Socialist Worker

Woman’s rape and murder sees mass revulsion across India

Issue No. 2725

Members of the All India Progressive Womens Association demonstrating against the rape and murder of Manisha Valmiki

Members of the All India Progressive Women's Association demonstrating against the rape and murder of Manisha Valmiki


A wave of anger at police, politicians and caste violence has spread across India after four upper-caste men allegedly raped and murdered a low-caste Dalit woman. 

Manisha Valmiki, 19 years old, was assaulted in a field near her home in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh at the end of last month. 

The men who attacked Manisha tried to strangle her and broke her spine.

She died in hospital shortly after but police refused to allow Manisha’s family to bury her. 

To prevent any public show of anger during her funeral they barricaded the family in their house and quickly incinerated the body.

State politicians and police then systematically sought to downplay the murder. 

Though the police had custody of four suspects, they refused to charge them with rape. Only later, after Manisha briefly regained consciousness, did they level any charges at all.

Allegiances

Many suspect caste allegiances are behind the police’s tardiness, and that caste hatred is behind the attack.

Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, belongs to the same caste group as the accused, and he uses his upper caste prestige as a way of buying votes at election times. 

Adityanath is a hard right supporter of the BJP party and Hindu chauvinism.

His defence of caste privileges has encouraged an outpouring of violence, particularly against lower caste women. 

Radical left activist Kavita Krishnan says Manisha’s case is not unique and that there is “structural violence” against women of India’s 200 million low-caste Dalits. 

Discrimination in jobs, education and social life is widespread and tacitly supported by the key 

institutions of Indian society—despite many laws which are supposed to safeguard Dalit rights.

Anger at the case brought hundreds out in the streets of Delhi last week, and had a huge impact on social media.

As a result all manner of political forces are attempting to jump on an issue previously raised only by the left.

The Congress party, India’s mainstream opposition, announced this week that it would hold protests in the spirit of Gandhi’s passive resistance movement. 

More farcically, the fascist Shiv Sena group, held a “candle lit march” in Uttar Pradesh last weekend.

Shiv Sena is deeply entwined with the BJP and Yogi Adityanath.

India’s hard right is desperate to whip up fear and division, including encouraging anti-Muslim violence and fanning the flames of caste prejudice. 

This reflects a growing disillusionment with the BJP  government and its handling of the coronavirus and the economy.

The left must find ways of tying together all the strands of resistance in a bid to hit back.


Conflict threatens war in the Caucasus

Rockets and shells have hit major cities in Armenia and Azerbaijan over the weekend as border clashes brought the whole region closer to war. 

Armenian forces shelled Azerbaijan’s second largest city, Ganja, claiming to have hit its military airport. 

Azerbaijan reported that up to 30 people were injured and one killed in the attack. 

Azerbaijan claims to have retaken seven villages and shelled Stepanakert, the capital of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region inside its borders. 

It has been ruled by Armenian separatist forces since declaring independence in 1991. 

The collapse of Stalinist Russia triggered the Nagorno-Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

A ceasefire in 1994 left the Armenian military in control of the region and surrounding areas. The fighting between Russian-backed Armenia and Turkish-backed Azerbaijan threatens a wider war in the Caucasus, home to oil and gas pipelines. 

Russia and Turkey are competing partly over control of exports of gas to European markets.


Golden Dawn Nazis judged

The biggest trial of fascist criminals since Nazi Germany’s leadership was tried in 1946 was set to come to an end in Greece on Wednesday.

The verdict will come after a five-year trial of members of Golden Dawn, the Greek Nazi party that rapidly grew in the aftermath of the financial crisis in the country. 

The trial  began two years after the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed by a Golden Dawn member in Piraeus on 18 September 2013. 

A number of party members—including leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos—were arrested in the weeks that followed. 

Some 69 members—including 18 who were then MPs—went on trial on charges of running a criminal organisation. 

One defendant has now died. Anti-racist organising has greatly weakened Golden Dawn.

Supporters of Greek anti-fascist organisation, Keerfa, were set to protest on Wednesday. 


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