Sunday, December 3, 2023

Pamidipati Kotaiah: Murdered first by his killers, then by the Kamma Press

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Written by Dalit Marxism Collective

Highly respected Dalit activist Pamidipati Kotaiah Madiga, from Guntur, was killed on 6 July by unknown assailants.

His son was murdered last year.

According to reports, he had taken a woman to visit the State Women’s Commission Chairman. On their way back the two were waylaid by assailants and he was attacked. The motorbike they were traveling on was ambushed by the goons in a car, and they slit his throat all the while conferring with their bosses on the phone.

He had a long history of activism, he has worked with the revolutionary party before, he has also worked with both major political parties in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam, and YSRCP, and had worked on the Madiga struggle for classification of SC Reservation.

As soon as a Dalit is killed they are immediately defamed in the public sphere. Even before any inquiry by the police or the fact-finding committee is formed. There are rumors in the social media already maligning him. 

Andhra Jyothy (popularly known as Kamma’s own community newspaper, though not the only one owned by Kammas) has published a scurrilous defamatory piece about his Kotaiah’s daylight murder. Even before any details are known, it speculates it must be he was killed because of an “affair.” From the headline onwards, the fact that he was traveling with a woman is used as a default cause of suspicion on him. Another article in Sakshi newspaper (owned by his own party leader and not known for any objectivity or distance from the party interests and propaganda needs) calls him a history-sheeter. Typically, a dead Dalit man’s dignity can be easily violated by the Kamma press.

Newly elected chief minister Jagan Reddy has got overwhelming support from Dalits in the election. He must intervene in the matter, even more so because his own party leader got murdered. The factionalist-turned-Chief Minister, whether he thinks as a factionalist or a Chief Minister in either way he must take quick steps for justice. We demand that he prove that Dalit lives are not expendable in his party and his rule. He must ensure swift and sensitive investigation and a dignified telling of the story to the public. The threat to his life was not unknown. Kotaiah himself wrote on April 19th: “last year it was one (murder). This year two. Next year probably 3 including me.” Jagan Reddy failed to take steps to ensure safety of his own party leader despite being in government. Now, the minimum he could do is to conduct fair inquiry and ensure immediate financial and other assistance and protection for his family.

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