‘It should be allotted to Dalits in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada’

The Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkar Vaada) has opposed the State government’s decision to provide “Kumki” land to farmers in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts. “Kumki” land is situated adjacent to the fields of farmers and is used for grazing cattle and growing grass.

Hovappa Master, convener of the district unit of DSS, told presspersons here on Wednesday that the government had announced that it would provide 6,853 hectares of “Kumki” land to 3.09 lakh farmers in the two districts. But a large majority of these farmers possessed huge tracts of land ranging from 50 to 60 acres and they were from some upper castes. The government move would only benefit the “land sharks”.

Instead, the government should allot land to the Dalits in these two districts under the “Depressed Classes Manna Bhoomi”. This had been a long pending demand of the Dalits. Many Dalits did not own land or houses. They were facing hardships. The British government had conducted a study on the conditions of the depressed classes in the erstwhile South Canara district in Madras Presidency. After witnessing the pathetic condition of these classes, the British government, in 1860, decided to reserve some plots of land in every village for the welfare of the depressed classes. These plots were called “DC manna bhoomi” in Kannada, he said.

The government should allot these plots to the Dalits. Even if the Dalits were provided three to five cents of land, they could build houses. Though a large number of Dalits, agricultural workers, and persons from minority communities had been living on some plots in these districts for decades, the government had not taken any step to give title deeds to them. It was surprising that the Opposition parties were silent on this issue. The DSS would appeal to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj to prevent the government from providing “Kumki” land to farmers. The DSS would move court on this issue, he said.

The other demands of the DSS were stern action against those using false caste certificates, declaration of summer vacation in schools to observe Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14, allocation of funds in the budget for the Dalits on the basis of their population and cancellation of the contract system.

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