Two months after two Dalits belonging to Abhangapatnam in Nizamabad district were assaulted by Bharat Reddy, an upper caste BJP leader, their woes are far from over. Adding to the scars of humiliation and physical assault inflicted upon them, the hapless victims are now struggling to find work in their village.
Rajeshwar and Lakshman have been struggling for the past two months to make ends meet. The victims allege that that wealthy, upper caste farmers, who would previously employ them for work on farm fields, have been refusing to hire them. They allege that they have been refused employment with many fearing repercussions.
Not just the upper castes, other villagers too have allegedly resisted employing them.
“Since this whole episode, no villager has been properly talking to us and providing us with any work. It’s been two months now, and we were surviving on the relief amount of Rs 25,000 which was granted as compensation by the government. We kept looking for work, but no one is willing to give any work. Now, we fear that things may not get normal and we would never get any work in our village,” lamented Rajeshwar.
But this compensation money is also fast-running out. Rajeshwar says, “We took a loan to build our house, and the interest for it is Rs 4,000. Since we didn’t get any work these past months, we paid the interest from the compensation money, and we’re now left with nothing.”
Like Rajeshwar, Lakshman also said that the villagers are hostile to them.
“After we returned home, the villagers came to see and interact with us only on the first two days. They never returned after that or cared to enquire about us,” he said, adding, “After Bharat Reddy’s arrest everyone fears the police and are not employing us.”
The victims approached Dalit activists, who are on the search for both jobs and monetary aid for them.
In November last year, a video of Bharat Reddy, a local BJP leader threatening two Dalits—Rajeshwar and Lakshman- and forcing them to take a dip in the water for reporting about sand mining went viral. The clip shows Reddy abusing and hurling casteist slurs at the Dalits and humiliating them by asking them to get into muddy water.
Later, the victims were allegedly abducted by Bharat Reddy. He was however, arrested under the SC/ST atrocities Act and also on charges of abduction in December.