New Delhi: On September 8, 2019, a mob of 50-60 members of the Vokkaliga community of Kachanahalli in Bangalore Rural district, allegedly attacked members of the Madiga community. Following this, a fact-finding team from the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) investigated this case and said it found large-scale incidents of caste violence.
In its report, AIPF said: “They stormed into the victims’ homes, shouted abusive humiliating and casteist insults, dragged people out by the hair, and beat people with iron rods and wooden logs. Women had their clothes torn and thrown into a sewage drain.”
Bitti chakri, a form of bonded labour, and talaavarike, where dalits are forced to bury human or animal carcasses, still exists in Kachanahalli, says the fact-finding report. As a report in Prajavani reported, on the day of the attack, the community had decided not to engage in such demeaning practices and the same evening, they were attacked for deciding so.
Several media reports have noted that there is an increase in the number of cases being registered in Karnataka under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, since the past four years. However, the conviction rate is abysmal. As a Deccan Herald report observed, the conviction rate is as low as 5%. One must note that in many cases of atrocities, the case itself is dropped.
The AIPF report noted that political forces, too, attempted to silence the victims in Kachanahalli. The report noted, “MLA K. Srinivasa Murthy (Janata Dal -Secular) and panchayat members attempted to persuade the victims to drop the case. The victims did not settle the case.” As the report observes, the dalit youth are strongly asserting against casteist customs and this has been having a transformative effect on the local culture.
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The AIPF report also notes that there have been three-four similar cases of violence against dalits by dominant caste members in the past 10 years, in Kachanahalli. All these cases of violence show that members of the dalit community were attacked following their refusal to participate in age-old discriminatory practices.
In the report, the AIPF has demanded action against MLA Murthy and members of the panchayats for obstructing justice. They had reportedly intervened in an attempt to persuade the victims and their community to settle for a compromise and drop the case against the aggressors, for obstructing justice.
The forum also said that a socio-economic assessment must be undertaken to find ways to strike at the root causes for persistence of demeaning caste practices in Bangalore Rural District. It suggested that a campaign of social integration must be undertaken to break caste segregation, physical as well as social, that creates a divide in villages.
In addition, a temple entry movement must be launched at the earliest in the village to enable members of the dalit community access to all of the five temples in the area, the AIPF report said.
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