Atrocities Act: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Atrocities Rules: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995.
Backward castes: those whose ritual rank and occupational status are above untouchables but who themselves remain socially and economically depressed. Also referred to as Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Shudras (who constitute the fourth major caste category in the caste system).
BDVS: Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti (Bihar Dalit Development Organization).
Bhangis: a Dalit community of manual scavengers in Gujarat.
Bhumihar: a powerful upper-caste community in Bihar.
Bill hook: an agricultural tool with a hooked blade.
BJP: Bharatiya Janata Party, head of Indias current coalition government.
Caste Hindus: those falling within the caste system, or all non-Dalits.
CRPF: Central Reserve Police Force, the largest of the paramilitary forces in India.
Dalits: literally meaning broken people, a term employed by rights activists to refer to untouchables.
Devadasis: literally meaning servants of god, referring to those forced into temple prostitution.
DGP: Deputy General of Police.
DPI: Dalit Panthers of India.
DSP: Deputy Superintendent of Police.
FIR: The First Information Report, the first report, recorded by police, of a crime.
Goonda: A habitual criminal, usually associated with a criminal gang.
Lathi: A police baton, frequently carried by Indian police. It is approximately one meter in length, two to five centimeters in diameter, and usually made of wood.
Lathi-charge: the act of charging a crowd with a baton.
Lower castes: those relatively lower in the caste system, including Dalits.
Manual scavengers: see below under safai karamcharis.
Naxalites: groups with a Marxist/Leninist/Maoist orientation engaged in a militant struggle to achieve higher wages and more equitable land distribution in Bihar and other states.
NGO: nongovernmental organization.
NHRC: The National Human Rights Commission of India.
OBCs: Other Backward Classes, see above under backward castes.
Pallars: a Dalit community in Tamil Nadu.
Pakhis: a Dalit community of manual scavengers in Andhra Pradesh.
Panchayat: village council.
PCR Act: Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
PUCL: Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, the countrys largest civil liberties organization.
Pucca: solid, in reference to houses made of brick.
PUDR: Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, a well-respected national human rights organization.
Ranvir Sena: a private militia of upper-caste landlords in Bihar.
Reservations: quotas for various lower castes allowing for increased representation in education, government jobs, and political bodies (provided as compensation for past mistreatment).
Safai karamcharis: cleaning workers or manual scavengers engaged in, or employed for, manually carrying human excreta or any sanitation work.
Scheduled castes: a list of socially deprived (untouchable) castes prepared by the British Government in 1935. The schedule of castes was intended to increase representation of scheduled-caste members in the legislature, in government employment, and in university placement. The term is also used in the constitution and various laws.
Scheduled tribes: a list of indigenous tribal populations who are entitled to much of the same compensatory treatment as scheduled castes.
SHRC: State Human Rights Commission.
Sikkaliars: a Dalit community of manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu.
SP: Superintendent of Police
SRPF: State Reserve Police Force, an armed branch of the police that is called in during times of emergency.
TADA: Terrorism and Anti-Disruptive Activities Act.
Thevars: a powerful backward caste in Tamil Nadu.
Untouchability: the imposition of social disabilities on persons by reason of their birth in certain castes.
Untouchables: those at the bottom of or falling outside the caste system. Administrative parlance now employs the term scheduled castes while rights activists and the population more generally employ the term Dalits.
Upper castes: technically those occupying the first three major caste categories (thereby excluding the backward castes). Those interviewed for this report, however, often use the term to refer to all non-Dalit Hindus.