Karnataka - Mysore

Two huts of Dalits set ablaze

Muralidhara Khajane

These families were boycotted for refusing to beat drums during a festival

The police were forced to register complaint against 13 people

Dalits reportedly decided not to beat drums some 20 years ago

MYSORE: An uneasy calm prevails at Ankahalli village of Gundlupet
taluk in Chamarajanagar district, where “upper castes” allegedly
torched two huts of Dalits early Friday for having complained to the
police about the social boycott imposed on them. Foodgrains and other
belongings in the huts of Rachaiah and Chikkasiddaiah were reduced to
ashes in the incident.

According to Superintendent of Police, Chamarajanagar district, B.S.
Prakash, the situation was under control with two platoons of the
District Armed Reserve (DAR) and senior police officers guarding the

“Cases have been registered against 13 people in connection with the
incident, but no arrests have been made so far. The accused will be
arrested soon,” he told The Hindu.

Chikkasiddaiah (46) said that “caste” Hindus imposed a social boycott
on Dalit families for refusing to beat drums during the Mahadeshwara
Swamy festival 15 days ago. Dalit leaders of the village had resolved
not to beat drums during the festival some 20 years ago after a clash
with “caste” Hindus. Nobody forced them to reconsider their decision
till recently.

However, when the new village head asked them to change their
decision, the Dalits refused to do so. Irked by this, “caste” Hindus
conducted a panchayat and fined the Dalits for disobeying the
decision, and imposed a social boycott on them. The “caste” Hindus
even warned people in the neighbouring villages of dire consequences
if they helped the Dalits. The Dalits had been prevented from praying
to the village deity even from outside the shrine, he said.

When the Dalits complained to the police, they refused to register the
complaint. The police were forced to register a complaint against 13
“caste” Hindus, who were instrumental in imposing the social boycott,
after the intervention of the Dalit Mahasabha on August 20, said
mahasabha president Venkataramana.

Accusing “caste” Hindus of torching the houses of Chikkasiddaiah and
Rachaiah, another Dalit leader of Chamarajanagar Arakalavadi Nagendra
alleged that the houses were locked from outside before being torched.
“But timely intervention of other Dalits, who doused the fire, saved
the lives of two families,” he said.

Had the police arrested the accused, the incident would not have
occurred. “Interestingly, although the police were deployed in the
village in view of the tension, they were not present when the huts
were torched”, he alleged.

Chamarajanagar MP R. Dhruvanarayan and Gundlupet MLA H.S. Mahadeva
Prasad visited Anakahalli on Saturday and consoled the victims.

Mr. Mahadeva Prasad attributed failure of the police to the torching incident.

“Although a complaint was registered against the 13 accused on August
20, the police failed to arrest the culprits. The police are directly
responsible for the incident,” he said.

Angered by the apathy of the district administration in protecting the
interest of Dalits in the district, Mr. Nagendra cautioned against
launching district-wide agitation in case of not arresting the accused
by Monday.


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