VHP Push For Politician Dara


New Delhi, Jan. 15:

If bandit queen Phoolan Devi could, why not yet-to-be-convicted Dara Singh?

The man charged with the gruesome murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in 1999 wants to serve the cause of Hindutva better by contesting in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Reason: he can escape the "fate of Nathuram Godse". Dara, an undertrial in an Orissa jail, has decided to contest from Ghaziabad and Muzaffarnagar under the banner of the Kranti Kari Manuwadi Morcha. This was announced by the outfit's president, Ram Kumar Bhardwaj, and Mukesh Jain, of Dharmarakshak Shree Dara Sena, here today.

The two hailed the murder accused as a "great revolutionary… left in the cold by fake Hindutva forces". The idea, they said, was to make sure that Dara "does not meet the same fate of Godse, who was also not a criminal but a great patriot like Chandra Shekhar Azad, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh".

Though the BJP is squirming in embarrassment, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad can scarcely hide its glee. Senior VHP leader Acharya Giriraj Kishore said there was nothing wrong in Dara contesting the elections. The logic: he has not been convicted yet and if Phoolan could, why not him?

In a ghastly act that shocked the country, Staines and his two sons were burnt alive in a jeep allegedly by Dara and his supporters for converting tribals. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had sent defence minister George Fernandes on a fact-finding mission. After two hours of inquiry in the village, where the crime was committed, Fernandes had said it was part of an international conspiracy. Bhardwaj told reporters his organisation would also field Sher Singh Rana, now in jail in the Phoolan murder case, from Roorkee in Uttaranchal. Bharadwaj himself will contest from Dadri near Noida.


Zamindar-Dalit divide hard to circumvent

Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18

Mr Ram Singh, Mr Jeet and Mr Ramu are a perfect picture of inter caste interaction of present day Punjab. All the three seem perfectly at ease with each other when a journalist approaches them on the outskirts of Mardaheri village near Dakala in the district where Mr Ram Singh is getting some rooms constructed close to the road.

The ease with which they seem to be interacting with each other, however, ends as soon as politics is discussed Mr Ram Singh, the Jat farmer, when asked about the performance of the Badal Government says ?? it has done a lot for farmers besides other segments of society. Mr Jeet, a member of the Scheduled Castes, however, immediately interrupts him to say the government has done nothing for the downtrodden.

This conversation probably sums up the political position in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts during a quick survey and could be the position elsewhere also. Long seething differences refuse to go. Even though the weaker sections have been given some concessions, including Rs 5,000 under the ??shagun?? scheme for marriages of their daughters, they are still averse to voting for the Akalis, which is still perceived as a party of ?zamindars?.

Besides caste equations, what comes out more often in most villages is the unfair allotment of the common village land which is mostly controlled by the ?zamindars?. While this ensures that no shamlat land is available to the weaker sections to till, intense cropping in all common lands in villages is leading to Dalits facing problems even in answering the call of nature.

Mr Ram Singh tries to give the government a clean chit by relying on logic saying ?Mr Badal is not responsible if the sarpanch did not allot land to you for building of houses? adding the performance of the government should be seen by the public works done by it saying the manner in which streets had been bricklined and drains established in the village was there for all to see. ??Even you have managed to come here easily due to the interest taken by Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, former Public Works Minister before Mr Badal parted ways with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra??, he told The Tribune team.

However, all this and similar arguments in other villages in the district do not rub in with members of the Scheduled Castes, who feel they should have got much more from the present government. On the other side farmers are, by and large, happy with the Akali government. The party has earned a large amount of goodwill amongst the farming community by giving free power facility to farmers for agricultural operations. This, coupled with the efficient manner in which the government has handled successive procurement seasons, has gone well with the farming community.

Mr Badal may have done a lot for farmers and the Congress party may have a record for improving the lot of the Dalits, but this will not necessarily mean in transferring votes of both sections to the Akalis or the Congress. Mr Dharampal Singh of Kheri Barna in the district, feels Mr Badal has done a good job, and praised the manner in which farmers had been benefited and peace had been brought back to the state. However, in clear contrast he voted for the Congress candidate, Mrs Preneet Kaur in the last Lok Sabha elections. ?I perceived the ?Rani? to be a better candidate than both the Akali candidates and voted for her?, he said adding the better candidate could still get his vote even though he was naturally inclined to vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Similar sentiments were expressed at Sirhind, where even though people were otherwise Akali minded, they felt inclined to vote for a better candidate because of the personal interaction. ?While the policies of the government towards different sections of society will decide their general leanings, people have also started laying stress on the choice of candidate put up by the parties and his track record vis and vis interacting with them and being available for their small-time works?, said Arvind Gogi, a resident of Sirhind.

Bhopal Declaration on Dalit Rights

Dear Friends,

I would like to share with you an event which has taken place in Bhopal, the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). A conference called as the Bhopal Conference was held in Bhopal on Jan 12 & 13.The government of Madhya Pradesh headed by its Chief Minister, Digvijay Singh, is attempting to mainstream Dalit concerns basically in MP which will have a spin- off effect throughout the country. Many of the NCDHR collaborators are actually invovled in this conference as participants as well as resource persons. Most of our colleagues are here (again in our individual capacity),in Bhopal for the next two days. About 250 academicians, other professionals and activists (a large proportion of them were also there with from all over the country are gathering here on the invitation of the Government of Bhopal to focus on the theme - 'Transforming India Through a Dalit Paradigm'.

The Bhopal Declaration has been unanimously passed by the delegates and those present at the Bhopal Conference.The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh has accepted it and had promised to implement it. He further promised to set up a Task Force to monitor the Bhopal declaration and will review this within six months. He also said that 30% of all the purchases made for the Ashram Schools (around 1200 crores) amounting to more than Rs. 300 crores worth of material will be bought from the Dalit and Adivasi owned enterprises and from now on he endeavours to reflect the diversity , i.e., including contribution of the business'of the Dalit and Adivasi enterprise in the formation of the Capital. This is a shift in the demands as well as in the approach in addressing the dalit concerns - going beyond rights and entitlements, to having a stake in the economy of the country.

This has been recognised as a post-Durban event and has been influenced by the NCDHR's efforts in lobbying for the past three years in this direction. The direct lobbying of this effort has been the result of one Mr. Chandrabhan Prasad, a Dalit journalist based in Delhi, along with a few IAS bureacrats. He has joined the NCDHR team to Durban and has been the most articulated supporter of the NCDHR's campaign along with Teesta Setelvad who many of you know.

Those of you who would like to have copies of the Bhopal Declaration, could you please send me the postal addresses so that I could pass them on to the organisers to have them sent to you.

with warm wishes, Jai Bhim,

Paul Divakar

The Bhopal Declaration

Adopted Unanimously


The Bhopal Conference: Charting A New Course For Dalits For The 21st Century

Held at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India, 12-13 January 2002

We-- intellectuals and activists assembled at the Bhopal Conference, 12-13 January 2002, to deliberate the issues concerning the welfare of and justice to the 250 million --are:

Declaring our belief in Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's ideal of Social Democracy and his prophecy that, "A democratic form of Government presupposes a democratic form of society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy",

Endorsing the ideals of civil society enshrined in the Constitution of India, particularly its Preamble that declares the Indian State's commitment to Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity,

Recognising that the tenets established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various other charters of the United Nations which our nation has acceded to also emphasise the same principles,

Recognising also the tribals' legitimate and historical rights over forest and forest-produce,

Acknowledging the role of tribal communities, particularly tribal women, to the protection and conservation of the country's rich biodiversity and natural resources as well as its culture and civilisation

Acknowledging also the need to ensure that SCs and STs are given due representation in all bodies of decision making,

Recalling the struggles that Babasaheb had waged for the emancipation of his people and the historic rights he had won for them,

Mindful of the fact that even after 54 years of Independence, the Dalit community is denied of its basic human rights and is also at the receiving end of the most brutal and oppressive forms of discrimination and exclusion,

Reaffirming that concerted action by society as a whole - especially coordination among the political leadership, officials and grassroots activists - is necessary for the over-all development of the most oppressed of India,

Bearing in mind the responsibility to take forward our struggle at this critical juncture in spite of the fact that most political formations are reluctant to pursue any policy favourable to the Dalits,

Recognising that the social consensus over the Dalit cause - reluctantly agreed upon at the time of Independence - has by and large broken down,

Convinced that informed and democratic discourse at all levels is essential to re-negotiate a new consensus over redeeming the pledges of the founding fathers of the Republic to do justice to Dalits,

Convinced also that the national psyche and public discourse in the country accepts uncritically the rigid hierarchy and discrimination caused by caste and thereby denies that caste is a major source of prejudice and brutal violence,

Emphasizing that Babasaheb's stress on struggle through democratic and constitutional means is relevant today,

Regretting that the post-Ambedkar Dalit intelligentsia has failed both in carrying forward his emancipatory movement as well as making a dent in the country's intellectual life,

Recognizing the need for Dalits to make common cause with other liberation and human rights movements in and outside the country,

Conscious of the hurdles that caste-Hindu society - and its tentacles in government, media, voluntary sector, etc., - is likely to hurl at any serious movement that challenges the entrenched system of discrimination and exclusion,

Noting that women - especially Dalit women - represent the most oppressed sections of our society, and that they face multiple forms of discrimination, including caste-based, religious and patriarchal ideology and practices,

Welcoming the winds of change the world over that are conducive to Inclusion, Equal Opportunity, Diversity, Democratisation and Civil Society, and against discrimination, stereotype, stigma, exclusion and caste society,

Hoping that this country will no longer remain an exception to the global norm of Progress, Equality, Justice, Peace and Social Harmony, and

We hereby Solemnly proclaim that while we rededicate ourselves to work in unison to achieve basic rights of Dalits, we are convinced that unless the following issues are resolved no amount of activism on our part and pro-active measures from the State can liberate the community from the scourges of untouchability and exploitation.

We therefore demand..


1. Ensure that each Dalit family will own enough cultivable land for socio-economic well-being. The government should pursue all possible measures including the distribution of surplus land, government revenue lands and temple lands within a specific timeframe. If the need be, the government should purchase cultivate land and distribute it among Dalits.

2. Enact legislation and enforce it stringently to enable Dalits have an equitable share in the appropriation and use of the rural and urban common property resources. The law must be amended to ensure that lengthy litigation with the ulterior motive of denying Dalits of legal redressal, is not resorted to.

3. Enact legislation and enforce the right of Dalit agricultural labourers to living wages, to gender parity in wages, to job security, to better working conditions and welfare measures, and ensure punitive measures against offenders.

4. Appoint Statutory Committees at the national and state level to identify within specified time-frame all the Depressed Class lands occupied by non-Dalits, to assess the quantum of compensation to be paid by non-Dalits for their illegal utilization of lands, to identify the original owners and their nearest kith and kin for restoring these lands back to them, to expedite legal proceedings in courts specially appointed for this purpose against the illegal occupants and to ensure punitive measures against them.

5. Ensure the restoration of the alienated lands to the tribals, restore their rights over forest and forest-produce, provide them with compensation and rehabilitation measures, extend resources and capacity building measures for gainful utilization of their lands and forests and make those Dalits displaced due to construction of dams/developmental projects as shareholders of such enterprises.

6. Democratise the capital so as to ensure proportionate share for SCs and STs. Make budgetary allocation for SCs and STs to enable them enter the market economy with adequate investment resources, and develop their capacities and skills for such market enterprises.

7. Enforce with stringent measures the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and abolish forthwith child labour to ensure freedom with dignity for all the Dalits, and accordingly make suitable amendments in the appropriate legislations.

8. Amend Art. 21 of the Constitution of India: Fundamental Rights so as to include the following rights for all citizens, but with special emphasis for SCs and STs, and on the basis of two criteria, namely low economic income and without religious discrimination: the rights to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of women and men equally, including food, safe drinking water, clothing, housing, public health and medical care, social security and social services; the right to living wage and the right to own 5 acres of cultivable land or to gainful employment.

9. Implement compulsory, free and high quality education for all Dalits immediately, make allocation of funds proportionate to the number and level of the illiterates, ensure compensation to those families which forfeit their income from child-labour, increase the number and amount of scholarships, and provide better infrastructural facilities in SC and ST schools and offer market-oriented vocational and technical education.

10. Make the reservation quota applicable in all the public and private educational institutions from primary to technical and professional levels. Every SC/ST child with low income-base must be given quality free-education at State's expense. And every English medium school must implement Diversity in Admissions.

11. Recognize SC and ST women as a distinct category among women, and accordingly make segregated data on Dalit women available in census reports, action taken reports and progress reports, evolve national and state level perspective plan for mainstreaming SC and ST women in developmental programmes, market enterprises, financial allocation, reservation facilities in education, employment and health facilities, and mandate the National and State Commissions for SC and ST and for Women to study and report specifically the status of SC and ST women in their annual reports.

12. Implement effectively in letter and spirit the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 & Rules1995, especially with regard to atrocities against Dalit women, and accordingly prosecute the dominant caste leaders and their minions who stoke the fire of caste clashes and the police officials acting in connivance with them. In cases of atrocities against SC/STs, a system of collective punishment has to be evolved as oppressors enjoy community support and protection and escape the law.

13. Ensure diversity or SC/STs' due representation in all public institutions of India, whether universities or academic or autonomous or registered bodies. Those institutions, which do not abide by the principle of Affirmative Action, must lose recognition and state funding. All private industry/ corporate houses must accept and implement Diversity in workforce immediately.

14. Ensure that in all state and national budgets allocations are made as per the proportion of SC and ST population and penal action taken against unutilisation or diversion of funds meant for these sections.

15. Every government and private organization must implement Supplier Diversity from socially disadvantaged businesses and Dealership Diversity in all goods and services.

16. The State must assume sole responsibility in protecting the SCs and STs. The State must identify those atrocity prone areas and deploy forces. In addition, provide arms licences to the SCs & STs as stipulated in the Atrocities Act for self-defence purposes, make the setting up of Dalit self-defence groups from village onwards mandatory, and specially train Dalit women to handle weapons in self-defence against the perpetrators of crimes and atrocities.

17.Eliminate the humiliating practice of manual scavenging on an urgent footing through effective rehabilitation, alternative and sustainable employment measures and developmental programmes, and prosecute violators of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, especially the gross violators Railways, Defence and Urban Local bodies.

18. Make it statutory for Parliament and State Assemblies to debate on the Annual Reports of the National and State level Commissions for SC/ST and Safai Karamcharis within the following year, and ensure that these annual reports and the action-taken reports of the government are made public.

19. Make reservation mandatory in the private and corporate sector in the same proportion as in the public sector and government institutions and develop the capacities and skills of Dalits to help them cope up with the demands of these different sectors.

20. Implement policy of reservation to SCs and STs at all levels of judiciary and defence forces. And make transparent appointment processes in Judiciary by doing away with the nomination system.

21. Bring out a Truth Paper in two years on the status of reservation during the past 25 years and place it before Parliament and State Assemblies for debate, and on a war footing fill immediately all the backlog posts meant for Dalits and that, too, only with Dalit candidates.

Kanshi tough stance led to failure of talks, say morcha leaders



CHANDIGARH:The alliance between the Bahujan Samaj Party BSP) and the Panthic Morcha has collapsed. Panthic Morcha leaders and BSP supremo Kanshi Ram have failed to arrive at a mutually acceptable seat-sharing formula, despite protracted negotiations. In utter desperation, Panthic Morcha leaders decided to release their first list of 55 candidates which, they said, was irrevocable. They announced that the morcha would contest 87 seats.

Morcha leaders were shy of admitting that the talks had failed. Instead, they continued harping on a friendly match” with the BSP on many seats. They said the morcha would support the BSP on the 30 seats it would not contest. On the other hand, the BSP, too, is expected to reciprocate the gesture where it would not be in the fray.

However, morcha leaders have not ruled out the possibility of the party fielding nominees on all the 117 assembly constituencies if nothing works out. In fact, in private, these leaders asserted that there was a remote possibility of any understanding, given the tough stance of Kanshi Ram, and ultimately both, the BSP and the Panthic Morcha, would end up going alone.

When asked for the reasons behind the break-up of the alliance, SAD (Amritsar) general secretary Jagmohan Singh said, ‘‘The hard stance of BSP supremo Kanshi Ram and his unnecessary emphasis on the caste structure of each constituency as the basis of winnability of a candidate were the main stumbling blocks in the way of unity.”

Sources revealed that Morcha leaders were even ready to surrender the entire Doaba region, which had a sizable presence of scheduled caste population and where the BSP enjoyed considerable influence.

But Kanshi Ram was more anxious for seats elsewhere in Punjab and had staked claim to the constituencies which were considered to be the stronghold of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and SAD (Amritsar) president and MP Simranjit Singh Mann. The overbearing attitude of Kanshi Ram, too, had put off morcha leaders. Even if there was an understanding on seat-sharing or alliance, there was no guarantee that Kanshi Ram would have stuck to it and not walked out of the alliance at any given opportunity, said a morcha leader.

Kanshi Ram’s open assertion that the morcha cannot win more than four seats, has also widened the rift between the two parties. Morcha leaders would have expected a better treatment from an electoral ally.

Tired of unending parleys, morcha leaders were looking for an honourable way out. So, instead of calling it an alliance, they used words such as ‘‘seat sharing” and ‘‘friendly match” to describe their equation with the BSP.

'AP stand on solatium to rape victims untenable'

By J. Venkatesan NEW DELHI, JAN. 12. The National Human Rights Commission, which had directed the Andhra Pradesh Government to pay a solatium of Rs. 50,000 each to four rape victims belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, has described as ``untenable'' the Government's stand that such relief was not payable in view of a government circular. In a recent order, the Commission said,``It is needless to emphasise that the Commission had awarded the compensation under Sec. 18 (3) of Protection of Human Rights Act which is applicable to the whole country. Any executive order of the State Government cannot override a statutory provision. This objection is untenable.`` The Commission made it clear that the relief had to be paid and a compliance report be submitted within six weeks. As cases had been registered against the delinquent officials, a status report of the same should also be sent. The commission took cognisance of a complaint from the human rights activist, P. Pullarao of West Godavari district, about four incidents of rape and the resultant miseries and sufferings. The Commission said ``the community instead of providing the victim and her family a helping hand makes every possible effort to outcaste and throw them away on the streets. The existing governmental schemes are also not helpful and are unable to provide them relief on the premises that the culprit also happen to belong to the same caste/community''. The Commission had directed the State Government to pay Rs. 50,000 to each of

    Touch the untouchable

Udit Raj

This refers to the rejoinder by theRSS Media Centre Chief, Balram Misra (Marx, Macaulay, Madrasa, January 5) to myarticle Who killed Buddhism (December 27). I raised three issues which havebeen deleted from history books by the NCERT. The deletion of the varna system was justified under thegarb that it hurts the sentiments of a community. Dalits have not sought thesedeletions. Then whose sentiments are being hurt?

Reference to beef-eating in ancientIndia have been deleted on the ground that believers ofthe ‘sacred cow’ are uncomfortable with it. About 50 per cent population in India eat beef as against the 4-5 percent of Brahmin population. Beef-eating is a part of food culture — it hasnothing to do with religion.

Regarding the origin of Aryans, Iargued that if they were indigenous they would not have discriminated againsttheir own brothers on the lines of caste. Nehru wrote that Aryans came from Central Asia. Most eminent historians agree.Not all of them are Marxists; nor was Nehru a Marxist.

Misra says that I want to useBuddhism for my own salvation by becoming an agent of the ‘3M Parivar’ (Marx,Macaulay, Madrasa). Instead, it is the Sangh parivar which constantly uses the‘3M’ cliche in its crude, communal, hate politics.

Dalits were not the ‘Rai Sahebs’ orcourtiers during the British Raj. Dalits do not hound Christian missionaries,while running to the West for green cards (and now,dual citizenship). Dalitsdid not invite Ghazni and Babar. They conquered and ruled because of theopportunism and divisions in the Hindu society.

India is a melting pot of cultures.There must be cordial relationship with the ‘3Ms’, not for selfish motives butto strengthen patriotism. We are not misusing but ‘using’ Buddhism for theelimination of casteism, unlike the RSS which celebrates communal riots in itsgreed for power. Those who practise Buddhism are more distant from ‘clinging tosomething’ (trishna). According to Hindu scriptures, Brahmins are not supposedto possess wealth and power — but they have always been obsessed with thistrait. The RSS has been aspiring for power for decades; finally, they got it.

Karl Marx partly failed tounderstand Indian history because of insufficient information available at thattime. In 1939, B.R. Ambedkar might have visited the RSS camp at Pune and foundthe atmosphere nice. Gestures and ideology are different things. Why didAmbedkar quit Hinduism in 1956? Because of the spiritual fascism of the uppercastes.

Gandhiji must have shown a generousgesture to the RSS. But was it not Nathuram Godse, a staunch follower of theRSS’s ideology, who killed him?

Misra has said that I should joinsome RSS camp to know the reality. I do not want to learn the caste systemagain because I have left it behind by becoming a Buddhist. If the RSS is readyto burn the sections of Manusmriti, Rig Veda, etc. and other scripturesrelating to caste discrimination, then I would like to be present on suchoccasions. I am ready to join if the RSS agrees to hold mass inter-dining andinter-caste (even inter-religious) marriages, hands over priesthood ofShankaracharya Peeths and temples to Dalits, ushers in land reforms bysnatching surplus land from the landlords, and provides equal and compulsoryeducation to all, including to Dalits.

The writer is Chairman, All IndiaConfederation of SC/ST Organisations

Row over ST list revision

Ashutosh Mishra/Bhubaneswar

  Sumani Jharia was one of the woman tribal advisors of the late Biju Patnaikwhen he ruled the state between 1990 and 1995.

Seven years later when his son Navin Patnaik is at the helm of state affairs,the tribal woman suddenly finds herself stripped of her tribal status andlisted among the other backward castes (OBCs).

The unwanted status shift has left Sumani and her Jharia Parja tribalmatesfrom 72 villages of Rayagada's infamous Kashipur block, who have similarlylost their tribal identity, furious.

Stumped by the turn of events, Sumani and her associates plead completeignorance about the reasons behind the government's move.

"We did not have the slightest idea of what had happened to us until wewere informed recently that we would not be allowed to contest the comingpanchayat elections from the seats reserved from tribals," said anagitated Jharia.

"But this is ridiculous since we have been treated as tribals andaccorded the scheduled tribe privileges for all these years," she saidand claimed that quite ironically she had been nominated a member of thestate tribal advisory board.

The affected tribals of Kashipur have decided to boycott and disruptpanchayat elections in the area unless their status is restored.

Venting their grief and anger before mediapersons on wednesday, Sumani andher mates, Gomati Jharia, Somnath Jharia and Gobindchandra Jharia said sincetheir clan enjoyed an overwhelming majority in several panchayats ofKashipur, derecognising them as tribals and barring them from staking claimsto reserved seats would mean subversion of garssroots-level democracy in thearea. "This would deprive the majority from getting properrepresentation in the panchayats. Besides, our delisting is also going toaffect the future of our children who have hitherto been enjoying the fruitsof several welfare programmes as tribals," they said.

The agitated tribals, who are determined to get back their ethnic identity,alleged that the move was inspired by a powerful lobby which wanted to grabtheir land. Since in ordinary circumstances, it would be impossible for anon-tribal to purchase or get transferred tribal land in his favour inKashipur which is a scheduled area, derecognising the tribals was the bestway of taking away their land.

The Jharias also do not rule out the possibility of the decision having beeninfluenced by a powerful industrial cartel which is trying to put up a megaplant in Kashipur.

The local tribals are against the project. Apparently, the Jharias are in theforefront of the movement.

With the tribals set on a collision course with the State government, thesituation in Kashipur is likely to turn volatile soon. Already the Jhariashave organised a bandh and a chakka jam and are planning to lock up thetehsil office and stop payment of government taxes in the next phase of theiragitation.

"We will not rest in peace until this issue is settled," thunderedSumani who can be certain of the support of several voluntary organisationsin her battle for justice.

The tribal backlash would be difficult to handle for the Navin PatnaikGovernment.

Koli,Gangamatha to be included in ST list: Minister

DH News Service


Minister of State for Small Savings Baburao Chinchansur stated here todaythat Union Social Justice Minister Sathyanarayan Jethia had assured him thatthe Koli and Gangamatha (fishermen) communities would be included in theScheduled Tribes list within next three months.

Speaking to the press, Mr Chinchansur stated that since the last 25 years hewas fighting to get both these communities, which were synonymous with Karnataka,included in the ST list. At present, these communities were included inCategory I of the Backward Classes in the State.

Stating that there were around 50 lakh people in the State belonging to thefishermen communities, he said, these communities had 39 different names likeKoya, Rajkoya, Binkoya, Tokre, Koli, Dhor Koli, Ganagamatha, etc. Howeverstating that the origin and development of these synonymous names for thefishermen community in the State could be attributed to geographical, linguisticand other factors through the years, the minister said, the basic factors ofthese communities had not changed.

Recognising this, the State Government in 1996 itself had recommended to theCentre to include all these 39 synonymous names for the fishermen communitiesin the ST list. When clarification were sought by the Centre from the State oncertain issues, the State Government had forwarded these clarifications to theCentre on January 1, 2001,he said.

Moreover, Mr Chinchansur stated that the fishermen communities in Gujarat,Orissa, Punjab and Maharashtra,had already been included in the SC/ST list. "On earlier occasions too, Ihad met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Union Home Minister L K Advani,then Union Minister of State for Social Justice Maneka Gandhi, CongressPresident Sonia Gandhi and others with regard to the issue," he saidadding, all had given him a patient hearing and had assured him of includingthe 39 communities in the ST list.

However, he said, when he had met Mr Jethia on Wednesday and had submitted amemorandum to him regarding the issue, the Union minister had assured him (MrChinchansur) that the 39 communities would be included in the ST list withinthe next three months.

God longs for all Hindus!

Covert Operations Of The Evangelical Church In India

Sanal Edamaruku

Why does the Evangelical Church secretly sponsor a mass conversion of "untouchable" Hindus to Buddhism?

They came from all parts of India, from Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to participate in a gigantic mass ceremony in New Delhi, which should change their lives. Thousands of men, women and children from the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy have joined Buddhism. The ancient Brahmins called these people too low to have any caste, the British called them "Untouchables", Gandhi called them Harijans, and today they call themselves the Dalits, which means: the oppressed. Leaving Hinduism and joining Buddhism was an act of liberation from the age-old unjust and inhuman social order, which is still spelling discrimination, oppression and atrocities for many born into stigmatized families.

This mass exodus from Hinduism followed a historic example. In a similar ceremony, in October 1956, half a million Dalits became Buddhists. Their leader was Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the father of the Indian constitution, who was the first "untouchable" to get a high school degree, a Bachelor of Arts degree, a doctorate and a law degree and became the revered patron of the Dalit movement. Since Hinduism was founded on scriptures that sanctioned the caste-based social order, Ambedkar asked his people to seek social justice and dignity outside this religion. Missing the historic chance to consequently promote atheism, he called for joining Buddhism, which he found to be the most peaceful among the established religions.

Thirty per cent of the Indian Hindus (that is nearly one fourth of the total one billion population of the country) are Dalits. One of them is K R Narayanan, the Indian President, which shows that things are changing. The Indian constitution bans untouchability and guards a legal system guaranteeing equality. There are special laws regulating the reservation of proportionate quota in education, government jobs and positions for Dalits. Social life, especially in the cities, has undergone a tremendous transformation since Ambedkar's times. But the old order does not go easily. Recently a young couple in a village in Uttar Pradesh was publicly hanged by their parents in front of the village elders for breaking the caste-norms with their secret marriage. This was only the latest of a series of brutal reminders that the dark ages are still lurking behind the accomplishments of fifty-one years of democracy and social progress in India.

The Delhi ceremony was a perfect replica of its predecessor. Thousands echoed the Buddhist priest's traditional chants in Pali, a dead language. After their leader was tonsured on behalf of all of them, they repeated the 22 basic vows as formulated by Ambedkar, denouncing all Hindu gods and rituals and the belief in reincarnation. And raising their hands in agreement they became Buddhists. Everything was exactly the same as 46 years before - but still there was a major difference.

Official organizer of the Delhi meeting was the "All India Conference of Scheduled Castes and Tribes", an umbrella organization of government employees with a membership of more than three millions. Secret wire puller and financier of the event, however, was the All India Christian Council (AICC), an outfit of the Evangelical Church, which comprises of all kinds of neo-protestant "born-again" and missionary organizations and is dominated by Baptists and Pentacostals. Special guests on the dias were AICC president Dr. Joseph D'Souza, vice-president John Dayal and general secretary Dr. K P Yohannan. Dayal, a retired journalist, is the key figure of the recent PR-campaigns, projecting harassment of Christians in India, which are securing substantial support from Christians in the USA. Yohannan is the dynamic top conversion driver of the Pentacostals in their hotbed Kerala and known for his enormous capacities to mobilize Dollar donations.

Why does the Evangelical network sponsor a mass conversion of Hindus to Buddhism?

A PR-campaign, launched in June for supporters and donators in the USA and elsewhere, opened hearts and purses by giving the wrong impression that a big catch was heading straightly for the Christian net. "Gospel for Asia", the "largest church-planting movement in the subcontinent", started focussing on the plight of the Dalits and their plan to leave Hinduism. ". The news from around India is that Dalits also plan to move to the Christian faith. The Indian church is therefore presented with a challenge of enormous proportions. It will either stand or fall by the stand it takes during the coming months", informed AICC-president D'Souza. He added carefully: "The Church will also have to support the larger move of the Dalits because it represents freedom of choice, . and now will have to respect and support whatever choices the Dalits make.."

This was the time when a movement for Dalit Human Rights started to get international attention in connection with the Durban World Conference Against Racism. The Evangelical Church sailed with the wind and sponsored - under the shroud of secrecy - the participation of 300 Dalits in the Durban conference, the biggest, best-coordinated and most vocal group. There was, of course, a strategy behind the generous support. The Durban conference, was the calculation, would cause great embarrassment to the Indian government. Already blamed for Hindu fanatic leanings, they would be held responsible for Human Rights violations against the Dalits, and under scrutiny by a sensibilized international public, they would have to carefully avoid any future offence against them. The Dalits would - in a new sense - become truly "untouchable". So beneficial this outcome may be, it was not for the Dalits' sake that their cause was supported. They were only build up to become proper carthorses for vested interests.

On 7 September, immediately after the Durban conference, a meeting took place in Hyderabad. 740 Evangelical leaders and 26 Dalit leaders discussed the further procedure and fixed the date for the first one million conversions. The AICC leaders started to "mobilize the Church body to respond to this most urgent challenge". Excited newsletters started rejoicing through cyberspace announcing a miracle: 300 millions of Hindus have expressed the heart's desire to join Christianity! Can you help them? - Money flew generously. But while advertising the big catch, the AICC leaders knew and appreciated very well that the Dalits would convert to Buddhism only. Their targets were not the converts of Delhi, though they used them to water their donators' mouths. Their plan was to use the Buddhist conversions as a wedge to open the gates of India for the great millennium crusade. This plan could only succeed under the condition that the missionary finger in the pie remained unseen in India.

The Anti-Conversion-Bill, established in the early fifties, long before the now ruling Hindu party came to power, bans proselytizing by force or by promise of advantage. Change of religion is only allowed as considered individual decision. The old missionary practice of mass conversions, threatening uneducated poor people or luring them with little gifts and promises in order to baptize them village by village and tribe by tribe, is punishable. Major parts of India's North East have been conquered this way. And missionaries still try to advance into the tribal areas using the rough conversion method of St. Francis Xavier, who managed to obtain permission of the local King to baptize in seven days as many of the poor fishermen as he could. His proselytes were thousands. He called them together by ringing bells, wetted them with huge water sprayers and declared them Christians without wasting further words.

Throughout history, many attempts have been made by Christian missionaries to use the situation of the "untouchables" to harvest souls. But once they were baptized, they had to experience that equality and justice did not come nearer: as Christians they remained as "untouchable" as they had been as Hindus. Especially the priesthood hierarchies of the established orthodox, catholic, protestant and anglican churches kept themselves strictly Dalit-free. There is no single priest - let alone bishop or cardinal - down history, who was born an "untouchable". There is, despite all crocodile-tears for the oppressed, still no quota for Dalit Christians in the thousands of institutions, schools and hospitals owned by the Christian churches.

While the Indian government as well as the general public are alert against Christian conversion attempts, the change from Hindu religion to Buddhism is not taken as conversion and does therefore not fall under the Anti-Conversion-Bill, since Buddhism is understood to be a branch of Hinduism. Hinduism knows about 330 millions of gods and goddesses, and Buddha is one of them. While being freed from the caste system, the Dalits-turned-Buddhists don't loose their right on the provisions of the reservation bill, while Dalits-turned-Christians do - good reasons to follow Ambedkar's example rather than turning to Christianity.

But once, under the shield of its historic predecessor and under protection of the watchful international public, Dalit mass conversions to Buddhism have successfully taken place, an example is set. When thousands of Hindus are allowed to become Buddhists one fine afternoon, just by echoing some chants and raising their hands, no moral or legal right could prevent St. Francis Xavier's resurrection!

"God longs for the whole Hindu people to know Jesus Christ and live under His Lordship", revealed the Consultation of World Evangelization in their meeting in Thailand in 1980. The "Thailand Report on Hindus" delivered appropriate missionary know how for the harvest. The Hindu belief system was introduced with special attention to those of its elements, which could be used in the conversion process. "Miraculous healing", for example was recommended as successful technique. "Demonstrating social concern, for example for scheduled castes and tribes or other `untouchables' of the Hindu community (lepers, prostitutes etc.) was another proposed technique.

"The oppressed and the poor have always been receptive for the Gospel down the centuries in India and elsewhere. The poor have a natural capacity to put their trust on almost anything. They are not dogmatic. This has always been the 'entry point' in the structure on any society, through which we can easily enter."

It was warned, however, to avoid "premature reaping": "If, as frequently occurs, the first converts are those who are socially isolated for one reason or another reason from the community, premature reaping may create serious barriers to the establishment of the Body of Christ in that area. We must exercise patience as we sow the seed, create a hunger, and work for the conversion of the opinion leaders of the community."

Despite great efforts and considerable collections abroad, the "Gospel for Asia" brigade was generally not very successful in India. The "Joshua-2000-Project", which announced a kind of missionary world conquest before the dawn of the new millennium and gathered great holy excitement and still greater donations, did not come up to the expectations. The current grand Dalit-project may have a similar fate. But donators seem to be a confused lot with short memories. Religious action provides entertainment and excitement for its armchair supporters and the satisfactory feeling of contributing considerably to the improvement of the world. Who would want to seriously understand the conditions of real life as long as the show goes on! This approach is unfortunately not limited to the customers of the Evangelical Church.

This gives at last some hopes for the Dalits. They may finally get rid of their new piggy-back riders, provided their own leadership is not too corrupt. Their weak and unprotected situation has made them ideal victims for all kinds of deals of politicians and missionaries throughout history. They all tried to save them from one thing only: from becoming Equals and stopping to be the Oppressed.

'Tribal welfare schemes should not disturb cultural identity'

DH News Service


There are about eight crore tribals in India who have varied cultural and social practices. Development projects for the benefit of the tribal population, mostly living in forests, should aim at the socio-economic development without disturbing their cultural identity and inherent skills, Mr Balasaheb Dixit , national hostel chief of the Vanavasi Kalyan Organisation, said.

Mr Dixit was speaking at a meeting of local citizens, organised by the Rukmini Balika Nilaya, a hostel for the tribal girls of the district. Vanavasi Kalyan is a voluntary organisation working for the total development of tribal population in the country. The organisation, started in 1952, is running many schools, hostels, hospitals and service units for the benefit of the tribals, he explained.

Ms Leelavathi Adiga, principal of local Kanya Vidyalaya Pre-university College, presided over the programme. Messrs Shanaram Siddi, joint secretary of the State unit of Vanavasi Kalyan Organisation, local unit chief Prof (Ms) Rama Jayasimha, Secretary Shobha Hegde and Ms Sharada Parashuram also spoke.

INAUGURATED: Social service should not be undertaken with the intention of winning awards. Sacrifice of self-interest is the basis of all genuine service activities which can transform society. Social workers should not feel dejected by criticisms and hardships, nonagenarian freedom fighter K N Rao has advised.

He was speaking after inaugurating the newly started Kamal Club here. The club aims at channelising youth power to the service of society and nation. Mr Raghavendra Kamat, who was the chief guest, opined that there was no dearth of talent in the country. The youngsters need proper motivation and direction. Little is being done to create awareness among the younger generations about the rich heritage and culture of the nation. "We are more faithful to the foreign culture than the foreigners themselves", he said. Mr B N Asopa, vice-president (commercial) of the local West Coast Paper Mills, said the youth should emulate the ideals of Swami Vivekananda and prepare themselves to face the challenges of the real world.

Club President Narayan Avadhani, Secretary Surendra Oza, Susheel Maheshwari, Roshan Netravali and Ms Archana Badiger also spoke.

DEMANDED: The local STD Booth Owners' Association has urged the Union government to enhance their commission to 40 per cent of the collection and declare a moratorium on issuing of permission to new public call offices. The recent slashing down of telephone tariffs on the basis of pulse rate is not of much benefit to the general public. The tarrif should be brought down on the unit basis in the interest of the telephone users, Association President Shaikh Jalgar and Secretary Siddaraj Gasti have said in a letter addressed to Union Telecommunications Minister Pramod Mahajan.

In the memorandum, the Association members have noted that permission for STD booths is being given indiscriminately and this has hit hard the physically handicapped and poor booth operators. The monthly rent of Rs 1,600 per booth has become heavy in the light of the continuously dwindling business. The Central government should do away with the monthly rent system and pay interest on the deposits given to the department by the booth operators, they have urged.

The despised and the damned

Retrenched mine workers in Kolar Gold Fields lead a wretched life

N. Bhanutej/Kolar Gold Fields The Week magazine

On pay-day in the good old days, Tibetan women would set up shop at Five-Light Corner in Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) to sell sweaters. The medicine man with his monitor lizard, coloured oils, rabbit foot and promises of increased sex drive was a vital component. There would be others selling mats and imported goods, all trying to lure mine-workers into opening their pay packet.

K.S. Murugesh's shop (left) is a meeting point of the jobless. He worked in the Gifford Shaft until he availed of the vRS in 1997

The Tibetans and other vendors have stopped coming but the Five-Light Corner continues to be as busy as ever. With the Centre closing down the gold mines in Karnataka last March, not a week passes without a dharna organised by one or the other of KGF's 17 trade unions.

The 3,500 workers on the rolls of the now-defunct Bharat Gold Mines Limited have little hope. Nevertheless, some of them continue to report to their posts. The abandoned mines are filled with water, the mine shafts are rusting, the wagon tracks are missing, the workshops and carpentry floors of the four mines are falling apart and the once-beautiful gardens and lawns are overgrown with weeds.

K.S. Murugesh's 'Jai Bheem Telelinks', a glorified phone booth, is a meeting point of the jobless. Murugesh himself worked in the Gifford Shaft (the longest shaft that goes 2 km into the earth's bowels), until he availed of the voluntary retirement scheme in 1997. The third-generation miner who had put in 37 years of hard work received Rs 2 lakh as compensation.

Murugesh's father Sadayan retired as a miner in 1975. By the time Murugesh's children came of age, the mine had started its downward journey. Recruitment was frozen in 1982.

Daily brawls at the community tap reflect the social tension in KGF. Jealousy finds expression in the form of fight over water

About 2,000 miners found employment in the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), which was established in the early 1980s to accommodate retrenched miners. "Out of the 8,000 employees BEML recruited, only 2,000 were from the mines," said Murugesh, whose brother found employment in BEML.

Murugesh is still considered an 'outsider' and a 'Tamil'. "Neither Tamil Nadu nor Karnataka accepts us," is how the predominantly Dalit-Tamil population of KGF feels. Caste consciousness is high in KGF and Janaki Nair's film After the Gold, shot before the mines closed down, details how the Dalits revolted against being called 'Parayahs': they wanted to be called 'Adi Dravidas'.

"Out of every rupee that the Mysore state showed as revenue in its budget, 25 paise went from the gold mines as royalty," said Murugesh. "But the government did not spend a single paisa for KGF's development because it was dominated by scheduled caste Tamils."

When John Taylor and Sons, the British prospecting company, started mining operations in KGF in the 1880s, it was the Dalits from Tamil Nadu, the Maplas from Malabar and the Telugus from Andhra who were employed as miners, carpenters and scavengers respectively. The Dalits, running away from caste discrimination in their villages, found the mines to be a 'casteless' colony. All of them have lost their roots in Tamil Nadu. "I can't go back to Arakkonam, my grandfather's place," said Murugesh. "I don't know anybody there."

Jaya Mary came to KGF 40 years ago as a young bride. Today, she is a widow whose son, a painter, shuttles daily between KGF and Bangalore. Though he earns Rs 70 a day, he has to spend nearly half of it on food and travel. Their single-room hut in the gold mine camp is crumbling. "Water shortage is acute," said Jaya Mary. "So water containers take up half the space in the hut."

The daily brawls at the community tap reflect the extent of social tension in KGF. Jealousy finds expression in the form of fight over water. Selvaraj, a retired office-bearer of the municipal corporation, sits near the tap to monitor the queue.

After their daily chores, the women collect soil from remote pits near the mines and pan gold. Afternoon is the preferred time because of lax security.

At KGF, no hut has a toilet of its own. Open community toilets dot the miners' colonies. "Even our ablutions are not private," said Murugesh. Crime is on the rise thanks to poverty and unemployment. "We don't get jobs if we say we are from KGF," said Murugan, a carpenter. "All of us are taken for criminals."

People have lost faith in trade unions but the Karnataka Vimochana Ranga (KVR), one of the younger organisations in KGF, has brought some hope. KVR's organiser Shivalingam, a lecturer in the KGF College, believes the mines could be run profitably. "The government declared KGF sick because it wants to sell off the mines to an Australian company," said Shivalingam. "Bharat Gold Mines exploited only 14 sq. km of the Kolar Cyst whereas there are rich gold deposits all along the Kolar-Srinivasapura region. The government says that KGF incurred a loss of Rs 295.27 crore. But it was allowed to sell gold only at a regulated price. Besides, it had to pay an exorbitant Rs 4.50 per unit of electricity used."

Even as there is a growing realisation that the mines are unlikely to be reopened, the demand for a decent compensation package is gaining ground. Successive governments have been promising a lot but nothing has materialised so far.

Meanwhile, certain local groups have been vandalising the mine. People say the management did precious little to prevent it. "It served their purpose," said a resident. "They wanted to close the mines. Even a CBI report which said that 10 kg of gold is smuggled out of KGF every month is gathering dust."

According to Janaki Nair, the government needs to make the area a decent place to live in. "Now, it is a dormitory town that provides casual labour to Bangalore," she said.

It is 6 a.m., at Marikuppam railway station in KGF. The Swarna Express train leaves for Bangalore, 130 km away, in 40 minutes. The calm of the morning gives way to a mad rush as the train arrives. The 16 compartments of the train are packed in minutes. Over 6,000 people, most of them casual labourers, leave for Bangalore from KGF every morning. Women work in garment manufacturing units or as domestic help while the men work as painters, masons, carpenters or loaders.

Swarna Express is aptly called the lifeline of KGF. From demanding that the mines be reopened, KGF's mining families now petition the authorities to increase the number of compartments of this all-important train.

Tribal Gram Rakshak Dal to be trained in policing


ADODARA: It's an inhospitable terrain which has never made policing an easy job. The tribal dominated areas of Chhota Udepur and Kawant, which have remained an enigma to policemen over the years, may not remain a puzzle any longer. The Vadodara rural police have hit upon a novel plan to gain access into the tribal psyche - train tribals in policing techniques.

And, the rural police are taking the help of the over-3,000 Gram Rakshak Dal (GRD) members in the Vadodara rural area, all tribal youths, to reach out to the inaccessible tribal areas and tribal minds.

"These GRD members, all culled from the tribal-dominated areas, will act as a medium between us and the tribals among whom we have found little acceptance. As we train these GRD members in policing matters and give them uniforms, their activities will make the police more acceptable to the tribals," says senior superintendent of police (Vadodara rural) Keshav Kumar.

"These tribal areas throw up a unique case. Acceptance of policemen in these remote areas is low. And, very little research has been possible in these areas regarding crime patterns and the tribal psyche. In our bid to evolve a new method of policing for these tribal areas, where crime patterns and social behaviour are totally different from that in urban and rural areas, we hit on the idea of using GRD members as resource persons. They will take our message to the tribals and carry their expectations and apprehensions to us. They will be virtually our ambassadors in these areas and act as an interface between the police and the tribals," adds Kumar.

The rural police, that have already distributed cycles and torches to the GRD members to motivate them are now working on a major plan to establish a GRD training centre which will probably be the first such effort in the entire country. While five acres of land has already been acquired in Chhota Udepur, the centre will be established in association with the project administrator in the area looking after tribal development under the Union ministry for tribal affairs. The centre, exclusively for GRD members, will help them develop their skills and they will be trained in various aspects including training for entry into the Armed Forces.

The police have also decided to "develop the talent of these youth in fields like music" by organising a talent contest where 65 short-listed youth would play instruments like 'pavo', 'dhol' and 'bansuri' and will be judged by an eminent panel of judges on January 21 at Gandhi Nagargruh here.

The competition will be supported by the Gujarat State Sangeet Natak Academy. Academy's member-secretary Sanjay Gupta, in a letter to Kumar has said that "... various Gujarat tribes have an innate cultural leaning which manifests itself in proficiency with traditional music instruments," and has pledged to support the effort financially.

Court upholds tribal woman's appointment


ATNA: A division bench of the Patna High Court, comprising Justice Nagendra Rai and Justice RS Garg, on Tuesday upheld the appointment of a tribal woman, Santa Barla, on a Letter Patent Ap-peal (LPA) filed by the state.

The judges also granted her continuity of service to be determined from the date of her initial appointment. Barla was dismissed after working continuously for more th-an 10 years in government service.

The state government had filed the LPA after losing its case in the court of Justice Aftab Alam of the Patna High Court. Justice Alam, while setting aside the dismissal, had observed that 10 years was a long time by any reckoning and the court found it difficult to uphold the action of the government on the plea that the petitioner's appointment was irregular.

The counsel for Barla, K M Joseph, argued before the division bench that though her initial appointment was on the daily wages basis, she was appointed at a time when the bar against such appointment was yet to come. It is undeniable that she worked for a period of over 10 years. He also cited a number of apex court verdicts to press his case, which found favour with the judges.

Justice Alam also observed that the circle establishment committee had decided to regularise her service and that Barla was a poor hapless tribal woman and there were sufficient vacancies in this reserved category, he added.


BSP digs roots deep

Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service Hoshiarpur, January 20

Known for its choes and chowdharies, this district has seen a lot of political transformation in the recent years. Earlier, it used to be a stronghold of the Congress. Later, the CPM and the CPI also established its base in this belt.

Of late, the BSP too has dug its roots deep in this area. In fact, the BSP has become a very strong political outfit in this part of the Doaba belt. It determines the outcome of results in many constituencies. The influence of the BSP starts from Balachaur and it continues up to Mukerian. Now Balachaur has become a part of Nawanshahr. Earlier, it was in this district. For the past six months, the BSP chief, Mr Kanshi Ram, has been concentrating in this area to revitalise his party?s rank and file.

There are eight constituencies in the district. In the 1997 Assembly elections, the SAD had contested four seats and left the remaining four for its alliance partner, the BJP. The SAD had won all four while the success rate of the BJP was only 50 per cent. Will the SAD-BJP combine be able to repeat its past performance this time?

This question is difficult to answer at this stage as the political scenario in this belt is too hazy to draw any inference out of it.

The SAD has changed its two candidates this time. Mrs Mohinder Kaur Josh, who won from the Sham Churasi (reserve) constituency in the byelection held because of the death of her father Arjun Singh Josh, has been dropped by the SAD from its list of renominated candidates. Arjun Singh had won from Sham Churasi in 1997 and died a few months later.

In fact, the SAD has handed over this constituency to the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) headed by Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, a third partner in the SAD-BJP alliance.

The BSM has given the ticket to Mrs Josh?s sworn opponent, Mr Onkar Singh Jharmat, who had recently joined the party after quitting the BSP. In protest against the denial of ticket, Mrs Josh resigned from the SAD and decided to contest as an Independent candidate.

Mr Sohan Singh Bodal, who has been elected on the SAD ticket from Garhdiwala by defeating the Congress candidate, Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, has also been replaced with Mr Des Raj Dugga by the party. Mr Sohan Singh has also resigned from the SAD to contest as an Independent candidate.

The BJP has not made any change in its candidates. It has fielded Mr Tikshan Sood, who last time defeated BSP candidate Mohinder Pal from Hoshiarpur. Mahant Ram Parkash has been renominated from Dasuya, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna from Garhshankar and Mr Arunesh Kumar, who in 1997 defeated the Congress heavyweight, Mr Kewal Krishan, from Mukerian. Mahant Ram Parkash lost to Mr Romesh Chander Dogra of the Congress with a margin of only 53 votes in 1997 and Mr Avinash was defeated with a margin of 800 votes by the BSP's candidate, Mr Shingara Ram Sahungara, from Garhshankar in 1997.

There is strong resentment among the Congressmen as the party has handed over the Garhshankar seat to the CPI and replaced candidates in four other constituencies. In place of Mrs Surjit Kaur, the Congress has fielded Mr Sangat Singh from the Tanda constituency.

Mr Dharampal Sabharwal, former minister, has been replaced by Mr Pawan Kumar Adian by the Congress from the Garhdiwala constituency. In Sham Churasi, Mr Ram Lubhaya has managed to secure the Congress ticket through his wife Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, Member of the Lok Sabha.

Mrs Chowdhary has made the nomination of her husband a prestige issue and made the party high command to submit to her wishes. One can imagine her political clout. She is one of the two MPs, who forced the party high command to break all norms to allot party tickets to their close relations in Punjab. Mr Ram Rattan, who last time contested from Sham Churashi has been shifted to Mahilpur (reserve).

Only Mr Romesh Dogra of the Congress had managed to win from Hoshiarpur district. He has been renominated by the part this time.

Interestingly, while in 1997, the BSP had topped in the Garhshankar constituency, it had remained on second spot in Mahilpur, Hoshiarpur, Sham Churasi constituencies relegating the Congress to third slot.

Kanshi promises Dalit raj

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram today promised that he would introduce Dalit raj in the state.

The Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Banga, Mr Mohan Lal Behram, former Pradesh Youth Congress general secretary, Mr Gurmail Pahalwan, and coordinator of the Foreign Affairs Cell of the AICC, Mr Ravinder Singh Sohal, joined the party on the occasion.

Addressing a well-attended rally here today, Mr Kanshi Ram lashed out at the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance for ignoring the interests of the downtrodden. He claimed that ?change was in the offing? while pointing towards the presence of people at the rally. He kept the crowds waiting for about three hours.

Mr Kanshi Ram remained silent on the issue of seat adjustment with the Panthic Morcha, saying that these decisions would be announced tomorrow at Jalandhar, where he will give away the party authorisation tickets to the candidates.

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Published on: January 21, 2002
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