Skip to main content

Himachal Dalit RTI activist's murder "reflects" on Congress, BJP indifference in protecting marginalized sections

By Sheshu Babu*
When marginalised and Dalit sections of society are being hounded from almost every quarter, the brutal murder of a Dalit Right to Information (RTI) activist comes as another shock and ghastly incident. Kedar Singh Jindan was allegedly murdered on Friday, September 7, while he was on his way back home. The RTI activist was first attacked and run over by a Scorpio.
Days after the alleged murder of the Dalit RTI activist in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur District, his family has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter. Meanwhile, the slain activist's wife and daughter have shifted to Shimla under pressure. Initially it thought of as an accident, the police later registered a case of murder against the SUV owner and Up-Pradhan (vice chief) of Bakras gram panchayat, Jai Prakash and Gopal Singh under section 302 of IPC. The outrage over inaction of police made them arrest the accused on September 8.
In June, Kedar had exposed fraud in the list of families living below poverty line (BPL) and claimed that 6 families related to panchayat people got government jobs using fake BPL certificates. He was a social worker and a Dalit leader. According to reports, his wife Hem Lata has accused that more than two in the village Bharkas are involved in the murder of her husband. She said that he was first beaten up and his head crushed under a vehicle.
Kedar was a social activist who consistently raised issues of atrocities on backward class by upper castes. He also contested for the elections on Bahujan Samaj Party and Nationalist Congress Party tickets but lost all the three times. The 43-year-old activist had accused Jai Prakash (now arrested) of forging documents and records using his position.
Kedar was a lawyer and struggled to complete his education. He used to run an education academy to train young students in Shilai. Over the years, he emerged as a voice of the 'Koli' ( Scheduled Caste) community. He used RTI to uncover issue of corruption and development programs in the region.
While the police claim that the case has been solved and the accused confessed the crime, shocking revelations were made by a seven-member team of state and national social workers, human rights defenders and activist and others. Meanwhile, the incident has taken a political colour.
The fact-finding team found that caste discrimination was quite prevalent in the region. Kedar Singh was brutally beaten for supporting inter-caste marriage in the Shillai region. The murder was pre- planned and executed in public view. Despite a public scene, only two came forward as witness due to fear.
The team visited Paab, the village in Shilai block from where Jindan hailed on September 13 and offered its condolences to the family. It interacted with family members, the panchayat officials and police. The team noted with concern that police response was inadequate when his family complained of threats from local upper caste people. After the expose of fake BPL fraud, the relatives lost jobs. They nursed hatred against him and even attacked him before. But he survived the attack. No action was taken and no protection was provided despite appeals for protection.
The ruling party and the government did not condemn the incident. As the fact-finding team observed, the silence of local MLA is a matter of concern. Even opposition Congress did not mince a single word on the murder of RTI activist by upper caste people. Party spokesman Naresh Chauhan said that his party is with the victim but he showed ignorance over the silence of the senior party members on the issue.
While Dalit activists and organisations are staging protests, apathy from mainstream parties is deplorable. After criticism, the All-India Congress Committee general secretary Rajni Patil sought report from the local MLA about the murder.
Only CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha and the Ravidas Mahasabha convener Karamchand Bhatia forced government to hand over the case to SIT and demanded Rs 20 lakh compensation to the bereaved family.
This reflects the failure of political system in protecting Dalits and their social activists who investigate and points towards exploitation of upper castes.
---
*The writer from anywhere and everywhere is concerned with issues relating to humanity and equality

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.