Justice, a totally alien concept for these Dalits
Artistes performing at the Dalit Sthree Sakti’s State convention in Hyderabad on Wednesday.– Photo: G. Ramakrishna
A sense of closure eludes Ravuri Tirupathamma who had been devastated by her daughter’s gang-rape and murder almost five years ago in 2010.
The pre-adolescent daughter of a Dalit watchman, the girl was brutally raped by four men and died after suffering for 10 days. Her two brothers were attacked so badly that the eldest one has been crippled for life, and the younger one’s vision has been affected severely.
The police took two years to catch the four men, and though investigation is complete, no charge-sheet has been filed. The accused are out on bail.
“Our complaints at Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (VMC) meeting remained futile. Unofficially we have come to know that the relevant file has gone missing, though the police won’t admit it,” alleged G.Vijay Prakash from Dalit Sthree Sakti (DSS) at the organisation’s State convention here on Wednesday.
All that the family got from the government was compensation and a house under the poor people’s housing scheme. “My elder son cannot do physical labour as his nerves are badly affected. Our life can never be the same again. The government should provide jobs to my sons,” Tirupathamma begs.
Yet, her misery pales before Ponnakanti Hanumanthu, who lost his daughter Renuka the same year, but did not get a house nor any compensation. The 14-year-old was allegedly driven to end her life by her teachers at a social welfare residential school.
Taunted, beaten up
“She was taunted for being over-aged for class V, and beaten up. How can one expect educational brilliance from the first generation students of Budagajangala caste? We beg for livelihood,” laments teary-eyed Hanumanthu. In this case, the police filed a charge-sheet, but not under PoA Act, alleged Gaddam Jhansi, the DSS state convener. “When we raised it at the VMC meeting, the police made a pretext that there was no dying declaration. We provided the declaration we had recorded. The section was excluded even from the supplementary charge-sheet, despite the Collector’s intervention,” Ms.Jhansi explained, and said lack of conviction and perspective at all levels marred the spirit of the PoA Act.
Another group of Dalits from Siripuram village of Ranga Reddy district who attended the convention had been attacked by upper caste members for trying to assert their rights. A ‘Dhwaja Sthambh’ donated to the local temple by a Dalit man became an eye-sore in this case, and the tensions peaked last year when SC youth ventured to serve at the community lunch at the temple. The case is up for trial.