Monday, January 30, 2012

[ZESTCaste] SHRC urged to stop forced migration of Dalits, tribals

SHRC urged to stop forced migration of Dalits, tribals
Jan 25, 2012, 11.15PM IST TNN

GANDHINAGAR: A representation made to the State Human Rights
Commission (SHRC) has demanded urgent action from Gujarat government
in certain villages, where the authorities have failed to take
"appropriate action" to prevent extreme cases of social boycott and
forced migration of Dalits and tribals.

The representation followed a public hearing of Dalits and tribals
here on Tuesday, where a five-person non-governmental organization
(NGO) jury, which included senior human rights activists Martin Macwan
and Gagan Sethi, heard tens of such boycott and migration cases. Made
by a team under Manjula Pradeep, who heads state-based NGO Navsarjan
Trust, the representation to SHRC said, "The jury particularly
stressed on quick action on six incidents of social boycott (four of
Dalits and two of tribals), 11 incidents of forced migration and one
incident of social boycott and forced migration of Dalits in Gujarat."

The hearing was organized by Navsarjan Trust and Gujarat Human Rights
Committee. Dalits and tribals from the seven districts - Ahmedabad,
Surendranagar, Rajkot, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Patan and Vadodara --
came to Gandhinagar to relate how the dominant castes' pressure on the
complainants to settle down cases of atrocities has resulted in their
forced migration.

A list of cases of social boycott and forced migration submitted to
SHRC chairman J N Bhatt along with the representation enumerates
social boycott and forced migration in 78 villages of Gujarat and
their presentation said some of the issues - such as those of Pati and
Lundhara villages of Bhavnagar district - are as old as 1992 and 1994
and they remain alive even today.

While resistance to untouchability practice was the main reason for
social boycott and forced migration, other related issues, included
Dalits not being allowed to enter temples (Bhadreshi in Rajkot
district, Rampar in Surendranagar district and Vanthal and Kundal in
Ahmedabad district), dispute during elections, land-related issues,
forced dragging of dead animals, rape of Dalit women, minimum wages,
refusal to excess to drinking water and so on.

During the hearing, Harishbhai Ratnottar said how in Vanthal village
of Ahmedabad district in May 2009 the Dalits were made to participate
in building a new Ram temple, but were refused entry when they wanted
to pray. "A tussle ensued, and a social boycott, such as ban on
shopkeepers to sell goods and employment of Dalits on wage labour, was
imposed," he added.

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