Friday, January 21, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Little has changed for Dalits of Saligrama

MYSORE, January 19, 2011
Little has changed for Dalits of Saligrama
Muralidhara Khajane

Little has changed for the Dalits of Saligrama village of K.R. Nagar
taluk in Mysore district who have been ostracised by 'caste' Hindus
since September 26 following a silly altercation.

The Dalits in the village are having a tough time finding work. They
are disappointed with the Government, which, they say, has not
attempted to ensure social justice for them. The district
administration has not distributed the compensation of Rs. 30 lakh
released by the Government, they add.

Taking objection to what they consider the apathy of the
administration, the district unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has
decided to hold a protest rally on Republic Day.

Speaking to The Hindu, district BSP president Shivamahadeva regretted
that the administration, which had promised to protect the rights of
Dalits after the media highlighted the issue, had failed to keep its

According to Srinivas of the village, Dalits have been dismissed from
their jobs by 'caste' Hindus after the announcement of the social
boycott. People who were earning Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 in the village
were forced to trek 10 km to earn Rs. 50, he says, adding that people
travelled to nearby Haradanahalli, Karpoorahalli or even Kodagu
district for work.

"Except for providing work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Act, the district administration has not done
anything so far," he claims.

Although on the surface it appeared that the social boycott had been
withdrawn, Dalits were not getting jobs. "We are living under fear,"
he says.

Fact-finding team

Of a population of about 10,000, 2,000 people living at Saligrama are Dalits.

The social boycott stemmed from an incident where cattle belonging to
'caste' Hindus grazed on land belonged to a Dalit. When the Dalit
registered a complaint with the police, he was reportedly assaulted
and a social boycott was called.

A fact finding team of the Communist Part of India (Marxist) led by
State Secretariat member Maruthi Manpade found that Dalits were being
denied work in farms, while many had lost their jobs. A.H. Vishwanath,
Mysore MP, had also appealed to Minister in charge of the district
S.A. Ramdas to help the people. "But nothing has changed," bemoans
Krishnamurthy, Dalit leader of Saligrama.


The Dalits have taken the social boycott as a challenge, Mr. Srinivas
says. "Reposing our faith in the law of the land, we have decided to
fight against social boycott. We want the Government to support us
under the rights enshrined in the Constitution."


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