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Vattipogu Poornamma (25 years), belonging to Madiga (SC) was murdered in the Dalit colony of Gangireddy palem village, Machavaram mandal of Guntur district, allegedly for refusing to continue a relationship with a dominant caste man. Boodala Yesu and Kamalamma have two sons and one daughter, Poornamma. Poornamma was married to her maternal uncle when she was just 15 years. Poornamma was living in Brahmanapalli and had a 12-year old son. She separated from her husband three years ago and was living in Gangireddy palem. She used to go for tractor work and other works to feed her son and parents. She had an extra-marital affair with Gandham Ram Murthy Venkateswarlu for some time and used to work with his tractor. As some misunderstanding arose, she stopped working with the tractor for some time. On 12.9.2001, Ram Murthy came to her house at around 8:00 p.m. and woke her up from her rest. When Poornamma got up and asked Ram Murthy what he wanted, Poornamma’s mother, Kamalamma, also got up from the place where she was working and enquired about the commotion. Poornamma told her mother to go to sleep, saying that Ram Murthy wanted to talk to her. Kamalamma noticed her daughter walking with Ram Murthy towards the opposite agriculture lands and two or three people sitting on a stone wall adjacent to the fields and smoking beedis. She came back and slipped into sleep.
Kamalamma suddenly woke up to the sound of somebody talking and asked them what was going on. They described how they had heard a woman’s voice crying out “amma, amma (mother, mother).” She came back and found that Poornamma was not on her cot. Suspecting some harm, she took the help of the neighbours and searched in the fields but could not find anyone in the pitch darkness. Poornamma’s dead body was found in the irrigation well of Sivarathri Venkateswar Rao’s cotton fields. Her slippers, broken pieces of bangles and blood stains were found near the well. Village elders went to Sarpanch Yarasi Venkatrao and from there they went to the police station and filed a complaint. The police told them that they would come and instructed them to confirm whether there was a dead body or not and if it was there in the well, to pull it out. The village youth pulled out the dead body and went to the police again. But the police told them to watch over the dead body for the night and that they would come the next morning. When the youth were watching over the body during the night, somebody came in a jeep and pelted stones at them and ran away.
The SI came on 14.9.2000 at around 10:00 a.m. and shifted the dead body to the government hospital at Gurajala. The post mortem was conducted the next day and then the body was handed over the relatives. The dead body started emitting a rotten smell and became bloated as already three days were passed. Hence, except for some, men nobody went near the dead body and looked for any signs of wounds or injuries. The parents strongly state that Gandham Ram Murthy is responsible for the murder because Poornamma rejected her relationship with him, but whether she was sexually assaulted before she was murdered or not has not established, However, some people gathered near the scene when they heard Poornamma’s shouts they believe that Poornamma was tortured based on the broken pieces of bangles and blood stains near the well. The police filed a case quoting Ram Murthy as the accused, but neither was he arrested, nor was an enquiry conducted. The case was not filed under SC/ST (POA) Act. In addition, it is clear that the police neglected the case for three days.
On 20.8.2001, suspecting that local Dalits were not voting for the TDP candidate favoured by the dominant castes in the panchayat elections; dominant caste Reddy landlords forcibly dragged Dalit women out of polling booths and prevented other Dalits from entering. Later, when the results of the election were announced, the dominant caste Reddy landlords imposed a social boycott on all 58 Dalit families of the village. The Dalits represented their case to police and officials, who consistently failed to take any action. Weeks after the imposition of the boycott, police finally responded to the Dalits’ continuous dharna by registering a case, but made no arrests. Local panchayat elections for Kuta Gundla village in Prakasham district were held on 20.8.2001. The dominant caste Reddy community, most of whom are landlords, favoured the TDP candidate, but suspected that the Dalits favoured a different candidate. A group of Reddy men, including VAO Kotapati Konda Reddy, former sarpanch Navi Krishnaiah, Reddem Bhaskara Reddy, Gangi Reddi Venkata Reddy, Yerram Reddi Venkata Reddy, Devi Reddi Venkata Subba Reddy, Devi Reddi Venkata Swami Reddy, and other Reddys from Kuta Gundla gathered and decided to take action. The Reddy group prevented Dalits from entering the poll booths, and dragged several Dalit women who were already inside, out from the poll booths. The Reddy group then proceeded to booth number 28/4, the polling booth that most of the Dalits were using, and, pushing aside the Dalits who tried to block them, poured water into the ballot box.
Later the same evening, three tractors full of Reddy men from nearby Patha Mallapuram and Kothamallapuram villages drove to the segregated Dalit colony of Kuta Gundla. The Reddys from their three tractors threatened the Dalits that if they ever disobeyed the Reddys in the future, their colony would become another Karamchedu or another Tsundur (villages in which dominant caste communities have massacred Dalits without facing any legal punishment). The next morning, 21.8.2001, the Reddys of Kuta Gundla village declared a social boycott against the Dalits. They announced that nobody in the village should allow any Dalit into the main (caste) village; moreover, if any Dalit were to dare to enter into the main village, s/he would be killed. The Reddys warned the villagers not to give any work to the Dalits (daily wage labour, the Dalits’ subsistence) and not to sell any food, medicine or other commodities to Dalits in the local shops. The Reddy men declared the social boycott effective immediately. Two days later, on 23.8.2001, the Dalits submitted a written complaint to the Hanumanthunipadu police. The police took no action. Eighteen days later, on 10.9.2001, Dalits, with the support of Dalit organisations, staged a dharna in front of the Hanumanthunipadu MRO office. The MRO took no action. A week later, almost one month after the imposition of the boycott, on 17.9.2001, police responded to the dharna by registering a case against a few of the Reddy perpetrators, but did not arrest them.
On 26.9.2001, after having represented the issue to all district level officials, the Dalits shifted their protest to Kandurkur RDO office. There the Dalit women, men and children of Kuta Gundla set up camp in a “dharna tent”, demanding the arrest of the culprits. Two days later, on 28.9.2001, the Dalits met the Kandurkur DSP, who abused the Dalits and chastised them for starting a dharna at the RDO office without having informed authorities first. Dalit activists have accused the DSP of dragging the case in the name of investigation, without making any progress.
Prior to local Panchayat elections on 17.8.2001, the dominant caste Kamma landlord community of Rajupalem village repeatedly threatened the Dalits of the same village with violence if they did not vote for the Kamma favoured candidate. In fear, the Dalits did not vote at all. On 22 August, a dominant caste mob attacked the Dalit colony with lethal weapons, injuring many and grievously injuring 70 year old Makam Nasaraiah. Later, on the same evening, perpetrators of the attack visited the hospital in which Nasaraiah had been admitted, forcefully brought Nasaraiah’s son out of the hospital, stripped him and dragged him naked to Markapur police station in order to confirm that the Dalits had not lodged any complaints with the police. Exactly one month later, on 22.9.2001, police at the district headquarters lathi charged and badly injured a group of Dalits – women and men – peacefully protesting the non-arrest of the previous attack’s perpetrators. In Markapur Mandal, local panchayat elections were held on 17.8.2001. One day before the election, several men from the dominant caste Kamma landlord community of Rajupalem village, at the behest of local political “king-maker” Kamma Patti Bala Prasad, went to the segregated Madiga (Dalit) colony and threatened the Dalit families with dire consequences if they refused to vote for the Kamma-favoured candidate (the Kammas favoured the candidate of the TDP, Telugu Desam Party, which is currently in power in Andhra Pradesh). Again on 17.8.2001, a gang of dominant caste miscreants visited the Dalit colony and demanded that the Dalits vote for the Kamma candidate. The gang insisted that the Dalits show their marked ballots before dropping them into the ballot boxes, and warned that any Dalits who failed to vote for the Kamma candidate would be killed. Terrified, the Dalits remained at home and did not exercise their democratic right to vote.
The TDP candidate favoured by the Kamma landlords won the local panchayat election, but by a narrow margin. The dominant caste TDP supporters who had initially threatened the Dalits felt that had the Dalits voted as they were told; the TDP candidate would have won by a larger majority. Angered by this, on the afternoon of 22.8.2001 dominant caste Kamma men, led by Patti Bala Prasad, formed a group of about 23 and attacked the Dalit colony with lethal weapons. They attacked Dalit women, children and men, injuring many. One elderly Dalit, Makam Nasaraiah (70) was grievously wounded. After the attack, while Dalits were trying to take Nasaraiah to the hospital in Markapur, dominant caste men – some of the same perpetrators of the attack – intercepted them and warned them not to file a complaint with the police. Nasaraiah was admitted for treatment of injuries at Markapur Hospital. Nasaraiah’s son Yesu Ratnam remained at the hospital to attend to his father. The same evening, at about 8:00 p.m., dominant caste perpetrators of the attack entered the hospital and forcibly brought Yesu Ratnam outside. They stripped Yesu Ratnam of his clothes and paraded him naked from the hospital to the Markapur Police Station. At the police station they asked the police whether the Rajupalem Dalits had registered any complaints that day. Having confirmed that indeed the Dalits had not registered a complaint, the dominant caste group released Yesu Ratnam. Later on the night of 22.8.2001, the entire fear-stricken Dalit community of Rajupalem fled their homes and camped out in the compound of the RDO in Markapur, the mandal headquarters.
Dominant caste people forcefully tonsured Yarlagadda Babu (James), belonging to Madiga (SC) caste, a resident of Velagaveru village, Penumantra mandal of West Godavari district. Panchayat elections were held on 17.8.2001 in Velagaveru village. Gudimetla Satyanarayan Reddy and Gudimetla Subareddy contested for the post of Sarpanch and Satyanarayana Reddy’s group won the entire election, except for Hanumantharao, who lost to Koteswarao from the opposition group in SC Peta ward No. 2. Against this background, there were fight between the Madigas in the village and eight of the nine supporters of Koteswarao were arrested. Yarlagadda Babu (James), who was the prime accused, absconded and went to court at Tanuku. When the Assistant Sub-Inspector told him that his name was not in the list he started for his village on 22.8.2001 night. When he reached the hut of Edala Achi Reddy, Gudimetla Satyanarayana (Sarpanch), Kvvuri Prathap Reddy (Society President), Padala Achi Reddy (Former Sarpanch), Kayala Sathulu, Sirla Jogi Reddy, Sathi Chinna Reddy and Satita Somi Reddy pounced on Babu, severely beat him up, gagged him, bound his hands behind his back and tied him to a coconut tree. They shaved off one of his eyebrows and tonsured him. Kovuri Subbareddy saw Babu who was moaning in pain and informed Yarlagadda Lakshmaiah and Paparao, who untied him. They informed VAO Buchi Venkatareddy of the matter. The police ASI and PC reached the village even before a complaint had been filed. Sub-Inspector V. Subramanyam shifted the victim to the government hospital at Tanuku for treatment.
Narsapuram DSP Babji came to the place of the incident on 24.8.2001 night and told them to come to his bungalow, without taking any complaint. There was neither enquiry nor any arrest of the accused. There was no result for the protest held in front of the mandal office by the victim’s family members and Dalit and people’s organisations. The dominant caste people attacked the village and created mayhem. The Dalit men ran away from the homes out of fear and the Reddys scolded the Dalit women using their caste name and with other abusive language. They threatened the women that they will demolish their houses with tractors and create another Tsundur (Dalit massacre). The police remained as spectators and did not provide any security to the Dalit women. The investigating officer, Narsapuram DSP Babji never came to the village nor recorded the statements of the victims or to the witnesses. Further, he replied to inquiries by a committee member on 27.9.2001 stating that the case was under investigation and they would not conduct the investigation in haste. Even though there were sufficient witnesses and evidence, the accused were not arrested and efforts were made to weaken the enquiry.
Dominant caste people forcefully tonsured Chilakapati Israel because he worked against them during the panchayat elections. Chilakapati Israel, s/o Narasimhulu, is working as labourer in the rice mills. He is a Dalit, belonging to Mala (SC) caste. Both Gannamveedu Jayaprasad and Gadapathiveedu, belonging to the Kamma caste, contested for the post of Sarpanch in the August 2001 elections. Israel, the victim, supported one Subbarao in the elections. But Jayaprasad got elected in the election.
Against this background, on 21.8.2001, Jayaprasad came to Israel and told him that Polisetty Sathyanarayana (Dasu) was calling him. Though Israel replied that he would come the next day morning, he was forced to sit on a motor-cycle and was taken to Lingakaram centre. There Jayaprasad abused Israel using filthy language and shouted at him “why did you not tonsure your head... you said that you would tonsure your head if Subbarao lost in the elections.” He then called the nearby barber, Andanalapalli Nageswar Rao and instructed him to tonsure Israel\\\'s head. When the barber refused, Jayaprasad threw Rs. 2,000/- in a bundle at the barber. Even then the barber refused. Then Polisetty Ramakrishna Borusukoinda, Polisetty Chinnari, Polisetty Prasad and Chintapalli Sathyanarayana dragged Israel to the house of Jayaprasad.
There Polisetty Prasad demanded why Israel had not tonsured his head. When Israel replied that Jayaprasad won the elections by rigging the ballot box and challenged them that the matter would be decided in the court, Jayaprasad got up from the chair and kicked Israel in his chest. He instructed his people to tonsure Israel. His followers abused Israel using filthy language and caste name, bound his hands behind his back and tied him to a pole. Polisetty Ramakrishna then cut off Israel’s eyebrows, moustache and hair with scissors. Then Jayaprasad told his followers to fetch either a donkey or buffalo to parade Israel around the streets so that this “Mala son of a bitch” will learn a lesson. But by that time Israel\\\'s wife, Kumari and the village elders came and Jayaprasad let Israel go after again abusing him using filthy language. The police reached the village even without a complaint from anyone and Israel explained the incident to them. Immediately a FIR was filed under sec. 143, 141 and 323 IPC and under sec. 3(1)(iii) SC/ST (POA) Act. Israel started fasting when an inquiry was not conducted and the culprits were not arrested. People\\\'s organisations supported Israel and several times requested police officials to provide justice to Israel.
The investigation was to be done by Narsapuram DSP Babji, but Rajahmundry DSP L.S. Chowhan instead visited the village, enquired with the villagers and Israel and recorded their complaints. He told the leaders of Dalit and people’s organisations that the Israel tonsure case was a false case. Narsapuram DSP Babji told them later that the Rajahmundry DSP had mentioned that this case was a false case in his report. When the committee members asked the Rajahmundry DSP for an explanation, he told them that he did not mention that this was a totally false case, but wrote that it was established that Israel was taken up to Lingakaram centre and the barber was told to tonsure him. But evidence was not available for the incidents which were supposed to have taken place afterwards. He told them that his report findings had been submitted to officials and they could get a copy from the court.