Men flee, village life wrecked

Chintamani lynchings

The plight of octogenarian Mallamma is pitiable. Both her sight and hearing are feeble. She is dependent on others for her daily chores.

Mallamma, who is now a destitute, lived with her son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren before the lynching incident.

The day lynching took place in Yerrakote was a black day in Mallamma’s life. Fearing police inquiry and reprisal, Mallamma’s family members, like the others in the village, fled home. Several of the villagers, who have locked up their homes, are not sure whether they would ever return. Moreover, those who fled on the day of lynching are unable to return due to the police presence in Yerrakote.

Since the day of lynching, Mallamma is without food and water. Her plight is accentuated by old age. Rendered weak by lack of food, Mallamma lies in front of her home, with no one to care for.

The police, who are stationed in the village for the past one week, are untouched by Mallamma’s misery.

Doddanarayanamma’s tale is no different. Unable to move because of an injured leg, she is awaiting the return of her son and daughter-in-law, who fled the village fearing police action. The sight of Doddanarayanamma, who is without food, can move anybody to tears.

State Human Rights Commission Chairman S R Nayak visited each and every home in the village. He got both Mallamma and Doddanarayanamma admitted to the hospital. He directed the deputy commissioner and tahsildar to provide them adequate food and treatment.

Nayak appealed to the other villagers to tend and help the old, till their family members return.

The situation is no different in more than 15 villages of Murugamalla hobli, where a deafening silence prevails. With the men in most of the villages fleeing, the question on everyone’s minds is what next?

Though they appealed to people who have fled to return, this has not had the desired effect.

Another worry is that the fleeing of these families will affect sowing activity in the village. Agriculture being the mainstay of the farmers, failure to sow the seeds could jeopardise their lives for the entire year.

But the fear of arrest is preventing villagers from returning in spite of their livelihood at stake.

The men are leading difficult lives out of home. Worries about their families back home is compounding the problems for the farmers.

Teachers at the schools and anganwadis are worried at the dropping attendance rates as the women are scared of sending their children to school.

Villagers are not convinced by the promises of leaders and the police that the latter would not arrest the men if they returned. The village elders say the future looks bleak 10 days after the massacre as, in their words, “police are looking at them as enemies”.

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