(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 10, 2011
Campaign on Issues of Dalits & Tribals
Evokes Good Response
THE Andhra Pradesh state committee of the CPI(M) held a campaign focussing on the issues of dalits and tribals. The surveys conducted on the situation in the living places of dalits and tribals, the cycle jathas conducted in various districts propagating the demand for special funds to improve the living places, the dharnas in front of various government offices were part of this campaign.
In a meeting attended by V Srinivasa Rao and Thammineni Veerabhadram in Khammam, activists who were participating in the jatha shared their rich experiences. ‘The warmth of the people in the course of the jatha has rejuvenated our spirits, and we shall pedall through out’ – was the mood of the activists in the jatha. The struggle campaign for improvement of dalit and tribal living places in Andhra Pradesh was held for 75 days. The jatha has passed through 500 dalit hamlets covering a distance of 1950 kilometres.
The plight of the people and the kind of discrimination suffered have been brought to the notice of the jatha. Of the 500 hamlets visited, from 300 hamlets there has not been one single person from the dalit community who has got a job as a public servant (atleast as a class iv employee) since independence. Petitions seeking widow pensions in large number were given to CPI(M) Central Committee member and district honorary president of KVPS, Thammineni Veerabhadram. He is leading the jatha and has been addressing the people attending the meetings through out. Surprisingly in Penuballi village which is 10 Km from the mandal head quarters which is a town, there were significant number of women in the age group of 25-30 who were seeking intervention to ensure widow pensions. In this village of 200 families, there is no single male in 150 families. The government’s blind foldedness in curbing the sale of gudumba (arrack) is leading to the death of many young men who are falling prey to this social backwardness.
In Reddygudem village of Palwancha mandal, educated youth from dalit community were denied commuting in a shared auto. The caste co-passengers could not even tolerate the touch of the hand of the dalit youth who was sitting adjacent to the driver while the others were seated in back seat of the auto. The educated youth who attended the meetings of KVPS earlier contested it and had fought for his right and commuted.
Another issue that was noticed was girls from dalit community were not being sent for higher education. It was also found that the drop out among dalit girls was very large in 9-10th classes. A girl student Chamanti in Garlapadu village came to the jatha with a representation asking to facilitate her higher education. The issue was immediately taken up and the district authorities were made to admit her in a hostel and provide her a seat so that she could pursue her 10+2.
Parnasala is considered to be a holy place near Bhadrachalam where Sita is believed to have stayed during Aranyavasa. An 80 year old dalit woman who could not go and work put up a stall here to sell pooja items and make a living. The caste Hindus claimed that it was unholy and sanctity of the temple would be lost if dalits sell pooja items and immediately got her vacated. This issue was taken up and the executive officer of the temple came forward supporting the dalits setting up stalls. The intolerance of the caste Hindus was visible when they resented dalits setting up stalls and their contention was who would work in their fields if all dalits set up their own stalls.
The jatha apart from raising awareness has gone ahead with resistance actions through out. The morale of the dalits and tribals enroute was high, each volunteer was received, given a hero’s welcome and taken by one family in a hamlet to stay. In the due course of the jatha, 560 committees with 7000 members were formed to continue the struggles in the villages after the jatha left.
V Srinivasa Rao, CPI(M) central secretariat member while expressing solidarity to the ongoing struggle campaign participated in the cycle jatha. While addressing people in Rajaram, Bachodu, Bandampalli and Beerolu villages, he appealed to the people cutting across political affiliations to participate in this struggle and ensure the development of dalit hamlets and eradication of caste discrimination. He said that the governments in the state and centre are corruption ridden; if a miniscule part of the money is spent the dalit hamlets would develop. Grave is the situation in dalit hamlets, roads are laid in the villages and they truncate reaching the dalit hamlets. It will be only through these struggles that the governments will be forced to take up the development issues.
This jatha concluded on April 5 in Khammam. A mammoth rally and public meeting marked the conclusion of the jatha.