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Release: Rights Groups Call on India, South Korea to Suspend POSCO- India Steel Project and Address Human Rights Concerns

South Korean President in India to advance on investment projects For immediate release. India, January 16 2014 Human rights violations connected to the POSCO-India project must be addressed as a matter of priority by India and South Korea during South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s state visit to India, saidrights groups, Video Volunteers and ESCR-Net today. India [...]

A Campaign to End Untouchability

ARTICLE 17 is a campaign launched by Video Volunteers on April 14th, 2012, to urge the National Commission for Schedule Castes, (the government body that is constitutionally appointed to direct and implement the safeguards against untouchability), to prosecute cases of untouchability. Community Correspondents across the country are documenting video testimonies of different forms of untouchability. The first 26 videos are featured here and more will be added as the campaign continues.

We want to give viewers the responsibility, as witnesses, to end this age-old oppression once and for all.

Sign the petition being sent to the National Commission on Scheduled Castes.

Witness Criminal Offence #1: “Untouchability in School Food”

Children are served their mid-day meals in an areas separated on the basis of caste. At lunch time in a public school, a lifetime of segregation takes root.

End Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #2: “Untouchability in Barbershop”

There are three barbershops in a village but Dalits still have to travel to the nearest city for a haircut and shave. In the paradox that defines this practice in India, the barber denies and implies untouchability in the same breath.

Prosecute Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #3: “Untouchability in Roti”

An “upper caste” household pays a sweeper women for her services by standing at a distance and flinging food like charity into the folds of her sari.

Stop Untouchability.Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #4: “Untouchability in Temple”

There are still temples where people are forbidden to enter on the basis of caste. These devotees are expected to view the idols of their gods and leave their offerings from beyond the threshold.

Untouchability is a Criminal Offence. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #5: “Hand Chopped Off For Breaking Untouchability Rules”

When a thirsty youth drank water from a pot meant for other castes, the reaction was immediate and brutal. He was abused, assaulted and his hands were chopped off.

Prosecute Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #6: “Untouchability At Water Taps”

Village women vigorously clean common water taps only because a Dalit has used it before them. They maintain that even if a Dalit has brushed up against it, the tap has to be ‘purified’.

This is unacceptable. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #7: “Murdered for Breaking Untouchability Rules”

In 2005, Mr. Prakash Singh Jandali, a Dalit Sikh, lost his son, his daughter-in-law who belonged to a different caste and an unborn grandchild to a murderous backlash by angry ‘upper castes’. The suspects were never apprehended. 7 years later, he is just another statistic of caste atrocities, awaiting justice from a system that rarely delivers.

End Caste Violence. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #8: “Untouchability While Walking”

Dalits walking through a neighborhood belonging to another caste are still expected to remove their footwear. A refusal to comply with ‘tradition’ often has harsh consequences.

End Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #9: “Untouchability in Water”

There are separate public water stalls for Dalits and non-Dalits. Dalits must serve themselves from a tap at ground level intended for washing dirty dishes while non-Dalits are served by a worker in a clean and shaded room. In the case of a common stall, the segregation is maintained by marking separate cups for separate castes.

End Caste Discrimination. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #10: “Untouchable Jobs”

A sanitation worker speaks on how he has given up hope for basic dignity. The caste system in India prescribes that all menial and filthy jobs be done by the ‘lowest’ caste. In continuation of this ‘tradition’, sanitation workers around the country are almost always Dalits. This we believe is a continuation of untouchability practices.

This is unacceptable.Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #11: “Killed in Untouchable Job”

Sanitation workers from the Valmiki Dalit community pay for their jobs with their lives. 350 workers are reported to die each year while working.

This is unacceptable. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #12: “Untouchability Among Dalits”

A Dalit man testifies on how he will never allow his own sons and daughters to marry into a ‘lower’ Dalit sub-caste. The absurdity of this situation speaks volumes on how untouchability is embedded in the culture, even amongst the Dalits.

End Caste Discrimination. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #13: “Killed for Protesting Untouchability”

A peaceful protest by Dalits is met with state aggression. The police used lathis, tear gas and bullets on the unarmed crowd. 6 Dalits were killed and over 30 injured. Not a single culprit has been brought to justice.

Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #14: “Untouchability in Death”

The other castes from the village have illegally occupied Dalit crematoriums. The body of a recently deceased young Dalit boy had to be buried in mud by the side of the road. Caste barriers are alive, even in death.

End Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #15:”Untouchability in Haircut”

Barbers refuse to service Dalits for fear of being ‘polluted’.

Prosecute Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #16: “Untouchability in Meeting God”

In 2011, when Dalit youths of a village decided to participate in the festivities at a local Shiva temple, they were barred from entering the premises. The youths called on the police for intervention. When presented with a chance to end years of oppression, the police washed their hands of the matter and refused to be involved.

Stop Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #17: “Untouchability in Cities”

Dalits are openly shunned by the other castes. They are ghettoized in their communities where access to basic amenities like water is an everyday and arduous struggle.

End Caste Discrimination. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #18: “Untouchable Job 100% Reserved”

A young man speaks of the indignities and hazards of being a sanitation worker. The caste system in India prescribes that all menial and filthy jobs be done by the ‘lowest’ caste. In continuation of this ‘tradition’, sanitation workers around the country are almost always Dalits. This we believe is a continuation of untouchability practices.

This is unacceptable. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #19: “Untouchability With Life Giving Midwife”

Most midwives in India belong to the Dalit community. Once the child is born however, the touch of a midwife is deemed unacceptable to the mother and child. Celebrations of the birth continue without her participation. At most, she is invited but will be kept away from the festivities and fed separately in a place outside, where no one can see her.

End Caste Discrimination. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #20: “Untouchability in Housing”

Even the smallest of villages are laid out along caste lines and the Dalit community is confined to its own ghetto, which in all probability will be the filthiest part of the village. Very little of the prosperity and development is allowed to trickle down the caste hierarchy into the ghetto.

Stop Untouchability. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #21: “Untouchability in its Worst Form”

Sanitation workers make a demand for basic safety equipment as they enter stagnant pools of waste. The caste system in India prescribes that all menial and filthy jobs be done by the ‘lowest’ caste. In continuation of this ‘tradition’, sanitation workers around the country are almost always Dalits. This we believe is a continuation of untouchability practices.

This is unacceptable. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #22: “Untouchability in Pots”

When the villagers saw a Dalit laborer drinking from a pot filled by a woman belonging to another caste, they snatched the pot away from him and emptied it onto the ground. The water was wasted. Nobody’s thirst was quenched. And two thousand years worth of time and progress suddenly stood still.

This inhumanity must end. Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #23: “Untouchability in Church”

Christian Dalits are not allowed to sing in churches. They are buried in separate graves. Government of India recognizes Untouchability as an exclusively Hindu- Sikh phenomenon. But in reality, Untouchability knows no religion. For a ‘traditional’ atrocity, it is remarkably secular.

Witness Criminal Offence #24: “Untouchability in Kitchen”


The state had passed the rule that only Dalits would be appointed as mid-day meal cooks. This caused an uproar among the ‘upper caste’ communities everywhere and their children began to boycott the food. The state responded by softening the rule, replacing the words ‘compulsory appointment’ with ‘preference will be given’ and allowing a dubious ‘tradition’ to continue. 
Witness Criminal Offence #25: “Untouchability Through Boycott”


A village oppresses its Dalit community by cutting them off from social, economic and political processes and spaces. The caste system seeks to maintain the status quo of keeping “highs” high and “lows” low. The paranoia of the other castes against Dalits manifests itself in bullying, boycott, force and violence.

Sign the Petition.

Witness Criminal Offence #26: “Untouchability  At Hand Pumps”


A Dalit woman who works as a sweeper wonders why people belonging to other castes have to wash the public hand pumps after she has used them. “Do they despise the work we do or do they despise us?” she asks.

Sign the Petition.

Find the Video Volunteers’ ARTICLE 17 Press Release here.