Cries of “Pranay Amar Rahe - Jai Bhim!” rang in the hour in the streets of Miryalaguda in Telangana on Sunday, as thousands from across the state flocked to the town for the funeral procession of Pranay Perumalla. The town bore witness to Dalit anger and sorrow, and hundreds of youngsters were part of the funeral procession that began from Pranay's home in Muthireddy Kunta and went around the town, before the burial took place at the Roman Catholic burial ground near his house.
24-year-old Pranay was murdered on September 14 outside Miryalaguda Jyothi Hospital’s by an unknown assailant in a caste killing. His crime? Marrying Amrutha, a woman from a Komati caste (Vyshya)--Caste Hindu. The police are still investigating the case.
During the procession, Amrutha was seated on a tractor along with her husband's mortal remains, heading toward the burial ground accompanied by her in-laws and thousands of youth, who came to express their solidarity and demanding justice.
"Ennisaralu Ee Goralu, Entamandimi Orugudamu (How many times will these atrocities take place, how many should be laid rest),” sang one youngster, as his comrades lent their voice to the chorus. The funeral was attended by those from other faiths as well, who expressed their solidarity for the Dalit cause.
The crowd, which consisted of a large number of youngsters, were also seen actively using social media and broadcasting proceedings with the help of Facebook lives. “Let the world see the ugly face of casteism,” said one youngster.
Dalits, human rights activists and students from Kakatiya and Osmania University were all in attendance, and so were the residents of Miryalaguda, who are yet to recover from the brazen murder. Apart from sorrow, there was anger, and a resolve to ensure that more such caste crimes do not take place.
“Irrespective of caste, people have been shaken by the brutal murder of Pranay. He will go down in the pages of the atrocious caste history of the country," said Gorati Venkanna, a poet, singer and activist.
"I never expected this to happen. I don't have words. I feel kind of empty inside," said Mohammad Ali, who was part of the procession and lived in the same neighbourhood as Pranay.
Sharat Naliganti, a student leader from Osmania University who was part of the procession called for a separate legislation for the protection of couples who marry inter-caste:
“We demand that there be a new legislation for the murders and assaults on inter-caste couples, who marry as per their choice,” he said.
Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) leader Krishna' Madiga, Professor Surepallly Sujata and heads of various students organisations leaders were also in attendance.
Miryalaguda, a town which sees agrarian and trade activities, is situated in the Nalgonda district of Telangana. The locality where Pranay hailed from is home to those predominantly from the SC community. On Saturday morning, at various tea stalls, people could be seen huddling over newspapers, trying to make sense of the hate that led to Pranay's murder.
On Saturday, the morning after Pranay’s murder, various Dalit groups came together and declared a bandh across the town. Hundreds of Dalit youth took to the streets enforcing the bandh, shutting down shops, going from street to street on their bikes.