– Basheerbagh, Press Club, 21 July 2008
Today Karamchedu Martyrs remembrance day (Karamchedu dalita mruta veerula samsarana sabha) organized at Press Club by Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti (KNPS). This is part of the events on the issue scheduled to be held all over state from 17 July to 6 August,2008.
There was heavy rain this evening in the city. While someone may doubt of what would be the gathering on this rainy day, the hall was full to everybody’s surprise with students, artists, A.P Chaitanya Mahila Samakya, and other people’s organizations. The spirit of Dalit assertion in audience was amazing.
Around 200 members came for the memorial meeting. They had two minutes mourning for martyrs in the beginning. There are still some people who remember sacrifices of our people and our movements.
Singers from Praja kala Mandali, Jan Kalamandali, Kula Nirmulana Porata Samithi presented several songs of dalit movement and struggles. Programme started by Girija, KNPS, Twin cities chapter. Speakers on the dais included D. Chandra Seker, KNPS, Mr. B. Raja Ram, Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangam, Ms Surepally Sujatha, Dalit Bahujan Mahila Samakya, and Ulli Dhan Raj, Ambedkar Students Association, Central University Hyderabad,.
Karamchedu 7 Kilometers away from Chirala of Prakasam district has 16 wards, out of which 8 wards are occupied by Kamma, the dominant caste people. They are possessing sizable number surrounding areas and are rich. The rest of the wards are inhabited by SC, ST, BCs. Dalits are in 16th ward. There are so many other castes in that village like Uppara, Muslims, Erukala, Yanadi, Mala and Madiga. Thousands of acres of land belongs to caste Landlords. Among them Kaggupati, Chaganti, Yarla Gadda, Perni, Manda, Puvvati are some of the popular Kamma families in the village.
All these dominant castes treat others castes less than animals. Sometimes they even used to beat, harass and kill them and throw the Dalits away quietly. Uppara, the B.C community fought against the Kamma oppression about ten years before the Karamchedu massacre. They were mercilessly attacked by kammas. Several community leaders tried to oppose the hegemony of upper castes. One among them is Venkateswarlu of Chundur, who is community leader and leader of working class. They harassed him and he came to Madiga Palle to hide himself. Kamma community asked Madiga people to handover Venkateswarlu but Madiga community refused their demand. Madiagapalle was ready to give their lives but not surrender Venkateswarlu. Kammas couldnt do anything and they went back but from that time, they had an eye on these castes.
After that they even attacked Malapalle but Madigapalle rescued them also.. Kammas anger further flared up. Dalits, both Mala and Madiga, tried to assert their againat attacks of Kamma community. On the fateful day 16 July 1985 Potina Seenu, Rai needu Prasad, belonging to Kamma. They brought their cattle to the village pond. They washed the ‘kuditi’ feeding bucket in the drinking water of Madigas. It was objected by Kathi chandraiah, a disabled person. The Kamma men tried to attack chandraiah but a woman, Munnangi Suvartha came in between to rescue him. She tried to lift her her water container to stop the attacking Kamma guys. That triggered and entire Kamma community took it as insult because a Madiga woman raised her hand against the Kamma guys. All 8 wards moved towards Dalit wada. Not one village but all Kammas of 7 villages armed with axes, sticks like serial killers entered on 17th morning to destroy 200 Madiga families. They attacked the palle, entered into field, didnt see whom they are beating and butchering, raped women, miles and miles they hunted. Maranakanda went on for hours. An inhuman killing spree that India never witnessed.. Eight persons were killed but Police identified only six. The dead bodies were also not shown to the family members. Police buried the dead bodies.
Dalit mahasabha took both in challenging the caste oppression from the Karamchedu Movement had a series of protests for long time, Andhra bandh, chalo assembly, cycle rally, hunger strikes, rail and rastha roko etc, police lathi charge on many Dalit activists.. It continued for months. It questioned every party, organization and communities. After that many people’s organizations took caste oppression as an agenda. Government came down and many policies came. One important Act is S.C, ST atrocities Act. Of course, the verdict on the Karamchedu killings came after 25 years of long and long delay and very few of the culprits were punished.
I shared form of revolutions of Edward that cannot be hidden. Revolutionary upheaval cannot be stooped as Edward told because of
Desire for safety.
Desire for new experience
Desire for reactions
Desire for recognition.
I tried to draw attention to how there many Karamchedu in everyday life now. Number of atrocities are increasing every day in spite of so many constitutional safe guards, we have Human Rights Commission, S.C, ST, Atrocities Act Only 2.6% of cases get verdict after years. Mentioned couple of incidents how we failed to take the issues forward. We will fail to understand if we dont inter link problems and come to broader understanding. We may not have physical or direct violence in coming days in the era of globalization and imperialism but we do have the different forms which are making us helpless and creating a force to commit to take away our lives.
I stressed four major forms of assertions.
Fighting for land and wages.
Political mobilization and involvement.
Each form of resistance is understood by people in distinct manner. Examining the current Dalit political situation, need to do the reforms within and also questioning from outside multiple forces. Narrated the Polepally struggle, and how it was neglected by caste, communists, political and NGO groups. .
U. Dhanraj, a bright student, was rusticated in Central University in the year 2000 along with other ten students. He narrated the Dalit history and role of Ambedkar. He traced how Ambedkar struggled for social emancipation for more than 30 years before entering into political sphere taking along the audience through Mahad lake event, burning of Manu Smruti, temple entry etc. He also shared his experience of discrimination the University as a Dalit student. He questioned Mayawati politics, present dalit leaders and their role in the Dalit empowerment process.
B. Raja Ram, Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangam, spoke about the Dalit movements in brief. He focused on land to Dalits. He said that no Govt had any policy on land and they are trying to lure poor Dalit communities with many false promises. He also questioned existing Dalit groups, their role in hijacking the movement into trivial issues.
Chandra Sekar of KNPS, gave account of organizations, their failures and success stories. He also mentioned Mr. Hussainappa death and the assertion process. He said they are willing to take part with any organization and work for annihilation of caste.
Dappu Ramesh revolutionary songs inspired the audience. Dalita pululamma.. was the famous Karamchedu song he presented. Other activists also came with their dappu and presented Dalit and Ambedkar songs.
Joharlu amara veerulaku Joharlu !
– Sujatha Surepally