The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has intensified the agitation seeking justice for the Dalits of Devarapalli in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh who have been displaced from their land.
The Dalits of Devarapalli have been waging a struggle for the restoration of the land they have been cultivating for 50 years. They were evicted from the land for constructing a tank for the agriculture needs of the farmers belonging to upper castes in the village under the “Neeru Chettu scheme”.
On Saturday, 29 July, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau member BV Raghavulu visited the area and joined the agitation by leading the cultivation of the land. The CPI(M) and others who supported the struggle had set July 29 as the deadline for the authorites to allow the Dalits to raise crops in their land.
The Party has also announced that it would mobilise funds for the Dalits to wage a legal battle to retrieve the land allotted to them. The struggle would be carried forward by constituting a solidarity committee including representatives of political parties and civil society organisations sympathetic to the cause.
The 22 acres of land had been given by the government to 40 Dalit families for undergoing family planning operation in the 1970s.
Punati Anjaneyulu, the Prakasam District Secretary of the CPI(M), said on Thursday that the Opposition parties and civil society organisations would chalk out a State-wide agitation programme at a meeting in Vijayawada on July 30. Over 300 acres of land had been occupied by influential persons in the village. But unfortunately the government targeted only the lands given to Dalits, he said.
The Kula Vivaksha Porata Samiti (KVPS) and the All India Agricultural Workers’ Union had held a meeting in Ongole on 15 July to garner support for the cause. The leaders who attended the meeting had vowed that the Dalits would plough the land and sow seeds on their own if their demands were ignored.
P Madhu, the Andhra Pradesh State Secretary of the CPI(M), said at the meeting that the takeover of ‘kunta puramboke’ land which was being cultivated for decades by Dalits is part of a conspiracy. Over 350 acres of the wasteland held by other sections of people in the village have been left untouched. The sale of silt from dried up water sources is big business for contractors backed by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), he said.
An earlier attempt to plough the land on June 19 had been foiled by the police by arresting P Madhu and other leaders.