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Dalits In News -Jan.9,2008

by udaya — last modified 2008-01-09 20:06

Inquiry ordered after Dalit denied entry to UP temple,MP looks on as man sets himself on fire in Sagar....

 9 Jan 2008, 0228 hrs IST ,TNN
KANPUR: The incident of a Dalit - Sudhir Kumar - getting beaten up and abused by a priest on Tuesday while trying to enter the Mahadev temple comes at a time when Mayawati is denying reports about cracks appearing in the coalition she has woven. 

Reports about the sullenness among the Dalit base over the alleged laxity in the implementation of the law to prevent atrocities on Dalits have also persisted. 

Senior police officers rushed to the village following the display of Dalit anger, saying action would be taken against those found guilty of assault against Sudhir.

By this time, however, the temple priest, Shailendra, had already lodged an FIR stating that Sudhir Kumar, the two Bablus, and Dharmendra had passed lewd comments on his wife Madhuri Tewari. Cross-FIRs were thus registered with the Bidhnoo police station.

BSP MP from Bilhaur, Anil Shukla Warsi, said he was leaving for Gangapur ''to take stock of the situation'', adding, ''BSP takes strong view of the attack against Dalits. Local party cadre have been alerted to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.'' 

Kanpur SSP Anand Swarup said, ''A circle officer-level inquiry has been ordered subsequent to which action will be taken against those guilty.'' No arrests have been made so far.


Times Of India


MP looks on as man sets himself on fire in Sagar


9 Jan 2008, 0223 hrs IST ,Suchandana Gupta ,TNN



BHOPAL: A middle-aged Dalit man allegedly set himself on fire inside the collectorate premises in Sagar, about 200 km from Bhopal, on Monday afternoon, while the local Member of Parliament Virendra Kumar Khatik and his supporters allegedly looked on.


The incident occurred at 1 pm when Khatik, BJP MP from Sagar, was holding a meeting of his supporters, and Shiv Prasad Chaudhary set himself on fire while demanding land for a school in his village, Bhagwangara. Chaudhry had been demanding land since November last year. The administration did not heed his plea although he had threatened suicide if his demand wasn't met. 


On Monday afternoon, Chaudhary entered the premises with a bottle of kerosene and a burning torch and asked Khatik for the land. Snubbed by Khatik, Chaudhary set himself on fire and suffered 50% burns. Doctors said Chaudhary was out of danger, but his condition worsened on Tuesday and was shifted to a Bhopal hospital. 


Cabinet minister incharge of Sagar, Kailash Vijayvargiya, said the BJP supporters tried to stop Chaudhary but he was drunk and violent.


''Chaudhry even threatened to set people present on the premises on fire,'' he said. Vijayvargiya, however, admitted lapse on the part of the local administration.


Economic Times


CAT makes fewer calls for SC/STs

9 Jan, 2008, 0241 hrs IST,Sreeradha D Basu, TNN


KOLKATA: CAT's getting choosy this time. Very choosy. With the IIMs announcing their individual cut-offs, not as many students have been able to make the cut this time.

This is especially true of students from the SC/ST categories, who have particularly been badly hit. IIM sources claim that they have not been able to call as many students from these categories as they would have ideally liked to for the group discussion/personal interviews (GD/PIs), simply because not enough have been able to meet the individual and overall cut-offs. 


At IIM, Calcutta (IIM-C), the institute generally calls 3.5 times the number of students as there are seats. "We have around 22 seats for the ST category, for which we should ideally have called 77-78 students. However, we have only been able to find 41 students who have met the cut-offs," Professor Ashish K Bhattacharyya, spokesperson, the CAT group and chairperson (admissions), IIM-C, told ET.


Indian Express
Illusory makeover?

Mayawati dashes her political promise by reverting to the politics of her past
The Indian Express

As politician, Mayawati has been on an exciting growth curve. The leader of an aggressively dalit party, who flaunted her anti-upper caste postures and slogans, is now seen as author of a 'rainbow coalition' that includes upper castes, especially brahmins. Her decisive victory in Uttar Pradesh last year, following a long spell of tenuous coalition governments in the state, was attributed in large part to her newly inclusive politics, or at least a crucial shift in strategy. Having won UP, Mayawati is on the move. There is ample evidence of her efforts to enlarge the BSP's footprint to other states, in order to build it into India's first pan-India dalit party. For a politician as dynamic as she is showing herself to be, then, Mayawati's latest foray into the news headlines strikes a dismayingly stale note.

Some Congressmen are conspiring to kill her, she says, and the UPA government must immediately provide her with SPG cover. She accuses the Centre of deliberately delaying the CBI decision on the disproportionate assets case against her. And suggests that all this could imperil the outside support that the BSP extends to the Congress-led government at the Centre. Much of this can be put down to the quickening political tempers between the Congress and the BSP in the recent past, likely to intensify in the near future. Post-mortems of the Congress's underwhelming performance in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh at the end of last year have pointed to the BSP's role as spoiler; this could be repeated in the several state elections to be held this year, beginning with Karnataka. Yet, there is more to Mayawati's attempt to change the subject than just a heightened rivalry with the Congress party. Her tone and tenor portends a return to a politics that feeds disproportionately on her own persona.

The distinctive mandate in 2007 thrust a responsibility on Mayawati. It would be disheartening if she steps away from it now. The UP chief minister has already made a few missteps, like the rollback of a progressive agriculture policy that promised better remuneration to farmers by allowing private sector participation, only 20 days after announcing it. Many more tests are coming up ahead. The Ganga Expressway project, which will ensure high speed connectivity between the eastern and western boundaries of UP, is provoking noisy opposition already. As she and her partymen and women celebrate her 52nd birthday a few days from now, Mayawati would do well to pause a moment and reflect on the promises she has made to her electorate, some despite herself, and the costs of breaking them.

International Herald Tribune



Kinkri Devi, 82, battled illegal mining in India

 By Haresh Pandya The New York Times

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Kinkri Devi, an illiterate and impoverished woman who waged a long and at least partly successful fight against illegal mining and quarrying in the mountainous northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, died Dec. 30 in  Chandigarh, India. She was 82.

Devi was born into a poor Dalit, or untouchable, family in the village of Ghaton in 1925. Her father was a subsistence farmer. That she came from a low caste made her struggle against powerful and politically connected  mining interests all the more remarkable.

With no hope of an education, she began working as a servant in early childhood and, at 14, married Shamu Ram, a bonded laborer. He died of typhoid when she was just 22, and she was forced to become a sweeper.

Over the years, she watched the world around her change for the worse. Uncontrolled quarrying despoiled the fabled hills in many parts of Himachal Pradesh, harming the  water supply and destroying once-rich paddy fields.  Seeing the damage in her own district, she vowed to take on the mining interests.

Backed by People's Action for People in Need, a local volunteer group, Devi filed a public interest lawsuit in the High Court of Shimla, the state  capital, against 48 mine owners, accusing them of reckless limestone quarrying. The quarry owners dismissed her campaign, saying she was only trying to blackmail them.

After a long period with no response to her suit, she headed for Shimla and  staged a 19-day hunger strike outside the court until it agreed to take up the issue. The strike won Devi national and international headlines. In 1987, the High Court not only ordered a stay on mining but also imposed a  blanket ban on blasting in the hills.

Faced with the prospect of closing their operations, her opponents threatened to kill her, but she continued to fight. The mine owners appealed to the Supreme Court of India, which ruled against them in July 1995, adding  to Devi's renown.

The same year, still working as a sweeper, she was invited to attend the International Women's Conference in Beijing because of the keen interest taken in her by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the first lady. 

A private organization sponsored her trip to China, where Clinton asked her to light the lamp at the inaugural function. She spoke to thunderous applause about how the enchanting Himalayas were being degraded by illegal  limestone quarrying and how it was up to ordinary people like her to save the environment. 

Despite Devi's efforts and the Supreme Court ruling, quarrying continues not only in the hills but also in the forest preserves, though with some improved regulation. 

She is survived by a son and 12 grandchildren.

Devi, who could neither read nor write and learned to sign her name just a few years ago, also waged a long campaign for opening a degree-granting  college in Sangrah, the village where she spent most of her life.

"It wasn't in my destiny to study," she said, "but I don't want others to suffer the way I did for want of education." 


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