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Dalit research scholar suicide provoke tension in Hyderabad

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Hyderabad: Suicide by a Dalit research scholar sparked tension in the University of Hyderabad on Monday with students demanding justice and a probe by the HRD ministry.

Police intervened to shift the body from the campus to the hospital for an autopsy as students blockaded their way demanding justice for the student’s family. They also blamed the university authorities and a central minister for the suicide.

Students locked the body in the hostel room, where Rohith Vemula allegedly hanged himself on Sunday evening. A scuffle broke out between the police and the students who raised ‘police go back’ slogans.

Policemen in riot gear resorted to using force to enter the hostel and shifted the body for autopsy.

A huge contingent of policemen was deployed on the campus to prevent violence as Dalit and leftist student groups have called a strike in the university.

The student groups demanded the resignation of Vice Chancellor P Appa Rao and Union Minister of State for Labour (independent charge) Bandaru Dattatreya, who allegedly got the five students belonging to Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) sacked.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of various student groups said Rohith was highly depressed due to suspension and expulsion from the hostel.

Rohith, a second year research scholar of science, technology and society studies department, was found hanging in a room in New Research Scholars’ hostel. He used the blue banner of ASA for hanging. In a five-page suicide note recovered from the room, he mentioned how he always looked at the stars and dreamt of being a writer and an established academic.

Hailing from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, Rohith came from a poor family and was University Grants Commission’s Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) holder. In the suicide note, he also wrote that he had not got his JRF funds for past six months.

He along with four other suspended students had been staging protest on the campus for last 15 days. They were sleeping in open to protest expulsion from the hostel. On Sunday, Rohith left the camp to spend the day in NRS hostel room. He was found hanging at 7.30 pm.

It was in August last year that the five students were suspended following a scuffle with activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). It all started when ASA staged a protest on the campus to condemn ABVP’s attack on the screening of the documentary ‘Muzzafarnagar Baqi Hai’ at Delhi University.

The research scholars were expelled from their hostel in December. They were denied access to hostels and other buildings on the campus except their classroom, library and conferences and workshops related to their subject of study.  They were evicted from their rooms on January and since then they were forced to sleep in a makeshift tent in the campus.(IANS)

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Why Dera Sacha Sauda Followers Ready To Die For Rapist Ram Rahim Singh?

After the judgement on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's case was passed, his followers initiated violence in few cities of Haryana and Punjab

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DSS followers
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's followers were ready to die and fight for him. Wikimedia
  • The head of the Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh recently had a trial and after the judgement was passed, his followers initiated violence in Haryana and Punjab
  • The surprising fact was not the sexual exploitation and other criminal cases against him, but the way his followers were willing to die and fight for him
  • The deras provided economic support, free medicine along with human dignity and self-respect to people who had to hear their caste names being used as abuses

New Delhi, August 28, 2017: The head of the Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh recently had a trial and after the judgement was passed, his followers initiated violence in few cities of Haryana and Punjab. The government of Haryana failed to control the gathering of DSS followers in the place of the trial, Panchkula despite repeated advance warnings given by different security agencies.

The surprising fact was not the sexual exploitation and other criminal cases against him, but the way DSS followers were willing to die and fight for him.

The history of such Sufi cults or babas inspiring thousands of followers has been a part of north-western India for a long time. The question that arises is what is so distinctive about the structures of socio-political belonging to the society in that area which makes it possible for such centres of power to emerge?

For answering this question, a look at the region’s historical trajectory and the present day’s social and political structures. Punjab and Haryana, both have been through various foreign invasions which have caused a lot of chaos. The invasions did not allow the formation of socio-political structures for people to arrange their lives around. The people were deprived of stable socio-religious or political institutions. this was accompanied by the frequent destruction caused by the armies, which built a ground for Sufi cults or spiritual gurus to emerge. This gave people’s lives a direction as well as a stable institution of support and social security.

ALSO READNorthern Railways Suspend Services Ahead of Verdict of Rape Case Against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

The second reason which prompted the emergence of Sufi cults is the huge Dalit population and other minority castes present in that region. the comprise of a major portion of their followers. Haryana’s neighbouring areas and Punjab, both have a huge population of Dalits, with their population touching 30% in Punjab, the highest in India. However, the Dalit population in the society’s power structures is weak. This is due to highly skewed ownership of land in this region, wherein the power rests with the controllers of land. The caste system has played a huge part in depriving Dalits of the ownership of land. The Act of Alienation of Land enacted in 1990 created agricultural castes, including Muslims and Jat Sikhs mostly and they were made land allotments’ sole beneficiaries under the widening of canal-colonies and agriculture. They were given preference during the selling of land and put restrictions on the selling of land to others, which included rural Dalits and upper-caste urban Hindus.

This further excluded them weaker artisans and Dalit from the platforms of decision-making. The Jat Sikhs started gaining dominance in Sikh institutions and other castes such as khatris started getting displaced. The conflicts of land owners with the agricultural labourers gave rise to religious fights. Dalits were not welcomed in Sikh temples or gurudwara, which made them take up an alternative, in which they not only comprised a huge proportion of the crowd but they were also represented in decision-making and management structure.

The development of deras gave rise to an alternative institution for various cultures. The most appealing aspect of these deras was their promise of treating all DSS followers equally irrespective of the caste. They provided economic support, free medicine along with human dignity and self-respect to people who had to hear their caste names being used as abuses in the society. An example of this would be DSS’ local unit’s head being called as “Bhangi Das”. In a society where the word “Bhangi” is used to insult or abuse someone, this represents an act of pride, protest and the reclamation of the dignity of many broken people.

Such simple people’s faith becomes vulnerable to dera heads and their machinations, who quickly develop an unholy connection with mafia and politicians. No wonder politicians have been courting such deras actively! This occurrence is attributed to two reasons- the first being the transformation of Dalits from landlords’ dependents to wage labourers due to the fall of old feudal order and the Green Revolution. This provided the Dalits with an escape route to urban-industrial areas.

This loosened the control over Dalits by land owners and they had to look for alternatives to influence the votes of artisans castes and Dalits. Along with this, the democracy started deepening from the 1980s and the marginalised communities started gaining importance in politics. The politicians started approaching deras in order to win their votes as the obligation of democracy, “one man, one vote” policy and reservations made it impossible to ignore these castes in the process of elections.

The politicians never wanted to give a real say and stake to Dalits, therefore the only way to make them vote in their favour was to extend impunity and political patronage to the heads of deras.

However, the High Court asking to seize dera’s properties and remove all its dependents is in one way, a misinterpretation of justice. The recently witnessed Jat agitation destroyed a lot more property but the judiciary didn’t give an order to confiscate all Jat properties, or those belonging to the organisers or any other case for that matter. It is essential to investigate and punish the ones who are guilty.

We see various liberals and media houses are slamming the government that shooting more people will not have an impact on them as long as it is giving them additional talking points. A right mixture of statesmanship and state power is required if we want tp prevent long-run effects of destabilising and chaos.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter Hkaur1025

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Jain Community in Hyderabad to come up with Initiatives for World Peace

The Jain Community of Hyderabad city has planned two initiatives to spread the idea of World Peace

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Jain Community
Jain Temple, Hyderabad. Wikimedia
  • The Jain community has come up with initiatives to spread the message of world peace
  • Nearly 5000 Jains will assemble in Ranigunj and chant “Navkar Mantra” 36 lakh times on 16th July
  • Further, 1008 Jains and monks have also planned an eight-day fasting 

July 15, 2017: In an effort to spread the message of World Peace, the Jain Community across the city of Hyderabad will carry out two initiatives.

Firstly, around 5000 Jains are expected to assemble in the Ranigunj area. They will gather and chant in solidarity the “Navkar Mantra” for 36 lakh times. The mantra is at the core of Jainism worldview. The chants are to be taken under the guidance of Shri Praveen Rishiji Upadhyaya who is a Jain Monk.

The full event will be Shri Jain Seva Sangh, a community of about 3 lakh Jains. The President of Shri Vardhaman Sthankavasi Jain Shravak Sangh, Mr. Parasmal Dungarwal stated “The meditation will be held from 8.30am to 10.30am at T-19 Towers, besides Sundaram Honda, Ranigunj”

ALSO READ: A Devotee from Agra donates 2 kg Gold Sandals to Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

The second initiative involves eight days of fasting by 1008 Jains and their Monks. From 17th to 24th July, the fasting will begin from in Chennai and conclude in Hyderabad. These Jains will be accompanied by 20 leprosy patients. The fasting is coordinated by Lalalitayi Jaangda who works with 800 Leprosy patients.

During the fasting, the people can only consume hot water only till sunset. After sunset, even water consumption is not allowed.

In Jainism, fasting is an important aspect. During festivals and other important occasions, most Jains fast as part of celebrations.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Dalit Priest in Patna’s Mahavir Temple Changes History of Age-Old Caste System in India

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Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida. Pixabay

Patna, July 13, 2017: Temples in India have always been the domain of Brahmin priests and saints. As a matter of fact, Dalits were not allowed to step inside the temple decades ago, however, a ritual in a temple of Patna is striving to change the age-old caste equation. What’s peculiar about the place is the identity of a priest in the temple. Dressed in white dhoti and matching shawl, a 62-year-old Phalahari Suryavanshi Das, who is a Dalit is the priest of this Patna Mahavir temple.

“A Dalit priest standing shoulder to shoulder with a Brahmin priest inside one of the largest temples, frequented by all castes, is symbolic in itself. It is a marker of the social change that’s slowly happening… at least here,” says Acharya Kishore Kunal, a retired Indian Police Service officer and former chairman of the Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts to the Mint.

It is a glaring truth that priesthood has been the monopoly of Hindus in India. “I am a Mahatma. I never thought of myself as a Dalit. When you become a Mahatma, you abandon all such worldly identities. Saint Ramananda said, ‘Jaati panthi pucchai nahi koi, hari ko bhaje so hari ka hoi (Let no one ask of caste or sect; if anyone worships God, then he is God’s).’ Upper and lower castes are not the creation of God. It is our creation,” said Das to Mint.

ALSO READ: Karukku- ‘A Dalit Testimony’ 

The development took place in 1993, one day when Das stepped into the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahavir temple late afternoon. The three-member delegation escorted Das, but the man behind the drastic change was the caretaker Kunal, who initiated the philanthropic action and slowly built a reputation for himself and the temple.

“This change was endorsed by three important priests of the time. And by then, people knew me as a true devotee. People trusted me. Had I come forward as a progressive liberal talking about change, I doubt I would have been successful in bringing about this change,” told Kunal to Mint.

Kunal personally visited Ayodhya’s Sant Ravidas temple to request the pujari to send a priest for Mahavir temple in Patna. Ravidas was the saint of the Dalits in the 15th century as he advocated the casteless society. Many temples have been built upon his name by the Dalits. Kunal feared that he would be lynched for beseeching a Dalit priest in the Mahavir temple. Initially, the authorities taught that Kunal has some political agenda for soliciting Dalit votes but sometimes later when they got convinced, they sent Das to the Patna temple.

Kunal has now install Dalit priest in more than dozen temples in Bihar. He has also written a three-volume book titled Dalit Devo Bhav, which obliterates myths imputed to caste discrimination in Hindu society and the place of Dalits in history.

– prepared by a Staff Writer at Newsgram