News Update 08/25/2003

NHRC writes to PM on scavenging
- By Our Correspondent

New Delhi, Aug. 24: The National Human Rights Commission has urged
the Prime Minister to instruct the concerned agencies to immediately
end the manual scavenging practice within a specific time frame.
The NHRC, concerned about the "demeaning" and "degrading" practice of
manual scavenging in various parts of the country, has also written
to the Prime Minister on the issue. NHRC chairman Justice (Retd) A.S.
Anand, stated in a written communication to the Prime
Minister, "Despite your assurances that the need to end the practice
of manual scavenging was included as part of the 15-point initiative
on 15 August 2002, it is a sad commentary that the inhuman practice
still continues in several states."
He said, "The practice of manual scavenging in an affront to human
dignity and a major social evil which needs to be eliminated."
The commission was deeply concerned about the degrading practice of
manual handling of night soil.
The NHRC had been "writing to you as well as to the chief minister of
respective states to put a end to this socially degrading age-old
"I therefore, request you to kindly direct the authorities concerned
to take immediate necessary steps to end the practice of manual
scavenging within a specific time frame," the NHRC chairman stated.
The letter also said that the commission has been urging the states
to make a commitment to put a stop to this practice at least by
Gandhi Jayanti.
The letter also drew the attention of the Prime Minister to the
report of the Comptroller and Auditor General which stated that the
decades-long government effort to end the practice has failed

Want a Cow Bill? Go tell it to this child

Dalits were beaten, set ablaze on false charges of cow slaughter. All
32 accused are out on bail

Nirmala Ganapathy

Jhajjar, Haryana, Aug 23: This week they passionately debated the
rights of the cow in Parliament. Less than two hours away, in Dulina
village, where five Dalits were beaten to death and set ablaze on the
false charge of killing a cow, all the 32 men accused are out on
bail. Some of them bragged to The Sunday Express that they wouldn't
mind doing it again. As for the families of those killed, the
compensation is of little comfort. Each family got Rs 5 lakh from the
Haryana government, Rs 1 lakh from Sonia Gandhi, Rs 3 lakh from the
Uttar Pradesh government. But ask Ramvati, mother of Virender, one of
those killed. ``I want my son back,'' she says, ``I am ready to give
the money back, just give me justice.'' Next month, the court is
expected to frame charges but for Ramvati, it's not going to be easy.
On October 15 last year, her son Virender; their friends Kailash,
Dayachand, Tota Ram and Raju were on their way to Karnal carrying
hides and the carcass of a cow in a truck. They stopped in front of
the police station in Dulina where they met some villagers coming
back from a Dussehra fair. Soon word spread that a cow had
been ``slaughtered and was being skinned.'' A mob gathered and right
under the nose of the police watching, the five men were beaten to
death and then set on fire. The police, instead of acting against the
lynching, registered a case against the victims under the Prevention
of Cow Slaughter Act! And even sent the cow carcass for a post
mortem. Once the results came in that the cow had been dead 24 hrs
before the lynching, the case was withdrawn and two cases of murder
and attempted murder were registered against 32 villagers.
Surprisingly, although the incident took place with police watching,
the initial FIR, filed by Rajinder Singh, the SHO at Jhajjar police
station, did not name anybody. Over the next month, 32 residents were
identified and their names filed. One of them was Rajbir Kumar,
sarpanch of neighbouring Sura village. When The Sunday Express met
him, he said he was willing to ``give money'' for the Cow Bill.
Although he denied being involved in the lynching, he said: ``If
somebody does this to a cow we will do the same thing.'' Five from
his family are co-accused. All of them were out on bail by January
despite being booked under stringent sections: murder, rioting with
deadly weapon, mischief by fire and explosive substances (435) and
under the SCs and STs Act. District Attorney S K Chopra said the
court granted bail because none of the 32 figure in the initial
FIR. ``There were no specifics like who hit who. We have 43
witnesses, the case is based on cirumstantial evidence,'' he said.
That's why there is no case, says A P Kadyan, defence counsel. The
delay in the case occurred, both sides said, after the judge hearing
the case took voluntary retirement and the case got transferred to
the court of SDM Inderjeet Mehta. Meanwhile, Buddhu Ram, relative of
victim Dayachand, said, ``We don't go to the court, nobody listens to
us and we are scared of going there.'' The families want the case to
be transferred to another court. The accused walk free. ``They killed
the cow while it was roaming around,'' said Sri Bhagwan, another
accused. Both the victims' families and the accused blame police: one
side for not saving lives, the other for not saving an imaginary cow.
This was never part of the debate on the Cow Bill.
Dalit atrocities: Advani passes buck to states
Express News Service

New Delhi, August 22: Members of Opposition parties, normally vocal
on the rights of the states, today pleaded for a Central intervention
to protect Dalits against atrocities. Deputy Prime Minister L.K.
Advani, on the other hand, contended that the Centre, even though
concerned, had a limited role. He maintained: ``The primary
responsibility is of the states. The Centre does not have the
authority to act under the present Constitution. The Centre's job is
to advise states from time to time.'' Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram
Vilas Paswan, who was persistent with his demand for stronger action
against the accused in the Jhajjar case, remained unconvinced. ``I
have never seen India's Home Minister as helpless as today. Please
don't say you are helpless.'' Advani said special cells have been set
up in 17 states and a Union Territory to deal with the problem. A
total of 37 special courts have also been constituted in 10 states. A
dozen states — AP, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, MP, Maharashtra,
Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, TN and UP — have identified the areas
prone to atrocities against Dalits. Regarding Jhajjar, he said the
Haryana government had informed him that the trial of the accused was
on, while a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each had been given to the next
of kin of those killed. When Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) and Paswan
asked him not to go by what the Haryana government has said, Advani
said he was bound by norms. He had to go by the state version,
whether it was Haryana or West Bengal.
 4.Dalits, a harassed lot in Guntur, a harassed lot
in Guntur
Guntur, Aug. 24: Dalits in Guntur are a harassed lot with the upper
castes ostracising and killing them, while the district
administration made cursory promises and washed off its
hands.Karukatla Bullaiah, an SC student of Gopayapalem in Moparru
village panchayat, Amarthulur mandal, was killed by upper caste
people on May 10, 1999. Moreover, the Dalits of Gopayapalem were
ostracised. A One-Man Commission, headed by Justice Punnaiah held an
open inquiry on June 24, 1999. Relief promised by the Collector did
not reach the victims.In another case, Dalit hamlets were ambushed by
the upper caste people in January 2001. As a precursor to the
incident, the Dalits were assaulted by the upper caste men for a
trivial reason. In turn, the upper caste people booked a false case
against the Dalit women. But in March 2001, according to the District
Collector's order, the Guntur RDO conducted an inquiry and confirmed
the Dalits' version. The recommendations made by the RDO are yet to
be fulfiled.A Dalit Karumuru Krishna Murthy of Potumeraka in Repalle
mandal was killed. The officials concerned allegedly conspired to
change the caste of the deceased to Backward Class. Though relief was
sanctioned, rehabilitation is yet to be provided. In another ghastly
incident, a 13-year-old SC girl of the SC girls' hostel in Sangam
Jagarlamudi was gang-raped and killed on April 10, 1995. In spite of
a CB-CID inquiry, the culprits are yet to be booked. Though the
victim's father Appa Rao was sanctioned a job, he is yet to get it as
he could not shell down the bribe money demanded by the officials. In
Pedamakkena village the upper castes did not allow the Dalits from
farming in May 2003. The promise of sites and also NSFDC schemes for
the unemployed Dalit youth has not been implemented so far. In
another case, two Dalit youth were killed in Pesapadu seven months
ago. An inquiry has not been conducted in spite of the Collector's
orders.State president of Indian Dalit Employees Association G Raja
Sundara Babu said the victimised Dalits have always been at the
receiving end. 

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