Thursday, 24 September 2020

Perpetuating Caste Hierarchy

Updated: June 12, 2010 12:12 pm

Anil and Som Prakash (name changed), residents of Kamashpur, a village on national highway one about 45 kilometres from Delhi, have a number of things in common. Both are short, thin and darkish in colour. Both practiced their professions in Sonepat, a city about 10 kilometres from their hamlet. While the former worked as a fashion designer, the latter, a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP), assisted a doctor. Both fell in love with Punjabi girls in Sonepat during their youth. But this is where their analogy ended. While Anil married the Punjabi girl with the concurrence of his in-laws and is proud father of a baby boy now, Som Parkash ended up in a hospital with few fractured bones.

            For Anil is son of a large, affluent Brahmin family, Som Parkash belongs to a Scheduled Caste. And this was Som Parkash’s undoing. The Punjabi family felt it was a disgrace to accept a Scheduled Caste as a son-in-law. His girlfriend’s brother beat him up in public. Today Som Parkash is married to a girl from his own caste and practicing medicine in his village. But he is yet to get over the humiliation his girlfriend’s family handed out to him for being in love.

            However, Som Parkash was fortunate in a way that his village panchayat never got involved in his case despite him being from a lower caste.

            The family of Sunil, a blacksmith boy, can still not enter Sarsauli, a village in Jhajjar district in Haryana because its ward eloped with Santosh, daughter of Gonsais, an upper caste family, six years back. The village panchayat announced a social boycott of the blacksmith family forcing it to leave the village for good. Such is the terror of panchayat that nobody in the village is even prepared to pose for a photograph outside the abandoned house of blacksmiths. They fear that the panchayat may misinterpret their act as sympathy towards the blacksmiths.

            “I do not want to get on the opposite side of the panchayat,” says Vijay Pal, a villager, refusing to even point at the house.

            Sunil and Santosh got married in a Panipat court and are into hiding. Leave aside Sarsauli, the young has not been seen in Haryana since 2004. “We tried to trace them but in vain. I do not think they will ever come to

the village. People will not allow them to enter,” declares Krishan Kumar, brother of a former Sarpanch. The village blames Santosh’s mother Kailash for being lax towards her daughter. “They say I failed to control my daughter. Sunil entrapped my innocent daughter and brought shame on us. Nobody wants to marry in my family now,” she complains.

            Ironically, the same village panchayat was a mute spectator when Naresh, a Brahmin boy in the village married a backward caste girl Mukesh a year before Sunil-Santosh episode happened. Naresh and Mukesh teach in a college in a nearby city and often visit their families in the village. “They are educated and wealthy people. Who will take on them?” asks Vijay pal.

            Sunil-Santosh’s story has a gorier replication in Abupur, a village on the outskirts of Ghaziabad. Harish, son of a potter dared to fall in love with Rinki, a Jat girl living across the street. The duo eloped to Rishikesh in 2003. When the powerful Jat family warned the potters, the latter hurriedly dispatched Harish to his Nana’s (maternal grandfather) place to learn tailoring. But Rinki, the more audacious of the two, somehow got to know Harish’s whereabouts and in January 2004 landed up at his place one fine evening. When she declined to leave Harish, the Jat family told her they would marry them off. The young couple moved an application for civil marriage in a Ghaziabad court the next day. But that was the last heard about them.

            The two families filed complaints against each other in Newari police station. Harish’s parents left the village out of fear. His uncle, Tarachand, who looks after their dilapidated house, accused the Jat family of murdering the lovers. “Gun shots were heard in a house in Loni where Harish’s parents were settled and Rinki’s family was seen carrying her body. Ask them,” he says in a hushed tone. Rinki’s parents Pradeep and Usha hurl the allegation back to the potters. “They abducted our daughter. They should be asked where she is,” they say in unison.

            Newari police has forgotten about the case. “I do not think it will be possible to find out about the case. It may have been closed,” says KK Rana, in charge of Newari police post adding that he joined the police only three months back. MM Baig, Superintendent of Police (Rural) in Ghaziabad, bags for more time to find about the old case.

            In another case, a Scheduled Caste family in Charkhi village (of Charkhi Dadri) has been living in fear since its son Sunil dared to slope with Sumita, a girl belonging to a Thakur family from a neighbouring village six years back. Such was the fear of reprisal that Sunil’s parents on their volition called a panchayat and disowned their son.


           Breaking The Barrier


Certain politicians are leaders in the real sense when it comes to inter-caste and inter-faith marriages. A number of young leaders across the political parties—Indian Youth Congress (IYC) president Ashok Tanwar, Ajmer MP Sachin Pilot, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra, BJP leaders Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi—have chosen their partners from other castes and religions.

            Hussain, a former Union Minister, said that he met his wife Renu first time in a bus in Delhi in 1986. They were students then. For him it was love at first sight. They decided to tie the knot after eight years of courtship. Hussain says religion was not a barrier for them and they faced no opposition from their respective families.

            Hussain had no inkling that he would become a politician in future. “I was thinking of earning a living from a nine-to-five kind of job. Shahnawaz and Renu have lived happily since then and have two sons. So do Payal and Omar, Sara and Sachin and others.

            Seema and Mukhtar faced opposition from their families before their marriage in 1985. “Those days were different. The families took time to accept such things,” the latter says. He feels the inter-faith and inter-caste marriages are as good or bad as the arranged marriages. “There is not much difference. Arranged marriages can also fail.”

            Abdullahs who stayed off Sara and Sachin’s marriage for fear of antagonising their electorate in Jammu and Kashmir have reconciled their differences. Farooq made a perfect picture for lensmen during his swearing-in when he held Sachin and Omar in his arms.


Sunil’s grandmother Shanti who is the only one left in the village (Sunil’s parents have shifted to Charkhi Dadri city), blames her predicament on her grandson. “It is his fault. Why did he fall for an upper caste girl? He has put us in grave danger,” she claims. Sunil’s mother Angoori supports her when she says the lower castes have no right to marry in an upper caste family. “Woh bade log hain, hum chhote (they are big people. We are small.) How can we think of marrying into their family?” she asks.

            Sunil-Sumita case found an echo in a village on the outskirts of Gurgaon. Here again when a Scheduled Caste boy Hariom married Manju, a Jat girl and secured protection from the Supreme Court in 2004, the boy’s family publicly disowned him. “We’ve disowned him for the time being. Who will take on the powerful jats?” Pradeep, a cousin of Hariom, had told this writer then.

            Ironically, Vinod, a Jat boy in Birhor, a village near Dadri, faced no such dilemma. Not only Vinod married Chandni, a Baniya’s daughter from Dadri but even fought a case till the girl’s father accepted the match. Another Jat boy, Vijender in Jodhka village in Sirsa district, married Kamlesh, a Scheduled Caste girl from his village and is living happy in the village itself. He runs a photography studio and his wife has a tailoring shop in the village.


           CASTE CENSUS

Could Become A Body Blow To Social Cohesion


Young of India suffer in umpteen ways. Begin from infant mortality rates, you proceed to notice that millions and millions of children are deprived of their childhood and education, leaving little chance for any improvement in their quality of life in years ahead. It has continued all along for over six decades. The young of today witness political alliances that are more interested in their political survival than the future of India. In doing so, they do not hesitate to accept propositions that could ruin every possible trace of social cohesion and harmony. Young persons also learn gradually how the solemn assurance of equality and social justice contained in the constitution of India is traumatised by vested interests for personal gains at the cost of national interests. The constitution clearly enshrines that Indian society shall have no place for caste-based

differences in any form or format. It is often a rule than an exception that the genesis of caste system is misplaced and misrepresented. What needs to be pointed in textbooks and in public discourse that caste was an aberration of the Varanashrama system that had been a part of the Sanatan Dharma; or one can say Sanatan Hindu Dharma? It represented four broad divisions of labor in the society. Such a division is accepted even by sociologists like Emile Durkheim who in his treatise “Division of Labour in Society” stipulates that without clear-cut division of labour, no society can exist or progress. Then came the specialisations within the broad categories; a carpenter just cannot be a goldsmith as well! Transfer from one jati to another was socially permissible and was taking place in large numbers. This could be best explained if one recalls that in Indonesia, even today the teachers are known as Brahmins and the army personnel as Kshatriyas! One brother could be a teacher (Brahmin) and the other an Army man (Kshatriya)! There is ample evidence to show that jati was ever a fixed notion in India. One of the Hymns in Rig-Veda narrates about a family: I am a Brahmin as I teach in a gurukula; my brother is a Kshatriyas and serves in the Army; Father is Vaishya, he does arrange for the running of the household; the mother performs all the chores, prepares food and ensures good food and good health for the family; hence in the fourth varna. Now everyone knows that Mothers were respected most in the family; at least in the Rig-Veda times! Enlightened Indians never gave any importance to caste classification. Once, when asked about his caste, Acharya Kripalani elaborated that he belonged to all the four Varnas: Brahmin when he teaches, Kshatriya when he ensures safety and security of his people; Vaishya when he has to manage the running of his household and a Shudra when he ensures cleanliness and maintenance all around! Who cares about the caste of Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad or Subhash Chandra Bose? Yes, Rigidity in caste system was encouraged, covertly and overtly; by the British. The foreign rulers were greatly unnerved by the unprecedented show of unity across the caste and religion diversities in 1857. They made it very clear that Indians must be divided amongst themselves and caste was one of the easily available strategies that they exploited to the hilt. Religious divide that they created resulted in the partition of the country. One wonders what would be the consequence of the revival of the caste strategy for political survival initiated by the caste-based leaders and meekly accepted by most of the others.

            If the emphasis on eradicating caste system had continued vigorously since 1947 onwards, the related issues like the khap killings would not have become a major issue in the year 2010! In the khap region, one now witnesses bloodshed, extortion, exclusion and gruesome murders of young persons in the name of caste and sub caste. It happens practically at regular intervals. The khap panchayat declares a marriage null and void and all the hell breaks out for the young couple and both of their families and all the relatives. Now that media has a widespread presence, most of the incidents and tragedies get reported. Recently in one of the rare cases, death sentence was awarded to of the murder accused in such a case. In a brazen show of defiance of the basics of democratic functioning the khap panchayats now demand constitutional amendment! Shocking; some of them even justify the murders and so-called honour killing! The elected representatives from the concerned region are either keeping mum or talking of age old practices and need to understand the logic of the khap. They have to get their votes in the next election and

that determines their total vision, perspective and thinking. What happens to the future generations and the unity and integrity of India is none of their concerns. Left to themselves; some of them would openly become the flag bearers of the khaps. It is rather amazing, and sometimes amusing, to find the politicians of the concerned region unable to articulate their position via-avis the khap dictates and demands.

            For ages, India has suffered heavily because of the caste system. In the 20th century, it had the fortune of having an enlightened futuristic leadership that realised the enormity of the damages caused in the past and the need for its total eradication at the earliest. The post-independence leadership could not comprehend the value of a casteless society and exploited this traditional social aberration; combined with illiteracy and ignorance, to meet their personal agenda and to cater to the vested interests. They did succeed. India has several caste-based political parties; some of them in power in the states and some are supporting the union government from inside and also from outside! Their support is offered and accepted; even when their policies and agenda clash vehemently with that of the leading national party. Unfortunately; most of the political parties have all along traversed the caste route in deciding their candidates for elections at various stages. It is the consequence of the same that we still have honour killings, caste and sub caste based groups demanding constitutional amendments and politicians finding themselves in a fix! Their political presence is totally dependent on continuation and flourishing of the caste divisions on the social structures. They proposed it in the Parliament of India and the suggestion was accepted by the central government. It came as a shock to all those who still believe in the possible revival of the spirit of freedom struggle, the basic principles enunciated by its stalwarts for the Congress Party and the Constitutional resolve to totally eradicate the caste system. The census of India 2011 shall tell the nation the population of different castes in absolute numbers; percentages and; in every other possible permutation and combination of the data so gathered that may suit the politicians and the vested interests of the manipulators and their machinations. Enlightened citizens, scholars and experts are expressing their anguish in no uncertain terms. It is also clear that nothing will matter more than the issue of the ensuring sufficient support necessary for the survival of the central government! Another example of short term considerations weighing heavily over the nation’s long term interests; including national integration social cohesion and the overall unity and integrity of India! I would be very interesting to see how many Indians refuse to identify their caste? One could be sure that a good percentage of young and enlightened could (would) do so. That would be highly encouraging for the future India.

            A good number of 65+ persons can certainly remember the stark realities of the caste based discrimination that was heaped upon the fellow beings on daily basis practically throughout the country. In 1950 when I joined the Municipal Primary School in a small town Bilgram in the Hardoi District of UP at the age of seven, the first thing told to me was to keep aloof from one of our class mates who used to sit in a distant corner on a chatai he brought everyday from his home. For others, Tat-Pattis were available. It is only one of the early experiences that have made a lasting impact on me in my personal as also the professional life. As the Principal of the Regional Institute of Education in Bhopal for eleven years, I tried to ensure that student teachers get rid of traditional

perceptions on the caste system and; when they become regular teachers, they prepare generations ahead that imbibe the concept of eternal equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, colour, creed, race or location; there is no place for caste in any form or format. After the census, someone would ask a Principal; or a Vice-Chancellor to provide the caste-wise list of all the students enrolled. It will have to be given. Student union elections shall be openly contested on caste basis. Caste- traitors would be punished! I shudder to think of what more could happen in hostels and classrooms after census figures are made available to one and all! One must concede that a lot is happening on caste considerations within the political parties but it has not penetrated to students in educational institutions to that disastrous level. Now onwards, classrooms in universities and colleges shall make young persons conscious of the caste of their neighbours on both the sides. It is well known that in certain states, it is the caste consideration that dominates appointments to the top level positions even in academic institutions. All that would get institutionalised in years to come. Those who are creating such situations are probably still living with a mindset that is at least a century behind the 2010.

            Politicians talk of the young India with its 65 per cent population below 35 years of age. Everyone claims to be working for their welfare. They proclaim that India would be the global leader on several fronts by 2020! Now they are telling us that the same would be possible only when caste is on record to help in the discourse on development and progress. The ideology of progress in India would be governed by caste considerations, and demands for reservations and more reservations. Efforts enunciated and initiated by Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Nehru, Ambedkar and others to root out the very basis of caste system now stand forgotten and quietly ignored by those who claim to be the heirs of their legacy. History of India will not judge the heirs of their legacy generously. One wonders if the trend continues what would happen to a united and integrated India in near future; say; after two decades or so?

            Yes; the fact remains that caste is deep rooted in Indian psyche and it survives even after religious conversions. There are serious caste considerations amongst Muslims, Christians and even Sikhs. However; young people are discarding it and that is the most encouraging aspect. Ever-increasing numbers of inter-caste marriages are taking place. The level of parental resistance is at a far lower level than it was some two decades ago. This is a huge social change that is taking place slowly and silently. It has the potential of making significant contribution in eliminating the caste system in entirety. But the recent decision on caste may reverse the trend. It is a rare example of lack of futuristic vision and foresight for which the nation shall have to pay very dearly in future. Clearly, the possible impact of caste re-enforcement on the youth of India has escaped the attention of the politicians under the thick haze of self-preservation. It would be unfair to say that they know the possible consequences but are still pursuing it!

            The grand old political party that led the freedom movement and worked for total annihilation of the caste system now has a great opportunity to retrieve its lost glory: by reversing its decision to include caste in the census enumeration. It must not ignore the sane voices from the civil society and also from within its own ranks; as is being reported in the media. That requires tremendous courage and; that is now a Utopian commodity.

Thw writer is the former Director of the NCERT and the former Chairperson of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)

 By JS Rajput


Jagmati Sangwan, president of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) in Haryana, agrees that opposition of khap panchayats to inter caste marriages and honour killings are an attempt to perpetuate caste hierarchy and keep the lower castes at the lowest rung of the society.

            “The panchayats want to keep the caste system intact. The inter-caste marriages particularly the ones involving boy from a lower caste and girl from a higher caste, will dissolve the caste system and lead to an egalitarian structure which is not acceptable to the upper castes,” she argues. “Otherwise why is there no opposition to matches where the boy is from a high caste and the girl from a low caste?” she asks.

            Sangwan also sees property right to girl child behind the opposition: “We’ve often heard from the panchayat leadership that (Jawahar Lal) Nehru sowed the seeds of conflict when he bestowed property rights on the girl child. “If an upper caste girl marries a lower caste, she may demand her share of land from her family.”

            Sangwan attributes the blame also on village-level politics. Citing the example of Rampal-Sonia episode (the couple from Asandha village near Sampla was asked by a khap panchayat to treat each other as brother sister because they belonged to Dahiya and Rathi gotras, considered sisterly clans in the area), she says Rampal refused to support a particular candidate during panchayat polls and this candidate then orchestrated the campaign for cancellation of his marriage.


DIMINISHING RETURNS FROM POLITICS OF CASTE

By Barun Mitra

My article titled India Goes Backward on Caste was published in The Wall Street Journal on May 19, 2010. In this article, I pointed out that economic growth and urbanisation had made caste distinctions irrelevant. In cities, people no longer bother to find out the caste identities of others.

            Caste has cast its shadow once again over Indian politics. Over the past few weeks, Parliament has witnessed uproarious scenes on whether to include caste in the once-a-decade census that has just gotten underway. Opinion is split among political leaders, social activists and the public. But far from being ultimately divisive, this debate is a perfect demonstration of how India’s vibrant democracy and growing economy is making caste less and less important.

            For a start, counting castes is increasingly a practical absurdity. When the British tried it as part of the first census in 1881, they identified fewer than 2,000 subcastes, and found that 58 per cent of these groups had a population of less than 1,000. They omitted caste from the 1931 census because they couldn’t standardise the categories in view of enormous local variations.

            Even Indians have problems defining caste. When a commission was set up in the 1980s to identify socially and economically backward classes, it identified more than 4,000 “other backward castes.” Including all the subcastes among the upper castes, there might be around 10,000 castes in India today or more.

            But does any of this really matter? As time goes on, economic growth is eroding strong caste distinctions. Indians who want to escape restrictive social customs in their villages can find economic opportunities and upward mobility in cities. Urbanisation has also provided an opportunity to remain anonymous in a sea of humanity, in contrast to small towns or villages where it was easy for residents to know each other’s ancestry and caste.

            Society is also becoming more tolerant. A century ago, caste-based discrimination prevailed in social and religious practices, marriage customs and eating habits. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who chaired the committee that drafted the Indian Constitution, was forbidden to touch water pots at his school because he was from a lower caste. Barely 40 years ago in New Delhi, it was not uncommon to find Brahmin teachers refusing to eat or drink if they were served by lower castes. Today, students and teachers at government schools participate equally in midday meals, and schools that are found to discriminate on the grounds of caste are castigated.

            Thus the only people who would advocate a caste census would be the people who personally benefit from it; namely, politicians who depend on identity politics to win votes. They hail from mostly smaller parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar or the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. Marginalised from the halls of power, they think a caste census could facilitate the flow of more money and affirmative action programme to their political constituencies.

            This trend started in the late 1980s, when the Congress Party’s grip on power eroded. Smaller parties emerged to seize the political opportunity and sought to mobilise voters based on their regional, religious or caste identities. But to win support, they had to give those groups special benefits. Citizens quickly realised they needed to be classified as certain castes to obtain certain benefits. In the 1990s, so many groups in Andhra Pradesh demanded to be recognised as “backward” that the total number was a figure four times larger than the official population of the state.

            The bigger problem is that playing identity politics has a diminishing marginal return. Indians are generally comfortable with multiple identities—ethnic, linguistic, regional and religious, as well as caste. Hardly any narrow homogeneous identity dominates any specific electoral constituency or region.

            That’s why in a country where over 80 per cent of the population professes to be Hindu, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s attempt to mobilise support based on that identity did not assure them electoral success. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati figured this out in 2007, when she expanded the base of her Bahujan Samaj Party to include all castes, rather than just untouchables. The strategy propelled the party to power by itself for the first time ever in India’s most populous state.

            Thus it’s little surprise that the big political parties the Congress Party and the BJP have mixed views of the calls for a caste census. Since these parties are national in scope, they are naturally more cautious.

            They also understand the limits of Indian politics. The “first past the post system” mandates that the winning candidate must win the maximum number of votes in a geographic constituency. Given the diversity of India’s population, a candidate has to form political coalitions that cut across caste, religious and ethnic identities to have any chance of winning. This is especially true for state or national-level legislative elections and invariably necessitates a degree of compromise.

            More practically, there is a limit to political patronage that can be distributed. The public sector, including national, state and local levels, employs barely 5 per cent of the more than 450 million people in the labor force. Even if all the jobs were reserved for the lowest and backward castes, it would barely make a dent on the socio-economic status of these communities. In addition, finding qualified and competent people from within a lower caste would be a challenge, given 35 per cent of that population is illiterate, and less than 15 per cent of the youth actually enroll for any kind of college education.

            India’s politicians face a clear choice: They can side with the old social order and try to secure their own political future through patronage, or they can discard it, like the rest of the country is doing. Indians are on the move and their many identities are becoming optional. It is the politicians who are in danger of being left behind, exposing the true nature of their own identities.

The author is Director of Liberty Institute, New Delhi.


The AIDWA office bearer looks at the recent political support to khap panchayats (former Haryana Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala and Naveen Jindal, Congress MP from the State have lent support to them) as an outcome of panchayat-level politics. “The panchayat polls are around the corner that is why the politicians are competing with each other to back the khap panchayats,” she notes.


           UPA on Caste Census


The UPA government decided to set up a Group of Ministers (GOM) on the issue of caste enumeration in Census 2011, amidst shrinking opposition to the idea within the Union Cabinet.

            The GOM would be given a “tight schedule,” in case the caste headcount needed to be integrated within the current census operations, but remained reluctant about whether the government had taken a final decision on undertaking a caste-based census at all. The GOM was proposed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who is likely to head it, said that the matter demands a more detailed discussion.

            The GOM would not only work out the modalities of doing a caste headcount along with Census 2011 but also consider whether it would be practical to do so. The sources pointed out that the Cabinet, which spent half an hour on the issue, took cognisance of the mood across the political spectrum in favour of a caste-based census and the possible political fallout in case the government did not heed this. Over half a dozen of the 32 Cabinet ministers, whose views on the issue would be important, were absent from the meeting.

            They include crucial allies like Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Bannerjee and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah. Among the other absentees were Ambika Soni, AK Alagiri, Subodh Kant Sahay, Kanti Lal Bhuria and A Raja.The home ministry has its reservations on a caste-based census. The ministry has suggested that the caste count be linked to the NPR instead of the 2011 census. Home ministry sources were apprehensive that a caste-based census could be a farce if politically conscious communities exaggerate their family size in order to tap perceived benefits flowing from it. This had happened in Nagaland, which showed a whopping 60 per cent population growth between 1991-2001 because some tribes pitched their numbers high to corner a large piece of the development cake so much so that the state government had to reject the report. Home Minister P Chidambaram said that the best time to go for a caste-based headcount would be after the census figures were tabulated, during the biometric capture phase when photographing, fingerprinting and iris mapping of citizens for the National Population Register (NPR) is to be done. However, others in the Cabinet felt it could be done at the second stage of enumeration.

            The most vocal was Minister for Law Veerappa Moily was in full support to census-based head-count. Pointing out that caste is a social reality in India, he emphasised that an official set of numbers would help the government better target its numerous welfare schemes.

            At the Cabinet meeting, at least three ministers in principle opposed the caste-based census. Kapil Sibal and MS Gill questioned the move that would revive an issue that was buried after 1931 the last time such a count was conducted.

            With both the major parties succumbing to OBC pressure and very visible negotiations between the Yadav leaders and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Parliament, it was felt that inclusion of caste in the enumeration exercise was a done deal. But while this may still be the case, there is a feeling that the Cabinet meeting may see some sharp divergence.


Besides the caste hierarchy, the khap panchayats’ diktats and honour killings are also haves’ way of oppressing the have-nots and denying fundamental rights to women. The murder of Manoj and Babli in a village in Karnal district, public beating of Zahira (the married woman eloped with Suleman to Agra from Machheran village in Meerut. When Suleman fell ill and died, she returned to Machheran. Blaming her for Suleman’s death, the villagers tied her to a tree and ordered stone pelting on her. She was saved by the area SSP after three hours.) and rape of Bhuvaneswari Devi (a teacher in Sankarikala of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh) on the orders of panchayat because she loved a colleague in school should be seen in this context.

 By Narendra Kaushik

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