Special Correspondent

SC, ST Commission Chairman receives representations

Instances of discrimination against dalits are highlighted, he says

Commission to discuss with officials the issues highlighted

VIJAYAWADA: Nearly two-third of the 80,000 acres assigned to dalits in Krishna district is under encroachment, according to the State SC, ST Commission.

SC, ST Commission Chairman M. Nagarjuna and member Prathap Kumar said at a press conference after receiving representations from several associations and individuals at the Sub-Collector’s office here on Monday that the commission had got information that nearly 50,000 acres assigned to dalits in Krishna district were under encroachment. “The pattas are with the dalits, but the land is with somebody else,” the Chairman said.

Mr. Nagarjuna said SC associations and individuals had also highlighted other instances of discrimination against dalits in Krishna district. The commission was informed that SC and ST students in some colleges in the district were being made to sit separately from other students in classrooms.

The two-glass system was also in vogue in some areas of the district, he said. Untouchability was being practised in the State even though six decades had passed since the country won its independence. The practice of tying Palmyra leaves to the dalits to demean them was still prevalent in areas around Nandigama, Mr. Nagarjuna observed.

The Chairman said it had come to the notice of the Commission that police were reluctant to register cases under the SC, ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act. The police were undermining all the cases filed by the victims by terming them ‘fake’. “Fake cases cannot be ruled out altogether. But the percentage of such cases will be very small. I have asked SC and ST associations to show wisdom. I told them not to back persons who file false complaints to victimise people and also not compromise when it is a genuine case of atrocity,” Mr. Nagarjuna said. Because of the intervention of the Commission, the accused was arrested in the case of poisoning of a 40-acre fish tank belonging to the dalits in Bandlagudem village in the district, he pointed out.

The Chairman said he was shocked to find out that there were no burial grounds for the dalits in Vijayawada. The city was known to be progressive in accommodating all sections, but it was neglecting its dalits.

The dalits had complained to the Commission that the burial and crematory grounds were situated right in the midst of their houses. Many of the dalits were sick continuously because of the smoke and smell that entered their homes from these grounds, he observed.

The Commission would discuss these issues with the officials in Vijayawada and Machilipatnam, the district head quarters, on Wednesday and submit a report to the government with its recommendations.