Custodial death: DSS demands action against police officials

DH News Service

RAICHUR, April 10

Members of the Raichur taluk unit of the Dalit Sangharsha Samithi today staged a protest in front of the deputy commissionerís office here demanding a high-level probe into the death of a Dalit, Hanumantha of Gonal, who was in police custody and also seeking action against the police officials involved. The DSS leaders, who presented a memorandum to be forwarded to District-Incharge Minister Raja Amareshwara Naik, alleged that there was a systematic conspiracy on part of the police to hush up the case. They also demanded compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of the deceased.

Hanumantha, who was taken into custody in connection with a criminal case, was brutally assaulted in front of his wife. He was later taken to the police station and tortured. To hush up the case, the police have pressurised the doctor to certify that his death was caused due to heart attack, the DSS members charged.

Ambedkar award for Moily

DH News Service


Former Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily was today presented with the Dr Ambedkar award by the Goruru Foundation for his contributions in the literary field.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Director Mathoor Krishnamurthy and Infosys Foundation trustee Sudha Murthy were also presented with the Goruru Foundation Literary Award and the Writer of the Year Award respectively.

The awardees were felicitated by renowned litterateur and centenarian A N Murthy Rao and Forest Minister K H Ranganath at a function organised by the Goruru Foundation here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ranganath said that good literature was the only way people could be put back on the right track in the light of declining values in the society. He said the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi were relevant even today and litterateurs should spread this ideology through their writings to the common man.

Replying to the felicitations, Mr Moily, who is also the chairman of the Revenue Reforms Commission, spoke on the uniqueness and strength of the Indian society that could withstand any amount of external pressure.

As many as 27 Kannada writers were also felicitated today in recognition to their contributions in the fields of literature, poetry and drama.

Ambedkar's birth anniversary celebrated in Mangalore

DH News Service


Dakshina Kannada district in-charge Minister Ramanath Rai has said called upon the people to practice social, economic and political principles followed by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

The minister was speaking at a function organised to mark the 111th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar at the zilla panchayat premises here today. He also garlanded the portrait of Ambedkar.

Recalling Ambedkar's role in drafting the Constitution of India, Mr Rai said he had responded to the grievances of the Dalits by giving reservation and other facilities to the socially and economically backward classes. "We should strive to give social, economic and political justice to the downtrodden by implementing various provisions mentioned in the Constitution", the minister said adding that all kinds of social evils could be eliminated by giving education.

Justifying the reservation policy, the minister said efforts were being made to provide justice to the backward classes people by filling backlog posts.

Canara College economics lecturer H Ramesh Kedilaya delivered a lecture on Ambedkar's thought. MLA N Yogesh Bhat presided over the function. Mayor Abdul Ajeez, Zilla Panchayat Vice-President M S Mohammed, the deputy commissioner and others were present. Mangalore University Sociology Department's Reader Dr Mohammed Peer also delivered a lecture on Ambedkar's principles.

DISTRIBUTED: To mark the occasion, the Social Welfare Department has distributed five sewing machines, two pumpsets and loans to repair houses. As many 11 students, who passed in first class in SSLC examination, were felicitated on the occasion.

DSS threatens to gherao minister

DH News Service

HASSAN, April 14

The Dalit Sangharsha Samithi (DSS) has threatened to gherao Revenue Minister H C Srikantaiah if he did not step down from the post owning moral responsibilty for his failure to protect the interests of the Dalits. The minister has been following "anti-Dalit policy" in Chennarayapatna taluk, the DSS alleged.

In a press statement here on Friday, DSS leaders Jalendra, Chikkaiah, Hiresh Hirehalli, K Erappa, Jayaram, N Yogish and others alleged that the Hiresave Gram Panchayat president and Mr Srikantaiah's relative Balakrishna were the main accused in the destruction of an engineering workshop run by Nagaraju, a Dalit. Though the incident occurred in front of the police, no action had been initiated against the culprits, they charged.

Instead of giving protection to Nagaraju by the police, he had been forcibly evicted from the village, the DSS leaders alleged.

Stating that attrocities on Dalits have been increased after Mr Srikantaiah assumed charge as the minister, they said a portrait of Ambedkar had been desecrated at Sabbanahalli. Attrocities on women have been reported from Madalagere village. A Dalit youth had been attacked at M Honnenahalli, they said and urged the officials concerned to take steps against the accused. They also demanded compensation to the people who had lost property in different incidents.

`Every Dalit family in State to have a house in two years'

DH News Service

GULBARGA, April 14

Housing Minister Qamur-Ul-Islam announced here today that within the next two-years every Dalit family in the State would be having a house.

Presiding over the 111th birth anniversary celebrations of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Jagat Chowk here today, jointly organised by the District Administration, Gulbarga Mahanagara Palike (GMP), and the District Scheduled Castes/Tribes Employees' Association, Mr Qamur-Ul- Islam stated that, nearly 20 per cent of the State's population lived in slums, and of those who lived in the slums, nearly 75 per cent were Dalits.

Stressing upon the fact that it was the then prime minister, late Indira Gandhi, who had started the system of providing 18 per cent of the budget for the socio-economic development of the SC/STs, the minister stated that this system had been followed even till today. "This was mainly towards ushering in social justice for all in the country, especially by uplifting the downtrodden and the backward," he added.

Stating that providing employment, good health facilities, and housing for the Dalits was the main aim of the S M Krishna government in the State, Mr Qamur-Ul-Islam stated that, towards achieving this the State government had already started filling up the 25,000 backlog of vacancies.

Towards filling the housing aspirations of the Dalits, the State Government had embarked upon an ambitious programme of providing a house to every Dalit family in the State within the next two years. As majority of the Dalits lived in the slums, many schemes were being implemented towards providing basic infrastructure in 985 slums spread over 21 cities in the State at a cost of Rs 67.5 crore, he added.

Stating that under the first phase, Rs 13.5 crore had already been released by the State government under the Nirmala Jyothi scheme for these slums, Mr Qamur-Ul-Islam said, under the Valamiki-Ambedkar Malina Basti Yojana, the Centre was providing 50 per cent subsidy on the construction of houses for the poor and the Dalits in slums. "Around 10,312 houses would be built under the Valamiki- Ambedkar Malina Basti Yojana in the first phase," he added. He stated that 23 of the 58 slums in Gulbarga City had been taken up under the scheme. "Under the Valamiki-Ambedkar Malina Basti Yojana, 773 houses would be constructed, and under the Centrally sponsored Nava Bharat Abhiyan Scheme, six toilet complexes would be constructed," he said adding, all these works would be completed within a month.

The minister also stated that, under the Nava Bharat Abhiyan Scheme, toilets would be constructed in these selected slums. Stating that Rs seven lakh was being provided by the Centre for each toilet complex, Mr Qamur-Ul-Islam said, the complex would be self-sufficient. In each complex there would be 10 toilets for men and eight for women, along with a borewell and an over-head tank.

He stated that 279 such toilet complexes had already sanctioned, one each for the slums already selected. Moreover, the Slum Board had taken up construction of 104 such toilet complexes at a cost of Rs 7.38 crore, he added.

Earlier, Mr Qamur-Ul-Islam garlanded the statues of Dr Ambedkar and that of Lord Basaveshwara. On the occasion, the minister also performed the "Guddali Pooja" for laying the road-divider between the Jagat Chowk and Lalgeri Chowk on the main road. He stated that the work on laying this road-divider would be completed with April 30. Speaking on the occasion, Karnataka State Dalit Sangarsh Samithi (Sagar faction) State Organising Convenor D G Sagar lamented that the right and facilities enshrined for the Dalits in the Indian Constitution were not being properly implemented.

Divisional Commissioner G K Lokhre stated that the governments should strive to give the Dalits their rights, and should strive for giving them the facilities. When compared to 50 years ago, he said, now a lot of awareness had been created among the Dalits towards their development. He however lamented that this awareness had not yet reached the Dalits in the rural areas, who were still dependent on others for their living.

GMP Mayor Dasharat Vanti, MLCs Sashil Namoshi and Maruthirao Male, Gulbarga Zilla Panchayat President Amatappa Kandkur and Vice- President Sharanprakash Patil, Gulbarga District Congress Committee President Gundappa Korwar, Deputy Commissioner M Laxminarayan, Superintendent of Police Alok Kumar, Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer M Maheshwar Rao, and others were present.

A public rally was held on the occasion by different Dalit organisations under the leadership of Dalit leader Vittal Dodmani. Also, the Karnataka State Dalit Sangarsh Samithi (Sagar faction) held a separate function at the Public Gardens on the occasion.

Tributes paid to Ambedkar

New Delhi April 14. The nation today remembered B.R. Ambedkar, architect of the Constitution, on his 111th birth anniversary and recalled the services rendered by him for the upliftment of the downtrodden and underprivileged.

Speakers at functions across the country said Dr. Ambedkar's thoughts had much relevance now when attempts were being made to divide the country on religious and caste lines.

At a function in Parliament House, the Vice-President, Krishan Kant, the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, the Lok Sabha Deputy-Speaker, P.M. Sayeed, and several MPs offered floral tributes to the leader. Mr. Narayanan could not attend the function due to ``unavoidable reasons''.

Kanshiram admitted to hospital

INDORE APRIL 14. The Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Kanshiram, was admitted to Apollo Hospital here after he fell sick at Mhow while addressing party workers on the 111th anniversary of B. R. Ambedkar. ``Mr. Kanshiram was admitted in the evening and has been under observation in the Intensive Care Unit after he complained of uneasiness and his blood sugar was found to be high,'' the executive director of the hospital, Rajesh Jain, said.

Mr. Kanshiram's condition was stable and there was no cause for worry.

Ambedkar Jayanthi Celebrated in Kuala Lumpur

Warmest Greetings to all Dalits around the World on the auspicious occassion of 111st Birth Anniversary of Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Greatest Son of India, the Light of the Dalits and the Chief Architect of India's Constitution.

Ambedkar Jayanti was celebrated in Kuala Lumpur today with Joy and Happiness. The Jayanti was organised by Indian Progressive Front, IPF, at the Chinese Assembly Hall Auditorium in the City Centre. The Chief Guest on the occasion was India's High Commissioner to Malaysia Her Highness Veena Sikri. In addition to the IPF dignitaries, Minister in the Malaysian Govt, Member of Parliment and the Justice of Peace also graced the occasion.

Large Portrait of Babasaheb was garlanded by IPF President Datuk Pandithan followed by lighting the ceremonial lamps by the veteran ladies. The Huge Birthday cake was cut by the High Commissioner of India joined together by the IPF Veteran ladies to the cheers of Happy Birthday.

Function was followed by Tamil/Hindi/English pop Songs and Dances gracefully performed by the Dalit Artists of Malaysia. Various upcoming artist groups performed cultural programs, followed by the fashion parade to highlight the Indian Culture.

On the occasion of Jayanti, the opening of IPF Building was announced to the loud cheers of the Dalits.

Every Dalit enjoyed the Jayanti Celebration and participated whole heartedly. Datuk Pandithan called for Dalits to educate for the social and economical upliftment on the path shown by Babasaheb.

Jayanti is being celebrated regularly ever since the 'First Dalit World Convention' took place in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Every year the enthusiasm and the particiation is growing many folds. The program started promptly at noon which extended until the whole afternoon and was attended by over four thousand strong Dalits.

Dr Sudhir Kamble with Family, Mahendran from Brunei and myself attended the function on behalf of Ambedkar International Mission Kuala Lumpur

Mourning, And The Media's Bias

By Meena Kandasamy

Recently, Chandra Bhan Prasad wrote an excellent article pointing out the absence of dalit journalists. He lamented that from a population of over 205 dalits there was not a single dalit with an accreditation card in the mainstream media. He vehemently emphasized that "the Indian media is still a prisoner of the chatur-varna world view". The truth of this reality is being reinforced everyday. Politics and casteist bias in the national media not only dictate what should be reported, but also what must not be reported. Ignoring dalit writings and activism seems to be an unwritten rule in today's upper-caste dominated press. And the obscure media coverage extended to Vasant Moon's death on April 1, 2002 is just another example of the dalits being given inferior treatment. Nevertheless, it highlights the carelessness with which the media treats the dalits.

Vasant Moon was a staunch follower of Dr. Ambedkar and a noted dalit activist. He was the Editor of the twenty collected volumes of "Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches", which was published by the Education Department of the Maharashtra Government. All through his life, he worked with the single goal of compiling and editing the works of Babasaheb and with his meticulous hard work, he immortalized Dr. Ambedkar. If there are millions of ambedkarites in the world today, it is only because of the untiring efforts of Vasant Moon. His autobiography 'Vasti' was the first dalit autobiography published in India. Last month, its English translation by Gail Omvedt, titled "Growing up Untouchable in India" was released. Vasant Moon also played a great role in the sourcing of dalit literature. It is a fact that any research on the dalit movement could never have been complete but for the help extended by him. He must be remembered because he gave permanence to our history and heritage.

But, Vasant Moon was not given the fancy government honors; the quintessential string of Padma awards that so easily and automatically come in rapid succession to adorn the upper-caste privileged. Although his services were fully appropriated by the Indian government, any kind of genuine official recognition was absent. With his death, he left behind a nation terribly in debt.

A great ambedkarite like Vasant Moon deserved the national English media's genuine attention, which was clearly absent. The media has been on the wrong side with respect to his case. Let us not deny this for the sake of refuting. Instead, let us remind ourselves of the hyperbole that we lavish on upper-caste authors, men and women whose popularity far outlives their book-sales. Let us renew our memories and feel the sponsored elation the media experiences when sycophants of those in power are heaped with awards and laurels. Alternatively, let us deal with dreary deaths. And the disparity therein. We don't need comprehensive research to draw parallels and understand why the demise of a prominent dalit intellectual could not command even a single line in two widely circulated national newspapers in India. This willful laxity was despite UNI reporting the sad incident.

I am not in a furious frenzy for the reason that Vasant W. Moon was not accorded a fitting obituary by the national media. Dalit activists all over the world will revere him forever. I am grieved by the sorrow and helplessness of a prophetic truth that Dr. Ambedkar wrote in 1945, - " The Untouchables have no Press". The statement sounds powerfully authentic and accurate even today. When the mainstream media refuses to publish dalit-related news, it sends a clear signal that they aim to practice a modified version of untouchability. It indefensibly acknowledges that they seek to endorse and perpetually nurture the hierarchy the caste system provides.

Dalits are evidently not the largest consumers of newspapers, but the media must not forget that one fifth of one billion is a very big number. It is a number which will, in the coming days, decide the nation's doom or destiny. In this context, chronicling dalit voices has to become everybody's business.

(The author is the editor of the bimonthly magazine of the Dalit Media Network, "The Dalit." She can be contacted at

More information on Vasant Moon is available at the

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Published on:April 01, 2002
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