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Dalits and Adivasis

Attack On Church Leaves 20 Dalit Christians Injured in Telangana’s Rangareddy District

A violent attack in Janwada village of Telangana’s Rangareddy district on Tuesday, February 13, resulted in the injury of at least 20 Dalits, including two children. The attack, allegedly orchestrated by a 200-member mob from dominant caste groups such as Yadav, Mudiraj, and other Backward Class (BC) communities, reportedly affiliated with the Hindu extremist group Bajrang Dal, targeted Dalits from the Madiga community over a road widening dispute.

The incident occurred while Dalits were gathered for prayers in a church, during which the attackers, chanting slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, vandalized the crucifix, chairs, and the roof of the church.

According to police reports, tensions between Dalit Christians and dominant castes had arisen due to disagreements over road widening in the village. Dalits claimed that the road was encroaching upon the church’s land.

“The issue of road widening has been pending for years as the church has been objecting to the proposal,” a church member told a local news agency.

“When the workers arrived, there was a major scuffle between the opposing parties. A group of people attacked the church members, and vandalised the premises,” he alleged.

The altercation escalated when some church members objected to the road-laying process, leading to verbal abuse and casteist slurs from Talasari Maisah, a former Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) member overseeing the road works. Subsequently, the mob, armed with stones and gravel, attacked the church, injuring several Dalits.

The Mokila police registered a First Information Report (FIR) based on a complaint by K Balaiah, the head of the church. The FIR included charges such as rioting with deadly weapons, criminal trespass, deliberate acts intended to outrage religious beliefs, and criminal intimidation, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Six individuals, including the main accused Talari Maisaiah and Goudicharla Narsimha, have been arrested, while others remain at large. Following the attack, Dalit Christians staged protests, questioning the delay in arrests.

The village of Janwada, inhabited by Yadavas, Mudiraj, and other BC castes, has a significant Dalit population, with several reported instances of caste-based discrimination and violence in the past, including social boycotts and temple entry restrictions.

BSP leader Vijay Arya described the attack as pre-planned, attributing it to caste-based hatred and resentment towards affluent Dalits employed in the IT sector.

The incident has sparked outrage and renewed calls for justice and equality, highlighting the deep-rooted caste tensions prevalent in many parts of India.

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