Thursday, September 16, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Villoor Dalits facing peculiar problem

Published: September 16, 2010 02:22 IST | Updated: September 16, 2010
03:04 IST MADURAI, September 16, 2010

Villoor Dalits facing peculiar problem
Staff Reporter

The Dalits of Villoor village under Kalligudi taluk near Thirumangalam
in Madurai district are facing a peculiar problem as they are not
allowed to ride two-wheelers along the street (Periasamy Koil Street)
of caste Hindus.

Those who defy these norms are being attacked and ostracised by the
dominant caste in the village. A few villagers and a shopkeeper on the
street said that the practice had been there for a long time.

In the recent past, a Dalit youth, G. Thangapandian (24), who had
completed teacher training and spent most of his time in urban living
conditions, invited the wrath of caste Hindus when he rode his
motorcycle through Periasamy Koil Street. The caste Hindus interrupted
him and questioned his behaviour. A minor scuffle ensued and he was
allegedly beaten up by a caste Hindu youth. When Thangapandian tried
to file a complaint at the Villoor police station, he was prevented
from doing so by caste Hindus.

Following this a peace committee meeting was called for by the caste
Hindus to which Thangapandian's brother G. Murugan was invited.
Fearing reprisal, he avoided the meeting and as a result, the caste
Hindus laid a siege to a town bus on September 4, demanding that
Dalits should come for talks.

However, the caste Hindus, with the intervention of police, later
agreed for an alternative route to the Dalits, which is circuitous.
The officials in the police department said that the practice of not
allowing two-wheelers was age old, which had been internalised by the
Dalits and nobody stopped them from riding two–wheelers but they
themselves had refrained from doing so.

The Revenue Department officials, when contacted, said that the police
had conducted talks with the villagers and once "they send the report
we will forward it to the Special Tahsildar, Adi Dravidar Welfare, for
perusal." One of the officials said that the problem of separate
routes for Dalits had already been an issue in 2000 and now it had
come up again.

Two routes have been identified by the Revenue Department. Eastern
Puliyampatti Vilakku is a route which has been suggested by the Dalits
but the problem is that the route passes through patta lands of the
caste Hindus and so it is a difficult task for the administration and
the other route, the Maravapatti route, could be cleared for the use
of Dalits.

The village has a major population of a dominant OBC caste and Dalits
are in miniscule number. They are secluded in the eastern part of the
village (Kizhakku Theru). Most of the Dalits are part of agricultural
labour force and a few among them are engaged in making broomsticks
during off-season.


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