Saturday, February 27, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Caste Hindus oppose burial of Dalit convert

Tamil Nadu

Caste Hindus oppose burial of Dalit convert

Staff Reporter

VEDARANYAM: Dalit graveyards have always been contested spaces. The
caste fault lines re-emerged when caste Hindus opposed the proposed
burial of a Dalit convert in a graveyard for Scheduled Castes at
Katripulam in Vedaranyam on Friday.

The only ten Dalit families of Katripulam had converted to
Christianity three years ago.

However, there has been a samudaya thadai, or community restraint, on
commemoration of their religious practices within the village. With
the first death in their community, the issue came to the fore.

Dalit graveyards have had a chequered trajectory here. All the
graveyards on government poramboke lands are common for all, except
Dalits. As in life, Dalits are ostracised in their graves and the 'SC
graveyards' are government-sanctioned euphemisms for such ostracism.

"We have no issues with their cremating in the space allotted, but
burying them with a crucifix would not be allowed. It would affect
future burials by SCs in the limited space of three cents allotted to
them," Veeramani, ex-president, Katripulam, told The Hindu.

Communal markers

When pointed out that there were just 10 SC families in the village,
all of whom had converted, and none had issues with burial, Mr.
Veeramani said that the "peaceful village need not have communal

According to Birla Thangadurai, member of District Committee against
Bonded Labour, those families had converted to escape caste
oppression. The point is to have them bonded for eternity. An RDO or a
Collector would forever be an outcaste in her or his own village, said
Mr. Thangadurai.

Following 'peace talks' with the Revenue Divisional Officer, and at
the intervention of the priest of the Chapel, it was decided that the
body would be cremated.

Alternative site

If the Dalits sought an alternative burial site, it could be
considered, said the RDO.


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