Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Ankanalli Land Struggle - A Saga of success

The Superintendent of Police calls up Sunder Raj at 11.30 in the evening and warns him that if he dared to go to Ankanalli at that part of night he would arrest him on the way. That brings Ankanalli to the centre state of our action-cum-struggle-cum success.

‘Hey, you fellows come with your drums. We are celebrating our deity today.’ The Lingayats (dominant caste) sent out their usual message to the Dalits.

‘If you are celebrating your deity, you can as well beat your drums. Last time around when we came you insulted us. This time we shall not come.’ The Dalits dared to rebel.

‘These sons of a bitch have to be taught a fitting lesson. Close all public places for them. No shop should sell anything to any Dalit in the village. No drinking water. Any violation will meet with a fine of Rs.500/-‘ The village leader pronounced his judgement without any proceedings. Courts in India were put to shame for the number of years they take for passing judgments. Efficiency of caste courts, eh?

Innumerable complaints to the police met with deafening silence. No action please, we belong to Lingayat caste, the police stations seemed to resound.

Ankanalli! Gundlupet Taluk! Chamrajanagar District in Karnataka. 07-08-2010

It is now becoming a habit also in Karnataka. Dalits gave a copy of their complaint to the Dalit Panchayat, to Susheela and Sunder Raj to be precise.

Phone Calls to the Minister responsible for the District from Sunder Raj. The caste citadels began to shake in the bottom.

‘Set fire to their houses. Bloody bastards! How dare they make a complaint to the police against us? We should teach a lesson to these bloody assholes. Collect all the kerosene in our houses.’ Common dialogue among the Lingayats!

Four houses set on fire. The flames carried SOS to Sunder Raj and Susheela without delay. The heat carried the messages to the MLA, MP, DGP, DIG. Mobile revolution!

Good time to take up the issue of land grant to 43 Dalit families in the year 1960. The forest department took the land away and did not allow the Dalits to cultivate in their own land. Re-captured the land from the Forest Department @ 4 acres of land each family. Wow!

The consequence:

Immediate Relief to 6 Families – Rs. 3000 x 6                        =            18,000
Houses to 6 families  - 70,000 x 6                                           =            420,000
Loans to 99 individual Dalits – 25,000 x 99                           =            2,475,000
Grant to 8 Women SHGs  100,000 x 8                                   =            800,000
Re-capturing of land 300,000 x 4 x 43                                   =            51,600,000
Tube Wells for 43 Families            100,000 x 43                    =            4,300,000
Fresh grant of 4 acres to 32 landless Dalit
Families @ 4 acres each – 300,000 x 4 x 32                          =            38,400,000

Total achievement measured by money                                 =            98,013,000

Plus immeasurable amount of Dignity, self-confidence and courage. The monthly investment of REDS on Chamrajnagar District is only a maximum of Rs. 15,000/- But the dividend for the Dalit people only in this one struggle is over 98 million rupees. Incomparable result, outcome and impact! Kudos Sunder Raj and Susheela! People like are the real heroes.

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