As many as 21 Dalit families of Heggare village, near here, allege that they have been ostracised by their own community people for the past one-and-a-half years.
They are among the 80 families residing in the Dalit Colony. Most of them work as labourers and construction workers, and struggle to get two square meals a day.
The problem started when a meeting was convened by a few Dalit community leaders to choose a person to head the community. R. Narasaiah, a Dalit who retired as valve man in Tumkur, opined that all people belonging to the community should be invited. However, Basavaraju — a government school teacher and husband of Heggare panchayat member Soubhagyamma — and his supporters ignored the suggestion and went ahead with the meeting. This tussle ended in the ostracism of Mr. Narasaiah and his family. They were not allowed to enter the Maramma temple, following which he built a temple for goddess Lakshmi on his land. The families which are facing ostracism alleged that Mr. Basavaraju and his supporters ordered the rest of the community to boycott Mr. Narasaiah and his family. The announcement, made to the accompaniment of drumbeats, also said violators would be fined Rs. 1,001.
Subsequently, 20 families which interacted with Mr. Narasaiah and his family were also boycotted. They were not even allowed to collect water from the public tap.
These Dalits alleged that the supporters and son of Mr. Basavaraju were picking up a fight with them over trivial matters, and also hurled abuses at them. The two groups clashed on January 13 near the Maramma temple. Rajanna and Mr. Basavaraju were injured and admitted to the government hospital in Tumkur. Cases have been registered against both groups under IPC sections 143, 147, 323, 324, 504 and 506, read with 149 in the Tumkur Rural police station. Gowramma, a resident, told The Hindu, “Mr. Basavaraju’s son and his group have openly threatened us that they will rape our young girls and spoil their lives if we go against them”.
Jayamma, another resident, said: “Mr. Basavaraju and his group have threatened us that they would kill us if we do not cast our votes in favour of the persons they suggest.”
Mr. Basavaraju, however, refused to comment on the issue.
But his family members and supporters, including Nagaraju, alleged that false cases had been booked against them. District convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti M.D. Doddegowda said that earlier also complaints had been booked against both groups. They were called to the police station and a compromise was arrived at, following which the cases were withdrawn.
Mr. Doddegowda urged officials to take action against the people who boycotted the 21 Dalit families.
District Social Welfare Officer B.S. Pradeep said the matter had not come to his notice, adding he would send his officers to the village to find out what was happening.
Tahsildar B. Ahobalaiah also said, “It has not come to my notice, I will find out.”