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

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Trump in Ahmedabad: Did Modi display servile colonial mindset towards gora sahib?

By Rajiv Shah
Donald Trump left Ahmedabad for Agra to "enjoy" the Mughal monument Taj Mahel in the afternoon on Monday, leaving behind scores of huge billboards standing across the megacity showcasing larger than life images of the US president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of them boldly captioned: “Two strong leaders of two strong democracies”.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."