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Today's Topics:

   1. In the line of fury (Asit Das)
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In the line of fury

   - Rohini Mohan the hinduoctober 16th 2016


   - [image: By noon, close to 10,000 people from Dalit and workers’
   organisations had gathered.]
   By noon, close to 10,000 people from Dalit and workers’ organisations
   had gathered.
   - [image: Marching to be heard. Photo: Rohini Mohan]
   Marching to be heard. Photo: Rohini Mohan
   - [image: A team of women nagaris came from Mandya to cheer the
   marchers. Photo: Rohini Mohan]
   A team of women nagaris came from Mandya to cheer the marchers. Photo:
   Rohini Mohan
   - [image: According to legend, the Udupi Krishna idol faces the back of
   the temple to look at its low caste devotee Kanakadasa, remembered today in
   a locked statue on Car Street in Udupi. Photo: Rohini Mohan]
   According to legend, the Udupi Krishna idol faces the back of the temple
   to look at its low caste devotee Kanakadasa, remembered today in a locked
   statue on Car Street in Udupi. Photo: Rohini Mohan
   - [image: Voicing out... Photo: Rohini Mohan]
   Voicing out... Photo: Rohini Mohan
   - [image: Jignesh Mewani. Photo: Rohini Mohan]
   Jignesh Mewani. Photo: Rohini Mohan

The echoes of Una were heard in Karnataka last week when thousands of Dalit
activists marched to Udupi.

After a thundering morning shower washed the streets of Karnataka’s Udupi
clean, a group of people began to trickle into the Ajjarkad ground.
Placards and banners were extracted from plastic bags, umbrellas jerked
dry, a drenched small stage with the banner ‘Chalo Udupi’ was wiped clean.
By noon, close to 10,000 people from over 170 Dalit and workers’
organisations from across the State had gathered, lining up slowly till
Court Road was a swathe of blues — the royal blue of B.R. Ambedkar’s suit,
the cobalt blue of his often stout statues (small in size but iconic as
symbol), and, as Gowri, one of the organisers said, the free blue that
“liberates us from political party affiliations”.

An elderly bystander, Laxminarayana G.K., having had his brunch of idlis
and coffee at Diana restaurant, tapped the shoulder of a young man in a
blue kurta. Jabbing his index finger towards the crowd, Laxminarayana
raised his eyebrows in a curious ‘what is this?’.

On July 11, 2016, since self-appointed *gau rakshaks* (cow vigilantes)
publicly flogged seven Dalit men for skinning a dead cow in Una, Gujarat,
several Dalits and Muslims have been beaten and humiliated on suspicion of
storing beef, being seen tending to or transporting cattle. It has
triggered protests across India like never before. In August, a young
lawyer, Jignesh Mewani, led thousands of Dalits in a massive ‘Chalo Una’
march from Ahmedabad to Una village. Unprecedented numbers of people took
oaths not to clean sewage drains and toilets, not to dispose of carcasses,
and to protest till they were treated with dignity.

The growing movement even led Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn the
vigilantism. “It makes me angry that people are running shops in the name
of cow protection,” Modi said. “Some people indulge in anti-social
activities at night, and in the day masquerade as cow protectors.”

But as protesters from Una were returning home on Independence Day,
vigilantes beat them up, humiliated them, and forced many to abuse
Ambedkar. A few days later, on August 19, in a small village in Udupi,
29-year-old Praveen Poojary, a BJP worker, was bludgeoned to death by
activists from the Hindu Jagrana Vedike, for transporting three calves in
his tempo. The 18 attackers had bought chicken from Poojary’s shop and
shared meals in his home. Before they thrashed him with sharp iron rods and
grills, Poojary had screamed that he was only using his tempo to transport
calves for a friend. The attackers did not listen.

It was an echo of Una that was heard in Udupi on October 9. Dalit activists
started marching from Bengaluru through Hasan to Belur and finally, to
Udupi, gathering strength on the way through street plays, folk music and
the stunning rhythm of local drums like nagari and thamake. Ending the
march in Udupi was significant. The Krishna temple and its eight
Brahmin-led mutts (ashrams) form the core of the temple town, home to
century-old practices of segregation and untouchability. The district,
along with Mangalore, has also seen mercenary right-wing vigilante groups
attack inter-religious couples and Dalits, churches and mosques.

As the rally snaked through K.M. Road and upper-caste neighbourhoods,
Raghavendra, 29, an accountant who works in a refinery, joined in. “The old
caste system humiliated our community, reduced us to insects. That
Brahminism is here,” he said. “And the new violence in the name of
aggressive Hindu nationalism and corporate land acquisition, which
threatens our very existence, that is also here.”

A week earlier, a known upper-caste rabble rouser had posted on Facebook
that if Dalits were going to march through Udupi, others would have to
‘clean Udupi’. “We knew it was a caste slur, that we would pollute the
town,” said Venkatesh, a poet and farmer from Karkala. “But we decided to
take it literally.” As a group of boys distributed water, another group
followed with cartons, picking up the discarded plastic.

Gowri, one of the organisers, said the movement was led by educated and
aware Dalit youth. “In the earlier phase of Dalit assertion, a few voices
emerged against feudalism and Brahminism,” she said. But the leaders broke
away, people supported different political parties. In the last decade,
with the deepening of right-wing politics, Dalits have become more
vulnerable. “This is a new reaction. It has a new clarity, no political
affiliation, and it is gender conscious.”

As I ran up to a balcony to photograph the march, a young man looked up.
His placard said, “It’s high time the oppressed ruled the world.” Behind
him, a group of 20-year-old women formed a circle. It was a scorching 1.30
pm, and rally-goers were fading. The women wore blue *kurtas*, white
*duppattas* crossed from the shoulder to a knot at the hip, a heavy nagari
drum hanging at their legs. One of them spun her stick in the air and
brought it down with great flourish in a loud thud.

Ten women nagaris from Mandya followed in an energetic, thrilling crescendo
that in a few minutes had invigorated protesters. Jai Bhim slogans were
raised, more songs sung. “We are the heartbeat,” said Kamala, 26, a school
teacher and lead drummer. “When our people get tired by the long fight, our
job is to lift their spirits.” She laughed and added, “To be able to
perform well, I ate five big idlis today!”

As the protesters walked into the Beedingudde ground, they spontaneously
stuck their blue flags and placards into the rain-soaked ground. Around it,
the Revolutionary Cultural Forum from Raichur danced to a folk song about
the struggle of a village against a land-grabbing owner. “We are telling
the downtrodden to laugh at the source of fear so that we can break its
hold on us,” the Forum’s state convenor Gangadhara said.

As tired protesters found chairs under the shamianas to sit, some of them
spotted Jignesh Mewani in the front row. For at least an hour, a smiling
Mewani had to oblige a string of selfies. Bhaskar Prasad, who
conceptualised the ‘Chalo Udupi’ march, said it had been inspired by
Mewani’s in Una. The motto ‘Food is our choice, land is our right’ was “Not
just because we want to be able to eat beef. It is to show how hegemonic
groups use their culture to attack those of others.”

Mewani’s Hindi speech detailed how Dalits and OBCs were the largest group
to be jailed for the 2002 riots. “The Gujarat model is moving to Karnataka,
too, and I hope our Dalit youth will not let themselves be used by the
right-wing groups,” he said. It was clear the movement had not limited
itself to justice for anti-Dalit atrocities, but was consciously evoking
complex ideas of dignity, systemic discrimination and denial of land
rights. Mewani promised to return to Udupi for a three-point agenda: to ban
all *gau rakshak *groups, to urge the Karnataka government to reveal the
percentage of revenue land they have given to Dalits and tribes according
to the state land grant rules of 1969, and to enter the mutts in Udupi that
segregate Dalits.

Five minutes from the congregation, the Pejewara Mutt’s 86-year-old seer,
Vishweshwa Theertha, who was part of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, wanted
to know if the Dalit meeting had criticised him. “They always do that,” he
said, insisting that neither he nor his temple segregated against Dalits
during temple meals. “Some Brahmins may want to sit by themselves, but we
don’t ask them to.” He “condemned violence against humans in response to
violence against cows,” but called cow protection “important”.

That discomfiting grasping for an illusory balance was rife on the
sidelines of the march too. “We are all human,” said Diwakar Prabhu, a
restaurant owner, to Manjunath, a rally participant in a striped T-shirt.
“There should be no caste, correct. But a cow is…”

Manjunath handed him a brochure and walked away. “It’s not our job any more
to explain to the privileged about how any of this is wrong,” he told me.
“Our focus now is to mobilise ourselves. Those confused must reflect on
what they are allowing in the name of their religion.”

*Rohini Mohan is a **Bengaluru-based writer.*

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--- Begin Message ---

Dear Friends,

·  We the members of  Ambedkarite Women Against Atrocities', India (AWAA)
 condemned here the wording of the report by retired judge K. Roopanwal,
which indicates an attempt of defamation and character assassination of
Radhika Vemulla. Under the garb of fact finding  the committee has done all
efforts to find out the cast of Radhika and Rohit as the remarks were made
by Mr. Roopanwal directly  was an attack  on Radhika’s  character. The
comments were not only just gender biased  but insulting womanhood and her
human rights to live with human dignity.
We protest against this discriminatory , biased report, we  demand to file
a case against  Mr. Roopanwal to damage  the dignity of Radhika Vemula  by
 doing character assassinations   and passed scurrilous remarks.  We ,
Ambedkarite women from all over India demand a public apology from Mr.
Roopanwal and  a  compensation following such a deplorable statement.
·  This is in the context of the news was published on  6 th October 2016,
in the Indian Express,  was titled “ The whitewash: Probe alleges Rohith
Vemula’s mother faked Dalit status, blames him for his suicide”.
· We find that the special efforts were made to  disclose Mr. Roopnwal’s
committee’s report  through specific media because they wanted to shift
entire matter to target Radhika Vemula and proving her caste as OBC would
be an advantage for them to escape from the punishment under atrocity act.
· In this news according to the reporter that  the one man commission was
appointed whose mandate was to inquire into the facts and circumstances
leading to Vemula’s death, review existing grievance mechanism for students
at HCU and suggest improvements. But she did not take any cognizance  of
the fact that in the same month on 25th  August 2016, another tribunal
report was also published. The tribunal was organized by the concerned
teachers, writers, and lawyers of Hyderabad.  It was chaired by Justice  K.
Chandru,  Retired judge High Court Madras. Prof Govardhan Wankhede, TISS,
Bombay and Prof Ghanshyamdas Shah were the members. The brief to the
tribunal was to examine the circumstances leading to leading to the suicide
committed by Rohit Vemula Chakravarthy, a Research Scholar as well as the
police action subsequent to his death and the existing caste discrimination
practiced by the University. And, to recommend among other things, besides
protocols to enable marginalized students to fully participate and enjoy
the academic, political and social space of the university more
productively and effectively; and to examine the existing grievance
redressal systems to prevent caste discrimination in the University of
Hyderabad and evaluate their effectiveness. “
· We member of AWAA demand to disclose both the reports publicly through
media and Government.
·  We express our solidarity with Radhika Vemula and her kids as well as
 congratulate Ambedkar Student’s Association for it’s success in student’s
elections. There are several efforts made by Government, University and
narrow minded casteist people to supress women’s voice especially women
from Dalit-Adivasi-OBC and minorities. *Here we also demand to sustain and
strengthen an act against Atrocities (SC/ST).  *
· AWAA is an all India level network of prominent individuals and
organizations of women who beleive in Phule-Ambedkarite ideology. This was
founded by social activists, writers and researchers like Lata Pratibha
Madhukar (Lata P.M.) Ms. Abhinaya Ramesh in Maharashtra. It was very much
supported by  prominent socio-political activists, theoriticians,
professors, artists, engineers, environmentalists, and writers from oter
parts of India.

We appeal, that if you are in solidarity with Radhika, please endorse your

                                                   In solidarity with
Radhika Vemula and her family
                                                Ambedkarite Women Against
Atrocities', India (AWAA)

   -  Lata Pratibha Madhukar -  (Lata P.M.)

Researcher and Writer, Founder of ‘SAVITARA’:National Centre for Bahujan
Gender Studies, and Stree Kathi, Pune, --09922320338 --l <> <>

   - Abhinaya Ramesh Kamble - (Abhinaya Ramesh)

Associate Professor, Founder  of Human Rights Network for Dalit Women in
India, CDWS, and Editor of Confront-

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