Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) condemns the attacks upon chithralekha, a dalit woman auto driver from Payannu, Kerala. WSS urges the local administration, in particular the collector, to take immediate action for justice for chithralekha. Chithralekha has been repeatedly attacked by CITU/DYFI autodrivers since 2005. This group of Savarna and obc men have tried to run her over with an auto in 2005 and burnt her auto later in the year; attacked her husband with a knife in 2006; and beaten her as well as her husband, daughter and brother-in-law in three separate attacks in 2010. In 2013 her husband was almost run over by a bus; later in the year a group of 30 men attacked her and her family at home; and in another attack in 2013 her husband was beaten and implicated in a legal case.
Most recently in 2014, DYFI attacked her house and threatened the family in retaliation for a squabble about a goat wandering into her compound and eating her plants. A goat wandered into her compound from the goat farm behind her house and chithralekha tied it up and said she would return it when the owner comes. A small incident like this, ended up in a large group of 11 dyfi workers turning up at her house and throwing stones at it to intimidate her.Once again instead of a complaint being registered under the SC/ST atrocities act, chithralekha and her husband were implicated in an attempt to murder case (IPC 380) after three days. Her husband Sreeshkanth spent a month in jail while chithralekha managed to get anticipatory bail.
This lack of redressal under the SC/ST atrocities act despite several incidents of chithralekha and her family being attacked, beaten, and her livelihood threatened is completely unacceptable. It sends a clear message that the state refuses to take the SC/ST atrocities act seriously. If the Kerala government can not commit to justice for the dalit community despite such clear cut and repeated attacks, then it signals an alarming state of affairs.
WSS demands that:
1. All cases against DYFI and CITU workers who have been harassing her should be tried by the special court in Kannur set up for the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
2. All false cases against chithralekha and husband Sreeshkanth must be withdrawn.
3. Compensation to be given for loss of livelihood and property.
4. For neglect of duty and slapping false cases, Payannur CI Abdul Rahman and SI Shaji Pattery must be tried and punished under section 4 of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
5. Protection must be given to her and family to ensure right to earn livelihood without intimidation.