Will Naveen Patnaik please wake up to atrocities against Dalits in Odisha?
This memorandum was submitted on 22 March 2012; see full list of signatories at the end
A Memorandum of Demands Seeking Chief Minister’s Immediate Intervention to stop the Ongoing Brutal Atrocities/ Crimes against Dalit Communities in Odisha
We, the undersigned victims of human rights violation, representatives of various mass organisations, Non-Governmental Agencies, Community Based Organisations, Human Rights Activists, journalists and citizens belonging to the marginalised communities would like to draw your attention to the ongoing atrocities against Dalit Communities in Odisha. We are subjected to all forms of corrupt practices that include discrimination, humiliation, exclusion and denial of access to rights, entitlements and human dignity in Odisha. We stand here because we are beaten and humiliated by the Mass Education Minister Mr. Pratap Jena. We are here because we are implicated in false cases without committing any crime. We stand here because our daughters are molested and denied justice in your regime. We stand here because the police is acting on the behest of the powerful and refusing to accept our complaints and denying us space to exercise our legal, political and economic rights. Orissa remains a highly vulnerable State with high incidence of atrocities against the Dalits and religious minorities.
We cannot and will not continue to suffer the way that we do. We cannot and will not allow our voices to be silenced. The time has come for the Dalit to be heard. The time has come for politicians to talk to the Dalit and to talk to the marginalised openly and honestly and respectfully so that we can, together, ensure that there is a place for everyone in this society and in this state.
The life of the Dalits is increasingly vulnerable in the state due to a persistent lack of assured entitlements to augment their existing resource base. Land alienation has deprived them of their land; forest legislation has turned them into encroachers on land they have always used; and they have also been disproportionately affected by displacement due to mining operations, irrigation projects, wildlife sanctuaries, etc. It seems that the Govt of Orissa is pursuing an agenda of ‘Hidden Apartheid of discrimination against Dalits in its policies and programs. The recent incidents of the “objectionable” behaviour of Mass Education Minister, Mr. Pratap Jena towards Dalit youth at Katarpada of Nischintakoili block in Cuttack district and the ongoing atrocities against Dalit communities in Katarapa village and the negligence of the duty-bearers have shown the lackadaisical attitudes of state machinery for Dalit communities.
We want you to intervene and ensure that justice is served to those who have been constantly ignored.
Brief detail of some of the recent atrocities:
1. Mass Education Minister, Mr. Pratap Jena Beat Dalit youth at Katarpada of Nischintakoili Block in Cuttack district.
Caste atrocity and Caste abuse at Katarpada of Nischintakoili Block in Cuttack district has once again shown the ugly face of BJD ruled Government in Orissa. Mass Education Minister, Mr. Pratap Jena who is representing Mahanga constituency grossly flouted the model code of conduct during the election campaign for his party supported candidates. He even violated the Constitution of India by assaulting the Dalits during his tour to his constituency. It can be mentioned her that the Constitution of India providers special safeguards for the social, educational and economic advancement of Scheduled Castes. And a Minister who is holding an office of dignity is expected to respect this basic principle of the Indian constitution first by respecting the Dalit communities. But it is a matter of fact the mass education minister himself is aiding and abetting such heinous crime against Dalit in broad daylight. Mr Jena himself involved in the incident of assault against Dalit communities along with his upper caste supporters. This heinous nature of incident is an inauspicious signal for a nation ruled with the polity and praxis of democracy.
While campaigning for his supported candidates, Mr Jena accompanied ZP candidate Rekha Rani Samantray in a workers’ rally to Katarpada Gram Panchayat of Nischintakoili Block on 6th February, 2012. On the way to their workers rally dominantly led by higher caste people, Mr. Dibakar Samal who belongs to Scheduled Caste category along with some locals attempted to welcome the honourable Mass Education Minister Mr. Mr. Pratap Jena with flower garland. Having been seen this, Mr. Ashok Mohanty, Brajendra Swain and Sushanta Nayak who are from the local upper caste category also escorting the Minister prevented Dibakar Samal from garlanding Minister. Three of them even beat him ruthlessly with their footwear. They even threatened him for life and used caste abuses saying ‘‘Magia Pana ku Jibanaru Maridia’’ (finish the Mother Fucker Pana-). While disappointed with the humiliation and merciless beating, Mr. Ishwar Samal was trying to pacify these miscreants suddenly Mr Pratap Jena dragged Mr. Dibkar Samal in an in human way and started beating him cruelly saying ‘‘Magia PanaTumaku chuile chua’’ (You untouchable rubbish mother fucker how dare you to touch us and welcome us). In this brutal incident both Dibakar Samala and Ishwar Samal were grievously injured and undergoing a treatment in Nischintakoili Primary Health Centre.
Though a case has been registered in the local police station, no action has been taken so far against the minister and his co-culprits. And the concerned Dalits communities were threatened to be killed and their village Katarpada would be set on fire, if they dare to complain the higher authority about the incident for justice.
2. Tukuna Sethi Was Arrested without committing any Crime and the Intention of the Arrest is to Disturb His Daughter’s Matriculation Exam
Mr Tukuna Sethi aged 37 is from Katarapara village that runs his family from his daily wage. In addition to this he also earns some additional livelihood working as a tube-well repairing mechanic. On 17th March Mr. Tukuna went to repair a tube-well of his neighbour just a kilometre from his home. While repairing the tube-well he heard a noise from the road where people were negotiation with a contractor for quality construction of the road. And the road which was prepared by the same contractor was damaged within a few days of the completion of the work. And this time they were asking the contractor to pay attend to this work. Having heard this noise, Mr Tukuna went to the site where the noise was taking place and he was just standing there. Then police came and some higher caste people who were present there instructed the police to nab Mr. Tukuna Sethi. Then Mr. Tukuna was arrested taken to the police station though the mob present there informed the police about Tukuna’s innocence. Sources said that Mr. Tukuna was kept in the Police custody (Hajat) for 3 days and tortured by the police, and then sent to court. As he was falsely implicated under section 506 of the Indian Penal Code, Mr Tukuna was not given bail and now he is inside the jail without committing any crime. This all happened with the clean and clear guidance of the people who are in power.
Tukuna is completely is innocent and he has a daughter who is appearing for ongoing matriculation exam. Sources said that this was done intentionally to disturb his daughter not to appear in the board exam. And it is also a fact that in general the upper caste community are against the social mobility of Dalit communities specifically education of a Dalit girl child.
3. A low-caste Dalit Boy studying in Standard one was killed in a Road Accident at Duliamba in Koraput district.
In a brutal accident Kedar Halua, a 10 years Dalit boy was ruthlessly killed in Lulipada village in a road accident. And false cases have been registered against Dalit communities when they demanded the arrest of the person who is responsible for the accident (Driver). When the dead body of the boy was lying on the road, the DSP, Jagatnath Rao along with ISC of Lulipada police station came to the site and ordered the villagers to remove the body as soon as possible to clear the road.The villager informed the police that the Boy (Kedar Halua) is not from the Lulipada villages and he was staying in his elder father’ house to continue his education. But the police did not listen to the villagers and started abusing them by using caste based slang. When this epode was going on, the Tahasildar reached to the spot and enquired into the matter and found that the Lulipada villagers are reluctant to remove the body from the accident site as long as Kedar Halua’s parents have not come. Then the Tahasildar requested the villagers to let the police to take the body for the purpose of autopsy and paid Rs. 10,000/- to perform his last rites. But the DSP Mr. Jagatnath Rao along with his ISC demanded the money from the deceased’s uncle Mr. Bidyadhara Maharathi and when Mr Maharathi refused to pay the amount. Then the DSP used caste abuses saying Sala Dama Ete tora Sahasa, Magia tote Maridebi Maridebi ( Mother fucker Dama, I will finish ). He also abused the women folk who were present there by using caste slangs. When the entire villagers opposed the DSP, he implicated false cases against the villages.
Duliamba has been a very peaceful village in Orissa. And it is known for its unique identify of communal harmony and peace. But this identify has been threatened due to the nasty act of the police in particular of the DSP. False cases have been implicated against the villagers and they are terrorised by the police.This is a brutal attempt to criminalise the Dalit population of Duliamba. They are now in the capital of the state before the Chief Minister for justice.
In the above narrated cases, the victims are harassed and shabbily treated by the public Institutions including police, ministers (Mass Education minister) and these are taking place due to sheer callous attitude of the police. Though all the cases attract the provision of SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 and Rules 1999 but no initiatives has been taken by the Government and responsible departments.
In view of the alarming rise of violence and the ongoing discrimination, harassment, atrocities against Dalits in Orissa, we appeal you to intervene immediately and take appropriate action to eliminate ongoing discrimination and violence against Dalit community for not only the interest of the nation but for the respect of humanity.
We appreciate you for your proactive action against Mr. Damodar Rout in connection with an anti-Dalit remark case and compelling the former agriculture Minister Mr. Pradeep Maharathy of protecting the culprits in a gang rape case on November 28 last year near Arjunagoda. We the Dalit Rights activists appeal to take the following initiatives for the redressal of justice to the most vulnerable people of state.
1. We demand the immediate arrest of Mr. Ashok Mohanty, Brajendra Swain and Sushanta Nayak under the Sc/ST Atrocities Act.
2. We demand an enquiry into the inaction of the local law enforcement authorities even after the lodging of the FIR.
3. We demand adequate compensation should be given to Kedar Halua’s parents and stringent action against DSP, Mr. Jganatha Rao and the concerned ISC.
4. We also demand immediate dismissal of Mass Education Minister Mr Pratap Jena who is abetting, aiding and involving himself with such blatant assault against Dalit communities and perpetuating discrimination and caste feeling in society while remaining in public office
5. We experience clearly that law alone cannot eradicate those forms of atrocities that dehumanise, discriminate and enslave Dalits in society. Therefore we appeal you to develop an appropriate mechanism to challenge and change those systems and structures that promote, justify and perpetuate discrimination, especially caste-based discrimination and atrocities against Dalits. On the other hand, values such as social equity and equality should be promoted, strengthened and safeguarded by initiating massive campaign and awareness.
6. There are ample evidences and instances to assert that Dalits are often made victims of false implications due to their social and political vulnerability and caste prejudices and perversion. Hence it is imperative that there should be adequate legal and other safeguards to protect the interests and sovereignty of Dalits in Odisha. And all false cases against the Dalit communities in Katarapada and Duliamba of Koraput district should be withdrawn immediately.
7. We appeal strict implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 in order to prevent atrocities against Scheduled castes
8. We demand the immediate release of the Dalit members falsely arrested in the hit and run accident and the arrest of the driver of the vehicle.
9. To inflict punishment on all those perpetrators, police and others directly or indirectly related to the above narrated cases for their criminal negligence in dealing with the matter without care, sympathy and blatantly violating all protective laws for the Scheduled Castes.
10. We also demand an immediate stop against all forms of atrocities against Dalit communities in Odisha.
11. We appeal you to direct police to maintain peace in Katarapada of Nischintakoili block and take appropriate action for restoring dignity of the Dalit communities in the areas.
We request you to consider these matters as most urgent and take appropriate action. This will instil faith among the ordinary people, especially the weaker sections of our society on the provisions of our protective laws mandated by the Constitution. Further, this will protect them from the oppressive dominant socio-economic system. We are herewith submitting this memorandum for promotion of justice, equity and protection of human rights in society.
Thank you for considering our recommendations and demands. We would appreciate learning about any steps that you take in this regard.
1. Mr Ashok Mallick (Dalit Rights Activist)
2. Ramesh Mallick ( Independent Dalit Activist)
3. Ramakanta Bga ( Dalit Activist)
4. Hemanta Sethi ( Dalit Activist)
5. Bidulata Mallick ( Dalit Right Activist)
6. Dilip Samal ( Dalit Actvist)
7. Bharat Behera ( Social Activist )
8. Bibhudatta Sahu ( Human Rights Activist- CNI SBSS)
9. Sukanta Behera ( Social Activist- CNI SBSS)
10. Dibakar Samal ( Victim)
11. Ishwar Samal ( Victim)