Dalit residents at Garagaparru village have allegedly been facing a social boycott from upper caste members for four months.

No freedom from social boycott in this AP village Dalits hold black flag rally on I-Day eveBy arrangement
news Caste conflict Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 16:54

At Garagaparru village in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari, India’s 71st Independence Day was not celebrated by the Dalits. Instead on the eve of Independence Day, around 200 Dalits wore black ribbons and took out a black flag rally to mark their dissent after allegedly facing a social boycott for four months.   

The alleged social boycott against Mala (Dalit) residents by the upper caste villagers began in April after a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar was installed. The social boycott, they alleged, included speaking to Malas and letting them work on the fields of upper caste villagers.

Read: An Ambedkar statue and alleged social boycott: How one AP village is divided by caste conflict

Fed up of the social boycott, 200 Dalits from Chrstianpeta (Dalit colony) took out a rally on Tuesday towards the main village. Following the rally, Dalita Mahasabha state president Chintapally Guruprasad, Buddhist Society of India district president R Mani Singh, and Dalit activist Charabanda Raju addressed the gathering.

Speaking to TNM, Guruprasad said, "Garagaparru didn’t get Independence after 70 years from social boycotts. The country has achieved nothing in the past seven decades except social boycotts and a pathetic life in slums. We have expressed our dissent by wearing black flags."

However, Guruprasad added, "We respect Independence Day, but power is simply transferred to the upper castes. That is the reason for Dalits and other underprivileged folk to suffer. "

While the Ambedkar statue was installed by the lake in the village, it was shifted overnight into the old Panchayat building. Angered by the resistance of upper caste village members, the Mala men installed the statue outside the Panchayat building.

"Ministers are visiting the village but nothing has been sorted out. The statue was not installed besides the lake, where Dalits want it installed," said Guruprasad.

While a case was filed under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, the Dalita Mahasabha state president says the promised compensation of Rs 1 lakh was not distributed to families.  

Earlier seeking to broker peace, the state Social Welfare Minister Nakka Anand Babu, Labour Minister Pithani Satyanarayana and SC Corporation chairman Jupudi Prabhakar visited the village and held deliberations with Dalits and upper castes.

National Commission for Scheduled Castes Member K Ramulu had visited the village in the last week of July and ordered officials to ensure that normalcy in the village is restored. He also sought legal action against the accused as per the reports.

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