Tag Archives: Dalits in Punjab

Caste Discrimination in Punjab


Total Dalit population in Punjab – 32%.
Total cultivable land with the panchayats across the state -168910 acres.
Land reserved for Dalits 56303 acres, i.e. around 33%
BUT
In reality, less than 4300 acres is given to Dalits in Punjab, i.e. around 2.54% only.
Govt. deliberately keeps the auction price high so that Dalits don’t bid for it and if Dalits join hands and decide to put up a fight, they do face social boycott.

Scheduled Castes workforce in the state during the SAD-BJP rule has decreased by 7,572 employees from 2007 to 2013. As per a government report, in 2007, the strength of SC employees in government departments was 73,557; in 2008 it increased marginally to 74,333. Since then, the graph is on the decline — 69,686 (2009), 71,539 (2010), 66,834 (2011) and 65,985 (2012, till March 31, 2013).

Stop Discrimination Now

It must also be remembered here that BJP and Akali Dal are ruling together in Punjab from last 10 years and in that period Punjab has drowned into drugs and alcohol. BTW, when RSS, VHP & BJP people have hijacked Punjab Govt. what else we can expect other than molestation, rapes & violence in Punjab? From TV channels to transport, in Punjab everything is under control of these people. Further, few years back Mr. Badal was busy installing cow memorials & cow commission. As if Holy cow is his mother and as if Sikhism worship cow! Badal is RSS agent. SIkhism was once one of the best religions in the world but people like Badal & Co have ruined it and they have polluted it to the extent that caste discrimination can be observed openly now. Lastly, Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a sister of drug king-pin – Majithia.

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Saheb Kanshi Ram Ji’s Messages from 16th Jan, 1998 Speech at Roshan Ground, Hoshiarpur, Punjab


Roshan Ground, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, Lok Sabha Elections, 16th Jan 1998

  • Community that doesn’t have representation in the political power, that community is dead.
  • We don’t want social justice, we want social transformation. Social justice depends on the person in the power. Suppose at one time, some good leader comes to power and people get social justice and are happy but when bad leader comes to power it turns into injustice again. So, we want whole social transformation.
  • Till the time we won’t be successful in politics and not able to have power in our hands,  the social and economic transformation is not possible. Political power is the key to success.
  • We don’t want anyone’s share in power or posts but we also don’t want to leave or lose our share.
  • Dalit movement hasn’t picked up yet in Punjab. Even Dalits have not become ready to lead the movement, when will Bahujans become ready?
  • To get the power, there is a need of mass movement, converting that mass movement into votes, then converting votes into seats, further converting the seats into [power at] states, and lastly converting the [power at] states into [power at] center. This is the mission and aim for us. We are still failures at organising mass movement, especially in Punjab. I would urge the people to leave behind the laziness and start working for the movement.

1 2 3 4

 

5 Social Transformation

You can listen the speech (in Punjabi) from here..

 

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Filed under Behan Mayawati, BSP, Caste Discrimination, Casteism, Dr B R Ambedkar, Latest, Saheb Kanshi Ram

What Brahmin Merit? In Punjab, with 98.92% marks, a Dalit girl secured 2nd position in class 10th!


Few weeks back, I wrote on What Merit? In Punjab, Class 12th, Dalit Girl got 7th position and a Muslim Girl became topper. Now, here is another on the same lines, Punjab School Education Board announced results for class 10th few days back. This time also, a Dalit girl named Nancy Bhadiyar, a student of Government Senior Secondary School, Ghagwal, Hoshiarpur, secured second position with 98.92 per cent marks. It is a remarkable achievement and I congratulate her on her success.

nancy

When toppers are from Dalit-Bahujan communities, what merit so called Brahmins and upper castes talk about all the time? Few years back, V. T. Rajshekar had said,

“all ruling classes built” a theory by suited to their needs and try to give a ‘scientific’ backing to it. Merit and efficiency is a pure Aryan invention, aimed at maintaining their monopoly”.

Check also – How Brahmins are enjoying reservation since ages – The History of Reservation in India.

Photo credit – Lokleader

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14th January in Dalit History – B’day of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia – Founder of Ad-Dharmi Movement


Mangoo Ram was born on January 14, 1886 , in village Mugowal, Hoshiarpur district, where this father,Harman Dass, had left the traditional Chamar caste occupation of training and preparing hides and attempting to sell tanned hides commercially. Mangoo Ram’s mother, Atri, died when Mangoo Ram was three, so the father began to depend heavily on his sons – Mangoo and an older and a younger brother for assistance. Because the leather trade required some facility in English, Mangoo Ram’s father was forced to rely on literate members of upper castes to read sales orders and other instructions to him. In payment for their reading instructions for an hour, he would have to do a day of crude labour. For that reason, Mangoo Ram’s father was eager to have his son receive an early education.

When Mangoo Ram was seven, he was taught by a village Sadhu (Saint) and soon after attended a variety of schools in the Mugowal area (Tehsil Mahilpur of district Hoshiarpur). He also attended school in a village near Dehra Dun , where his older brother has settled. In most of the schools, Mangoo Ram was the only Scheduled Caste student. He sat at the back of the class, or even in a separate room, and listed through the open door. When he attended high school in Bajwara, he was forced to stay outside the building and listen to the classes through the windows. Once when he came inside during a heaving hailstorm, the Braham teacher beat him and put all the classroom furniture, which he had “polluted” by his presence, outside in the rain to be literally and ritually washed clean. Nonetheless, Mangoo Ram was a good student: he placed third in his class in primary school. But whereas the other good students were encouraged to become patwaris (village record-keeper) or to seek higher education, Mango Ram was encouraged to leave school and help his father at a more proper “Chamar task”. In 1905, he did quit school; he married, and for three years helped his father develop their leather trade into a thriving business.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia

In 1909 America as in the air. Scores of upper caste farmers from Mangoo Ram’s area of Hoshiarpur had gone to the United States , and those who had not gone were talking about it. Mangoo Ram decided to go also. He persuaded his father that it would be good for the business – he would send money back from America – and his father responded by giving him some savings from the family business. Amid assurances from some of the local Zamindars (“landowners”) and two Chamar friends set off for the new world.2

The friends turned back, but Mangoo Ram persevered and arrived in California late in 1909. For four years he picked fruit for the former Zamindars of his village who had settled in the San Joaquin valley of California . He was also employed in a sugar mill. Mangoo Ram lived first in Fresno , then in Stockton , Sacramento , EL Centro , Vacaville , Visalia , and again in Fresno.3. He did indeed make money and set his savings home.

In 1913 some of the Punjabi settlers in California were forming a militant nationalist organisation. Mangoo Ram joined this group, the Ghadar movement, as a full-time worker in San Francisco . He was struck by the fact that, as he was later to say, “it was a new society; we were treated as equal”4. There were not many Scheduled Caste persons in the Ghadar movement, however; Mangoo Ram recalls only one other Chamar besides himself.

Initially Mangoo Ram played only a minor role in the organisation,, but in 1915 he volunteered to be one of five Ghadrites to participate in a dangerous mission involving smuggled weapons shipped from California to the Punjab . He was chosen for the task by the main whom he identifies as the “leader of the Ghadar” party at that time.” Sohan Singh Bakhna5. The secretary of the Los Angeles where they boarded an intermediary boat after collecting all their personal identification. For the rest of the saga, Mangoo Ram would be known by a Muslim pseudonym, Nizamuddin.

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Filed under Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia, Buddhism, Caste Discrimination, Dalit-Bahujans, Today in Dalit History, Today in History

The First Law: Sing My Name


Chamars assert their identity through songs, T-shirt slogans, upward mobility

Explosive Macho…

Some of the lyrics from the album ‘The Fighter Chamaar’

“Hath leke hathiyar
Jad nikale Chamaar
Pher vekheyo pataka kiven paoo mitro
Aj dekhde panga keda layoo mitro”

(When Chamars walk out with weapons in their hands,
Friends, watch how there will be fireworks,
Let’s see who can cross our path)

***

“Jadon da liya une Chandigarh dakhla
Rakhda bana ke hun saade kolon faasla
Hummer gadi vich aunda nee putt Chamaaran da
Hun nahin ankh milaanda putt Chamaaran da”

(Ever since he took admission in a Chandigarh college,
He has begun keeping me at a distance,
This son of a Chamar who comes in a Hummer vehicle
Does not meet my eyes any more.)

from the pop song ‘Hummer Chamar’

Calling someone a ‘Chamar’ is an offence for which the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, prescribes a jail term. So when activists, singers and preachers of the community in Punjab’s Doaba belt insist we address them as ‘Chamars’, it is with some trepidation that we do so.

“It’s our identity and it’s a caste like any other, with a rich past,” some of them tell us. “Far from being ashamed, we are proud of being Chamars.” The rest of the nation—including Chamars from other states—may cringe at the use of the word, used for those associated with the making of leather, and therefore considered “unclean” in the Hindu caste system, but in Punjab, they are all saying, “Garv se kaho ham Chamar hain.”

This is not easy in a society conditioned by centuries of prejudice. Dalits still change surnames to escape the caste label, and in rural Punjab, domination by upper-caste Jat Sikhs is common. But now, Jalandhar, in Punjab’s Doaba region, is being called the capital of Chamars. It’s from here that a new narrative has emerged for the community. Perhaps not surprising, considering that Kanshi Ram, the fountainhead of modern Dalit politics in the north and Mayawati’s mentor, was a Chamar from Ropar, just off what is officially called the Doaba region. Encouraged and funded by NRI Chamars and executed by increasingly committed groups of activists, ‘Mission Chamar’, as it is being called, is the talk of the region. It’s visible in slogans on T-shirts, on car stickers and with spectacular effect in the Punjab music industry, which has been inundated with a huge demand for Chamar songs.

About two years ago, Punjabi singers like S.S. Azad and Roop Lal Dhir began singing songs that glorify the Chamar community. Songs like Ankhi putt Chamaran de (These self-respecting sons of Chamars) and Hummer Chamar became instant hits with the community’s youth. But Azad recalls the difficulties he had to face while producing Ankhi putt. “Even though I’d got a good response to some of the songs while performing them on local stages, no one was prepared to produce the album or even feature in the music video. We did it all by ourselves, with some funding from our NRI brethren. I and my brother featured in the videos,” he says. Popular music channels like MH1 initially refused to air the songs or even the advertisement for these songs. But the songs became a rage online, with thousands of hits on YouTube and countless downloads. Incredibly, now even Jat Sikh singers are rushing to sing Chamar songs and cash in on the demand for them, says Roop Lal Dhir. But the state government is yet to wake up to this new trend—Jalandhar Doordarshan still won’t air their songs. “When I approached Doordarshan for my Chamar songs, I was told I should replace the word Chamar with sardar. They have no problem airing Jat songs, so why this discrimination?” he asks.

Bold Pride: A T-shirt assertion. (Photograph by Jitender Gupta)

What really delights the young about these songs is the videos, which feature burly, well-built Chamar boys, displaying menacing biceps, wielding swords and guns. The macho portrayal is a clear attempt to bring themselves on par with Jat Sikhs, stereotypically thought of as strong and vigorous. Pamma Sunar, a singer from Phagwara, brought out Fighter Chamaar in January this year with daring visuals and provocative lyrics. “Our songs are a retaliation to the rash of Bhindranwale songs which came into the market two years ago, and the pictures of him on car stickers. It is a fight for equality and self-respect and already we are feeling the heat,” he says. Sunar, like other Chamar singers, is getting used to threats and abusive phone calls, allegedly from Jat Sikhs.

The assertion by Dalits in the Doaba region is not new: ‘Mission Chamar’ actually gained traction after the attack on Dalit guru Sant Niranjan Dass in Vienna in 2009, in which his deputy Sant Ramanand was killed by radical Sikhs. They belong to the formidable Dera Sachkhand Ballan on the outskirts of Jalandhar, widely considered the mecca of Chamars. The Vienna attack set off violent riots in Punjab and Haryana. “This incident shook the dominant Jat Sikhs and emboldened the Chamars, who till then were unaware of their own strength and capacity to dominate,” says Des Raj Kali, a prominent Dalit writer and editor of Lakeer, a Punjabi literary magazine. Punjab has the highest percentage of Dalits in the country: 28.9 per cent according to the 2001 census. In the Doaba, they have the largest concentration—almost 35 per cent of the population. In the last 50 years, they have pulled themselves up economically by getting educated and going abroad for work. Their houses here are grand and places of worship even grander. When Dhir went to Greece to get visuals of a Hummer for his video, the Chamar community there was so delighted at his songs that they offered to buy a Hummer to take to his village. “I thought it was an unnecessary extravagance, so they presented me with a car instead,” he said.

Hardy Boys Chamar youth in Punjab’s Doaba region hail the community

Most Chamars of Punjab are affiliated to the Ravidasi sect, which follows the teachings of Guru Ravidas, a 14th century Bhakti saint and a Chamar. Before the Vienna incident, they used to worship the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib, which has some 40 shabads and one shloka of Guru Ravidas. Though Sikh gurus preached a casteless society, in practice Dalit Sikhs are not permitted to enter Jat Sikh gurudwaras or use their cremation grounds. In 2004, there was a violent clash in Talhan near Jalandhar when Dalits were stopped from entering the village gurudwara. Trouble also arose when the portrait of Guru Ravidas began to be placed at the same level as the Sikh holy book at Dera Sachkhand and other affiliated deras in India and abroad. Radical Sikhs objected and the Vienna attack on Sant Niranjan Dass is indicative of this unease within the Sikh community. This incident has been a watershed in the history of the community: soon after, Dera Sachkhand propounded a new religion, Ravidasi Dharam, for Chamars. Their holy book was called the Amrit Bani, which has Ravidas shabads and shlokas culled from the Guru Granth Sahib. With the dera providing religious leadership, many Ravidasis have severed links with mainstream Sikhism. “There was no place for us either in Hinduism or Sikhism, so we have formed our own religion, which revolves around the philosophy of Guru Ravidas. But we are for social harmony and do not want confrontation with anyone,” says S.R. Heer, the dera’s general secretary. He says there is no harm in extolling oneself as long as they don’t hit out at anyone, referring to the Chamar songs. “If official media like Jalandhar Doordarshan can broadcast Punjabi songs which sings praises of Jat Sikhs, the heavens won’t fall if Chamars talk of a separate identity for themselves.”

And this Dalit resurgence in the Doaba is already taking on political colours. Paramjeet Kainth quit the BSP after 20 years to form the Chamaar Mahaan Sabha (CMS) last year. His group is busy educating people about Chamar heroes, who took part in the freedom struggle, played a stellar role in Sikh history and even in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. One of its demand is a Chamar regiment in the army. “It is our duty to educate our own youth about the glorious past of their ancestors so that they are never again ashamed of their identity,” says Kainth.

But some Dalit thinkers are apprehensive of this in-your-face muscle-flexing by their brethren. Kali sees the present trend as an attempt to divide the marginalised communities that includes Valmikis, Ramgarhias and Mazhabi Sikhs too. “If they are working towards a casteless society, then why do Chamars consider themselves superior to Valmikis? I am worried about what will happen if the marginalised rise against each other. Why don’t they work towards more education in the community instead?” he asks. S.L. Virdi, an advocate and Dalit writer, warns the ongoing Chamarvaad could spell trouble. “If Akalis lose the assembly elections next year, they will surely revive their agenda of asserting Sikh identity, which is bound to clash with that of Chamars,” he says.

But so euphoric is the mood within the community that few are willing to listen to the likes of Virdi and Kali. Leaders like Kainth, for instance, call them “fear-mongers” who do not want to change. “We are against words like Dalit, Scheduled Caste or Harijans, which are denigrating or condescending labels. We want everybody to just call us Chamars. Let us get on with our lives without the baggage of the past and that is that,” says Kainth. The popular call in Doaba right now is,Bole so nirbhay, Guru Ravidas ki jai (Be fearless, hail Guru Ravidas).’

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