Telangana: Booked for theft, Dalit woman dies in custody; Oppn parties demand action

Hyderabad: A horrid incident transpired in the Yadadri-Bhongir district of Telangana last week when a Dalit woman died in police custody allegedly due to the injuries inflicted upon her.

48-year-old Mariyamma, a native from Khammam’s Komatlagudem village, was booked by Addagudur police based on a complaint of theft by her employers, several reports mentioned. Mariyamma’s daughter Swapna and other family members alleged that she was tortured by police officials in custody, after being picked up by them in ‘plain clothes’.

The next morning, she was found collapsed at a police station and was rushed to a nearby government hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

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The incident took place on June 18. Both Mariyamma and her son Udaykiran were taken to the police station on June 17 evening, where they were allegedly subjected to torture.

Though the Addagudur sub-inspector V Maheshwar, constables Rashid and Janaiah have now been suspended by the Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat, the incident created a furore with opposition parties demanding stringent action against those responsible and also blaming the state government.

Addressing the press on Tuesday, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Bhatti Vikramarka said that neither the chief minister nor a minister or MLA seems to be bothered about the alleged custodial death of a Dalit woman in their own state. “Life of a Dalit seems to be of no value to this government,” he said.

He went on to say that the atrocities against Dalits have increased over the last 7 years since the TRS government has come to power. He noted that their nonchalance in inquiring about such incidents is problematic, as in the case with attacks on Dalits in Sircilla, murder of the lawyer couple in Manthani.

Earlier in a letter to governor Tamilisai Sounderarajan, Vikramarka and TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy urged to take action and book those responsible for Mariyamma’s death under SC/ST atrocities act.

Leaders of Left parties and Dalit outfits too had similar demands, besides compensating Mariyamma’s family with Rs 25 lakh ex-gratia. Jignesh Mevani, MLA from Vadgam, Gujarat also highlighted the incident on Twitter.

The incident casts the spotlight on the systemic issue of custodial torture and police impunity in India, which directly targets marginalised communities. 

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