Gaurdian article that spreads word on Caste Atrocities

18Sep08

Is this 21st-century apartheid?

The segregation and abuse of the low-caste Dalit people is a stain on India’s reputation, but a militant fightback is under way

Peter Tatchell

A Dalit farmer’s wife, daughter and two sons were lynched and beaten to death by an upper-caste mob in a land dispute in 2006. The women were also raped.

What is unusual about this case is that the perpetrators were successfully prosecuted. Normally, the killers of Dalits walk free.

One reason why the murderers have been bought to justice is the rising tide of Dalit militancy. There has been a wave of mass demonstrations by Dalit people demanding justice and equal treatment. Newly confident and organised, the Dalits are fighting back with strikes and boycotts.

Shaken by this burgeoning protest movement, some Indian authorities are finally being pushed and pressured into action, albeit slowly and exceptionally.

About time too. India’s 170 million Dalit people, formerly known as “untouchables,” are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. They are victims of the most extreme form of caste discrimination. It is, in many ways, analogous to racism. By virtue of their birth into a Dalit family and community, they are condemned forever to a life of social stigma, exclusion and victimisation.

 

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