Saturday, 17 August 2013

Further commissions and omissions of our democracy


On a muggy monsoon evening in a tiny village in Haryana, 16-year-old Manju, her voice steady and clear, recounts the story of the day she was raped. It is a story that in its horrifying essentials can be heard in villages across the state, across, for that matter, the country. On 6 August 2012, Manju, a Dalit from Kalsi village in Karnal district, was waylaid on her way to school. Two men, Ajay and Krishen, from the upper-caste Rod community, allegedly forced her into their car and took turns to rape her. Warning her to hold her tongue, they dumped her near her school.

It took Manju two weeks to admit to her mother that she had been raped. Her mother already knew. A neighbour implicated in the crime allegedly gloated about her role in the rape, gloated about Manju’s lost honour. Manju’s mother was steadfast in her support for her daughter. Accounts differ about who said what but the upshot is that less than a month after the gangrape, Manju’s mother disappeared.

On 3 September, her body was found in a ditch next to a small canal that runs by the village. Like her daughter, she too had been gangraped. Her murderers, allegedly her daughter’s rapists, had thrown acid on her and strangled her with her own chunni.


Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry. Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.

The aim of this Act is to ensure that no person shall-
(a) engage in or employ for or permit to be engaged in or employed for any other person for manually carrying human excreta; or
(b) construct or maintain a dry latrine.

But the Act leaves the implementation up to individual states and leaves all kinds of loopholes by virtue of which this inhuman practice continues today – with the Indian railways being one of the biggest offenders.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed serious concern at the inordinate delay in Parliament passing the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill. A Bench of Justices H.L. Datu and Ranjan Gogoi shared the concern of counsel Santosh Paul and counsel Meera Mathew, appearing for A. Narayanan, and told Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati: “We are very much concerned about this issue.”
The Bench said: “they [manual scavengers] are marginalised and Parliament needs to take adequate steps to pass the Bill. It had been over a year and half that the Additional Solicitor-General has been promising to do something. We need a proper reply.”
                                                     - The Hindu January 8, 2013, New Delhi

And yet....

`Manhole' deaths never seem to end
A civic sanitary worker, Gangadhar, died inside a sewer line, after getting into it through a manhole on Tilak Road here on Friday.
Though the exact cause of death will be known once the post mortem report is out, initial indications are that that he died of suffocation as he inhaled poisonous gases inside the sewer line. The police and civic workers retrieved the body after strenuous efforts for over an hour.

                                                     - The Hindu, June 22, 2013, Thirupathi,

Our collective crime and shame is that it is always the Dalits whom our people subject to the special violence/indignities such as (a)-(c). 

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