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Caste Violence Against India’s “Untouchables”

Human Rights Watch
New York · Washington · London · Brussels

Copyright © March 1999 by Human Rights Watch.
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.

ISBN 1-56432-228-9
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 99-61749

Cover photos by Smita Narula. © Human Rights Watch 1998.
Top photo: Survivors of a massacre in Bihar.
Bottom photo: Children of manual scavengers in Gujarat.
Cover design by Rafael Jiménez

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Human Rights Watch would like to thank the following people and organizations for their generous assistance: Henri Tiphagne and members of People’s Watch, Tamil Nadu; members of Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti, Bihar; Sudha Varghese of Nari Gunjan, Bihar; Vivek Pandit and members of Samarthan, Maharashtra; Martin Macwan and members of Navsarjan, Gujarat; Paul Divakar of Sakshi, Andhra Pradesh; Ruth Manorama of the National Federation for Dalit Women; Henry Thiagaraj of the Dalit Liberation Education Trust, Tamil Nadu; and Kathy Sreedhar of the Holdeen India Fund, Washington, D.C.

I am a twenty-six-year-old Dalit agricultural laborer. I earn Rs. 20 [US$0.50] a day for a full day's work. In December 1997, the police raided my village... The superintendent of police [SP] called me a pallachi, which is a caste name for prostitute. He then opened his pant zip... At 11:00 a.m. the sub-collector came. I told the collector that the SP had opened his zip and used a vulgar word. I also told him that they had broken my silver pot. The SP was angry I had pointed him out...

The next morning the police broke all the doors and arrested all the men in the village... The SP came looking for me. My husband hid under the cot. My mother was with me at the time. I was in my night clothes. The police started calling me a prostitute and started beating me. The SP dragged me naked on the road for one hundred feet. I was four months pregnant at the time... A sixty-year-old woman asked them to stop. They beat her too and fractured her hands... They brought me to the police station naked... Fifty-three men had been arrested. One of them took off his lungi [wrap-around cloth] and gave it to me to cover myself.

I begged the police officers at the jail to help me. I even told them I was pregnant. They mocked me for making such bold statements to the police the day before. I spent twenty-five days in jail. I miscarried my baby after ten days. Nothing has happened to the officers who did this to me....


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