Dalit activists stage dharna demanding the arrest of assailants

VISAKHAPATNAM: The activists of the Dalita Bhooporata Sangham (DBS) and Jagruti Mahila Sangham (JMS) staged a dharna on Monday demanding the arrest of those who allegedly assaulted the villagers of Bhimannadorapalem in Anandapuram mandal during a ‘grama devata’ festival on March 14.

According to a press release by DBS representative Boney Krishna, the followers of one Mahalakshmi Naidu attacked his house and tried to drag him out. The same day about 30 members of the Naidu group allegedly launched another attack on M Nallayya and his family members, verbally abused them and warned them of dangerous consequences.

The protesters demanded the arrest of Mahalakshmi Naidu and his accomplices as per the provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act, distribution of lands to the the poor in Bhimannadorapalem, Gorintatangudubilli and Kolavanipalem and inquiry against the police officials who allegedly shielded the accused.

Neglected by Govt, Harijans migrate from border villages

BHUJ: With all relief efforts of NGOs and the State Government focused on Bhuj and other quake-affected towns, Harijans living in four border villages, just 14 km north of the district headquarters on the main Bhuj-Khavda road, received no help from any quarter.

"No government help has reached us nor has any government agency visited us so far," said Haja Sava, a Harijan.

Tired of waiting for help, the Harijans just packed whatever was left of their possessions and migrated leaving their damaged houses behind. The villages vacated by the Harijans are Dinara (60 families), Dhrobana (70 families), Khavda (36 families) and Kuran (four families). The migrants said Harijan families from Jam Kunaria and Juna villages were also thinking of leaving.

The Harijans, who are now living in five temporary settlements, are sure of one thing _ that they don't want to go back. "If we are not allowed to settle at our present sites, we are ready to move ahead and live permanently on any site between Bhuj and Ahmedabad. But we are not returning to our village," Bijal Harijan from Dinara said.

He said that with the collapse of their homes, there was nothing left to return to. Bijal added that the only land they had was five acres of rocky land, which was given to them 15 years ago after Sarvodaya workers took up their cause.

He said the land was so unproductive that the villagers came to Bhuj and Gandhidham to work as casual labourers, while their womenfolk kept themselves busy with handicraft work. In such a scenario, it was best to abandon the village and settle down near a town, he pointed out.

"At least this way our children might have hope of a better life," said Bhoja Kesa, leader of another settlement named Sanjotnagar, said. The settlers in Bhuj re mainly artisans from Dhrobana village.

Migrants from Khavda village in Pachham area who have settled near Rudramata dam complained that the State Handicraft Board had not purchased their ready leather goods worth Rs 2.5 lakh despite a promise. "Union Textile Minister Kashiram Rana met us during his first visit to Kutch and promised that our ready goods would be bought by the state board, but nothing has been done so far despite several representations and meetings with board officials and its Managing Director," Bhura Natha said.

He said their settlement was visited by State Home Minister Haren Pandya who had promised proper rehabilitation soon. But, he said when he went to Khavda two days back he was shocked to find only seven names in the list of affected families out of 37 living in the settlement. He said the fact was that all houses in one of the four Harijan localitis in Khavda had collapsed. He said the village Talati was ready to give tin sheets only for seven families and not for the other 30. Bhura Natha said the Harijans badly needed tin sheets to construct shelters at the settlements before monsoon. In fact, they've already had a taste of thunderstorm and unseasonal rains last week.

BJP district vice-president Veljibhai Ahir, after visiting all the five new settlements, said he would be drawing the attention of both the State Government and the party's leadership to the plight of Harijans. GMDC chairman and Bhuj MLA Mukesh Zaveri has also visited the Harijan families.

Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: April 19, 2001
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