HRF and Dalita Aikya Porata Vedika Demand Justice: Call for Appeal in Dalit Tonsure Case Verdict

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) and Dalita Aikya Porata Vedika demand that the government of Andhra Pradesh appeal the verdict, handed down in the Venkatayapalem Dalit tonsure case, in the High Court and appoint a competent Public Prosecutor to argue on behalf of the victims for enhancing the punishment to the convicts that includes sitting MLC Thota Trimurthulu.

At a day-long public meeting organised by the two organisations, on June 16 at Ambedkar Community Centre in Eedarapalli, Amalapuram, victims, human rights activists, lawyers spoke about how the judgment of the SC/ST Court in Visakhapatnam that sentenced nine accused, including the MLC, to 18 months of imprisonment was nothing but a mere slap on the wrist.

The sections of the SC/ST (PoA) Act, invoked in this case, have provisions for a maximum punishment of five years, they pointed out.

“We are not satisfied with the judgment. The perpetrators have gotten away with a simple punishment, but we will continue to fight until we get justice.” said C.
Pattabhiramaiah, one of the five victims of the case. He demanded that the government provide them the requisite support as per the Act.

Koti Chinnaraju, another victim and one of the two that were subjected to tonsure by the MLC and others, said: “All these years, we had to face umpteen threats in our fight
for justice. For all that we went through, what the Visakhapatnam court delivered was a mere token punishment,” said Mr. Chinnaraju.

Tracing the history of the case and also the broad Dalit movement in the State, HRF State Committee member K. Sudha said: “The Dalits of Venkatayapalem, with the support of various organisations, have built a political movement that has ensured the sustenance of the struggle for the past three decades. Such collective struggles are what that realize the promises of the constitutional justice.”

The HRF has called upon the bar councils in B.R. Ambedkar Konaseema district to write to the government to appeal the judgment.

Gubbala Srinivasa Rao, Revu Nageswara Rao, Ventapalli Bheema Sankaram of the Dalita Aikya Porata Vedika and lawyers spoke in solidarity with the victims and the movement.

Md. Iqbal
(HRF East Godavari District president)

M. Srinivasa Rao
(HRF East Godavari District general secretary)


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