Monday, November 11, 2002

Dalits in Karnataka fear more assaults

Nupur Basu

Monday, November 11, 2002 (Kunigal district, Karnataka):

Dalits were once again the target of attack by those belonging to the upper caste. On November 7, Dalits were attacked in Ujjaini village in Kunigal district in Karnataka.

Between 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm that day, upper caste Gowda men living in the same village attacked Dalits with sticks, boulders and knives, sparing none. The frightened Dalits had to leave their homes.

Although they have returned since then, none of the culprits have been arrested till date. The village remains tense and the women are feeling particularly vulnerable.

Dalit women in Ujjaini village described how they were assaulted that night. Around 60 upper caste men allegedly attacked them and their homes in an assault that lasted nearly three hours; old men, women, none were spared.

Horror stories

Chowdamma, a Dalit woman, said, "We were inside our house when they came and hit us with stones. One stone landed on my chest."

Chicknaiah, another Dalit, said, "They came in a huge group, about 50-60 of them. They came and held me by my hair and then another lot went on beating me on my shoulder."

A woman and her two-day-old child were attacked viciously as a huge boulder was flung at her house by the mob. It crashed through her ceiling and fell on her stomach.

Chowdiah, a Dalit victim, lamented, "I am very poor. I have no one to support my family. They destroyed the roof of my house and also hit me on my leg. I had to stay at home since then without work."

The provocation

The attack was allegedly provoked over a dispute over a common land adjoining the village. The Dalits had requested that they be allowed to build some houses on it and even make a road.

Little hope

Ironically, the local Congress MLA, Y K Ramaiah, who came to the village ostensibly on a peace mission, came accompanied by the very men accused of the assault.

The police are guarding the village but none of the police officers on duty would comment about the episode.

Every year dozens of cases like this are registered before the Civil Rights Enforcement Cell, but the victims hardly ever get justice.

Source: NDTV, November 11, 2002

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