Saturday, February 4, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Maya’s white elephant down South


Maya's white elephant down South

The southward thrust of the BSP has achieved modest success so far but
the state party chief is under a cloud, writes Imran Khan
Muniyappa (centre) with BSP supporters

Flag-bearer Muniyappa (centre) with BSP supporters at a rally in the
Karnataka capital

Photo: Bangalore news photos

THE KARNATAKA BSP President Marasandra Muniyappa is doing a Mayawati
in Bengaluru. He has built a white mansion named after his leader and
a colony in the name of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. Unexceptional, except
for the fact that it is alleged he has done so by usurping land
belonging to poor Dalits. Not only is Muniyappa emulating his boss in
the amassing of personal property and building ostentatious memorials
to Dalit icons, he has been accused of cheating Dalits and grabbing
their property. Fed up with inaction, the Karnataka High Court
recently directed the home secretary, city police commissioner and the
chief secretary to explain why Muniyappa has not been arrested so far.

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Muniyappa, 54, currently the state BSP president, was an unknown
entity until the 2004 Assembly elections. Contesting from Satanur
constituency, his candidature had consolidated the constituency's
Dalit vote bank in favour of the BSP. Although he lost the election,
he managed to dent the Congress vote share, proving consequential in
the victory of the BJP.

According to his affidavit filed before the Election Commission, he
did not possess any land in 2004. Luck smiled on him in 2008 and he is
now rumoured to be worth Rs 500 crore. During a BSP convention
attended by Mayawati, he was made president of the state party.

In the words of former state president B Gopal, Muniyappa played the
caste card. Belonging to the Madiga (cobbler) caste, which forms 8
percent of the state population, he seemed to be the ideal choice for
the post. Unlike the Holiyars (bonded labourers), the BSP had not been
able to rope in the complete support of the Madigas. Says Gopal, a
Holiyar, "Mayawati thought since Holiyars were already consolidated by
the BSP, with Madiga consolidation, they could become a force to
reckon with in the state.'' However, he adds, Mayawati does not know
that Muniyappa has no real support base.

So far, 34 cases of land-grab, cheating, intimidation, attempt to
murder and extortion have been registered against him. His ire has
been directed mostly against his own community. And most of his
victims have been poor, helpless Dalits from whom he has usurped land.
And others who are not Dalits like V Shankar and Bashir Ahmed have
been threatened with rape cases and SC/ST atrocities case if they dare
to challenge him.

Some of the major cases against him are as follows:
1. LAKSHMIPURA: Eleven acres in Bengaluru North taluk, Yeshwanthpur,
Lakshmipura were originally allotted to five poor Dalit women. Under
the Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Land (PTCL) Act, 1978, land
given to ST/SC cannot be sold or bought (even by other Dalits) without
the permission of the state government. But Muniyappa managed to
transfer the land. He formed a layout in nine acres, naming it after
BSP founder Kanshi Ram. 'The Kanshi Ram Layout' — the streets of which
have been named after other Dalit icons Jyotiba Phule, Sahu Maharaj
and Gautam Buddha — now mocks those whose condition they sought to

In the remaining two acres, Muniyappa constructed Mayawati White
House, and got it inaugurated by the UP CM herself. Gowramma and
Jayamma, now destitute, have got an injunction from the court. But
they have paid a heavy price for taking legal recourse. On 6 January,
Muniyappa and his henchmen made an attempt on the life of their
brother Veeranna, 46. A shocked Veeranna told TEHELKA from his City
Bowring Hospital bed, "Being a Dalit leader, Muniyappa should have
been working for the upliftment of Dalits, but he has become the
oppressor." A case has been registered at Hebbal against Muniyappa,
his son Sandeep and a few others. Muniyappa told TEHELKA the layout
and his house have been built on property bought by him, and he has
legal papers to back it up. He said neither he nor any of his party
members attacked Veeranna.

2. NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LAND CASE: Thirty acres belonging to
Dalit families, handed over to them through the PTCL Act by the state
government, have been allegedly sold by Muniyappa. This 30-acre
granite land is said to have fetched him close to Rs 60 crore. A case
has been registered against him at the Kodihalli police station,

'Muniyappa should be working for the uplift of Dalits. But he has
become the oppressor,' says Veeranna

3. V SHANKAR LAND CASE: Eyeing a 10,000 sq ft plot in the heart of the
city, Muniyappa allegedly got his henchman Domlur V Muniswamy to
threaten former director of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) V
Shankar, 49. Shankar approached the Indiranagar police in 2009, even
confessing that he paid Rs 5 lakh to Muniswamy to reach a compromise.
But the threats continued unabated. Shankar also alleges that when he
brought the matter to Ulsoor Division Law Officer Venkataramanappa,
Muniyappa threatened him in front of the officer, warning that false
rape cases and cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act
would be filed against him.

4. DODDABALLAPUR LAND CASE: Around 200 acres of land near Anjanmurthy
layout in Bengaluru belonging to several Dalit families have been
acquired by Muniyappa through forged agreements. The landowners have
now filed a case against him, and are preparing to approach the court
to get their land back.

5. DODDABALLAPUR STONE QUARRY CASE: In another cheating case,
Muniyappa had sub-leased a stone quarry lease to one Syed Bashir Ahmed
in 2011, for which he took an advance of Rs 7 lakh. However, the lease
lapsed and due to environmental concerns further permission for
quarrying was denied. Muniyappa threatened to shoot Ahmed with the
rifle of the gunman provided to him by the government. A case of
cheating and criminal intimidation (under sections 420 and 506 of the
IPC) has been registered against him by the Thalaghat Pura Police of
Ramnagaram district. Muniyappa admits that he sub-leased his stone
quarry lease when it was about to expire. But he says Ahmed knew about
this at the time of signing the agreement.

THERE ARE other cases of alleged land-grab and extortion registered
against Muniyappa: the Nagadahalli land case, Rajankunte Housing
Corporation case and Byrasandra land case.

Dalits who lost their land have now come under the banner of DVSS —
Dalitarinda Dalitara Shoshana Virodhi Samithi — a forum against Dalit
oppression. In a case filed by them, the high court has asked the home
secretary, city police commissioner and chief secretary to give
reasons why this man, despite having a dozen cases registered against
him, has managed to hood-wink the law.

"I vaguely recall references like that being made but am not in a
position to tell you right now," said Home Secretary, RH Auradhkar,
when asked about these cases. City Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash
Mirji, however, remembers the details. "We took action against him
(Muniyappa) earlier," he says. "But he got bail. We will do whatever
the court directs us to."

When contacted, the BSP President said all the cases against him are
politically motivated, and have been filed at the behest of Congress
leader and MoS in the Railways KH Muniyappa, a Madiga Dalit. Since the
2004 Assembly poll, he said, the Congress party has lost 42 seats
because of the BSP and has been able to win only 68 seats in the House
of 224.

Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with


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