Thursday, March 1, 2012

[ZESTCaste] No escape for Dalits from caste discrimination

Andhra Pradesh
HYDERABAD, March 2, 2012
No escape for Dalits from caste discrimination
K. Venkateshwarlu

A gritty fighter, Dalit cloth vendor, Ammulu and her two teenaged
daughters managed to escape from the ferocity of the tsunami that
swept away her humble dwelling and a wayside shop in Andamans.

When they reached Sarpavaram in Kakinada after a long arduous journey
from the islands they heaved a sigh of relief having survived nature's
fury, though it meant picking up a shattered thread of life. The
relief proved to be short-lived as they soon found themselves caught
in tsunami of the caste kind.

"After six years of hard work, when we started building a house in
2010 on a six-cent site, we faced the wrath of the Kapus," she
narrated at a public hearing organised by Dalit Shree Sakthi here on
Thursday. They started harassing her, denied her access to a common
pathway, saying it belonged to Kapus. After holding out threats they
demanded Rs. 30,000. She managed Rs. 10,000 but the harassment and
hurling of abuses naming her by caste continued leading to assault on
June 2. A case of atrocity was registered but there was no further

Another Dalit, Hanumanthu of Miyapur, Ranga Reddy district, recounted
how his long cherished dream of seeing his 14-year-old daughter,
Renuka becoming an IAS officer was shattered when two upper caste
teachers humiliated her so much that she set herself ablaze. Miyapur
police registered it as a case of suicide and not under Prevention of
Atrocities Act. G. Jhansi of DSS recalled that police in RR district
showed no interest in investigating cases of atrocities on Dalits as
the perpetrators often brought pressure invoking name of the Home
Raped by relative

A modest crowd of families of victims, activists and the jury members
was stunned when Chellapu Sesha Rao of Devavaram in Visakhapantam
district narrated how his mentally challenged daughter was raped by a
relative. When the case came to light, the 18-year-old was three
months pregnant. She delivered a baby boy but does not know how to
take care of him now.

The jury members included former Supreme Court Judge K. Ramaswamy,
former IAS officers -- K. R. Venugopal and K. Madhava Rao -- and
president of RPI Bojja Tharakam.


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