Karnataka temple’s weird ritual draws protests

20/12/2010
2010-12-12 13:50:00
Last Updated: 2010-12-12 23:27:37
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Bangalore: A bizarre tradition of people rolling over plantain leaves with leftovers of meals eaten by Brahmins at a Karnataka temple to cure themselves of skin ailments is igniting protests.

Called the ‘urulu seve’ (roll over ritual), the tradition at the Kukke Subramanya temple in the coastal district of Dakshina Kannada is said to have been followed for 400 years, according to temple authorities.

 

The ritual is undertaken in the belief that it will cure people of skin ailments. It is performed on the annual ‘shasthi’ – sixth day of the month – festival.

The three-day festival concluded Saturday and the ritual was performed Friday by many men and women amid protests by a small group of people.

Now, several organisations in Karnataka have begun a campaign to ban the practice saying it is inhuman.

 

Though people from all castes, including Brahmins, perform the ritual, a majority of them are said to be Dalits and those from backward classes.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, a Dalit herself, wants it banned. She issued a statement to this effect in Lucknow Saturday.

Temple authorities say they do not force anyone to perform the ritual.

The protesters were upset that the practice was allowed, though the temple was under the state government’s Muzrai (religious affairs) department.

 

Muzrai Minister V.S. Acharya termed the practice ‘innocuous’. He said no one was forced by the temple authorities to perform the ritual. ‘It is a matter of belief,’ he said.

The temple, about 300 km from here, is devoted to Subramanya. The idol of Subramanya is in the shape of a nine-headed serpent. Legend has it that Subramanya protected serpent god Vasuki who had taken shelter in a cave at Kukke from Garuda.

A well-known ritual performed at the temple is ‘sarpa samskara’ to ward off the effect of ‘sarpa dosha’ – curse of the serpent god.

Among the celebrities who have prayed at the temple is cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

 

 

 

http://www.sify.com/news/karnataka-temple-s-weird-ritual-draws-protests-news-national-kmmnOkieagf.html

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Why do India’s Dalits hate MK Gandhi?

17/10/2010

In India, supposedly the world’s largest democracy, the leadership of the rapidly growing Dalit movement have nothing good to say about Mohandas K. Gandhi. To be honest, Gandhi is actually one of the most hated Indian leaders in the hierarchy of those considered enemies of India’s Dalits or “untouchables” by the leadership of India’s Dalits.

Many have questioned how could I dare say such a thing? In reply I urge people outside of India to try and keep in mind my role as the messenger in this matter. I am the publisher of the Ambedkar Journal, founded in 1996, which was the first publication on the Internet to address the Dalit question from the Dalits’ viewpoint. My co-editor is M. Gopinath, who includes in his c.v. being managing editor of the Dalit Voice newspaper and then going on to found Times of Bahujan, national newspaper of the Bahujan Samaj Party, India’s Dalit party and India’s youngest and third largest national. The founding president of the Ambedkar Journal was Dr. Velu Annamalai, the first Dalit in history to achieve a Ph.d in Engineering. My work with the Dalit movement in India started in 1991 and I have been serving as one of the messengers to those outside of India from the Dalit leaders who are in the very rapid process of organizing India’s Dalits into a national movement. The Dalit leadership I work with received many tens of millions of votes in the last national election in India.

With that out of the way, lets get back to the 850 million-person question, why do Dalits hate M.K. Gandhi?

To start, Gandhi was a so-called “high caste”. High castes represent at small minority in India, some 10-15 percent of the population, yet dominate Indian society in much the same way whites ruled South Africa during the official period of Apartheid. Dalits often use the phrase Apartheid in India when speaking about their problems.

The Indian Constitution was authored by Gandhi’s main critic and political opponent, Dr. Ambedkar, for whom our journal is named and the first Dalit in history to receive an education (if you have never heard of Dr. Ambedkar I would urge you to try and keep an open mind about what I am saying for it is a bit like me talking to you about the founding of the USA when you have never heard of Thomas Jefferson).

Most readers are familiar with Gandhi’s great hunger strike against the so called Poona Pact in 1933. The matter which Gandhi was protesting, nearly unto death at that, was the inclusion in the draft Indian Constitution, proposed by the British, that reserved the right of Dalits to elect their own leaders. Dr. Ambedkar, with his  multiple PhD degrees in Political Sciences and Law from Columbia University and London University, had been chosen by the British to write the new constitution for India. Having spent his life overcoming caste-based discrimination, Dr. Ambedkar had come to the conclusion that the only way Dalits could improve their lives is if they had the exclusive right to vote for their leaders, that a portion or reserved section of all elected positions were only for Dalits and only Dalits could vote for these reserved positions.

Gandhi was determined to prevent this and went on hunger strike to change this article in the draft constitution. After many communal riots, where tens of thousands of Dalits were slaughtered, and with a leap in such violence predicted if Gandhi died, Dr. Ambedkar agreed, with Gandhi on his death bed, to give up the Dalits right to exclusively elect their own leaders and Gandhi ended his hunger strike.

Later, on his own death bed, Dr. Ambedkar would say this was the biggest mistake in his life, that if he had to do it all over again, he would refuse to give up Dalit only representation, even if it meant Gandhi’s death.

As history has shown, life for the overwhelming majority of Dalits in India has changed little since the arrival of Indian independence over 50 years ago. The laws written into the Indian Constitution by Dr. Ambedkar, many patterned after the laws introduced into the former Confederate or slave states in the USA during reconstruction after the Civil War to protect the freed black Americans, have never been enforced by the high caste dominated Indian court system and legislatures. A tiny fraction of the “quotas” or reservations for Dalits in education and government jobs have been filled. Dalits are still discriminated against in all aspect of life in India’s 650,000 villages, despite laws specifically outlawing such acts. Dalits are the victims of economic embargos, denial of basic human rights such as access to drinking water, use of public facilities and education and even entry to Hindu temples.

To this day, most Indians still believe, and this includes a majority of Dalits, that Dalits are being punished by God for sins in a previous life. Under the religious codes of Hinduism, a Dalit’s only hope is to be a good servant of the high castes and upon death and rebirth they will be reincarnated in a high caste. This is called varna in Sanskrit, the language of the original Aryans who imposed Hinduism on India beginning some 3,500 years ago. Interestingly, the word “varna” translates literally into the word “color” from Sanskrit.

This is one of the golden rules of Dalit liberation, that varna means color, and that Hinduism is a form of racially based oppression and as such is the equivalent of Apartheid in India. Dalits feel that if they had the right to elect their own leaders they would have been able to start challenging the domination of the high castes in Indian society and would have begun the long walk to freedom so to speak. They blame Gandhi and his hunger strike for preventing this.

So there it is, in as few words as possible, why in today’s India the leaders of India’s Dalits hate M.K. Gandhi.

This is, of course, an oversimplification. India’s social problems remain the most pressing in the world and a few paragraphs are not going to really explain matters to anyone’s satisfaction. The word Dalit and the movement of a crushed and broken people, the “untouchables” of India, are just beginning to become known to most of the people concerned about human rights in the world. As Dalits organize themselves and begin to challenge caste-based rule in India, it behooves all people of good conscience to start to find out what the Dalits and their leadership are fighting for. A good place to start is with M.K. Gandhi and why he is so hated by Dalits in India.

Thomas C. Mountain is the publisher of the Ambedkar Journal on India’s Dalits, founded in 1996. His writing has been featured in Dalit publications across India, including the Dalit Voice and the Times of Bahujan as well as on the front pages of the mainstream, high caste owned, Indian press. He would recommend viewing of the film “Bandit Queen” as the best example of life for women and Dalits in India’s villages, which is the story of the life of the late, brutally murdered, Phoolan Devi, of whose international defense committee Thomas C. Mountain was a founding member.

He can be reached at tmountain@hawaii.rr.com. Online Journal, Email Online Journal Editor.

Why do India’s Dalits hate Gandhi? By Thomas C. Mountain, Online Journal Contributing Writer,

Mar 17, 2006, 12:49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fence blocks road to Dalit colony in Krishnagiri

16/10/2010

R. ARIVANANTHAM

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CPI(M) MLA K. Mahendran at the fence erected by locals blocking the road to a Dalit Colony at Ittikkal Agaram , near Krishnagiri, on Thursday. CPI(M) district secretary D. Ravindran is in the picture.

CPI(M) MLA K. Mahendran at the fence erected by locals blocking the road to a Dalit Colony at Ittikkal Agaram , near Krishnagiri, on Thursday. CPI(M) district secretary D. Ravindran is in the picture.

An approach road to a Dalit colony in Ittikkal Agaram village, 15 km from Krishnagiri, has been blocked with a barbed wire fence by a section of people.

According to the people in the colony, the fence was erected by the locals with the support of the ‘Ooor Goundar’ (Village Leader).

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is planning to engage in direct action to remove the fence, party MLA S. K. Mahendran, announced on Thursday. After visiting the colony, Mr. Mahendran told The Hindu that if the authorities failed to remove the fence within a week, the party cadres will tear it down and clear the way for the Dalits, who, he said, faced oppression in many ways at the hands of the local caste Hindus.

The practice of village leader controlling things in the district was a matter of shame, he said. Only elected bodies should have control over common issues . The district administration and the police should bring an end to this system of extra-judicial authority, he said.

He also said caste Hindus were indulging in violence against the Dalits by not allowing them to do farming on the land allotted to them by the district administration.

Mr. Mahendran along with D. Ravindran, District Secretary of the CPI (M), met Revenue Divisional Officer A. Noor Mohamed and urged him to remove the fence.

The RDO promised to take appropriate action after verifying the documents and survey the land within two days.


  • CPI (M) plans to remove fence if no action is taken
  • Allegation of caste Hindus indulging in violence
  • http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article831618.ece


    Why do India’s Dalits hate Gandhi?

    09/09/2010
    By Thomas C. Mountain
    Online Journal Contributing Writer


    In India, supposedly the world’s largest democracy, the leadership of the rapidly growing Dalit movement have nothing good to say about Mohandas K. Gandhi. To be honest, Gandhi is actually one of the most hated Indian leaders in the hierarchy of those considered enemies of India’s Dalits or “untouchables” by the leadership of India’s Dalits.

    Many have questioned how could I dare say such a thing? In reply I urge people outside of India to try and keep in mind my role as the messenger in this matter. I am the publisher of the Ambedkar Journal, founded in 1996, which was the first publication on the Internet to address the Dalit question from the Dalits’ viewpoint. My co-editor is M. Gopinath, who includes in his c.v. being managing editor of the Dalit Voice newspaper and then going on to found Times of Bahujan, national newspaper of the Bahujan Samaj Party, India’s Dalit party and India’s youngest and third largest national. The founding president of the Ambedkar Journal was Dr. Velu Annamalai, the first Dalit in history to achieve a Ph.d in Engineering. My work with the Dalit movement in India started in 1991 and I have been serving as one of the messengers to those outside of India from the Dalit leaders who are in the very rapid process of organizing India’s Dalits into a national movement. The Dalit leadership I work with received many tens of millions of votes in the last national election in India.

    With that out of the way, lets get back to the 850 million-person question, why do Dalits hate M.K. Gandhi?

    To start, Gandhi was a so-called “high caste”. High castes represent at small minority in India, some 10-15 percent of the population, yet dominate Indian society in much the same way whites ruled South Africa during the official period of Apartheid. Dalits often use the phrase Apartheid in India when speaking about their problems.

    The Indian Constitution was authored by Gandhi’s main critic and political opponent, Dr. Ambedkar, for whom our journal is named and the first Dalit in history to receive an education (if you have never heard of Dr. Ambedkar I would urge you to try and keep an open mind about what I am saying for it is a bit like me talking to you about the founding of the USA when you have never heard of Thomas Jefferson).

    Most readers are familiar with Gandhi’s great hunger strike against the so called Poona Pact in 1933. The matter which Gandhi was protesting, nearly unto death at that, was the inclusion in the draft Indian Constitution, proposed by the British, that reserved the right of Dalits to elect their own leaders. Dr. Ambedkar, with his multiple PhDs in  Politics and Economics  from Columbia University, New York and London School of Economics, had been chosen by the British to write the new constitution for India. Having spent his life overcoming caste-based discrimination, Dr. Ambedkar had come to the conclusion that the only way Dalits could improve their lives is if they had the exclusive right to vote for their leaders, that a portion or reserved section of all elected positions were only for Dalits and only Dalits could vote for these reserved positions.

    Gandhi was determined to prevent this and went on hunger strike to change this article in the draft constitution. After many communal riots, where tens of thousands of Dalits were slaughtered, and with a leap in such violence predicted if Gandhi died, Dr. Ambedkar agreed, with Gandhi on his death bed, to give up the Dalits right to exclusively elect their own leaders and Gandhi ended his hunger strike.

    Later, on his own death bed, Dr. Ambedkar would say this was the biggest mistake in his life, that if he had to do it all over again, he would refuse to give up Dalit only representation, even if it meant Gandhi’s death.

    As history has shown, life for the overwhelming majority of Dalits in India has changed little since the arrival of Indian independence over 50 years ago. The laws written into the Indian Constitution by Dr. Ambedkar, many patterned after the laws introduced into the former Confederate or slave states in the USA during reconstruction after the Civil War to protect the freed black Americans, have never been enforced by the high caste dominated Indian court system and legislatures. A tiny fraction of the “quotas” or reservations for Dalits in education and government jobs have been filled. Dalits are still discriminated against in all aspect of life in India’s 650,000 villages, despite laws specifically outlawing such acts. Dalits are the victims of economic embargos, denial of basic human rights such as access to drinking water, use of public facilities and education and even entry to Hindu temples.

    To this day, most Indians still believe, and this includes a majority of Dalits, that Dalits are being punished by God for sins in a previous life. Under the religious codes of Hinduism, a Dalit’s only hope is to be a good servant of the high castes and upon death and rebirth they will be reincarnated in a high caste. This is called varna in Sanskrit, the language of the original Aryans who imposed Hinduism on India beginning some 3,500 years ago. Interestingly, the word “varna” translates literally into the word “color” from Sanskrit.

    This is one of the golden rules of Dalit liberation, that varna means color, and that Hinduism is a form of racially based oppression and as such is the equivalent of Apartheid in India. Dalits feel that if they had the right to elect their own leaders they would have been able to start challenging the domination of the high castes in Indian society and would have begun the long walk to freedom so to speak. They blame Gandhi and his hunger strike for preventing this.

    So there it is, in as few words as possible, why in today’s India the leaders of India’s Dalits hate M.K. Gandhi.

    This is, of course, an oversimplification. India’s social problems remain the most pressing in the world and a few paragraphs are not going to really explain matters to anyone’s satisfaction. The word Dalit and the movement of a crushed and broken people, the “untouchables” of India, are just beginning to become known to most of the people concerned about human rights in the world. As Dalits organize themselves and begin to challenge caste-based rule in India, it behooves all people of good conscience to start to find out what the Dalits and their leadership are fighting for. A good place to start is with M.K. Gandhi and why he is so hated by Dalits in India.

    Thomas C. Mountain is the publisher of the Ambedkar Journal on India’s Dalits, founded in 1996. His writing has been featured in Dalit publications across India, including the Dalit Voice and the Times of Bahujan as well as on the front pages of the mainstream, high caste owned, Indian press. He would recommend viewing of the film “Bandit Queen” as the best example of life for women and Dalits in India’s villages, which is the story of the life of the late, brutally murdered, Phoolan Devi, of whose international defense committee Thomas C. Mountain was a founding member. He can be reached at ——————————-

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    Email Online Journal Editor


    Christians protest anti cow slaughter bill

    11/07/2010

    ublished Date: June 29, 2010

    Christians  protest anti cow slaughter bill thumbnail
    The cow is considered holy in orthodox Hinduism

    Christians have joined a protest against a bill banning cow slaughter in Karnataka, saying it targets minority groups.

    Some 50,000 people including dalit (former “untouchables” in the caste system), tribal people and farmers from around 150 organizations attended a June 28 convention to oppose the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010.

    The bill, adopted by the state legislature on June 19, bans slaughter of cattle and the purchase, sale and disposal of cattle for slaughter. It also prohibits the usage and possession of beef, which effectively bans beef consumption.

    Speakers said the bill targets religious minorities like Christians and Muslims who eat beef.

    The bill is “unconstitutional and unacceptable” because it discriminates against minorities, said Girish Karnard, a playwright and filmmaker.

    The state government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janatha Party, proposed the bill.

    State chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa reportedly defended the bill in the state legislature, saying that the cow, considered holy in orthodox Hinduism, should be protected.

    For the bill to eventually become law, the state governor would have to endorse it.

    The government is “criminalizing innocent people” who may be forced to violate the ruling for food needs, U. R. Ananthmurthy, a writer and educationist, told the convention.

    The bill stipulates jail terms for violations and empowers officials to search and seize premises to implementing the ruling.

    If the bill becomes law, Hindu radicals will see it as “a good excuse” to attack Christians, warned Church of South India pastor Reverend Manohar Chandra Prasad, a convention organizer.

    The bill is not rational because 85 percent of people in the state depend on beef for their protein needs, Jesuit Father M. K. George, director of the Indian Social Institute, told ucanews.com.

    http://www.cathnewsindia.com/2010/06/29/indian-christians-protest-anti-cow-slaughter-bill/


    India’s “Untouchables” Face Violence, Discrimination

    11/07/2010
    Hillary Mayell
    for National Geographic News
    June 2, 2003

    More than 160 million people in India are considered “Untouchable”—people tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure, less than human.

    Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion. A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells their story: “Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers”; “Dalit tortured by cops for three days”; “Dalit ‘witch’ paraded naked in Bihar”; “Dalit killed in lock-up at Kurnool”; “7 Dalits burnt alive in caste clash”; “5 Dalits lynched in Haryana”; “Dalit woman gang-raped, paraded naked”; “Police egged on mob to lynch Dalits”.

    “Dalits are not allowed to drink from the same wells, attend the same temples, wear shoes in the presence of an upper caste, or drink from the same cups in tea stalls,” said Smita Narula, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, and author of Broken People: Caste Violence Against India’s “Untouchables.” Human Rights Watch is a worldwide activist organization based in New York.

    India’s Untouchables are relegated to the lowest jobs, and live in constant fear of being publicly humiliated, paraded naked, beaten, and raped with impunity by upper-caste Hindus seeking to keep them in their place. Merely walking through an upper-caste neighborhood is a life-threatening offense.

    Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits, according to figures presented at the International Dalit Conference that took place May 16 to 18 in Vancouver, Canada.

    Crime Against Dalits

    Statistics compiled by India’s National Crime Records Bureau indicate that in the year 2000, the last year for which figures are available, 25,455 crimes were committed against Dalits. Every hour two Dalits are assaulted; every day three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits are murdered, and two Dalit homes are torched.

    No one believes these numbers are anywhere close to the reality of crimes committed against Dalits. Because the police, village councils, and government officials often support the caste system, which is based on the religious teachings of Hinduism, many crimes go unreported due to fear of reprisal, intimidation by police, inability to pay bribes demanded by police, or simply the knowledge that the police will do nothing.

    “There have been large-scale abuses by the police, acting in collusion with upper castes, including raids, beatings in custody, failure to charge offenders or investigate reported crimes,” said Narula.

    That same year, 68,160 complaints were filed against the police for activities ranging from murder, torture, and collusion in acts of atrocity, to refusal to file a complaint. Sixty two percent of the cases were dismissed as unsubstantiated; 26 police officers were convicted in court.

    Despite the fact that untouchability was officially banned when India adopted its constitution in 1950, discrimination against Dalits remained so pervasive that in 1989 the government passed legislation known as The Prevention of Atrocities Act. The act specifically made it illegal to parade people naked through the streets, force them to eat feces, take away their land, foul their water, interfere with their right to vote, and burn down their homes.

    Since then, the violence has escalated, largely as a result of the emergence of a grassroots human rights movement among Dalits to demand their rights and resist the dictates of untouchability, said Narula.

    Lack of Enforcement, Not Laws

    Enforcement of laws designed to protect Dalits is lax if not non-existent in many regions of India. The practice of untouchability is strongest in rural areas, where 80 percent of the country’s population resides. There, the underlying religious principles of Hinduism dominate.

    Hindus believe a person is born into one of four castes based on karma and “purity”—how he or she lived their past lives. Those born as Brahmans are priests and teachers; Kshatriyas are rulers and soldiers; Vaisyas are merchants and traders; and Sudras are laborers. Within the four castes, there are thousands of sub-castes, defined by profession, region, dialect, and other factors.

    Untouchables are literally outcastes; a fifth group that is so unworthy it doesn’t fall within the caste system.

    Although based on religious principles practiced for some 1,500 years, the system persists today for economic as much as religious reasons.

    Because they are considered impure from birth, Untouchables perform jobs that are traditionally considered “unclean” or exceedingly menial, and for very little pay. One million Dalits work as manual scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand and clearing away dead animals. Millions more are agricultural workers trapped in an inescapable cycle of extreme poverty, illiteracy, and oppression.

    Although illegal, 40 million people in India, most of them Dalits, are bonded workers, many working to pay off debts that were incurred generations ago, according to a report by Human Rights Watch published in 1999. These people, 15 million of whom are children, work under slave-like conditions hauling rocks, or working in fields or factories for less than U.S. $1 day.

    Crimes Against Women

    Dalit women are particularly hard hit. They are frequently raped or beaten as a means of reprisal against male relatives who are thought to have committed some act worthy of upper-caste vengeance. They are also subject to arrest if they have male relatives hiding from the authorities.

    A case reported in 1999 illustrates the toxic mix of gender and caste.

    A 42-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped and then burnt alive after she, her husband, and two sons had been held in captivity and tortured for eight days. Her crime? Another son had eloped with the daughter of the higher-caste family doing the torturing. The local police knew the Dalit family was being held, but did nothing because of the higher-caste family’s local influence.

    There is very little recourse available to victims.

    A report released by Amnesty International in 2001 found an “extremely high” number of sexual assaults on Dalit women, frequently perpetrated by landlords, upper-caste villagers, and police officers. The study estimates that only about 5 percent of attacks are registered, and that police officers dismissed at least 30 percent of rape complaints as false.

    The study also found that the police routinely demand bribes, intimidate witnesses, cover up evidence, and beat up the women’s husbands. Little or nothing is done to prevent attacks on rape victims by gangs of upper-caste villagers seeking to prevent a case from being pursued. Sometimes the policemen even join in, the study suggests. Rape victims have also been murdered. Such crimes often go unpunished.

    Thousands of pre-teen Dalit girls are forced into prostitution under cover of a religious practice known as devadasis, which means “female servant of god.” The girls are dedicated or “married” to a deity or a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to have sex with upper-caste community members, and eventually sold to an urban brothel.

    Resistance and Progress

    Within India, grassroots efforts to change are emerging, despite retaliation and intimidation by local officials and upper-caste villagers. In some states, caste conflict has escalated to caste warfare, and militia-like vigilante groups have conducted raids on villages, burning homes, raping, and massacring the people. These raids are sometimes conducted with the tacit approval of the police.

    In the province Bihar, local Dalits are retaliating, committing atrocities also. Non-aligned Dalits are frequently caught in the middle, victims of both groups.

    “There is a growing grassroots movement of activists, trade unions, and other NGOs that are organizing to democratically and peacefully demand their rights, higher wages, and more equitable land distribution,” said Narula. “There has been progress in terms of building a human rights movement within India, and in drawing international attention to the issue.”

    In August 2002, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) approved a resolution condemning caste or descent-based discrimination.

    “But at the national level, very little is being done to implement or enforce the laws,” said Narula.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/06/0602_030602_untouchables_2.html


    India: Haryana, the caste barrier is broken. A Dalit elected head of an Indian village

    11/07/2010

    Rani Devi was named sarpanch (head) of Serhada. The village is located in the district of Hisar, a long time hotbed of violence and atrocities by Jat (superiors) toward lower castes and untouchables such as Dalits.

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    Chandigarh – Social barriers have come crashing down in the district of Hisar in Haryana (north-west India), where a Dalit woman was elected “sarpanch (head) of Serhada. The village is dominated by Jat (Superiors), a community known for its violence against the castes considered inferior, or Dalits, the “untouchables” of India’s social system.

    In the villages of Haryana, the Khaap Panchayats (community council) are known for their violent and discriminatory decisions against inferior castes. On 21 April, for example, only 40 km from Serhada in the village of Mirchpur, a group of Jats set fire to a 70 year-old man and his 18 year old daughter, both belonging to the Dalit community.

    Going against this trend on July 7 Rani Devi was elected head of Serhada village in Hisar district, with about 1384 votes out of 1702. Devi, wife of a poor shepherd, has expressed her surprise: “I am the adopted daughter of this village and am now responsible for every family that lives here. This will strengthen our bond with them”.

    Raghuveer Lathar and Jagbeer Poona, members of the Serhada, said: “The government hold up our village as a model for all. We want anyone to achieve prosperity. We have full confidence in Rani Devi”. A village elder was reasoned that the election of Devi: “responds to all political leaders who have personal interests in incidents Mirchpur”.

    Source: Asia News
    http://www.speroforum.com/a/36277/India—Haryana-the-caste-barrier-is-broken-A-Dalit-elected-head-of-an-Indian-village