A Dalit rights organisation in the city has expressed dissatisfaction at the alleged “apathy” of the police department in reacting to their complaints of use of derogatory terms and gestures against the backward classes.

While one complaint refers to the use of the word ‘toti’ for Dalits, the other alleges demeaning gestures and phrases during a play staged by the Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy.

“Purusha Prakasham”, a booklet dealing with sexual problems and their solutions, carries a foreword remembering social reformer Kudmul Ranga Rao, wherein, Mr. Rao is stated to have said in his will that a portion of his property should be given to “Totis” (the writer even puts it under quotes).

S.P. Anand of Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkar Vada) who filed the complaint said the derogatory term does not feature in the will. “Why would Ranga Rao who worked for the downtrodden even use a word like this? In his will he says the property should be handed over for dalit welfare,” he said. ‘Toti’, Mr. Anand explained, is the term used by upper caste persons while referring to those cleaning the roads. “In the olden days the upper castes would not even call out the workers by their name. Instead, they would call them Totis,” he said.

Though first printed in 1999 by Prasad publishers, it was only after Mr. Anand got hold of the book that the issue came to light a few months ago. The book – which carries the thoughts and opinions of Prakash Kadri of Karavali Ashrayadhama as told to journalist C. Bhaskar Balaya – has since gone through three reprints, the last being April 2011.

Meanwhile, Mr. Anand also alleged that a similar derogatory remark was made by artistes at a cultural programme and award ceremony organised by Karnataka Tulu Sahitya Academy at Town Hall on June 16. During a drama, he said, artistes folded their arms as if accepting alms while calling out “dikka” (a derogatory term implying ‘children of the field’).

Umanath Kotian, Chairman of the Academy, refuted the allegation saying it cannot be an insult as all 35 performers on stage were from the Scheduled Caste category and were “recreating the language” that was spoken decades ago.

On June 24, Mr. Anand filed a complaint urging the Police Commissioner to file cases under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 in these two instances. “It’s been three months and the police have not taken action,” he said.

T.R. Jagannath, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said no charges had been filed against the author or the Tulu Sahitya Academy and the matter was “still under investigation”.

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