Thursday, May 5, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Untouchability taking new forms, says study

Untouchability taking new forms, says study

May 5, 2011
G. Jagannath

Caste discrimination in Tamil Nadu appears to have moved with the
times and stayed abreast of new developments.

An attack on a dalit in Villoor village in Madurai, for riding a
motorcycle in the streets where caste Hindus reside, is not an
isolated incident.

A survey conducted by Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front
(TNUEF) in 22 districts has revealed the prevalence of 86 forms of
untouchability in the state's villages.

Dalits are not even allowed to use ringtones of movie songs. "A dalit
in Coimbatore was beaten by caste Hindus for using MGR movie song Naan
Aanaittal Adhu Nadanthu Vittaal as his ringtone," TNUEF convenor P.
Sampath said.

The discrimination against dalits even exists in matrimonial websites.
"We have come across entries made by upper caste persons stating that
dalits need not apply," he said.

In the survey, Mr Sampath said they come across the practice of dalits
being prevented from walking on the public road wearing slippers,
riding bicycles, wearing dhotis folded or polyester dhotis, wearing
towels on their shoulder, wearing cloth headgear, sporting thin line
moustaches and getting clothes washed or ironed.

Apart from the two-tumbler system and denial of temple entry, Mr
Sampath said dalits are not allowed to watch TV programmes in village
panchayats or speak or sing at any public platform.

In some villages, he said the postmen do not deliver letters to dalit
houses and the dalits have to obtain them from the post office. Dalits
are also prevented from rearing cattle or keeping male dogs.

Mr Sampath said untouchability is widely prevalent in the state as the
DMK government failed to take any concrete steps to eradicate the

"Even when we staged an agitation in Uthapuram, Kangiyanur and
Gudiyatham to seek action against dalit discrimination, the DMK
suppressed the struggle by arresting the protesting dalits," he said.


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