Wednesday, March 31, 2010

[ZESTCaste] AIR: Dalit employees complain of harassment

Karnataka - Mangalore

AIR: Dalit employees complain of harassment

Sudipto Mondal

Complaint to Superintendent of Police brings matter to light

In the last 10 years, seven 'victims' are said

to have left the station

Former Station Director says he too faced harassment in 2000

MANGALORE: In the past 10 years, seven persons from the Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have left the Mangalore All India
Radio station because of alleged harassment by a group of employees.

Making this allegation, the national general secretary of the All
India Akashvani and Doordarshan SC/ST Employees' Welfare Association,
O.P Gautham, said, "The Mangalore AIR is a hub for the worst kind of
casteism and prejudice."

"Although none of the seven persons wanted to lodge formal complaints,
they all said that they were leaving because they could not bear the
daily mental torture and harassment," he said.


Mr. Gautham spoke to The Hindu over telephone from New Delhi on Monday
about the case of Sudhakar (35), a Dalit transmission executive of the
radio station. He said, Mr. Sudhakar was allegedly stripped, beaten
and humiliated by the Mangalore East police on January 25 and detained
for the entire day in connection with his alleged involvement in the
misappropriation of Rs. 5,000.

The case came to light when Mr. Sudhakar complained to Superintendent
of Police A.S. Rao during the monthly SC/ST grievance meeting held
here on March 28.

Mr. Sudhakar said that he had been fixed in the misappropriation case
and that a group of employees at the station, which "hates people from
SC/ST communities", connived with the police in this incident. This
conspiracy had been hatched by some employees to take revenge against
him for a complaint filed by him under the SC/ST (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act in 2008.

Grievance meeting

Mr. Rao reprimanded the Kadri police during the grievance meeting, and
said that even if the allegation was not true, he saw no need for such
extreme action in such a petty case. He even ordered a departmental
inquiry into the incident.

Speaking to The Hindu from Bangalore, Banandur Kempaiah, Executive
Producer at Doordarshan, said he too faced harassment when he was in
Mangalore as Station Director in 2000.

On the condition of anonymity, another former employee who sought a
transfer in 2009 because of alleged caste-based harassment, said that
several tactics were used by "caste" Hindu and non-Dalit employees to
unsettle SCs/STs. "They rate us as substandard and often say that we
got the jobs because of reservation," this employee said.

Mr. Gautham, Mr. Kempaiah, Mr. Sudhakar as well as the former employee
referred to above named the same set of people as those who had
harassed them, while speaking separately to The Hindu.

The present station head of AIR, Mangalore, could not be contacted.


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