Dalit Sena

Khalsa Human Rights
9th April, 1995

Formation of Dalit Sena Womens' Wing

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" Rape is common throughout India, particularly in troubled areas where the violation has a much wider political agenda then simply the expression of power. It is used to: punish women for attacks carried out by armed militants; intimidate women against supporting peasant organisations; humiliate suspected militants who have fled and can no longer protect their female relations; and to degrade- a raped woman becomes unclean and is therefore ostracised. This last reason suggests that even the distressingly h igh numbers of rapes reported in government statistics are in fact considerably lower than actual occurrences, because a women is more likely to suppress the violation then lose the risk of not getting married.

One example of rape as reprisal was in Bara in February, 1992. A newspaper report wrote that more than a hundred Harijan [dalit] women have been raped in revenge for the killing of 34 Bhumihars [high caste] at Bara village in February. The victims, ranging from eight year-old girls to grandmothe rs of 60, have sometimes suffered still further atrocities. One 13 year-old girl was raped by two men, and sodomised by a third, who bit off one nipple...The Bhumihars had been expected to retaliate, especially as their SLF commander-in chief has vowed to kill a thousand Harijans to avenge the massacre. Instead they chose rape, reasoning that rape is a bloodless method of revenge which is many times better than killing. If you kill someone, he has finished forever. But if you rape someone, she and her family will die a slow death.

Numerous allegations of women simply being grabbed and raped or sexually abused by a traveller or someone in a position of power are testimony to the lowly status and casual disregard of the human dignity of women, particularly dalit women, in Bihar. A recent case which has received a high profile in newspapers is that of Bhukli Devi who was paraded naked by high caste Bhumihars in Samastipur in 1994. She was then raped and killed after her sari had been inserted into her vagina (the offshoot of this incident was the formation of the Dalit Sena's Women's Wing, an armed vigilante group who have been trained in the use of guns and are stationed in a number of villages throughout Bihar).

In another incident a 16 year-old dalit girl was gang-raped on 16 November, 1994, by Yogendra Narayan Sardar, a legislator of the Janata Dal Party, and three associates, Ooma Kant Sardar, Shaubhu Singh and Ramphal Yadev. Yogendra Narayan Sardar was arrested, on the Indo-Nepal border trying to escape, and after his penis was examined; the girl told police that when he had tried to rape her a second time she had bitten him."


The Peak
Volume 96, Issue 9 June 30, 1997

Formation of Dalit Sena Womens' Wing

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" Phoolan Devi and other Dalit (Untouchable caste) women say that it is common for women to be simply grabbed and raped or otherwise sexually abused by upper-caste men. These incidences are testimony to the lowly status and casual disregard of the human dignity of Dalit women in Bihar.

Govind Kelkar writes that"It is common practice to force a Dalit, agricultural labourer woman to have sexual relations with a Rajput landlord. If the woman declines, her husband, brother or father is implicated in false criminal cases."

One incident which was much-reported in Indian newspapers describes how a Dalit woman was stripped by upper-caste men, paraded naked through her village, then gang-raped and killed. An offshoot of this horrific incident was the Dalit Sena Women's Wing, a militant vigilante group who have been trained in the use of guns and are stationed in a number of villages throughout Bihar. Also, Phoolan Devi recently started the Eklavya Sena, a group formed to teach lower- caste men and women the art of self-defence.

"Dalit women have suffered large-scale neglect under the feudo-patriarchal rule of landlords. Nevertheless, they have showed an unparalleled militancy and strength in fighting landlord oppression and in struggling for improved wages and their right to land and other resources," writes Kelkar. "


Dalit Sena