The six-day event focuses on bringing together diverse groups of oppressed people and culminates with a rally in Udupi on October 9.

 Food is our choice land is our right Ktaka Dalit activists kick off Chalo Udupi marchImage from the event/ Dalit Camera
news Dalit Activism Tuesday, October 04, 2016 - 20:42

“Udupi has been the epicentre of right wing atrocities for years and we want to tell them this cannot go on,” says Shivu, one of the Dalit activists taking part in the inaugural function of “Chalo Udupi” in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Citing the death of Praveen Poojari in Udupi and the attack on Dalits in Chikmagaluru, activists claim that Karnataka has witnessed a rise in violence against Dalits and minorities since the Dadri lynching in September 2015.

Organised along the lines of “Chalo Una”, hundreds of Dalit activists came together in Bengaluru’s Freedom Park on Tuesday to inaugurate the march with transgender activist and Rajyotsava awardee Akkai Padmashali and former Naxal leader Noor Sridhar among the participants.

The six-day event focuses on bringing together diverse groups of oppressed people and culminates with a rally in Udupi on October 9.

Artists painting at the event.

"Unlike before, many left parties have held up the blue flag- the flag of oppression. We have designed this movement on the lines of the Una protest. The reaction from Karnataka over the attacks has been unprecedented. We are asserting our slogan 'Food is our choice, land is our right'. We want to bring people together to fight right-wing terrorism," said Harsha Kumar Kugve, one of the organisers of Chalo Udupi. 

Akkai Padmashali told The News Minute, “The fact that the government hasn’t been able to do anything about section 377 is enough proof to say the government doesn’t care about people like us. This march is import in many ways to assert my rights and my presence. This will be a march of the oppressed and government cannot turn a blind eye to thousands of people, who have been suffering in various ways.”

Former Naxal leader Noor Sridhar said that the diversity that India uses to sell itself is boomeranging to hit the country hard.

“This spontaneous protest is not being organised by big and famous people. The whole society is divided based on various markers. Some groups are being victimised by the society and with the government not reacting, oppression itself has been legitamised,” he said.

Amjad Pasha, the Chikmagalur district convenor of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike, said even though his religion allows him to consume beef, his occupation does not.

“We have a family business in which we have to interact often with Hindus, especially the upper class. Now my grandfather, when he started this, stopped eating beef because it strengthened his bond with his Hindu clients. We have been following that for years and benefited from it too. Some call it being selfish others say it is out of desperation. But not wanting to consume beef was a choice left to us. On the other hand, I will stand up for anyone, who is forced to stop eating beef,” he said.

Pasha is from the same village where three Dalits were attacked for slaughtering a cow in a house in June this year.

Thirty-five-year-old Shivu said, “Some might think we aim to climb the social ladder by shifting to rice from ragi. But that’s not it. Today rice is easily available and affordable compared to ragi. So is beef. Beef is something that we have been used to for centuries and is rooted in our food culture. When the upper class asked us to move cattle carcasses and kill rodents etc, we chose to eat what was thrown away. Now if they try to snatch the little that we have made for ourselves, we are not going to listen to them,” he said.

 

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