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.


China bans wild animal trade until viral outbreak coronavirus

Updated 26 January 2020

China bans wild animal trade until viral outbreak coronavirus

  • Raising transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden until the epidemic is over
  • The virus has caused 56 confirmed deaths and nearly 2,000 total infections

BEIJING: China on Sunday ordered a temporary ban on the trade in wild animals as the country struggles to contain a deadly virus believed to have been spawned in a market that sold wild animals as food.
Raising, transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden “from the date of the announcement until the national epidemic situation is over,” said a government directive.
The ban was issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Administration for Market Regulation, and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
The lethal virus, which has caused 56 confirmed deaths and nearly 2,000 total infections in China, and spread to about a dozen countries, is believed to have originated in a market in the central city of Wuhan, where a range of wildlife was reportedly sold.
Conservationists have long accused China of tolerating a shadowy trade in exotic animals for food or as ingredients in traditional medicines, including highly endangered species such as the pangolin or tiger.
Health experts say the trade poses a significant and growing public health risk as potentially dangerous animal-borne pathogens that people would normal not be exposed to make the jump to humans.
The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus that killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in 2002-03 also has been traced to wild animals, with scientists saying it likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civets.
Civets, a cat-like creature, were among dozens of species listed on an exhaustive price list for one of the animal-trading businesses at the Wuhan market that emerged online last week.
Other items included various rats, snakes, giant salamanders and even live wolf pups.
Sunday’s announcement said all businesses, markets, food and beverage outlets and e-commerce platforms are “strictly prohibited from trading in wild animals in any form.”
It added that “consumers must fully understand the health risks of eating wild animals, avoid wild game, and eat healthy.”
The so-called bushmeat trade, along with broader human encroachment on wild habitats, is bringing humans into ever-closer contact with animal viruses that can spread rapidly in today’s connected world, scientists say.
A study by the Global Virome Project, a worldwide effort to increase preparedness for pandemics, estimated that there are nearly 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in the animal kingdom, nearly half of which could be harmful to humans.
Peter Daszak, a virology expert with the project, told AFP its research also indicated that we can expect around five new animal-borne pathogens to infect humanity each year.
China has launched previous crackdowns on the wildlife trade, including after SARS, but conservationists say the trade typically resumes over time.