People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 06

February 07, 2010

TAMILNADU NEWSLETTER

 

Another Wall Of Untouchability Demolished

 

S P Rajendran

 

AFTER a determined intervention of the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front, backed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the officials of the state revenue department, police and the corporation of Coimbatore demolished a wall that had denied dalit people direct access to the arterial road in the city.

There are nearly 60 families of dalit Arundhadhiyar community at Thandhai Periyar Nagar, Singanallur town in the industrial city of Coimbatore. This colony is located in Ward No.10 of the city corporation near the Employees’ State Insurance Hospital, near Kamarajar Road. Here, caste Hindus had built a wall across the 30ft-wide Jeeva Road that was supposed to link the colony with Kamarajar Road.

“The wall, built in 1990, was evidence of prevalence of discrimination and untouchability,” said U K Sivagnanam, district convener of the Untouchability Eradication Front. The Front had petitioned the authorities demanding the removal of the wall. According to  dalits in Periyar Nagar, the government acquired land for their colony in 1989 and provided house site pattas to them. Caste Hindus living along the initial stretch of Jeeva Road had installed a Vinayakar idol in a small shed and built the wall behind it, exactly from where the colony began. The temple was used as a pretext for closing the road with the intent to prevent the dalits from using Jeeva Road to reach Kamarajar Road passing through the area in which the caste Hindus resided. The dalits had used other routes to reach the main road for many years. But with more buildings coming up on open sites nearby, they were left only with a narrow street to reach the main road.

In this background, the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front leaders took this issue and the CPI(M)'s Tamil daily Theekkathir carried a front-page story in its issue dated 30 January focussing this matter. Having seen the news item in Theekkathir on that morning, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi ordered the Coimbatore district administration to inquire into the issue and take immediate action.

Officials verified the records and confirmed that the temple and the wall encroached upon a scheme road and also it was an untouchability wall. A group of caste Hindus squatted in front of the earthmover in an attempt to prevent the demolition. As the earthmover began the demolition, the dalit people broke into a thunderous ovation. When the corporation workers were removing the debris of the demolished wall, a group of activists of a Hindu outfit insisted that the temple should not be removed. This resulted in police mobilising more reinforcements.

The dalits pointed out that they were not against the temple but only its location. The state convener of the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front P Sampath welcomed the action taken by the officials and added that the temple could be relocated with the consent of both sides.

 

FISHERMEN PROTEST

DESTRUCTIVE BILL

ON FISHERIES

MORE than a thousand activists of CPI(M), including its state secretary N Varadarajan, were arrested on February 2,  when they tried to stage a protest outside the Raj Bhavan, demanding immediate action to stop the attacks by Sri Lankan navy on Indian fishermen and withdraw the destructive Fisheries Bill.

Several hundreds of fishermen along with CPI(M) workers participated in the protest and were arrested when they tried to proceed towards the Raj Bhavan.

The arrested included the Central Committee members T K Rangarajan MP, WR Varadharajan, G Ramakrishnan, state secretariat member S Noor Mohammed and CITU fishermen federation leaders Karnanidhi and Celestine.

Earlier, the governor's secretary, Hansraj Verma, had discussions with N Varadarajan and other CPI(M) leaders, who told him that they had submitted a memorandum last week to Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, urging him to impress upon the centre to prevail upon Colombo to ''rein in its navy.''

Verma told them that the memorandum had been sent to the prime minister.

The Party also demanded the scrapping of Marine Fisheries (Regulation and Management) Bill, which, among others, envisages capping a 12 nautical mile fishing area ceiling for Indian fishermen and levying penalty for violations.