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  • Mind numbing


    by Sunny
    1st November, 2006 at 11:56 am    

    Sometimes a crime can be so shocking that it’s simply very hard to comprehend.

    There was always a gaping silence in this village, even before September 29 when an upper caste mob, according to eyewitnesses, paraded a mother and her 17-year-old daughter naked, raped and killed them. Two other members of the family, brothers aged 19 and 21 too were murdered. Their bodies were dumped in a canal.

    Thirty eight men have been arrested and they are being held under police custody. The gruesome incident occurred 780 kms from Mumbai, too far out it appears to muster national outrage.

    There is so much to say on this that I don’t really know where to start or whether it’ll have any impact. But I do believe it is important to highlight these barbaric atrocities in order to at least hope the killers do not get away. Blogger GreatBong says that it would be simplistic to simply see this as a caste issue. I disagree. Many crimes are impulsive but many, especially in developing countries, are about power - the power of the upper-caste or sons of politicians to perpetrate heinous crimes in the knowledge they will get away with it. And more often than not it is the poor and marginalised (which Dalits overwhelmingly are) that are the victims. Especially in a case like this where the murderers openly parade their victims, it is all about caste-related power.
    [Warning: Shivam Vij has more coverage but the pictures are sickening]

    There is another reason to highlight such crimes. As coverage of India in the mainstream media has moved on from snake-charmers to Bollywood and now to its economic strengths; it’s own politicians and foreign journalists gloss over the fact that deep in the heartlands there remain serious social problems.

    I do believe that alleviating poverty will help but only partly. There are deeper issues here: honour and a total disregard for life and law. These are the same values that lead fathers to kill their daughters when they dare to disobey them in love and marriage. It is always about the imposition of power in the name of honour. Unless the state (India and UK) apply the law fairly and brutally, sending out a clear signal, these murders will continue to take place. There should be absolutely no sympathy.


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    Filed in: Culture,India,South Asia






    31 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. Selena — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      ~Sunny, this is India, the India of village customs and morality that have not changed much in a thousand years, where morality is feudal, tied to the soil of the fields, women are beasts of burden like a buffalo, and caste is an unbreakable barrier. This happens everyday somewhere in the countryside where about three quarters of a billion people live. The only thing is, it does not get reported much in the media, concentrated in the cities — murder cases like Jessica Lal get all the attention, which is not bad, but Jessica Lal was young, middle class, beautiful, westernised —- these people are poor, ignored, marginalised. In that context, Kudos to the Times of India for reporting it. Tehelka are also good for these kinds of stories.

    2. Kismet Hardy — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:16 pm  

      Horrific as this is, the second paragraph has made my day. The first bit doesn’t surprise me. This kind of evil shit happens a lot. But the bit about 38 people getting arrested, now that is heartening. Far from being depressed, I’m positively hopeful for the future.

    3. raz — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:17 pm  

      Wonder if the Western media will show as much outrage about this as this did about Muhktar Mai. I doubt it somehow…

    4. Leon — on 1st November, 2006 at 12:19 pm  

      an upper caste mob, according to eyewitnesses, paraded a mother and her 17-year-old daughter naked, raped and killed them.

      Details like that strain my opposition to the death penality.

    5. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:16 pm  

      “It is always about the imposition of power in the name of honour.”

      very well put sunny.

      i can never understand how when such things are happening - i mean parading through a village for fuck’s sake - how no one feels they can step in and go oi - what the f**ck do you think you’re doing? but that’s where the whole issue of power comes in - and why it’s so significant.

      barbaric and disgusting. im glad i’ve already eaten my lunch.

    6. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:20 pm  

      i found the story about people trying to convert so as not to be stuck in the caste system interesting.

    7. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 1:22 pm  

      of course - in a place like bangladesh, where the majority of people are muslims and aren’t supposed to a have a religious excuse for their similar caste system behaviour..a lot of similar shit goes on. e.g. all this business about treating servants as if they’re some sub-species of human etc.

    8. Sahil — on 1st November, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

      Sonia: I heard about an entire Village In haryana converting to Islam, in order to avoid the caste issue as well, but don’t have any link. Ditto about class issues in Islam, it’s a cultural disease prevalent all over the subcontinent.

      Good point Sunny about the media focus on India and other rapidly growing countries. Everyday I hear about the BRIC countries and how fab they are, but there are some gaping holes that need to be addressed specific to each country! More careful introspection is required and that seems to be in short supply since economic confidence is booming.

    9. Raul — on 1st November, 2006 at 3:13 pm  

      Why is anyone surprised? This is India, anything goes. Under the guise of culture and civilization backward socities with little more than empty pride continue to abuse the concept of humanity. This is an overwhelming facet of most non western societies, the concept of ‘izzat’ and ‘pride’ which justifies any barbarity. The caste system is a disgrace, the very fact that even in mumbai and in Indian societies abroad at marriage time everyone sings this tune is a accurate reflection of total lack of shame about the horror of the case system legitimized by religion. We haven’t evolved much, and continue to shamelessly peddle our entirely imaginary cultural superiority in the absence of anything else to crow about, this in the motherland of corruption and gross insentivity to other humans. Reality is something India is not interested in. We just need to feel better so like everthing like incidents like this too will fade away. A visit to any indian village will tell you the caste system is alive an well but are you interested?

    10. Kismet Hardy — on 1st November, 2006 at 3:25 pm  

      izzat is a bit like innit. Only stupid cunts say it like it means something…

    11. miraxx — on 1st November, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

      >>A visit to any indian village will tell you the caste system is alive an well but are you interested?

      Hmmn, when I was attending a lecture in the local museum on Indian culture, the speaker, an academic from university, stressed to the mainly expat western audience that caste did not exist in india anymore! I was the only one in the audience who challenged the stupid complacent cow. In fact I did not have to visit an indian village to find out about the reality of caste cruelty. My father’s brother (the bastard’s dead now, of richly deserved cancer) brought his dalit slave down with him when he visited us when I was a teen. He observed ‘untouchability’ and expected us to so as well, which would have meant the poor man sleeping outside the bloody house and eating food served on the floor instead of the table. My mother was not going to stand for this nonsense and it was made clear to us that we should not follow my uncle’s instructions (not that there was any need, since we all liked subramaniam way better than our uncle and were not shy about showing it). The most sickening thing about my uncle’s behaviour was not the fact he paid his domestic and agricultural slave no wages but the brazen way he boasted how he had the power of life and death over his servant. My mother earned my uncle’s enmity by later secretly lending subra money to come work as a labourer in singapore and effectively cutting his financial dependence on my uncle. That story had a happy ending thanks to my mum’s efforts.

      But Raul has the truth of it. The vast majority of Indians, especially the rich, educated ‘higher’ caste types are racist unthinking bastards who revel in their supposed superiority. I have nothing but contempt for the people I’ve known (from India and elsewhere) who marry along caste lines. Even the nicest of them, by spinelessly doing so, perpertuates a system as brutal and crushing as slavery.

      Oh in case anyone is tempted to see this a mainly ‘hindu’ problem, the reality in the subcontinent is that conversion to islam, sikhism, christialnity or buddhism - even from centuries back- offers no respite or cure just new permutations of the phenomenon.

    12. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 4:36 pm  

      10. KH - :-)

      yeah miraxx - good points in no. 11.

      and the countless times ive heard muslims slagging off ‘the hindus’ and then what do they do? demand dowry from the girls’ family, treat their servants as if they were ‘untouchable’ blah blah blah.

    13. Amba — on 1st November, 2006 at 5:12 pm  

      But Raul has the truth of it. The vast majority of Indians, especially the rich, educated ‘higher’ caste types are racist unthinking bastards who revel in their supposed superiority.

      Quite right, but the perpetrators of atrocities against Dalits are often not upper-caste, strictly speaking; someone on Greatbong’s blog said that the rapists/murderers in the above case are OBCs, and caste atrocities in places like Bihar are more likely to be carried out by Yadavs than Brahmins. I’ve often wondered if reservations extended to OBCs play a part in engendering caste violence; fact is, many OBC communities are numerically dominant, relatively prosperous, and were never subject to the sort of social discrimination that is directed at SC/STs. Extending reservations to them may simply entrench their already considerable power and foster a sense of entitlement that can quickly turn murderous.

    14. sonia — on 1st November, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

      yeah its like the whole women oppressing women thing.

    15. genghis — on 1st November, 2006 at 8:43 pm  

      Yeh them wimmin oppressing men!

    16. Desi Italiana — on 1st November, 2006 at 11:43 pm  

      Raz:

      “Wonder if the Western media will show as much outrage about this as this did about Muhktar Mai. I doubt it somehow… ”

      Not much, I am afraid. India is “Shining” right now, and teeny, inconsequential and insignificant stories about farmers committing suicide, for example, or the prevalence of barbaric acts santified by caste are just not that important right now. But since we have a couple of wars in the Middle East in predominantly Muslim countries, it doesn’t hurt to parade around inequalities and injustices such as the Mukhtar Mai case as just one more tacit excuse to invade other countries.

      But I digress.

      **************

      Amba:

      “the perpetrators of atrocities against Dalits are often not upper-caste, strictly speaking; someone on Greatbong’s blog said that the rapists/murderers in the above case are OBCs, and caste atrocities in places like Bihar are more likely to be carried out by Yadavs than Brahmins”

      I also remember something similar, regarding the Gujarat massacre against Gujarati Muslims: some of those that participated were Dalits. Gujarati dalits, for their part, are still treated like shit in some places of Gujarat.

      “I’ve often wondered if reservations extended to OBCs play a part in engendering caste violence…Extending reservations to them may simply entrench their already considerable power and foster a sense of entitlement that can quickly turn murderous.”

      I totally disagree. On the one hand, it is true that a negative aspect of allocating reservations in both politics and in other arenas can potentially create a “special interests” group mentality which can result in a competition of groups. However, I DO believe in attempting to equalize the level as much as possible for those that have been systematically the victims of the past “reservations” for those in power (ie Brahmin).

      On the other hand, it’s not so much the conduit for political expressions (ie using reservations) as the fact that CASTEISM AND RELIGION BASED ATROCITIES EXIST. Whether it’s Yadavs killing Dalits, or the “upper caste” killing Dalits, or Gujarati Dalits participating in killing Gujarati Muslims, the fact remains that murder and barbaric acts based on caste and religion exist and still offer the motivation and justification for such heinous acts.

      *********

      Raul:

      “This is an overwhelming facet of most non western societies, the concept of ‘izzat’ and ‘pride’ which justifies any barbarity.”

      Are you sure about that? :) Maybe the concept of pride isn’t called “izzat” in “western” societies, but violence towards woman is no less a problem of the “developed” word than in the “developing world.” Check out a report by the UN on violence against women:

      “Murders of women often involve sexual violence, with between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims killed by husbands or boyfriends in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, Annan’s report said.

      It noted that more than 130 million girls are victims of female genital mutilation, a practice most prevalent in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries but also found in immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia.

      Female infanticide, prenatal sex selection and systematic neglect of girls were said to be widespread in South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

      The study also highlighted the fact that women experience sexual harassment throughout their lives, with between 40 and 50 percent of women in the European Union reporting some form of sexual harassment.

      It also focused on the phenomenon, including sexual violence, in armed conflicts, noting that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda while between 20,000 and 50,000 suffered the same fate during the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

      In Europe, North America and Australia, more than half of women with disabilities have experienced physical abuse, compared with one third of non-disabled women, it said.”

      http://newsinfo.inq7.net/breakingnews/world/view_article.php?article_id=26007

      ************

      Sonia:

      “yeah its like the whole women oppressing women thing.”

      Hey, man, some women are implicated in willfully perpetuating some mentalities that are oppressive…. :)

    17. Vikrant — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:08 am  

      Sick! Even though i disagree with much of what Shivam Vij writes, without his pictures, this story wouldnt have been picked up by Indian blogosphere.

      RE: @sonia: BBC story reads like a conversion leaflet. Well this execution happened in Maharashtra, suppsoedly one of the most progressive states. Most Dalits here have converted to Buddhism long ago. See Neo Buddhism. Very little has changed for them even after conversion, they still continue to be discriminated against. Incidents like this underscores the need for GoI to rethink its affirmative action policy. It is ludicrous really to talk about reservation while vast majority of Dalits cant even hope of bettering their lives despite reservations.

      of course - in a place like bangladesh, where the majority of people are muslims and aren’t supposed to a have a religious excuse for their similar caste system behaviou

      Well its high time we come to accept, Caste is sort of pan-South Asian problem. Religion was used as a tool to insitute this system. Even if Hindu religious text “Manusmriti” (which has since been de-sanctified mandated it), casteism is rife in all religions of subcontinent be it Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Bene Israelis, Jains and ofcourse Hindus… Its about time people stop seeing this as only a Hindu-problem, defeating casteism needs a more broader approach.

    18. Vikrant — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:32 am  

      I’m wiritng ro my MP (MP Mohammed Abdul Antule, Colaba, Maharashtra) about taking this up in parliament.

    19. sunray — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:35 am  

      Whilst its sickening and sad to hear about these crimes, This article just seems to be plucked out of thin air when you consider the sickening attack on Buddhist Monk which we saw on the NEWS and has been ignored by Pickled.

      Also you’d be better off concentrating on the horrendous crimes by the intelligent British public then some backward village idiots in India.

      UK CRIME AGAINST WOMEN

      Domestic violence currently claims the lives of around two women a week, and affects millions more people.

      One in four women and one in six men will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime with women at greater risk of repeat victimisation and serious injury.

      89% of those suffering four or more incidents are women

      One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute.

      On average, two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner

      Domestic violence accounts for 16 per cent of all violent crime

      http://www.crimereduction.gov.uk/dv/dv01.htm

      CRIMES IN UK AGAINST CHILDREN
      Each week one child will be killed by their parent or carer in England and Wales.

      Six per cent of children experience frequent and severe emotional maltreatment during childhood.

      Eighteen per cent of children experience some absence of care during childhood.
      More than 25 per cent of all rapes recorded by the police are committed against children under 16 years of age.

      http://www.nspcc.org.uk/WhatWeDo/AboutTheNSPCC/KeyFactsAndFigures/KeyFacts_wda33645.html

    20. sunray — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:36 am  

      The killings of Buddhist by Chinese. It was sickening to watch someone shot and killed on ITV NEWS. Why cant the plight of these people be highlighted here?

      On 30 September, Chinese guards stationed at the border between China and Nepal opened fire on refugees fleeing to the mountains. Seven people were killed in the shooting, not two as initially reported.

      The lama said: “The genocide by the Chinese Han soldiers against Tibetans is beyond description. They persecute us and have no scruples about killing us like flies just because of our Buddhist faith and deep reverence for the Dalai Lama.”

      The massacre was perpetrated when a group of about 70 refugees stumbled upon Chinese soldiers near Nangpa La pass, close to Mount Everest. As soon as the guards saw them, they opened fire and only 40 refugees managed to escape. Alas, the survivors had to leave the bodies of those slain behind as they fled towards Nepal.

      http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=14160&t=1&c=1

    21. Debbie(aussie) — on 2nd November, 2006 at 9:49 am  

      It makes me want to cry!

    22. sonia — on 2nd November, 2006 at 10:36 am  

      hey sunray - talking about one news article hardly implies no one cares about anything else.

    23. sonia — on 2nd November, 2006 at 10:36 am  

      18 - good for you vikrant! :-)

    24. Anas — on 2nd November, 2006 at 1:05 pm  

      I’m sure there’s some Chinese equivalent of Melanie Philips building herself into a real fury at the Western media’s anti-China bias. Giving a platform to these Tibetan extremists, what next?!

    25. shiva — on 2nd November, 2006 at 4:30 pm  

      http://tinyurl.com/v2vpn Over two years ago, Adikanta Dolui, a Dalit in West Bengal, was drawn and quartered and then burnt alive by the Commie thugs. Read more to find out why.

    26. shiva — on 2nd November, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

      http://www.hrcbm.org/NEWLOOK/photo.html

      Barbaric violence must be a South Asian speciality. And we live in the 21st century?

    27. sunray — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:39 pm  

      hey sunray - talking about one news article hardly implies no one cares about anything else.

      Haha never said anyone didn’t. however when an important News as this and a chance to highlight the plight of millions of Buddhist is bypassed over a ‘pointless’ article (in the sense that this kind of atrocity is happening in all countries and not just India as can see from the links people have put up), it begs the question so whats the purpose of the article.
      And me being now paranoid about anything Sunny writes on Hindus and India, I just think its nothing more then a smear campaign against India!

    28. sunray — on 2nd November, 2006 at 8:48 pm  

      LOOK if you really want to make a difference to India then help these people.
      WARNING!!
      DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU CANT STAND POVERTY AT ITS WORST PLEASE!!!!

      Contains scenes of maggots eating the flesh of the poor.

      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4462484199826250957&hl=en

    29. Tu S. Tin — on 3rd November, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

      not to make light of this story… but hey, look on the bright side, for once Islam can’t be blamed.
      seems here in the US, crazies don’t have to rely on religion, caste or power as an excuse to kill.. they just need a gun.
      more and more, it’s like a new trend or hobby.

    30. Kismet Hardy — on 3rd November, 2006 at 4:51 pm  

      Mindless murder in America, Tu S. Tin, isn’t ‘a new trend or a hobby’. They’ve been doing it from the first day they set foot on someone else’s soil and been merrily killing both friends and foe ever since

    31. Tu S. Tin — on 3rd November, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

      I don’t disagree. But the day they set foot they werent american yet were they?

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