The Dalit community staged an overnight dharna in the village of Malakanahalli, Haveri district, Karnataka on Wednesday, demanding action against the “upper-caste Hindus” for restricting them from using a newly constructed road. Dalit residents were allegedly hindered from accessing the newly constructed roads in the village, citing caste discrimination.
Those associated with the incident, in a complaint filed with the tehsildar, said that the Kuruba community (belonging to the upper caste), placed stones and wooden poles barring the Valmiki community (Dalits), from accessing it. Following this, a dharna was organised advocating for immediate intervention from the government ensuring their rights to the village road.
In response to the demonstration, Hanumanthappa Shirahatti, Ranebennur tehsildar, along with social welfare officer Kauser Reshma and the Police, hastened to the village and had a conversation with the representatives of both communities to solve the issue. The meeting concluded with a decision to remove the makeshift barriers. The officials warned of legal consequences if this persists or occurs again in the future.
“I, along with social welfare officials and police, visited the spot and immediately ordered the removal of stones and wooden poles placed across the road,” Tahsildar Shirahatti told the Hindustan Times, saying that no one had the right to block the public road.
The road was reportedly funded under the legislator’s area development program, about a year ago.
Ravindra Gowda Patil, Valmiki community leader, said “The state government laid a concrete road last year for the usage of all villagers, but the Kuruba community blocked the road by putting stones and bushes on the road,”.
On the other hand, Kuruba community leader and member of the Madenur Gram Panchayat, Beerappa Kenchappa Kariyannanavar said that the restriction for this road was because the Valmiki community was blocking another road.