Vol. XLI No. 32 August 06, 2017

Stop Social Boycott in Garagaparru village

IN the recent period both in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, attacks and atrocities on dalits are on an increase. In Telangana, during the last three months, there have been about 18 such instances. A considerable number of these attacks are happening when there are inter-caste marriages. Andhra Pradesh has registered several incidents – Deverapalli, Pachikapallam and particularly the social boycott in Garagaparru are some recent examples. Dalits are being socially boycotted since three months in this village. This social boycott is being led by upper caste landlords in Garagaparru village, that is near Bhimavaram town of West Godavari district. Dalits account for 400 families of the 1500 families in this village.

On April 23, when dalits of this village installed a statue of Dr B R Ambedkar on the village tank bund, as on par with other national leaders, that very night miscreants from the village removed it from there and placed it near panchayat store, without the consent or any  information to the dalits. It was only with the initiative of officials, the statue was again installed at Panchayat bhavan. Since then ie, from May 5th onwards village upper caste landlords decided to boycott dalits from all social activities. All lands that were given to dalits on rent for cultivation were withdrawn. As a sequel those amongst dalits working as tractor drivers, domestic maids etc were removed from work from the upper caste houses. Upper caste farmers are not allowing dalit labourers to work in their fields. One RMP doctor who has been treating dalits had to vacate his clinic. A penalty is being levied on villagers who are not implementing this decision of social boycott by the village committee. It has been a while since this dastardly incident has been exposed. After this, there has been a big movement that started in solidarity with dalit victims. Bound by this pressure, administration was forced to arrest those three culprits and subsequently send them for remand for 15 days. These culprits were later released on bail. Though government representatives, MLA etc announced some eye wash measures for dalits, nothing has been implemented. Recently one dalit leader from this village was killed in an accident; the way in which this accident took place is raising doubts and dalits believe that it was a pre planned murder. Till now no compensation has been given to his family as promised. Though officials announced compensation for dalit families worth one lakh, it has not reached them as yet. Moreover in addition to social boycott by upper caste people within village, dalit dwellings have been cordoned off by police, thus restricting their movement. None is being allowed to meet the victims and express their solidarity, support or help. This is inhuman and undemocratic. The government is thereby only aiding the social boycott.

West Godavari district is one of the most developed districts in the country, but tripped with social backwardness and feudal culture. A delegation came from this village to Delhi to meet concerned officials, constitutional bodies, MPs ministers etc to seek justice. On July 29, representatives of dalit organisations – DSMM, AIDRF, NCDHR, AIDRF-AP, BMP-AP – expressed solidarity to the dalit victims and demanded both the central and state governments on the following:

1. Take effective measures to lift social boycott immediately. Implement the promises by ministers and issue a written commitment on the same.

2. Authorise place for the erection of Ambedkar statue where dalits want to. A government order should be issued on the same as the government has promised on the same.

3. Disburse compensation for each dalit family in the village immediately as promised by government. Enhance the compensation to Rs 2 lakhs.

4. Give back agricultural lands to all those tenants for cultivation on rent immediately.

5. Government lands should be provided for cultivation for each dalit family. Provide agricultural work for dalit labourers.

6. Special measures should be taken for development of dalit bastis with water, roads, sanitation etc.

7. Education of the dalit boys and girls should be resumed immediately with special measures.

8. Special police investigation should be conducted on the death of dalit youth Yacoob and ensure speedy justice. Compensation should be paid to the deceased family.

9. Employment should be provided for educated dalit youth from this village.