Appeal to Dalit Groups for Solidarity with Laxmipet Dalit Victims: Hyderabad Political Economy Group
Statement issued by the HYDERABAD POLITICAL ECONOMY GROUP, received via RAVICHANDRAN BATHRAN
It is necessary for all of us to look beyond whatever we do. The killing of Laxmipet Dalits on 12th June 2012 and subsequent events indicate that divided houses of Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha must re-examine the nature of political divisions that have long since afflicted it leading to numerous splinter dalit groups and the formation of two major groups, the Mala Mahanadu demanding status-quo and the Madiga Dandora claiming for categorisation in reservation policy. There are three major issues emerging over the last six months after Laxmipet events unfolded which is why we appeal to both political groups of Dalits to show support and solidarity with each other.
First, time has now come for these Dalit organisations to realise how their persistent bickering has divided them and has weakened their struggle for justice. The Dalit organisations, especially the Mala Mahanadu and the Madiga Dandora, must realise that a full-fledged reservation system in Laxmipet, ensuring representation of Dalits in administration and politics, have failed to protect Dalits from atrocities committed by dominant castes over land issues. Reservation, despite offering many benefits against discrimination, is no guarantee for protection against caste atrocity. Why should then politics of reservation divide the Dalit groups into two major blocs in Andhra Pradesh? When Malas could not protect themselves from atrocities over land issues in Laxmipet, despite so many Malas being present in administration and state assembly including cabinet, how could Madigas protect themselves against atrocity from similar caste forces by merely demanding a special reservation system? Both groups are opposed to each other on reservation issue, forgetting altogether that reservation alone cannot prevent atrocity against each by forward caste organisations. While forward caste organisations are getting politically consolidated, the Dalits are not only socially and politically divided but in fact present a sharp antagonistic relation. They are thus disabled by their own doing from even opposing atrocity incident in Laxmipet in a kind of political solidarity seen during the heydays of AP Dalit Mahasabha during the 1980s and early 1990s.
If Madigas think, it is only an attack on Malas in Laxmipet, they are purely mistaken. If Malas think that they have succeeded by isolating Madiga Dandora by opposing its reservation demand, they are equally mistaken. It has led to political isolation of each group from the other. We therefore appeal to the political conscience of both groups to understand the unfolding events of Laxmipet. Wake up from political isolation and join each other in solidarity against atrocity in Laxmipet. A separate fight for sub-categorisation issue may be justified but it should not fragment and weaken the larger cause of Dalit movement.
Second, there is a political consolidation among Kapus across regions under the Congress party which has its impact felt in Laxmipet. Villages around Laxmipet too witnessed Kapu solidarity, thus threatening Dalits in Laxmipet of displacement from the village which would help Kapus to occupy agriculture lands cultivated by Dalits and capture houses owned by Dalits for homestead. Laxmipet should not be seen as an isolated incident but is symptomatic of the Kapu caste consolidation going on in the Congress Party, TDP, and YSR Congress. Caste consolidation within these the parties may be holding them back from demanding that there should be a Special Court in the village as happened in Chundur in 1992. The Left parties on the other hand offer symbolic support but do not show interest in carrying out protracted struggle on this issue. This political dithering on the part of mainstream political parties is all the more scary, as the Dalit groups present pathetic political divisions among themselves. The struggle for justice for Laxmipet victims now depends on a fragile administration extending courtesy of posting a police camp in the village. We wonder how long peace and order could be ensured in Laxmipet by maintaining a police outpost only. This is one more reason why we appeal to Dalit groups to join in political solidarity right now. There is no better opportunity to fight for each other by joining issues with Laxmipet victims.
Third, there is a scary scenario emerging across the different states which may demand the undoing or reversal of the achievements of the Dalit movement in the country. For instance, the demand from Tamil Nadu’s PMK leader Ram Dass to scrap Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is a glaring instance of this. If this act itself is abolished, the practice of untouchability-related atrocities would go unpunished. Such demands are likely to spread to other parts of India including Andhra Pradesh. Political divisions among Dalits have prevented them in realizing that they have to fight against atrocities together. That is why we appeal to Dalit organisation to wake up and fight together in solidarity against all atrocities including Laxmipet.
Morning shows the day. Like all tragic stories open out a ray of hope, the early morning incidents in Laxmipet on June 2012 also indicate a way out of the present impasse that has afflicted Dalit Movement in Andhra Pradesh. It shows how reservation policy cannot prevent atrocities and thereby present us a vital lesson that politics of reservation should not divide Dalit Movement. Are we prepared to learn this lesson from Laxmipet? Wake up and join in solidarity with Laxmipet victims. This will be a new beginning.
- Show solidarity with Laxmipet Solidarity Committee in demanding Special Court in Laxmipet for speedy trail and justice for victims.
- Fight for categorisation in reservation should not divide Dalits.
- Reservation alone cannot prevent Atrocities. Fight against Atrocities together.
- Support the demand from victims that agricultural lands @ 2.5 acres of irrigated land per family be distributed among all landless poor in Laxmipet including the poor BCs, Malas and Madigas from the village Kottisa.
Join dharna by Laxmipet victims on 20 December, 2012 at 11.00am in Indira Park.
Hyderabad Political Economy Group