Chitralekha, a Dalit auto driver, was in the news last year for her lonely crusade against the upper class political domination in Payyanur. She is once again on the warpath demanding justice. But, this time her protest is in front of the state secretariat.
Her demand is to get a 5-cent plot of land, which was promised by the Chief Minister for her, near Kannur where she lives. She has been protesting in front of the secretariat for the last eight days. But, she says no one has come out to find solution to her demands.
“We are fighting for our rights. Everyone is interested to raise their voice for the upper class. They are keen to find solutions for their problems. No one is ready to talk for the marginalised groups like Dalits. However, we won’t surrender,” says Chitralekha.
Chitralekha had staged a 122-day dharna in front of the Kannur Collectorate last year. The strike was called off after the district collector was directed by the chief minister to assign 5 cents of land to her.
“We were being subjected to continuous attacks by the CPI(M) activists in Edat near Payyanur. They didn’t allow me to run the auto rickshaw to earn my livelihood. I launched a 122-day dharna in front of the Kannur Collectorate against the backdrop of this,” said the Dalit woman, who belongs to the Pulaya community.
“No progress has been made in implementation of the decision. The district administration acted in an apathetic and inhumane manner,” she alleged.
She says she will continue her protest until her demands are met.
Here is the full text of complaint submitted by Chitralekha to the chief minister:
I am an auto driver belonging to a Scheduled caste community. I and my family sat on strike (Raapakal samaram) for 122 days outside the Kannur collectorate protesting the casteism and violence that the CPI(M) has unleashed on us for the last 10 years. The district administration could not accept the demands we put forward. Later, after a meeting with the Honourable Chief Minister, he instructed the District Collector to allocate us a 5-cent plot of land in any panchayat near Kannur town. The sketch, plan and the land records of the plot identified for us were made available to us. Thereafter, we ended our strike. Although a year has passed since our demands were accepted, there has been no action whatsoever on the promises that were made. Meanwhile, based on a fake report by CPI(M)-affiliated government employees, the Honourable Chief Minister himself made the baseless remark that I own acres of land in Edat. I understand this as part of an approach of untouchability practised by the government towards people of the Scheduled Caste communities. Apart from the land granted to my grandmother by the government as ‘hutment-dwelling’ (kudikidappu) rights, the report made by the Honourable District Collector has nowhere mentioned any ‘acres of land’ owned by me.
If I did have these ‘acres of land’, I wouldn’t have had to strike either in front of the district collectorate for 122 days, or against the CPI(M) for ten years. I would have been able to sell that land and live comfortably in a safe place. Why does a popular Chief Minister like you accept such misinformation given by officials without verification of facts and state that I have ‘acres of land’? If you cannot solve this one issue of a woman from the Pulaya community, how will you address the issues of the entire Scheduled Caste community?
I suspect that in my case, the government is into sort of ‘adjustment’ with the CPI(M) party members. If I do have ‘acres of land’ in Edat, I request the government to acquire it as soon as possible and use it for the uplift of the downtrodden people.
Sir, I understand that a Scheduled caste woman like me will not get justice. Hence, for people like us to get justice, there is no recourse other than going on a strike. Through my struggle, I have come to understand that all political parties equally ‘use’ people of Scheduled Caste communities for their own ends and discard them without fairness, justice, or any assurance of protection. You also promised that all the fake cases filed against me and my husband will be dismissed. No action was taken on any of those assurances, and instead, your government has included his name in the Goonda list, and is trying to banish him from this place.
Acting on the complaint filed by a former Sub Inspector Shaji Pateri, a CPI(M) sympathizer, under the section 107 (1022/13), the honourable Sub-Collector Navjot Ghosh has revoked his bail and has issued an arrest warrant against my husband. This decision is based on three counter-petitions filed against me and my husband. The accused, who launched casteist attacks on us forcing us to leave our native place have faced no action and roam freely and safely. A year after my strike, there has been no positive action, and in the current circumstance where I and my family find no other way of securing justice, I would like to painfully inform you that we are going ahead with a new strike from the last week of December.
Chitralekha E, Kannur.