Archive for the ‘caste’ Category

Tsundur massacre: 21 get life sentence

August 2, 2007

This from The Hindu:

Twenty one persons have been sentenced to life imprisonment and 35 others one year’s rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs. 2,000 each in the sensational Tsundur massacre case that rattled the nation. Eight Dalit persons were hacked to death in broad daylight on August 6, 1991, with over 400 persons chasing them on the road and along the bund of an irrigation canal, in Tsundur village of Guntur district … the judge acquitted 123 out of the 179 accused persons.

More from The Hindu:

It was for the final judgment that Mandu Tulasamma, a widow at Ambedkar Colony here, has been waiting with bated breath. Ever since she lost her two sons in the brutal carnage against Dalits unleashed by persons belonging to upper castes on August 6, 1991 in the village, she has been waiting for justice to be meted out to her.

And when Special Judge Anis pronounced the verdict, Tulasamma broke down. Quickly gaining her composure, she angrily said: I was denied justice, as the guilty have been let off. The perpetrators of the heinous crime would still roam freely in the village. Recalling the events on the fateful day, she said: There was no trace of my younger son the whole day. The next day, someone said that they had seen his body in a canal. My elder son Narayana broke down on hearing the news and he died of heart attack.

Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi district secretary K. Krishna said at least 100 of the accused were let off and his organisation would appeal in the High Court seeking justice.

Here’s something from the PUCL on the tardy progress made in this case. VB Rawat sets the massacre in context in this Sabrang article:

Just a year before the Tsundur massacre, the then Prime Minister VP Singh had announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission report on August 7, 1990, which the Hindu upper castes vociferously opposed. They took to the streets. The myth of Hindu tolerance stood exposed. Mandal may not have helped the Dalits but they were in fact the first to support it. During this process, as in other parts of the country, Andhra saw many Dalit groups joining hands with the OBCs. There were talks of a grand Bahujan alliance even in the villages.

Outraged by the growing self-assertiveness of Dalits, the upper castes were itching for an opportunity to teach the downtrodden a lesson. And the Tsundur massacre, among many other mass killings of Dalits, was an expression of this pent-up fury. Today, 13 years after the ghastly massacre, the Tsunduru Dalits face a challenge not only from the powerful Reddys locally but also their masters occupying powerful positions in the state. Andhra Pradesh politics has long been dominated by two powerful castes. The Reddys, who have ruled for the most part since Andhra came into being, and the Kammas, who formed the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to counter Reddy domination. Reddys are the dominant landowning community in Andhra Pradesh and Dalits have been the biggest victims of their feudal fantasies.

Here’s an account of the massacre, excerpted from Rawat’s article:

The government of Andhra Pradesh was under Reddy rule when the Tsundur massacre took place. Though the then chief minister, Janardhan Reddy happened to be Christian, a different faith makes no difference. Indians take their caste along with them when they shift their loyalties to other holy books and seers. Reddy’s government tried to quietly bury the gory incident but this did not work.

In all, nine people died in the August 6, 1991 attack. Their bodies were cut into pieces, put in gunny bags and thrown into Tungbhadra drainage as well as adjacent canals. Those who died were: Jaladi Mathaiah (40), Jaladi Imaneul (38), Jaladi Isaac (25), Mallela Subba Rao (35), A. Rajamohan (25), Sunkuru Samson (28), D. Jayaraj (30), Mundru Ramesh (21) and Mundru Parisudha Rao (35). Among the injured were Sambaiah (50), P. Jakraiah (52) and D. Dhanraj (25).

All the Dalits fled from the village following the killings. The murders were so brutal that Mundru Parisudha Rao, elder brother of Mundru Ramesh, who went to see the bodies at the hospital in Tenali, was so shocked that he died of a heart attack. A Dalit doctor who performed the post-mortem examination on the bodies in Tenali was said to have been so traumatised by the condition of the bodies that he later committed suicide. Many relatives became psychologically disturbed.

A survivor, P. Jakraiah, who is now around 75 years of age, is paralysed and has a memory problem. It is difficult for him to narrate the incidents that took place in 1991. When a badly injured Jakraiah had asked for water, they (Reddys) urinated in his hand. Even today, 13 years later, he gets agitated as he recalls that time.

Another Dalit who survived the lynching mob is D. Dhanraj. His story of survival is that of a brave and valiant man. A witness to the murder of five others, Dhanraj himself was beaten mercilessly. His legs and hands were broken and he was brought to a banana orchard owned by Munanaga Reddy, a physically disabled person. Dhanraj alleges that since Munanaga was incapable of running he could not participate in the mass lynching. Hence, to facilitate his participation in the carnage, Dhanraj was brought to Munanaga’s orchard near the canal. When a semi-conscious Dhanraj pleaded for water, those guarding him urinated in his hand. Shortly, his captors went to the nearby bridge across the canal, leaving Dhanraj in the field. A parched Dhanraj crawled towards the canal. Jumping into the canal, he was carried away with the current. About a kilometre downstream he heard the voices of his neighbours and some Dalit women who had come in search of their men and he cried out for help. They brought Dhanraj home and then took him to Tenali draped in a saree because the Reddys refused to allow any men to leave Tsundur even for medical treatment.

Also see: Hidden Apartheid: Caste Discrimination against India’s Untouchables

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US Congressional resolution on untouchability

July 25, 2007

[The resolution passed the House of Representatives on July 23, 2007. Source: Dalit Freedom Network]

Whereas the Human Rights Watch and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law released a report in February 2007 that describes caste discrimination against India’s Untouchables based on in-depth investigations and the findings of Indian governmental and non-governmental organizations on caste-based abuses;

Whereas the United States and the Republic of India have entered into an unprecedented partnership;

Whereas the July 18, 2005, Joint Statement between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that, [a]s leaders of nations committed to the values of human freedom, democracy, and rule of law, the new relationship between India and the United States will promote stability, democracy, prosperity, and peace throughout the world [. . . and] it will enhance our ability to work together to provide global leadership in areas of mutual concern and interest;

Whereas caste is the socioeconomic stratification of people in South Asia based on a combination of work and heredity;

Whereas the Untouchables, now known as the Dalits, and the people of the forest tribes of India, called Tribals, who together number approximately 200,000,000 people, are the primary victims of caste discrimination in India;

Whereas discrimination against the Dalits and Tribals has existed for more than 2,000 years and has included educational discrimination, economic disenfranchisement, physical abuse, discrimination in medical care, religious discrimination, and violence targeting Dalit and Tribal women;

Whereas Article 17 of the Constitution of India outlaws untouchability;

Whereas despite numerous laws enacted for the protection and betterment of the Dalits and Tribals, they are still considered outcasts in Indian society and are treated as such; moreover, in practice, Dalits and Tribals are frequently denied equal treatment under the law;

Whereas Dalit women suffer both caste and gender discrimination as a result of the deficient administration of justice and are often raped and attacked with impunity;

Whereas the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has declared that many of the reported cases of atrocities against Dalits and Tribals end in acquittals;

Whereas, despite the fact that many Dalits do not report crimes for fear of reprisals by the dominant castes, national police statistics averaged over the past five years by the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes show that 13 Dalits are murdered every week, five Dalits’ homes or possessions are burnt every week, six Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week, three Dalit women are raped every day, 11 Dalits are beaten every day and a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes;

Whereas many Dalit girls are forced to become temple prostitutes who are then unable to marry and may be auctioned to urban brothels, and many women trafficked in India are Dalit women;

Whereas low-caste unborn females are targeted for abortions;

Whereas according to Human Rights Watch and India’s official National Family Health Survey, most Dalits and Tribals are among those poorest of the poor living on less than $1 per day; most of India’s bonded laborers are Dalits; and half of India’s Dalit children are undernourished, 21 percent are severely underweight, and 12 percent die before their 5th birthday;

Whereas Dalits and other low-caste individuals often suffer from discrimination and segregation in government primary schools leading to low enrollment, high drop-out, and low literacy rates, perhaps linked to a perception that Dalits are not meant to be educated, are incapable of being educated, or if educated, would pose a threat to village hierarchies and power relations;

Whereas the Dalits and Tribals maintain higher illiteracy rates than non-Dalit populations; and

Whereas the HIV/AIDS epidemic is India is massive and Dalits and Tribals are significantly affected by HIV/AIDS: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, as the leaders of the United States and the Republic of India have expressed commitment to the values of human freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, it is in the interests of the United States to address the problem of the treatment of the Dalits and Tribals in India in order to better meet mutual social development and human rights goals by–

(1) raising the issues of caste discrimination, violence against women, and untouchability through diplomatic channels both directly with the Government of India and within the context of international bodies;

(2) encouraging the United States Agency for International Development to ensure that the needs of Dalit organizations are incorporated in the planning and implementation of development projects;

(3) ensuring that projects that positively impact Dalit and Tribal communities, especially Dalit women, are developed and implemented;

(4) ensuring that cooperative research programs targeting rural health care, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and rural technology contain proper focus on the Dalits and Tribals;

(5) ensuring that anyone receiving funding in India from the United States Government–

(A) is aware that it is United States Government policy that caste discrimination is unacceptable, and that the United States is committed to eliminating it; and

(B) treat all people equally without engaging in caste discrimination;

(6) ensuring that–

(A) qualified Dalits are in no way discouraged from working with organizations receiving funding in India from the United States Government, and that transparent and fair recruitment, selection, and career development processes are implemented, with clear objective criteria; and

(B) procedures exist to detect and remedy any caste discrimination in employment conditions, wages, benefits or job security for anyone working with organizations receiving funding in India from the United States Government;

(7) encouraging United States citizens working in India to avoid discrimination toward the Dalits in all business interactions; and

(8) discussing the issue of caste during bilateral and multilateral meetings, including congressional delegations.

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