Wednesday, April 27, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalits Raise Voice Against Land Usurpers

Dalits Raise Voice Against Land Usurpers

In Kanchiwaram, Tamil Nadu, Dalits are fighting to get land that had
been donated to them. Mani recently found a poster on the walls of his
house calling for a demonstration, against the grabbing of land that
belonged to a Dalit community. "Being a Dalit myself, I felt connected
with the protest, and I decided to report on the fight that takes
place to reinstitute this land to Dalits," said Mani. Panchami land in
Kanchiwaram was donated in 1893 to Dalit community, but till date they
haven't been able to use it, because real estate agents or higher
caste people have monopolized it. Panchami land is 11,000 acres, and
it would enable around 400 farmers and their families to make a living
by cultivating their own products, thus rising above their status of
casual labourer, of exploitation and impoverishment. Some Dalits have
attempted taking the case to court, since they possess the official
documents attesting to their ownership over the land. But because the
majority of them are poor and illiterate, they hardly receive any
support from the tribunal, and are treated with contempt. But today,
several NGO's and activists have started fighting for the
resinstitution of the land to Dalits. Shiva Kami, a retired IAS Dalit
Officer, and the Untouchability Eradication Movement have stepped in
the struggle, and are determined to support the cause of Dalits. Mani
deeply hopes that Dalits will get land back: "It is a big issue in
Tamil Nadu now… It could bring tremendous change in the lives of
Dalits here!"


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