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Chithralekha’s dharna draws wide support
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April 24, 2014

Today Chithralekha, the Dalit woman autodriver, who has been fighting the CPM/CITU in Kannur from 2005, entered the fifth day of her dharna, in front of the Kannur collectorate.

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Her sit-in dharna in front of the collectorate was able to draw the attention of various Dalit, Muslim and Human Rights Organizations in Kannur and Kasarogode. More than 200 people and numerous organizations (many of them Dalit groups) visited the dharna site to express their solidarity in the last 5 days.

Major political organizations like BSP, Solidarity Youth Movement, SDPI and workers’ unions like SITU (Swathanthrya Thozhilali Union; Independent Workers’ Union) and INTUC also visited her pandhal to extend their support.

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The BSP and SITU and few other smaller Dalit organizations also gave press statements condemning the violence against Chithra and expressing all their support to her dharna.

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Today, things took a crucial turn , when at 3 pm, numerous organizations came together at the site of the dharna heeding Chithralekha’s call for a joint action committee to continue the struggle. At this meeting, they decided to form a joint front called the Samara Sahaaya Samithi (Struggle Support Committee).

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At around 7 pm, the Collector invited Chithralekha and members from this joint action committee for a discussion. After a very long discussion, in which the sub-collector and the Kannur SP, Unniraja was present, the following assurances were given to her by the collector:

* All cases in which Chithralekha and her husband were falsely implicated will be re investigated under the Kannur SP, Unni Raja

* The SP will ensure that Chithralekha is given full protection to drive her auto-rickshaw and earn her livelihood in Payannur, without being attacked constantly by the CITU/DYFI

* Chithralekha will be compensated for the losses incurred and the collector will immediately allocate money from any specific SC/ST fund for the same

* Chithralekha’s grandmother’s Agricultural Workers Pension will be reinstated.

The collector has also agreed to pass on the signed minutes of this meeting to Chithralekha tomorrow. If she receives these signed minutes tomorrow with the collector’s assurances as stated above, she will call for a press meeting and withdraw her dharna. If not, the joint action committee has decided to further strengthen her agitation in all possible ways.

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Names of those who accompanied Chithralekha to the collector’s meeting today:

Ayyapan Master, Dalit Activist

Munderi Balakrishnan, Dalit Activist

Ilyas T P, Solidarity Youth Movement

Faisal Madaayi, Solidarity Youth Movement

Lakshmanan, Independent Auto Workers’ Union ( SITU), Kannur

Kasthuri Devan, Advocate, SITU, Secretary, Independent Auto Workers’ Union (SITU), Kannur

Shaji Mulooli, Chairman Janashakthi, Koothuparambu

P K Premkumar, Kannur Educational Society

Jaseela C V, Chithralekha Samrakshana Samithi, Kerala

Rajesh Paalangaat, General Secretary, Kerala Manaveeya Saamskaarika Vedhi, Kannur

 K K Sajeevan, Member, Dalit League, Kannur 

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