People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXII

No. 12

March 23, 2008

 


MAHARASHTRA


Dalit Youth's Eye Gouged Out In Nanded

CPI(M) Intervenes Effectively Against Ghastly Atrocity


Vijay Gabhane


Reviving horrific memories of the Khairlanji atrocity against dalits, another ghastly incident occurred recently in the Sategaon village of Naigaon tehsil in the Nanded district of Marathwada region. The village is about 40 km from Nanded city. Of the 300-odd households, 20 houses are of the dalit Matang community, 25 houses of the dalit Buddhist community and most other houses of the upper caste Maratha community.


A dalit Matang boy called Chandrakant Gaikwad and an upper caste Maratha girl called Premala Jadhav from the same village were secretly in love for the last five years. There was bitter opposition from the girlís family. The girl insisted on getting married and threatened to end her life if they did not elope. With the help of another friend called Milind Jondhale, who was a dalit Buddhist, all three of them ran away to Siddipet in nearby Andhra Pradesh where Milind worked for a contractor. After spending the night in Siddipet, they intended to go to Nizamabad the next day to Chandrakantís uncleís house. But somehow, the news that they were in Siddipet reached Premalaís family. Her family members swooped down on Siddipet by jeep the same night, caught all three of them, beat up both the boys mercilessly and brought all of them back to Sategaon.


GHASTLY ATROCITY


Here a ghastly atrocity occurred in the night. Using a knife and nails, they gouged out one eye of Chandrakant and were about to remove his other eye and also the eyes of Milind, when Premalaís grandmother took pity and quietly went to Chandrakantís house and informed his family. Chandrakantís family came running and pleaded with Premalaís family to release both the boys. They finally agreed on condition that no complaint would be made to the police. If any complaint was made, they threatened to kill both the boys. Both the boys were taken to the hospital in an unconscious state.


But Chandrakantís uncle informed the police, and the police initially moved swiftly to arrest some of the perpetrators of this horrifying atrocity. But the main culprit, Premalaís uncle Digambar Jadhav who is a teacher by profession, is still at large. That is how the matter came in the press, provoking widespread condemnation.


SWIFT RESPONSE


The CPI(M) Nanded unit, in consultation with the state centre of the Party, moved swiftly in the matter. A delegation comprising Party state committee member Vijay Gabhane, city secretary Gangadhar Gaikwad and activists Sandeep Khune, Kishore Baswante and Kishan Ghongade immediately visited the hospital, met the youth and their parents and consoled them; it went to Sategaon where the atrocity had occurred and met Milindís family (Chandrakantís family had fled the village out of fear); it visited the girlís house and saw the place where the eye gouging had taken place; and it then met the police and government authorities and gave a memorandum listing immediate demands.


The CPI(M) then convened a meeting of all other Left, secular parties and the Republican groups and gave a call for a Nanded bandh in protest. Hundreds of activists of all these parties came on to the streets on the bandh day and red and blue flags mingled together. They demanded immediate financial assistance to both the dalit families, their complete rehabilitation in Nanded city since they could not go back to their village, government jobs for Chandrakant and Milind and arrest of the absconding culprit Digambar Jadhav. As a result of the Party intervention, the social welfare department, which had initially sanctioned a paltry Rs 6500 per family as relief, had to increase the amount to one lakh rupees each.


The CPI(M) state committee gave a call for immediate statewide demonstrations to condemn the Nanded atrocity and also other terrible atrocities against women in districts like Latur and Ahmednagar that had taken place around the same time.


Within a fortnight of the atrocity, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, MP visited Nanded, met the families of Chandrakant and Milind, met the district collector and the police superintendent to press for the implementation of the above demands and then addressed a press conference where she announced that she would take up this matter in parliament. Milind was present for the press conference but Chandrakant was then in a hospital in Hyderabad. Among those who were with Brinda Karat were AIDWA state general secretary Mariam Dhawale, Vijay Gabhane, Party district secretary Arjun Adey, Gangadhar Gaikwad and others. This visit had a good impact.


MILITANT DEMONSTRATION


However, the Jadhav family now went to the extent of slapping a rape charge against Chandrakant, after having blinded him! Chandrakant was arrested and put in custody. Reactionary organisations like ĎChhaavaaí sided the Jadhav family and demanded punishment for Chandrakant. When Chandrakantís bail application came up for hearing, the police gave the shocking argument that since those who gouged out Chandrakantís eyes were also in custody, releasing Chandrakant on bail would lead to social disharmony! Thus Chandrakantís bail was rejected! The Congress-NCP state government, as usual, refused to display political courage. The administration again became lax so far as implementation of the demands for rehabilitation were concerned.


In this background, the CPI(M) Nanded district committee organised a large demonstration on March 1, 2008, to follow up on this burning issue, to condemn the shocking stance of the police and the government, and to demand the immediate implementation of the rehabilitation that had been promised. People came to Nanded that day from far-off tehsils like Kinwat, Mahur, Himayatnagar, Bhokar and Mukhed and also from the city, under the Party flag. They included a large number of dalits, but also people of all other social groups. Women came in large numbers. The significant aspect of this demonstration was that Chandrakantís father, mother, uncle and brother joined it.


The demonstration was led by CPI(M) state secretary and central committee member Dr Ashok Dhawale, Vijay Gabhane, Arjun Adey, Gangadhar Gaikwad, district secretariat members Manoj Kirtane and Shankar Sidam, district committee members Dr B V Dakhore, Kishore Pawar, Dilip Potare and Raju Sonsale. Dr Shubha Dakhore and Jyoti Gurram of AIDWA also addressed the demonstration along with the other leaders above. A delegation met the Resident Collector, who agreed to expedite the rehabilitation process and even made some good and constructive suggestions to that end.


The Party has decided to follow up this case concertedly and the constant initiative taken by the Party has been appreciated not only by the dalit masses, but also by all sections of society that stand for social justice.