December 13, 2015

Historic Dalit Convention held in Bengaluru


A HISTORIC dalit convention was held in Bengaluru on December 5-6 under the banner of Dalit Hakkugala Samiti-Karnataka (DHS-K), affiliated to the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM). The two day convention has opened up a new chapter in the dalit movement in Karnataka, one of the major centres of the movement in the country. The convention assumed importance in the backdrop of growing incidents of atrocities against dalits in Karnataka as well as in different parts of the country.

Inaugurating the convention at Freedom Park on December 5, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and DSMM leader B V Raghavulu took a dig at those claiming that India is becoming superpower. "Some people are talking of India becoming a superpower, surpassing China and the US. But India can never be a superpower, without eradicating caste and untouchability, respecting dignity of labour and treating all citizens as equals,” said Raghavulu. “The country can’t become superpower without empowering the dalits,” he declared.




The CPI(M) leader said the Narendra Modi government observing the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar is only a farce. The two-day special convention of parliament has failed to come to a concrete decision to solve the problems faced by the dalits, he said. Passing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Bill 2015, making allocations to SC/ST Sub-Plans in proportion to percentage of their population mandatory by law, reservation in education and employment in private sector, distribution of land to landless dalits – all such expectations have remained unfulfilled. The governments have belied the dreams of people of socially oppressed sections of the society, Raghavulu said.

Both the major national parties – Congress and BJP – only pay lip-service to Ambedkar. We have to be the true inheritors of Ambedkar's vision and carry forward struggle against caste  oppression and untouchability. He termed this convention a 'historic' event in the state. Raghavulu said that the C P Alexandar Committee report, which highlighted availability of vast land in the country and recommended its distribution among dalits, was not implemented yet.




CPI(M) state secretary and Central Committee member, G V Srirama Reddy spoke on the increasing atrocities against dalits and minorities in the state as well as the country. Atrocities against dalits have increased after the Modi dispensation took charge at the centre, he said. He also ridiculed the claim of Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah that his is a pro-Ahinda (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes and dalits) government. To prove his point, Reddy gave concrete examples of total inaction (or even support to perpetrators) in four recent serious incidents of atrocities against dalits and continuing attacks on minorities in coastal districts. He also stressed that we cannot expect either communal/casteist BJP or so-called secular Congress to protect the interests of dalits. He called upon dalits to organise and assert their rights, and all progressive democratic forces to stand with dalits in this struggle.

A mammoth rally was held before the inauguration of the convention. Thousands of dalits arriving from different parts of the state took part in the impressive rally.



Four jathas starting from four places ie, Marakumbi, Chamarajanagara, Belthangady and Bagepalli, where heinous crimes have been committed against dalits in recent days, converged at Bangalore on December 4. Four jathas – two of these on foot and the rest on vehicles – put together covered over 1,000 kms and several towns/villages enroute for about three weeks, highlighting major demands of the convention. The longest jatha on foot was from Marakumbi in Koppal district, which started on November 19 and covered over 400 km. Over 100 people walked the entire distance.

The convention adopted a number of resolutions in support of various demands that will help improve the living conditions of the dalits. They included opposing/resisting increasing atrocities against dalits and attacks on social justice in the name of globalisation; asserting rights of dalits for social emancipation and development; reservation in education and employment in the private sector.



Social welfare minister of Karnataka, H Anjaneya visited the public meeting venue and received a memorandum submitted by the DHS-K.  He assured that a meeting will be convened and measures will be taken to fulfill the demands of the movement. A number of family members of victims of atrocities attended the meet.

Leaders of various mass and democratic organisations including Nityanandaswamy, Maruthi Manpade, U Basavaraju, S Varalakshmi, Meenakshisundaram, K N Umesh, K Ambarish, Chandrappa Hoskera, Malamma, representatives of State Government Employees Union D Shivashankar, B S Chandrashekhar and Karnataka Rajya Devadasiyara Vimochana Sangha state general secretary Renuka were among those who participated in the convention.

The convention elected a new 39-member state committee with Gopalakrishna Aralahalli as convener. Fourteen co-conveners were elected that included Nityananda Swamy, Maruti Manpade, U Basavaraj, K Mahantesh, Chandrappa Hoskera and Malamma.