Sunday, August 29, 2010

Children hit for sitting on mat 'reserved' for upper caste students

Unbelievable it may seem but over a dozen children were brutally beaten up by teachers in a government school for 'daring' to sit at the place reserved for upper caste kids in the class.

This shocking incident of casteist cruelty was ignored by national media, particularly, TV channels that raise the racism bogey and turn jingoist when an Indian is roughed up in either Australia or America, for whatever reason.

In this case, the Dalit or Lower Caste [sic] children are supposed to unroll the mat and even sweep floors before the classes start but when it comes to sitting on the mat, they have to leave the space and either sit on the rag-tag mat or on the bare floor.

When they sat on the place where Thakur children used to sit, angry teachers--Shantilal Parihar and DP Yadav beat them up. Mercifully, the incident which occurred in Dongra Dongai village was not far from urban area and it got reported. The case was registered under Juvenile Justice Act.

The fact that children face such attitudes in government schools and such reports are not taken seriously clearly shows that the media large remains oblivious to atrocities on Dalits. At least, the news could have caused alarm as in this case the victims were minor children.

The incident occurred in Ashok Nagar district in Madhya Pradesh last week. Children as young as five and six year old were beaten. One or two local papers, particularly Nai Dunia, gave it some importance while the rest ignored it or published it as a small one column report. The irony is that intense casteism is prevalent across the country, especially in rural areas but mainstream media doesn't seem to have any affect.

Caste remains a harsh reality in rural India. Our national attitude towards it remains
In large parts of North India, it is impossible for Dalits to ride a horse during a marriage procession. There are still separate cups for tea in shops in several parts or they are asked to wash their own utensils. But lack of sensitisation among journalists is a reason for ignoring such issues.

It is a fact that often journalists sensationalise extremely minor and trivial issues while such incidents of inhumanity are considered 'nothing', as they are 'part of tradition'  in the regions. The reality is that even when such cases are reported, a section feels that the complaint may be exaggerated for 'financial gains' or harassing others by misusing the provisions of Atrocities on SC/ST Act, though they forget that the much-feared Act has hardly any conviction rate in the country. Even Dalit activists hardly bother about such incidents.