New Delhi: A group of ten leaders representing the nomadic and denotified tribes and members of civil society organisations, in a joint statement, have said that recent rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Kathua has shown that violence against women is still continuing unabated. The leaders have threatened to boycott the 2019 general elections unless the present ruling dispensation takes measures to ensure safety to girls and women across the country.
“In 2012, Nirbhaya was brutally raped and murdered. People across the country came on to the roads demanding punishment to the rapists. UPA 2 lost in 2014 election and Nirbhaya’s rape and murder’s public outrage was one among many reasons in huge electoral defeat to UPA 2. Most people believed that a government that could not provide protection to its citizens has no right to run the country. The government has changed. New government comes in power but the condition of women remains the same,” said the signatories to the statement.
They have accused the present government of reneging on its promise to provide safety and security for girls and women. They argue that the present government should “step down” as it has not been able to fulfil its mandate on protecting women. “After having promised us the moon, they have fooled the people,” the leaders said.
The leaders said that most institutions working for nomadic and denotified tribes have been saffronised. And this has led to them viewing the victim not as an innocent, eight-year-old girl but as a “Muslim girl”. A part of their statement read:
She was from a nomadic community, which is very knowledgeable about the Himalayas. Regrettably, the first Englishmen could not understand our nomadic culture and by 1871 passed the Criminal Tribes Act declaring that about 200 nomadic communities of India were “oppressed from birth” and enclosed in closed spaces like prisoners. There have been continuous efforts for dialogue with the government for the rights of nomadic and denotified tribes for the last 20 years, but no government has shown concern about these tribes. By forming commissions, every government woos these most backward groups. This drama has been playing out for the last 10 years – first by the UPA 2 and now by the BJP government. These commissions have wasted millions of rupees and published many reports but these tribes did not get anything out of it. People have only got false hope from these political parties.
Emphasising the necessity for the nomadic and denotified tribes to be heard, the signatories have laid down a number of demands, failing which, they said, they would boycott the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and start a nationwide movement to bring justice to the girl. Their demands include the following:
- The accused should be charged under the Prevention of Atrocity on SC and ST Act if it is not done so already.
- All nomadic and denotified tribes of India, including those who are enumerated as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) should also be included in the Prevention of Atrocity on SC and ST Act and they should be given protection, including State of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Permanent Commission should be constituted for nomadic and de-notified of India. The report of the EDATE Commission should be implemented immediately and the recommendations given by the commission should be implemented.
- FIR should be filed against those people who organized the rally to save Asifa’s rapists, waved the tricolor. Book them for insulting National Flag for waving it to prevent accuses arrests and tried to stop the police from doing their work, and appropriate action should be taken against them.
- The presidents of the political parties whose members attended the rally to protect the rape victims should issue a public apology, and those members should be immediately suspended from the party.
- The National Human Rights Commission should immediately conduct an independent inquiry into the Kathua case and share its findings with the government and the police. They should detail all the human rights violations and submit the same to the state and Central Government. Also, NHRC independent inquiry should submit the report to Honorable President of India.
- The accused should be charged under the POCSO Act, if not already done so.
- Forest Rights Act 2006 should be extended immediately in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and all Nomadic Tribes should given rights for Cattle Grazing and to stay in the forests.
The signatories to the statement are:
Dakxin Bajrangi (Chhara), honorary director, Budhan Theater (Ahmedabad), national president, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes and nation award winner (2014), National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi
Dr. Madan Meena, painter and researcher, founding member, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes (Rajasthan Chapter)
Deekonda Narsihrao, member, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes (Telangana Chapter)
Prasanta Rakshit, member, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes (West Bengal. Chapter), secretary, Paschim Bengal Kheria Sabar Kalyaan Samiti
Pallav Thudgar, member, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes (Madhya Pradesh Chapter)
Mayank Sinha, national secretary, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes. Delhi Chapter,
founder, TANDA and VAJRA organizations (Mumbai, Maharashtra)
Atish Indreakar, actor, Budhan Theatre (Ahmedabad)
Kalpana Gagdekar, film, TV and theatre actress, founding member of Budhan Theatre (Ahmedabad)
Bharat Vitkar, founder, Bandhlik Organization, Pune, founding member, national president, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes, Maharashtra Chapter
Mohammed Kalam, member, National Alliance Group of Nomadic and De-notified Tribes. Bihar Chapter