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Justice at last for Dalits

MYSORE: After a long wait of 17 years, justice was delivered to dalits of Badanawalu village of Nanjangud taluk where three community members were killed by a mob following a row over puja at a village temple. Sixth additional sessions judge L Malvalli convicted Suresh and 19 others. The sentence will be pronounced on October 30 or November 2. Though the chargesheet was filed against 23, three died during the prolonged trial.

The state government had handed over the case to the CBI, which charged 23 persons of attacking dalits and killing them. Though the case was registered at the Nanjangud police station on March 15, 1993, the state government transferred the case in April 1993 following a plea by dalit leaders led by Congress leader MP Srinivasa Prasad. CBI public prosecutor K Sudarshan argued on behalf of the CBI. The 20 accused who were present in the court were remanded to custody.

Rift between the communities

Badanawalu, a non-descript village off Mysore-Chamarajanagar state highway, hit the national headlines when the Dalits in the village were chased out of their houses and done to death by caste Hindus on March 25, 1993.

The death of three Dalits led to a public debate on the safety of Dalits in the state besides causing deep division between the two communities, particularly Dalits and Lingayats who dominate the region. However, before the wounds of this social hatredness healed, Dalits went berserk and set on fire scores of houses of Lingayats at the nearby Ummathur village.

Political implications

These two incidents divided even the politicians of the two communities. There was a total boycott of the Dalits in the villages of Chamarajnagar district. The incidents impacted the general elections in the following years. Dalit leader Srinivasa Prasad, who had won the Chamarajnagar parliament seat since 1980, lost it to the candidates who sympathized with the Hindus, especially the Lingayat

COURTESY: TIMES OF INDIA, OCT 29/10

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