Special Correspondent

Dalits seek action against officials for ‘insult’ to Ambedkar

Dalits keep statue at the ‘TUDA gate’ pending installation in a burial ground

Revenue, Police officials insist that statue be removed, sparking a row

TIRUPATI: The displaced statue of Dr. Ambedkar was replaced at its original position — the TUDA gate in the Thummalagunta village coming under the Tirupati (Rural) mandal. The local Harijans reportedly procured the statue on Sunday night from Amalapuram for installation at the burial ground belonging to the Dalits of the village.

Because of the nightfall already, the Dalits were said to have kept it at the ‘TUDA gate’ pending its installation in the burial ground later.

What sparked the trouble was the Revenue and Police officials landing at the scene the next morning and insisting that the statue be removed at once from the gate. With the local Dalits and other Harijan leaders, led by president of the Tirupati SC Welfare Association, P. Paramasivan refusing to budge, the authorities allegedly removed the statue and took it away to the nearby MR Palle police station.

Infuriated over the action and terming it as an insult not only to the Dalits, but to a great leader like Ambedkar himself, the Dalits immediately held a ‘rasta roko’ and later laid siege to the Office of the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO), Tirupati. They also demanded that action be taken against all those behind the incident.

The situation was diffused only after the RDO after consultations with the police and all others concerned, arranged the immediate restoration of the statue back at its original place — TUDA gate.

The SC Welfare Association later arranged an all-party meeting here and demanded the arrest and registration of case against the TUDA Chairman, Chevireddi Bhaskar Reddy for his alleged hand behind the incident. They alleged that TUDA chief sought to intimidate the Dalits and tried to illegally occupy the site which was being used as burial ground for over a century. Representatives of TDP, Praja Rajyam, CPI(M), CPI, BJP, BSP besides several SC/BC welfare associations, professional bodies also participated in the meet.