Skip to main content

Los Angeles Times: Modi govt's crackdown on Gujarat Dalit rights NGO which fought caste politically motivated

Under threat: A Navsarjan school in Surendranagar district
By Our Representative
Following US’s powerful daily “The New York Times” objecting to the Modi government cancelling foreign funding license to Gujarat’s topmost Dalit rights organization (click HERE), Navsarjan Trust, another influential daily, “Los Angeles Times” (LAT), has termed the action a part of the wider government “crackdown against civil society” and “dissent.”
Calling the Modi move “politically motivated”, LAT has said, Navsarjan, “an Indian charity”, has “battled caste discrimination for three decades”, but is now being attacked for harming India’s national interest.
Going to the roots of the problem, the daily noted, the non-profit group was stripped of its FCRA license “for organizing protests last summer after seven Dalits were publicly flogged in Una, a town in southern Gujarat, for skinning a cow that had been mauled to death by a lion.”
Pointing to how handling cow carcasses is one of the “many lowly occupations assigned to Dalits by upper-caste Hindus, who regard the animal as sacred”, it added, yet another issue which made the government nervous was the way Navsarjan helped lead a campaign “that forced investigators in August to reopen an inquiry into a 2012 police shooting that killed three young Dalit men.”
LAT said, “The government is particularly sensitive to social unrest in Gujarat, a prosperous coastal state that Modi led until 2014, and is still run by his party”, adding, “The powerful prime minister has held up Gujarat as a model of economic development, but recent protests by Dalits and other marginalized groups have chipped away at that carefully constructed image.”
“In parliamentary debates following the Una beatings”, LAT said, “Opposition lawmakers referred to a landmark 2010 survey that researchers from Navsarjan and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights carried out in 1,589 Gujarat villages.”
It added, “The findings laid bare how many Dalits, who make up 16% of India’s 1.25 billion people, are still treated as subhuman”, quoting Navsarjan founder Martin Macwan as saying,
“This report took all the air out of the so-called ‘Gujarat model’ of development. It showed that development and inequality can coexist.”
Pointing out that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ decision to block Navsarjan's overseas funds, amounting to almost $400,000 annual budget, has forced the non-profit organization to lay off
its 80 staff members, LAT said, it would mean suspending its other charitable works as well, including three schools educating Dalit children.
Other charity works which would be hit included giving help to the likes of Dudhabhai Kalabhai, said LAT. Dudhabhai, it added, was victim of two upper-caste villagers, who found that Dudhabhai had ventured “too close to the temple entrance”, hence they thrashed “the 70-year-old farmer with sticks, hospitalizing him with arm and leg injuries.”
Quoting family members, LAT said, the police in Gujarat “at first refused to take the case seriously”, and it “wasn’t until the human rights group Navsarjan deployed representatives and a lawyer that the assailants were arrested, tried and sentenced to two-year prison terms.”
LAT insisted, “It was one of thousands of cases that Navsarjan has fought since 1988 on behalf of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, who continue to endure social stigma and economic marginalization 70 years after India’s constitution outlawed caste-based discrimination.”

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”