A gritty fighter, Dalit cloth vendor, Ammulu and her two teenaged daughters managed to escape from the ferocity of the tsunami that swept away her humble dwelling and a wayside shop in Andamans.

When they reached Sarpavaram in Kakinada after a long arduous journey from the islands they heaved a sigh of relief having survived nature's fury, though it meant picking up a shattered thread of life. The relief proved to be short-lived as they soon found themselves caught in tsunami of the caste kind.

“After six years of hard work, when we started building a house in 2010 on a six-cent site, we faced the wrath of the Kapus,” she narrated at a public hearing organised by Dalit Shree Sakthi here on Thursday. They started harassing her, denied her access to a common pathway, saying it belonged to Kapus. After holding out threats they demanded Rs. 30,000. She managed Rs. 10,000 but the harassment and hurling of abuses naming her by caste continued leading to assault on June 2. A case of atrocity was registered but there was no further progress.

Suicide

Another Dalit, Hanumanthu of Miyapur, Ranga Reddy district, recounted how his long cherished dream of seeing his 14-year-old daughter, Renuka becoming an IAS officer was shattered when two upper caste teachers humiliated her so much that she set herself ablaze. Miyapur police registered it as a case of suicide and not under Prevention of Atrocities Act. G. Jhansi of DSS recalled that police in RR district showed no interest in investigating cases of atrocities on Dalits as the perpetrators often brought pressure invoking name of the Home Minister.

Raped by relative

A modest crowd of families of victims, activists and the jury members was stunned when Chellapu Sesha Rao of Devavaram in Visakhapantam district narrated how his mentally challenged daughter was raped by a relative. When the case came to light, the 18-year-old was three months pregnant. She delivered a baby boy but does not know how to take care of him now.

The jury members included former Supreme Court Judge K. Ramaswamy, former IAS officers -- K. R. Venugopal and K. Madhava Rao -- and president of RPI Bojja Tharakam.