(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 15, 2013
CPI(M), TNUEF Take Up Cudgels for Dalits
A RUMOUR was spread that a dalit boy teased a caste Hindu girl. Without waiting for anything, more than 100 people barged into the dalit area and torched six houses and damaged more than fifty houses. This is not an odd incident that can be brushed aside as some eve-teasing and reaction case. In Dindigul district, Nilakottai taluk, there are two villages called Nadupatti and Kariyampatti. Dalits live in Nadupatti and the caste Hindus live in Kariyampatti. On November 25, a rumour was spread that a boy from Nadupatti had teased a girl from Kariyampatti. Without ascertaining facts, the police tried to get the boy arrested. This provoked dalit people to protest.
In the meantime, as if waiting for such occurrence, more than 100 caste Hindus entered the Nadupatti village and started attacking the people with iron rods. Even old people were not let off. Many people were injured in the attack. The attackers did not stop there. They burnt six houses belonging to Subbammal, Raja, Muthupandi, Murugan, Lakshmanan and Kullathi and damaged more than 50 houses. TV sets and vessels were thrown on the streets and broken. Even the water tanks were not spared. The police had arrested more than 150 people and conducted flag march too.
Most of the male members of the dalit families had run away to various places fearing arrest and harassment. Dalit people were deprived of basic amenities. A casual attitude of the district administration had put the victims in a hapless situation. Those who had lost their houses were left to fend for themselves. The imposition of restrictions had kept the democratic organisations away from reaching out to the people.
The issue did not arise suddenly. Earlier also, there were some incidents. On July 16 of this year, the caste Hindus had objected to a dalit wearing a t-shirt. There was a clash at that time. Some boys were attacked by the caste Hindus. Dalit people vacated their houses and camped at a nearby hilly village. A peace talk was held and the district administration had assured that they would take some steps for their protection. As usual, this promise remained only on paper. There is a land in Nadupatti that is allotted to dalits. It is occupied and the caste Hindus have setup a milk depot there.
The leaders of Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) and many dalit organisations have reached the spot to console the people. As if waking up suddenly, the district administration imposed many restrictions in that area that prevented the leaders to reach out to the people. The visit of national SC Commission members also did not cut much ice. The casteist elements tried to interfere with malicious campaign against the CPI(M), TNUEF and other dalit organisations. There was an attempt to sensationalise a normal death of a person. Sensing that there is a need to make unified struggle, the TNUEF had held talks with the leaders and called for a big demonstration to demand justice.
Since the democratic rights of the people were curtailed, the TNUEF has given a call to organise a massive demonstration on December 5. The police immediately acted upon and refused permission to hold the demonstration. Despite the denial, the TNUEF alongwith other dalit organisations, had decided to go ahead with the programme. On 5th, a massive demonstration was held in Dindigul in which, G Ramakrishnan, CPI(M) state secretary, K Bala Bharathi, MLA, K Samuel Raj, general secretary, TNUEF, R Athiyaman, founder-president, Athi Thamizhar Peravai, K Jakkaiyan, president, Arunthamizhar Viduthalai Iyakkam, S D Kalyana Sundaram, president, Athi Thamizhar Makkal Katchi, Nagai Tiruvalluvan, president, Tamil Puligal, N Pandi, CPI(M) district secretary, and other leaders took part. M R Muthusamy, TNUEF district secretary, presided over the demonstration.
G Ramakrishnan blasted the district administration and the police for going soft on the perpetrators. He insisted that cases should be filed on Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act. This is the situation in various parts of the state, he lamented. He also urged the district administration to take necessary steps to ensure the re-election at Silukuvaarpatti panchayat where the dalit president had to resign after the election. Since then, the vice president is functioning as president (in-charge).
Other leaders who spoke have also urged the district administration and the police to release the innocent people immediately. Further action programmes are being planned to take the issue further.
“AUGUST 15, 1947”
In an earlier incident in this district, Oddanchathiram Taluk, Keeranur village, another untouchability practice came into light. One elderly person went to a saloon where he was denied hair-cut. He reported this to the leaders of the TNUEF. A team led by M R Muthusamy had petitioned the superintendent of police, Dindigul district to take appropriate action. The SP acted swiftly and within a few hours, a team of police personnel had reached the spot and made arrangements. The press also was intimated and they had also assembled in large numbers.
That elderly person went inside the saloon along with the police and had hair-cut. That was the first time, he had it in his native village. When he came out, the press persons were asking his age (It is a custom that the press is used to publish the age in news items). At first, he was angry. By seeing his anger, the journalist who approached him moved away. After ten minutes, another journalist went near him and asked him the date of birth.
The anger surfaced on his face again and he said, “August 15, 1947”.