Collector distributes cheques of Rs. 50,000 each to the 157 men & women

In the biggest disbursal of compensation to victims of ‘social boycott’, a sum of Rs.78.50 lakh has been distributed among 157 members of Dalit communities of Pedamakkena village in Sattenapalli mandal. The compensation was given as per G.O Ms No. 3 issued by the Social Welfare Department in 1996 to enforce rules framed in the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities), Act 1989. District Collector S. Suresh Kumar distributed cheques of Rs.50,000 each to the 157 men and women at a meeting held at the Social Welfare Department office on October 10 after the case was charge sheeted at Special Sessions Court in Guntur. Superintendent of Guntur Rural, J. Satyanarayana and president of Indian Dalit Women Association , G. Rajasundara Babu, who has been galvanising public opinion and fighting a legal battle in this case was also present.

The incident had taken place on May 17, 2003 at Pedamakkena village. A meeting convened by a few Dalit leaders, police and revenue officials on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 raised the hackles of upper castes, who socially boycotted the Dalit families.

In the following days, Dalit men and women were denied work in the fields and houses of upper caste families.

Shops selling provisions, medicines shut the doors on the Dalits . Many Dalits were forced to leave the village seeking work in far away villages and towns. After persistent effort by the IDWA, an enquiry by the then Chairman of A.P SC & ST Commission Justice K. Punnaiah was held and a case was filed in Sattepalli Rural Police Station against the accused under Section 3 (1) (6) & 3 (1) (10) of Sc & ST (POA) Act with a mandate to the DSP to file the charge sheet within 30 days. But after an year, the then DSP K. Veerabhadra Rao filed a memo stating that the case was a non-cognizable offence forcing the victims to file a case in the court of Additional Munsif Magistrate, Sattenapalli to take action against the eight accused under Sections 3 (1) (10), 3 (1) (6) and 3 (1) (14) of SC, ST (POA) Act.

Later the case was committed to the Special Sessions Court, Guntur which framed the charges in August 2009 and recorded statements from 13 persons directly and 157 persons filed joint affidavits.

In 2011, the district administration sought clarification on the payment of compensation from the Government and the Special Public Prosecutor since the case was private. But the court opined that victims filed the case as per the alternative procedure laid down in the Criminal Procedure Code giving the nod for further proceedings on the trial.

Finally, the Social Welfare Department gave the nod for payment of compensation to the victims raising their hopes for justice. But their fight is not over yet. Mr. Raja Sundara Babu said that the compensation should be paid to individual family members too. “We also want a review of the compensation under Rule (12) Sub Rule (7) and extend the compensation to those who did not come to court.”