Kathi Padma Rao
(This is a translation of his recent article 'Lakshimpetalo 'Karamchedu'')
The oppression of the Dalits continues unabated in the state. Whichever dominant castes are in power, people belonging to those castes continue to conduct violent attacks on the Dalits. When NTR was in power, six Dalits were brutally killed in Karamchedu, his samdhi's village. When Nedurumalli Janardhan Reddy was in power, they chopped off the heads of eight Dalits in Chunduru of Guntur district, and dumped them in the Tungabhadra. Now when Botsa Satyanarayana, who calls himself a BC, is the Pradesh Congress President, Botsa Vasudeva Naidu and his horde of Toorpu Kapus, armed with swords and axes, have tortured and killed the Dalits of Lakshimpeta in Srikakulam district.
What really happened? The landowning Toorpu Kapus of Lakshimpeta village in Vangara mandal of Srikakulam district surrounded the Dalitwada of the village at seven in the morning. Groups of around twenty people each, armed with deadly weapons, laid siege to every house. They dragged the people from their homes and showered inhuman abuse and insults on them. 'You Mala ba#$%^s, you think you've grown big enough to be cultivators?' they ranted in their caste arrogance. Shouting 'You think you can till fields alongside us?' they launched a brutal attack on Nivirti Venkati (60), his son Nivirti Sangamesu (35), Burada Sundar Rao (35) and Chittari Appadu (25).
According to Chintapalli Guruprasad, Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha President, and his associates P. Benjamin, Nuthalapati Chandrasekhar, Bokara Narayana Rao who had visited the scene, each body bore around 40-50 knife or spear wounds. This attack was caused by a grudge. Planning, strategy, hatred – all of them are behind this attack. The victims died almost immediately after they received the injuries. They have become martyrs in the struggle for land. Offerings to the fire of caste hatred. Bodduri Papaiah, another victim who was injured during the attack on these four Dalits, died in King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam, on Wednesday. Which means five people have died in the Lakshimpeta massacre until now.
Since the formation of the state, landowning castes in the various regions – be it Kammas or Reddies or Kapus or Kalingas or Velamas or Kshatriyas – have been unable to bear the sight of Dalits tilling land on their own, developed grudges against them claiming that the Dalits have no right to land, conducted violent attacks on them or expelled them from villages. There is a strong bond between state power and caste hatred of this kind. This attack has the support of the powerful. In this brutal, inhuman incident which all Telugus should feel ashamed about, around 20 people have been seriously injured, apart from the five who died.
They are undergoing treatment in RIMS Hospital in Srikakulam now. Kalamata Ganapati (35), Kalamata Prakash (50), Kalamati Simhachalam, Kalamati Gangulu, Gonela Ravi (25), Nivirti Gangaiah (50), Kalamata Gaddiah (Lachchaiah's son), Kalamati Gaddaiah (Chinna Mutyalu's son), Nivirti Simhachala, Nivirti Narsaiah, Nivirti Rama Rao, Bodduri Bhogesu, Gongada Shivudu, Nivirti Darappadu, Nivirti Gangaiah, Kalamati Sangamma, Chittari Yellaiah, Kalamati Gangulu, Bodduri Gowraiah are fighting for their lives in the hospital.
Lakshimpeta is the biggest massacre by the upper castes after Karamchedu and Chunduru. These caste villains surrounded the Dalits, chased and hunted them for two and half hours with deadly weapons and derived perverse pleasure from attacking even dead bodies with swords and axes. The Toorpu Kapu landlords here, even though BCs in name, are great believers in caste supremacy. The Kalingas, Koppula Velamas and Toorpu Kapus in Srikakulam district perform the role undertaken by the Kammas, Reddies and Kshatriyas in Coastal Andhra.
The Kapus of neighbouring villages, following the bonds of blood and caste, also participated in the attack headed by the Kapus of Lakshimpeta. 26 year old Chittari Sridevi, Borada Kasalu, Nivirti Ramudamma, Nivirti Venkatamma were widowed and rendered helpless by this gruesome attack. Most of them are between the ages of 30-40, all mothers. Women who had husbands at 5 in the morning lost them by 7.30. What was their crime?
Was it because 80 Dalit families chose to cultivate 60 acres of government land? Joint Collector Satyanarayana had allocated this land to the Dalits in 2002 and they had divided it among themselves, every family getting 45 cents of land, and started tilling the land. Is it a crime for Dalits to cultivate land in this country? Should that cause burning rage among others? The Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy's visit to the village, even before the dead were laid to rest, and announcement of nominal compensation, was an attempt to pre-empt any demand for a CBI probe and an indicator of his upper caste feudal loyalties. Why are these powerful people who order a CBI probe into every trivial issue not ordering one into this great tragedy? Is it because they are scared of big people being caught?
These are the facts disclosed by Lakshimpeta victims Chittari Gangaiah, Gongoda Gangaiah, Nivirti Simhachalam, Nivirti Tirupati Raju and Bodisingu Ramu: The lands they are cultivating now were acquired from various castes ten years ago when the Madduvalasa reservoir was being built. The government had paid full compensation to the landowners when the land was acquired. Now it is assigned land and the government has every right to allot it to anyone. Why did not the Chief Minister announce that he was allotting this 250 acre land to the Dalits even after so much blood has sunk into it now? Here, the Chief Minister has taken an anti-Dalit stand. This is Dalit Minister Kondru Murali's constituency.
It is shameless that Dalit Ministers have neither demanded a CBI inquiry, nor have they urged the government to allot the 250 acres of land to the Dalits but have remained faithful courtiers to the ruling classes and have clung to their seats in their power lust even when fellow Dalits were being cut down with swords. They have forgotten how they became ministers through the reservations Ambedkar had won for them. Today Dalit organizations and left affiliated Dalit, people's organizations are fighting together. This is the historic moment when all pro-people forces have to come together to bend upper caste state power and lead the self-respect movement of the Dalits towards victory.
The unity of Dalit movements determines the form of this resistance. The blood of the Dalits which has sunk into the earth shall not go to waste. History has to answer this question soaked in blood. The martyrs have sounded the great drum of self-respect. The Dalit camp is raising the slogan of self-defense in Lakshimpeta. The Dalits have not lost courage even after losing five people. This battle will not stop until the Dalits win rights over the 250 acres of land. All the forces, under the red and blue banners, which have come together for this movement, should not rest until these demands are met.
Andhra Pradesh Dalita Mahasabha shall work together with the victims and other organizations. This Dalit self-respect movement should challenge caste, feudal and political hegemony in these times of historic resistance. Dalits Bahujans Minorities! Put aside your party affiliations and respond to the resounding cries emanating from the blood drenched land. Prepare as Dalit warriors for battle. History belongs to the oppressed, not the oppressors. Revolt is the way to victory.
We have taken up a 'Chalo Hyderabad' programme on July 17th to take forward this movement. We request all to participate.
Program to take forward the Movement
~ A Representation is being given to State Human Rights Commission on June 27th
~ Protest rally to be organized as 'Chalo Srikakulam' on July 2nd
~ Chalo Hyderabad on July 17th
• CBI enquiry must be ordered to thoroughly investigate the circumstances that led to the brutal massacre.
• The state government should support every victims' family with Rs.10 lakhs. One person from each victim family should be accommodated with a government job. All the dalit children in the village should be admitted in AP Residential Schools.
• 250 acres of assigned land should be handed over to dalits.
• Action should be taken against all the culprits responsible for this attack under the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
• Botsa Vasudeva Rao Naidu should be booked as A1 and all the accused should be arrested within ten days. The main abettors Botsa Satyanarayana and others should not be spared.
• Special court should be established in Lakshimpeta village and ensure that justice is delivered within six months.
[Translated from Telugu by Kuffir]