Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tolerant India: Woman gang raped in Ahmednagar for refusing to donate for ritual // Dalit Minor raped & assaulted Muzaffarnagar // Judge seeks justice from SC for discrimination on caste lines

In a numbing incident of violence in rural Maharashtra, a 45-year-old woman was gang raped at gunpoint for allegedly refusing to ‘donate’ towards a traditional Hindu ritual in Sonai village in Ahmednagar district. The district police have booked case against a former sarpanch and three others for meting out “rough justice” in an instance of extreme intolerance which has sent shockwaves throughout the district. The woman’s ‘crime’ had been to refuse donation for ‘Harinam Saptah’ — a traditional Hindu ritual involving mass worship of a deity or patron saint during a seven-day period. According to the woman’s daughter, the sarpanch, Laxman Ghule, along with his wife and others from the village, stormed into the victim’s house in the early hours of Friday last week. 
“They beat up my father with shovels and sharp weapons, badly damaging his legs. My brother was later administered a horrific beating. They then set upon my mother with a pistol to her head, brutally assaulting her. No one in the mob of 150-odd people who had gathered, ventured to help,” said the shocked daughter. The thugs further vandalised the house, destroying a motorbike belonging to the victim’s family. Ahmednagar district has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent months with a string of grim incidents of caste violence exemplified in the hideous Pathardi triple murders of a Dalit family. Activists in the district and across the State have castigated police apathy in failing to rein in reactionary violence.
The village of Sonai village itself shot to notoriety in January 2013 after the gory murders of three Dalit youths. The trio was hacked to death by upper caste men and their mutilated body parts scattered in a septic tank in what appeared to be a case of honour killing.  “We have nabbed one of the culprits and registered cases under Section 376 (G) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Arms Act. The hunt is on for the former sarpanch Ghule and ten others. We hope to nab him soon,” said Lakhmi Gautam, the Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police, speaking to The Hindu.
A 25 year old youth has been arrested for allegedly raping an 8 year old-Dalit girl at Nawla village in Muzaffarnagar. The accused lured the little girl by offering ice-cream and took her to the field to rape her. Meanwhile, the girl is admitted in the hospital currently as her condition continues to be critical. "

A dalit district judge from Andhra Pradesh on Monday sought justice from the Supreme Court alleging that he had been discriminated and humiliated on the basis of his caste by a sitting high court judge. But a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra put judicial discipline to the forefront and refused to entertain his petition. It asked the district judge to get his grievance redressed through the established in-house mechanism. 

"There is a procedure for considering such cases. If an individual writes a letter making complaint against a judge, then Chief Justice of India will look into the issue," the bench said. It said the petition filed by the judge was a private interest litigation and he could not approach the court under writ jurisdiction claiming violation of his fundamental rights. The district judge, K B Gangeyudu, told the court that persons belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were discriminated regularly even now in all walks of life, including judiciary, and requested the apex court to frame guidelines to prevent such discrimination.

Citing various incidents, Gangeyudu said the HC judge "lost no opportunity to humiliate and harass him on a daily basis on one pretext or the other, reminding him directly or indirectly that he does not deserve the status of a colleague, being born in a lower caste". The HC judge, the petitioner said, was the principal district judge prior to his elevation to the HC. "This writ petitioner, a fast-track court judge in Andhra Pradesh hailing from Scheduled Caste, knocks the doors of this court, being denied the basic human dignity and equal treatment of law by the very custodians of fundamental rights, for the only sin of having born in a low caste," the petitioner said.

"The most humiliating experience was the petitioner was denied even the courtesy of a judicial chair with the official symbol of lions while sitting and discharging judicial duties. Though the petitioner complained about it to the district judge, he just ignored it. At last, the registrar general had to intervene and direct him to provide the chair to the petitioner after one-and-a-half years of posting," he said. Gangeyudu said he had lodged a complaint before the HC against the judge but no action was taken. He said he had complained also to the President and had forwarded a copy to the state chief secretary. The state government kept silent on it.

"While practice of untouchability in its open form is not prevalent in urban areas, it is still being practiced in work places in subtle form. People belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes even though employed as per the mandatory quota system, the discrimination in the work places being practiced by peers, superiors and very often even by subordinates is subtle but ruthless," he said. "Many able employees selected under the reservation system are not being provided proper environment for showing their merit and improve their performance. They are always reminded by the others that they are enjoying a grant and not entitled to it. Every possible trick in the rule book is used against them to suppress these subtler forms of untouchability being practiced in workplaces, the so called reservation for the Scheduled Caste will remain redundant," the petition said.