PUCL, January 2004

Brutal murder of a dalit leader, Birusanti Obanna in Andhra Pradesh
(Based on the report prepared by KNPS fact-finding team consisting of D. Prabhakar, State President and Subbarayudu, District Secretary of KNPS And other local activists.)

Mr.Birusanti Obanna (40), a dalit leader, was brutally murdered by the Reddy upper caste leaders, known popularly as factionists in Rayalaseema region. He is a well-known dalit leader of Koilkuntla area of Kurnool district and also the district Executive committee member of Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samiti. Obanna^Òs body was found on 22.01.04 under Erravagu culvert in between Bijinavemula and Kopperla villages. Obanna was stabbed in his stomach, chest and head. His face was burnt with acid. The relatives of Obanna came to know about the murder of Obanna only on 23.01.04 after reading a small news item in Eenadu daily.

Obanna, a son of Musalanna (late) and Ribukamma, is a native of Ramireddy palle village in Sanjamala Mandal, Kurnool district. He was born in a poor mala (scheduled caste) family. He passed B.Sc in 1983 from a college in Ananthapur. All his sisters and brothers got married and are living separately. He has been living with his mother after the death of his wife some years ago. He has taken up several issues of Dalits in the area .He has been associated with the Federation of Ambedkar youth Organizations, Gani Karmika Sangam, Rythu-coolie Hakkula Sangham and presently Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samiti.

He has taken up several issues such as the house sites for SC/ST/BCs, Ration cards, caste discrimination and so on. Particular mention may be made of the following issues: i) the reopening of a factory of Polish stones belonging to the Scheduled castes of Kolimigundla mandal. The factory was closed due to the politics and pressure of the local feudal lords. Obanna fought for the reopening of the factory. ii) The other important issue is the struggle for one-acre land occupied and enjoyed by Tulasi Reddy, a local leader of Telugu Desam party. Obanna and other dalit youth represented the matter to the Collector and other authorities and got the occupied land back to Mala Chenchanna in 1997.This struggle was a big blow to the domination of Tulasi Reddy and other local reddys. iii) Obanna demanded for the representation of Dalits in the Watershed committee of the government in his village Ramreddy palle. The Upper caste Reddys rejected the demand for Dalit representation and gave up the works worth Rs.20 lakhs.

The Reasons for Obanna's murder

Obanna's activities angered the Reddys in the area. He was threatened several times by the Reddys.Obanna did not bother about the threats and continued to work for dalits. The immediate cause to the murder of Obanna is the land issue of Mallu Savitri w/o Padmanabha Reddy (late). Savitri came to know that Obanna fought for the land of Mala Chenchanna occupied by Tulasi Reddy of Ramireddy palle. The Same Tulasi Reddy also forced Savitri to sell 5.2 acres of the patta land (in the same area of chenchanna^Òs one acre) registered in the name of her minor children in 1993. Recently Obanna represented the matter to the District Collector and Superintendent of Police. He pointed out that Savitri, the guardian of her minor children, has no legal powers to sell the land. The District Authorities asked Tulasi Reddy to hand over the land to the children of Savitri.When Tulasi Reddy did not hand over the land, Obanna got a court order and stopped the quarrying of black stone in the land.

Tulasi Reddy incurred a loss of Rs.15,000 a month. This action of Obanna angered Tulsi reddy and his relatives. Obanna filed a complaint with the C.I. Rami Reddy stating that Tulasi Reddy and his relatives may kill him.

According to our fact finding team, Manchala Tulasi Reddy and his relatives Manchala Nagi Reddy, Maddileti Reddy alias Papodu murdered Obanna in Savitri^Òs house in Koilkuntla on 20th January 2004. The Police identified the body of Obanna on 22.01.04. The same day, Mr.Rami Reddy, the C.I. of Koilkuntla, went to Ramireddy palle and picked up Tulsi Reddy and others of Obanna about the murder. It is surprising that he did not inform the relatives. The relatives came to know about Obanna^Òs murder on 23 rd morning through the newspaper.

The Police identified Savitri^Òs house as the place of murder and noted blood marks on the walls of the house. They filed a case under IPC 302 and did mention the names of Tulsireddy, Nagi Reddy and China Maddileti Reddy as culprits. . The Culprits move freely threatening the witnesses and the relatives of Obanna.The C.I.Rami Reddy, acting as the agent of the culprits, refused to book the case under SC/ST (POA) Act. The culprits Tulasi Reddy, Nagi Reddy and Maddileti Reddy are members of Karra Subba Reddy (Telugu Desam Party) faction. The Police and the TDP government support these faction leaders and their followers who threaten and kill people to continue their political domination. The Local Press persons reported the murder as a case of a murder of an unknown person. They stopped publishing any other version about the murder even after attending our press conferences.

Obanna is a very popular leader of Dalits and other poorer sections in Koilkuntla region of Kurnool District. He is well known to the reporters and to the Police. His death passed off as a non-event to the Press. The Police and the Press suggest that the factionists pressurize them. This is the state of Rayalaseema.

The family members of Obanna and We submitted a representation to the District Collector and addressed a Press conference on 25.01.04 in Kurnool.Sadly, the local reporters in Koilkuntla and the Kurnool reporters did not report our press conference. We have submitted a representation to The Director, National Commission for SCs and STs, Hyderabad. We are planning a programme of action to bring the culprits to book and get the compensation to the dependent mother of Obanna.

State Secretary
Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samiti (KNPS)
CIEFL quarters

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