Ground Report | New Delhi: Tsunduru Massacre of Dalits; It has been 30 years since the date of the Tsunduru massacre in Andhra Pradesh on 6 August 1991. This is one of the most brutal lynchings of the Dalit community. A massacre that sparked a new wave of Dalit movements across the state.
Tsunduru Massacre of Dalits
eight Dalits Jaladi – Immaniel (35), Jaladi Mattaiah (40), Mallela Subba Rao (35), Mandru Ramesh (21), Jaladi Isaaku (25), Angalakuduru Rajamohan Rao (24), Sankuru Samson (28) and Devarapalli Jayaraju (29) were brutally hacked to death by close to 300 Reddy and Kapu men were brutally murdered in a small village. Several others were injured due to the planned attack by upper caste men.
Some of the bodies were decapitated, body parts separated and stuffed into sacks, while others were left with multiple stabs and wounds, and all were thrown into the Tungabhadra canal that flows through the village. Many others were chased, beaten, and tortured in various ways. One of the doctors who conducted the post-mortem of the dead bodies, Dr Ravi Kumar later committed suicide by hanging himself. The doctor is feared to be depressed at the horrific place of the mutilated bodies.
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The criminals neither admitted their crimes nor did they show any signs of remorse. The decision by the High Court Bench was to overturn the sentence awarded by the Special Court at Tsunduru, which would effectively set the accused free, indirectly indicating that although the caste-motivated mass attack on 8 Dalits was brutally murdered, they were killed by someone. Such a baseless decision, completely devoid of the social context of India, made on the gross violation of rights and denial of justice to the rights of the downtrodden, is at least dangerous. It was yet another day when the judicial system had again failed the Dalit victims with their inherent upper caste bias.
Decision was challenged in Supreme Court
As expected, the decision sparked outrage among Dalit groups. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court. The top court stayed all further proceedings in the cases related to the Tsundur murder case. However, today it is 30 years and we are yet to see the day when the Reddy and Kapu killers of Tsunduru were truly brought to justice.
Over the next few days, bodies were being recovered by Dalits, who went in search of those who went missing during the attack. All the dead bodies were traced by the Dalits themselves without the help of the police. That’s when the police stopped denying that there was a major incident in Tsundur. By the time the bodies were found, they were badly swollen and decomposed. The bodies were taken to the Government Hospital in Tenali and by this time, most of the Dalit families had fled to Tsundur and took shelter in Tenali.
The Dalits then returned to Tsundur to fight back and demand justice, and they did so through peaceful protests and hunger strikes. (Tsunduru Massacre of Dalits)
Hands were tied
Seeing the condition of the body of Madru Ramesh, his elder brother Mandru Parishad Rao suffered a heart attack and died. Shortly after this, the doctors doing the postmortem were unable to digest the brutality of the murders and the condition of the dead bodies, being a Dalit, so he returned home and committed suicide by hanging. The Dalits then returned to Tsundur to fight back and demand justice, and they did so through peaceful protests and hunger strikes.
In one such hunger strike, weeks after the massacre, the same police force, whose ‘hands were tied’, opened fire at the scene, saying that Naxals were present in the group. In firing, he shot dead a young Dalit boy named Komerla Anil Kumar, one of the very few who had not only witnessed the killings with his own eyes, but was politically aware, brilliantly. Were able to present an articulate and real picture. What happened that day? Had he been alive, he would have proved to be a strong witness in the courts and outside. This clearly shows where the loyalty of the police lies and how far they are ready to go.