On March 25, 2014, 31 women from a nondescript remote village in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh were arrested for protesting against the starting of the work of the 180MW Bajoli Holi Power Project. The opposition to the GMR project is almost 2 years old, but in recent past the situation in the area has become sensitive as Police-on-demand have been stationed to assist the company in carrying out their construction activities by addressing any ‘law and order’ situation. While the women were released on bail the next day, a series of cases were filed against them including promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty, rioting, unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, criminal intimidation and using criminal force to commit theft. Despite this, the women continued their 24 hour agitation at the project site. Since then, several incidents of threat and intimidation have occurred, with the local contractors, politicians as well as the District Administration exercising pressure for the women to call off their protest.
In this situation, in April 2014, as groups concerned for the issues being raised by the women and in support of their democratic rights, an independent all women’s fact finding team visited the area and interacted with the local women and men. This document attempts to trace the history and background of the agitation and examine the demands being raised by the communities living in the affected villages. The fact-finding team also shares its observations of the situation on the ground.
“Speak! The Truth Is Still Alive” is an effort to expose and analyse the continuing onslaught of sexual violence against the Dalit girls and women in the state of Haryana in North India. This report i s based on a series of visits by WSS members to villages in the districts of Rohtak, Hisar, Jind, Karnal and Kurukshetra, and interviews with some survivors and their families. WSS holds that it is incumbent on feminists, women’s movements and democratic rights movements to join Dalit movements and Dalit feminists in confronting and questioning the apathy and silence that shrouds the issue of sexual violence against Dalit women in Haryana. This report seeks to bring some of the most recent of these violations under scrutiny, to expose the institutional mechanisms that provide immunity and impunity to perpetrators, and collude with them to attack and intimidate those who are struggling for justice. Click here to read the report.
A joint team comprising Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) from Punjab, People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) from Delhi visited Bhagana village of Hisar district on May 13, 2014. The main purpose of this visit was to meet the villagers after the gruesome gang rape incident of the four Dalit girls earlier on March 23 by five men of the Jat community and to understand its links with the ongoing struggle that the Dalit community has been waging since May 2012 for access to common land. You can access the report here.
On 24th August 2013, a 20 year old Dalit girl was brutally raped and murdered in Jind, Haryana, while she was on her way to write an examination. Her body was found near a canal the next day by the police. There were cigarette burn marks on her body and significant indications of sexual violence.
The gross negligence of the Haryana police and administration in following established investigative procedure was apparent when even after four days the culprits were not identified or arrested, and there was no progress on the investigation beyond sending it for post mortem. Further, coverage from national media and other national activists was also not forthcoming.
The All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) put together a fact finding committee of activists, journalists and groups including WSS to visit the area and ascertain the facts of the case. From their preliminary investigation, the fact finding team strongly felt that this is a case of possible rape and murder that deserves to be rigorously investigated.
Click here for the report of their observations and findings.
On November 14, 2012, media reported that five Maoists had been killed and one captured during an encounter between the security forces and the Sabyasachi Panda faction in the Bhaliaguda forest area of Gobindapur panchayat of Gajapati district (bordering Ganjam), which falls in the jurisdiction of Mohana Police Station.
Subsequent media reports carried the press statement of Sabyasachi Panda stating that those killed were innocent villagers, and that none of his party cadre or he had been hurt. On November 18, the families of the deceased also denied that they were linked with the Maoists. From media and other reports, it clearly appears that the state is hushing up these fake encounters.
The Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) called for a fact-finding and a six-member team consisting of individuals representing civil liberties and democratic rights organisations from Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh visited the area on Dec 8 and 9, 2012.
This report contains their observations and findings.
Click here for a copy of the report.