No Protection for Dalits under ‘AHinDa’ Govt.


            Karnataka CM Siddaramayya claims his is an ‘AHinDa’ (Government of and for Minorities, Backwards and Dalits) Government. But every week events and developments confirm it is anything but true. Two incidents of atrocities on Dalits last week in which CPI(M) intervened bear it out clearly. Attacks on Dalit homes started in Sigaranahalli (in Hassan District) to ‘punish’ entry of Dalit Women to temple (a ‘Crime’ according to Caste Hindus). In Hulivana village (of Mandya District) ‘Crime’ of a Dalit youth was that he fell in love with a Caste Hindu Girl and married her. In both cases all Dalits of the village were under attack. Attackers were leaders of the powerful caste in the area – Vokkaligas.

SHG celebration a Trigger!

            Sigaranahalli episode was triggered interestingly by ‘celebration’ of a Stree Shakti Sangha (a SHG)on the occasion of sanction of loan on Aug 31st. Members of the Sangha which included Dalit women offered special puja in the temple, for which there was no objections from other members or the priest.  However after the puja one person objected to it and abused Dalit women using casteist obscene language, and complained to viallge ‘elders’. ‘Elders’ met same evening, condemned the Sangha members act, fined the Sangha for Rs. 1000 apart from ordering cost of ‘purification’ of temple. Dalith youth who protested the decision was attacked. Dalith youths decided to complain to police. At this point, CPI(M) and its Dalit Rights subcommittee intervened along with other Dalit/Progressive forces.

            But police delayed taking up complaint in the guise of calling ‘peace meeting’. However when peace meeting was called on Sep 8th, war-like situation prevailed with caste Hindus armed, threatening  abusing Dalits using casteist obscene language right under the nose of  area MLA, Senior Admin & Police officers. Activists of progressive organisations were also not spared. But police was a mute spectator. Ultimately police registered the case, but also obliged caste Hindus by filing cases on village Dalits using false allegations.

Challenge to Untouchability

            Sigaranahalli has 30 Dalit and 300 Vokkaliga families. Village happens to be the neighbouring village of former PM and JD(S) supremo Devegowda. Revanna – son of Devegowda is the area MLA. Area happens to be stronghold of JD(S) and Devegowda clan who is the ‘Government’ here. Village temple which was rejuvenated in 2001 and was open to Dalits also. SamudayaBhavana (Community Hall) built under funding of Devegowada’s MPLAD was also open to all castes. However Untouchability was being practised in various forms with intolerance of Dalit assertion increasing. Appointment of one Dalit woman (mandatory under rules) for cooking Midday Meals was being prevented.  If the demand grows threat of school boycott was being brandished. Increasingly Samudaya Bhavana was limited to functions of Vokkaligas only. Recently the board itself was changed to ‘Vokaaliga Samudaya Bhavana’. Again those protested were threatened with dire consequences.  When there is a function in Bhavana cooks were diverted from Midday Meals. But Dalit school children were not permitted to eat at Bhavana. Even kids straying to Bhavana and eating were thrown out after seizing food. Those who objected were threatened.

            In this background CPI(M), Dalit Rights subcommittee along with other Dalit/Progressive forces decided to act, in support of village Dalits. A temple entry and community lunch at Samudaya Bhavana was announced on Sep 12th. Permision was obtained from relevant Admin and Police officers.  Com. GV Srirama Reddy, CPI(M) CC member and State Secretary announced his participation.  This sent shivers down the Devegowda, his party and clan. Overnight plans were hatched to prevent the program.

‘AHinDa’ Govt protects Untouchability

            Senior Police and Admin officers were deputed to convince Com. GVS and District leaders of the movement to cancel the program to prevent serious law & order problem and even possible murders.  When the leaders insisted on going ahead with program, and proceeded towards the village all were arrested. Arrested included apart from Com. GVS, Com. Dharmesh District Party Secretary, Com. Naveen Kumar District Secretariat Member, Venkatesh Murthy (Editor-Janatha Madhyama – a local Daily), Dalit leaders Narayana Das, Sandesh.  They were also told now that permission given to the program has been withdrawn.

            Meanwhile unaware of developments in Hassan city, arrangements were on at the village. Many supporters/members of party/other progressive organisations had reached the village. But they were confronted by big force of policemen and vehicles that had surrounded the village. They were prevented from going to village. Even the villagers were allowed only on the basis of ID card. Some of the leaders of the movement from village including a Dalit activist/journalist were not allowed to enter the village. Such was the unprecedented police protection of ‘AHinDa’ Government extended to those practising Untouchability, in the Devegowda clan stronghold.

            CPI(M) and other Dalit/Progressive organisations have decided to challenge the might of ‘AHinDa’ Government & Devegowda clan, and continue the movement for punishing those practising untouchability.  Confronted with such stubborn resistance, taluk administration has taken over control of Samudaya Bhavanafrom local Vokkaliga leaders.          

Third-Party ‘Honour’!

            In the episode of inter-caste marriage in Hulivana (6 k.m from Mandya – District Centre) trouble was not from either of boy or girl’s family or even their communities. Boy belonged to Dalit and Girl belonged to Lingayata. Boy sought police protection anticipating trouble.  Police had taken consent of both families in writing to ‘prevent any trouble’.Village has 40 Dalit, 5 Lingayata and 1000 Vokkaliga families.  Dalit & Lingayata communities did not object to the marriage.  But some in third-party had problems with it. Some Vokkaliga leaders were heard saying ‘Today a Dalit boy marries Lingayata girl, tomorrow they will eye our girls. We need to teach them a lesson, so that they don’t even think of it’. Obviously these leaders roused conservative, casteist and anti-Dalit sentiments.

             Boy and his friend’s house was attacked on the very day of marriage Sep. 3. Eventually all Dalit houses were attacked with a big group of about 300 people going round the village. Police personnel deployed were overpowered and also several of them severely injured. Almost all Dalit houses badly damaged and are under siege. Virtual social boycott is operating.  Over 10 Dalits severely injured have been hospitalised.  Over 40 attackers have been arrested and about 30 have disappeared.  In this case Admin & Police is trying to protect and assist Dalit community, but is unable to control the aggressive majority community. 

            CPI(M) Dalit Rights Subcommittee and other progressive/civil rights organisations have intervened. They have formed a fact-finding committee and demanded protection to Dalit families, repair damaged Dalit houses, pay compensation and punish attackers under Dalit Atrocities Act.  Fact-finding Committee included Com. G N Nagaraj, Secretariat Member, District Leaders Puttamadu, Basavaraju, Kumari, R Krishna and others.