11/06/2006, 00.00

Maharashtra: police disperse Dalit rally by force

Nirmala Carvalho

Outcastes from Bhandara district were protesting  because an entire family was slaughtered for daring to oppose the seizure of its land. Outcastes revolted in Karnataka too.

Nagpur (AsiaNews) – Police in the western state of Maharashtra today resorted to force to disrupt a rally organized by Dalits in Bhandara district. The Dalits were protesting against the murder of a family of outcastes a few days ago. The police, armed with truncheons and canes, dispersed the protesters as they called for justice.

The brutal murder was perpetrated at the end of October by upper caste residents of Kherlanji village. They slaughtered four members of a Dalit family who were "guilty of opposing" the requisition of their field to have a road built over it.

Another protest by Dalits was held in the southern state of Karnataka. The outcastes of Kadkol village were protesting because they were ostracized and forced out of their homes after they "dared" to fetch water from the village well.

The Dalits' padayatra [protest march] headed for the Bijapur district headquarters of public security. They went to demand guarantees from the authorities that would enable them to live a "life of dignity".

The march, which was to end tomorrow, was stopped short after Hanmanthappa Alkod, a minister of the Union, said he would meet their demands. The residents of Kadkol, who had ostracized the outcastes, said everything could be resolved through dialogue.

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