Murder of Dalit family in Ahmednagar sparks protest on streets of New York

21 November 2014

MUMBAI: A month after the mutilated body parts of three members of a Dalit family were recovered from their village in Ahmednagar, the incident, reminiscent of the Khairlanji massacre, has drawn worldwide attention. While the incident sparked protests across the state, Dalit organizations staged a protest in the streets of New York over the weekend and submitted a petition to the UN. Protests are to follow in other parts of the world, including Japan and Canada.

The three people who were butchered last month were a teen studying in a city college, Sunil Jadhav, and his parents in Ahmednagar.

“Three weeks have already passed but the concerned police authorities have not nabbed the culprits. The police administration appears to be clueless about this village-based horrendous crime or most likely they are under pressure, which is the case in most caste atrocities against Dalits,” says the petition submitted to the UN HQ in New York by Dr Ambedkar International Mission, an umbrella organization of Dalit groups across the world.

The petition talks of how India’s legal justice system has, so far, been “ineffective” as far as caste-based discrimination is concerned, and calls for the intervention of the United Nations Human Rights Commission for justice in the Ahmednagar case.

Demands include the immediate suspension of the Ahmednagar district magistrate and superintendant of police and the inclusion of Ahmednagar in the list of ‘Dalit Atrocity-Prone Areas’.

“The protest in New York was unique as people travelled from across America to attend it. We had people coming in from areas such as Michigan, California, Connecticut and Washington. People turned up on the streets despite the bitter cold and the wind-chill in support of the cause,” said Raju Kamble, who founded Dr Ambedkar International Mission 20 years ago.

Dalits were not the only ones present at the New York protest; it included African Americans, Indian church groups and Arab artists. Miss Arab runner-up Ratiba Lazizi joined the protest.

The protest involved a candlelight vigil and a sit-in before the UN. Retired businessman Markand Warade from Canada was at the NY protest and wants to hold one in Toronto. “Nobody, from the district collector, police, chief minister, president or prime minister have taken any interest in the Ahmednagar case,” said Warade.

The Ambedkar International Mission in Japan is preparing to stage a protest in Tokyo, said Dr Sushant Godghate, an engineering doctorate who works as a consultant for a multinational. It will be a joint protest between Dalits in Japan and local Buddhist organizations, and will take place in front of the UN office in Tokyo.

US-based entrepreneur Deelip Mhaske said the murders should not be seen solely as a Dalit issue but as a grave violation of human rights.

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