Hyderabad: Over 150 cases of atrocities, humiliations against dalits by upper caste people have occurred in Andhra Pradesh in the past four months during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to activists.
Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi (KVPS), a rights based organisation affiliated to Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Friday held a roundtable conference on the issue at over 350 centres in the state, where the matter came into light.
On July 18, a dalit man named Y Kiran Kumar died in police custody in Chirala of Prakasam district. He was reportedly held for not wearing a mask. While the accused policemen were suspended and a probe was launched against them, activists are demanding that the accused must be booked under SC/ST Act. Activists have urged the National Commission for Scheduled Castes to intervene in the case and constitute a judicial probe.
“There is an intentional negligence of the police and other authorities in probing the atrocities and implementing SC/ST Atrocities (prevention) Act (SC/ST Act),” alleged Andra Malyadri, General Secretary of KVPS.
In another case, last week, a 23- year old dalit youth was allegedly tonsured by a policeman in Rajamahendravam in East Godavari district. The victim’s family has been staging protests demanding action against the accused.
“If police or ruling party (YSR Congress) leaders are accused in atrocities cases, there are high chances that the probe is biased,” alleged Malyadri.
Meanwhile, a group of Scheduled Caste people have filed a complaint under the SC/ST Act against several upper caste people of Sakamuri Kandriga Village of Ramachandrapuram mandal in Chittoor district.
As per the complaint, some upper castes of the village placed thorn bushes on a road preventing passage to the SC villagers and stigmatising them, saying that dalits were spreading the coronavirus. When the dalit villagers questioned them, they were beaten up and some of them had to be hospitalised.
“Many incidents have been reported in the state where Upper Caste people have humiliated Madigas and Malas saying that they are spreading the virus. Police inaction is evident in such cases as the accused are hardly arrested,” Malyadri told NewsClick.
Dalit rights organisations have staged numerous protests condemning the growing violence on SC/ST people in the state. On July 28, 29, KVPS activists staged protests at Dr Ambedkar statues across the state.
“YSRCP (YSR Congress) leader and state minister Peddi Reddy Ramachandra Reddy has made derogatory comments on persons belonging to Scheduled castes in his press conferences. In Chittoor, a government doctor Anita Rani alleged that she was harassed by Deputy Chief Minister Narayana Swamy and other ruling party leaders,” alleged Malaydri.
Cases related to forcible eviction of dalits from their land have also been reported during the past two months, KVPS members said.