Rape cases Haryana government accused of patronising offenders #Vaw

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CHANDIGARH: A network working for the rehabilitation of rape survivor dalit girls and women has accused Haryana government of patronizing the accused from upper castes and using sexual assault of women as tool to prevent socially backward people from educational, social and economical growth.The outfit – Women Against Sexual Violence and Repression (WSS) – has sought practical implementation of counselling and educational rehabilitation of rape survivors and strict enforcement of laws related to protection of dalits. Kalyani Menon Sen, an activist attached with WSS, justified her allegation saying, “Dalit children going to government schools in villages are the first layer of victims. They stop going to school after any girl falls victim to such a crime. They are not rich enough to go to any other school. Hence, they will remain educationally backward. Once they are educationally backward, they will not be able to compete with upper caste or those socially superior to them. Hence, sexual offences against dalits are being used as tool now,” she said.

Accompanied by team members, Mary John and Rajat Kalsan, a Hisar-based advocated who pleaded the cases of Mirchpur victims and rape survivors in Haryana, Kalyani elaborated on the incidents while alleging shoddy investigation of rape cases by police.

Kalsan spoke about the probe into the gang rape of a girl from Dabra village of Hisar. “It was only after the victim’s family approached the Haryana DGP and the home secretary, the state government filed an appeal against four out of eight accused challenging their acquittal by the trial court in Hisar. Even during preliminary investigation, police were about to close the case due to biased probe to favour the accused,” he alleged.

Rape survivors find humane touch missing

Two years after the incident, the survivor of Dabra gang rape case is fighting to come out of the trauma. She alleges non-cooperation from the college principal and local administration pertaining to counselling and humane touch to help her come to terms with the gruesome incident. “My classmates and villagers still have a different attitude towards me. The college principal too tried to ignore when I reported the discrimination to her. Similarly, the local administration was unmoved until I approached National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and other offices. As of now, not even a single counsellor has approached me. Though I am trying to come cope with the incident, what about other victims,” she said.

 

Congress – Stirring the volatile Sikh religious pot

CHANDER SUTA DOGRA

 
Picture shows the president of the Haryana Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee being greeted by elated members after the announcement of a separate Gurudwara body formation for the State. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
The HinduPicture shows the president of the Haryana Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee being greeted by elated members after the announcement of a separate Gurudwara body formation for the State. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

The move to create a separate management committee for Sikh shrines in Haryana has raised serious concerns about the politicisation of the Sikh clergy

The Congress government’s move in Haryana to have a Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) of its own in order to manage Sikh shrines in the State, has stirred the volatile Sikh religious pot. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab is crying foul at the move, even as the Congress is determined to break the hegemony of the SAD-controlled SGPC of Punjab on Sikh institutions. After weeks of acrimonious statements from both sides, the Haryana Assembly passed the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, setting the stage for a confrontation between the two parties.

In 1996, SAD shed its Sikh religious moorings to become a secular democratic party with the aim of working for all communities. In practice, the party continues with its ‘gurudwara politics’ through the elected house of the SGPC, which is dominated by SAD members.

The devaluation of Sikhdom’s apex institutions like the Akal Takht and the Amritsar-based SGPC due to their politicisation has irked Sikhs so much in recent years that few tears are now being shed for the attack that the SGPC is facing from the Congress-backed Sikhs of Haryana. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal tried to dramatically describe it as, “the third assault on Sikhs by the Congress after Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots”, but save the Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and a half-hearted Bharatiya Janata Party, no one across the socio-political spectrum is supporting him. As Dr. Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, a noted Sikh scholar and author of the SGPC’s white paper on Operation Bluestar, told The Hindu, “The Sikh religion today has become subordinate to politics.”

Obvious motives

The motives of the Haryana government are all too obvious. With the Assembly elections looming in October, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, whose stock among non-Jats is at an all-time low thanks to his pro Jat policies, is on a mission to woo all communities. He promised a Haryana SGPC in his first tenure in the 2005 election manifesto, and in 2007 he constituted a panel under Finance minister H.S. Chattha to explore its feasibility. The Chattha panel claims to have received more than two lakh affidavits from Sikhs in Haryana in support of a separate Haryana SGPC, and last week Mr. Hooda announced its formation. This was followed by the passing of the Bill that seeks to constitute a separate SGPC for Haryana.

Haryana claims that a separate statutory body to manage its own gurudwaras flows from Section 72 of the Punjab State Reorganisation Act 1966 that provides for separate statutory bodies in successor States of erstwhile joint Punjab. Legal opinion is currently divided on this and a final interpretation of the Act could well reach the courts. Mr. Badal has described Haryana’s move as “illegal and unconstitutional” because the SGPC is constituted under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, a Central law. Many in SAD were hoping that with the pro-Badal National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre, Haryana’s legislation will be blocked when it is sent to the President for assent. But Haryana has taken the stand that it is competent to enact the law on its own and the Bill requires only the approval of the State Governor.

But why do Haryanvi Sikhs want a separate body to manage their shrines, almost five decades after Punjab was split into three States? The main grouse is that SGPC takes collections (estimated to be about Rs. 170 crore) from Haryana gurudwaras but does not spend it in the State. Further, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress spokesperson and Haryana minister, says, “Haryana’s Sikhs are not given employment or representation in SGPC-run religious and educational institutions in the State.” Giving an example of the hegemony of the Badal family over SGPC, he points out, “The SGPC-owned Miri Piri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Shahabad was taken over by a Trust, which has Mr. Badal as its head.”

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar denies most of the charges and counters them by accusing the Haryana government of creating hurdles for SGPC projects in the State.

But the Congress is more irked by the manner in which the SAD leadership uses Haryana’s gurudwaras as platforms to help the INLD to win Sikh votes. Last year, the Congress lost control of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) when SAD ousted a Congress-supported group in the elections. The new body of the DSGMC campaigned aggressively for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Mr. Hooda is clearly determined to prevent the SGPC from doing the same in favour of the INLD in Haryana, and backed the demand of Haryana’s Sikhs to break away from the SGPC’s hold. He has the support of Punjab Congress leaders who would also like to see diluted the control of SAD on Sikh religious institutions.

The SAD is virtually isolated in its stand as the Aam Aadmi Party, some radical organisations like the Dal Khalsa in Punjab, and some overseas Sikh organisations are also in favour of a separate Haryana SGPC. The SAD’s requests to Home Minister Rajnath Singh to prevent Haryana from enacting its law have not yielded anything substantial, which is why hours before the Bill was passed Mr. Makkar formed a sub-committee to manage Haryana’s gurdwaras.

Some serious concerns

But beyond the politics of wooing the Sikh vote bank, the controversy has raised more serious concerns about the politicisation of the Sikh clergy and its “misuse” by SAD for political ends. The Akal Takht has already taken a beating for intervening in a political fight. When Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh from the Akal Takht invited Sikh leaders of Haryana to discuss the issue some days ago, they did not go. Many saw this as a disrespect of the Akal Takht. But worse was to come. A committee appointed by him that went to reason with Sikh leaders of Haryana at Kurukshetra was given a mouthful. Dr. Dhillon says, “Mr. Badal controls all the important appointments in the SGPC and the Akal Takht. When vested political interests come into play, then such things are bound to happen.”

Gurpreet Singh of United Sikhs, a Sikh socio-cultural organisation, says: “The image of the religion is certainly dented by all this and the SGPC needs to introspect on why Haryana’s Sikhs want to control their gurdwaras. Vast numbers of Sikhs are said to be deserting the faith, because the guardians of the faith are busy doing politics instead of protecting its basic tenets. Interestingly, Mr Hooda did not go ahead with the HSGPC during the ten-year UPA rule because its Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, did not approve of it. With Mr. Singh out of power and a high stakes election on the horizon, Mr. Hooda has the Sikh vote on his radar.

Mr. Badal has warned that Haryana’s move could disrupt peace and harmony, but this is not the last word on this contentious issue.

Read more here –  http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/stirring-the-volatile-sikh-religious-pot/article6210222.ece?homepage=true

How Dalits are victims of caste discrimination in Haryana

In Samalkha town

Monday, 14 July 2014 – 1:12pm IST | Agency: DNA
  • child-rights-and-you-cryImage for representational purposes only.RNA Research & Archives

As you leave Delhi’s borders via the NH-1 and head towards Chandigarh, about 70 km away from Connaught Place is the small, bustling town of Samalkha. Located in Haryana’s Panipat district, it is famous for grain, jaggery and wood markets.

However, as you head deeper inside this industrial town, haunting stories of child rights violations begin to emerge.

It is the duty of our organisation Child Rights and You (CRY) to restore children’s rights in an area. CRY’s intervention area in Samalkha covers 19 Dalit-dominated hamlets under five villages. The Dalit communities here are almost absolutely marginalised and excluded. Child rights violations are rampant in all Dalit hamlets, and Dalits are being denied most democratic rights due to the strong socio-economic-political status of the Gujjars in the area.

The children in the families living there are vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and violence simply because of the caste into which they were born. The caste system relegates Dalits, formerly known as ‘untouchables’, to a lifetime of segregation and abuse. Caste-based divisions dominate in housing and education, in and general social interaction. There is discrimination at every level; the socio-economic condition of the Dalit community is deplorable.

The problem of land is central to the impoverished Dalit community. Dalits are prevented from possessing land – even that which has been set aside for them by the government. It is important to realise that land is not just a primary means of production, but also gives the holder economic security, social status and identity.

Illiteracy and school drop-out rates among Dalits are very high due to a number of social and physical factors. The illiteracy rate for Samalkha’s Dalit children is also generally higher compared to other children. Discriminatory practices exercised by teachers against these Dalit children include corporal punishment, denial of access to school water and indirect discrimination, such as neglect, repeated blaming, and labelling of Dalit students as weak performers, exclusion from the Mid-Day Meal Scheme etc., lead to social exclusion of Dalit students in school in the area.

The health and nutritional status of Dalit children in an intervention area is one of CRY’s major concerns; their effect is directly visible when it comes to early pregnancy, infant deaths, child deaths, maternal deaths and still births.

Data from our baseline survey shows an increasing number of infant and child deaths in our intervention area. The disparity in access to resources leads to disparity in exposure to the risk of disease, leading to disparity in disease burdens. There is a very clear indication from our experience in the area that the health status of children and women is very closely related to their social and economic status. More attention needs to be focused on the health of women, which would also help improve not only the health of the child but the whole population.

Ghar se bahar nikalte hi Jat ladke mujhe chedte hai, main school se waapis aati hun toh mera raasta rokte hain. (As soon as I leave my house, Jat boys eve-tease and verbally harass me. On my way back from school, they touch me and block my way.)”

This is the voice of a young Dalit girl currently living in Manana village in Samalkha.

Being discriminated against is a more serious problem for a Dalit girl child. Caste-based discrimination makes the Dalit girl more visible to the eyes of the perpetrators and, simultaneously, more invisible to the eyes of the protectors.

In Manana village, the liquor shop is located immediately outside the Dalit basti and is unavoidable on the route to and from the fields. Dalit girls going to or returning from the fields have no other option but to walk by the shop, where men leer at them and make suggestive remarks. Young non-Dalit men and boys who enter the basti to drink also bother the girls.

There should be a comprehensive approach to counter these problems, it is essential to recognise that the Dalit identity heightens the vulnerability to harassment, abuse and neglect. Constant efforts through awareness generation and capacity building about their rights to bring equal opportunity and social justice to the Dalit children in Samalkha will help them in overcoming the vicious cycle of caste and cultural barrier.

Read mor ehere- http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/standpoint-how-dalits-are-victims-of-caste-discrimination-in-haryana-s-samalkha-town-2001998

MDG Report 2014: India among worst performers in poverty reduction, maternal death and sanitation

Author(s): Moushumi Sharma 
Date:Jul 9, 2014

Report shows good progress in areas like poverty alleviation and access to clean water and controlling diseases like TB, Malaria

imageSome MDG targets, such as increasing access to sanitation and reducing child and maternal mortality are unlikely to be met before the deadline

The United Nations (UN) released this week the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report, 2014. The report, launched by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, says that many of the development goals have been met or are within reach by 2015.

The report is the latest finding to assess the regional progress towards the eight developmental goals that the UN targets to achieve by 2015, including eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

Progress slow but target possible
Ban Ki-moon has lauded the progress so far, saying that many global MDG targets have already been met. The report states that extreme poverty in the world has reduced by half; over 2.3 million people gained access to clean drinking water between 1990 and 2012; gender disparities in school enrollment in developing nations have been eliminated to a large extent; and political participation of women has increased. The report maintains that if the current trend of progress continues, the world might surpass MDG targets on malaria, tuberculosis and access to HIV treatment. An estimated 3.3 million deaths from malaria could be averted between 2000 and 2012 due to substantial expansion of malaria intervention programmes, while intensive efforts to fight tuberculosis have saved an estimated 22 million lives worldwide since 1995.

But it is too soon to celebrate. According to the report, some MDG targets, such as reducing child and maternal mortality and increasing access to sanitation, are unlikely to be met before the deadline.

India’s dismal performance
India’s progress has been below the mark on the parameters of poverty, child and maternal mortality and access to improved sanitation. In 2010, one-third of the world’s 1.2 billion extremely poor (32.9 per cent) lived in India alone. The poverty figures for the same year for Nigeria and Bangladesh, two countries less developed than India, were 8.9 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.

A recent study by an international non-profit ranked India 137th among 178 countries when it comes to maternal and child health, categorising the country among the worst performers (Read: India among worst performers in maternal and child health). The UN report states that India had the highest number of under-five deaths in the world in 2012, with 1.4 million children in the country dying before age five. This is shameful when one takes into account notable reductions in the under-five mortality rate since 1990 and particularly since 2000 in low-income countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

While the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropped by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2013, India still accounts for 17 per cent of maternal deaths. India’s MMR target for 2015 is to bring down maternal mortality to less than 109 deaths per 100,000 live births. But only three states—Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra—have so far been successful in reaching this target (Read: India nowhere near millennium goal for maternal mortality.

The UN report further states that MMR in developing regions—230 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013—was 14 times higher than that of developed regions, which recorded only 16 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the same year. It maintains that the best possible way of reducing neonatal mortality is through greater investment in maternal care during the first 24 hours after birth.

Scourge of open defecation
Between 1990 and 2012, two billion people worldwide gained access to improved sanitation, but a billion people still defecate in the open. A vast majority of the world’s population—82 per cent—resorting to open defecation live in middle-income, populous countries like India and Nigeria.

Official data on open defecation in India will put any country to shame. The country has the world’s largest population that defecates in the open. (Read: Mission possible. According to data released by the National Sample Survey Office in December 2013, 59.4 per cent of the rural population resorted to open defecation. 2011 Census figures put the number of rural houses without toilets at 113 million.

To make matters worse for the country’s reputation, a recent study conducted by the Research Institute for Compassionate Economics, Uttar Pradesh, claims that in 40 per cent of rural households in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, which have a functional toilet, at least one member chose to defecate in the open. At least 30 per cent of the world’s population, which defecates in the open, live in these five states alone (Read: Despite having toilets at home, many in rural India choose to defecate in open.

Hope for the future
Presenting the report, Ban Ki-moon said that the world is “at a historic juncture, with several milestones before us”. He underscored that the report makes clear “the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform…and the combined action of governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector can make a difference”. “Our efforts to achieve the MDGs are critical to building a solid foundation for development beyond 2015. At the same time, we must aim for a strong successor framework to attend to unfinished business and address areas not covered by the eight MDGs,” the UN chief said.

Read mor where- http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/mdg-report-2014-india-among-worst-performers-poverty-reduction-maternal-death-and-sanitation

 

Bhagana Rape Survivors warn Hudda against inaction

Camp Office : Jantar Mantar , New Delhi

Rape Victims warn Hudda against inaction

Victims and activists unite in demanding One Crore compensation and rehabilitation  for Bhagana’s Dalit minor rape victim girls and forcing the Haryana CM to act against the upper caste perpetrators who have brazenly been grabbing the Dalit villagers’ land

PRESS RELEASE

 

New Delhi, 11 May 2014:  Hundreds of women, children and men from Bhagana village of Hisar, Haryana were joined by as many activists, students, writers, artists and others from Delhi in leading a warning protest under the banner of BHAGANA KAAND SANGHARSH SAMITI against Bhupinder Singh Hudda, the Haryana Chief Minister, seeking justice for the four school-going Dalit girls who were kidnapped and raped on 23rd March by upper caste goons. All the girls are under the age of 18. The protest also sought proper rehabilitation for the 400 displaced Dalit families who are living on the streets of Delhi and Hisar.

 

The demonstrators gheraoed CM Hudda’s residence at 9, Pant Marg in New Delhi where the heavy police arrangements at the threat of arrest and beating did not deter them. They demanded immediate action against the village head and his son who were directly involved in the rape and eviction. Jagdish Kajla, protest leader, said, “90 dalit families are living at Jantar Mantar since 16th April 2014 amid so many difficulties. The government has not provided us anything to survive, forget justice for the 4 girls. We will not take our protest back till our demands are met.”

 

So, what are their demands? They have submitted a memorandum to Mr. Hudda asking for the arrest of the village head and his son along with Gajraj and others whose names have not been included in the FIR. They are also demanding the safe rehabilitation of the victims’ families and a compensation of RS 10 million (one crore) to each girl victimised.

 

Another leader Virendra Singh Wabhoria ,  who is leading the evicted group’s struggle at Hisar, warned Haryana  government that if their demands are not met within a fortnight, their protest will expand to other places of the country. Virendra is sitting on Dharna with 120 Dalit families at the Hisar Collectarate for last two years when these families were displaced  from the village Bhagana by the upper caste people.

 

The girls are furious and so are their mothers. They say, ‘ Why every time, they make our bodies their battlefields?’ One girl studying in class 10th just wishes to someday be able to complete her studies. She says, ‘They have made us refugees. Bhagana is our own village but we can’t go there. What can be more fateful than this?’, she asks in desperation. One mother, with veil on her face, screams, ‘Aren’t we human? Why every time they do this to us?’ Huda has an answer, only in the form of huge barricades of police outside his house.

 

At the heart of the conflict in Haryana is the struggle over land – it’s use and ownership by the poor Dalits which has been grabbed by the dominant castes. No land reforms, or access to use and ownership of the common land schemes, have been implemented till date.  Bhagana’s Dalits have been vocal about their land rights, having faced the atrocities and land grab since 2003. Rape is one of the major tools to silence the Dalit community and displace them in the name of honor. The Huda government never took action against the upper caste as Rajani Tilak of National Dalit Mahila Aandolan cites, “Huda says openly that first I am a jat and then a CM”. This factor contributed to Dalit atrocities in a much more organized way because the state machinery does not act in accordance with the law.  After 67 years of the independence and on the threshold of 16th Parliament, Dalits in Haryana are landless, without exception. 

 

 

 

Jats dominate both the Gram Panchayats (Village councils) and the traditional Khaps. Their authority is backed by the significant presence of Jats in institutions and administrative positions. The state machinery thus is becoming part of propagating the entrenched caste ideology and hierarchies. The levying of sedition charges exposed a face of the state where it was no longer just exhibiting apathy towards tackling caste oppression, but actively using its authority and draconian laws to suppress any assertion challenging caste and class hierarchies. Protests against caste exploitation have become an expression of “disaffection” against the nation!

 

Despite all the above, the Bhagana protests showed that the Dalits are  continuously pressurizing state institutions, and winning victories like withdrawal of sedition charges, and making the political class sit-up and take notice both within the state and the center. Alternative employment, education, intervention of political parties, government schemes and laws, and a greater awareness of rights has meant that Dalits too are now resorting to institutional spaces and methods.

 

There is a section of the Dalit population that did not leave the village and join the protest. Dhanak community is the most vulnerable section amongst Dalits. They were among those who stayed back.  Theirs are the poorest households. The silence that surrounds them is that of a complete economic dependence on the Jats, and signifies those who are still trapped in the hierarchical caste ideology.

 

The four victims of rape come from Dhanak community.  They were kidnapped and gang raped for two days by Jat boys. This was the result of not leaving the village. Families of these girls were getting threats not to file the report with the police but eventually they managed to raise their voices against this oppression. This was one of the few cases of dalit atrocities that came into light, many such cases remain buried and unheard of.

 

The protesters want the government to heed their following demands:

 

1.      Arrest all the offenders in Bhagana case including Village head and his sonand bring them to justice;

2.      High level inquiry of the rape, displacement and land related cases;

3.      Fast Track Court in Delhi for hearing of the case. Settle the case within 6 months;

4.      Compensation of Rs 1 crore to each Bhagana gang rape victim;

5.      Compensation of Rs 1 crore to each boycotted family in Bhagana;

6.      A case should be filed against the KHAP and Gram Panchayat under the SC/ST Act;

7.      Allot 400 yards plots in Gurgaon or Fridabad to each displaced family from Bhagana till they are suitably resettled in Bhagana;

8.      Arrangement of proper education to all Bhagana gang rape victims and provision of government employment after completion of their education;

9.      Ban on Khaap Panchayats;

10. 290 acre common land  should be vacated from the clutch of the Dabangs and be distributed among the landless Dalits and other marginalised sections of the village .

 

 

 

Bhagana Kaand Sangharsh Samiti:

Sarv Samaj Sangharsh Samiti-Haryana, Hans do India, Republic Thought and Action Group, PUDR, Women against Sexual Violence & State Repression, National Dalit Women Movement, Dalit Dehat Bahujan Mahapanchayat, Youth for Social Justice-DU, All India Backward Students’ Forum-JNU, Democratic Students Union-JNU, Women for Water Democracy, NCDHR, Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Ambedkar Seva Dal, National Confederation of Delit Organizations. All India Federation of Trade Unions, Nojaat Bharat Sabha, HRLN, Dhanak Sabha-Delhi, Delhi Students’ Union, Ambedkar Mahasabha, Sahitya Samvaad, United Dalit Students Forum, Avaam, Bharat Ka Manaviyekaran Abhiyaan, Dalit Utthan Samaj, Kabeer Jan Kalyaan Sangh, Haryana Kumhaar Mahasabha, National Movement for Land, Labour & Justice, Bhoomiheen Kisan Sangharsh Samiti.