We will appeal against the verdict in Supreme Court, say kin of victims
A walk down the SC Colony in the village leads to a small brick house. A lofty cement pillar dedicated to the memory of Kommerla Anil Kumar overlooks the house.
Sitting on a chair in the verandah , 84-year old Kommerla Raja Rao reminisces about his son Anil Kumar, then a 22-year-old young man, who was shot dead during the police firing in the aftermath of an agitation over Tsunduru massacre.
“It is 23 years since the incident took place. I feel that justice has eluded us again. We appealed against the special court verdict and have been fighting for justice, but the High Court judgment has disappointed us,” says Mr. Raja Rao, in a resigned tone.
On Tuesday, a Division Bench of the AP High Court dismissed the appeal by the Special Public Prosecutor against the special court verdict in July 2007 and acquitted all the 21 persons sentenced to life imprisonment.
The death of B. Chandrasekhar, special public prosecutor, in January 2013, during the hearing of the case in the HC forced the Tsunduru victims to seek the help of Bojja Tarakam, who was later appointed as Special Public Prosecutor.
In July 2007, the special court established under the provisions of SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Tsunduru convicted 56 accused, out of which 21 were awarded life imprisonment and 35 simple imprisonment. It let off 115 others citing lack of evidence.
But the verdict let down most victims in Tsunduru, who were witness to the carnage of Dalits by socially-dominant communities in August 1991. “I was the second witness in the case. Even after fighting for over 23 years, we feel disappointed. We will appeal against the verdict in Supreme Court,” says Angalakuduru Prasad, brother of Rajamohan, who was among the eight Dalits lynched in the carnage.
A few yards away from the house, a group of policemen take shelter under a huge tree covering an earthen mound. In a symbolic action of protest, Dalits in the village buried those killed in the attack in the heart of the village and renamed the square ‘Raktha Skethram’ (blood field).
Superintendent of Police, Guntur Rural J. Satyanarayana promised the Dalit associations that the State government would appeal against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.
“It is a black day in this historic struggle. We had appealed to the court to award similar punishment to the remaining accused. We will definitely move to the Supreme Court,” says Jaladi Wilson, convener of Tsunduru Dalit Victims’ Association.
Over the years, the State and Central governments reached out to those families through a socially affirmative programme.
Families of those killed, were provided an acre of land, a job for the educated and a house.
The government provided half acre each for the 470 beneficiaries, 42 jobs and milch cattle to families.