Tsundur massacre: Historic Court verdict

01Aug07

Eight Dalits were hacked to death in broad daylight on August 6, 1991, with over 400 people chasing them. Special court assembled;the judge felt that it was not the rarest of the rare cases, which attracted death penalty. The massacre of Dalits by a Hindu mob is certainly not the rarest of rare cases, it is the norm in Hindustan.

“21 get life sentence for Tsundur massacre”

Tsundur (Guntur Dt.): Twenty one persons have been sentenced to life imprisonment and 35 others one-year rigorous imprisonment and a penalty of Rs.2000 each in the sensational Tsundur massacre case.    Eight Dalits were hacked to death in broad daylight on August 6, 1991, with over 400 people chasing them along the bund of an irrigation canal in Tsundur. Delivering the judgement seven days short of anniversary of the attack on Dalits of Malapalli here, special judge Anis of Special COurt under the SC/STs Prevention of (Atrocities) Act 1989, felt it was not the rarest of the rare cases, which attracted the death penalty. In the country’s first-ever special court set up for trying a case under the Act at the scene of the offence, the judge acquitted 123 out of the 179 accused. In the case of 41 accused, the court did not find any evidence, while 62 of them were released on benefit of doubt. The other 20 were let off due to omission of evidence or having only single witnesses. Tsu u and Tsunduru are not mere incidents of atrocities against  Dalits but are significant landmarks in the history of Dalit movement in Andhra Pradesh.

tsundur
Pic01  Tears of Dalit families in  court-yard

The movement articulated a new sense of self-respect,  reclaimed the constitutional rights of Dalits and consolidated an  important anchor in the interlinked fields of welfare/ rights/ policies/  studies related to Dalits in A.P. Tsunduru strengthened the demand for a Dalit president which ultimately led to the appointment of Dr.K.R.Narayanan, as the 8th President of the Republic of India. Dalit Mahasabha, the harbinger of Dalit movement, which was formed in the wake of Karamchedu, took up the Tsunduru incident in an exemplary  manner. Under their consummate leadership, the massacred Dalits were  cremated right in the middle of village Tsunduru and the place was named  Raktakshetram (The Land of Blood), a live reminder of the atrocity. They  brought together the shattered community, scattered all over the  district, and sheltered them in well-maintained camps for nine months,  with meager resources and without any help from the state agencies. Over  the next two years, the Sabha saw to it that four hundred and fifty  families were given pucca houses; that the victims’ families were given compensation of Rs.One lakh each, that eighty seven members of the  community got government jobs and that those who were cultivators were  given agricultural land of half acre each. The community settled back in  their own village. In short, the Sabha ensured that the traumatized  community stood on its feet again psychologically, economically, socially and politically to be able to continue their life and struggle  for justice on their own. While Dalit Mahasabha has moved to other  issues, Tsundur remains strongly on their agenda. The struggle for the securing of these rights was long and bloody.  During this time, while the main accused were not arrested, several of  the protesting Dalits and their leaders were arrested and given prison  sentences. Some of the young Dalit activists abandoned their education,  refused marriage and dedicated themselves to the cause of Tsunduru. Anil Kumar, a key witness to the incident, was killed in police firing when  they were staging a dharna to set the law in motion. The emergence of a strong Dalit movement also led to an important change  in the left politics of Andhra Pradesh. Almost all the left political  parties started separate wings towork on issues of caste. The ML  parties had rallied to the side of victims during the time of the  Tsunduru incident, which confirmed theprimary character of caste  oppression first seen at Karamchedu. While Janasakti was the first one  to start DAFODAM (Democratic Action Forum for Dalits and Minorities),  Kulavivaksha Vyatireka Porata Samiti of CPI(M) and Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti. The latter two organizations have over the last few years developed a presence in many areas where they have been working on atrocities on Dalits. If the constitutional approach of the Dalit  Mahasabha strengthened the Dalit movement, the presence of ML groups led  to an increased confidence and interest among the young. Frustration  with the institutional casteism (especially among the police) faced by  the wearying work of Dalit politics post-Tsunduru only strengthened  their belief in the need for a violent political confrontation.

 Looking at both the Dalit Mahasabha’s growth and at the formation and  increasing influence of Dalit organizations among the left liberal and  ML parties, it is clear that the Tsunduru incident has been a formative  experience in Dalit politics from the nineties onwards. It is understood by all the parties on the side of the Dalits that the continuing drive  for justice and strength is yet another chapter in the legacy of Tsunduru. All these developments have a bearing on the trial (which finally  commenced a few days back). The first witness was unable to give her  account due to distress, and her position in the witness order was  changed by the prosecutor as he feared that she was under duress. Testimony was given on 1st December by Merukonda Subbarao, who had served as the first president of the Tsunduru Victims Association.This fifty six year old daily wage-worker, identified and named forty of  the accused standing in the court room, from among the one hundred and  eighty three accused. The incident was etched in his memory so strongly  that he did not falter despite the judges requests to repeat the identification. He also withstood the cross-examination by the defense  counsel.

 The magnitude of Subbarao’s act calls for a respectful salute. What does  it take for a Dalit to stand up against the might of the upper-caste and name oppressors in a court, when in the past, he could not even walk on  the street with them, leave alone look them in the eye? How many more  Subbaraos will be needed before such incidents become part of a shameful  history to be left behind? The Dalit women understood what he had done,  and gathered quietly round him, felicitating his act when he came out of  the court room.  By the next day scores of Dalits from surrounding villages thronged the Special Court in Tsunduru to witness the trial. That the Tsunduru Dalits are no longer afraid to give witness offers just cause of celebration. They understand that it is the positioning of  the court in the Dalitwada, and all that symbolizes that has made this moment possible. It is for us to follow their lead.

Courtasy: Shivshankar, Swathy Margaret and S. Jaya & The Hindu



9 Responses to “Tsundur massacre: Historic Court verdict”

  1. 1 Justice

    This case falls under rarest of rare crime and against state, ‘So why not hang them all till death’

  2. 2 Justice for Citizens of India

    All accused Must be Hanged till Death refer under Section 302 Of IPC and U/ 3(10) of the POAtrocity Act.

  3. 3 nagaraju vadapalli

    through the ages, in india, dalits are subjected to exploitation by so called hindu caste people.tsundur judgement is remained an axe in history of
    inda. it should be remained as warning to so called indian upper caste people.the judgement gives a massage to dalits truthfullness always wins and wicked one always punished.

  4. 4 B.ABHINAV

    firt of all we have to appriciate the tsundure dalits for their non-compromising struggle. Now a days it is very difficult to stand against the upper caste people. But the tsundur dalits had stood against them and got justice.

  5. 5 Bhaskara Rao.Medikondu

    hai this is Bhaskar S/o Subbarao Medikonda(Tsundur). first of all thanks for u (members of this blog). when iam reading ur scraps iam so excited and very happy. iam proud to be a son of mr subbarao.medikonda. thanks for all of u .

  6. Dalits are attacked everyday by HYBRIDS and CROSS-BREEDS. We, Dalits are the only pure-blooded people in the whole India. I won’t leave these anti-Dalits that easily. I will take revengue for the Chundur Massacre.

  7. 7 Isaac

    im looking forward for a day where atrocites on upper caste people will be carried out by dalits, we hold the future of India. let us all work together for that day, stay united. never let a opportunity goway cease it for our next generation will benifit from our sacrifices ….i pray GOD that it should not repeat again…. NEVER AGAIN!!!!

  8. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing
    troubles with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can’t join it.

    Is there anybody else having the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer
    will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


  1. 1 Tsunduru! at Blogbharti

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