Economic, Social Boycott Of Jalluru Dalits Condemned

A two-member team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) visited Jalluru village in Kotauratla mandal of Visakhapatnam district on Wednesday to elicit facts about the recent assault by Backward Caste members on Dalits and the subsequent social and economic boycott of the Dalits that is still continuing. The HRF team consisted of State secretary VS Krishna and District Committee member M Ramakrishna.

 On February 27, 2008 there was an argument between the BCs (koppula velama) and the Dalits (mala) during the procession ceremony of a local goddess festival that is held annually. The Dalits objected to one of their men C Nagaraju being disallowed to take part in the festivities when the procession was passing through their colony. Following an argument, the BCs assaulted the Dalits which resulted in Chekka Kanna Rao, an SC, being injured.

The next morning (Saturday, Feb. 28) at about 8 am, the BCs came to the colony and once again assaulted the Dalits, abusing them very badly. They also abused the mala women by invoking their caste name and even manhandled some of them. After the BCs left the colony, the Dalits went to the Kotauratla police station and following their complaint the police registered a case related to rioting, assault, criminal intimidation as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. A total of 14 BCs of Jalluru were named as accused.

However, till date not a single one of the 14 has been arrested. All of them are scot-free including sarpanch Parupalli Srinu and upa-sarpanch Ruthala Ramanamma who led the BCs against the Dalits. The BCs are   going around the village taunting and verbally abusing the Dalits, making lewd gestures. What is worse, the Dalits of the village are being subjected to an inhuman social and economic boycott since February 28.

The Dalits are now being refused milk locally. They cannot purchase essential commodities from the kirana shops in the village. They are being denied access to meat as well as medical shops. Barbers are refusing to give them haircuts and they are not being served tea, tiffin or meals in the local hotels. The BCs have enforced a total boycott of the Dalits. They have stopped using Dalits as domestic help and are refusing to employ them as farm labour. Those who offer the Dalits services have been threatened with fines of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.

Moreover, the BCs have also mobilised their fellow caste members in the area and a call has been given to enforce a similar boycott of the Dalits of Jalluru. Consequently, the Dalits of Jalluru are unable to obtain any work in nearby villages like Sunkapur, Yendapalli, Kothapalli Ramachandrapalem and Thangedu.  

 In the face of this brazen inhumanity by the BCs, the administration is merely looking on, making empty promises and doing very little. The situation of boycott of Dalits in exemplified by the fact that since two days the Dalits are being supplied by the revenue department with milk packets brought from outside the village, like Kotauratla or Narsipatnam.  This is because the local milk center is refusing to sell milk to the SCs. A police picket has been in place in the SC Colony but it has not helped instill much confidence in the Dalits.

None of the approximately 130 Dalit families of Jalluru possess any land. They eke out a living as daily wage labourers, farm labour, rickshaw pullers and other manual work. The Dalits recently explained their plight to the DD social welfare at Narsipatnam but till date they are yet to be supplied even foodgrains and dal. This is against the letter of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 which clearly specifies that it is the duty of the government to ensure effective implementation of the Act by providing for the economic and social rehabilitation of the victims of atrocities. We condemn this insensitivity of the administration.

The HRF demands that the police launch proper and effective investigation at least now and immediately arrest the 14 accused named in the FIR as well as those responsible for the subsequent social and economic boycott of the Dalits. Steps must be taken to end this criminal ostracism of the SCs. Investigation must proceed forthwith, all participants of this atrocity arrested and charge-sheet filed within 30 days so that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are punished.

The HRF strongly urges the District Collector and SP (Rural) to visit Jalluru at the earliest, instill confidence among the Dalits and to take steps towards implementing the letter and spirit of the law.

VS Krishna
HRF State secretary

M Ramakrishna
HRF Vizag District Committee member


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