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The Dalits alleged that they faced a social boycott for close to two months, for installing a statue of Ambedkar.

SC panel member visits tense AP village confirms Dalits faced boycott over Ambedkar statueImage: Srinu Tatapudi
news News Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 10:28

Amid high tension, a member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, K Ramulu, paid a visit to Christianpeta in Garagpparu village, in Andhra's West Godavari district. 

After the visit, Ramulu confirmed that Dalits in the village had been subjected to social boycott by upper castes, and asked the district administration to take steps and restore normalcy in the village. 

This comes after the Dalits alleged that they had not been getting any labour work for close to two months, and they were not being given agricultural land on lease, as some 'caste' Hindus had called for their social boycott.

The Dalits had claimed that it all began after they wanted to install a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar, in their village.

According to reports, Ramulu interacted with villagers in the presence of District Collector K Bhaskar, Police Superintendent Ravi Prakash, and other officials.

“They should get back their farms and be able to work in the village as usual. There is an immediate need to restore normalcy in the village. Legal action should be initiated against the accused,” he was quoted as saying.

This came a day after the police refused entry and detained several activists and politicians who came to visit the village in protest, including former MP GV Harsha Kumar.

Many Dalit groups had also given a call for ‘Chalo Garagaparru’.

Meanwhile, tension continued to prevail in the village on Monday, as several policemen patrolled the streets, to avoid any untoward incidents. 

Background

The entire issue started after Dalits in the village approached the panchayat in April, expressing their wish for a statue of Ambedkar to be installed in the village.

However, they claimed that they were denied permission, and alleged that the village elders were acting at the behest of some upper caste locals.

Despite this, the Dalits reportedly installed the statue on the night of April 24, only to see it removed soon, by unknown persons.

This sparked off massive protests in the village, with lower castes taking to the streets and staging roadblocks.

Meanwhile, revenue officials told Ramulu that an Ambedkar statue opposite the panchayat office had been removed, but was later restored when they came to know of the incident.  

However, the Dalits claimed that officials failed to notice their woes, after the statue was restored. 

The police have registered a case against the accused upper-caste locals under Section 341 (Wrongful Restraint), 506 r/w 34 (Criminal Intimidation) of the IPC, and the SC/ST(Prevention Of Atrocities) Act.

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