Physical assault on Dalit women by PDS dealer (retired from Armed Forces) in Patan, Dist. Palamau, Jharkhand
Report of the joint fact-finding exercise by a team of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Palamau and Right to Food Campaign, Palamau
A joint fact -finding exercise was conducted by the PUCL and RTFC Palamau on 29.07.12 after all major newspapers reported on 28.07.12 of a physical assault on a Dalit woman by a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop dealer in Gaharpatra village, Panchayat Hisra Barwadih, Patan block of Palamau district. Members of this team were Jawahar Mehta, Shabbir Ahmed, Mithilesh Kumar, Birendar Kumar, Rajesh Vishwakarma, Ramanek and Shubham.
On the morning of 26th of July, 2012, around 9 am, a group of women (Saraswati Devi, Poona Devi, Pankaliya Devi and others) from the Jeervataan-Harijan tola (a Dalit hamlet in the village) in Gaharpatra went to the PDS shop whose dealer is Lalmani Singh, an ex-Armed Forces person. They had heard of ration being distributed at other places. They
enquired about their ration which they are supposed to receive every month; it was pending since the last 4months.
When the women asked Lalmani Singh as to why they aren’t getting the ration since 4 months, he shouted at
them saying they won’t get any ration for the next six months as well. He dared them to go to any authority and do whatever he won’t give them ration. When they again requested to the dealer that in this drought like condition, they need the ration to
survive, he started abusing the women and asked them to get out of his place. He also took out his gun and said he would shoot them then and there.
The women asked him not to use abusive language and said that there are women in his family also and he should respect them. On this, Lalmani Singh, his son Azad Singh and his grandson, Regal Singh became very angry and said “You Chamarin (lower caste woman) want to match our women?”and started beating up whoever was caught.
Out of his fear and guns, some of the women ran away from his place but Lalmani Singh and others caught Saraswati Devi and beat her with his gun, repeatedly slapping, punching and ramming her on ground. She became unconscious because of the severe beating and was taken to the Primary Health Centre, Patan block with the help of some villagers where she was treated.
An FIR has been lodged against Rajmuni Singh and others by Saraswati devi with the help of other villagers and member of the Panchayat Samiti, Kamuda Devi at the Police Station in Patan. The Sub-divisional Officer, Daltonganj, Deputy Commissioner, Palamau and Superintendent of Police, Palamau have also been informed about the case and a copy has been submitted to them.The receiving copy of the FIR says that the case has been registered under IPC 341, 323, 504, 34 and
SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.
Saraswati Devi narrates her trauma to the team while other women surround The women said that we received such a violent, abusive and insulting response even after using respectable language for the dealer. “Despite using locally very respectable salutations like Babu Saheb and Gaunwa for the dealer, he abused us so badly and even used our caste names very insultingly. It was our right and an entitlement from the government that we were asking for.After this incident, we feel so terrorized that we wouldn’t be able to go to ask for our ration for a long time. He and his men
are still threatening us. They tried to stop us from reporting to the police, the DC and SDO. They say that if we raise this issue, they would kill us! They freely roam around with fire-arms. ”Other than the women whom the dealer had assaulted, the
people in the village said that the dealer had been very irregular in giving rations. He had been filing false entries in the ration cards of the villagers. “If we go for buying kerosene, he would also fill in the entry for grains and give us none”, they said. The people in the village showed forged entries in their cards to the team. It was also reported that there is a significant number of poor people in the village who do not have ration cards.
Lalmani Singh belongs to the Rajput caste and is locally a feared man. He and his men carry guns openly in the village and as per the locals, his son Azad Singh has already been arrested before for various cases. The most important part is that Lalmani Singh has retired from the Armed Forces. This clearly establishes that caste based discrimination and atrocities can be committed even by people who are onsidered to be heroes in our society.
PUCL and RTFC, Palamau demand the following for Saraswati Devi and others:
1. Immediate Arrest of Lalmani Singh, Azad Singh and Regal Singh
2. Cancellation of license for PDS shop of Lalmani Singh
3. Punishment to Lalmani Singh for irregularity in ration distribution
4. Immediate distribution of pending rations to all the card holders.
5. Compensation to Saraswati Devi and payment of legal expenses.
6. Issue of ration cards to eligible people in the village who currently do not have cards (a
significant number of poor people in the village mostly from SC communities do not have
ration cards while most of the upper caste people have it)