Custodial Torture of Dalit Youths

(Exclusive News)
(By Mukundan C. Menon)

Thiruvananthapuram, March 14: Two Dalit youths, Sathyan (24) and Sunil (24), were admitted into Kanyakulangara Community Health Centre yesterday following custodial torture inflicted on them by Attingal police near here.

Both Sathyan and Sunil earn their living by operating loud speakers. After finishing a programme at a temple festival, they returned home past midnight on March 13 and were sleeping when seven policemen from Attingal stormed into their house and took them into custody for no reason. At Attingal police lock-up they were subjected to heinous methods of physical torture including typing-up of fingers and rotating by inserting pen. As a result, there were injuries on their fingers and swelling on hands. Marks of kicks were also visible on Sathyan's back-shoulder.

Amidst torture, the police asked them questions related to burning of a toddy shop at Aliyatt area, about which both had no knowledge or information.

Incidentally, although their house fall under Venjaramoodu police station limits, the Attingal police took them into custody through the ill-famous midnight-knock without the knowledge of local police. They were released from the illegal police custody only in the afternoon at the intervention of local MLA, Pirappankode Murali (CPM) and were later admitted into the Community Health Centre.

They submitted a detailed complaint to Chief Minister E. K. Nayanar.

Mangalore Dalit leader killed Thiruvananthapuram, March 14: A Dalit leader and employee of Mangalore University, Mr. Sivappa Bangara (35), was killed by an unidentified group by slashing his neck.

According to information reaching here, two strangers woke-up Sivappa when he was asleep after dinner day-before at his home in Bandwal Kajakode area and requested him to show the way to somebody else's house. After he accompanied them a short distance, the culprits attacked him and slashed his neck. Although, Sivappa's brother Rukmaya Bangara reached the spot on hearing his cries, the culprits made their escape into darkness.

Sivappa was the President of South Canara District Scheduled Caste Multi-purpose Cooperative Society. The police had registered a case and are investigating. (EOM)

(From "The New Indian Express", TVM Edn., March 14, 2001, Wednesday)

Dalits, Kolis migrate as earthquake creates great rift
(Express News Service)

Bhuj, March 13: Two wars and two successive droughts have not displaced them. But the January 26 temblor has. Hundreds of villagers in border Khavda taluka have now started migrating mostly, the socially backward Dalits and Kolis, after the quake left a trail of destruction in these villages.

However, what is now driving them against the wall is the discrimination they are facing in many villages when it comes to applying for government relief and rehabilitation package and the reluctance of the upper castes including Muslims who do not want them to be a part when they rebuild or relocate their villages.

"I think this land is cursed for us now. First the drought and now the quake. We could brave the scarcity because we had our homes at least. But the quake has snatched that away too. Now there is no reason for us to stay here," says Harjibhai Harijan of the Moti Dhiran village near Khavda.

"We belong to the lowest strata in the villages. The others have pucca houses and enough money to rebuild lost homes. But we have lost everything and we have no money to rebuild. There is no work also, so we will have to search for new pastures," says Dholabhai Harijan, another villager in Dhoravara.

However, one inherent reason why most of the Dalits and Kolis have decided to leave is the discrimination they have started facing from upper castes and the Muslims, who dominate quite a few villages.

"We are not being consulted before any decision is being taken. Some village elders say they want to relocate, others say they shouldn't. Nobody is thinking of us because we don't have anything left to say our own. We cannot live like this here because we have no houses left. We don't have the money to build them again. The upper classes have fields and land we work as labourers. If villages are relocated anyway we have to go in search of work so why now now?", argues Motabhai Harijan in Nani Dhiran village.

About 25 families of the Moti Dhiran village, 30 families of Dhoravara, 20 families from Khavda have already migrated. Mostly walking by foot they have pitched tents at various places near farms on the Bhuj-Khavda state highway 45 where they are searching for work. "We might go up to Bhuj even Gandhidham and Kandla. There is nothing left back there for us now. The land has become cursed. Godwilling if the monsoon is good we might go back but not now," says Bhimabhai, a Koli labourer.

The migration of these Harijans and Kolis has left uncertainty behind. While parts of the villages, mostly those occupied by Harijans and Kolis known as Harijanvaas wear a deserted look, those who have stayed back are doing a rethink. Says Rajiben, former sarpanch and taluka panchayat member: "We are trying to persuade them not to leave but I think the quake has dealt the final blow. If more and more people start leaving we also will have to join. Already some have packed their belongings and are ready to leave. They don't know where they will go but they are going."

Sajanvela Harijan, the head of Harijans in Khavda says even his pleas to his caste members have been ignored.

Referred by:Mukundan C. Menon
Published on: March 14, 2001
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