Special Correspondent

Condemns Government's `lukewarm' reaction to attack on Dalits

ComplaintsDalits were beaten up and their property looted by upper caste people in Chitta villageSocial Welfare Minister Balachandra Jarkiholi did not visit the village even after a month of the incidentCases booked against 51 persons, but police arrested only 31

GULBARGA: The Dalit Panthers of India will hold a demonstration and dharna in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Bangalore on June 15 to protest against the increasing attacks on Dalits and the social boycott imposed on them in many villages in the State.

President of the Dalit Panthers of India Mallappa Hosmanikar told presspersons here on Sunday that the protest demonstration and dharna planned in Bangalore was the second phase of their agitation. In the first phase, they held protest dharnas in all district headquarter cities on May 19.

`Authorities indifferent'

He said attacks on Dalits were on the increase after the Janata Dal (S)-BJP Government came to power. The indifferent attitude of the authorities to taking stern action against those attacking Dalits had given room for more atrocities.

Mr. Hosmanikar said that it was unfortunate that the response of the State Government to the attack on the Dalit colony in Chitta (K) village in Basavakalyan taluk in Bidar district was lukewarm.

It was surprising that Social Welfare Minister Balachandra Jarkiholi had not visited the village even after a month of the incident. Many Dalits were beaten up and their property looted by a mob of upper caste people in Chitta village, he said.

Social boycott

He said that the district administration had also not made serious attempts to end the month-long social boycott of Dalits in Chitta K village by upper caste people. No effort was made to bring upper caste people and the Dalits together for talks, he said.

Whatever financial help was given by the administration to the affected families so far was insufficient, and the Dalits in the village were living in perpetual fear. Mr. Hosmanikar refuted allegations that Dalits were misusing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Atrocities (Prevention) Act and foisting cases against innocent people as alleged by upper caste people.

In the attack in Chitta K, although cases were booked against 51 persons, the police had arrested only 31 persons. In the incident in Dhanapur village in Gangavati taluk in Koppal district, cases were registered against 25 persons, but only 16 persons were arrested.

Naming of varsity

Mr. Hosmanikar said that their protest demonstration in Bangalore was also to pressure the Government to rename Gulbarga University as Basaveshwar University.