Khairlanji Manifesto

26Sep08
Khairlanji Massacre: Charter of Demands from the Citizens 

The Khairlanji Massacre of 2006 brought out ugly facts of the caste based discrimination and violence. During the trial the caste angle was brought into the notice of the Honourable Judge. The Khairlanji massacre is the straightforward and clear case of caste atrocity. There are special provisions under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. This act is not supposed to act as a safeguard but enforces the constitutional mandate abolition of untouchability. Four members of the Bhotmange Family were brutally killed, but what happened before the killings will even put the barbarians in shame. It was the maniac mob that stripped the women naked and paraded them. Though the honourable court has ruled out the molestation of women, the simple fact that the bodies were found naked should be enough to attract the provisions of outraging the modesty of mother and her only daughter.  

Priyanka, the brightest child, had a dream to live a better world and her dream was shattered by the caste minded people. The murder of the family by the mob is not just a murder, but it is plot masterminded and preplanned. The fact that the murders did not take place due to forced circumstances, but by the preplanning should be suffice enough to show that there was some underlying intention. The underlying intention became obvious when the perpetrators heaped caste abuse when the most horrific incidence that sent shock waves throughout India and the world.  

What followed after the incidence is a classic case of defunct Police administration, corrupt politicians & government officials colluding together and utter silence of the media in the beginning. The justice machine moved only when the activists and civil society responded. The media not only intervened positively afterwards, but the debates and discussion on the atrocities and caste discrimination began on the national level. This is a very positive development and the highest official, the Prime Minister, acknowledged the fact of the hidden apartheid in India.  

And what was done by the civil right activists, media and conscious citizens of India was undone by the Judicial inactivism. The Khairlanji Massacre case should not only have made Judiciary more active, but also proactive role in safegurading the rights of the discriminated communities in India. The Parliament have made laws to protect the discriminated communities and the Judiciary is unmaking those laws.

The common citizens of India have right not only to condemn the laws which takes away their human rights, which are the foundation of our country, but they have also right to defend the rights that are flowing from the Constitution of India. In India, the constitution is supreme and the Judiciary must act in accordance with the law of the land.  

We, the undersigned members of Indian Republic, are outraged to learn that caste Hindus, through their predecessors in interest in power, played a role in perpetuating enslavement and untouchability of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes for 3000 years.  
 
According to various reports of government of India and other research many Caste Hindus are accused of benefiting from: propagating untouchability, torturing Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe to keep them enslaved, stealing their labor, raping their women, and treating them like inhuman. All of this was done for social-economic and political gain of caste Hindus.  
 
The protective actions on part of government are insufficient to ensure justice and human treatment of SC/ST community in free India. We expect strong and sincere efforts by the government in power for establishing justice, liberty, equality, and freedom to all its citizen.  

We believe that all citizen of Indian Nation are equal before law and before government.

India is boasting high about its economic boom and also periodically we stand as a nation for the rights of humanity and peace. Eg. Recent protest against China saying they are violating the rights of Tibetans, but what about our own people who are treated less than animal in the free country.  

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population is still struggling to overcome the vestiges of caste — discrimination in housing, employment, education, economic development opportunities, and healthcare opportunities, to name a few.  

The caste pride, social-economic status of few people is valued at the cost of killing, raping, and trafficking Scheduled Caste/Tribes women, men and children.

 
We demand that India as nation and Maharashtra State has to take up responsibility for historical crimes against humanity.  
 
We urge that strong and immediate action must be taken with public apology for crime of caste and untouchability. In addition we as a citizen of this country demand reparation for this age old slavery and untouchability.  

Demands:

  • Police:
    • Representation of SC/ST officer- preferably women SC/ST officer with good record must be placed at each police station that is empowered to register the case under SC/ST POA Act 1989.
    • Equal representation of SC/ST on each Police officers rank.
    • 1/3 of the police higher administration must represent SC/ST officers and they must not be transferred on random basis.
    • Every forth subsequent state DGP must be from SC/ST community
    • According to Supreme Court apex directive on police reform, each state must set up State Security Commission. The State Security Commission will be chaired by the state Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister with a Director General of Police as its secretary. A leader of Opposition as well as a woman and another non- government member will also serve on the panel. Two third of the member of the commission must be from SC/ST communities.
  • Judiciary
    • Representation of SC/ST  judges and lawyers in public prosecution
    • The cases where Caste based violence and or violence/crime against SC/ST  occurs must be tabled before judges  bench with adequate representation of SC/ST.
  • Doctors
    • Qualified and independent doctors preferably women from SC/ST community
    • Regular training
  • As form of reparation and restitution of 3000 years old untouchability against SC population, Government of Maharashtra/Government of India must apologize and a Comprehensive decent Urban resettlement must be planned of the rural SC population who are under threat or vulnerable to the attacks from caste Hindus.
  • SC ST POA ACT- must be strengthened with comprehensive amendments to include all above points
  • Responsible Media
  • Establishment of Caste Monitoring Commission (unlike SC ST commission) with substantial powers to initiate, monitor, research, and coordinate welfare projects, violent/non violent atrocity cases, anti-discrimination policies in rural/urban labor & employment issues, and other issues related to violation of human rights of SC/ST.
  • District level participatory committee of government and dedicated NGOs lead by SC/ST  communities
    • These NGOs must be engaged at city-village level  administrative and municipal activities/projects
  • Establishment of 24 hours toll free help line for antidiscrimination acts with strong linkages to the caste monitoring commission.
  • Periodic Comprehensive Need based Training program in coordination with dedicated SC/ST lead NGOs for doctors, police, judicial officers, media personnel, government executives , and for all other concerned machineries.
  • Special budget allocation for all above activities along with transparency with NGOs/peoples representatives

 

  • We also demand that the following Recommendations from Government of Maharashtra Report after the Khairlanji Massacre should be complied with:

 
i)  Adequate police protection should be immediately provided to Shri Bhaiyalal Bhotmange, Shri Siddharth Gajbhiye, Shri Rajan Gajbhiye, their relatives and the other Scheduled Caste families of Khairlanji and Dusala villages. 

ii)  Similar police protection be provided to all the witnesses of the incident. 

iii)  In view of a serious neglect of duty by the district administration and police in handling the  Khairlanji incidence, and consequent loss of people’s trust in the State machinery, the CBI investigation should be started immediately, and a charge sheet be filled within stipulated time period. 

iv)  A charge-sheet be filed within the stipulated time pried. The aspect of deliberated destruction/omission of  evidence should  be specifically looked into by the investigating agency, and accordingly investigation should be carried out and charges should be fixed on the concerned. 

v)  It is not enough to merely transfer / suspend the officers guilty of neglect of duty in handling the incident.  Such officers should be made co- accused in the criminal proceedings, and an enquiry should also be initiated against them under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. The officers found guilty should be denied all service benefits including pension, gratuity, etc. 

vi)  The medical registration and qualifications of the medical officers including Civil Surgeon who have  committed serious neglect in the post-mortem of Khairlanji victims should be immediately cancelled, and Bhotmange Waiting for Justice they should be subjected to similar penal procedure as the other officers guilty of neglect of duty. 

vii)  Shri Pankaj Gupta, Special Inspector General of Police, Nagpur has made a premature and irresponsible public statement that the Khairlanji incident did not involve  rape on female victims.  It is learnt from the public that Shri Pankaj Gupta accepted a bribe from the interested elements to make such a statement. Similarly, it took 14 days for Shri Gupta to visit Khairlanji, which takes just about an hour’s journey to reach from Nagpur. All these matters are extremely serious and hence a discrete confidential enquiry should be initiated against Shri Pankaj Gupta in order to investigate the above matters. 

viii)  A special investigation into the sequence of events including landline and mobile phone calls made, secrete meetings held in and out of the village prior to the incident especially between September, 3 and September, 29 should be conducted with a view to uncover the roots of an organized conspiracy to allow the Khairlanji massacre. 

ix)  The Government should make  it mandatory for the concerned Superintendent of Police and Special Inspector General of Police (Range) as well as Inspector General of Police (PCR) to visit every location of atrocities within 24 hours of incident, and report directly to the Home Department on the visit. The Director General of Police should also visit the location depending on the gravity of the incident. 

x)  Even after handing over of investigation to CBI nothing prevents the Director General of Police from visiting Khairlanji. This will send the right signal to the police machinery  across the State at all levels, and will ensure proper assistance of Police Department to CBI in further investigation. xi)  The decision of handing over the Khairlanji investigation to CID and subsequently to CBI was taken at the highest levels of State Government only in the wake of pressing demands and violent demonstrations by Buddhists and Dalits to this effect. Ideally, the State Government should have proactively established a dialogue with all the important stakeholders in this matter, and initiated the necessary response  suo moto. Such proactive measures need to be taken at the Government level even now. 

xii)  The Vigilance Committee at the State level must meet once in a quarter to constantly review the status of atrocities and should regularly take the appropriate corrective measures. Similarly, the district level Vigilance Committee must meet every month. 

xiii)  Khairlanji incident triggered a lot  of social commotion and protests. Many a protestors have been taken into custody and are subjected to further proceedings. The provisions under which they have been booked should be examined by an independent authority, and fast track courts be established for deciding these cases. 

xiv)  Henceforth, if atrocities indicate the possibility of sexual assault and rape then the following care should  be taken while conducting post- mortem :

a.  The post-mortem must be done by a sufficiently senior, qualified and experienced doctor along with a lady doctor;

b.  Careful examination of genitals of victim along with proper samples of Vaginal Swab, Rectal Swab, Pubic Hair, Nail Clippings of both hands, Blood, etc., be carried out in presence of a qualified lady witness. The samples should be sealed in presence of the lady witness. c.  Photographs of the naked bodies  of victims should be taken for further reference during investigations as the bodies decompose and perish rapidly. 

v)  A Mobile Investigation Van fully equipped with life-saving devices, medicines, and trained doctors and nurses along with senior police personnel should be dispatched to  the concerned location within two hours of reporting of an atrocity. 

vi)  A Standing Committee at the Divisional Level consisting of medico- legal experts, retired judges, retired police officers with proven integrity and character, NGOs, etc., should be constituted to oversee all the aspects of investigation including collection of evidences and witnesses, preparation of charge-sheets, presentation of the case by public prosecutor, etc. 

vii)  The Government should immediately cause to undertake through a neutral agency a survey of all the villages in the State to identify / detect villages  observing untouchability in any form. In order to ensure that no village henceforth indulges in discrimination against Dalits  in any form, a policy decision

needs to be taken at the Government level that any village observing untouchability in any  form shoud not be given any grant by the Government. The Village Panchayat body should be immediately superceded after the incident. The Member of Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti from the concerned area will be suspended immediately after the preliminary investigation establishes commission of offence. 

viii)  In case of reporting of discrimination or atrocities in a village, the village level / local level administrative functionaries such as Talathi, Health Worker, Anganwadi Worker, Gramsevak, Police Sub Inspector, Police Patil, Beat Constable, etc., should also be suspended immediately.

The action taken on the elected representatives and officials should be widely announced and publicized to  send the right signal to the State machinery. The survey should also identify villages with a very small number of Dalit households (within five) and a history of atrocities / communal tensions. The Dalit families from all such village should be rehabilitated along urban fringes with proper provision of schools, water supply, playgrounds and such other amenities as per the State Rehabilitation Law and Policy. Bhandara district can be the starting point for this exercise to be carried out under the Special Component Plan. All disputes around Dalit lands, properties, wages, jobs, loans, etc.,should be proactively tracked and monitored personally by Tehsildar /Sub-divisional Officer under supervision of Collector, and necessarypreventive measures should be taken to prevent the culmination of such disputes into atrocities.   Special Dalit-Vasti-Registers should be maintained for all Dalit settlements across the State, and a system of GIS-based monitoring of such settlements should be evolved  and made available at all the Deserted Hut Collectorates. The Registers should  be regularly updated every six months. 

iii)  Dalit-Vasti-Registers should also include data on a set of objective indicators reflecting latent conditions for atrocities in a village, thus serving as an ‘Early Warning System’ for taking preventive / preemptive action against a possible outbreak of atrocities. The data should be collected by NGOs or such  other stakeholders not part of the formal administration  system. However, once the data is in place the administration should be held responsible  for the necessary vigilance and preventive steps. 

iv)  Relevant sections of CRPC should be invoked and amended suitably if required, to fix the responsibility of reporting of atrocities / indications of possible atrocities in concerned jurisdictions on the elected representatives such as Sarpanch / Panchayat members, Municipal Councilors, etc. In case the atrocities break out  then these non-officials should be held responsible for their failure in early reporting. 

v)  A 24-hour help-line should be started with the help of NGOs in each district to facilitate emergency response to the incidents of atrocities so as to prevent and minimize the loss of life, property and dignity of the vulnerable section of the society. A special scheme in this regard should be designed and implemented though the Social Welfare Department and Human Rights Commission with  the participation of suitable agencies. Bhotmange’s Hut Surrounding xxvi)  A Handbook on Atrocities containing detailed guidelines on the corrective and preventive actions  to be taken by the concerned authorities under the PoA, Act, 1989  be prepared and issued by the Government for ready reference of the administration machinery. 

xxvii) A special Committee should be constituted to evaluate the status of implementation of PoA Act, 1989 in the State of Maharashtra, and possible areas of amendment of the Act (if any) be identified and acted upon by the Government. 

xxviii)  The Committee should also focus on the long-standing issue of ‘Low Rate of Conviction’ in the cases of atrocities. The necessary action to set up Special Courts as provided in the PoA Act should be taken immediately. 

xxix) Atrocities against SC / ST are often more heinous than terrorist acts. Further, atrocities are often a deliberate and planned way of terrorizing the SC / ST populations, which constitute about 22% of the total national population, i.e., about 250 million persons. Hence  atrocities should be viewed and dealt with on par with terrorism. Provisions of stringent Acts to control organized crime such as POTA, etc., may be extended to such atrocities. 

xxx)  The Section 4 of PoA Act, 1989 should be made cognizable. 

xxxi)  As per Section13 (2) of PoA Act, 1989 adequate representation of SC /ST should be ensured in the police force. 

xxxii) The Nodal Officer under PoA Act, 1989 should be further empowered, and should be provided with definite execution machinery for effectively delivering his responsibilities. The Nodal Officer should also be authorized to write on a plane sheet of paper the confidential reports of the Collector, Superintendent of Police, Special Inspector General of Police (Range) and Inspector General of Police (PCR), which would ultimately be a part of their Annual Confidential Report.   

xxxiii)  A State-wide campaign of training should be initiated for all concerned authorities, functionaries and other stakeholders on the issue of atrocities, and the corrective-preventive measures to be taken in

coordination by all of them. This exercise should be taken up by the Social Welfare Department immediately. 

xxxiv) Similarly, a State-wide awareness campaign should be initiated to sensitize the public at large about the issue of atrocities. An effective use of television, radio, print media, cable networks, e-mail / internet, etc., be made to disseminate the public messages on this issue. A clear message should be sent through media that the villages / groups / persons committing atrocities on SC  / ST will be dealt with very severely. 

xxxv) A special section on atrocities should be included in the school curriculum and text-books under history / civics / social service, etc, and accordingly the teachers also should be given a special training on Equity and Social Justice issues. 

xxxvi) A State Action Plan for eradication of atrocities should be prepared and announced by the State Government through participation of NGOs, activists, social workers, legal-constitutional experts, government and private agencies, etc. A social movement towards achieving social justice and solidarity should be initiated through participation of NGOs and civil society organizations. Through such a movement cutting across all sections of society a common forum such as ‘Samajik Samata Sangh’ could be created for addressing the  social evils such as untouchability, discrimination and atrocities.



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