Around 1,200 people from the Dalit community in Andhra Pradesh’s Garagaparru village began an indefinite fast on Tuesday to protest against an alleged social boycott by people from an upper caste community, reported the Hindustan Times.

The families, belonging to the scheduled caste Mala community, said the Raju (Kshatriya) people had boycotted them since April 26, which has affected their livelihood. The villagers alleged that the boycott started after a dispute over installing a statue of Dr BR Ambedkar.

“We have been barred from doing any agricultural work,” said G Rajesh, a Dalit youth. “We are also not allowed to work in the ponds belonging to people from the upper caste.”

The villagers also claimed that the district administration had taken no concrete steps to resolve the matter, but had given them some rice and other provisions after being informed about the boycott.

“The ostracisation of Dalits in Garagaparru just for installing a statue of Ambedkar is a classic example of this caste discrimination,” said Andre Malyadri, general secretary of the Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination.

A villager said some Dalit farmers who had taken land for cultivation from people from the upper caste had also been driven away and their leases had been cancelled. “Our womenfolk, who used to work in their houses, have been sacked.”