It is well-known that conference on “world conference against race discrimination” at Durban during 2001-2002 discussed on caste – race. Indian government argued that caste and race are two different entities, caste discrimination will not fall under the purview of CERD committee, many schemes are implemented for the development of Daliths in economic , social and welfare fronts, these measure are enough to protect the constitutional, legislative interests, there is no need of implementing the International Human Rights rules, the actions taken internally are sufficient in this regard, change is a part of evolution.
The persons who attended for this conference on behalf of National Human Rights Commission member Mr. K Ramaswamy declared that caste discrimination is still continuing in India. Indian government worked hard to save its reputation across International society in those days. As the continuation of the discussion on caste issue in Durban conference, National Convention on Dalith Human Rights(NCDHR) and in alliance with similar organizations continuing their efforts relentlessly. In this process, in 2002 , UNO CERD committee considered the discussions on discrimination based on race and caste and issued general recommendations, this lead to the discussions on caste discrimination is still on the anvil in all wings of UNO. As part of this, UNO’s Human Rights Commission appointed two special Rappoteurs to study discrimination based on work and birth. They submitted their progress report to UNO Human Rights Commission during 2005-2006. As a result of this, the 70th convention of UNO CERD committee in Jeniva 2007, declared that caste discrimination tantamount to apartheid. This was disclosed by Alexander Cicileonus who is acting as arbitrator for report of CERD committee in India.
Indian government did not submit its reports to UNO CERD committee after 1996. As a result of discussions in various Parliaments , Indian government put 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19th reports all together before the CERD committee in Jeniva conference, February, 2007. Based on Indian report, National Convention on Dalith Human Rights(NCDHR), Saakshi- human rights surveillance and other Dalith organizations prepared an alternate report . In that report, they mentioned about the mass killings, atrocities in the name of caste and untouchability, the real forms of caste related atrocities taken place. This report is submitted to UNO CERD committee. Indian government submitted its report on 23rd February. The discussion continued till 26th February.
On behalf of Indian government, Solicitor General Gulam E. Vahan, Indian government permanent representative Swas Pavan Singh, Swis Ambassador, ministry of social justice and empowerment additional secretary Hari Om, Professor of JNU Deepankar Guptha, representative of Indian government participated in the conference. Representatives from Non Government organizations and Dalith organizations Pal Diwakar(NCDHR), Vincent Manohar(NCDHR) Ruth Manorama(NDWM), Father Alocias(NCDHR), Manjula Pradeed(Navasarjan-Gujarath) Dr. Sirivella Prasad(Saakshi) and Dalith representatives from Nepal, Pakistan, Dalith Solidarity Network members from France, England, Denmark, Germany, America and United States of America attended for this conference. Members participated in this conference assumed that the Indian representatives don’t show any objection for discussion on caste discrimination. But they repeated the same version of Durban 2001in Durban 2007 conference. India made it clear that “it is tolerant nation, with unity and integrity”. India declared that it is firm in its stand to imply all human rights which are recognized internationally and fundamental freedom to its citizens without any discrimination. When CERD committee members asked about the scheduled caste and schedule tribes information in India, the members of Indian delegation declared that caste-color are two different entities.
CERD committee facilitator Alexander Cicileonus expressed severe objection against the comments of Indian delegation about discussion on Indian repot. He made it clear that caste discrimination is tantamount to color discrimination. On December 28th , 2006 the prime minister of India delivered the inaugural speech as part of International Dalith Minority conference declared that caste discrimination is tantamount to apartheid in South Africa is an historic event. He opined, “it is appearing that the Indian delegation took it in easy manner”. He further stated that many cases were registered against foolishly practicing caste discrimination, untouchability by various wings of UNO and other NGOs. He lamented that the persons involved in inter caste marriages were given unconstitutional punishments, killing the couple, committing rape, massacre the relatives, registering fake cases on them is continuing now also. He declared that Daliths are facing troubles in obtaining justice, huge gap exists between constitutional rights and acts against caste discrimination to real life situations. He stated that the recommendations made by National Human Rights commission in 2004 to fill this huge gap and to contain the atrocities against SC and SC people were shelved off by Indian Government.
Other member raised different types of exceptions. One of the main exception is “why Indian government is showing it unwillingness to discuss about caste discrimination in its soil?” They made it clear that Indian government is singing the same old song, discrimination is continued in India as that in South Africa, it will treat it as violating the International Human rights norms. It stated that clarity is missing in the Indian report, it alleged that Indian government is trying to parry the issue. The members who attended for this Geneva conference as the observers from different countries, and International representatives were shocked for the stand taken by the Indian fraternity. Pal Diwakar, convener of NDCHR said “ Indian representatives not showing any interest to discuss about caste discrimination is nothing but violating the international human rights declaration, International community clearly recognized the fact that Indian government not only failed in implementing the acts pertaining to caste discrimination but also insincere in implementing the acts.
After a brief discussion over the facts submitted by Indian representatives to CERD committee, in 2007 the committee recommended the following constructive directives to the Indian Government.
Some of the excepts are:
• According to the charter-1 of the Organization for annihilation of all race discriminations, caste discrimination will fall under the limits of “discriminations annihilation Committee”
• Adequate funds to be allocated and facilities necessary for acquiring the rights for the people of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe in district, state budgets. Proper implementation of human rights protection act – 1955 and SC, ST Atrocities prevention act – 1989 at the village level.
• Stringent actions to be taken against the persons who practice untouchability. Measures to be taken against discrimination and social divisions in schools and living places. Equal representation to be given to Daliths to enter int Temples, Hospitals, water resources and other open places.
• Effective protection to be given to Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes without any discrimination. Mandatory training to be given to Lawyers, Judges and Police about SC, ST atrocities prevention act – 1989 and make it statutory. Strict actions to be initiated against police officers, law officers, who pay negligence towards preventing atrocities , implementation of laws.
• Culprits who commit crime on Daltih and forest dwelling women and exploiting them to be punished severely. Proper training to be given to police to stop such heinous crimes. Wide spread advertisement to be given for peoples understanding. Compensation to be paid for the victims in gaining judiciary, medical and moral strength.
• According the Human Rights Protection act – 1955 section – 12, responsibility of victims procedures to be considered. Special courts to be established to make the needy aware of all these problems.
• Reservations in Private and Judiciary system to be introduced and implemented as early as possible.
• Acts like Prevention of child marriages act -1929, prevention of dowry act – 1961, Prevention of Jogini system to be properly implemented.
• Crimes on couples involved in inter caste marriages to be stopped with iron hand. Rehabilitation to be given for that couple. Culprits to be punished severely. To prevent such offensives, proper training and understanding to be given police, Judges, Lawyers, leaders, teachers and people.
• Stopping Daliths, especially Dalith women from venturing into the fields of upper castes to be curtailed. SC, ST act to be invoked against culprits if needed.
• All measurements to be taken to safe guard the interests of Daliths who converted in Islam, Christianity, Buddism and Sikh religions. Preventing Daliths fall pry for any discrimination.
• Ban to be imposed against scavengers who lift human excreta with hands. Slavery to be eradicated. Minimum wages act – 1948, equal wages act, prevention of slavery act – 1976, Manual scavengers, Ban on Dry Latrine construction – 1993 acts to be implemented with firm will.
• Equal opportunities to be provided for Daliths in fair price shops, necessary health facilities to be provided. Reproduction related medical facilities, safe drinking facilities to be provided. The number of primary health centers and doctors to be increased in Daliths, and forest dwelling areas.
• Effective measures to be taken to minimize the drop out rate in the schools. Scholarships and other perks to be offered to the Dalith Children. Proper understanding to be given to the parents about the importance of class room education.
• Isolating the Dalith students to be restricted in the class rooms. All necessary actions to be taken against discrimination on Dalith students in mid day meals scheme. Admissions to be given to Dalith students in the schools of upper caste living areas.
• Protection to be given to the victims and witnesses in the cases of clashes, crimes. Petitions to be booked in accordance with SC, ST atrocities prevention act -1989, trialed and punished. Compensation, rehabilitation to be provided for the victims. Special courts to be constituted in all states and union territories to speed up SC, ST atrocities prevention cases.
• According to the above recommendations, the Indian government has to submit its report by 2010. There is a danger of going waste of above recommendations in accordance with the acts meant for protection of Daliths. The activist who are working for the Dalith Human Rights, organizations Struggles, Intellectuals should make the implementation of above recommendations as their primary agenda. These recommendations are nothing but the mirror images of various Dalith organizations fighting for their demands. Hence, Dalith movements should bear the duty of proper implementation of the above recommendations. Otherwise, these recommendations will not be implemented. All organizations, societies, parties should go ahead with an agenda of implementing the above recommendations as their prime demand
Karthik Navayan in association with Dr. Sirivella Prasad – 24.04.2007