Trouble for the 45 Madiga families in the small village of Pathapally, about 170 kms from Hyderabad, began on May Day this year, when Raghuram, a conductor with the Telangana Road Transport Corporation, got married in the “Madiga-Wada’ (SC locality) and wanted to enter the village temple.
The wedding party was initially stopped but on assurance from the sitting MLA, G. Chinna Reddy, they managed to enter and have ‘darshan’. But on May 4 the temple was locked like it had been for years. When the villagers lodged a complaint with the district administration, the Mandal Revenue Officer and Sub-Inspector of Police visited the village and sorted out the issue.
However, even as the officers were leaving the village, the temple was locked again, allegedly by members of the dominant Boya community. Since then the tiny scheduled caste community has faced unprecedented persecution.
Around the second week of May, the families were driven out of land that was allotted to them by the government. Members of the Boya community then proceeded to bury their dead in this land to ensure that the displaced families cannot return.
They have been denied water from the 40,000-litre capacity overhead service reservoir (OHSR) and are constantly abused, taunted, threatened and even physically assaulted.
Though the Madiga members have documents to prove their ownership of the land, the district administration, under the Revenue Divisional Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police, termed them encroachers and pulled down their huts and a shop.
The ‘Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samithi’ (Struggle Committee for Caste Annihilation) has taken up the issue and organised protests since June 23 at Mahabubnagar and Pebbair. On Sunday, the hunger strike at Pebbair was visited by social activist Anand Teltumbde, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar.
After interacting with the ousted families in the village, Mr. Teltumbde said it was unfortunate that such a situation should arise.Dalit families forced off land in Telangana.