Limbavva Malathre is distraught. Three weeks ago, one of her sons was brutally assaulted and another other son has been jailed, allegedly on a false case of murder.
“Our kids will die. We will also die,” said the 55-year-old Lambani woman, a resident of a tanda in Ganjendragad taluk of Gadag district. Lambanis are a semi-nomadic community, which has been classified as Scheduled Caste, but academics say the community is a tribe.
For the past three weeks, Limbavva and her family have been protesting in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Gadag town.
Along with civil society organizations, Limbavva’s family is protesting against the brutal assault on her son Shivappa (24) and the arrest of her older son Hanumanthappa (30).
On May 24, Shivappa was beaten with iron rods following an altercation over filling petrol worth Rs 30 for bike. The petrol bunk reportedly belongs to Sidappa Bandi, the brother of a Congress leader. Limbavva alleged that the Sidappa attacked her son only because he belonged to a Lambani community.
Narrating what happened on May 24, she said that Shivappa, a daily wage labourer, was on his way to the temple festival in the neighbouring village of Rajooru. “He went to the petrol station and asked them to fill petrol for Rs 30. But the person there refused saying they only fill for a minimum of Rs 50. Shivappa retorted saying how can it be so when all others stations fill for Rs 30. He left saying he will fill in another station.”
As he was leaving the owner of the station Siddappa Bandi, who is the brother of former MLA Kallappa of the Congress, called him back. “As soon as he knew Shivappa belonged to Lambadi caste he got people to tie his hands and legs. They took him into a room and beat him badly with rods. They took my son, who was barely conscious, and dropped him off at the roadside near the compound of our house,” Limbavva said.
The next day, the police arrested her older son Hanumanthappa on suspicion of murder. Limbavva alleged that the case was fabricated.
Protesting these incidents, Limbavva and the rest of her family have camped out at the DC’s office, for the past 12 days and sleeping in the open.
“My 6-year-old granddaughter Yashoda has developed a fever. We took her to in the district hospital,” she said.
However, the family refuses to leave the DC office premises until action is taken. “It has been three weeks since a case was filed but police doesn’t seem to be doing anything and they claim that culprit is absconding,” she said.
“We are very poor. You come and see our house. Let alone getting my son out on bail, we have no money to pay for my son’s and grand-daughter’s treatment,” Limbavva said, sounding desperate.