This August, while India celebrates its 70 years of independence, the state of Andhra Pradesh will
commemorate the 26th anniversary of Tsunduru massacre- brutal killings of Dalits in erstwhile by
dominant caste men. And even today, atrocities on Dalits have remained as a social phenomenon of the
region. Mere assertions of land rights or of self-dignity from the Dalits, are intolerable for upper castes.
The number of cases filed under the SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in the country has severely
increased, with 44,839 cases registered with the police, in 2015 alone.
In Garagaparru village of the West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, nearly 1,200 Dalits (belonging to
Mala community) have been facing a social boycott from the dominant castes, mainly the Rajus, for
more than three months now. And it all started after a dispute, over installing a statue of Dr B.R.
Ambedkar by some Dalit youth of the village, on April 23. Before the incident, these Dalit families made
their livelihood by acquiring tenancy of farmlands from Raju landlords, working as agricultural labourers
and drivers. Their women worked as maids in the houses of the landlords.
Under the leadership of Balaramaraju, the Raju caste men announced, that a fine of RS 1,000 will be
imposed, on those who talk to the Mala community people and a fine of RS 10,000 will be levied on
those who employed them. Other castes in the village were threatened to remain docile. This came to
light only after two months, when a regional news channel (10 TV) exposed it. Until then, no
government official or police officer had reached out to help the community, even after their repeated
After K Ramulu, a member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, visited Garagaparru village
and confirmed the social boycott, the Telugu Desam Party government sent a delegation of ministers,
including Social Welfare Minister Nakka Anand Babu, Labour Minister Pithani Satyanarayana and SC
Corporation chairman Jupudi Prabhakar, to the village, to broker peace between the warring castes.
They also announced a compensation of RS 1 lakh each, to the 365 Dalit families on July 25.
“Earlier, the ministers had promised that every Dalit family will be compensated. Now the local
government officials have recognised only 310 families as eligible,” said Rajesh, a Dalit youth of the
village. He also stated that it was only after the pressure from various Dalit organisations which made
the government compensate them. “We are being harassed to get new caste certificates issued in the
new state and an Aadhaar has been made compulsory for this. We are 365 families here. We will fight
until every family gets justice”, he said.
On July 28, in a Round Table Conference held in West Godavari district organised by Dalit Sthree Sakthi
(DSS) convener Gaddam Jhansi, about 25 cases of discrimination on Dalits were reported. Victims had
undergone similar atrocities from various parts of Andhra Pradesh, the Hans India reported.
“The outrage of the upper castes in the village is such, that they will never give back the previously held
tenancy of the farmlands to the Dalits. Already, many people from these ostracised families have
migrated to nearby cities in search of informal jobs. It is the responsibility of government officials to
ensure no such discrimination appears in the near future” said Rama Krishna, district secretary of Kula
Vivaksha Porata Sangam(KVPS), whose organisation has provided food to these Dalit families in the last three months when they were left out with no work.
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