Caste & Crime : Data on Rising Crimes Against OutCastes
Why Crime Is Rising Against India’s Lowest Castes And Tribes
In the prosperous district of Kannur in one of India’s most prosperous states, Kerala, Eramangalathu Chitralekha, 39, was the first Dalit woman to drive an autorickshaw in 2005. Her new profession immediately angered the upper castes, who taunted her and threatened violence. One day, that year, her autorickshaw was set ablaze. In 2013, it was damaged beyond repair. The district collector gifted her a new autorickshaw in June 2014, but on March 4, 2016, it was destroyed again.
Chitralekha is unclear about her future, but she is clear that she is a victim of Hinduism’s deep-rooted caste discrimination. “My house was ransacked by Nair (upper caste) men. My son was humiliated and forced to drop out of school after eighth grade when stories started doing the rounds that I was a woman of loose morals,” she said. “He’s 22 now and still to find a job.”
Chitralekha is a Pulaya, a people termed adiyar, or slaves, in her village of Edatt. “We are low born,” she explained. “We are not permitted to draw water from the same well or eat from the same plates or drink from the same glasses used by the upper castes.”
The destruction of Chitralekha’s autorickshaw was one of numerous crimes reported in 2016 against Dalits, lowest of Hindu castes: From stopping the entry of Dalits into temples–in Uttarakhand, a bridegroom in Haryana, a community in Karnataka–to burning homes and beating women, the murder of a Dalit who married an upper-caste woman in Tamil Nadu and the rape and murder of a law student in Kerala.
These incidents are random snapshots of violence against scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) nationwide in 2016, for which data have not yet been compiled. It is unlikely that crimes against SCs and STs—up 40% and 118% over five years to 2014—will buck the trend visible in National Crime Records Bureau data.
Not only do SCs and STs—who comprise 25%, or 305 million, of India’s 1.2 billion people—endure historic and systemic discrimination, as the first part of this series showed, they are targets of growing violence, as they attempt to improve their lives in the world’s fastest-growing economy.
No shortage of laws, but discrimination is endemic
As the relentless attacks on Chitralekha show, education and prosperity are no guarantee that attitudes will change. With India’s highest literacy rate and seventh-highest per capita income, Kerala also has among the highest crime rates against SCs and STs relative to its population.
In absolute terms, in 2014, most crimes against SCs were registered in Uttar Pradesh (8,075) followed by Rajasthan (8,028) and Bihar (7,893), and most crimes against STs were registered in Rajasthan (3,952), Madhya Pradesh (2,279) and Odisha (1,259).
There is no shortage of laws to address the violence against India’s disadvantaged castes and tribes.
Specific laws include the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Specific laws include the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Besides, the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which governs most crime in India, has adequate legal provisions–if implemented.
“Whenever I filed a complaint against the goons, the police would let them go scot-free,” said Chitralekha. “The second time I went to lodge a complaint, the sub-inspector threatened to arrest me, instead!”
However, better reporting and registering appears to be a reason for the rising numbers of crimes against SCs and STs, from 33,412 (SCs) and 5,250 (STs) in 2009 to 47,064 (SCs) and 11,451 (STs) in 2014.
But the reluctance to register cases continues, as our conversations with Dalit survivors of violence indicated.
Manjeet’s murder, the burning of Jitendra’s children and the search for motives
Jai Bhagwan does not know why his son was killed on February 16, 2016.
In the village of Kartarpura in Rohtak, Haryana, Dalits routinely endured abuse, as Bhagwan’s son, Manjeet—who used only one name—did.
“He was returning home from work when they killed him,” said Bhagwan. “Getting harassed was a daily thing, but this time we don’t even know what happened.” The police registered a case against “unidentified persons”, and Bhagwan had heard nothing since then.
Manjeet is survived by his wife, Suman, son Prince (5) and daughter Kajal (7).
Sometimes, some attacks are so brutal that they—momentarily—make it to national headlines, as did the murders of Jitendra Kumar’s children in Faridabad, about 100 km south of Bhagwan’s home. Kumar, his wife, two-year-old Vaibhav and nine-month old Divya, were asleep when upper-caste attackers poured fuel and set the house alight.
Both children died, the cause of the attack ascribed to a feud.
Kancha Ilaiah, director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, said rising violence against SCs and STs was a backlash to growing assertiveness.
As Dalits grow assertive, and jobs scarce, an upper-caste backlash
According to NCRB data, 704 murders and 2,233 rapes against SCs and 157 murder cases and 925 rapes against STs were reported in 2014.
“They (upper castes) are feeling insecure because of the progress of the SCs and STs,” said Ilaiah. “It is the natural course of history. The upper castes are still stuck in a world where the Dalit and the tribal are untouchables, to be treated as slaves.”
In February 2016, when the national capital region of Delhi was rocked by violent agitators demanding reservations for upper-class Jats, Dalits were attacked indiscriminately, and some reported killed.
Those riots were a manifestation of India’s inability to create enough employment for the million young people who join the job market every month. Organised industry added no more than 500,000 jobs in all of 2014, as IndiaSpend reported in February 2016. Upper castes, said experts, battle amongst themselves but join to keep Dalits out of the race.
“We all say we’ve a society moored in equality, but actually we are not,” said Dalia Chakrabarti, an associate professor of sociology at West Bengal’s Jadavpur University. “Caste hierarchy and jaatiwad (casteism) are deeply rooted in our society. I see this as a battle for power, where the strong always want to oppress the marginalised.”
Rameshwar Oraon, chairperson of the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes, said the rise in crimes against SCs and STs reflects better case reporting and registration. “That said, the commission is still worried and has expressed its concern to the Union government,” Oraon told IndiaSpend. The data back his concern.
Low convictions in crimes against SCs/STs
Compared to a 45% conviction rate for all IPC cases, no more than 28% of crimes against SCs and STs end in conviction, according to NCRB data.
Oraon said the Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA), 1955, and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 have not been implemented properly. “The state has failed to compensate and rehabilitate victims,” he said.
“Our police carry their caste with them; even when they are on duty, they practice discrimination,” said Ilaiah.
Former Maharashtra Director General of Police Rahul Gopal confirmed official discrimination. “There were instances where the police discriminated against people from the lower castes,” he said.”The POA Act is of little help.”
In December 2015, the POA was amended to establish special courts to try crimes against SCs and STs and rehabilitate victims.
(Ghosh is a Bangalore-based independent reporter and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)
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Data on Rising Crimes Against OutCastes — Why Crime Is Rising Against India’s Lowest Castes And Tribes — Highlighting India's Caste Problems in Numbers, Figures, Charts and Graphs! (Interactive Charts & Graphs) Himadri Ghosh
Data on Rising Crimes Against OutCastes — Why Crime Is Rising Against India’s Lowest Castes And Tribes — Highlighting India's Caste Problems in Numbers, Figures, Charts and Graphs! (Interactive Charts & Graphs)
21 States are now BJP-Ruled : Home to Over 70 percent of Indians.
In 2014, when the Narendra Modi government came to power in Delhi, the BJP ruled just seven states.
The cumulative population of NDA-ruled states is 849,825,030 (70.18 per cent of India’s population).
Seven of the country’s 10 most populous states as per Census 2011 are now BJP-led NDA-ruled.
(The last time a political party or group had this big a footprint across India was a quarter century ago. In end-1993, after a round of state elections, the Congress held 16 of India’s then 26 states — 15 on its own; one in alliance.)
‘To be lynched is a crime. To be poor is a crime. To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government.’
Pune police conducted simultaneous raids at the homes of well-known activists, poets, lawyers and priests across the country, and arrested five people – high-profile civil rights defenders and two lawyers – on ludicrous charges, with little or no paperwork,
Arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots, pogroms – all kinds of violence.+ arrests of lawyers and activists.
As it prepares for the 2019 election, the BJP has emerged as by far the wealthiest political party in India.
Karnataka police led the assassination of the journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, which have in turn led to the unveiling of the activities of several right-wing Hindutva organisations like the Sanathan Sansthan. What has emerged is the existence of a shadowy, full-blown terror network, with hit-lists, hide-outs and safe-houses, flush with arms, ammunition and plans to bomb, kill, and poison people.
With the assurance that they have the blessings of the powerful, and possibly even the police.
The privatisation of education is undoing even the very small good that the policy of Reservation did. We are witnessing the re-Brahminisation of education, this time fitted out in corporate clothes. Dalit, Adivasi and OBC students are once again being pushed out from institutions of learning because they cannot afford the fees.
The lynching of Muslims and the relentless attack on Dalits, the public floggings, the arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad, leader of the Bhim Army who dared to stand up to attacks by Upper castes. The attempt to dilute the Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes Atrocity Act.
Approximately 3,00,000 people, mostly Dalit, attacked by Hindutva fanatics, the Pune police arrested five activists, accused of plotting violence at the rally and also of plotting to kill the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They remain in custody, charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Fortunately they are still alive, unlike Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi, who, years ago, were accused of the same crime, but did not live to see a trial.
Both the Congress-led UPA and the BJP to disguise their attacks on Adivasis, and now, in the case of the BJP, their attack on Dalits – as an attack on “Maoists” or “Naxals.” Arresting activists and calling them “Maoists’, the Government manages to undermine and insult Dalit aspiration. There are thousands of people in jail across the country, poor and disadvantaged people, fighting for their homes, for their lands, for their dignity—people accused of sedition and worse, languishing without trial in crowded prisons.
The vulnerable are being cordoned off and silenced. The vociferous are being incarcerated.
BJP/BJP Alliance Ruling 22 States in India : List of BJP/ BJP Alliance Ruling States in India
Religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's regime – 'Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India' and sponsored by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014.
"Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency. In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, and forced conversion have escalated dramatically,"
"Since the BJP assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad."
There are constitutional provisions and state and national laws in India that do not comply with international standards of freedom of religion or belief, including Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"The Indian government-at both the national and state levels-often ignores its constitutional commitments to protect the rights of religious minorities. National and state laws are used to violate the religious freedom of minority communities."
Consider crimes against Dalits. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that crimes against Dalits increased from less than 50 (for every million people) in the last decade to 223 in 2015. Among states, Rajasthan has the worst record although Bihar is a regular in the top 5 states by crimes against Dalits. Gujarat had a rate lower than all-India average (for crimes against Dalits) in 2011. It has crossed the mark since then.
How Dalit anger against the government found expression in the Ambedkar Bhavan and Una protests —
The rally against the historic building's demolition in Mumbai also united anti-BJP forces in one voice.
OutCaste women face particular issues. These women are often victims of human trafficking and sexual violence where their perpetrators are rarely convicted. They are denied access to education, women’s health care, and other services a woman needs to live. The subordinate position of the OutCaste women continues to be perpetuated by the lack of assistance from public and government officials.
About one-third of all winners had at least one pending criminal case against them, with some having serious criminal cases.
Compared to the 15th Lok Sabha, there is an increase of members with criminal cases. In 2009, 158 (30%) of the 521 members analysed had criminal cases, of which 77 (15%) had serious criminal cases.
Indian government once again attempted to silence discussion of women’s issues by banning “India’s Daughter,” a stirring documentary that revisits the savage 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old Delhi woman.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu called the film “an international conspiracy to defame India.”
Just a few weeks after the 2012 Delhi Rape Case, a 17-year-old Indian girl who was gang-raped committed suicide, apparently because police would not file an official report on the attack. A year later, a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped, set on fire, and two months later died of her injuries. During those two months, the police did not file a crime report. More recently, The Indian Express reported that a 6-year-old girl was sexually assaulted with an iron rod by a security guard.
Often, women who suffer violence stay silent because they have no faith in India’s justice system.
India’s southwestern state of Kerala, noted for its high levels of social development, exhibited markedly different patterns in the 2014 election from most other parts of the country. In Kerala, parties on the far left did quite well, as did the center-left Indian National Congress, whereas the center-right BJP performed quite poorly, as did regionalist parties. To understand the electoral geography of Kerala, it is necessary to examine religion and caste.
The Ezhavas, the most numerous of all the Hindu groups in Kerala, are also the most puzzling of its peoples. Subdues by centuries by the Brahmins and the Nairs, regarded as outside the four-fold caste system, they nevertheless retained a pride even in their position as the leading caste of the outcastes, and during the nineteenth century developed a great will to rise above the limitations which society had laid upon them … . The Ezhavas sought education, even established their own schools… . Fortunate Ezhavas took to business and the Congress Party: unfortunate ones to radical rebellion, for the poor Ezhavas have long formed the dedicated core of the Communist Party in Kerala. … No group anywhere in India has so successfully, by its own efforts, removed itself from the double stigma of untouchability and ex-untouchability.
From Narendra Modi, the leading political face of a growing Hindu nationalist movement - contesting for parliament from Varanasi, the holiest city for Hindus which lies along the banks of the Ganges River, there is a sense that the current nationalist wave represents a more fundamental shift in India’s identity by belief in the hegemony of a particular religion, which has never been practiced in this country.
In the last two decades, Indian cities are being restructured based on religion. That is accompanied by the rise of Hindu nationalism.
Modi’s campaign about his role in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat that killed more than 1,000 people, many of them Muslims. Modi has said the riots made him “sad” but he has declined to accept responsibility or to apologize. In an interview with Reuters last year, Modi raised many eyebrows when he likened the 2002 deaths to those of dogs.
On the campaign trail, Modi has attempted to shift the conversation away from the riots and toward economic development, presenting the Gujarat model as a kind of salve.
“Demonization and stigmatization is on the rise,” said Irfan Engineer, director of the Center for Study of Society and Secularism which documents rising communal violence across the country and works to counter the rise of Hindu nationalism, also known as Hindutva. “Hate speeches by right-wing BJP candidates go unpunished by the state,” Engineer continued. “Violence is becoming more normalized and more part of everyday life, unfortunately."
Though India’s constitution declares the country to be both “secular” and “socialist,” religious violence involving Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians has been a persistent part of the national struggle.
Yet anti-Muslim discrimination here is common, and Muslims are often treated like an “untouchable” caste in matters of housing and employment. Indeed, Muslim Indians face hugely disproportionate levels of unemployment, illiteracy and ill health, who tend to live in more isolated communities or ghettos, sometimes masquerading as Hindus to find work.
Statistics from National Crime Records Bureau's Crime in India 2012 report plotted on a map of India to highlight which Indian states have the highest rate of crime against women. The rate of crime against women means the number of crimes against women per one lakh population of women. The statistics from the 2011 Actual Census (Provisional) women population have been used to calculate the crime rate.
India has systematically failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalits, or so-called untouchables, despite laws and policies against caste discrimination, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. More than 165 million Dalits in India are condemned to a lifetime of abuse simply because of their caste by Hindutva terrorist.
“The Indian government can no longer deny its collusion in maintaining a system of entrenched social and economic segregation.”
In 1996, CERD concluded that the plight of Dalits falls squarely under the prohibition of descent-based discrimination.
The pervasiveness of abuses against Dalits is corroborated by the reports of Indian governmental agencies, including the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These and other sources were compiled, investigated, and analyzed under international law by NYU School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic.
India’s report to CERD, eight years overdue, covers compliance with the convention from 1996 to 2006 yet does not contain a single mention of abuses against Dalits – abuses that India’s own governmental agencies have documented and verified.
On 25 March 2007, Awadkesh Kumar, 24, was hit by gunshots fired by members of the dominant caste in his community. Awadkesh was semi-unconscious for five days and lost both eyes. Four arrests were made, but the court case is still pending. Meanwhile, Awadkesh is unable to feed his family and relies on the help of neighbors.