A Dalit woman’s lone battle

Published: March 8, 2010 - 15:16 Updated: March 9, 2010 - 14:07

<p>Chitralekha epitomises the face of many poor, Dalit women fighting for their Right to Life and Livelihood in Kannur, Kerala. All this gutsy woman wanted was to drive her auto rickshaw peacefully but ended up in a long-drawn battle with CITU<br />Abhish K Bose Delhi<br /><br />"I am their target and they will stop harassing me only after I am finished," says Chitralekha- a poor, Dalit woman- who continues to suffer at the hands of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) activists, the trade union arm of CPM.&nbsp;<br /><br />What sparked a raging storm in Chitralekha's life was her decision to drive an auto rickshaw in a Hindu-dominated region of Payyannur in Kannur way back in March 2004. Since then, it has been an uphill task for Chitralekha to make ends meet. Interestingly, her husband, an auto rickshaw driver is also ostracised for marrying a Dalit woman.&nbsp;<br /><br />Chitralekha says that CITU activists regularly corner her and once even burnt down her auto rickshaw blaming her for 'immoral activities done in a state of drunkardness.' There were attempts on her life, when one CITU activist tried to mow her down under his auto rickshaw. Luckily, only her foot got hurt.<br /><br />As revealed by a fact finding team led by human rights activists and academicians like Gail Omvedt and Nivedita Menon, opinions from both sides were heard with regard to a violent incident on &nbsp;January 20, 2010. Chitralekha was abused and beaten first by CITU men and then by the police for alleged 'wanton behaviour after getting drunk,' when she drove to hospital to get medicines for her son. Hospital records prove the level of injuries inflicted on her that day, including a bleeding vagina.&nbsp;<br /><br />However, CITU denied these allegations. "She is an argumentative lady devoid of civilised behavior. Nobody will believe her stories," K Ragavan, President of CITU Payyannur Area Committee told <em>Hardnews</em>.<br /><br />In its final evaluation, the report acknowledges many more Chitralekhas in Kannur, who are waging similar battles against the dominating and patriarchal social order established by CPI (M) and its other affiliate organisations.</p>

Chitralekha epitomises the face of many poor, Dalit women fighting for their Right to Life and Livelihood in Kannur, Kerala. All this gutsy woman wanted was to drive her auto rickshaw peacefully but ended up in a long-drawn battle with CITU
Abhish K Bose Delhi

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