A group of Dalits from Andhra Pradesh’s Garagaparru village is in the national capital to seek help against the community’s “social boycott” allegedly by an upper caste group over the installation of an Ambedkar statue.
The group comprising four villagers today said the boycott by “upper caste landlords” was continuing and posing “livelihood and safety issues” for the families in the West Godavari district village.
They are trying to meet central government ministers, MPs and the National Human Rights Commission over the issue.
There has been unrest in the village for about three months between the upper caste Kshatriyas and members of the Mala community (a scheduled caste group in AP).
It started when the Kshatriyas allegedly objected to the SC community’s move to install a statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar on the village tank bund.
On July 25, Social Welfare Minister Nakka Anand Babu, Labour Minister Pithani Satyanarayana and SC Corporation chairman Jupudi Prabhakar had visited the village and brokered peace between the warring factions. They had also handed over cheques of Rs 1 lakh each to the Dalit families.
“We demand that the Centre and the government of Andhra Pradesh take immediate steps to end the social boycott otherwise it could spread to other parts of the state,” said V Srinivas Rao, national coordinator of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, in a press conference.
The Dalits in Garagaparru who used to work in the fields of the landlords have been rendered jobless, Rao said.
A Dalit leader was killed recently in an accident but there are “doubts” over it, he claimed.
“An atmosphere of insecurity and helplessness is prevailing as there are no jobs. Dalit families are getting food from a community kitchen set up by social organisations,” he said.
In May, the social boycott had begun with the Dalits being stopped from working in the fields and doing other jobs of maids and drivers, Rao claimed.