Noted Dalit leader and head of NADO, Johar Charles Wesley Meesa passes away

Charles Wesley Meesa, head of National Alliance of Dalit Organisations was a man of masses and he brought people of all the communities together, say people who worked closely with him
Charles with one of the farmers when he visited a village (Picture: Facebook)
Charles with one of the farmers when he visited a village (Picture: Facebook)

Noted Dalit activist and head of National Alliance of Dalit Organisations (NADO) Johar Charles Wesley Meesa passed away last evening due to kidney related issues. In the month of August, the leader of National Alliance of Dalit organisations tested positive for COVID-19. Later, after he tested negative, he was discharged from the hospital in Hyderabad. However, he was admitted again for kidney related issues and he breathed his last on Friday evening at Sigma Hospitals in Hyderabad. He was known for his large-scale work towards empowering Dalit and other oppressed communities in the society.

Charles played a key role in starting different organisations for the upliftment of Dalits and worked from the grassroot level across India. People who worked closely with him at the National Alliance of Dalit Organisations, say that he was a man of masses specially in rural areas. Dr Karthik Narayanan, who worked with Charles to start Mala Madiga Ikya Vedike, says, "Whenever he would visit rural areas, people would gather around him to speak and share various issues they faced. He was a man of very few words and more occupied with his work. During his field visits, he would meticulously make a point to document these issues and find a solution to them. That's why his network both on national and international level grew stronger."

Charles Wesley Meesa

People across religions and communities held Charles in great esteem. Karthik adds, "Since the news of his death has been spreading on social media, many of his friends belonging to the Brahmin community called me and conveyed their condolences. People who were close to Charles knew that he worked hard to do everything he could to help the downtrodden." 

Charles also worked to free the bonded labourers in Mahabubnagar districts. His recent works included supporting migrant workers of brick klin in Odisha. He even wrote a lot about nomadic tribal issues which are hardly spoken about or looked into when it comes to the development of our country. Cynthia Stephen who worked with Charles in NADO, says, "One of his most important contributions was setting up of NADO in South-Indian states as well as Maharashtra. In fact, his knowledge on framing economic policies made World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank connect with him to understand the issues in India. Not just the Dalit community, Charles made it a point to address gender discrimination in the work place as well as village communities. He was one person who brought all the people beyond colour, caste, creed, gender together."

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