They were beaten up and abused for promoting education for women in Digwaar village in Uttar Pradesh.
On May 12, five women were brutally beaten and harassed by Sahib Singh Yadav. Two of them have sustained serious head and body injuries.
These 5 women work to provide education with the Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK). They were inaugurating the literacy centre for Dalit women in Digwaar village in Uttar Pradesh.
Sahib Singh used caste-based abuses like 'chamarni', 'basorni' and sexually explicit language to the women. When the SSK team tried to persuade him to stop interrupting the ceremony, he attacked them with a thick wooden stick.
He also threatened to kill them if they ever came back to the area. The villagers were also threatened with dire consequences if they gave any statement against him.
SSK is the only women-headed organization in the district, run primarily by Dalit women in Lalitpur. An important focus of their work is Adult Literacy Centres in the villages of Lalitpur.
Sahib Singh Yadav was arrested 7 days later and charges of sexual assault and attempt to murder have been filed against him. He is in judicial custody for 14 days.
However, despite the arrest of Sahib Singh Yadav, the Dalit community in Digwar is still under the threat of such violence as a backlash to this arrest. The SSK field workers are prone to this backlash as well.
As their colleague and a women, I am outraged at this violence. It is important to raise the issue of safety of women activists who fight for education to become a reality to all.
That’s why I started this petition asking the CM of Uttar Pradesh and other concerned authorities to ensure that-
1) Security is provided for the staff of SSK who were attacked.
2) Security is provided to the Dalit basti of Digwaar village as they are under serious threat.
This is to bring to your notice a grave incident of violence against Dalit and OBC women working as field staff of Sahjani Shiksha Kendra, Nirantar. As you are all aware, Nirantar is working on gender and education and it runs educational centres for Dalit and Adivasi women and girls in educationally backward blocks. Since 2002, we have our field programme in Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh in the name of Sahjani Shiksha Kendra (SSK).
On the 12th of May 2013, in the process of opening an Adult Literacy Centre in Digwara village in Madawara Block of Lalitpur district, a powerful man called Sahib Singh Yadav, physically and verbally assaulted 5 staff members (Meena, Kusum, Gyasi, Niramal and Urmila) of SSK. Two of them have sustained serious head and body injuries. Two of the survivors are from the Dalit community and two from the OBC. He used caste-based abuses like 'chamarni', 'basorni' and sexually explicit language to humiliate and frighten the women workers. Sahib Singh Yadav also threatened them, saying that he will kill them if they ever came back to the area. The villagers were also threatened with dire consequences if they gave any statement against him.
The FIR and a MR in this case has been filed and district administration has assured their support. However, the sections under which the case has been registered (IPC 323/ 504/506, including the SC/ST Act) are very weak.
This is not the first time such an incident has occurred to SSK field staff. Last year, Sandhya Ahirwar, a Dalit SSK field activist, was physically and verbally assaulted in Madawara by two men from the dominant caste. A complaint was registered, but she was pressured into taking back the complaint against the men.
This shows that Dalit and Adivasi women, especially those who are politically active and are challenging structures of caste and patriarchy, are particularly vulnerable to caste-based and gender-based violence. This also raises the issue of safety of women activists who fight for the rights of marginalized communities such as Dalit and Adivasis. Also, this is a serious violation of the constitutional commitment to equality and freedom given that the women have been attacked for belonging to the Dalit community.
Our demands from the police and administration are the following:
1) The FIR must be amended on the basis of the real life incident; it should record the grievous nature of injuries suffered and accordingly the FIR must be changed.
2) The SSK staff must be provided security by the local police.
3) Security must be provided to the Dalit basti of Digwara village as they are under serious threat.
We sincerely hope that you will give this matter the urgent attention it deserves and that you will act to ensure that our demands are met quickly and effectively.