`Help us live or give us poison'
KADKOL (BIJAPUR DISTRICT): Seven year-old Chaitra and her younger sister Anjali have rashes all over their bodies. Their parents Sangappa Kanal and Yallavva believe the children have measles. Asked why they had not consulted a doctor, tears fill their eyes. "We hardly have enough food to feed them, how can we arrange money for medicines? They will survive if their fate is strong," says Sangappa.Sangappa's is one among around 80 Dalit families in Kadkol village of Basavanabagewadi taluk in Bijapur district against whom there is a social and economic boycott by caste Hindus. Most of the Dalits are agricultural labourers. They worked under the village landlords till the boycott was imposed on them on July 25, the day they dared collect water from the village tank. Before that they had no access to the tank, and non-Dalits used to pour water from it into their vessels. When at last they fought and gained access to it they lost all means of livelihood. The landlords, mostly caste Hindus, stopped giving them work. Shops and flourmills were shut for them. An undeclared restriction came into force at the doors of fair price shops under the public distribution system.
"Now, even if they open the shops and flourmills to us, we don't have either money to purchase essential commodities or cereals to grind," said an elderly woman.