[This is a translation of the statement on the Lakshimpeta massacre issued by social, human rights organizations and activists on 17th June 2012 – Round Table India]
On 12th June, 2012, caste arrogant Toorpu Kapus, misidentified as BCs, carried out a murderous attack on the Malas of Lakshimpeta village in Vangara mandal of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh. This inhuman attack was not an unplanned, minor incident. And it is definitely not an event caused by vendetta or a conflict arising out of some land related dispute between two groups, not directly connected with caste discrimination. This disinformation, spread with the intent to suppress the main reason of caste discrimination and reduce the gravity of the heinous attack and to divert the attention of progressive social, democratic forces, is not true. This was a pre-planned, carefully orchestrated one-sided massacre by caste arrogant Kapus. The fact that only Dalits were killed and injured in this violent attack provides ample proof of the true nature of the attack.
The gruesome attack on the Malas in Lakshimpeta happened on the lines of the earlier attacks in Karamchedu, Chunduru and Papili. Our fact finding committee brought out this truth. The Kapu women, with chili powder wrapped in their palloos, along with Kapu men carrying knives, axes, spears and crude bombs prepared to carry out this attack in broad daylight, at 7 o’clock in the morning. While the Kapu women threw chili powder in the eyes of the Dalits running away in fear, the men threw crude bombs and cut them with axes. They axed those hiding inside homes by breaking down the doors. The houses in the village became pools of blood. They dragged people eating breakfast in homes preparing to go out for work into the road and while some stood on their hands and legs to immobilize them, others stabbed them with spears. Chittari Appadu (35), Buradu Sundar Rao (32), Nivirti Venkat Rao (40) and Nivirti Sangamesu (40)* died in the attack. Bodduri Papaiah and Bodduri Bhogesu are fighting for their lives in the Srikakulam government hospital. 28 people, including 5 women, are undergoing treatment in the King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam, for various serious injuries including broken arms, legs and damaged eyes. The four dead Dalits have no eyeballs. The post mortem report says Nivirti Sangamesu suffered 42 stab injuries from spears, and died from injuries to the brain: an 8 cm deep knife injury, and another 6 cm deep injury. This reveals how inhuman and gruesome the attack was.
There has been an attempt to project this one-sided massacre which went on from 7 in the morning until 11, as a clash or a violent conflict between two communities as a result of some old enmity or dispute. This is a planned, one-sided attack carried out with political support by caste arrogant Kapus against the Malas of Lakshimpeta. We condemn the false propaganda being spread in the media that this was a violent clash between two groups which occurred because the Kapus tried to stop the Dalits who were tilling the disputed land and both groups were injured and four dalits had died in the violence that followed.
This massacre occurred as a part of caste oppression
1. Lakshimpeta was one of the villages affected when the Madduvalasa reservoir was built on the Vamsadhara river, ten years ago. As a rehabilitation measure, the Government built new homes for the villagers. There are 85 Kapu families, 72 Dalit families and 12 other BC families in the village. Only a 6 feet road separates the Dalit homes from the majority Kapu homes. The Kapus were not able to digest the fact that the Dalits who should be living outside the village were living beside their own homes.
2. Around 250 acres of land which was acquired by the government in Devakawada village, and which was not submerged in the reservoir, was adjacent to Lakshimpeta. For the last ten years, the Kapus had been cultivating 190 acres of that land, while the Dalits tilled the remaining 60 acres. The Kapus felt this was an insult added to injury because the Dalits were not just living beside their own homes, they were also cultivating their own lands instead of being farm labourers dependent on the Kapus.
3. For the last seven years, the Kapus have been harassing the Dalits in various ways. Every time they were attacked or humiliated, the Dalits have been regularly reporting to the local police station in Vangara. The Dalits were not afraid. Some complaints were settled in the police station itself. As the police did not register the complaints under the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Kapus grew bolder.
4. The former Mandal Praja Parishad President Botsa Vasudeva Naidu managed to stop all kinds of pensions being received by the Dalits from the government. He ensured that not a single project was undertaken in the village under the MNREGS scheme. He felt that economic deprivation would drive them out of the village. But the Dalits who believed in hard work continued to survive in the village by working on their lands. This massacre was a last-ditch attempt to drive the Dalits out of the village.
5. The Kapus attacked the Dalits who were tilling the land in 2010. The police did not pay any attention to it, even then. No one, from the Mandal Revenue Officer to the Collector, took any action to solve the land issue. An order passed by the courts two years ago that no one should enter the lands have left the fields fallow. The Kapus, reasoning that they were separated from the land because of the Dalits, developed a grudge and attacked the Dalits with the intention of eliminating them from the village.
From the very beginning, the former MPP of Vangara, Botsa Vaudeva Naidu, and Aavula Srinivasa Rao always took the side of the Kapus. Many times, they publicly instigated the Kapus saying ‘How long will you remain quiet when the Mala ba#$@8s are tilling our Kapus’ lands (the lands originally belonged to the Kapus of Devakawada village)? If they live together with us, work along with us, what would be the difference between them and us? How long will you sit quietly, wearing your bangles?’ They are all followers of Botsa Satyanarayana (President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress unit). The Kapus of Lakshimpeta have the support of Botsa Vasudeva Naidu and the blessings of Botsa Satyanarayana. That is one of main reasons for the brazenness with which the Kapus carried out this massacre. Botsa Satyanarayana is also the reason for the Revenue officials’ support for the Kapus. The Kapus’ plan was that by eliminating the Dalits who were living beside them as social equals, obliterating the difference between the village and the Dalitwada, there would be no one to oppose their claims on the 250 acres of land. This was a pre-planned attack, not a violent conflict arising out of the Dalits entering the lands. This was a hunt conducted by human beasts against the powerless Malas. This massacre occurred because of the negligence and discriminatory attitude of the police and revenue officials and with full backing of Botsa Satyanarayana.
Even a week after the Lakshimpeta massacre, not one of the 71 accused, including the main actor Botsa Vasudeva Naidu and the direct instigator Aavula Srinivasa Rao, has been arrested until now. If all the accused are not arrested by June 20th, we will intensify the agitation, across the state.
• Action should be taken against the M.R.O, D.R.O., Collector, Circle Inspector and DSP who were indirectly responsible for this attack under the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
• Botsa Satyanarayana, who has provided protection to the killers, should be removed from the post of Minister and the presidentship of the Pradesh Congress.
• The Deputy Chief Minister Damodara Rajanarasimha and the MLA of the constituency, Kondru Murali, who is also a Minister, should both resign accepting ethical responsibility for the incident.
• The case should be probed by a sitting judge of the High Court. Unlike Chunduru and Karamchedu, steps should be taken to ensure that Lakshimpeta is rendered quicker justice.
• Toorpu Kapus who are now recognized as BCs should be removed from the list of Backward Classes.
Duddu Prabhakar (State President, Kula Nirnoolana Porata Samithi)
U. Sambasiva Rao (Chairman, BC Mahajana Samithi)
J. Koti (State Secretary, Praja Kala Mandali)
B. Lakshmaiah (State General Secretary, Kula Nirnoolana Porata Samithi)
Radha (State Secretary, Chaitanya Mahila Sangham)
* Two more injured victims have died in hospital since the 17th.
[Translated from Telugu by Kuffir]