Friday, December 27, 2013

Fighting caste discrimination

Caste is one of India’s most enduring institutions and still retains its hold on Indian society. For those not fortunate to be born in the higher echelons of the caste hierarchy, life can be difficult indeed. Despite government efforts, caste discrimination is still rife, and low-caste Indians have to bear the brunt of poverty, illiteracy and violence. Lenin Raghuvanshi is in the forefront of the fight against caste discrimination, to ensure a just and equal society.

Raghuvanshi is the founder of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), which fights for the rights of marginalized people in several North Indian states, especially in the area around Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

Raghuvanshi was born in an upper caste family, which he describes as “feudal”. He got a bachelor’s degree in ayurveda, modern medicine and surgery from the State Ayurvedic College in Haridwar. But the social inequities that faced India made him take up the cause of bonded labourers. This is when he noticed that not a single bonded labourer came from the upper caste, and realised that the problem was essentially caste.

In 1996, Raghuvanshi founded PVCHR to fight the caste system. He works to ensure basic rights to vulnerable groups like children, women, Dalits, tribes and minorities. Raghuvanshi and his team works at the grassroots level in Varanasi and around 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and five other states. PVCHR works to eliminate situations that give rise to the exploitation of vulnerable and marginalized groups, and to start a movement for a people-friendly movement (Jan Mitra Samaj) through an inter-institutional approach.

Raghuvanshi has his task cut out for him since the lot of Dalits and other oppressed minorities continues to be dismal. “In the past, if anyone from the lower caste breached the unwritten law of caste hierarchy, the person would be beaten up in public. Now the person will be shot dead and the village burnt down and the women raped. A bridegroom riding a horse during his wedding, an enterprising peasant digging a well on his land, if a boy falls in love with a girl – do you kill them? Yet, if they belong to the Dalit caste they are killed. We still say that there is rule of law in India,” he said in his acceptance speech while receiving the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

He is also concerned about the plight of women and children in this country. “India is still very much a patriarchal and caste-based society with gender discrimination. The destructive effects of gender discrimination, patriarchal oppression and the semi-feudal society so prevalent in 21st century India are manifest in our 55 million children, employed at times in subhuman conditions,” he says in a newspaper interview.

Raghuvanshi received the Gwangju Human Rights Award in 2007. He was made an Ashoka Fellow in 2001 and was presented the International Human Rights Prize of the City of Weimar (Germany) in 2010. Raghuvanshi once said to a newspaper that caste discrimination is so rife in Bundelkhand that a Dalit has to take off his chappal and hold it in his hand if a person belonging to the Thakur caste approaches. It’s not something that would make us proud.
How can you Help?
Caste approaches is not something that would make us proud 

Contact details of the NGO/Institution
Name :  Lenin Raghuvanshi 
Email ID
Contact Number :  9935599333
Address  PVCHR Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 

Testimonial Therpay initiative of Dignity and PVCHR at website of Inter-American Human Rights Court

A research paper on PVCHR-DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture joint initiative of testimonial therapy published in library of Inter-American Court of Human Rights (

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Streets of Mumbai are home to 37059 children who work and live there: Report

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: PVCHR Communication
Date: Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 1:31 PM
Subject: Streets of Mumbai are home to 37059 children who work and live there: Report
To: covdnhrc , jrlawnhrc
Cc: "Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi"

The Chairperson
National Human Rights commission
New Delhi

Dear Sir,

I want to bring in your kind attention towards the news published in DNA India on 24th December, 2013 regarding Streets of Mumbai are home to 37059 children who work and live there: Report

Therefore it is a kind request please take appropriate action at earliest.

Thanking You

Sincerely Yours

Lenin Raghuvanshi
Secretary General

Streets of Mumbai are home to 37059 children who work and live there: Report

Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013, 18:50 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
Ruchi KumarRuchi Kumar 
ActionAid India recently conducted a headcount of the children who live on the streets of Mumbai. What their enumerators observed on field was a heart breaking accounts of the 37059 children who work and live on the streets of Mumbai
“Today, during the survey, I realised and felt bad about the fact that in a city like Mumbai so many children are begging,” noted a researcher at ActionAid India while collecting data for their census study on city's children roughing it out on the streets.
Nothing could prepare them for what they found during the course of the study. Between them they surveyed the 36154 children that live on Mumbai street, along with the 905 children on the railway platforms of the city.
But the numbers can't even begin to encompass the exasperating tales these survey takers witnessed. “Found a girl 12 years old who was married and already had a child. Child marriage is prevalent even in Mumbai!” wrote one of them.
“There were very few girls that we came across. We did not see many girls except when they were with their families. Some children said they had been brought from their village to study in the city, but they were made to work here. Today, I got the feeling that so many children live alone without any one to take care of them,” observed another one.

Adversity manifoldThe sample survey reported that around 25% of the children skipped at least one meal a day due to the lack of money. “Many families living on the streets have small children who are not getting enough food, even the clothes to cover themselves is not enough, they have no education and, from as young as five years, they start working at tea stalls, or as rag pickers to earn something to take care of themselves,” shared one of survey-team members.
Dependence on others for food, illness and injury (probably indicating inability to earn or inability to eat), lifestyle habits and other unspecified reasons were also reported as causes for skipping meals.
About 15% children looked like they were in a ‘visible’ form of addiction, during the census. After witnessing the state of the children, many researchers were forced to mull over their conditions, “How people with very small children survive on the streets is a question. I kept thinking what will happen to them in the rainy season or during winter.”
“Small children walk around here and there looking for food. Their clothes are dirty. The food they get is not enough so they roam around begging for food. Also, thinking of what kind of nutrition these children get in a life like this made me feel really bad,” they added.
Working for a livingChild labour on Mumbai streets is an open dirty secret. The study enumerated what those from the city already know. It was that about 11.50% of children were involved in selling flowers, newspapers, fruits and other items on the roads, while 9% who were working in small eateries, and 7.9% were found begging. About 2.5% were employed in construction work and about 5.5% were rag pickers.
“Children worked as rag pickers and loaders in and around Mahim station,” noted one of the researchers. “One child asked that if he gave up rag picking, would we give him a job.”
Working children often even lie about their age or even deny that they are working. “There is a dumping ground in this ward and small children work here as rag pickers along with their parents. None of these children have been to school. I felt bad seeing small children work,” said one of the researchers.
Child abuseThe sample survey also revealed a much darker reality, another shameful secret the city is too embarrassed to admit. A large number of street children, about 44%, were reported witnessing or experiencing verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. The children’s narratives indicate that violence exists on the streets, and highlights the vulnerabilities of those living there. “Living on the streets has the most negative impact on children,” a researcher concluded the obvious.
About 13% children reported that they had seen some child undergoing some form of abuse and 67.3% children felt threatened on the streets.

While the report findings further emphasise an already existing need to create safe shelters for street children, but the personal stories and experiences of the researchers brought to life the tragedy of affairs that prevails on the streets of Mumbai.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Odisha contractor chops off migrant labourers’ hands

Case Details of File Number: 4584/18/2/2013
 Diary Number 11068/JR
Date of Incident 12/15/2013
 Direction issued by the Commission The Commission's attention has been drawn to a news report in which it is claimed that two migrant workers from Odisha have had their right hands cut off by the labour contractor and his accomplices because they refused to be taken to Raipur, instead of Hyderabad, the destination to which they had been told they were being taken. The media has reported that the two workers are presently in the Government hospital in Bhabanipatna in District Kalahandi and that the police are trying to locate the suspects. If this report is true, it appears that a most brutal and savage crime was committed. It is essential, therefore, that the authorities spare no effort to bring the culprits to book. The victims are from among the most vulnerable strata of society, and will need immediate and continuing support from the Government of Odisha to help them recover from the trauma. The Commission therefore asks the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Odisha, to immediately report: i) on the steps taken to identify and arrest the culprits; ii) on the immediate medical attention provided to the victims; iii) the measures that will be taken to rehabilitate them, and to give them compensation for their injuries, which are permanent and which will lead to disabilities that make it difficult for them to earn a living; iv) if any other relief that is being considered, including under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, if the victims were from these groups; v) if the victims and their companions, who escaped, were being employed, or were being held, under terms that make them bonded labour in the definition of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 and if so, whether the measures required under the Law have been taken; vi) if the contractor, who was taking workers from Odisha to another State, had the required licenses and permissions under the provisions of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act. These reports will be expected by the 2nd January, 2014. Action Taken Action Taken Report Called for Status on 12/23/2013 Response from concerned authority is awaited.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: PVCHR Communication
Date: Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Subject: Odisha contractor chops off migrant labourers’ hands
To: covdnhrc , jrlawnhrc
Cc: "Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi"

The Chairperson 
National Human Rights Commission 
New Delhi

Dear Sir, 

I want to bring in your kind attention towards the news published in The Hindu on 17th December, 2013 

Odisha contractor chops off migrant labourers’ hands

Odisha contractor chops off migrant labourers’ hands

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File photo of migrant labourers being transported in a truck to a work site in Kerala. Photo: S Gopakumar
File photo of migrant labourers being transported in a truck to a work site in Kerala. Photo: S Gopakumar

Odisha Police have launched a manhunt to nab a labour contractor and his four henchmen who allegedly chopped off the hands of two migrant workers two days ago, a police official said on Tuesday.
The brutal crime took place on a roadside in Bolangir district on Sunday night. However, it came to light only after the victims reached the government hospital at Bhabanipatna in neighbouring Kalahandi disrtrict, about 420 km from Bhubaneswar the next day.
Police said a local labour contractor paid about Rs.14,000 in advance each to 12 workers from Jaipatna area of Kalahandi district about a fortnight ago for some labour work in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.
But instead of taking them to the promised destination, the workers were being taken to Raipur to work at a brick kiln. The workers refused to work in Raipur and ten of the 12 workers fled, according to police.
Angry at the escape of the workers, the contractor and his henchmen allegedly tried to bring the remaining two workers in a vehicle to their respective homes in Kalahandi district to recover the money given as advance. On their way, the contractor and his henchmen consumed liquor and chopped off the right hands of the two workers, police said.
The victims were identified as Nilambara Dhangda Majhi, 35, and Pialu Dhangada Majhi, 30.
District Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi told IANS: “We have formed two teams and raided the houses of the suspects. Many of the workers have also not yet returned to their homes. Search is on to locate them.”
Odisha’s western districts of Kalahandi, Koraput and Bolangir are considered to be some of the economically most backward areas in the country. Every year, thousands of residents migrate in search of jobs.
Therefore it is a kind request please take appropriate earliest. 

Thanking You

Sincerely Yours

Lenin Raghuvasnshi
Secretary General 
Mo: 09935599333

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Desh Deshantar - Muzaffarnagar: Hanging between relief & turmoil at Rajyasabha TV

Desh Deshantar - Muzaffarnagar: Hanging between relief & turmoil at Rajyasabha TV:

Please participate in interface with Muslim at speaker hall,constitution club,New Delhi on 5 pm of 9 December 2013