Peace returned to Andhra Pradesh’s Garagaparru village, where a dispute over installation of an Ambedkar statue had led to acrimony between Dalits and an upper caste group over the last three months.
The state government today paid Rs 1 lakh each to 385 Dalit families of Garagaparru in West Godavari district, and announced a slew of development plans for the village.
Social Welfare Minister Nakka Anand Babu, Labour Minister Pithani Satyanarayana and SC Corporation chairman Jupudi Prabhakar visited the village and brokered peace between the warring factions after handing over cheques to the Dalit families.
The government promised to undertake development works in the village, including laying of cement concrete roads, construction of drains and a separate drinking water tank, removal of encroachments at the local burial ground etc.
House sites and permanent houses were also promised to all eligible families.
The ministers, who held talks with the peace committee at the mandal parishad development office at Palakoderu, agreed to the construction of Ambedkar Bhavan in Garagaparru.
There had been unrest in the village for about three months between the upper caste Kshatriyas and members of the Mala community (a scheduled caste group in AP).
It all started when the Kshatriyas allegedly objected to the SC community’s move to install a statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar on the village tank bund.
Following this, the Dalits stopped attending to agricultural works in the fields of the upper caste members, causing bad blood among the villagers.
The government had to issue a special order for the installation of Ambedkar’s statue on the village tank bund since such a move is prohibited under a Supreme Court order.
“I compliment both the sides (Dalits and Kshatriyas) for ending the acrimony. Restoring peace in the village has always been the endeavour of the government and accordingly we held talks with the two sides.
“We are happy that they came forward to restore normalcy in the village,” Babu told reporters.
The minister complimented the police led by Bhimavaram Rural Inspector Nagaraju for their efforts to bring in bonhomie between the two groups.
The issue had escalated as political parties intervened in the matter and promised to do everything for the Dalits.
The ministers, who visited the village over a month ago, announced a “compensation” of Rs one lakh to each Dalit family. The promise, however, was fulfilled only late last night.