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Dalits In News - January 08,2008

by udaya — last modified 2008-01-09 12:59

Dalit beaten for entering temple,MP: Schoolteacher attempts suicide....


Hindustan Times

Kanpur , January 08, 2008

A Dalit was allegedly beaten up and abused by a priest for entering into a temple in the district, police said on Tuesday.

Shailendra Tiwari, the priest at Mahadev temple in KDA colony stopped one Sudhir Naga and used "abusive language" when he tried to enter the temple here last night, Bidhnu police station incharge Sanjay Gupta said.

The priest also beat up Naga after he entered the temple forcibly, Gupta added.

An FIR has been registered against the duo, he said, adding the matter is being investigated.



MP: Schoolteacher attempts suicide



NDTV Correspondent

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 (Sagar)

In Madhya Pradesh, Shivhari Ahirwar, a Dalit teacher at a government primary school in Sagar district tried to immolate himself on Monday, in protest against the authorities indifference to proper facilities for the school.

Shivhari is fighting for his life in hospital. The school, which is part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, functions in a rented house, and has almost a hundred children from slums.



Mumbai suburbs still tense



Special Correspondent

MUMBAI: Parts of the eastern suburbs of Mumbai and adjacent Thane city continued to be tense on Monday following the death of Buddhist monk Bhadant Saghraj Thairo, 75, even as the police registered the locals' complaint of murder and called for a second autopsy.

Bhadant Thairo of the Sandesh Buddh Vihar in the Deonar area of northeastern suburb of Gowandi was found dead in his house on Sunday morning.

The police first took the death as a case of suicide. But the incident triggered violent protests, particularly from the neo-Buddhist Dalit community, which alleged that it was a case of murder and blamed a builder.

The builder wanted to develop a plot but Bhadant Thairo obtained court stay, it was alleged. Acting Police Commissioner Vijay Kamble said the murder complaint was registered and the matter was being investigated. The Dalit neighbourhoods, however, remained tense and some monks of the Mumbai Pradesh Bhikhu Sangh staged a dharna near the Buddhist Vihar.

New Indpress


Workshop for Dalit literateurs


Monday January 7 2008 13:39 IST

PALAKKAD: The writers should be able to feel the pulse of the people, differentiate the good from the bad and present it before the society, according to Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes A.K.Balan.

He was speaking after inaugurating the three-day workshop of Dalit litterateurs at the panchayat community hall, Malampuzha on Sunday. District panchayat president Subaida Ishaaq presided over the meet.


Kandhamal: The burning issue



Sampad Mahapatra

Monday, January 7, 2008 (Kandhamal)

A team from the National Minority Commission will visit riot torn Kandhamal district of Orissa on Monday, where night curfew continues.

Curfew has been lifted from district headquarter town of Phulbani, but night curfew will continue in three other towns.

This after a week of violence gripped the district when violence broke out between Hindu's and Christians but the web of violence is not that simple.

The Congress has also demanded an all-party meeting on Kandhmal communal violence.

While the rest of the world was celebrating Christmas, the tribal dominated Kandhmal district in Orissa was literally burning. It was a mysterious mix of communal and ethnic passions that pushed the district into complete lawlessness for over a week.

Old and simmering antagonism that existed between the Hindus and Christians and between Kandh tribals and Dalit Panos for years in this district were ignited at the same time and that made the situation get out of control.

What and who was responsible for the eruption of violence that affected the entire population, across the religious and ethnic divide?

With tension still continuing in the disturbed district, a dispassionate study of the circumstances is simply not possible. NDTV takes a look at what lies at the root of the hatred that has set Hindus against Christians and Panos against the tribals.

The politics of hate

On December 24, the structure set up to hold Christmas celebrations in Brahamanigaon was attacked and destroyed.

The provocation was nothing more than the pandal encroaching the main road of the town. That was enough to start an ugly argument, which ended in the Hindus attacking the pandal and injuring two Christians. 

After that, a rumour that prominent VHP leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati had been attacked by a Christian mob at Dasingibadi set off a wildfire of violence across Kandhamal.

''How can they attack a revered saint who has been working for the people for last 33 years? You think they want peace,'' asks GS Rath, Secretary, Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

At the same time, trouble was brewing also between the Kandha tribals and their old adversaries, the Dalit Panos. This mutual hatred had been simmering for the past 20 years with seven kandhs and 9 Dalits killed in clashes in 1994.

The kandhs called a bandh on December 25 and 26, to protest the scheduled tribe/caste status acquired by the Dalits recently 

But many suspect the Kandhs were set up by the Sangh Parivaar, to add to the confusion during the attack on the Christians. But the tribal leaders themselves say it was entirely a coincidence.

Lambodar Kanhar, Secretary, Kui Samaj, Kandhmal said, ''We had a meeting on the November 29 and decided on the dates. It was just a coincidence and once we decided we went ahead with it.''

 Clash of the castes

The Kandh tribals, predominantly pro-Hindu or Hindus, account for an overwhelming 51 per cent of the population. And nearly 70 per cent of the Dalit Panos who constitute 18 per cent of the population are Christians. That partly explains why the ethnic conflict here sometimes also assumes religious overtones

If a Dalit becomes a Christian he loses all privileges and concessions available to the Scheduled Castes but if a tribal becomes a Christian he retains all the privileges available to the Scheduled Tribes. This was at the root of the conflicts - both religious and social.

Christian organisations have been pushing for scheduled caste benefits for the Dalits, irrespective of their religious status, the Kandh tribals and the Sangh Parivaar are fighting the idea.

What adds to the animosity is the Sangh Parivar's allegation that Christian missionaries have used allurements and incentives to convert the mostly poor and backward population. Even the BJP, a partner in the ruling alliance feels there should be stricter provisions against conversions.

Suresh Pujari, President, BJP, Orissa said, ''The core issue is forced conversion by way of allurements or coercion. We need to enact a law that would be so strict that nobody would ever dare to convert people by alluring them.''

But Christian leaders say the conversion issue has been drummed up just to hound them.

''If conversions are only a pretext for anti-minority violence, why are Muslims and Sikhs also targeted even though they don't convert people? It's a mindset that looks for pretexts to attack minorities,'' said John Dayal, Secretary General, All India Christian Committee.

But the fact is, the VHP has been aggressively tackling the Christian conversions here for some time now. In the late 60s, VHP leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati set up an Ashram in Chakapad and they have been running an anti-Christian campaign in Kandhamal since then.

Their sole aim is to re-convert tribals and Dalit Christians. In May 2005, they organised the largest Hindu congregation in Orissa to celebrate the reconversion of nearly 350 tribal Christians. The Swami is very clear about what the real trouble in Orissa is.

''The fight is on because we want to them (people) to become Hindus and they want them to join Christianity and convert the land into a Christian land,'' said Swami Laxmananand , VHP Leader & Hindu Missionary.

Adding to the smouldering situation are election campaigns every few years that feed on and fuel the religious hate campaigns. 

Christians say religious intolerance has seeped into the bureaucratic and judicial system as well and it is that which explains the administration's indifference to the anti-Christian violence in Kandhmal..

Christian leaders are also worried about the reaction of their own community to the religious intolerance. They see a rise in Christian militancy in some areas, especially in Bamunigaon where an armed Christian mob retaliated ferociously to the attack on December 25, turning on the local Hindus and attacking the police with firearms.

While the state government does not seem to recognise the new threat and blames the Maoists for the armed attack on Hindus in Bamunigaon, the rise of Christian militancy in Kandhmal is indeed a reality and could have serious consequences, both on the minority community and the socio-religious conflicts in future.


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