Govt action urged after farmer killed in land dispute

Indian passengers stand next to train carriages during a protest along train tracks by Indian farmers against the central and state governments for not implementing their demands, at the Manawala railway station, on September 29, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 25 June 2018

Govt action urged after farmer killed in land dispute

  • India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, but centuries-old attitudes persist, and lower-caste groups, including Dalits, are among the most marginalized communities
  • Police have arrested four men and set up an investigation team, said Deputy Inspector General Dharmendra Choudhary

BANGKOK: Indian police are investigating the killing of a Dalit farmer over a land dispute in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, which has prompted calls for authorities to do more to protect the land rights of lower-caste communities in the country.
Kishorilal Jatav was attacked by his higher-caste neighbors who doused him with petrol and set him alight last week after he challenged them for encroaching his land in Bhopal district, a police official said. He later died in hospital.
Police have arrested four men and set up an investigation team, said Deputy Inspector General Dharmendra Choudhary.
“Prime facie, it appears that it was a land dispute. Jatav had repeatedly asked his neighbors to stop cultivating on his land which was adjacent to theirs, but they continued to do so,” Choudhary said on Monday after a meeting with state officials.
“When he confronted them again last week, they beat him up, poured petrol on him and set him on fire,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, but centuries-old attitudes persist, and lower-caste groups, including Dalits, are among the most marginalized communities.
More than half India’s lower-caste population is landless, official data show.
Dalits are at the bottom rung of the social hierarchy, vulnerable to discrimination and attacks by upper-caste Hindus, including a spate of recent ones by hard-line vigilantes who accuse them of killing cows they regard as sacred.
Land rights have became a rallying cry for Dalit activists, who say it is the only way they can be free of the dirty and dangerous jobs — including skinning dead cows — that have traditionally been thrust upon them.
But a land title alone does not ensure Dalits get land, said Ramesh Nathan at the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights.
Jatav had received 3.5 acres (1.4 hectares) of land in 2000 from the state, but did not have full access, Nathan said.
“The state can allot land and even give a patta (title), but then it is up to the Dalit to claim that land and safeguard it,” he said.
“In many cases, they are prevented from taking possession by powerful upper-caste people. The state must do more to guarantee full possession of land and protection of rights of Dalits.”
Earlier this year, a Dalit activist set himself alight over a delay in granting land to a Dalit couple in neighboring Gujarat state.


Australia plans to censor extremist online content

Updated 26 August 2019

Australia plans to censor extremist online content

  • The country will create a 24/7 Crisis Coordination Center for monitoring and censorship
  • Australia earlier set up a task force with tech giants to address spread of extremist material online

SYDNEY: Australia plans to block websites to stop the spread of extreme content during “crisis events,” the country’s prime minister has said.
Speaking from the G7 in Biarritz Sunday, Scott Morrison said the measures were needed in response to the deadly attack on two New Zealand mosques in March.
The live-streamed murder of 51 worshippers “demonstrated how digital platforms and websites can be exploited to host extreme violent and terrorist content,” he said in a statement.
“That type of abhorrent material has no place in Australia, and we are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes, including taking action locally and globally.”
Under the measures, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner would work with companies to restrict access to domains propagating terrorist material.
A new 24/7 Crisis Coordination Center will be tasked with monitoring terror-related incidents and extremely violent events for censorship.
In the wake of the Christchurch attack, Australia set up a task force with global tech giants like Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter to address the spread of extremist material online.
It is not yet clear how the measures will be enforced. Morrison has previously suggested that legislation may come if technology companies do not cooperate.