Dalit Sthree Sakthi organized, Hakkula Chaitanya Yatra, a marathon “Campaign for Accessing the Rights of Dalit Women and Girl Children” to sensitize all concerned and to focus the plight of dalits. The economic reforms brought in by the central and state government and in the era of globalization the situation of dalits turned from bad to worse and the worst affected among them are, dalit women and dalit girl children. The country had undergone several systemic changes with the advent of economic reforms in the early 90’s. If these reforms had a symmetrical impact on the upper echelons of society it’s pathetic to note its impact on dalits had been asymmetrical and disastrous destroying the social, economic and cultural facets of dalits. The major impact of this new trends is the steep rise of landless and jobless dalits, who undoubtedly are the most exploited and helpless strata of the society.
The present scenario in the state has turned out to be the season for political campaign in the form of Pathayatras in order to come back to power. The leaders of trying their best to keep the dalits in a myth by covering their blankets, carrying the fire wood on their heads, hugging the old and the children etc. Each of the dominant communities in the state has their own political parties with their hidden agenda. In anticipation of early elections both at the centre and in the state the political tempo has picked up in the state. The recent multi facet huge scams which have come in to light, have proved that all the political parties are into the scams. On one side the governments are minting lakhs of crores, where as the poor linger around them for mere schemes and on the other side go to their political meeting on hired basis.
At this juncture DSS has felt that the dalit women and girl children need to be enlightened on the present political scenario, the importance of their active role, as well as on their rights, self respect, consistency, unselfish etc. Hence a ten day campaign has been organised from 6th - 15th December 2012 with an 80 member contingent consisting of dalit women.
The campaign was launched on 6th December 2012 at Ambedkar statue, Tank Bund, Hyderabad. The leaders garlanded the Ambedkar Statue amidst powerful slogans. Later the gathering was addressed by eminent personalities like Chayaratan IAS – Home Secretary, Kaki madhava rao IAS – Former Chief Secretary, J Geetha Reddy – Minister, Heads of SC/ST Employees Welfare Associations, Representatives of Journalist Forum, Vasantha Kannabhiran, Vimala, Prof Pushpa Chakrapani, Dr Sunitha Prasad, Dr Siddhoji and Intellectuals etc. The two decorated Rathams (vehicles) were flagged of by M Chaya Ratan and Kaki Madhava Rao.
Kaki Madhava Rao IAS – Former Chief Secretary Giving blessings to the campaign team the dignitaries have expressed that it is enormous that 80 member dalit women are boldly going deep into the remote villages to campaign on the rights of dalit women and girl children consecutively for the 3rd time. It is history that no where such a big contingent has campaigned. We wish that the services of DSS are spread over to the whole state.
M Chaya RatanIAS – Home Secretary has said that I am proud that the dalit women from
various villages have come together to campaign for their own rights. This is a bold step taken by DSS for which they are well known. Often we see DSS hitting the headlines of the news and questioning the duty bearers often by reminding their responsibilities. I wish the team all the best in their endeavour.
J.Geetha Reddy – Minister appreciated the key role being played by the DSS and I am proud that they are always on the fore front on any issue pertaining to the dalits. It is good that the campaign has been launched at the right time when much awareness has to be brought on the effective implementation of SC/ST PoA Act and the proposed amendments to it, SC, ST Sub plan and on the ongoing violence against dalit women and girl children.
Vasu and Mallepalli Laxmaiah have said that we need to appreciate the great work done by
DSS and we personally saw the mammoth public hearings organised by DSS on the violence against dalit women and girl children wherein the victims narrated their agony before the duty bearers demanding justice. The pity is that the news was not covered in the news papers properly. We remind to the media once again that the issues of dalit women and girl children should be given much priority and even this campaign should be given much visibility rather than focussing the other issues of less importance.
The dignitaries have felt that 65 years of Independent India have passed by, but still we need to fight for rights. We are proud that the dalit women themselves have come forward boldly to campaign on their rights. We request DSS to bring awareness to the dalit families in villages, to see that all the dalit women will have accessibility to toilets, ensure better facilities for children in anganwadi centres, schools and hostels.
Convener-DSS detailing about the objective of the campaign has said that it is the duty of the government to bring in awareness as per the constitution and as they have filed to do so, DSS has taken up the responsibility this year also. This campaign will be taken up in 8 districts
covering all towns, cities, mandals and villages enroute and create awareness among the dalit women and girl children on their rights and entitlements. She also said that the 80 members’ yatra (journey) team are being accommodated in 3 campaign vehicles decorated with flex banners for this 10 days yatra.
The campaign vehicles with flexi banners, sound system and 80 members team in it has conveyed the voice and vehemence of the dalit women. Similarly wall posters have been affixed in all the 8 districts and thousands of pamphlets explaining the present scenario and deplorable conditions of dalit women and girl children were distributed en-route. The team and the volunteers were enthusiastic and in high spirits throughout the journey and even in the late nights. Though the journey was tedious with stress and strain, they continuously travelled for a total of 4836 kilometers starting from Hyderabad and ending at Laximpet via Ranga Reddy, Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts.
Starting from day one, till the concluding day, in all the public meetings and press meets held at mandal and district headquarters, the DSS state team comprising of the Convener, Program Manager, State Coordinator, District Co-ordinators and Cultural team have given speeches in an elaborate manner on the thematic areas.
ü Many political parties have taken up Padayatras, Radhayatras etc seeking votes or else to come back into power. Whereas this campaign is not meant for any political purpose but to bring in awareness to our dalit women on their rights and to discuss upon our issues.
ü To bring in awareness to the dalit women on their vulnerability, oppression, inequality which they are facing and the reasons for their poverty. Similarly to strengthen the dalit women movement we need to intervene right from childhood stage. Likewise we need to garner the support of the dalit men and other positive forces. Every dalit women need to have a broad approach instead of thinking for one’s own family needs. We are the most skilful and strong masses in the society. Lack of awareness of our rights is hindrance. Unity and collective effort is much more needed. There is every need of us coming together irrespective of caste, class and gender and play a collective battle to achieve our constitutional rights.
ü Eradication of poverty and inequality is the constitutional responsibility, since the state is not doing so; DSS has initiated this type of campaign.
ü The community was enlightened on the ill effects of liquor and the pathetic situation being faced by the dalit women. Many incidents where in the liquor belt shops have ruined the lives of dalits have been narrated with specific examples of respective areas.
ü To overcome the present situation of illiteracy among the dalit women and their confinement to the houses, we need to put efforts right from the childhood stage of dalit girl children.
ü To provide qualitative childhood to dalit girl children we need to provide them nutritious food, qualitative education, hygiene environment, violence free society, non discriminative conditions in the house as well as in the society.
ü Studying in such an oppressive, hostile environment with lot of disparities can a dalit girl child ever come on to the mainstream and become a doctor, an engineer, IAS and IPS though she has reservation
ü The plight of dalit girl children was explained by quoting many examples from the atrocity instances investigated by DSS such as cheating in the name of love, sexual exploitation by teachers and other staff, caste discrimination by teachers leading to suicides, rapes and abortions to minor girls with judicial orders etc. The parents of the girl children in particular and the dalit community in general were motivated to rise up to save dalit girl children by regularly monitoring these centres.
ü Long persisting problems like the vulnerable conditions in these centres without basic infrastructure such as class rooms, drinking water, toys, electricity facility, adequate teachers and other staff, toilets etc were explained. It was elaborated as to how when these issues are taken up with the district level authorities they express their helplessness and refer to the state level authorities, who when approached, in turn say they neither have requisite budget nor the requirement proposals sent by the districts. Thus the problem remains unattended due to utter neglect by the Government authorities.
ü Explaining about the constitutional rights and the budget, they were detailed about the SC, ST Sub Plan being made an Act and the movement of dalit organisations behind it. The community was asked to gear up themselves for getting the budget under this Act and ensure effective utilisation. DSS has also campaigned on the bifurcation of funds to dalit women and girl children in proportionate to their population. DSS also demanded for separate nodal agency to monitor the budget pertaining to the dalit women and girl children.
ü The perspective of the legislature, executive and the judiciary was clearly explained by quoting the examples and the strategies to overcome these hurdles were also detailed.
Day I (6th December)
During the launching of Ratha yatra the women collectives from various slums of the city have mobilized and the dignitaries addressed them as well as the print and electronic media. After the completion of Round Table Conference (RTC) of Hyderabad District, the campaign reached Shankarpalli of Ranga Reddy district covering the enroute villages Gandipeta, Chilkur,etc.
Shankarpally: The Campaign team reached Shankarpally via Maharajpet, Mokila and Prodhutur. Meetings were organized in the villages on the root apart from garlanding the Ambedkar statues. The Ambedkar statue was garlanded and a public meeting was organized at Shankarpalli. The local youth associations, MVF and many dalit women have participated.
Nawabpet: The Campaign team has reached Nawabpet via Dhobipet and Maithapkhanguda. Meetings were organized in the villages on the route and Ambedkar Statues were garlanded. A public meeting was organized in Nawabpet after garlanding Ambedkar statue.
Yathirajpalli: A rally was organized from Nawabpet to Yathirajpalli an atrocity occurred village. A public meeting was organized and later elaborate discussions were made with the women collective and community leaders till late night and the future course of action was planned pertaining to the mass attack. The campaign team halted at Yathirajpalli for the night.
Day II (7th December)
The Campaign team has reached Vikarabad via Yellakonda, Ekmamidi and participated in the Round Table Conference (RTC) of Ranga Reddy District. After the RTC it reached Kothagadi and halted for launch after the public meeting.
Chevella: The Campaign team reached Chevella via Manneguda, Khanapur, Damaragidda and Alluru. The Ambedkar statues were garlanded and meetings were held in the en-route villages. A press meet was held at Ambedkar Bhavan, Chevella, later the Ambedkar statue in Bus stand centre was garlanded.
Shabad: The Campaign team reached Shabad en-route Surangal, Nagarguda and Pamena. Meetings were held in the villages on the route and Ambedkar statues were garlanded. The local organizations, Ambedkar youth associations, women collectives from various villages have attended the public meeting held at Ambedkar statue, Shabad.
Manmari: The Campaign team reached Manmari a village where the dalits have been fighting against the dominant communities for many years against the alienation of their land. A rally was organized in the village followed by a public meeting. The community was strengthened and it has been decided to intensify the agitation.
The campaign team had dinner with the community and started its journey to Guntur District.
Day III (8th December)
A mammoth rally was organised after garlanding the Ambedkar statue at Lodge Centre, Guntur. The rally went through the main roads of the city by giving the slogans with vigour and the powerful songs. The rally could catch the eye of the media and the larger civil society. The rally continued until the venue of the RTC of Guntur District.
Tenali: The campaign reached Tenali after the RTC by covering the enroute villages. The Ambedkar statue opposite railway station was garlanded followed by public meeting. The local organizations, Ambedkar youth associations, Jai Bheem youth association, Yanadhi association, SC,ST Railway employee association, Ambedkar mission and women collectives of various villages from the mandal have also participated.
Angalakuduru: The campaign reached Angalakuduru a village being pestered by the dominant community. A public meeting was organized and the SHGs and VO was strengthened and it has been decided to take up the issue to the notice of the concerned district officials once again.
Kopalli: The campaign reached Kopalli and a public meeting was organised in the main centre of the village. The Ambedkar statue was garlanded and powerful songs were presented by the cultural team.
The campaign team had dinner in the village and halted for the night there itself.
Day IV (9th December)
Vijayawada: The Campaign has reached Vijayawada of Krishna District via Duggirala,
Pedavadlapudi, Mangalagiri and Tadepalli. Meetings were held en–route and Ambedkar statues were garlanded. A press meet was organized at Press club in Vijayawada. The local organizations including the APD – NREGA have participated in the press meet and detailed about the major issues of the district.
Public meetings were organised at Joginagar, Shikhamani centre, Green lands, Pakeergudem of Vijayawada and reached Nidumolu.
Nidumolu: The campaign reached Nidumolu via Kankipadu, Vuyyuru and Mantada by addressing the public and garlanding the Ambedkar statues in the en-route villages. The Ambedkar statue at Nidumolu were garlanded and later a public meeting was held.
Akumarru: The campaign team reached Akumarru via Tarakaturu, Dodlapalem and other villages. The gatherings in the en-route villages were addressed and the Ambedkar statues were garlanded. The Ambedkar statue at Akumarru was garlanded and a public meeting was held.
Idugullapalli: The campaign reached Idugullapalli and garlanded the Ambedkar statue followed by a rally until the venue of the meeting. A public meeting was held, the community was strengthened as an atrocity took place in the village.
Akulamannadu: The Ambedkar statue was garlanded followed by a public meeting. The campaign team had dinner in the village and halted for the night.
Day V (10th December)
Kappaladoddi: The campaign team reached Kappaladoddi, garlanded the Ambedkar statue and addressed the gathering.
Gudur: The campaign reached Gudur covering the en-route villages. A rally was organized followed by a public meeting in the centre. Many issues pertaining to the mandal including the drinking water and NREGA were raised in the public meeting and later explained to the media.
Chitti Gudur: The campaign reached the village, garlanded the Ambedkar statue and later addressed the gathering.
Machilipatnam: The campaign reached Machilipatnam via Neelampet, Patanipet and Sulthanagaram by garlanding the Ambedkar statues and addressing the gatherings in the en-route villages. The campaign team reached Ambedkar statue at Lakshmi Takies centre Machilipatnam, garlanded the statue and organized a rally until the venue of RTC of Krishna district.
Guruvindagunta: The campaign reached Guruvindagunta covering the en-route villages Pedana, Gudlavalleru, Gudiwada by garlanding the Ambedkar statues and addressing the gatherings. The Ambedkar statue was garlanded and later a public meeting was held at Guruvindagunta.
Kovvali: The campaign reached Kovvali of West Godavari district via Hanuman junction and other villages by garlanding the Ambedkar statues and addressing the gatherings. The Ambedkar statue at Kovvali was garlanded and later the public meeting was held. The campaign team had dinner and halted for the night in the village.
Day VI (11th December)
Eluru: The campaign reached Old Bus Stand, Eluru, and garlanded Ambedkar statue,
addressed the public and later organized a rally until the venue of RTC of West Godavari district. The whole town was alarmed with the sounds of the drums and the inspiring songs by the DSS cultural team and the campaign team participated in the RTC and later moved to Bhujavalapatnam of Krishna district.
Bhujavalapatnam: The Campaign entered the village Bhujavalapatnam of Krishna district via Lingaraogudem, Sriparru, Maheswarapuram, Kovvadalanka after garlanding
garlanding Ambedkar statue and addressing the gathering in the en-route villages. The Ambedkar statue at Bhujavalapatnam was garlanded and the gathering was addressed. The women collectives from the nearby villages have also participated in the public meeting. The women collectives of the Kaikalur constituency have narrated the stage from which they have come and what they are now after joining DSS. They felicitated the Convener of DSS at the Ambedkar Statue amongst 100s of dalit women.
Kopparru: The campaign reached Kopparru of West Godavari a village of atrocities after covering the en-route villages Pallevada, Akividu etc. The Ambedkar statue at Kopparru was garlanded and later a public meeting was held. The women collectives from the nearby villages have also participated in the public meeting.
Sitarampuram: The campaign reached Sitarampuram, garlanded the Ambedkar statue and later addressed the gathering. The campaign team had dinner and halted for the night in the village.
Day VII (12th December)
Narsapuram: The campaign reached Narsapuram, garlanded the Ambedkar statue and later participated in the press meet held at MPDO’s office, Narsapuram.
Palakollu: The campaign reached Palakollu, garlanded the Ambedkar statue and later addressed the gathering. The local organizations and the employee welfare associations have also participated in the programme.
Malkipuram: The campaign reached Malkipuram via Sivakodu, Gudimellanka etc. Ambedkar
and Phule statues at Malkipuram were garlanded and a rally was organized until the venue of public meeting. Later the leaders addressed the public meeting held at the main centre. The leaders of local dalit organizations have participated.
Amalapuram: The campaign reached Amalapuram covering en-route villages Lakkavaram, Razole, Jaggannapeta,
Ambajipet etc by garlanding Ambedkar statues and addressing the gathering. A press meet was organised at Buddha Vihar in Amalapuram. The Ambedkar statue at Buddhavihar, Amalapuram was garlanded and a rally was organized from Buddhavihar till Gadiyaram centre followed by a public meeting.
Mummidivaram: The campaign reached Mummidivaram via Cheyyeru, Katrenikona and other en-route villages after addressing the public meetings and garlanding the Ambedkar statues. The campaign team halted in Mummidivaram for the night.
Day VIII (13th December)
Kakinada: The campaign reached Kakinada covering the en-route villages such as Muramulla and other villages. The team participated in the RTC of East Godavari district at Kakinada and later started towards Rajahmundry.
Rajahmundry: The campaign reached Rajahmundry via Samarlakota, Kesavaram, Kadiyam, Pottilanka and Dawaleswaram.A press meet was held at Ambedkar Bhavan, Rajahmundry, followed by a rally up to Devichowk via Ambedkar statue at Gokavaram bus stop. The streets were alarmed with the powerful slogans and inspiring songs. The Ambedkar statue was
garlanded followed by a public meeting. The SC/ST Employee Associations, Ambedkar youth associations have welcomed the campaign team in a big way.
The campaign team started its journey towards Visakhapatnam covering the en-route villages Rajanagaram, Annavaram, Tuni and Kasimkota.
Day IX (14th December)
Visakhapatnam: The campaign team participated in the RTC of Visakhapatnam district, later addressed the gatherings in the slums of Visakhapatnam.
Laximpet: The campaign started to Laximpet of Srikakulum covering en-route villages including Vizianagaram and Rajam by garlanding the Ambedkar statues and addressing
public meetings. Recently 5 dalits were massacred by the dominant community in Laximpet and DSS has a played a prominent role in the whole agitation taken up throughout the state. At Laximpet an in-depth discussion was done with the community and exclusively with the dalit women. Later a public meeting was organized and candles were lighted as gratitude towards the deceased.
Day X (15th December)
The campaign team started on its way back to Hyderabad after the valedictory at Visakhapatnam, covering the en-route towns such as Gajuwaka, Anakapalli, etc by garlanding the Ambedkar statues and addressing the gatherings.
Responses in the Valedictory:
Ms. Amulya, has said that, she participated in the Ratha Yatra for the second time though she underwent a major operation. We have taken many of our problems to the notice of the district officials and have demanded to solve them.
Ms. Bharathi and Ratna Kumari, said that this is the second time that they were participating in the campaign. Earlier they used to be afraid of even small things, but now they able to speak to anyone boldly and have addressed many big gatherings during these campaigns.
Ms.Sujatha, said that she has joined DSS 2 years back. She has come to know about the rights and is able to use them. During these campaigns she has been able to share the success with the community of other districts.
Ms.Jennamma, said that she is an active member in DSS. She has participated in the public actions (dharnas) many times and has achieved many things such as pensions, ration cards, etc.
Ms. Anju, has said that though her husband did not agree to send her, but she still came and participated in the campaign. She said that she will continue with DSS and make many more women collectives like hers.
Ms. Aruna said that usually the dalit women do not come out, but she has participated in the campaign for all these 10 days, learnt many things and campaigned in many villages.
Ms. Anuradha, said that before coming into contact with DSS they used to stay at home, but after joining DSS they became brave and were able to solve many things.
Highlights of the Campaign:
The 80 member Campaign team was at all ease right from the first day till the last day. The slogans raised by them have touched the sky. The team includes many young volunteers apart from the full timers of DSS.
The two vehicles decorated with various photos, demands on the flex banners and the sound system fixed to it was the centre point of attraction. Throughout the journey the songs were played through the sound system.
In all the districts the dalit women were applauded by the officials including the police officials, representatives of local organizations and community for their commitment, brevity and active participation.
The performance of the cultural team through songs and skits was inspiring and was the highlight. Even at late nights the whole community was eagerly waiting for their songs and their songs took them on to their toes.
The drivers of the 3 vehicles were with the same spirit and enthusiasm for all the 10 days. The campaign team had an additional force of 3 members who were good at driving and they shared the responsibility and even distributed pamphlets. Though it was late nights every day they never hesitated to wake up early and be ready for the journey and all this was due to their spirit and motivation for the cause.
ü The government machinery should take necessary measures to put an end to the violence against dalit women and girl children
ü The concerned departments should strive to bring in awareness to the dalit women on their rights
ü To allocate the budget in SCP, TSP to the dalit women and girl children in proportionate to their population
ü To give preference for dalit women in NREGA
ü To spend the budget of SCP/TSP through a separate nodal agency
ü To provide own buildings and other facilities for anganwadi centres
ü To put a special focus on the dalit girl children in the government schools and provide them qualitative education
ü To provide basic amenities in the schools
ü To provide protection to the girl children in the hostels apart from basic amenities
ü To nationalize the corporate and private education institutions
ü To eradicate caste discrimination in education institutions
ü To eradicate violence and violations on dalit girl children
ü To implement common school system as per recommendations of Kothari commission
· The dalit community have felt that their problems being focussed by DSS has enthused them
· Public at large were sensitized through the speeches, pamphlets and wide coverage of the media
· The campaign created feelings among the dalit women and girl children that they can confidently complain to DSS on their problems
· Increase in the accountability and coordination among the concerned line departments and it could be seen much in the police department
· The gaps in the policies and the implementation gaps clearly identified with specific examples of incidents
· The dalit women are gearing up themselves to raise their voices continuously for accessing their rights
· Potential perpetrators of crimes against dalit women and girls feel threatened that there is a committed organisation like DSS which would oppose to any extent on injustice.
· The entire team has felt that the incident like Laximpet massacre should not occur anymore and the same was canvassed throughout the campaign.
· The dalit women are able to advocate on their own to resolve the issues, where as earlier they use to depend upon
· The concerned authorities at respective levels have invited DSS to discuss on the issues
· Much visibility through media
· Succeeded in bringing many local associations on to a common platform for the cause
· Raised the confidence levels among the local organizations and could give an assurance that a state level organisation is there to stand by them
· Confidence among the dalit girls in the hostels increased and they found a forum to approach and complain about their problems.