Kurnool Atrocity: Fact finding report- Caste Virus 003AP2009

03Aug09

FACT FINDING REPORT

ON ILLEGAL DETENTION.TORTURE, DISPOSSESSION FROM LANDS, DESTRUCTON OF CROPS, FORCINGTO DRINK URINE, PULLING MOUSTACHES, INSULTING, INTIMIDATI0N, ABUSING IN THE NAME OF CASTE, FOISTING FALLSE CASES, VIOLENCE COMMITTED BY STATE , PUBLIC SERVANTS COMMITTING OFFENCES UNDER SC/ST(POA)ACT,1989.

District: KURNOOL – Mandal: Rudravaram – Village: Ellavathula – Date of occurrence: 16.7.09

Dates of visit: 20-7-2009 & 21-7-2009 – Places visited: Yellavathula Village, Rudravaram, Allagadda, Nandyal etc,

Members of the Fact Finding Team:

1) Mr.Munirathnam, State Convenor, National Dalit Forum, Chittoor

2) Mr, Sreeramulu, Disct.Convenor, National Dalit Forum, Chittoor

3) Mr.VA.Vinod Kumar, MA (Litt), BL, AIII, Advocate, AP High Court, Kurnool

4) Mr.Venkata Subbaiah, Chaitanya YuvAndhra Jyothiana Sangham, Chagalamarri (M), Kurnool Dist

5) Mr. Obulesu, Mani Rural Development Society, Rudravaram(V & M)

INCIDENCE IN BRIEF:

On 10.7.2009 Friday. Nearly at about 11 am., the Forest Range Officer Manthru Naik, Forest Guard Jakir Hussain, and 3 others came to Yellavathula when the daliths are working in their lands and abused and threatened the dalits that the lands belongs to Forest Department and they should leave the lands immediately otherwise they will face dare consequences. The dalits replied that the Government gave Pattas to their parents in the year 1974 and as such they are the owners and will not leave the lands. The Forest officials angrily scolded the dalits in the name of caste and forcibly lifted them into the Jeep and took them to DFO Office, Nandyal. There they put them in a dark room and locked up. In the evening at 4 pm., they came to the room and asked them to sign on white papers. When they refused to sign on empty papers they become angry and subjected them to force and torture. They left them in the dark locking it. At about 11 pm in the night the Forest officials came again and took away each separately and beat severely. Again they keep three of them in the room and put before us the white papers and forced us to sign. When they refused again they started beating them and pour urine in the glasses and pulled the moustaches and poured urine in their mouths and beat them severely. Unable to bear the torture they signed on the papers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INCIDENT:

In the year 1974 the Government gave pattas of assigned lands to 11 families of Dalits of Yellavathula village, Rudravaram (M) Kurnool Dist, were working in their lands and removing kalupu in their lands, given with 22 acres of land in the 1974. These lands were cultivated by these families from the period of their fathers. In the year 2007 Govt also provided Rs.2,44,000/- to these 11 families to develop the lands under Comprehensive Land Development Scheme (Indira Prabha). During March month 2009 the Forest officials lead by Mr. Manthru Naik, along with guards planted Jathropa plants in these lands. Then the dalits met the Tahasildar of Rudravaram and gave a complaint. The Tahsildar deputed Shri Ramanaiah, the Official Surveyor who surveyed the lands and planted stones showing the boundaries. The Dalit farmers having confirmed their ownership from the Revenue Department cut the Jathropa Plants to cultivate the lands. Then Forest Officials filed cases against the Dalit farmers during March, 2009 under Sections 20(i) (vi)(vii) These farmers were regularly attending the court for every adjournment. The Dalits were threatened with dire consequences if they refuse to leave the lands and they will put Preventive Detention cases when the 3rd case is booked against them.

They brought this event to the notice of the MRO and requested to survey the lands. The MRO certified that the lands which they had occupied were government land – Against this background the forest officials were not able to tolerate the poor Dalits cultivating the land and conspired to evict them from the land. As part of the conspiracy they went to the fields on 10-7-09l. Again they went to on 10-7-09 and filed cases against Dalits who were attending to weeding work in their fields. The Forest officials were intolerant and attacked and destroyed the red gram crops in 13 acres belonging to these Dalits in retaliation for not hearing to their instructions to vacate the land and removed the stones planted by the Official Surveyor showing the boundaries questioning the authority of Revenue Department to show the boundaries.

While going in the Jeep the RO Manthru Naik forcibly took the Cell Phone from Smt.Shanthamma, w/o.Sudarshan putting his hands into the jacket of her as she was keeping the cell phone in the jacket and refused to give it. She filed a case in Rudravaram PS under Section 354 IPC & Sec.3 (1)(xi), 3(2)(vii)of SC/ST)POA)Act,1989

CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS:

1. In 1974 pattas for assigned lands of 22 acres were issued to 11 families of dalits

2. In the year 2007 Govt sanctioned amount to develop the lands under CLDP (Indira Prabhas) The farmers developed the lands with the assistance provided under the Govt.Programme.

3. Due to scanty rain fall the farmers couldn’t take up any crop and in the mean time the forest officials planted the Jathropa plants in the developed lads.

4. The dalits opposed the plantation and gave complaint to the MRO of Rudravaram (M)

5. The MRO sent the Official Surveyor Mr.Ramanaiah who surveyed the lands and planted the stones showing the boundaries very clearly and told the dalit farmers that they can cultivate the lands as they were holding the pattas. This process took nearly 2 years.

6. After the survey of lands by the Revenue authorities dalit farmers cut the Jathropa, ploughed the lands and planted Red Gram crop in the lands.

7.On 4.3.2009 The Forest Beat Officer Hussain sahib put cases against the farmers in Crime No. 16/2009 in Rudravaram PS Under Section 429, 447 IPC against 6 dalits 1.Mala Jangala Sudarshanam, 2.Mala Dasari Pedda Obulesu,3. Mala Chitte Maddileti,4.Mala Jogi Chennaiah, 5.Mala Barigela Chenchanna, 6.Mala Dasari Chinna Obulesu. They were sent to judicial remand got bail and attending before the First Class Judicial Magistrate,Alllagadda.

8. On 10-7-2009 The Forest Officials lead by the Range Officer, Manthru Naik,and Guards Jakir Hussain, and one more person came to the lands and abused the famers as they were removing kalup in their lands. They left the lands and went to Rudravaram and came back with 2 armed Police Constables and forcibly took the dalits to firstly to Rudravaram Police Station and then to DFO Office, Nandyal.

9. 11.On 10.11.2009 the Forest Staff tortured the dalits

10. On 16-10-2009 The news daily Andhra Jyothi, reported the matter on 16.10.2009 in the main news.

11. On 16-7-2009The dalits filed a case against the Forest Officials in Crime No.115/2009 Before Nandyal III Town PS. The police registered the case under Sections 323, 342,355 r/w.34 of Indian Penal Code & Section 3(1) (x), of SC/ST (POA) Act, 1989

12. Smt.Shanthammma, w/o.Jangam Sudarshanam filed a case before Rudravaram PS against the Range Officer Mr.Manthru Naik, under Section 354 IPC & Section 3(x) of SC/ST (POA) Act, 1989

THE RESPONSE OF THE OFFICIALS/AUTHORITIES:

The dalits approached the Police of Nandyal III town and gave a complaint. The Police registered the case under Cr.No.115/2009 – The dalit woman Smt.Shanthamma, approached the Police. Rudravram Police registered the case in Crime No.

The District Collector ordered an enquiry by the RDO, Madhavi Latha into the incident. He released Rs.20000/- to each dalit family towards compensation for the loss of red gram crop.

The Dist.Collector recommended for the suspension of the accused forest officers

OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS :

Responding to the incident the National Dalit Forum, Hyderabad formed a committee of members to record the facts of the incident with above cited Members. The members visited the Place of occurrence, Yellavathula village and met the victims, and recorded their statements in detail. They also visited Nandyal III town Police station and collected the FIR & other documents to confirm the legal status of the case. The members organised a press meet in the Govt. Guest House for which the media gave wide coverage.

On conducting discreet enquiries the fact finding team noted the following:

1. The Dalits of Yellavathula and issued with pattas in the year 1974 and are in possession of the lands since then and cultivating.

2. In the year 2007, the DRDA released Rs.2.40 lacs to the 11 dalit farmers to develop these lands under Indira Prabha Scheme (Comprehensive Land Development Programme). These lands were treated and developed by these farmers.

3.The attack on dalits is due to assertion of their land right as they were living on these lands since 1973

4. When dalits shown the pattas and pass books the Forest Officials not taken the initiative to check with Revenue department on the issuance of pass books/pattas.

5. The forest officials : The Forest Officials foisted cases on dalits on 4.3.2009 & 10.7.2009 in Rudravarm PS threatening the dalits they are preparing the ground to file cases under Preventive Detention Act so that they can send the dalits out of the village. The details of the cases are as follows:

6. On 4-3-2009 – The Forest Beat Officer Mr.Hussain Saheb, filed cases against 6 dalits of Yellvathula under Section 429,447 of Indian Penal Code in Rudravaram PS

7. On 10-7-2009 the Forest Officials lead by Manthi Naik, Jakir Hussain and another person took 2 armed Constables from Rudravaram PS and took the dalits into custody,tortured them and again foisted cases under Section 20(1)(i)VI of Forest Act.

LEGAL STANDARDS BREACHED:

Dalits were denied of access to Land-breach of Section 3(1)(iv)(v) of SC/ST(POA)Act,1989

They are subjected to savage violence and unspeakable brutality – Section 3(1)(i) of SC/ST(POA)Act,1989

A public servant who commits and offence under Section 3 (2)(vii)of SC/ST(POA)Act shall be liable for imprisonment for no less than one year and may extend to the punishment provided for that offence(Sec.3(2)(vii) of SC/ST(POA)Act,1989-

State violence – No one shall be deprived of his/her right to life or personal liberty except accordingly to procedure established by law. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary detention or imprisonment –Art 21 of Indian constitution and fundamental right –

Right to protection from the State against violence – Custodial torture and brutality – right to life, liberty & security of person , right to freedom from arbitrary arrest torture and human treatment when deprived of liberty – Art 9 UDHR& Art 7 of ICCPR

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Art 3, UDHR Art 6(1) ICCPR & Art 5(b) CERD-

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment –Art 5 UDHR & Art 7 ICCPR –

Voluntarily causing hurt to and assault or another person is an offence Sec.323 of IPC

342,355. 34 of IPC

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his/her privacy of family, home or correspondence as per Art 17(1) ICCPR

Intentional destruction of another’s property causing wrongful loss or damage is an offence under Sec.426, 434(Mischief by destroying or moving etc., a land mark fixed by public authority (IPC)

The RDO report submitted to the Dist.Collector immediately after the incident clearly indicate that the lands belongs to revenue department and the pattass/pass books issued to the dalits are genuine and their possession of land since 1974 is legitimate. This report is prima-facie evidence that the Forest Officials encroached in to the lands of dalits and illegally destroyed the crops though it is brought to their notice the ownership by showing pass books. This act of the forest officials tantamount to violation of Sec.426, 434 of IPC and Section 3(1)(iv)(v) of the SC/ST(POA)Act,1989

CONCLUSION:

The victims revealed to the Fact Finding Team that the Forest Officials threatened that they will book them under PD Act and send them out of the village once they complete filing of 3 cases against them. This shows the conspiracy hatched by them to force the dalits to vacate the lands under the threat of criminal cases. If occupation of government land by dalits/poorer sections for which they were issued with pattas/pass books is illegal how could it be right for the forest officials to trespass and destroy the red gram crop in 13 acres after detaining and torturing the dalits illegally.

As per the revenue records and the RDO report, authorities took meticulous care while considering the claims of dalits for pattas in 1973 and avoided granting pattas erroneously. Hence, even it is presumed that the lands belongs to Forest Dept, the issuance of pattas is legitimate since there is no erroneous transaction as such and the lands are in the possession of dalits since 1973 without any transfer, sale or interruption. Thus the dalits who are non-tribal’s entitled for the grant of pattas in respect of these lands which are explicitly in their occupation for more than 8 years as their occupation is neither void nor illegal. They were in possession of the lands since then and acquired the adverse possession and legal ownership.

Consequently, the cases filed by the officials tantamount to false cases and the Dalits are entitled to register legal cases against the Forest Officials under Section 211 of Indian Penal Code and Sec.3(1)(viii),3(2)(vii) of SC/ST(POA) Act 1989.

Demands/Recommendations:

Declaring Rudravaram and adjoining Allagadda Mandals as atrocity prone Intense areas –
Special attention is to be given and steps to be initiated for the prevention of atrocities as per the provisions of SC/ST(POA)Act,1989 and Rules 1995(Rule,3,6,7,10,11 etc)
Development measures targeting the Dalit communities should be initiated with effective monitoring mechanism
Implement the guidelines given in the Punnaiah Commission Report and other orders existing as on date in letter and spirit in these Mandals
The section of laws applied in case Nos.115/2009 dt.16.10.2009 filed by the Dalits should be altered before the filing of charge sheet with proper section of law i.e, including Section 426(Punishment for Mischief), 434(Mischief by destroying, moving etc, a land mark fixed by public authority & Criminal Intimidation Sec.503 of IPC & Sec. 3(1)(iv)(v)3(2)(vii) so that it will not vitiate the trial resulting in injustice to the victims.
The relief, Compensation and rehabilitation should be released to the victims as per the provisions of the SC/ST (POA) Act at the earliest.

PRESS CLIPPINGS:

The media played a key role in exposing this case of torture, violence and harassment by the Forest Officials which is an act of State violence. The press and electronic media reported the matter on the following dates extensively:

On 16-7-2009 the ANDHRA JYOTHI Telugu News daily publicised the matter in its main page as state news.

On 17-7-2009 It also covered the news of Dist.Collector’s immediate response and ordering an enquiry by the Revenue Divisional Officer who visited the scene of occurrence and recorded the events and submitted her report confirming the atrocities. It also covered the statement of the Tahasildar, Rudravaram(m) who declared that the lands belongs to the Revenue Department. It also covered the news of payment of compensation of Rs.20000/- to each Dalit family whose crops were destroyed by the forest officials. He also assured stringent action against the accused after thorough enquiry into the incident.

On 18-7-2009 the Sakshi Telugu news daily reported that a criminal case is registered against the accused Range Officer Sri Manthru Naik in Rudravaram Police Station under Cr.No. U/section.No.354 IPC. It also reported that SC/ST case is registered in III Town PS against the forrest officials Mr. Manthru Naik & Jakir Hussain basing on the complaint given by the victim Mr.J.Sudarshan The paper also reported that the Dist.Collector personally called the victims individually and separate groups and enquired into the incident personally. He also called the accused the Beat Officer ,Range Officers and others and enquired them. He expressed anguish at the violence committed by the Officials. He expressed to recommend for the suspension of the accused officials. The news daily Enadu covered that the lands in dispute belongs to Revenue department as per the report of the Tahasildar/MRO of the concerned Mandal i.e., Rudravaram. It also covered the news that atrocity is registered against the Forest Officials as per the statement of CI of Police of III Town PS,Nandyal. The ANDHRA JYOTHI published the statement of Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi General Secretary Mr.M.D. Anand Babu requesting to stop attacks on dalits. The Sakshi published a vital news that the Joint survey conducted by both Revenue/Forest departments revealed that the lands belongs to Revenue department. The Tahsildar of the concerned Mandal openly said that the Forest Dept should show proofs if they have anything to claim the lands.

19-7-2009 ANDHRA JYOTHI covered the visit of General Secretary, State Human Rights Forum,Sri Balagopal in the main issue as state news.It also covered the news that atrocity is case registered against the forest officials basing on the order issued by the Dist.Collector.

20-7-2009 Vaartha News daily covered the news that the disputed lands belongs to revenue department basing on the statement of the Tahsildar.

21.-7-2007 Sakshi news daily covered the news that the Dist.Collector recommended for the suspension of the Forest Officials. It also covered that the dispute still continues in between the 2 departments. Eenadu covered that the, lands belongs to Forest Dept as per the survey of the Forest Officers Association. ANDHRA JYOTHI covered the news of the visit of Forest Officers Association members to the disputed lands. Vaartha news daily carried a statement of the Fact Finding Team conducted by the OPDR team demanding to lift the cases foisted against the dalits of Yellavathula village. It also covered the Statement of Forest Officers Association President that the lands belonging to Forest Dept.

The Press covered the press meet at the Guest House, Allagadda in which the Fact Finding Team comprising members from National Dalit Forum, National Dalit Rights Federation,Local NGOs,lead by Mr.VA.Vinod Kumar, Advocate, AP High Court.

Eenadu covered the news as “There is necessity of comprehensive survey on assigned lands in the district’ – Vartha covered the message that stringent action should be taken against the accused Forest Officials – Andhra Bhoomi covered that the attacks on dalits is inhuman –Vaartha reiterated tour demand that all the assigned lands in the district should be surveyed aas many atrocities are mainly connected to dalit land rights. ANDHRA JYOTHI covered the message that the accused unleashed violence on dalits thinking that they are officials.

Photographs:

Taken along with the victims during the interaction with the members of the Fact Finding Team.

Sources: 1.Press & Electronic Media Reports 2.FIRs, Charges sheets, 3.Pass Books etc.,4.Individual statements recorded from the victims, Officials etc.,

Signatures

Sri Munirathna, Convenor, VA.Vinod Kumar,Advocate

National Dalith Forum,Chittoor AP Hogh Court,Hyderabad

Sri Sreeramulu, Dist Convenor, Sri Venkata Subbaiah,President,

National Dalit Forum ,Chittoor Chaitanya YuvAndhra Jyothiana

Sangham,Chagalamarri.

Sri Obulesu, President,

Mani Rural Development

Society,Rudravaram



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