INDIA: Discrimination against Dalits in Gujarat


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-10-2004
ISSUES: Caste-based discrimination,

Dear friends

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that three Dalit teachers were transferred from Surendranagar district, Gujarat, India, on 3 December 2003, for objecting to the segregation of upper and lower caste students during the lunch meal.

Another incident of discrimination occurred in the same week, also in Gujarat: Dalit Sarpanch Gangaben Maru’s husband committed suicide in Bhavnagar, due to the harassment and threats received by his family from his wife’s upper caste rivals, over the past five months.

Fifty-six years after India’s independence, the country is still suffering from caste discrimination and inequality. AHRC urges the Government of India to take strong action to eliminate these socially sanctioned practices. Your urgent action is required to intervene in this matter.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Program



CASE 1: The transfer of seven Dalit teachers from Surendranagar district, Gujarat

In August 2003, certain upper-caste parents from Bhojpari and Bhojpara villages requested that Dalit students sit separately during the midday meals. When three Dalit teachers, including Girishbhai Wadher protested, the villagers threatened to boycott the entire Dalit community. Other Dalit teachers were scared to speak out, as on September 29 some Dalits in Bhojpari village were beaten up.

An FIR (first information report) was lodged on October 2 at the Chotila Police Station. Inspector N. Ninama said 41 people were arrested for the attack, including sarpanch Karansinh Uttedhiya. They were released the next day on bail, whereupon they held a protest outside the district primary education officer’s (DPEO) office, demanding that the teachers be transferred, or they would not send their children to the school.

Girishbhai Wadher, Laljibhai Anjaria and Chaturbhai Chauhan were transferred on December 3. Four other Dalit teachers had been transferred in September. According to DPEO P.F. Pargi, this was only a temporary arrangement until “things cooled down.” He said, “we cannot afford to have 200 students not attending school because of such a problem.” However, Pargi is not doing anything about the segregation issue, nor has the Social Justice and Empowerment department taken up the matter.

The Mehindad primary school, to which some of the teachers were transferred, refused to accept them, saying it already has enough staff. So within two days, the teachers were transferred to Kabran. Now, they are on indefinite leave.

‘‘We feel threatened,’’ said one teacher. ‘‘In most villages here, upper caste parents want segregation. We are seen as troublemakers. How can we work in this atmosphere?’’ said P.G. Parmar, a Dalit leader and president of Gujarat Backward Class Communities Association. ‘‘While feudalism is strongly prevalent in Surendranagar, sadly it has also crept into the classrooms. The children don’t even know why they are asked to keep away from school. We’ve written to the National Human Rights Commission.’’

For the Dalit teachers, it was also galling to see that none of their upper-caste colleagues stood by them or raised a voice of protest when they were transferred. But then, many of them stood to benefit from the transfers.

CASE 2: Wife was honest sarpanch so Dalit paid with his life

In Bhavnagar the harassed husband of Kamrej’s first Dalit Sarpanch Gangaben Maru, Jethabhai, has allegedly committed suicide by taking poison.

For the past five months, 55-year-old Gangaben’s family had known nothing except threats, abuse and harassment. She was not even allowed to enter the Panchayat office. The reason for this for her refusal to give in to her upper caste rivals’ demands for a cut in government grants. The man responsible, Haresh Sanga, is vice-president of the Bhavnagar taluka panchayat and wields considerable clout.

In August 2002, this Samras village received its first grant of Rs 40,000. Since then, it has received Rs 5 lakh as grant. After a road-widening programme, Gangaben was planning to use the grant to provide house-to-house water connections in the village. But Sanga demanded five per cent as his “commission.”

According to Gangaben, “When I refused, he threatened to set up an inquiry for misappropriation of funds against me. We are Dalits. I felt helpless and vulnerable.”

Confirming this, UP-Sarpanch Hira Jiva Ahir, who belongs to an upper-caste, said, “Sanga is a local goon and wields great power in the taluka. Other villages like Bhojpara and Nare used to give him a 7 per cent cut. So, he got enraged when Gangaben refused.”

When things got worse, Gangaben sought police protection from the Vartej Police Station. No protection was offered, but officer C K Babaria claims that the family withdrew its demand when he called the couple to the police station.

“They did their utmost to harass us. Whenever I stepped out of my house, Sanga and his supporters would call me dheddi (Harijan). I could not enter the panchayat office, move freely on the streets. Even stepping out to buy vegetables was an ordeal. They had been torturing my husband for the last five months. They threatened to assault him if he failed to make me resign. On Sunday, they came to my house and threatened to break his bones. The next day, we found his body,” said Gangaben.

On Tuesday, a no-confidence motion was to be tabled against the Sarpanch. Her rivals had moved the motion, citing irregularities, only after they failed to get a ‘cut.’ Aware they could not muster the two-thirds majority to remove her, she was being harassed into quitting.

Bhavnagar SP Anupamsinh Gehlot said, “We have registered an FIR against Haresh Sanga, Ramnik Pandya, Raju Kapadi, Bhimji Ahir and Jitubhai Ahir under Atrocity Act, Section 3, as the couple was harassed for being Dalits.” However, as of yet no action has been taken by the authorities.

District Development Officer Mona Kandhar admitted she was “aware of the case” but said she got the complaint only after the no-confidence motion had been moved. Panchayat Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said he was unaware of the incident, but “If this has happened, it’s serious. I will inquire into it.”

We are gravely concerned at the mistreatment of Dalits in India, and urge you to pressure the government of India to take serious action.

Please send a letter, fax or email to the local authorities expressing your concern of this serious case.

1. Shri. A.P.J. Abdul kalam
President of India
Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi – 110001
Fax: + 91 11 23017290,

2. Justice A.S.Anand
National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhavan, Sansad Marg,
New Delhi – 110001
Fax: +91-11-23340016 / 23366537

3. Chairperson of the National Commission for

Scheduled Castes and Tribes

Shri Dilip Singh Bhuria

Floor 5, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi-110003.

Tel: +91 11 4623959, 678632

Fax: +91 11 4625378

4. Mr. Doudou Diene
Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Room 4-041
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
Tel: 41 22 9179271
Fax: 41 22 9179050

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER



Re: Discrimination against Dalits in Gujarat

I am gravely concerned by the ongoing caste discrimination against Dalits in India. Within the month of December, there were at least two cases in Gujarat state.

In one case, three Dalit teachers, Girishbhai Wadher, Laljibhai Anjaria and Chaturbhai Chauhan were transferred on December 3 for protesting against the segregation of upper and lower caste students during the midday meal. Four other Dalit teachers had already been transferred in September.

The three teachers were transferred in December due to the threat by upper caste parents of not sending their children to school unless the teachers were transferred.

In another case, the husband of a Dalit sarpanch took poison and died, due to the harassment meted out to his family. The harassment was a result of his wife being honest and refusing to give ‘commission’ from government grants to her upper caste rivals.

Both of these cases illustrate the failure of justice in India. I urge the Government of India to establish an independent organ to investigate and put to trial the offenders of such gross violations of human rights of minorities/scheduled castes and tribal people. The Minority Commission constituted in the central and state levels should be provided with ample authority to take effective action against offenders.

I further urge the Government of India to provide compensation to the teachers in the above instances, and redress to Gangaben Maru.

Sincerely yours,


Thank you.

Kim Soo A
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-10-2004
Countries : India,
Issues : Caste-based discrimination,