‍‍‍‍Since long time incidents of atrocities and aggression on Dalits took place in Andhra Pradesh, right from Karamchedu to Amalapuram, reflect the attitude of supremacy adopted by forward sections in society.

Dalits, despite being considered as the crucial vote bank by various political parties, have always been at the receiving of disdainful neglect and brutal suppression. They bear insults at the hands of political parties that are dominated by upper castes.

Social aggression by people belonging to forward castes negatively impact Dalits. Due to the precarious conditions in which they live, they cannot even react to various forms of aggressions. They lack proper education, money power, and political representation; hence, they cannot come out of their dismal situation. Facing cruelty of upper castes, they live largely at the mercy of landlords and businessmen.

All the incidents of atrocities and aggression on Dalits that took place during the last four decades in Andhra Pradesh, right from Karamchedu to Amalapuram, reflect the attitude of supremacy adopted by forward sections in society. If somebody from the depressed sections questions the objectionable behaviour on the part of people belonging to forward castes, they are silenced with muscle power.

The legacy of a great personality like Dr. B. R. Ambedkar has been tarnished by the violent opposition to the renaming of the Konaseema district after the architect of the Constitution. The protesters torched the house of AP Minister P. Viswaroop. This one development has made Dalits furious. They now want to know why such objections are being raised only in the case of using Ambedkar’s name, though the state government renamed several districts after other prominent personalities. They are now in deep distress and are reassessing their present position in society. They are now looking at the prospects of Dalits having a separate political identity for themselves to temper the domination by people belonging to forward castes.

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History is replete with horrendous incidents that left Dalits with nightmarish  experiences. In Andhra Pradesh, Dalits have had haunting experiences with the highly objectionable attitude shown by upper castes. Be it Rayalaseema, central coastal belt, or north coastal belt; Dalits have been at the receiving end of violence and suppression everywhere.

Major communities and principal political players in Andhra Pradesh are no different. After the Telugu Desam Party emerged victorious in 1983, Dalits were attacked by upper castes in Padirikuppam of Chittoor district, following which the then NTR government faced criticism for not protecting the lives of Dalits. The TDP retained power in the mid-term polls of 1985 by securing more than 200 seats out of the 294-member house in the undivided AP in the backdrop of NTR’s reinstatement following his dethronement in the previous year.

On17th July of that year, five Dalits were brutally murderded in Karamchedu village of Prakasam district with the involvement of the Kamma community, whose face, NTR, was the ruler of the state then.The incident drew nationwide attention. The AP Congress, in order to better its political prospects, wanted to bring then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to Karamchedu, but he refused to come. Similar incident of upper castes’ aggression on Dalits took place in Neerukonda village of Guntur district in 1986 in which one person was killed.

This issue got politicised so much that Rajiv Gandhi paid a visit to Neerukonda.During the Congress regime, a very big incident took place in Tsundur village of Guntur district in which five Dalits were killed and their bodies thrown into a drain. These gory killings took place at the behest of the Reddy community. The image of the state government, then headed by N. Janardhan Reddy, took a beating because of the brutal murders.

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Forward caste people also humiliated Dalits. In 1997, a Dalit person was kept under captivity at the behest of then TDP legislator T. Trimurthulu of East Godavari district and later his head was tonsured. Then chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu made a vain bid to pacify the Dalit community and tried to shield the legislator in view of the importance of the Kapu community to which the MLA belonged. The related case filed against the MLA is still pending in court. The MLA was taken into custody. He spent some time in jail. He is now MLC in the ruling YSR Congress party.

Recently in Amalapuram of the same region, a Dalit youth, who was former driver of present MLC Ananta Udaya Bhaskar aka Babu, was brutally killed by the latter. The MLC had the gall to send the body to the home of the deceased. Though he claims to be a Scheduled Tribe person, there is controversy over his caste considering that he rubs shoulders with Kapu politicians.

Dalits have been used by all the three major communities viz. Kammas, Reddys and Kapus for political purposes. Still, there was row over the naming of the Konaseema district after Dr. Ambedkar. The ruling YSRC appears to be maintaining a studied silence over the stir against renaming of the district.

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In the backdrop of the 2024 elections, political realignment is likely. A few senior leaders of the Dalit community are of the considered view that the combined force of Kapus and Dalits may be able to influence the electorate. One section in the Kapu community has appealed to its flock to support Jana Sena Party (JSP) president and film actor Pawan Kalyan this time. The ruling party may scuttle the move.

Dalits really need a Moses-like character to lead them to political safety. They might be ready for the exodus, provided they are led by a credible personality. In the 1994 election, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) made a futile effort to become a strong political force in undivided AP. Its national president Kanshi Ram had focused his attention to make his party a formidable force in AP. But sensing trouble from Kanshi Ram, principal political parties in AP made a joint effort to stop BSP in its tracks. The BSP could secure its deposit in only one seat in the entire state. Kanshi Ram then blamed BSP’s plight on political parties and the media.

It is very strange to see that all prominent Dalit leaders have preferred to join various parties that are professing to work for Dalit empowerment, but are least bothered about the functioning of the Republican Party of India (RSP) that was founded by none other than Dr. Ambedkar.

Dalits, despite constituting a formidable vote bank, do not have a strong leader. Hopefully, their present quest for political identity would throw up a leader who can lead them to the promised land. #KhabarLive #hydnews