Protest by Dalit families in constituency of CM B.S. Yediyurappa

Around 20 Dalit families of Mayathamma Muchudi village in Shikaripura Assembly constituency, represented by Chief Minister B.S.Yediyurappa, staged a protest on Wednesday against the taluk administration for removing encroachments on government grazing land (gomala).

The protesters, who were carrying some bottles, threatened to commit suicide en masse if they were not allowed to cultivate the land. The police took away the bottles forcibly.

Shikaripur Tahsildar M.P. Kaviraj pacified the protesters by assuring that he would convey their pleas to the Karnataka government.

In the village of over 200 households, the Dalit families have been fighting for grant of land. So far, they had been working in the land of other people.

Veeresh K.P., a Dalit, who led Wednesday’s protest, said that the Dalit families had been cultivating a portion of land in survey number 128 of the village for several years. Their applications for grant of land under the Land Reforms Act were rejected while the applications of upper caste people in the village were honoured, he alleged.

“Why were only our applications rejected? None of us has a piece of land in our name. We spent thousands of rupees on seed and fertilisers, and completed sowing last week. The officers drove a tractor on our land, causing a huge loss to us,” Veeresh told The Hindu.

The upper caste people – Lingayats – had been opposing grant of land to Dalits, he alleged. “They want us to work for them for low wages. Besides that, they do not allow the panchayat to take up fresh works under the MGNREGS only to deny us work and wages. We carried poison bottles as we have lost hope of a decent livelihood,” he said.

In the 1990s, survey number 128 consisted 150 acres of land. Of that, around 70 acres were allotted to bagair hukum cultivators 15 years ago.

Tahsildar Kaviraj M.P. told The Hindu that some applications submitted at that time by Dalits were rejected as they had not cultivated the land. “Since then, the remaining 80 acres had been protected in the interest of cattle. We cannot allow encroachment of the land,” he said.

The officer said, last year, Veeresh and others had cultivated maize on the gomala land. The officer had warned him of action if he cultivated the land again.

“We did not want to destroy the crop then. As he cultivated the land again this year, we had to take back the land. Before that, we had put up a signboard at the site cautioning people against cultivating the government-owned land,” the officer said.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 5:35:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/protest-by-dalit-families-in-constituency-of-cm-bs-yediyurappa/article34839379.ece

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