Swachchakar Dignity

A blog to give you first hand reports on the conditions of Swachchkar community, their issues and concerns. A campaign for complete abolition of scavenging practices and brigning forth the growing voices of change with in the community.

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Learning through working. Working at the grassroots made me realise the big difference between those who claim to represent communities as well as the communities themselves. Common man is crushed between the ambitions of various individuals to lead and dominate. The dominant and high numbered communities will always dominate our discourse and the most marginalised are losing in this entire discourse. That is the reason why Mushahar remain at the marginalised and the issue of manual scavenging still not on our top agenda and to eliminate that the community has to decide its own organisations..


I am devoted to freedom of ideas and expression. I personally feel that we in the subcontinent want to dominate and control our discourse and each one of is a ultra nationalist in terms of their caste and community. Nationalism is not just national and political but it is equally in term of religion and caste. I feel each kind of nationalism is a dominant discourse which deny the dissenter a right to speak.

At the end, we all want to listen the truth suitable to us.. we have become expertised in the art of speaking truth of convenience. As long as that remain hall mark of our society and we speak to already converts, this society will remain stagnant, it will always try to control our ideas and choices. We need to oppose any such perception, ideas that want to control our mind and victimise us.

To understand India further, I feel, it is good to do foot walk, ( Padyatras) to various parts of the country. I have so far done it thrice covering nearly 1500-2000 kilometers. It is always interesting to see how people are coping their issues and what is the reason of their exploitation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When will manual scavenging be eliminated ?

NAC forces govt to act on manual scavenging

As a consequence of a stinging reminder from the National Advisory Council headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on still prevalent manual scavenging, an interministerial group headed by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik on Friday decided to set a fresh self-imposed deadline to end the shameful practice identified with only specific communities in society.

The meeting also decided to set a timetable to end the system of constructing dry latrines in the states besides setting up an official level committee to look into modalities on conducting a fresh survey to identify the exact number of manual scavengers in the country.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry, Urban Development Ministry and the Railway Ministry.

Three months ago, the NAC passed a resolution observing that the inhuman practice of "manual scavenging still persists in India despite being outlawed" and underlined that "governments have been weak" in implementing the Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 besides pointing out that no one had been punished under the law in the last 17 years.

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According to officials, a status report sought by Wasnik in the meeting acknowledged that barring one, not a single case had been registered in any of the 20 odd states as well as UTs which had themselves adopted the central law through resolutions in the state assemblies. Uttar Pradesh was the only state to have registered 20,000 cases so far under the Act, yet there was not a single case of prosecution, the status report said.

Those found guilty of constructing a dry latrine or employing another person to carry human waste are to be punished with imprisonment for upto a year along with a fine up to Rs 2000.

What has posed more problems for the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry is that it has been spending hundreds of crores on a rehabilitation programme to end manual scavenging, without success. The ministry claims numbers have come down though complete eradication is yet to take place. From 7.70 lakh manual scavengers reported by the states in 1992, the figure came down to less than half when 4.2 lakh beneficiaries were rehabilitated in 2005, officials contend. The figure further dropped to 1.18 lakh in 18 states out of which 78,941 beneficiaries were rehabilitated by March 31, last year.


--
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Visit my blog at
www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

For information on the issues, movements and priorities of Scavenger community in India please log on to
www.swachchakar.blogspot.com
For information on civil society initiatives on Muslims in UP please log on to
www.rehnumaa.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter at freetohumanity

Skype at vbrawat


For Social action, land rights, right to food and hunger issues support Social Development Foundation at  www.thesdf.org

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

India's Shunned Latrine Cleaners Toil Despite Ban


By Tripti Nath
WeNews correspondent
Sunday, February 6, 2011


India banned manual cleaning of latrines in 1993. Eight years ago, an advocacy group petitioned the court to enforce the law. A new documentary tells the story of the lives of 300,000 workers, mostly women, who do this degrading work.



NEW DELHI (WOMENSENEWS)--For half of her life Jaanki, a 70-year-old widow in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state, has eked out a living cleaning latrines and carrying human excreta on her head, sometimes for as long as an hour, to the nearest drain.

Manual scavenging is the only way of life for her and the other women at the center of the recent documentary "Marching Towards Freedom," screened at a conference here in December.

For this nauseating work--banned by law in 1993--the workers get paid by each client household 30 rupees (less than $1 U.S.) per month.



The women are "Bhangis," a sub-caste of Dalits, who occupy the lowest tier in this nation's caste hierarchy.

The film about their labor was made by filmmaker Gopal Menon, who traveled to 20 of India's 28 states to depict the widespread practice.

India is home to about 300,000 manual scavengers, 85 percent of whom are women, according to estimates by the Safai Karamchari Andolan, a New Delhi-based group that monitors the outlawed practice. Any person who breaks the law by employing a manual scavenger faces punishment of up to year in prison, but the film shows the large extent to which the law is ignored.

Bezwada Wilson, founder of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, commissioned the film.

In 2003, Wilson organized workers to protest against manual scavenging and women across the country took to the streets to burn the cane and bamboo baskets they use for carrying the human excreta.

Petitioning Supreme Court
That same year, Wilson's group petitioned the Supreme Court to require strict enforcement of the 18-year-old scavenging ban, which requires conversion of latrines and rehabilitation for manual scavengers.

"We have full faith in the judiciary and we hope that they will address the problems of the most marginalized sections of society with due sensitivity," Wilson said in a recent interview.

Bindeshwar Pathak is the founder of Sulabh International, a nongovernment organization that has developed flush compost toilets to replace bucket toilets cleaned by manual scavengers.

"In 140 years, from the time the British introduced the sewage treatment facility for the first time in Calcutta in 1870, only 269 out of 5,161 towns in urban India have sewage treatment plants," Pathak said.

He added that Sulabh International has shown India "an affordable solution for an appropriate, indigenous and culturally-acceptable technology that can be put to effective use to discontinue manual scavenging."

Jaanki, one of the manual scavengers who attended the December conference, says the work is ostracizing, even for women in her state, which is governed by Mayawati, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party and a Dalit herself.

"People turn their back on us and don't even want our shadow to fall on them," she said.

|More
Even Children Recoil
Kusum, 40, who began working as a manual scavenger at 15 in Uttar Pradesh, said that even her children recoil.

"I begin my day at half past six. When I return home past lunch time, my children ask me to sit at a distance until I have bathed. It hurts me, but I laugh it off as they are my children," she said in an interview at the sidelines of the December conference. As she spoke she tried to hold back tears.

Sripati Devi, 50, from Chhapra in the state of Bihar, gave up manual scavenging in 2010. In an interview at the conference she said she would rather die than carry soil on her head again. "At work, I would put a beetle leaf between my teeth to avoid vomiting. We also faced so much discrimination. Villagers would drive us away from the community well."

One of the worst problems is that when women decide to leave the work there is often no other way for them to earn a living.

The work is also linked to health ailments such as asthma, skin diseases and back pain, one advocate said at the conference.

Bhasha Singh, a roving editor of a Hindi national daily, has studied the issues confronted by these women across 10 states over the last seven years.

"Nowhere have I come across women scavengers wearing gloves or boots," she said in an interview. "I have met women scavengers who have had miscarriages and are living with leucoderma and severe allergies. In some states, I met women who feel repulsed by the sight of yellow color and are not able to use turmeric, the ubiquitous Indian spice.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Copy of Supreme Court's Historic Order

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

<span>CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(s). 889 OF 2007</span>

 

 

ARUP BHUYAN                                 Appellant (s)

 

                        VERSUS

 

STATE OF ASSAM                              Respondent(s)

 

<span>O  R  D  E  R</span>

 

     Heard learned counsel for the parties.

     This Appeal has been filed against the impugned judgment of the Designated Court, Assam at Guwahati dated 28.03.2007 passed in TADA Sessions Case No. 13 of 1991.

     The facts have already been set out in the impugned judgment and hence we are not repeating the same here except wherever necessary.

     The appellant is alleged to be a member of ULFA and the only material produced by the prosecution against the appellant is his alleged confessional statement made before the Superintendent of Police in which he is said to have identified the house of the deceased.

     Confession to a police officer is inadmissible vide Section 25 of the Evidence Act, but it is admissible in TADA cases vide Section 15 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987.

                        :1:

 

     Confession is a very weak kind of evidence.  As is well known, the wide spread and rampant practice in the police in India is to use third degree methods for extracting confessions from the alleged accused.  Hence, the courts have to be cautious in accepting confessions made to the police by the alleged accused. 

     Unfortunately, the police in our country are not trained in scientific investigation (as is the police in Western countries) nor are they provided the technical equipments for scientific investigation, hence to obtain a conviction they often rely on the easy short cut of procuring a confession under torture.

 

     Torture is such a terrible thing that when a person is under torture he will confess to almost any crime. Even Joan of Arc confessed to be a witch under torture.  Hence, where the prosecution case mainly rests on the confessional statement made to the police by the alleged accused, in the absence of corroborative  material, the courts must be hesitant before they accept such extra-judicial confessional statements.

     In the instant case, the prosecution case mainly relies on the alleged confessional statement of the appellant made before   the Superintendent   of   Police,   which is  an

                        :2:

 

 

extra-judicial confession and there is absence of corroborative material. Therefore, we are of the opinion that it will not be safe to convict the accused on the basis of alleged confessional statement.

     For the reasons stated above, we are in agreement with the impugned judgment so far as it has taken the view that the confessional statement in question cannot be acted upon as the sole basis for conviction of the appellant.    

     However, the TADA Court has convicted the appellant under Section 3(5) of the TADA which makes mere membership of a banned organisation criminal. Although the appellant has denied that he was a member of ULFA, which is a banned organisation. Even assuming he was a member of ULFA it has not been proved that he was an active member and not a mere passive member.

     In <span>State of Kerala</span>  Vs. <span>Raneef</span>, 2011 (1) SCALE 8, we have respectfully agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in <span>Elfbrandt</span> Vs.  <span>Russell</span>,  384 U.S. 17 (1966) which has rejected the doctrine of <span>'guilt by association'</span>.  Mere membership of a banned organisation will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or does an act intended to create disorder or  disturbance  of public  peace  by  resort  to

                        :3:

 

violence (See : also the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in <span>Kedar Nath</span>  Vs.  <span>State of Bihar</span>, AIR 1962 SCC 955 para 26).

     In <span>Clarence Brandenburg</span>  Vs. <span>State of Ohio</span>,  395 U.S. 444 (1969) the U.S. Supreme Court went further and held that mere "advocacy or teaching the duty, necessity, or propriety" of violence as a means of accomplishing political  or industrial reform, or publishing or circulating or displaying any book or paper containing such advocacy, or justifying the commission of violent acts with intent to exemplify, spread or advocate the propriety of the doctrines of criminal syndicalism, or to voluntarily assemble with a group formed "to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism" is not per seillegal. It will become illegal only if it incites to imminent lawless action. The statute under challenge was hence held to be unconstitutional being violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

     In <span>United States</span>  Vs.  <span>Eugene Frank Robel</span>, 389 U.S. 258, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a member of a communist organisation could not be regarded as doing an unlawful act by merely obtaining employment in a defence facility.                       

 4.    We respectfully agree with the above decisions, and are

of the opinion that they apply to India too, as our fundamental rights are similar to the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.

     In our opinion, Section 3(5) cannot be read literally otherwise it will violate Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.  It has to be read in the light of our observations made above.  Hence, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.

     Hence, the conviction of the appellant under Section 3(5) of the TADA is also not sustainable.

     The impugned judgment of the Designated Court, Assam at Guwahati dated 28.03.2007 passed in TADA Sessions Case No. 13 of 1991 is set aside and the Appeal stands allowed.


     By Order dated 29.10.2007 this Court had directed that the appellant be released on bail on his furnishing adequate security to the satisfaction of the trial court.  Security furnished by the appellant in pursuance of Order                dated 29.10.2007 shall stand discharged.

 

 

                             ..........................J.

                             (MARKANDEY KATJU)

 

 

 

                             ..........................J.

                             (GYAN SUDHA MISRA)

NEW DELHI;

FEBRUARY 03, 2011.      :5:



--
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Visit my blog at
www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

For information on the issues, movements and priorities of Scavenger community in India please log on to
www.swachchakar.blogspot.com
For information on civil society initiatives on Muslims in UP please log on to
www.rehnumaa.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter at freetohumanity

Skype at vbrawat


For Social action, land rights, right to food and hunger issues support Social Development Foundation at  www.thesdf.org

Friday, February 04, 2011

Supreme Court's Historic Judgement



We should try to get a full text of this judgement and must be send across the country. Dalits, tribals, Minorities and human rights defenders are being targeted by the police and intelligence for being part of some ideology just because they are raising issues of their rights. Reading books and raising uncomfortable questions have become crime in India. Hundreds of activists have been arrested. It is time these matters should reach to each one of our friends who have been humiliated, and targeted by the state. 

regards,

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Just being member of banned outfit not a crime: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Members of banned organizations cannot be treated as criminals by police till they indulge in or incite violence, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday. 

The apex court's Friday ruling is part of a judgment acquitting Arup Bhuyan, convicted by a Guwahati court under the now lapsed anti-terror law Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. Bhuyan was a suspected member of the outlawed secessionist outfit United Liberation Front of Assam ( Ulfa) which figures at the top of the home ministry`s list of banned organizations. 

"Mere membership of a banned organization will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence," a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra said. 

The order can have a bearing on the plans of outlawed outfits which include terror and insurgent groups. The list of 32 banned organizations on the website of ministry of home affairs includes al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Students` Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), CPI(M-L) and allied formations, militant groups active in north-eastern states, Khalistan Commando Force, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, International Sikh Youth Federation, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen and Al Badr. 

Exactly a month ago, the same Bench had upheld bail to a doctor arrested for treating a man accused of chopping off the hand of a Kerala professor for setting a controversial question paper. 

The January 3 judgment had said, "Mere membership of a banned organization will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or does an act intended to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence." 

The trial court had convicted Bhuyan based on his confession to police, admissible as evidence under TADA. Bhuyan had appealed in Supreme Court. 

Allowing his petition, the court said his conviction was based on "a very weak kind of evidence" and could not be sustained in the absence of corroborative material. 

On the confessions, Justices Katju and Misra expressed strong views. "As is well known, the widespread and rampant practice in the police in India is to use third-degree methods for extracting confessions from the alleged accused. Hence, the courts have to be cautious in accepting confessions made to the police by the alleged accused," the Bench said. 

Police often extracted confession from an accused because they were neither trained nor equipped with gadgets to conduct scientific investigation like their western counterparts, the Bench said, adding, "Hence, to obtain a conviction, they often rely on the easy short-cut of procuring a confession under torture." The court added, "Torture is such a terrible thing that when a person is under torture, he will confess to almost any crime. Even Joan of Arc confessed to be a witch under torture."


Read more: Just being member of banned outfit not a crime: Supreme Court - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Just-being-member-of-banned-outfit-not-a-crime-Supreme-Court/articleshow/7428601.cms#ixzz1D2vCXIK9

--
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Visit my blog at
www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

For information on the issues, movements and priorities of Scavenger community in India please log on to
www.swachchakar.blogspot.com
For information on civil society initiatives on Muslims in UP please log on to
www.rehnumaa.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter at freetohumanity

Skype at vbrawat


For Social action, land rights, right to food and hunger issues support Social Development Foundation at  www.thesdf.org

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

High Court on Manual Scavenging

Times of India

on manual scavenging

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to approach the Centre to bring in necessary amendments in the law for effective implementation of ban on the practice of manual scavengingin the state. 

The first bench comprising chief justice M Yusuf Eqbal and justice TS Sivagnanam was passing further orders on a contempt of court petitions against the municipal administration and Metrowater authorities. It also requested the additional solicitor-general, M Ravindran, to pursue the matter with the Centre and get the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993 amended. 

It all began with a public interest writ petition filed by a Chennai-based non-governmental organisation against the widely prevalent practice of manual cleaning of sewers in the city. The high court, expanding the scope of the PIL, imposed a blanket ban on the practice all over the state. It also directed the authorities to constitute a committee to hold periodical meetings and review of the situation. 

However, claiming that the authorities concerned had not made serious efforts to curb the menace and that no periodical meetings were held as per court orders, the NGO initiated the present contempt proceedings. It also named the municipal administration secretary, Ashok Varadhan Shetty, and the Metrowater managing director, Rajesh Lakhoni. Following a notice from the court, the officials appeared in person in the court in December 2010. 

When the matter came up for further hearing, government advocate M Sneha furnished a copy of a letter dated January 25, stating that the state government has requested the Centre to make suitable amendments to the Act for the effective implementation of the directions of the court. 

Recording the submissions, it directed the state to approach the Centre, and requested additional solicitor-general of South India Ravindran to do the needful for the speedy amendment of the Act. 







Read more: HC tells govt to approach Centre for amending law on manual scavenging - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/HC-tells-govt-to-approach-Centre-for-amending-law-on-manual-scavenging/articleshow/7407900.cms#ixzz1CsGMuVx9

--
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Visit my blog at
www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

For information on the issues, movements and priorities of Scavenger community in India please log on to
www.swachchakar.blogspot.com
For information on civil society initiatives on Muslims in UP please log on to
www.rehnumaa.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter at freetohumanity

Skype at vbrawat


For Social action, land rights, right to food and hunger issues support Social Development Foundation at  www.thesdf.org