Former MP Harsha Kumar begins hunger strike to protest boycott of Dalits in Andhra village

Former Andhra MP G V Harsha Kumar began a hunger strike at his residence in Rajamahendravaram on Wednesday, to demand the arrest of the accused that subjected Dalits in Garagaparru village to a social boycott. 

The Hindu reported that the former Amalapuram MP was under house arrest from Wednesday as the police did not allow him or his family members to move out of the house.

The report adds that several personnel were posted outside his house, even as both ends of the street were barricaded, and vehicles were checked, before they were allowed on to the street. 

Stating that he had never witnessed a boycott at such a scale, Harsha Kumar claimed that he would not budge until his demands were met.

The latest development comes two days after a member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, K Ramulu, paid a visit to Christianpeta in Garagpparu village, in Andhra's West Godavari district, and recorded their statements.

After the visit, Ramulu confirmed that Dalits in the village had been subjected to social boycott by upper castes, and asked the district administration to take steps and restore normalcy in the village. 

The Dalits had alleged that they had not been getting any labour work for close to two months, and they were not being given agricultural land on lease, as some upper caste men had called for their social boycott.

The Dalits claimed that it all began after they wanted to install a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar, in their village.

They were allegedly denied permission by village elders, but went ahead and installed a statue on the night of April 24, only to see it removed soon, by unknown persons.

This sparked off massive protests in the village, with lower castes taking to the streets and staging roadblocks, until the issue came to the notice of the local media.

A police case has been registered against the accused under Section 341 (Wrongful Restraint), 506 r/w 34 (Criminal Intimidation) of the IPC, and the SC/ST(Prevention Of Atrocities) Act.

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