Author Archives: Rajiv Shah
Navsarjan Trust director and convenor of the Gujarat Women Rights Council Manjula Pradeep and other activists’ intervention, through rallies and representations, helped in ensuring that the death of the tribal lady police constable from Rajpipla — Vasanti Vasava — is registered as a case of probable murder instead of a suicide. Her brother, Raghuvir, steadfastly called it a clear case of sexual harassment and murder. The activists’ campaign, with the help of the tribals of the area, led to the arrest of the accused, Vijaysinh Deepsinh, who happened to work in the same police station. It became a matter of “major embarrassment for the Narmada police as the family members of the victim refused to perform the last rites and staged a protest demanding immediate arrest of head constable Vijaysinh Deepsinh and his wife”, reported Indian Express. See following links:
DNA reported on November 26, 2014 about the Gujarat Women’s Right Council’s state-wide rally on UN international day to eliminate violence against women. Titled “Green Gang to fight for women’s rights”, the report pointed towards how 1,600 “bravehearts” from various villages of the state joined the rally. The report states, “These women have done incredible work in the field of human rights. They would talk about the issues and challenges pertaining to women.” Quoting Manjula Pradeep, executive director GWRC, the report said, the council is present in more than 500 villages in the work area of Navsarjan Trust.
Navsarjan Trust director Manjula Pradeep participated in a high-level meeting of United Nations (UN) experts and activists in Geneva from September 28 to October 3, held to decide on moving towards a “more structured mechanism against caste-based discrimination” in countries such as India and other South Asian countries. Among those who participated included UN special rapporteurs and chairpersons of various Human Rights Councils. The meeting decided to fan out to different countries, where caste discrimination is rampant, and see how things are, and whether there is effective implementation of laws seeking to end to caste-based discrimination.
Following successful conclusion of the strike by manual scavengers in Dudhrej, a spontaneous struggle erupted in Wadhwan (click HERE to read), another town of Surendranagar district in the second week of September against the despicable practice of forcing cleaning workers to manually clean up nighsoil. Those who led the struggle were Wadhwan manual scavenging women. It found its immediate support from Navsarjan Trust. The demands included providing them with modern equipment, so that they do not have to continue with the caste-base work which leads to health hazard. They also demanded implementation of minimum wages. A compromise was struck, and the women workers were returned to work. However, photographs taken by Navsarjan Trust activist Natubhai Parmar show, the authorities are not interested in implementing the agreement. On October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, they were forced to clean up human excreta manually.
A meeting on the Annihilation of Caste took place with the participation of a few scholars and activists, including Daniel Edwin, GaganSethi, Ghanshyam Shah, Manas Jena, Manjula Pradeep, Meenakshi Ganguly, Meera Velayudhan, Prasad Chacko, Priyadarshi Telang, and Rajiv Shah. Stressing on moving from caste based discrimination to annihilation of caste, taking cue from the famous treatise of Dr BR Ambedkar, the meeting began with a note of concern that Dalit identity is getting diluted because of overt concentration of entitlements based on reservation to those who have been identified officially as scheduled castes. While not denying the importance of reservation as a means to empower certain sections of Dalits who are above than other Dalit sub-castes, the meeting believed that there is a need to go beyond reservation, violence and discrimination, towards an approach that takes into account the aim of complete demolition of the caste system, as it exists in India as also in other South Asian countries. A well-planned strategy should be worked out by identifying important factors that keep the caste system alive, keeping in mind both short-term and long-term goals.