi seems to be an uncomfortable development for Laloo Prasad as it stands in the way of his efforts to make an entry into the proposed Third Front. The CPI and the CPI(M) are not inclined to share a platform with the RJD chief against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is preparing fresh charge-sheets in the fodder scam cases. Laloo Prasad's joy on being released on interim bail on January 8 appears to be short-lived as the CBI has completed the field work for filing charge-sheets in at least three cases - RC-5A/98, RC-42A/96 and RC-38A/96. The first case deals with possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and the second and third pertain to the conspiracy aspect of the Rs.950-crore fodder scam.

A police picket at the village.-DEEPAK KUMAR

Laloo Prasad may be remanded to judicial custody again once the CBI charge-sheets him in RC-5A/98 and the designated court takes cognizance of it. Laloo Prasad has secured bail in RC-20A/96 and RC-64A/96. U.N. Biswas, Joint Director of the CBI, has submitted a progress report on the investigations into the various cases to the Patna High Court Bench which monitors the case.

The RJD chief, who is lying low for now, is not politically comfortable. He has virtually lost an ally: the Congress(I) is on the verge of withdrawing support to the Rabri Devi Government.

Assembly elections in Bihar are due by March 2000. With several fodder scam cases pending against him, Laloo Prasad is not too sure if he would be able to campaign for his party then.(https://frontline.thehindu.com/other/article30256548.ece)

Tsundur massacre, Andhra Pradesh-1991

yespunjab.com/Represenatational image

In 1991, a young dalit graduate was beaten up after his feet unintentionally touched a Reddy man in a Cinema hall. The dalits of Chundur village in Guntur district supported their youth. Irked by this, the dominant Reddys of the village massacred 13 dalits.
ऊना हिंसा
मुक्त ज्ञानकोश विकिपीडिया से

11 जुलाई २०१६ को गुजरात के गिर सोमनाथ जिले की एक बस्ती के कुछ कथित लोगों ने गोरक्षा के नाम पर दलित समुदाय के ७ लोगों को बहुत बुरी तरह से पीटा और फिर उनके कपड़े फाड़कर बस्ती में लोगों के सामने घुमाया गया। इनमें से चार लोगों को मारे जाने का विडियो बनाकर सोशल मीडिया में डाला गया। इस विडियो को बाद में इन्टरनेट पर काफी लोगों ने देखा और वह वायरल हो गया। इस घटना और दलितों के खिलाफ हो रहे अन्यायों के विरोध में ऊना में एक बडा आंदोलन भी खड़ा हुआ।अगस्त २०१६ में ऊना दलित अत्याचार लाडत समिति के संयोजक और दलित कार्यकर्ता जिग्नेश मेवानी के नेत्रत्व में अहमदाबाद के एक रैली में हज़ारों दलित कामगारों ने मैला ढोने और जानवरों को दफनाने जैसे काम न करने की शपथ ली और सरकार को चेतावनी दी कि गुजरात में हर दलित परिवार को 5 एकड़ जमीन देने की मांग महीने भर में नहीं मानी गई तो पूरे देश में रेल रोको आंदोलन किया जायेगा|

Sir this article (una riots) is not related to una Himachal Pradesh so it shouldn't shown in himachal una wikipedia
Ilavarasan's Death

Ilavarasan's Death Was Definitely 'Not a Suicide', Says Doctor Who Examined Body

There were no grease marks on the Dalit youth's chest when two teams of doctors examined him, how did they appear later? asks forensic expert Dr. Sampath Kumar in an exclusive interview to The Wire.


Constructed sketch by Dr Sampath Kumar of one possible position of the train hitting Ilavarasan but not corroborated with the nature of his injuries. Credit: Dr. Sampath Kumar

Chennai: “We have everything to show that the death of E. Ilavarasan, the Dalit youth who was found dead by a railway track in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, four years ago, was not a suicide,” says Dr. Sampath Kumar, head of the forensic medicine department and vice-principal of the Sri Ramachandra Medical College and Research Institute in Chennai.

The marriage of Ilavarasan – a Dalit youth from Natham, Dharmapuri – to N. Divya, a Vanniyar girl from neighbouring Sellangottai, led to widespread violence and caste clashes in northern Tamil Nadu in 2013.

Kumar, one of the leading forensic experts in the country – he performed the autopsy when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 – was called upon to examine Ilavasaran’s body on July 11, 2013 and gave his opinion in the matter to the Madras high court. Kumar also submitted his opinion for the CB-CID investigation, which seems to have jettisoned it. In an exclusive interview to The Wire, the doctor said, “Even if we don’t have enough to prove that Ilavarasan was murdered, we have enough to show that he did not commit suicide.” Kumar also shared graphic pictures taken during three different examinations of the body and post-mortems by different doctors on different dates to prove his point.

Kumar has since deposed before the Justice S.R. Singaravelu Commission of Enquiry, which was constituted days after Ilavarasan’s death. The one-man commission is having another round of hearings on March 14–16 at Dharmapuri. Its recommendations could potentially breathe life into a case that has gone cold, especially in the wake of the Madras high court endorsing the police claim that the Dalit youth had committed suicide.

With over 26 years of experience behind him, Kumar has dealt with a number of sensitive cases over the course of his career – such as the recent murder of Salem’s Gokulraj (a Dalit who was murdered in June 2015 his relationship with a woman of the Gounder community), the death of three women students in a Villupuram college in January this year and the death of high court advocate R. Sankarasubbu’s son, Satish Kumar. In his interview, Kumar takes apart the ‘death-by-train’ theory floated and sustained by the railway and state police in Ilavarasan’s case using “scientific proof” that shows how evidence was tampered with and suppressed – particularly the mysterious appearance of grease marks on the dead youth’s chest after two post mortems had already been conducted, presumably to suggest he had made physical contact with the train.

The background

On February 21, following submission of the CB-CID report, the Madras high court bench of acting Chief Justice Hulvadi G. Ramesh and Justice R. Mahadevan ruled that Ilavarasan’s death was a case of suicidal death, and not murder.

The Tamil Nadu police claimed that Ilavarasan, who had been forcibly separated from Divya, had killed himself by coming under the Coimbatore–Kurla Express (train no.11014) at 1:20 pm on July 4, 2013, near the Dharmpuri railway station. After the first post mortem was conducted by a team of three doctors led by Dr. K. Thunder Chief of Government Medical College Dharmapuri, three other doctors were called to give their opinions based on its videograph. Thereafter, two more experts – Dr. Sampath Kumar of Ramachandra Medical College, and Dr. K. Thangaraj of SRM University Kanchipuram, were called to re-examine Ilavarasan’s body and the scene of death. The high court ordered another postmortem in view of their conflicting reports, and appointed a panel of three doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, which submitted its report on July 13, 2013. In all, a total of 12 doctors have expressed their opinions in the case.

In its latest order, based on the CB-CID investigation, the high court bench has cited only the AIIMS doctors as saying: “It is most likely that, since the deceased was under the influence of alcohol at the time of incidence (sic) and the ideation (sic) of committing suicide, sustaining injuries resulting into death could be possible due to accidental hitting by moving train. The opinion may be corroborated with the circumstantial evidences (sic) of investigations.” Based on this, the bench concluded: “In view of the above, the stand taken by the petitioner [Ilavarasan’s father] that it is a case of murder and not suicide, appears to be not genuine.”

Excerpts from The Wire’s interview with Dr. Sampath Kumar

You have expressed a strong suspicion in your opinion to the high court – after examining Ilavarasan’s body on July 11, 2013, and visiting the scene of death – that Ilavarasan may not have died by jumping in front of a train. Please throw some light on your findings that substantiate this.

There is every scientific proof that it is not a railway accident. The pattern of injury does not correlate with the story of him being hit by a train.

The most significant point is, the only two external injuries were along the left side of the head, and left forearm, whereas, the express train was coming at anything between 60-100 kmph on the right side. The nature and place of his injury rules out all possibilities of a railway accident in whichever position he may [have] been in. Even in the ‘crow catch position’, or standing at the edge of the track and facing the train, the whole of his front left side including his shoulder should have been injured. This was not the case.

We have tried to reconstruct one such position in the sketch. It is clear that had he been standing in that position, i.e, at the edge of the track and facing the train, the whole of his front left side should have been injured.

Constructed sketch by Dr Sampath Kumar of one possible position of the train hitting Ilavarasan but not corroborated with the nature of his injuries. Credit: Dr. Sampath Kumar

His shoulder would have been severely injured, as it is the most protruding part of the body. We did not find any injuries on the shoulders.

There were no cervical spine fractures seen, and no bruising around the cervical spine, which should have been the case, given the impact of being hit by a speeding train.

Had he been hit from the side by a train coming at that speed, he would have been thrown over and well beyond the culvert where his body was found – just 1.7 metres from the track. There would also have been injuries associated with the fall. There were no primary or secondary injuries seen because of hitting the culvert or falling on the ground.

What about if he had been lying on or close to the track?

That is ruled out because, in that case, the whole skull would be fractured. The injury was only on the left side. The CB-CID had asked me, ‘when the head was free to move, is it possible and mandatory to have injury to the spine and other associated injuries?’ Yes, in case of heavy impact to the skull such as in the case of running train, it will lead to extensive fractures of the skull bones, including cervical bones, and will have associated injuries. When the head is free, it is mandatory, as in whiplash injury the contusion of spinal cord or fracture will be seen.

What about the possibility of the ‘crow catch’ position, which was put forth by other doctors?

The theory that he was sitting and putting his head forward (‘crow catch’ position) on the side of the track when the train hit him is ruled out. It is a matter of simple logic that had he been in that position by the side of the train, and the train was coming from the right side, which was the case, it is the right side of his head which would have gotten hit. The injury was clearly only on the left. Had he been sitting in front (across) of the train, his entire skull would have fractured with multiple injuries.

What would you say about the injury on the left forearm that you noticed when you performed the post mortem?

It was not a deep injury. Crucially, the injury is on the posterior side of the left hand. If the railway accident is ruled out, then the injury in the outer aspect of the left forearm is a defence injury, i.e, he could have raised his arm in [self] defence, when he was being attacked.

The CB-CID and the Madras high court have concluded it is suicide, mainly based on the AIIMS doctors’ postmortem report, emphasising the fact that Ilavarasan was under the influence of alcohol….

The amount of alcohol in the brain according to the viscera report was 81 mg (per 100 ml of blood). Anything over 50mg can mean ‘under the influence of alcohol’. But this is highly subjective. Even someone with a measure of 300 mg can be normal, depending on many factors.

There is something seriously amiss in the AIIMS doctors’ report. And that is the presence of grease marks which they have reported “on the front of chest on both side, ventral and medical aspect of left hand and on the left middle finger on the dorsal aspect.” We have pictures taken by the first doctor (Dr. K. Thunder Chief, assistant professor, department of forensic medicine, Government Medical College Dharmapuri) who conducted the first post-mortem on Ilavarasan on July 5.

There were clearly no grease marks on the chest then. How could the grease marks have travelled through his shirt and baniyan, which had no marks, on to his chest? Neither were there grease marks on the chest when I examined the body on July 11.

Five doctors who examined the body did not see grease marks on the chest. Then when and where did these marks appear from? Only on July 13, when the AIIMS doctors saw them?

Grease marks on which were not present on Ilavarasan’s chest when the first two post mortems were performed mysteriously appear before the third one on July 13, 2013. Credit: Special Arrangement

The picture taken by the AIIMS doctors on the day they conducted the re-postmortem shown by the police, clearly shows the grease marks had ‘appeared’ on the chest on July 13. The picture also shows a ‘grease mark’ on his finger, which I disputed as mere ink.

Were there any procedural lapses on the part of the investigation officers in the course of your examination?

Yes, there were many. They whitewashed the culvert and changed the gravel at the spot Ilavarasan was found within 24 hours of his body being found. Most vitally, the photograph provided to me showed a clean white shirt without any grease or dirt marks, which had gone missing when I inspected the body. When I asked to examine them, they told me his shirt, watch and footwear could not be found. Dr. Thunder Chief had seen the shirt – Ilavarasan was wearing a white shirt, and there was no dirt on it. With the impact of a train hit, he would have been thrown/rolled over the culvert, his shirt would have dirt marks. But it was spotless. So where did his shirt go missing? Dr. Thunder Chief, who did the post mortem had given it to the railway police. When we asked the railway police, they said they had handed it over to the local police. When we asked the local police, they said they’d handed it back to the railway police. They also only showed me a photograph of his watch.

I have met Justice Singaravelu and deposed before the honourable judge, who heard me in depth and recorded my statement. We appreciate his scientific knowledge and the queries he put forward in the interest of this case. Even if we don’t have enough to prove that Ilavarasan was murdered, we have everything to show that he did not commit suicide. This was not a railway accident.

Postscript

Asra Garg was the superintendent of police in Dharmapuri at the tine of Ilavarasan’s death and led the investigation into the incident. He has now been deputed to the Central Bureau of Investigation in Delhi. The Wire asked him over the phone about the mysterious appearance of the grease marks at the time of the AIIMS autopsy.

“I am not in a position to tell. It was four-five years ago, moreover, it is a matter relating to postmortem, so the doctors who have done this will be in a more competent position to talk about it,” he said. “I have to see the documents which are in the CB file and all the reports which have been given by the doctors. Maybe you should ask the AIIMS team who has written this.”

Asked about Ilavarasan’s position when the train allegedly hit him, how his watch was found on the culvert and not Ilavarasan’s body and the fact that no one has seen the watch since, Garg said, “Whatever you want to get clarified is in the affidavit. You can talk to the investigation officer of the case, he’ll be in a better position … he will remember many things more than me. Whatever was written in the affidavit, was based on pukka evidence. If the family has any other doubts, they can search legal remedies.”

“All these things have already been covered in the investigation. We have filed a detailed affidavit in the high court, subsequently, the case was also transferred to the CB-CID, the CB-CID has also done a re-investigation and also found that the facts found by the district police of Dharmapuri, by the investigation officer, is correct, and the HC after going into it in detail has found there is no need for any further investigation and they’ve closed the matter. So that is my comment.”
Uthapuram caste wall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Uthapuram caste wall, called by various names as the wall of shame, the wall of untouchability is a 12 ft high and 600 meter long wall built by dominant caste villagers reportedly to segregate the Dalit population in the Village of Uthapuram in Tamil Nadu. The village witnessed violence between Dalits and the dominant castes during 1948, 1964 and 1989 and was also known for its caste based discrimination.

Protests started in 2008 campaigning to demolish the wall led mostly by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and left-wing organizations. Later a small potion of the wall was demolished by the government to allow entry to the Dalits to access the main road. Many dominant caste villagers left the village and moved 3 km away with their belongings reportedly as a protest for demolishing the wall.

70 houses belonging to the Dalits were attacked on October 2008 reportedly in retaliation for the demolition of the wall and a Dalit man was shot dead by the police. Tensions continued until 2015, when during a clash between the communities several vehicles were set on fire and many were hospitalized.

Background

Caste divisions and clashes

The Village of Uthapuram in the Madurai district has two major castes, the dominant caste Pillai and the Dalit Pallar caste. The village was known for its caste tensions and there were violent conflicts between the castes during the years 1948, 1964 and 1989.

Caste discrimination

The dominant caste villagers reportedly blocked attempts of the Dalits to build a bus stop and increased the elevation of a parapet close to the bus stop to discourage the Dalits from sitting before them. The tea-shops managed by caste Hindus are not visited by the Dalits. The Dalits are not permitted to enter an dominant caste-dominated streets and are refused space in the community halls and in the village squares and were also denied entry to burial sites.

The wall

The wall which was 600 meters long and 12 ft high was described in variously as a caste wall, a wall of shame, a wall of bias and a wall of untouchability, was built by caste-Hindus in 1989 after a caste violence in the village. The passes through areas intended for common use by members of all the castes. It also barred Dalits from directly entering the main road. Dalits have to use a circular path and walk a some more miles to get to the main road.

Clashes and protests in 2008

The fourth conflict began in 2008 after a period of 20 years, and kept going in numerous ways for another 5 years. It began in April 2008 when the caste Hindus used iron rods to electrify the 600 meter wall to prevent the Dalits from entering into the dominant caste areas during night times. Initially, the Dalits were hesitant to contend but the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Communist Party of India (CPI) and All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) opposed this action by the dominant caste villagers vigorously. A member of the TNUEF alleged that two cows were electrocuted by the electrified wall. Following the state-wide protests of the progressive organisations, the electricity minister of Tamil Nadu called for the removal of the power line. The CPI(M) along with local Dalits started a campaign for the destruction of the caste wall. The Dalits orchestrated a demonstration at the front of the Taluk office calling for the wall to be pulled down. The CPI(M)'s general secretary, N. Varadarajan said that his party cadre will demolish the wall on their own if the government did not take any actions.

Demolition

On 6 May, the district administration got involved and destroyed a 15 foot portion of the wall to allow the Dalits to travel in the presence of a few hundred policemen and the supervision of the district officials. In an act of protest, some caste Hindus returned their ration cards to the Tehsildar. About 600 dominant caste members left the village during the demolition and moved to Thalaiyoothu, a place 3 km from the village with their livestock and declared that they would not return.

The problem became tense again when the dominant caste villagers who left the village didn't listen to a request from the District Collector to come back soon so that everyone in the village can live in peace. When district officials met with them, they made several demands including a patta for a temple where they had been worshiping for more than 400 years, a permanent police outpost in the village,and new housing for people whose residences which they claimed were destroyed by Dalit anti-socials during the riots of 1989.

At Thalaiyoothu on May 12, The leader of the village's dominant caste group, told Frontline that his people left the village more out of panic than as a mark of rebellion. After the wall was taken down, he said they felt insecure. He claimed the Dalits live better now with most of them having government jobs or being land owners. He also claimed that since the Dalits were actually on a buying spree and the dominant caste members fear that they might be forced to sell their property to Dalits. He also claimed that the wall was built to protect the dominant caste villagers. However this version is not accepted by the village's Dalits. They assert they were at the receiving side of hostility, instead of the other way around.

Attacks

On 1 October 2008, more than 70 Dalits houses were attacked as a response to the destruction of the wall and a Dalit youth was shot dead by the police as a result of the tensions on November 4, 2008.

Continued tensions

On 10 November 2011, several Dalits entered a temple controlled by dominant caste with police protection. Although several dominant caste members welcomed them with folded arms, there were women crying in the streets opposing their entry. In 2012, the Dalits were not allowed to participate in the temple's consecration ceremony and in 2013 the Dalits did not attend the temple festivals. In April 2014, the dominant caste villagers locked the temple and left the village opposing the High court order for allowing the Dalits for Temple entry.

On October 2015, the Dalits and the dominant caste villagers clashed during a temple festival which started over a dispute over placing a garland over a tree. Six motor-bikes were set ablaze and the tehsildars vehicle was also damaged. The police filed cases on 70 people belonging to both the castes and arrested 21. Several injured during the clashes were hospitalized.
Violence against Dalits on the rise
Protesters block a road in Faridabad after two Dalit children were burned alive in Sunped village on Tuesday. Photo: PTI


47,064 cases of crimes against Dalits were registered last year, up from 39,408 in 2013 and 33,655 in 2012

New Delhi: When a two-year-old boy and his 11-month-old sister were burned to death in Sunped village of Faridabad district in Haryana on Tuesday, it was the latest tragedy in a rising tide of caste violence, often aided by police complicity.

Vaibhav and Divya, and their parents Jitendra Kumar and Rekha, were asleep when their house was torched at around 2.00am. Rekha was hospitalized with 70% burns.

Kumar blamed a family with which he has had a long-standing feud. But what seemed to be a case of family enmity quickly took on darker undertones of a caste conflict—the victims are Dalits and the suspects upper-caste Thakurs.

Whatever the merits of this particular case, violence against the Dalit community has increased over the past few years. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 47,064 cases of crimes against Dalits were registered last year, up from 39,408 in 2013 and 33,655 in 2012.

Acts of violence have risen not just in terms of numbers, but also in intensity. In 2010, 70-year-old Tara Chand and his physically challenged daughter Suman were burnt to death when their house was burned down in Mirchpur, Haryana, along with 18 other Dalit homes, by members of the Jat community

Fifteen people were convicted and 82 acquitted by a sessions court the following year.

“When it comes to caste violence, Haryana has a dismal record. There has been a 271% increase in violence against Dalits over the past decade," said Ashok Bharti, national convener of the National Confederation of Dalit Organizations (NACDOR).

But it’s not just Haryana. Last year, three members of a Jadhav family were brutally murdered in Javkhade Khalsa village of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra.

Jayashree, her husband Sanjay and their son Sunil were reportedly hacked to death and their body parts scattered.

The incident evoked memories of the infamous Kherlanji massacre of 2006 when four members belonging to the Mahar community were killed in Maharashtra. The women of the family were reportedly paraded naked before being killed. The act was carried out by members of the Kunbi caste, classified as an Other Backward Class, in retaliation for the victim family opposing the acquisition of their land.


A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry was eventually conducted, and in 2008, six people were awarded the death sentence. In 2010, the Nagpur high court commuted the death penalties to life imprisonment.


“A Dalit boy’s wrist was chopped off because he was wearing a watch; another was killed as he had a song on (social reformer) B.R. Ambedkar as his ringtone. I can reel off incidents like this without even consulting news reports," said Rajeshwar Paswan, Bihar state coordinator for the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, a non-governmental organization.

From increasing economic independence of the Dalit community to a re-assertion of caste identity, several reasons have contributed to the cycle of violence.

“In Haryana and Punjab, the Dalit is no longer integrated in the new agrarian economy. From mechanization to migrant labourers to voluntary distancing, there are several reasons which have contributed to this," said S.S. Jodhka, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for the Study of Social Systems.

The Dalits are no longer dependent on upper castes for a livelihood; in fact, they often compete with them, and even do better.

Legislation against the caste system was introduced in India as early as 1850 under the Caste Disabilities Removal Act. After independence, it was only in 1990 that a law to shield the Dalits, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, came into effect.

In July last year, minister of social justice and empowerment T.C. Gehlot introduced the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill 2014 in the Lok Sabha.

The amendment seeks to introduce new offences, including garlanding with footwear, compelling to dispose of or carry human or animal carcasses or do manual scavenging, and abusing Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes by caste name in public. It adds a chapter on the rights of victims and witnesses. The bill also seeks the establishment of a special court at the district level to try offences mentioned in the bill.

“Dalits have been the fastest to change and adapt in our society, but the others have found traditional roles hard to let go of. Everything from traditional land holdings to personal relationships are changing. In such a scenario, the Atrocities Act does serve as a deterrent, but unless the police machinery applies it forcefully, the implementation remains a problem," says Bharti.

According to NCRB 2014 data, the chargesheeting rate in crimes committed against Dalits is 92.3%, while the conviction rate is 28.8%.

Crime against Dalits increased by 19% from 2013 to 2014.

“It is very difficult to get the police to cooperate with us. We often have to resort to protests and dharnas to even get a chargesheet filed. Sometimes, the victim is not aware that there is a special act for crimes committed against SC/STs," says Paswan.

“There is a need to make the political elite including the police establishment answerable to what happens. The police force is mostly made up of upper caste members and as such they become resources with the state system. Dalit empowerment results in re-assertion of caste identity from above, a sort of ‘we are the bosses’ feeling," says Jodhka.

81 cases of violence against Dalits reported during lockdown: CPI(M)

CHENNAI

‘Vigilance panels should be formed at State & district levels’

There have been 81 cases of caste-related atrocities against Dalits during the lockdown in Tamil Nadu, resulting in 22 murders, eight attacks on Dalit neighbourhoods and violence against 134 people, according to a report by the Untouchability Eradication Front of the CPI(M).

The report was released by former Madras High Court judge S. Hari Paranthaman on Monday. Speaking to The Hindu about the report, K. Samuel Raaj, general secretary, Untouchability Eradication Front, said the State must acknowledge the crimes as caste atrocities and not as law and order issues.

“The front has office-bearers in every district, right down to the taluks. We document these atrocities and help victims take legal recourse. Over the last 11 years, people have started reaching out to us,” he said.

Demanding immediate action, he said vigilance and monitoring committees should be set up at the State and district levels. “The Chief Minister should head the State-level committee and the Collectors should lead the district-level ones,” he said

“When caste clashes were on the rise in southern districts in the 1990s, a commission headed by retired Madras High Court judge Mohan identified unemployment as the main reason. People in villages are without work and this frustration is being taken out on Dalits,” Mr. Raaj said.

He criticised the mainstream parties for not coming out strongly against caste-based atrocities due to the fear of losing support of a particular community.

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