Staff Correspondent

Meeting on Sunday to focus on problems of people in 13 villages

Udupi: The Karnataka Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Ambedkarwada) will be conducting the “Shoshitara Swabhimana Samavesha”, a conference, at Hebri on Sunday to focus on the woes of Dalits in 13 villages of Udupi district which are afflicted by naxalite activities and police highhandedness.

Addressing presspersons here on Friday, chief convener of the district unit of DSS Sundar Gujjarbettu said that people from Scheduled Tribes in the 13 villages near Hebri were a frightened lot. They had been caught between the naxalites who frequented the area and the police who harassed them for information about the terrorist outfit.

He said 25 cases had been booked against people in these villages for allegedly supporting the naxalites. Fifteen young men had left their homes owing to harassment by the police. “It has become difficult for these people to find marriage alliances for their children,” he said.

Mr. Gujjarbettu said, “The DSS neither supports nor believes in the ideology of naxalites. We believe in democratic methods of protest. But we are opposed to harassment of our people by the police.”

Naxalites were able to exploit the sentiments of Dalits in Meggade and Kabinale villages because they had not been given title deeds of their houses after having lived there for nearly 30 years. But other people had been given title deeds. “The benefits of the package for development of naxal-affected villages have gone to people from upper castes and the affluent and not the poor Dalits. These villages also lack amenities such as roads and power supply,” he said.

The meeting aimed at facilitating an interaction between the authorities and aggrieved people. Deputy Commissioner P. Hemalatha and Superintendent of Police Devajyothi Ray would be participating in the conference.