ARTICLE 17

A Campaign to End Untouchability

ARTICLE 17 is Video Volunteers campaign on to urge the government to implement the laws against the practice of Untouchability. Since 2012, Community Correspondents have been documenting untouchability across the country. First, we petitioned 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. When that was unsuccessful, we filed a petition in the Supreme Court with the Human Rights Law Network, a case which is still in process.

The videos below have been transcribed and entered into evidence in the Supreme Court. Please send us any visual evidences you have.

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.

29 Comments

  1. […] Press Freedom Day, Video Volunteers launched IndiaUnheard, an initiative involving a network of Community Correspondents around India who will produce video stories about life in their community, and the issues ignored […]

  2. […] Press Freedom Day, Video Volunteers launched IndiaUnheard, an initiative involving a network of Community Correspondents around India who will produce video stories about life in their community, and the issues ignored […]

  3. […] Volunteers lançou o IndiaUnheard [Índia Inaudível], uma iniciativa que envolve uma rede de Correspondentes de Comunidades pela Índia que irão produzir histórias de vida em vídeo sobre a comunidade e assuntos ignorados […]

  4. It is a good intervention to bring change in the marginalized community.Viedo,it is a importnatant medaia to influnence the mind set of community.
    I am Rajikala,I am working as a social worker in kerala based NGO,I would like to associate with you to bring positive change among marginalized community in India

  5. Dear Raji

    This is great news and one way you could begin is by helping us to find a Community correspondent from a marginalized community. Here is the link where you can do that: https://www.videovolunteers.org/programmes/indiaunheard/fellowship-criteria/

  6. […] from this school have also taken loans. Today, we’re sharing this information with all IndiaUnheard correspondents so they too can think about taking loans, just the way Rohini has. Related postsHimalaya […]

  7. Rana Ajai singh April 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    JAI HIND
    How can we give online information? About crime or corruption. For news channels or police, vigilance, anti corruption cells. N.G.O. Who work against corruption? Mostly I email the information or story .but later I checked or know about action against victims the result is zero. Some times I am feeling UN secure for this work. Every week I email 2-3 stories to news channels, anti crime cells or others. This I do only make a pressure against victims. . I don’t want publicity or any type of gift, money other benefits. If any channel or N.G.O. Have time just give me knowledge how we fight against crime or corruption. How can I work on line as a free reporter? Awaited for your reply .hope we make a team fight against corruption.
    Thanks
    With regards
    Rana Ajai Singh

  8. Manjeet Singh Rana June 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Yes ,it is really a good initiative and if a good team works with selfless way no hurdle can stop to proceed further to achieve the goal

  9. sanjeev kumar Chimbalhar July 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Protecting Human rights is a mirror of social Justice

    Through such initiative, we can support those remain under served and unheard. As all over the world poor are cursed by capitalist and their resources are snatched without any consent under the pressure of international policies. To see the situation states are forcefully enacting such laws which are not favoring poor concerns. For peace and progress respecting dignity is pre-requisition, but people like us every day pass such types of experiences which no where looks human friendly. There is great need of protecting human right by making government responsible for their duties. These types of initiative educate people for their rights and together we all stand to fight against injustice

  10. i support u but i think this is not just enough to change the marginality of india.there should be change in indian politics and public.lac of facilites many childre are becoming begger.when u go for indian farmers they work entire day they dont have fod but the leaders who elected the farmers even they dont work for them they will have food.this is the position of indian former

  11. […] experiences and receive an in-depth training to further develop the impact of their videos. These Community Correspondents are truly remarkable and inspiring. They each had such a unique personal story to tell, sometimes […]

  12. I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  13. community correspondent | IndiaUnheard This really answered my drawback, thanks! Regards, Furniture Guarantee

  14. I got what you think, thanks for putting up. Woh I am cheerful to grow this website finished google. Thanks For Share community correspondent | IndiaUnheard.

  15. hallo mdm my kuch edio dekha
    hame sharam aane chahiye ki hum praja taantric vfyvsth me rehkar be. o be school ke under midday meal meitna bhedbhaav kiyajarahe hai. sarkar isi vakt us schoolke headmasterne aur teachersne suspend karnachahiye,

  16. Great work, people! It really takes courage to be able to take a stand for this deep rooted social evil of our society. Thousands of people may watch you are doing and praise, but it really is great that you people are there on the front, being the voice for those special people who also are entitled to live a life! Kudos to all of those who are involved in this in every small way. Mary

  17. Jayanand Racheti April 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    It is too agonizing for me to watch these devastating factual videos. India boasts of as fast developing country. Yes, I agree,India is developing very fast in many ways, but not in humanities and in freedom of thought. Majority of Indians lack civic sense. The development of India belongs only the so-called upper castes and not to the lower stratum. The daliths are neglected by Indian governament. If Indian governament doesn’t respond to these videos and doesn’t probe these atrocities, then it means that Indian government encourages untouchability.If it continues like this, then India never be a developed country in future and will be a developing country for ever. Majority of upper castes are not ready to treat the dalits with equality and dignity. Even thoogh they are educated, they are like frogs in a well. Their minds are not grown up to higher and noble things, such as: equality, human dignity, freedom and justice. They are making India doomed for eternity with the practice of untouchablility. Please, the educated ones wake up from your slumber of untouchability, and act as free human beings without any prejudices and make India developed and dignified country in the eyes of other country. Jaihind

  18. To get rid from Untouchibility there is only one way and that is ISLAM, All the examples shown in this article there is not a single from Muslim Community.
    Islam says ,Help the criminal!!! how ? just by preventing him doing crime.
    Problem of untouchibility will be solved by positive anti untouchibility philosophy of Islam. and 2nd effective thing will happen that those who practic untouchibility and harresh Dalit will beome Minority class of India.If So called Untouchable to solve the problem Utouchebility joins Islam than united they will become Majority of the Countory.
    Islam also help criminal by preventing them doing crime-that is we will by love change all in brothers.Islam is for All.
    Islam says we all human being are sons and daughters of ONE PARENTS.

  19. To get rid from Untouchibility there is only one way and that is ISLAM, All the examples shown in this article there is not a single from Muslim Community.
    Islam says ,Help the criminal!!! how ? just by preventing him doing crime.
    Problem of untouchibility will be solved by positive anti untouchibility philosophy of Islam. and 2nd effective thing will happen that those who practic untouchibility and harresh Dalit will beome Minority class of India.If So called Untouchable to solve the problem Utouchebility joins Islam than united they will become Majority of Countory.
    Islam also help criminal by preventing them doing crime-that is we will by love change all in brothers.Islam is for All.
    Islam says we all human being are sons and daughters of one Parents.None of us is superior to another by Birth.All are equqls.

  20. I feel this is among the so much vital info for me. And i am glad studying your article. However want to commentary on some common things, The site taste is wonderful, the articles is actually nice : D. Just right task, cheers

  21. My closest friend in India since the late 1970s is by birth (though not by character, education, trustworthiness and courtesy) an “untouchable”.
    His brother-in-law sadly died young while serving as “sanitation worker”. And this, totally unnecessarily and under inhumane working conditions, in a metropolis that prides itself as cultural centre by global standards.
    Some of his neighbours live air-conditioned, just a few metres across a wall that defines his own colony as slum, theirs as a “gated community”.
    Nevertheless, my friend’s children have grown into cheerful, well educated teenagers any well thinking parent would wish to have! Good teachers have helped him and his wife with a congenial environment denied to most others. There as anywhere in the world, good education, integrity and transparency provide the key to prosperity and peace. The accountability facilitated here is invaluable.
    I hope my friend’s children will succeed in life for what they are – their parent’s generation never got a chance themselves when still young.
    Campaigns such as this by Video Volunteers make a difference. The well produced videos I have seen provide the opportunities needed to instill confidence in individuals and groups alike, namely to develop their own talents and made their voices heard. Most importantly, they can now express themselves on eye-level rather than as recipients of real or imagined charity.
    This is about learning how to translate one’s aspirations and legitimate self-interest into a constructive agenda. India needs this – it craves for recognition as a democratic, modern nation amongst equals. Certainly in view of the commercial mass media’s fixation on economic growth. Alternative avenues are indispensable in order to reach out to concerned citizens like my friend; just as well-wishers like myself.
    Carry on the good work – with my compliments to those making this initiative possible.

  22. After watching all these videos, I came to know that my view that the caste system in India is weakened to some extent. I am forced to grasp that it is still rampant and deeply rooted.

    My sincere appreciations to your work.

  23. (Ignore the above one.)

    After watching all these videos, I came to know that my view that the caste system in India is weakened to some extent is wrong and totally a blunder. I am forced to grasp that it is still rampant and deeply rooted.

    My sincere appreciations to your work.

    But, are you going to urge NCSC and it’s government the same institutions which are entrusted to end this menace by constitution and still failed to move it an inch for last 60 independent years?

    It wont’t happen. The only way is the people should take their future into their own hands and give them what shape they like.

  24. cannot beleive untuchability still exists to this extent in India. There are other issues other countries have ..but human dignity is prime importance in Europe and I believe even in the west in general…good work Stalin..proud of you and your work..keep it up

  25. i think we all are responsible for such kind of happenings with our people(untouchables). In our daily life we are practicing untouchability any of this kind. Sorry to say but govt.rules can’t do anything till we would change our self.
    i appreciate this scheme you guys are working on.

  26. Most of the people are fooling themself. Cast system is the base of Hinduism. Name a Hindu holly book that don’t preach cast system ? In Ramyana so called Rama killed Rishi Shambook (Shudra), Krishna and his Gundas cut the thumb of Eklaya,Tulsi Das Saying-: “pujya biper sheelgun heena nahi Shuder Gun Gayan parveena” UNTILL HINDUISM WILL REMAIN, CAST SYSTEM WILL REMAIN.!

  27. Good work! Courts dream at caste-less society, which is an imaginary solution. Such a solution can never be reached with existing laws. In addition to Art. 17, there should be an Art. 17A providing for abolition of caste and endogamy, and prohibition of its practise in any form. The Courts implementing constitution may then aim at real solution of caste-less society.

  28. Apart from corrupt politicians and police apathy, there are 2 more things in India that are shameful:

    1. Caste barriers in society.
    2. Quotas in education.

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