Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Persecuted Dalits protest

CUDDAPAH Aug. 19. About 120 Dalit families of Mittamanupalle village in Mydukur mandal are facing a social boycott, denied work and prevented from entering the main village or agricultural fields ever since they were attacked and their hutments burnt on July 23.

Demanding provision of work, free rice supply, grant of house sites and pucca houses and grant of loans from the SC Corporation, the Dalits staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate on Monday under the aegis of various Dalit organisations. Young children of the Dalits squatted by carrying empty steel plates and glasses to depict their hunger, while `Madiga' women and men, narrated their plight due to denial of work in the villages around.

The co-convenor of Mahajan Sangharshana Samithi, O. Balasubbaiah Madiga, convenor of Madiga Employees Federation, M. Kullayappa, MSS women's wing convenor, B. Mridula, B.R. Ambedkar Mission general secretary, A. Sampath Kumar, A.P. SC/ST Employees Welfare Association general secretary, C.V. Ramana, Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Committee secretary, C. Babu, CPI(M) district secretary, B. Narayana, and Dalit leaders, Y. Tirumalaiah, Y. Ramu Madiga, G. Obanna, K. Nagaraju and C. Munaiah Madiga, led the protest.

The Dalits alleged that about 300 upper caste men of Mittamanupalle and Kesavapuram villages attacked them on July 23 and burnt hutments, besides assaulting the cops of Mydukur police station. The Superintendent of Police, Abhilasha Bisht, visited the village and got a case registered against 106 upper caste men and about 25 accused were arrested and produced in court. They demanded restoration of the police picket as they feared recurring attacks.

Enraged at the Dalits lodging a complaint with the police, the upper caste persons of 10 villages including Mittamanupalle, Kesavapuram, Pothireddipalle and Vanipenta unanimously decided not to engage the Dalits for work and resolved to impose a fine of Rs. 1,000 on those engaging them for work, they alleged. The denial of work has made the Dalits' lives miserable, they lamented.

Trouble began when a Dalit, Gudisela Obulesu, picked an argument with an upper caste cyclist who dashed against a five-year-old Dalit boy who was going to school on July 23, the Dalits said. Earlier, two upper caste boys going on a bicycle dashed against two Dalit girls. Subsequently a large group of upper caste men attacked Dalits with stones and slippers, abused them on caste lines, they alleged.

The leaders called on the District Collector, K. Chandramouli, who was redressing grievances at Sabha Bhavan and narrated the plight of the Madiga families.

The Collector ordered sanction of 50 bags of rice to satiate the hunger of the Dalits. He directed officials concerned to immediately distribute 10 kg of rice to each family and take up jungle clearance under the Food-for-work programme, the Dalit leaders said. Mr. Chandramouli assured that he and the SP would visit the village soon and hold a meeting there to resolve the imbroglio, they added.

Source: The Hindu, August 20, 2002

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