Marking the onset of Dalit History Month, 2024 I would like to narrate what happened in Andhra Pradesh in 1985. A boy of Kamma caste (dominant caste) was washing his buffalo near a water tank, polluting it, which was the primary source of drinking water for the Dalits in Karamchedu. A young Dalit boy of Madiga caste, witnessing this indecent act, mustered up some courage and confronted standing up for his community. That was all what he did. He was beaten up by the Kamma caste boy. And a Dalit girl also Madiga, who interfered was also kicked along with him. There was a verbal agreement between the both, but in order to “teach a lesson” and show their place to the Madigas, the next day a group of upper castes landlords (Kammas) killed six men and raped three women of Madiga caste, some were injured and some fled away from their homes as the perpetrators even burnt their homes.

This was a cold blooded, well planned and executed violence. The Police did not protect the victims because those who were in political power are also Kamma castes. As a result several Dalits (Madigas), fled to a nearby town, Cheerala. They sought refugee at a Church. However, the final verdict from the supreme court came after 23 years. For killing six Dalit individuals, bloodshed and raping Dalit women, one man was sentenced to lifetime confinement and 30 others were subjected to a mere three years of imprisonment—less than what it took for the court to pass on judgement. 

In the name of Leftist ideology, the upper castes have shifted the use of political power to acquire more land and gain more power. Their goal of serving people turned to dehumanising the marginalised further more. However, with the end of their politics in the constituency, Dalits started to support the opposition of upper castes of the village. Unable to digest the fact that Dalits gaining power, the upper castes again murdered a Dalit woman two years later, a primary witness in the Karamchedu massacre. The prime accused was killed by members of People’s War Group (Maoists), who were in turn encountered by the Police later. 

“It depicted the intensification of caste in the modern agrarian economy, emphasizing the role of ‘status’ and ‘honour’ in the system of stratification, the significance of economic and political power, and the deep rooted notions of untouchability that could lead to brutality in the Indian society.” (Dag-Erik Berg, 2014). 

However, this is just one out of countless atrocities that still affect Dalits on a daily basis in this “Democratic India.” The Karamchedu masscre led to the formation of Andhra Pradesh Dalit Mahasabha. As memory of the Dalits who have been martyred “Rudhira Kshetram” was built. We Dalits know what our lives are, the massacres, injustice, everyday dehumanisation. The purpose of this article is not just to make people to show sympathy, but to show the dehumanisation and degradation of Dalits by the upper castes who without shame take pride in their castes.

While it’s acknowledged that Evolution has entailed sacrifices for all species and classes, for Dalits, it has exacted a heavy toll on their lives and education, leaving us significantly disadvantaged. But let us keep fighting. On this Dalit History Month, let us champion education and truth.

Jai Bhim.