For nearly three months now, 50-year-old Sama Indira has found herself completely isolated in Mallaram village in Telanagana’s Rajanna–Sircilla district, thanks to an alleged social boycott. Her crime – supporting a Dalit family in a case of caste abuse and harassment against three men from the Reddy community.
The whole episode began at the end of last year, when Indira leased out two acres of agricultural land to Kompally Laxmi-Chandraiah, a Madiga farmer. The land was surrounded by lands owned by the family of Reddy landlord Nalla Venkat Reddy. According to Indira, Nalla Venkat and his family objected to the lease of the land as they did not want the Madiga man to walk through their fields to reach the land.
Indira, however, refused to entertain their demands that she cancel the lease. “It is my land and I can lease it to whoever I wish,” she told TNM.
The hostilities escalated in February, however, when Laxmi arrived at the field on February 13 to find that all the rice saplings planted in the field had been uprooted and dumped more than half a kilometre away.
When Laxmi complained to the Sarpanch Venkat Goud and the latter initiated inquiries, alleged Indira, Nalla Venkat openly admitted that he, along with his father Rajireddy and brother Ravinder Reddy, was responsible for the destruction of the crop. To this Laxmi asked angrily how Nalla Venkat could do this to farmers who live off the soil.
Outraged at being questioned by a Dalit Nalla Venkat then abused Laxmi and her husaban Chandariah with casteist and gender-insensitive abuses, and threatened them in front of a crowd of village residents. “He abused them both in the name of their caste – Madiga,” said Indira.
Laxmi then filed a complaint with the Vemulawada rural police station against the three Reddy men. A case was registered under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, and in the ensuing investigation led by Dy SP Chandrasheker, Indira gave a statement against Nalla Venkat and his family.
After this, Indira found herself the object of the Reddy community’s ire, as Nalla Venkat took the matter to the Reddy Sangam, complaining that Indira had stood against the interests of the community to support a Madiga man.
The Reddy Sangam President Tirupati Reddy and Vice President Mallareddy allegedly passed a resolution calling for a community boycott of Indira. All members of the community were ordered to break contact with Indira and her family, and a fine of Rs 20,000 was allegedly instituted for anyone speaking or interacting with her.
When Indira conducted the marriage of her daughter Prathiba on May 22, not a single person from the village attended the celebration. “No one came to the marriage. Nor do they call us to any of their functions,” said Indira.
“I am dying with this harassment. We have been completely kept out. Even people from other castes are not talking to us because they fear the Reddys,” she added tearfully.
The Sangam even levied a fine of Rs 20,000 on Baddam Venkat Reddy, Indira’s brother, for attending the wedding, alleged Indira’s son-in-law Ganesh Reddy. The situation became so fraught, said Vignesh, that he returned to the village from Hyderabad fearing for his in-laws’ safety.
“I knew about the incident earlier, but I never thought they would go to this extent,” said Ganesh
Indira said that she bore the boycott for months, before finally filing a police complaint on August 1. However, she added, “Though police say they have registered a case, there has neither been any action against them, nor any change in the Reddys’ behaviour. They still abuse me in front of all the men in Sangam.”
“They say only shameless women support Madigas. What was my crime? I only told the police whatever happened,” Indira added.
Ganesh said that with the entire community turned against his in-laws, he was worried for their safety. “I’m worried about their security. I came here to take them along to Hyderabad. If something happens to them here, no one will rescue them.”
According to the Vemulawada Police, two complaints have been registered by Indira on August 1 and August 14, and the case is being investigated.