News Update 09/09/2003

Declare sept 11 as BC and dalit awakening day,000600010002.htm
Press Trust of India
Chennai, September 8

Puthiya Tamizhagam, a dalit party on Monday demanded that September
11, as the day of backward classes and dalit awakening day, in memory
of the late Immanuel Sekaran, who lost his life in an agitation
against untouchability a few years ago. P T president Dr K
Krishnasamy, in a statement, said even DMK founder C N Annadurai, had
praised the sacrifice made by Immanuel.

Both the central and Tamil Nadu governments should declare September
11, Immanuel's death anniversary, as backward classes and dalit
awakening day, he said.

He said PT would conduct a silent march to Immanuel's memorial at
Paramakudi at Ramanathapuram district on that day.

FIRs lodged against 40 dalits

LUCKNOW: The police have registered a case against 40 Dalits and five
others on a court directive, in connection with last month's caste
clash at village Tojpur in Mau district. Forty-nine Dalits had been
injured in the clash with Thakurs, over a land dispute on August 13.
Initially, the police had refused to lodge a case against the Dalits
following the violence which took place, when Mayawati was the chief
minister. At that time, the police had arrested 31 of the 39 people,
from the upper castes, who were named in another FIR. Sources said
that the cases against the Dalits were registered on September 3, a
few days after Mayawati lost power.  Deputy superintendent of Police
(DSP) of Mau Arun Kumar, said that they had registered FIR against 40
Dalits and 5 others.  Sources said that Thakurs lodged in jail had
moved to the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) for an FIR
against the Dalits. According to the DSP, the Court instructed the
police to entertain the complaint and register a case in this


Judeo to cleanse temple visited by Jogi
- By Sanjay Basak
New Delhi, Sept 7: If Gangaajal for Prakash Jha, is a "metaphor
signifying the act of cleansing," the BJP Union minister Dilip Singh
Judeo intends to put this into practice by using the holy water
to "cleanse the Hindu shrines, where a non-Hindu had set foot " in
Chhattisgarh. Mr Judeo wants to sprinkle India's holy water on some
Hindu shrines, where a non-Hindu Christian chief minister Ajit Jogi
visited to seek divine blessings. The Jogi camp, on the other hand,
countered by claiming that the chief minister "is a practising Hindu
and a son of the soil." They then targeted the Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayee saying that he is a "chicken eater," who has not done
anything for Chhattisgarh. However, the move to cleanse the shrines,
awaits clearance from the BJP high command, which is not certain,
whether the use of gangajal, would be proper in this particular
context.The Judeo camp, on the other hand is apparently firm about
beginning its cleansing operation from October, a month before the
state goes to Assembly polls. As for Mr Judeo's plan, he would set on
a to "purify" the Danteshwari, Bamleshwari and Mahamaya Devi temples
and atone for the chief minister's "sins." The hardcore Hindutva
brigade feels that Jogi has "polluted" the three temples where non-
Hindus are discouraged from entering. It was further added by the
camp that the error has been "compounded," as Mr Jogi had taken
the "other Christian," Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to some of the
temples. A section of liberal BJP leaders are apparently sceptical
about the yatra, as they felt that such a move would "damage" the
party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu's call for "social expansion of the
outfit." A senior party functionary said that the BJP has been
desperately trying to rectify its image among the Muslims, after the
Gujarat carnage. "We already have problems with the Christians over
the conversion issue. The fight should remain confined to that. The
cleansing operation could just boomerang," the functionary said.
Another senior BJP leader acknowledged that Mr Judeo has sought
permission from the high command for the use of an air-conditioned
Swaraj Mazda-rath to help him transport Gangajal across Chhattisgarh.
If Mr Judeo's gangajal has put the BJP in a dilemma, the party was
finding its going somewhat "tricky," in certain tribal pockets of
tribal belts. In these areas, the BJP was hit by, what the leaders
described as "identity crisis." In remote tribal belts of Bastar,
Dantewala, Kankar, the BJP is identifying itself as "phoolwala
(lotus) Congress." As senior functionary explained, "In certain
tribal pockets, people are unaware of BJP. They know only about
Congress and Indira Gandhi." The BJP leaders in these pockets
explaining that the fight is between "phoolwala Congress (BJP) and
haathwala Congress (Indian National Congress with hand as its
symbol)." The saffron appeal, therefore, is, "Vote phoole pe, haath
mein nahin."

Jagmohan to inspect AP Buddha sites to develop tourism
- By Venkat Parsa
New Delhi, Sept. 6: The Union tourism minister Jagmohan will be on a
two-day visit to Andhra Pradesh next week to personally inspect the
Buddhist sites in the state. This move of the Vajpayee government is
intended at developing the Buddhist circuit in Andhra Pradesh at par
with the Buddhist circuit in Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh
chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who hosted the Southern Tourism
Minister's Conference in Hyderabad last week intends to develop the
Andhra Pradesh Buddhist circuit under the pilgrim tourism, as a
favoured Buddhist circuit which has a vast and unexplored potential.
The Vajpayee government has given a major thrust to the development
of pilgrim tourism in the country and keeping this in mind, the
Andhra Pradesh government which had earlier identified the Buddhist
circuit for development, approached the Centre for its development
under pilgrim tourism. The Centre accepted the proposal and the Union
tourism minister Jagmohan's visit to Andhra Pradesh is a major step
in this direction. The state government has also hired a Mumbai-based
firm to make a presentation to the Union tourism ministry on the
Buddhist circuit in Andhra Pradesh. The state government is seeking
Central assistance for development of infrastructural assistance and
connectivity with the Buddhist sites, so that these could be
developed into a cogent circuit. The main sites are the Buddha
Purnima in Hyderabad, the Nagarjuna Konda near the famous Nagarjuna
Sagar Dam and Amaravati in Guntur district. There are similar sites
even in Visakhapatnam, Godavari, Warangal, Nellore and north
Telangana which the state government intends to develop under the
proposed plan. Nagarjuna Konda was once a splendid city with stupas,
monasteries, and marvellous sculpture adorning them. It had a large
amphitheatre with perfect acoustics, an altar for the sacrifice of
horses, royal baths and bathing ghats along the river and a well
planned drainage system. With the passage of time and the slow
disappearance of Buddhism from India, the city found itself on the
downhill. In the 1950s, excavations were resumed with an urgency, for
the ambitious Nagarjunasagar hydro-electric project, that was coming
up on river Krishna, which commenced under the stewardship of Pandit
Jawaharlal Nehru. Upstream, the river Krishna is Nagarjunakonda,
associated with the famous Buddhist scholar of 2nd century,
Nagarjuna. It was an important Buddhist monastic institution and has
stupas with handsome sculptures, depicting scenes from the life of
Buddha. Archaeologists have salvaged the precious ruins from their
ancient setting, lifting them atop a hill, and showcasing them in a
museum, styled as a vihara. As work started for the hydro-electric
project, ruins from the site were relocated brick by brick, on the
crest of a hill overlooking the river, known as Nagarjuna Konda.


Parties gauge Dalit mood for polls

Rajeev R Roy/ New Delhi

The dalits in the capital are numerically strong enough to be a major
political force. There are, at least 34 out of a total of 70 assembly
seats where they account for a sizable number of the population.
Their votes assume significance as their traditional party - the
Congress - is facing a challenge from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The Congress, a front runner for Dalit votes, in particular of the
Balmikis, currently holds all the 13 assembly constituencies reserved
for the scheduled castes (SC). These seats are Dr Ambedkar Nagar,
Sultanpur Mazra, Mangolpuri, Narela, Nandnagri, Seem-apuri,
Patparganj, Trilokpri, Baljeet Nagar, Ram Nagar, Madipur and Bawana.

The other constituencies with a significant Dalit population are
Trinagar (13 per cent), Hauz Khas (15 per cent), Shahbad Daulatpur
(19 per cent), Jangpura (18 per cent), Rajouri Garden (12 per cent),
Karawal Nagar (16 per cent), Hastsal (11 per cent), Shakur Basti (21
per cent), Model Town (22 per cent) and Vishnu Garden (12 per cent).

These constituencies are dominated by the non-Jatav and non-Balmiki
communities. The constituencies where these two pre-dominant
communities matter are Sultanpur Mazra (Jatav 16 per cent, Balmiki 9
per cent), Shahdara (Jatav 10 per cent), Mangolpuri (Jatav 21 per
cent, Balmiki 12 per cent), Hari Nagar (7 per cent), Kamala Nagar
(Balmiki 8 per cent), Patparganj (Jatav 16 per cent), Sadar Bazar
(Jatav 21 per cent), Mehrauli (Jatav 11 per cent), Ram Nagar (Balmiki
10 per cent), and Gole Market (Balmiki 23 per cent).

The BSP had jolted the Congress leaders during the municipal poll
last year, with Mayawati campaigning for her candidates. Though the
BSP couldn't win many a ward, it had left the Congress candidates
including Ram Babu Sharma, chairman, Standing Committee, Municipal
Corporation of Delhi (MCD), shivering.

"Unlike the municipal poll, the BSP may drastically harm the prospect
our candidates if Mayawati gets in aggressive campaigning in the city
election. A two per cent swing in the Dalit votes in favour of BSP
may upset the electoral apple cart of many Congress candidates," a
Congress leader said.

Mayawati is being viewed as a potential threat to the Congress' Jatav
votebank. She has the potential to wean away non-Balmiki Dalit votes.

The Congress on the other hand is banking on the influence of their
traditional Jatav leader Meira Kumar, daughter of Babu Jagjiwan Ram.
It has also appointed a Jatav - Chowdhary Prem Singh - as the
president of the Delhi Congress. Then there is Krishna Tirath,
another Jatav, a former Minister in Delhi Congress and now a
secretary in the All India Congress Committee. The BJP, which doesn't
have so much of political hobnobbing with the Dalits, had won eight
reserved seats in the 1993 assembly election. The party leaders claim
that the BSP will eat into the Congress' Dalit votebank only to
benefit them.

At the same time, they maintain that the Jatavs, a powerful Dalit
community, have traditionally been voting for the BJP. "Unlike other
states, the voting pattern of Dalits is entirely different in the
capital. They go by the facilities and performance given by the
government. When it comes to voting, they go by go by the general
mood," Jagdish Mamgain, state secretary, BJP, said.

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