Freedom Under Fire: Devotees Offered ‘Caste-based Prasad’; JNU Students Go on Hunger Strike

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

File photo of a march commemorating Govind Pansare. Credit: PTI

File photo of a march commemorating Govind Pansare. Credit: PTI

Devotees offered ‘caste-based prasad’ at Rajasthan temple

According to a Hindustan Times report, Dalits have alleged caste-based segregation at a temple in Rajasthan’s Pali district, where they were reportedly offered prasad at separate counters and food in a tent pitched only for them during a ceremony this April.

They alleged that signboards were placed at the temple on April 22, directing people to different counters based on their castes to pick up prasad and food. The organisers quickly removed the signs as the villagers protested.

Dalit rights campaigners have taken to social media to protest the alleged humiliating treatment during the four-day ceremony at Neelkanth Mahadev temple in Sojat city.

HC raps CBI for slow probe into Pansare, Dabholkar killings

The Bombay high court on Tuesday rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Special Investigating Team (SIT) for the amount of time it was taking to investigate the murders of rationalist thinker Narendra Dabholkar and CPI leader Govind Pansare, The Hindu reported. The court also asked the agencies to submit a ‘status report’ by May 3.

“How many more murder anniversaries and status reports must one wait for before any concrete leads can be obtained in the two cases?” asked the bench comprising Justice Shalini Phansalkar Joshi and Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari.

Fact finding report released on encounters and sexual violence in Chhattisgarh

The Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression released a fact finding report on April 26 highlighting their findings from Bijapur and Sukma districts of Chhattisgarh.

Their findings include an incident on January 15 in Peddajojer village, when three men and three young girls were allegedly ambushed by security forces on a forest track on the to a nearby market. The three men and a 13-year-old girl were killed. When the villagers rushed to the site after being told of the incident by the girls who escaped, they found the bodies missing.

Two other other alleged incidents have been highlighted in the report. According to members of the organisations involved, they were greeted with “insensitivity and hostility” when they tried to bring these incidents to the notice of authorities. After much effort, they say, FIRs have been registered on these cases.

Madhya Pradesh police, Bajrang Dal stop church wedding in Satna

The Madhya Pradesh police entered a church in Satna and stopped a wedding ceremony on Wednesday, following a complaint by the Bajrang Dal that the bride and the groom had been unlawfully converted to Christianity, a report in The Indian Express says.

Accompanied by Bajrang Dal activists, a police team entered the Church of God in India and arrested 10 people, including pastor Sam Samuel and the groom’s parents.

CSP (Satna) Sitaram Yadav said the bride was a minor as she was 10 days short of turning 18. He said though the couple had converted to Christianity four years ago, the district authorities were not informed, making it a crime under the state’s anti-conversion legislation. Satna SP Mithilesh Shukla also claimed that the girl was “a Hindu and a minor”.

Church spokesman Mariyosh Joseph called the charges false, and said the bride and groom were Christians. He added that the Bajrang Dal and the RSS were behind the complaint.

JNU students go on indefinite hunger strike

After a protest march on campus on the night of April 27 against what the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) has called unfair and biased punishments to students for a campus event of February 9 where ‘anti-national’ slogans were allegedly raised, 20 students have gone on an indefinite hunger strike. This includes JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and student Umar Khalid.

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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