Dalit women in Haryana to march for redressal of cases of atrocities committed by upper caste men

By Lalita, TwoCircles.net,

New Delhi: All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) is organizing a Pad Yatra (long-march) in in Kurukshetra for redressal of pending cases against atrocities faced by Dalits, particularly women, beginning February 17. They organized a similar march last year as well.

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This Yatra is effect of the enduring struggles of Dalit Women in Haryana, which they face on regular basis in public and private spaces. There are pending cases against people from the upper castes and public officials, varying from rape of a Dalit women, gang rape, abduction and murder.

Manisha Devi with her colleagues.

From police officials to lawyers and other administrative officers, the group gets exploited everywhere, one of the reasons being lack of financial backing. The community feels highly ignored in even registering the complaints of exploitation, hearing of cases, and punishing the culprits.

This second in the series Yatra by AIDMAM is an initiative of Manisha Devi, a student of MA in Gender Studies at Kurukshetra University, joined by twenty five to thirty consistent student supporters, activist and lawyers. A similar long walk was organized last year as well.

The fact that our last year’s march failed to capture the attention of the media proves our point says Manisha.

This year’s yatra will start from February 17 from Kurukshetra in Haryana. The protestors would march through the roads to Ambedkar chowk, where they would assemble to reach out to the people, finally leading towards DG office where they demand redressal of pending cases against atrocities faced by Dalits, particularly women.

The group is expected to be joined by around 200 more people during the Yatra. The Yatra will stop at Karnal on the night of February 17 and will continue through Panipat and Sonipat on the 18th and 19th. It will pass through Jind on the 20th and end up at Hissar on February 21.

They will also submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister on February 21, which they hope, will bring into notice the exploitation they face.

Organizers have appealed to all the Dalit officers, young social activists, women and students to extend their support.

Manisha told TCN that if their grievances are not addressed properly, they will continue their march to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other neighbouring states as well.

The ignition to these Yatras came after a gang rape in the region, wherein the mother of the victim was ruthlessly murdered.

While violence against women in India has gained the spotlight due to reprehensible events, the systemic injustice and atrocities meted out to Dalit women in particular in rural areas is (and has been over centuries) masked and often forgotten in the conversations on patriarchal violence.

File photo of last year march.

This Yatra is an effort by them to highlight their struggle for dignity and justice. The protestors wish to spread awareness of these issues, for which they would stage a Nukkad Natak too during the Yatra. They want to reach out to give support and courage to other victims of such atrocities, themselves guided by the victims who are consistent members of the group.

Although Manisha and her colleagues find it difficult to balance their studies and the work for the empowerment of the deprived communities, but this has not deterred them. “We have no financial support to convince people to stop this degrading treatment. Earlier we were hesitant but it is too much to bear now. People should realize that when the term ‘Dalit’ is mentioned, it’s not their property. We have a dignity and everyone should respect that. The government should wake up from the long years of sleep,” she told TCN.

As the country is gearing up for another general elections, AIDMAM is pinning hope that through such marches they will be able to spread awareness about issues concerning Dalits, and such deprived communities, so that it becomes part of an election manifesto.