February 2nd, 2016
Video | Kapu protest for backward class status turns violent, train set on firePosted by The Times of India on Sunday, January 31, 2016
Image Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle
This Sunday, a flash protest by the Kapus community in Andhra Pradesh demanding their inclusion in the backward caste turned violent with protesters setting a train on fire, damaging a railway and two police stations and blocking rail and road traffic. The incident deserves to be condemned from across the board. Here are answers to some of the questions to better understand what happened,why it had happened and what people said.
1.) Who are the Kapus?
Kapus refer to a social group who are primarily agriculturists and broadly a heterogenous peasant caste. Telugu is widely spoken among the Kapus caste and they are found mainly in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha.
2.) What are the demands of the Kapus?
The Kapus were apparently de-reserved as a Backward Class in the 1960’s thereby losing their reservation benefits. The community has since then demanding the return of reservation benefits to their community members.
3.) What was the backdrop of the violence?
The incumbent party in Andhra Pradesh promised during their election campaign that their reservation benefits would be returned within six months of the formation of Government. However, after 18 months there has been barely any breakthrough except for the commission appointed to look into the demands of Kapus. The frustration snowballed into violence where coaches of trains were burnt and other public properties were damaged or destroyed by the protestors. Much to the relief of many there were no casualties. Many political parties rightly condemned this form of protest and have also sought for restraint.
4.) Aftermath of violence, what people said
Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh’s CM said “The commission is on its work and after its report we will include the Kapus in BC list without disturbing the present reservations of Backward Classes,”.
Chandrababu Naidu’s accused YSR Congress of instigating violence.In response YSR leader, Jaganmohan Reddy said “Mr. Naidu was blaming others to cover up his own failures. We request everyone to show restraint in their protest.
Kapu leader Mudraguda Padmanabham said “I will continue to fast even if I am Jailed”.
5.) Why were they disenchanted with the government?
The six month deadline to implement the reservation had crossed and it is widely believed the KapuS community had gone by the word of noted Telugu actor Pavan Kalyan who had rallied the Kapus to vote for BJP-TDP combine.18 months since Mr Naidu had come to office there has barely been any communication from the government’s end to the Kapus community enraging them to the core.
Without going into the debate of reservation, The Logical Indian community requests present governments and future governments to show caution in promising the electorate something as sensitive as Reservations to them. What is unacceptable is the disruption of public services besides instilling fear among people who were made to run away from the train and damaging of the public properties . We appeal to all to show restraint and engage in democratic form of protests to demand your requirements and rights. We hope the government and the protesters could come together to the table to iron out differences and maintain peace in the state.