In tiny Karnataka hamlet, 180-metre road laid by Rahul Gandhi to end tensions

in tiny karnataka hamlet, 180-metre road laid by rahul gandhi to end tensions

The murder case was handed to the Central Bureau of Investigation and 20 of the 23 accused were eventually convicted. (HT Photo)

Badanavalu (Mysuru): Passing through Karnataka’s Mysuru on the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday inaugurated a 180-metre road that was paved by his party as a gesture aimed to end tensions between two caste groups in Badanavalu, a tiny hamlet off the Mysuru-Chamarajanagara highway.

Gandhi laid a few bricks to complete the road and invited people from the two communities for lunch and said that he hoped that it will help reduce the animosity that has continued for three decades.

Three Dalits were killed by members of the upper-class Lingayat community on March 25, 1993, who objected to their entry into the Siddeshwara temple. In retaliation, the Dalits set the homes of Lingayats on fire in nearby Ummathur.

The murder case was handed to the Central Bureau of Investigation and 20 of the 23 accused were eventually convicted. On November 4, 2010, they were sentenced to life imprisonment.

But the punishment did not help improve the strained relations between members of the two communities.

“This (laying of road) may appear symbolic, but this harmony will have an impact on the rest of the region. The Bharat Jodo yatra is an honest effort to reunite the people,” Priyank Kharge, the chairman of the Karnataka Congress communication cell, said on Sunday.

N Vishwanath, a 72-year-old member of the Dalit community, said the two communities hadn’t used the road that divided the two communities. But Vishwanath underlined that it wasn’t that the two were “enemies”. There hasn’t been a single clash in the village after the 1993 clashes, he added.

He underlined the lunch invite from Rahul Gandhi was the first time that members of the two communities sat and shared a meal at the same table.

BN Manjunath, Badanavalu gram panchayat member, hoped everyone will be able to move on. “The road has been unused and is full of wild vegetation. Now that the animosity appears to have come to an end and both communities will seek to rebuild relationships. The visit by Rahul Gandhi has helped life spirits,” he said.

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