People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 22, 2010

Officials Ran Away, Again


K Samuel Raj 


A SMALL hamlet in Gudiyatham, Vellore district, Tamilnadu, consisting of just 36 families, had a miserable day on April 14. Among these families, 26 were dalits and 10 Muslims. Their previous generations had been living there for the last 100 years. Recently the state government had announced that the people who lived for just three years in poromboke land, would be given pattas in their names. That remains just a verbal assurance.


In this village, between the sunset and the sunrise, the houses were razed to the ground with the help of a bulldozer. Anti-social elements of the area --- Mosaic Selvam, Parthiban and Sait ---were the culprits who usurped the powers of the government departments. This ‘kar seva’ was carried out with the help of more than 300 goons. The Dalit and Muslims families were thus thrown to the streets.


But the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) came forward and took up their cause. Local CPI(M) MLA, G Latha, represented on their behalf many times to the concerned officials. When this had had no effect, the decision to conduct a struggle was taken by the front. 


The front demanded that the affected people should be resettled in the same place. It announced that people would enter the tehsildar's office in protest. On August 12, people led by TNUEF state president P Sampath, TNUEF general secretary K Samuel Raj, G Latha and many cadres of different organisations proceeded towards the tehsildar's office in Gudiyatham.


Before they reached the office, however, they were asked to talk with some of the officials. The talks did progress smoothly, an agreement was reached and the signing part started. However, after the TNUEF leaders had appended their signatures and it was the officials’ turn to do the same, there was a sudden telephone call to the DRO who was leading the talks on behalf of the administration.


The DRO did not come back. Then the tehsildar and others also followed suit. They also took away the papers on which the TNUEF leaders had already signed. When the leaders contacted the police officials who were there throughout the talks, the reply was surprising. They had got the orders from the top to arrest the agitating people.


As a result, 59 persons were arrested and remanded. They had not even conducted an agitation on the day. Their only activity on the day was to conduct talks with the officials. If that is a crime, the officials too deserved to be arrested.


This is not the only case, however. The anti-dalit character of DMK, the ruling party, is getting exposed very fast. Uthapuram remains a black pages in the five-year history of DMK's reign, which suspended an upright IAS officer, C Uma Shankar, just because he did not cooperate with the powerful people in the CM's family. He was the one who was instrumental in exposing many scandals involving crores of rupees.


Very recently, DMK MLA Maalai Raja assaulted Kaliappan, vice chancellor of the Anna University in Tirunelveli. Kaliappan, a dalit, was known to be resisting the ruling party people’s intervention in the affairs of the university. Earlier, the police stood with the caste Hindus in the temple entry movement at Kangiyanur. The police also tried to thwart the movement to open the South Gate, through which the Nandanar once entered the temple in Chidambaram.


In the recent case of Gudiyatham, to date it is not known who had called the DRO and what transpired between him and the caller. One thing is certain. If the agreement had been signed, it would have become a big weapon in the hands of the people, the administration felt. That was perhaps the reason the officials, in a bid to wriggle out of the agreement, ran away with the agreement papers.