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Kambagiri, a Madiga (SC) student who had completed writing his final year examinations for law was murdered and was cremated within minutes. Factionists murdered final-year law student Kambagiri, who belongs to Madiga Dalit community. His body was burnt to ashes within 10 minutes of his death. Nobody, including his mother and wife, came forward to give witness about the murder.
The victim’s wife states her husband committed suicide and that they cremated the body to avoid any police case. The victim’s mother agonisingly told the 25-member fact-finding team that they are not ready to lose their remaining children. ‘ …Sending him for higher studies was our mistake…,’ the victim’s mother lamented. These utterances silently tell the truth behind the death. There was no proper investigation, no case and no enquiry so as to allow Kambagiri to get justice. Leaders of the Madiga Dandora from Kurnool have conveyed the same feelings as the fact-finding team, clearly stating that Kambagiri was murdered. Kambagiri (villagers call him ‘Prakash’) was born into a poor Madiga family, but completed his schooling and took a law course. He completed that also and attended the final year examinations. He was confident of passing the examinations and was yearning to reach a high position along with his people. To achieve this, he had been taking up a number of small and big activities. Peddi Reddy and Chinna Reddy, both dominant caste Reddys, are two political faction leadersin that village. Both are close relatives of local MLA Mr. Parthasarathy Reddy. Madiga Dandora leaders from Kurnool say that the two Reddy men enjoy the MLA’s political patronage, so that without their permission nothing will be allowed to happen in the area.
In these circumstances, Kambagiri formed the Ambedkar Savings Groups without their permission. He played a key role in formation of the Village Unity Committee, in which other poor communities also participated, besides Dalits. He became the Mandal President of Dandora for the Madiga Dandora movement, and took an active role in all activities and ensured local youth participation in the movement. Several people say that the local MLA threatened Kambagiri and other Dalit youth to resign from the Madiga Dandora or face serious consequences. In spite of these pressures, Kambagiri continued his activities. He conducted a meeting of the Village Unity Committee in March 1999, at which 816 people participated. He was in the process of forming a committee at the mandal level. On 19.3.1999, eight days after the Village Unity Committee meeting, MLA followers Boya Ramulu (village servant), Boya Narsimhulu and Boya Papadu attacked Dalits who were beating their drums for the festival of Ugadi. All the Dalits were abused, ‘..You sons of Madigas … do you need a committee…’ Kamagiri played a lead role in filing a case over this incident and Crime No. 14/99 was registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. This was the first case in the village to be filed without the permission of the Reddys. The Boyas, who manage work in the quarries belonging to the Reddys, did not allow the Dalits to work in the quarries as a result. The Reddys also put tremendous pressure on the Dalits to withdraw the case. Some Dalits withdrew from the case out of fear and 20 Dalits left the village. Madiga leaders say that 10 people later returned to village with the permission of the MLA.
District MRPS leader Somasundaram states that Kambagiri used to share these matters with him regularly. He informed the fact-finding team that Kambagiri met him at court just a week before his murder and told him about the severe threats being issued by the Reddys. Somasundaram says that he suggested that Kambagiri shift to Kurnool, but he replied that these are common in faction villages and that only if it further became serious then he would come to Kurnool. Earlier, five months before the killing, the Boyas had attempted to kill Kambagiri and he had given a complaint regarding this at Avuku police station. MRPS leaders say that an attempt was also made to kill Kambagiri when he went to Anantapur to write his law final year examinations. Finally, on 24.5.2000, the day before the hearing of the case booked as Crime No. 14/99, Boya Narasimhulu and Boya Papadu came to the house where Kambagiri was reading a book and informed him that a Reddy was calling him. They took him to irrigation well and there beat him to death. The leaders say that his dead body was brought to his house and hanged with a plastic rope to a 3-inch hook which is meant for hanging clothes. The dominant castes then forced all the villagers to say that it was suicide. The concerned Reddy instructed them to cremate the body and he himself provided the kerosene and firewood. Everything was finished and Kambagiri’s wife and mother were left silently crying.
Nukathoti Nageswar Rao was taken into police custody following a dispute with his wife, in which he assaulted her with a knife. At the police station he was tortured to death and his body then left 50 m from the police station.
Nukathoti Nageswar Rao was an agricultural labourer who used to go for wage work in a tobacco company, along with his wife and three children. While returning from the tobacco company on 19.4.2000, he and his wife had a quarrel and he stabbed his wife with a knife. Police took him to the police station on 19.4.2000, based on the complaint of his wife. His relatives, who went to the police station on the same night at around 7:00 p.m., came to know that police had severely beaten up Nageswar Rao, pressurising him to agree not to talk in an old political murder in which he was prime witness. Sub-Inspector Sreeram was torturing Nageswar Rao as he was not agreeing to this. Nageswar Rao was kept in police custody on 20.4.2000 as well without filing any case and again tortured. On the night of 21.4.2000 Nageswar Rao’s dead body was seen on the road about 50 feet from the police station.
Police say that Nageswar Rao died when an unidentified vehicle crashed into him while he was escaping while being shifted from the old police station to a new police station. Police say that they were informed by the owner of the hotel, which is opposite to where the dead body was found. It is clear from the wounds on the deceased body and from other evidence that Nageswar Rao died because of injuries from police lathis. The post-mortem was conducted at Guntur hospital because of the involvement of people’s organisations. Even when the dead body was still in the hospital, political leaders pressurised the brother and mother of the deceased with several offers and did not allow them to meet the people’s organisations.
On 01-04-2000 at around 14-15 PM the victim went to the place called Kharvad near village in order to attend natural call. Because of the summer and hot afternoon no people were around. The accused took a undue advantage of her being alone in the place. He raped her against her will. Knowing well that the woman is a member of schedule caste, she was raped by the accused and thereafter she was threatened and abused.
In spite several application and complaint were made to the authorities police did not move. Thereafter, Police registered FIR under section 376 of IPC and under section 3(1)(12) of SC/ST Act. Investigation was carried out and the charge sheet was filed than the case was committed to the special court. After the trial is over the accused was convicted for the offence he had committed. The entire trial took almost nine years, but fortunately, finally accused was convicted and justice was said to be delivered to the victim.
Narbada Devi lives in the village Samora with her husband Ram Meena. She belongs to Adivasi Meena (Tribal) community. On 10th March 2000, Narbada as per the routine went to the forest to graze cattle. While grazing the cattle at Narayan Lal Brahmin’s land, she sat there for a while to take some rest. Nirbhai Singh who is also from her village came there silently from behind and clasped her in arms and brutally raped her beside her cries. While he was raping Narbada, Lal Kanwar, Nirbhay Singh’s mother arrived there. On seeing his mother, Nirbhay Singh ran away. Narbada asked Lal Kanwar for help but Lal Kanwar instead of helping her, threatened her to keep quiet.
Somehow Narbada arrived home and narrated the whole incident to her mother and brother. Lal Kanwar came to her home and wrangled with Narbada’s family and snatched Narbada’s jewelry. When they tried to register the FIR, Village Panchayat on behest of the perpetrator prevented Mrs. Narbada to go to the police station to lodge F.I.R. Somehow on 12th March 2000, she reached Police Station Jhallara in Udaipur Dist. with her uncle Manji. The local police registered her F.I.R. (No – 16/2000) under section 354 IPC instead of 376 IPC and deliberately did not insert Section 3 of SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989. The local police also did not conduct fair investigation and rather helped perpetrator. Her medical examination was arranged on 5.4.2000 i.e. after 25 days of the incident and D.S.P. inspected the spot of the incident on 24th April 2000.
Narbada with her family went to meet D.S.P. to ask them to insert the right sections in the F.I.R but to no result. The local activists pressurized the police to insert the provision of SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989 and later on the charges were changed to Rape from molestation. The section was changed from 354 IPC to 376 IPC and 3 (1)(xii) and 3 (2)(v) sections of SC/ST (PoA) Act, 1989 were also inserted. The investigation officer was changed and charge was handed over to D.S.P. and challan was presented against the accused.
The welfare officer granted Rs. 5000 to Narbada. It is alleged by Narbada that local police was heavily bribed by accused and also they were from the same community. The accused was acquitted of the charges.
Dominant caste people declared social boycott against 129 Dalits of Military Colony of Nizampatnam. The government machinery did not take any action even after two weeks of the social boycott. When Dalits’ hunger and starving turned into a movement, the government machinery opened its eyes. The authorities promised to make it possible again for Dalits to work in loading and unloading of salt and dry fish in the Nizampatnam harbour.
On 29.8.2000 Mopidevi Saibaba, a dominant caste youngster came to the Dalit colony and started harassing a Dalit woman. This was noticed by a Dalit youth and they told him respectfully not to come to the Dalit colony. Saibaba didn’t listen to them and instead he picked up an argument with them. In the process one Dalit youngster slapped him. Because of this all the dominant caste people got together and decided to impose social boycott on Dalits of Military colony 31.8.2000. False cases were filed in Nizampatnam police station on Dalits, who were by then already starving and being subjected to intimidation and harassment. Workers from outside were called in to load and unload dry fish and salt instead of the Dalits, adversely affected their livelihood. The situation reached a critical stage when Dalits lost livelihood completely. Dalit elders met the dominant caste leaders, told them that there is no relation between the Saibaba incident and the social boycott and that they should be allowed to work in the harbour and if there is any dispute they should sit down and discuss it. The domain caste people refused to agree with this and continued to allow all other caste people, except Dalits, to work in the harbour from 7.9.2000. When Dalits went to the police station to complain of the social boycott, the Sub-Inspector told them that they should come individually and file complaints.
Chaitanya Workers Union President K. Sanjeeva Rao and Secretary Venkateswarlu stated that Dalits had been socially boycotted for three months in the past when they did not cast their votes for the political party which was supported by the dominant caste people. They also told that the incident of torture of Mekala Ravi in front of his parents is still fresh in their minds. Dalits made a representation to the District Collector and he issued orders to the MRO, Superintendent of Police and Sub-Inspector to provide work and protection to the Dalits. Afterwards, both groups were called together for a meeting and the problem was solved.