Friday, October 21, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalits from two villages boycott elections

Dalits from two villages boycott elections
Padmini Sivarajah, TNN | Oct 21, 2011, 05.19AM IST

MADURAI: While the second phase of polling was in full swing
throughout Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, voters in the villages of
Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar preferred to keep away as their
demands had not been heeded to.

The people of M Pacheri in Mandalamanickam panchayat near Kamudhi in
Ramanathapuram district did not vote en masse, protesting the murder
of a plus two student on September 9 and also the Paramakudi shooting.

Selvam (name changed) said that the Paramakudi firing incident proved
that dalits had no protection in this society.

T Palanikumar (17) was hacked to death by a gang when he was returning
after participating in a village festival in the neighbouring
Virudhunagar district on September 9. "Throughout our lives we have
lived with people looking down on us as untouchables and now
atrocities against us are on the rise," he said.

These villagers including Thangavel and Bhuvaneswari had demanded a
CBI enquiry into the murder where non-dalits had allegedly murdered
the boy for his derogatory remarks about their leader Pasumpon Thevar.
The Mandalamanickam police apprehended five persons, but the people
want justice by having everyone involved being arrested.

None of them turned up from the first ward of the Mandalamanickam
panchayat, which has a total of 859 voters, including 439 women.
Agents and booth officials waited till 5 pm before wrapping up the
ballot boxes.

Rajan another villager, questions why they should vote when the
non-dalits who dominate Mandalamanickam are the deciding force as far
as the panchayat is concerned. "The place where we (dalits) reside is
easily recognizable by its bad road and drainage conditions, when
compared to the other parts," he said.

Meanwhile, in the reserved panchayat of Kilavikulam in Virudhunagar
district, the people of Muthanadhi village decided to stay away. Out
of the 847 voters, only three voted, with 844 of them staying away.

Though the lack of basic amenities was said to be a reason for this
boycott, some people say that the internal caste issue is the problem.
They said that the panchayat was dominated by the Thevar voters of
about 850, who were constantly making a man from the Arundhadiar
community the panchayat president and preventing the other schedule
castes to head the panchayat.

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