In this village in Karnataka not only is untouchability a reality for Dalits, but they also live under the fear of death. In Kalaburgi district’s Channur village, a member of an upper caste community allegedly poured endosulfan into the village well to stop Dalits from drinking water, according to a report by the Times of India.
The village, located 640 km away from Bengaluru, has seven wells. However, the Dalit community is allowed to use water from only one well located 200m away from the village’s border. The wells inside the village are used by members of the upper caste.
The farm land near the well which is used by Dalits is owned by a member of the Dalit community, but was leased to a man belonging to an upper caste four years ago.
Ever since the land was leased out, Gollalappagouda Kallappagouda Kukanur, has tried almost every trick in the book to stop Dalits from drawing water from the only well they are allowed to go near.
A pumpset has been fixed to the well to draw water and it supplies water to the Dalits’ Colony.
On August 31, Mahantappa, a Dalit, went to the well to draw water as there was no supply from the pumpset since August 29.
When Mahantappa lowered his pot into the well, he smelt something different and informed the members of his colony and urged them not to drink it as he suspected that Gollappagouda was up to something.
Tired of being ill-treated by the members of the upper caste, a few members of the Dalit community informed the police of the incident.
According to Kalaburagi Rural DSP SS Hullur, up on testing the water, it was found to be contaminated with endosulfan.
Police deployed people to empty and clean up the well twice in three days.
The police, by then had informed the Jewargi taluk tahsildar Ellappa Subedar. With no water in the well, the Dalits had had no other way to access water. Despite the situation, the members of the upper castes in the village, refused to allow the Dalits near the seven other wells, the DSP said.
A case of attempted murder has been filed against Gollappagouda and he has also been booked under section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, after a complaint was registered at the Jewargi police station.
Up on collecting the statements of the Dalits in the village, police found that Gollalappagouda had threatened to kill Dalits in the village multiple times. He had also allegedly said that he would kill at least one Dalit before he died.
“Villagers alleged that Gollalappagouda would throw dead dogs, cats and snakes into the well to prevent Dalits from drawing water. But Dalits would clean the well and use the water,” the DSP added.