Ever since Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao unveiled his plans to make Yadadri (Yadagirigutta) as the second Tirupati in 2016, Dalit Christians living near the temple have been allegedly facing regular attacks from right wing groups, said human rights activists on Thursday.
Yadadri is the town of the famous Narasimha temple. In 2016, as promised during the Telangana agitation that he would give a major facelift to the Lord Lakshmi Narasimha and develop it on par with Tirumala Tirupati, KCR constituted the Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA). The temple was to be developed at an estimated cost of Rs 18,00 crore.
Activists have alleged that the police and district authorities have remained mute spectators to communal violence, thereby emboldening activists from RSS, VHP, ABVP and other affiliated groups to carry out the attacks with impunity.
According to activists from Human Rights Forum, Bahujana Resistance Forum, Muslim Thinkers Forum and Annihilation of Caste Inequality Struggle Forum who recently visited the Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri district, there have allegedly been 32 incidents of attacks on Dalit Christian pastors and their families including vandalising their churches in the past one year as per their fact-finding report. With a spurt of such incidents, the activists demanded the government constitute a Special Investigation Team in Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri and across the state and prevent these attacks.
The fact-finding team visited three villages--Vasala Marri, Veerareddy Pally and Bommalaramaram, after they came to know about an alleged attack on a Dalit Christian pastor's family who was celebrating their daughter's birthday on October 2 in Vasala Marri. The activists said that when the family organized a small prayer at their house, a mob of 20 people allegedly barged into their house raising slogans of 'Jai Sree Ram' and attacked the pastor and his wife. "The pastor was physically assaulted and his wife and other women were abused," they said.
Addressing the media at Somajiguda Press Club, S Jeevan Kumar from Human Rights Forum alleged, â€śDespite overwhelming attacks on Dalit Christians on a regular basis, hardly these incidents have been reported. This community who are not affluent are under constant threat for practicing their faith. As per our fact-finding reports 32 incidents of violence took place in Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri district in the past one year. However, despite such rampant attacks, the police has remained indifferent.â€ť He further alleged that in many cases, police have not arrested the accused, as a result the accused further threaten and intimidate the victims.
Jeevan demanded that when such incidents take place the Mandal Revenue Officer should visit the victims, extend support to boost their confidence and instruct police to take prompt action under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. â€śOnly if the MRO and local authorities visit the victims, the victims would feel safe and narrate their ordeal.â€ť
Speaking at the event, U Sambasiva Rao, state coordinator, Bahujana Resistance Forum alleged that these groups have normalized hatred, and created a divide based on religion in the district. Sambasiva Rao said that such discrimination are punishable offences. â€śBased on our report, the government should constitute a special commission and prevent these communal attacks,â€ť he said.
Khalida Parveen, General Secretary of Amoomat Society said that several Dalit families have fled the village fearing violence. â€śHow come the government does not know about these incidents? In Uttar Pradesh, the government overlooks such incidents, and it appears that even the Telangana government tacitly supports it,â€ť he alleged.
However, Yadadri-Bhuvanagiri District Collector Anitha Ramachandran denied the rise in communal incidents. She told TNM, "We have not come across some incidents, except a minor one. We regularly have meetings, but such incidents did not come to our notice. If there are indeed such issues, we urge the activists to give us the report in which they have documented the violence, and we will take necessary action."