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Dalit Sthree Shakti (DSS)State Level Public Hearing And 6th Annual General Body Meeting

The 6th Annual General Body meeting of DSS was conducted along with a State level Public Hearing on 1st and 2nd March 2012. The two day event was a grand fete with the participation of more than 1000 dalit women from across the state, state level officials, intellectuals and the event in terms of drawing public and media attention to the dalit women cause.

State Level Public Hearing

First day, i.e. on 1st March 2012 Public Hearing on various instances of injustices committed to dalit women and girl children was conducted.The objective of public hearing was to expose

the failure of State machinery, the police, the judiciary in rendering justice to the victims, despite repeated representations. Out of a large number of instances of crimes committed on dalit women and girl children during 2011, a few glaring and heinous crimes committed on these hapless victims were identified and presented to the Jury that headed the public hearing. The record of the cases with details was supplied for the perusal of the Jury sufficiently beforehand. High level, responsible persons with impartiality and objectivity were requested to head the Jury and examine the cases and give their verdict and recommendations. The Jury consisted of:

1.) Justice Ramaswamy, Retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India,

2)Sri. K.R. Venugopal,I.A.S., Retired Secretary to the Prime Minister of India,

3) Sri. Kaki Madhava Rao, I.A.S., Retd. Chief Secretary to Govt. of Andhra Pradesh,

4) Sri. Bojja Tarakam, Senior Advocate, High Court of A.P. and State level Dalit Leader,

5) Sri. Akhileswari, Leading Journalist,

6) Sri. Narra Ravi Kumar, Founder, Santhi Chakra International,

7) Sri. Girija Augustine, General Council Member, A.P. University of Law,

8) Sri. E. Sudha Rani, Professor, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University,

9) Sri. Ajaya Kumar, Senior Investigator, National S.C., S.T. Commission,

10) Sri. Siva Parvathi, Additional Director, Women and Child Welfare Department.

Total number of cases selected for presentation were 26, which included victims of rape, the women and girl children who were sexually exploited and turned intomothers in the name of love, victims of land eviction, instances where the burial ground of the dalits were occupied etc.These victims/witnesses who suffered injustice appeared before the Jury and narrated their pathetic stories and their ordeals in getting justice.The most moving incident was that of sexual exploitation of a mentally retarded minor girl.Ms.Chellapu Devi, 16 years, mentally retarded girl who does not know anything due to her disability was sexually exploited by a neighbor and was made pregnant.DSS took up that case and tried all legal possibilities to get her pregnancy aborted as it would be a great ordeal for her to bring up the child if she delivers as she herself is a child due to mental retardation.But, the entire state machinery, the doctors did not cooperate and eventually she delivered the child.As, the mother, Ms. Chellapu Devi

does not know anything, not even breast feeding the child, her younger sister who is only 8 years old is taking care of the child and this 8 years girl is now playing the role of mother of both the new born as well as her mentally retarded elder sister. For this reason, she dropped out of school. The pathetic scene of an 8 year girl taking care of the baby and her sister moved the entire gathering. The utter failure of the entire state machinery in coming to the rescue of these unfortunate girls exposed the insensitivity of the system. As the state machinery has not responded to aid these victims, DSS has been taking care of them till date. Another heinous instance was that of Ms.Renuka, who committed suicide due to the vindictiveness and caste discrimination of her teachers. The pathetic death of Ms. Renuka was narrated by her old aged father. The father narrated that they belong to the caste ‘Budaga Jangam’ and eke out living by begging, that being the profession of that particular caste in the caste system. He, however, encouraged his daughter, the victim Ms.Renuka, to study with the hope that it will emancipate her from the caste dictated way of life if she gets a job. The girl, who was bright in studies, was continuously harassed and heckled by the teachers out of caste prejudice and she was beaten up and thrown out of the school for a minor incident of shouting during one night out of fear and bad dream. Unable to bear this humiliation, Ms.Renuka, committed suicide out of a mood of frustration, by pouring kerosene and burning herself. She succumbed to the injuries after a 10 day struggle for life. She was admitted in Government hospital with 80% burn injuries. DSS took up the case and tried its best to get good treatment for her. In the hospital, before her death, Ms.Renuka stated that she realized that she did the suicide attempt out of fit of temper and frustration and pathetically pleaded to be saved by incurring any amount of expenditure. She said that if she is saved, she would study, get a job and repay the amount. Moved by the pathetic situation of Ms.Renuka, DSS shifted her to a corporate hospital, but in vain. After a 10 day struggle for life she succumbed. DSS exhibited a video account of the plight of Ms.Renuka to the Jury. The response of state machinery in this case also is totally insensitive.

Cases as above were perused by the Jury who responded suitably by making recommendations for justice.In another instance of mass attack of dalits that occurred in 2010 in the village of Someswaram, Amalapuram mandal of East Godavari district, the case came up for trial now.In this case, the concerned judge issued summons hurriedly on 25th February

2012 to attend the court on 27th i.e. within 2 days. This was unheard of in the court procedure and it is usual to serve summons at least 10 days prior to the date of trial. Not only hurried summons were issued, the court rejected the plea of the advocate for dalits for an adjournment. When this was brought to the notice of the Jury, the jury recommended bringing this brazen procedural lapse of the court to the notice of High Court and Supreme Court.

DSS Programme Manager, Mr.Daniel Vijay Prakash coordinated the presentation of all the 26 cases at the Public Hearing, while, Ms.G.Jhansi, Convener explained the cases and objectives of Public Hearing.

Public Hearing drew attention of the entire gathering and print and electronic media. The reporters of the TV channels also were moved by the pathetic incidents and spent time in covering the public hearing. A few channels waited and separately interviewed the victims, particularly; the innocent mentally retarded girl and her sister. All national and regional dailies, electronic media widely covered the public hearing and reported prominently the inhuman violation of the rights of dalit women and girl children. The entire public hearing attracted the attention of the media to such an extent that one leading regional daily, Andhra Jyothi covered DSS and its activities by allotting one entire full page on 5th March 2012. This is a feather in the cap of DSS.

Recommendations made by the jury:

ü Stringent punishment for willful negligence of discharging the duty by police and concerned departments

ü Sanction of Compensation & Rehabilitation on time

ü To contact Ambedkar Foundation for compensation

ü Charge sheet to be filed with proper sections on time without causing any delay by showing some or

the other reason.

ü Action against the concerned officers U/s 4 of SC/ST (PoA) Act

ü To conduct DNA test during pregnancy itself

ü Considering the added facts as circumstantial evidence and ensure maximum punishment

ü Provide judiciary powers to Commissions

ü Sensitize the district authorities

ü Focus the issues through media and build pressure on the authorities

ü Reservation not being considered as a right, but being discriminated in Education, Employment and

Political sectors

ü Form committees at respective levels to access justice

ü The discrimination of dalit children in educational institutions to be seen as organized crime

ü Condemned the forcible formation of peace committees after the mass attacks to compel for


ü Failure of district administration in curtailing organized crimes

ü To reprimand sternly the concerned officers for not being able to register the SC/ST sections

properly in the FIR

ü Non dalit women unable to acknowledge the advantage gained by dalit women due to NREGA

ü Confiscate the assets of the accused in mob attacks

ü Ban the leaders from politics for getting involved in atrocity cases

ü Give possession of house site and house

ü Repeatedly update the state level authorities

ü Bring in awareness to the youth

ü Take the assistance of the Legal Aid Authority in pursuing the court stay orders

ü To bring in co-ordination between the line departments such as police, revenue, medical, judiciary,


ü Accountability of Director of Prosecutions, Public Prosecutors, etc. to Social Welfare Departments

ü Effective and regular functioning of Vigilance & Monitoring Committees at respective levels

ü The District Legal Aid Authority to play a prominent role and be a member of Vigilance & Monitoring


ü Effective implementation of the recommendation of Jus Punnaiah Commission

ü Effective implementation of Sec 4 of SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989 against the officers for wilful negligence

ü Allocation of budget under SC/ST Sub Plan, segregation of budget separately for dalit women and

girl children and spend the budget through a separate nodal agency.

ü The State Legal Aid authority to monitor the stay orders and quash petitions against the atrocity

cases and ensure speedy vacation

ü To speed up the DNA reports

6th Annual General Body Meeting

Sixth Annual General Body meeting was conducted on 2nd March 2012. Annual General Body meeting was organized in a way to utilize the occasion for educating and enlightening the gathering of grass root dalit women and girl children on macro and micro dalit reality. For this purpose, noted intellectuals and analysts who can enlighten, inspire and give direction to the movement were chosen to speak on thematic issues concerning dalit women and girl children. Morning session was devoted to the theme of “Qualitative Childhood to Dalit Girl Children”. This session was presided over by Prof. Suneetha Rani, Director, Women’s Wing, University of Hyderabad, while the key note speakers were: Prof. E. Sudha Rani, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Ms. Suneetha Prasad, Director, SRACO, Indira Priyadarsini and Ms.Padma, State Women Collective leaders of DSS. The speakers highlighted the dalit girl situation and the ways and means of improving and safeguarding the lives of dalit girl children.

Afternoon session was held on the theme of “Dalit Women and Future Plan of Action”. This

session was presided over by Prof. E. Sudha Rani, while the key note speakers were: Sri. P.S.N. Murthy, noted dalit intellectual, Mr. J. Ajayakumar, IPS., Deputy Inspector General of Police, Women Cell, Ms. Vasantha Kannabhiran, Director, Asmitha Women Resource Centre, Dr. Siddoji, Ambedkar Study Circle, Sri. Balakrishna, Ms. Hamsamma and Mr. Surya Prakash, State Women Collective leaders of DSS. The speakers highlighted the social, economic and political aspects and the strategies to be adopted by dalit women to move forward in curbing the violence and violation of their rights. The dalit women from across the districts responded to the speeches and sought clarifications.

Concluding session was presided over by Ms.Jhansi Geddam, Convener of DSS, while Ms. Chaya Ratan, I.A.S., Principal Secretary, Department of Home Affairs attended as Special Guest of Honor.Other speakers were: Prof. Pushpa Chakrapani, Dr. Siddoji, Prof. A. Subrahmanyam, Registrar, A.P. University of Law, Prof. E. Sudha Rani, Dr. Gautham. The newly published compendium of all important aws in Telugu, entitled, “Mana Chattalu”(Our

Laws), was released by the Special Guest of Honor, Ms. Chaya Ratan, I.A.S. First copy of the newly released book was given to Mr. Daniel Vijay Prakash, Programme Manager of DSS. The 6th Annual Report of DSS was released by Dr.Siddoji and Prof. Sudha Rani and the first copy was given to Ms.Susanna, DSS State Coordinator. On this occasion, Ms. Chaya Ratan, I.A.S. was felicitated and the speakers applauded her for her sincere and committed services as a government officer and for upholding the spirit of the Constitution as a Government servant.

Ms.G. Jhansi, Convener, DSS briefed the audience about the work done during the past 6 years and tasks to be accomplished.

Ms. Chaya Ratan, Special Guest of Honor, appreciated DSS for its work and advised the all dalit women to work with commitment and told that it is commitment towards the task taken up that takes a person to greater heights in life.She called upon all the dalit women to get their children educated and advised that one need not think of only corporate schools for

education,what is important is individual’s hard work and not the high profile of the institution. She gave the example of herself, as to how she reached highest position as an I.A.S. officer despite a background of having studied in ordinary Government schools. Prof. A. Subrahmanyam spoke about the need for the administration to imbibe the constitutional culture and spirit of laws in their work. If the concerned personnel work with true commitment towards the letter and spirit of the constitution, at least some of the problems of the downtrodden could have been solved. In this context, he pointed out how officers like Ms. Chaya Ratan do justice within the legal frame work whenever an issue comes up before them.

After the session, the Women Collectives of village, mandal and district levels discussed the issues of their area with the State and district level coordinators and finalized plan of action.

Representatives of various dalit and democratic organizations attended the two days conference and extended their solidarity to DSS and the dalit women cause.Important among them are: Mr. G. Sanker, General Secretary-SC Employees Welfare Association, Mr. G. Kiran President-Electricity Employees Association, Mr. Mysaiah, President-State Ambedkar Youth Association, Mr. Ramana, General Secretary-ST Employees Association, Mr. Gnaneswar and Mr. Seshu, General Secretaries of Republican Party of India, Ms. Sujatha, Dalit Bahujan Front, Ms.Grace Convener-JVVPs, Mr.Neelaiah, CEO-ASP., Mr. Narendra, Founder Member-Round Table Conference Online, Mr. Turab, Program Co-ordinator-COVA and representative of Chatri Organization. Dalit Women and girl children from 1200 villages from 7 districts across the State participated in the two day conference and travelled free by trains.Variety of songs depicting dalit culture and movements sung by the Cultural team of DSS inspired the gathering.

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