Wider Movement to Fight Caste Discrimination & Social Oppression
M Venugopala Rao
For building a wider movement for fighting against caste discrimination and social oppression in the background of increasing caste fanaticism and attacks and atrocities on dalits in different states during the last two-and-a-half years of the NDA rule, a national forum in the name of Dalit Swabhiman Sangharsh would be formed, national leader of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch (DSMM) and member of the CPI(M) Central Secretariat V Srinivasa Rao has announced. Along with DSSM, many other associations and forces would form the forum and under its banner a large meeting would be held in New Delhi on September 16. Those who have been leading different movements at the national level would participate in the meeting, he said. Rao was addressing a meeting organised at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in Hyderabad on September 11 when the yatra for self-respect conducted all over Telangana, under the banner of Kula Vivaksha Vyatireka Porata Sangham (KVPS), concluded.
Referring to the statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India would be made a super power, Rao questioned as to how it would be possible without development of dalits and adivasis who constitute 25 per cent of the country’s population. Expressing serious concern over increasing caste fanaticism and atrocities against dalits and the attacks on dalits and Muslims in the name of ‘Gau Samrakshak Dal’ in various parts of the country during the last two-and-a-half years of the NDA rule, Rao referred to the statements made by Modi against attacks on dalits during his visit to Hyderabad recently and demanded that the prime minister put a ban on cow protection brigades if he were true to his words. As a result of neo-liberal policies and gradual weakening of the public sector in the country, reservations for dalits and adivasis in the country are not being implemented, he said. In this background, the demand for implementing reservations in the private sector has come to the fore. To mete out social justice, industries and other organisations in the public sector should be revived, Rao asserted.
KVPS state general secretary T Skylab Babu narrated the experiences of the self-respect yatra and said that unprecedented support to the movement has come from dalits and other social organisations in different districts. Dalits have expressed serious dissatisfaction over the failure of the TRS government in Telangana in fulfilling various promises it had made like distribution of three acres of land to each dalit, houses with double bed rooms, free education from KG to PG. On the contrary, social discrimination, oppression and atrocities have been continuing on dalits. Pointing out that the self-respect yatra was a beginning only, he gave a call for a more militant movement. Former general secretary of KVPS, John Wesley, demanded serious punishment for the BJP and RSS elements that had attacked the bus yatra of KVPS at Ibrahimpatnam in Ranga Reddy district. Vice President of KVPS, K Narsimha, presided over the meeting in which several leaders of KVPS participated and leaders of different organisations expressed solidarity to the movement of KVPS.
Yatra for self-respect
The self-respect yatra of KVPS was inaugurated by veteran leader of the CPI(M) Mallu Swarajyam on August 23 at Sangareddy in Medak district. The yatra covered a distance of about 4,200 kilometres across 10 districts in 20 days. During the yatra, meetings were conducted at 142 centres. 132 social and mass organisations extended their solidarity to the self-respect yatra. During the yatra, untouchability, caste discrimination and social oppression of dalits in various forms, the need for fighting against the same and various demands for uplift of dalits have been highlighted. Of 6,000 villages in Telangana, there are no burial grounds for dalits in about 5,000 villages. During the yatra, leaders of KVPS explained that dalit women have not been allowed to participate in batukamma, bonalu and other festival programmes along with upper caste women, while the daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, K Kavita, has been organising batukamma programmes with Rs 10 crore sanctioned by her father. In the capital city of Hyderabad, the deplorable practice of refusing to rent out houses to dalits on the basis of caste is continuing. At several towns in Ranga Reddy district, dalits are not being allowed to enter temples. Several instances of refusing to take mid-day meal prepared by dalit women have come to light. In universities, upper caste students are insulting SC students by calling them by derogatory terms. In Mahabubnagar district, the system of serving tea in separate glasses to dalits and people of other castes is still continuing. KVPS leaders demanded allotment of land for burial grounds for dalits, allowing dalit women to participate in various festival programmes along with upper caste women, ending social discrimination and oppression in various forms and banning of cow vigilantism.