Dalits await justice after boycott
Visakhapatnam, June 20: Dalits of Varaada in K Kotapadu mandal of the district who are at the receiving end of caste discrimination by the village rich are still awaiting justice. Their demand for criminal prosecution of those responsible for enforcing a social boycott has not fructified and appeals for help to the district administration is yet to be realised.
``Sixty days after the boycott was enforced on us, no action has been taken against the two persons responsible for it. On the other hand, we are having to suffer indignities and go hungry due to lack of work. We fail to understand the apathy of the police and revenue officials,’’ Botsa Yerrayamma, a Dalit of Varaada, told reporters here on Wednesday.
She recalled how the village rich never allowed the Dalits to draw water from the two wells but poured it for the SCs who held the pots on their heads.
The Dalits took this treatment lying down for many decades but growing awareness of their rights and intervention by the Struggle Committee Against Caste Discrimination in recent times had prompted them to question the heinous practice.
``We drew water from the well on April 20 and this made the village rich furious. Egged on mainly by the sarpanch Lekkala Demudu and Water Users Association president L Avatara Murthy, they enforced a boycott on us and removed 12 Dalits from work. They even stopped using the two wells in the village and got a bore sunk for themselves after pooling money. If their version that there is no untouchability being practiced now true, why are they not drawing water from the wells,’’ she asked.
Yerrayamma’s words were echoed by fellow Dalits of the village Botsa Yerakaiah, B Annapurna and Guruvuru. They said the issue was discussed in several gram sabhas and the Collector had come during the 6th gram sabha during the 15th round of Janma Bhoomi recently and after ascertaining the facts, agreed that social boycott of Dalits was indeed a fact. He had warned those behind it of serious action. ``However, soon after two more Dalits were removed from work. How are we to survive in these conditions,’’ Annapurna asked.
Struggle Committee district secretary M Chanti said though untouchability was a serious crime under the law and the Dalits had lodged complaints with the police, Demudu and Murthy were yet to be arrested under relevant sections of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. No economic assistance nor wages was forthcoming to the Dalits despite an express assurance from the MRO on June 11.
Calling on the Collector and SP to intervene, Chanti said the Committee would be organising a seminar in the city on the issue on June 26 and an all party committee would meet the Collector the next day. ``If there is still no positive response from the administration, we will organise a massive dharna at the Collectorate and intensify the struggle,’’ he added.
Committee functionaries V Venkata Rao and B Lokanadham also participated.