This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How Land Continues To Be A Tool For Dalit Oppression: The Case Of Pathapally

More from Abhishek Jha

By Abhishek Jha

Sometime around the second week of May, 45 Madiga families in Pathapally village of Telangana were driven out of the land that had been allotted to them by the government, by members of the Boya (upper caste) community. This was allegedly a reaction to an earlier incident, where Raghuram, a Dalit, had tried to access the village temple. After driving the Dalit families out, “members of the Boya community then proceeded to bury their dead in this land to ensure that the displaced families cannot return,The Hindu reported. The report also says that the Revenue Divisional Officer and the DSP pulled down the huts and a shop owned by Dalits, alleging that they are encroachment, although they have documents to prove otherwise. They have also been denied water from a reservoir.

Land As A Tool For Empowerment Of Dalits

Land is often recognised as a tool of socio-economic empowerment. In a publication titled ‘Strategies Towards Combating Dalit Marginalisation‘, which documents the proceedings of a national symposium held on 11th and 12th July, 2014 in Hyderabad, a number of strategies are listed. One such suggestions says, “The distribution of land to Dalit and other marginalised communities remains largely unfulfilled agenda. Special effort should be made to provide land to Dalit households.” Another asks for “special assistance to Dalit women” in terms of “provision of land, housing and credit.

That land plays an important part in empowerment of Dalits and that the symposium’s strategies were founded in reason is seconded by a report published by NIDR in 2013 that studies land distribution and land purchase programmes of Andhra Pradesh. Mahabubnagar district (now in Telangana), in which Pathapally is located, comes first under land purchase programme of APSCCFC (Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Cooperative Finance Corporation) and second under land purchase programme of SERP (Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty). “Five out of 27 beneficiaries (18.5 per cent) have started sending their children to private schools nearby the village (Table 16). The change in percentage towards education was 85… There is an increase in expenditure towards health also…a change was observed in expenditure towards food items like milk, eggs, vegetables and non-vegetarian dishes (72 per cent),” the report states citing the change in socio-economic status of the beneficiaries of APSCCFC who got land because of the programme.

What The Disputes And Violence Over Land Says

The attack on the Madiga families and their land then not only exposes casteist hatred present within the dominant caste but also speaks of a structured manner in which caste hierarchy is maintained. In an inversion of the case of Pathapally, in 2006, Surekha Bhotmange and three of her family members from Khairlanji village of Maharashtra were murdered because they resisted gradual occupation of their land by members of the upper caste. The aforementioned Symposium concurs with this observation. It says that, “In early 1990s, the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes identified factors such as land disputes and nonpayment of minimum wages to be the main cause of atrocities” on Dalits.

The structure of this violence can be understood from the observations stated above. Once Dalits own land, they become financially independent and are able to educate themselves. Clearly these factors make them more likely to ask for their rights, resist the upper-caste oppression, and so on. This landlessness forced by violence pushes them back again into the position of dependence on the upper-castes and subsequent oppression by them. A. Ramaiah, professor at TISS, wrote a paper using NCRB data on crimes against Dalits, where he cites the following reason too for Dalits not being able to use the The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act: “most of the Dalits are landless and depend on the very castes that violate their rights and dignity to earn their living. So, though there are laws to their support, they would not dare using them to protect their source of living.” It is no surprise to know then that Surekha Bhotmange, who was an educated Dalit woman, had to be eliminated by upper-caste men. It also tells us that the problems that the Dalits of Pathapally are facing is part of a larger problem. It needs systemic changes.

You must be to comment.
  1. Communal

    Can’t you take your Caste share of land from India to build a separate nation?

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By Aditya Lakshmi

By Uday Che

By Abhishek Verma

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below