Dalit rights groups in Bantwal attempted to stop the official celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti on Saturday citing the Government's “failure” to take action to fulfil its constitutional mandate of uplifting the conditions of the poor.

Eye-witnesses said the groups initially requested the officials and guests assembled not to conduct the proceedings as planned. When they decided to go ahead ignoring the warnings, the Dalits reportedly took away the portrait of Dr. Ambedkar and the lamp that was to be lit to mark the inauguration of the event and held a parallel celebration of the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar on the road.

Later, when the officials got another portrait of Dr. Ambedkar and a lamp and attempted to continue the official celebrations, the Dalit groups repeated their action but left behind the lamp. The official ceremony was conducted by lighting of the lamp and with speeches by K.T. Shailaja Bhat, President of Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat, and B. Ramanatha Rai, MLA.

The founder president of the Bantwal Taluk Bharata Ratna Babasaheb Ambedkar Samaja Seva Sangha, Bhanuchandra Krishnapura, said a longstanding demand of Dalit rights groups was that the Karnataka Land Grant Rules 1969 be amended to raise the cap on income to grant land to agriculturists from Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 50,000.

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