Channappa Gowda to take up the issue of land encroachment with the Government

Participants at the meeting organised on Wednesday to address development-related issues faced by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes people unanimously demanded a ban on made snana across the State.

During a meeting chaired by Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda, members of various Dalit groups said the practice should be abolished by the district administration.

Members of the Dalit Rights Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Shekar L. said that serving food only to people of a particular caste in a government-run temple amounted to the government supporting discrimination on the basis of caste. He said the district administration should abolish the “inhuman” practice across the State.

Mr. Gowda said that he would convey the views expressed to the State Government. Dalit groups would be consulted on the course of action to be taken, he added.

Withdraw order

During the previous SC/ST meeting held a year ago, Nagarika Seva Trust had demanded that the order allotting land reserved for the depressed classes to an educational institution in Dharmasthala in Ujire be scrapped.

As District Social Welfare Officer Arun Furtado read out the minutes that the Government had allotted 43.90 acres of land, loud exclamations arose from a number of people.

District convenor of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (B. Krishnappa faction) Krishnananda said that allotting land to an educational institution “which already had hundreds of acres of land was wrong when Dalits have been struggling for years to obtain DC manna land”. This prompted scattered applause from participants of the meeting.

Mr. Gowda told the meeting that the land had in fact been granted in 1949 and that he would write to the State Government about the objections raised.

Land issues

The overwhelming concern of nearly all the people who participated in the meeting was the allotment of land kept reserved for people of depressed classes (commonly called D.C. manna land) to Dalits.

A number of activists spoke about instances of DC manna land being encroached upon by others. In several cases, where Dalits were living on DC manna land, title deeds were not given to them, they said.

Activist Bhanuchandra requested Mr. Gowda to file cases under Section 3 (4) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 against those who encroached upon land notified to be allotted to SCs or STs.

Mr. Gowda said that he could take action under other revenue laws but not the Atrocity Act.

Section 3 (4) of the Act classified wrongful occupation of land meant for SC/ST people as an atrocity.

Zilla Panchayat member from Naravi C.K. Chandrakala said that although she was allegedly abused over her caste by Mada Gowda and Lalita, no arrests had been made.

Additional Superintendent of Police Prabhakara said that he would look into it.

Mr. Gowda said that a special meeting would be convened to address the issue of land. He directed that similar meetings be held once a month by the tahsildars and once every two months by Assistant Commissioners.