Madikeri: A tiny Madikeri village is tense after local Dalits clashed with the police over an illegal road naming exercise on April 22. As many as five Dalits and three policemen were injured in the clash which occurred on Saturday.
According to reports, on April 20, Dalits in Palemadu, a village in Madikeri taluk, organised Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations during which they renamed several roads in the village after personalities such as Dr BR Ambedkar, Tipu Sultan, Savitri Phule, Shashu Maharaj and others.
The unauthorised renaming angered the other villagers, who then complained to the PDO of Hoddur GP, Chondakki. The PDO along with the help of the police removed the boards and banners announcing the new names on Saturday. Dalits alleged the police desecrated Ambedkar.
As news spread, Dalits and communists staged a protest over the alleged desecration that lasted till the next day.
Kodava Samaja Association President Mathanda Monnappa condemned the naming of roads. He said a section of people were testing the patience of Kodavas by naming roads after Tipu Sultan, who had committed several atrocities on Kodavas.
Deputy Commissioner R V Dsouza termed the protest "meaningless". "The district administration has provided sites and graveyard land to Dalits three months ago," he added.
District Minister M R Sitaram said no one had a right to name roads or streets without the permission of the civic authorities.
Following the clash, Madikeri rural Police registered three separate cases following complaint by a resident.
The road naming exercise seems to have triggered by an incident that happened a few months ago. The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) had been granted a piece of land to build a stadium by the district administration. But the Dalit community said the land included a graveyard and opposed the move. But a section of villagers supported the stadium following which the district administration provided another piece of land to be used for burials. The simmering tension seems to have led to the road naming.