'Should I commit suicide for CM to act?' asks Karnataka Dalit woman harassed at CM’s residence

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'Should I commit suicide for CM to act?' asks Karnataka Dalit woman harassed at CM’s residence
'Should I commit suicide for CM to act?' asks Karnataka Dalit woman harassed at CM’s residence

“If there is something I will remember all my life, it is that torturous night I spent at the remand home for women for no fault of mine,” said Savitha, the 25-year-old Dalit woman allegedly ill-treated outside the Chief Minister’s house. She had decided to approach the Chief Minister to get the title deed of her one-room shed in RPC layout in Bengaluru’s Vijayanagar area, when everything else had failed.

Savitha became the focus of media attention after she was taken into custody by the Bengaluru police on May 17. She had been waiting outside Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s official residence on the day of the monthly Janatha Darshana, when the CM personally addresses peoples’ woes. She refused to leave until the CM met her.

Savitha, who belongs to the Bovi caste, moved to Bengaluru from Kunigal with her husband after their wedding nine years ago. They got a plot of land from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike a year after that. She claims to have even paid tax for the house for this period.

An hour after she, her husband and children reached the CM’s residence, Savitha says she asked her husband to take the kids home as they were hungry.

“I waited for over two hours after that. As I waited, I saw well-dressed and influential people or those from Varuna (CM’s constituency) going in. People who came after me also went in. But at 8 pm they started asking another woman and me to leave, which I felt was unfair,” said Savitha. When she refused, she was reprimanded by the security guard for creating a scene.

She was then taken to the High grounds station, where she alleges police threatened to file a prostitution case against her and send her to the Bengaluru Central Prison.

“To scare me further, they took me to the remand home for women at Hosur road. It was not just mental torture for me, my husband and children were clueless about my whereabouts throughout the night,” recalled Savitha.

“If I were to earn from prostitution why should I go to the CM's house seeking help? Just because we are from the lower economic strata it doesn't mean that we can be ill-treated,” she said.

Her livelihood has taken a hit after these events. Savitha and her husband had planned to open a bakery with a loan of Rs 5 lakh. “A few days after the incident, when we approached the money lender, he said ‘Am I going to come to Parappana Agrahara (central prison) to get the money?’ This is the kind of humiliation we face,” she said.

Her husband Mutthuraj alleged that the police also threatened to book him and seize his rented auto. Worried, he returned the auto to its owner. “That was our only income,” said Savitha, who has studied up to 12th standard and is a home-maker. 

To accusations that she was lying, Savitha said CCTV footage from the CM’s residence and High Grounds police station would prove her right.

“Will the CM only act if someone commits suicide? ” asked Savitha. She was referring to the Chikkaballapura farmer’s family who got Rs 2 lakh compensation and land after the farmer committed suicide by consuming poison outside the district commissioner’s office earlier this year.

Savitha says she only wants justice and to set an example for other people, who suffer the high-handedness of authorities.

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