Tuesday, February 21, 2012

[ZESTCaste] 9 months on, Dalits yet to return home



Tamil Nadu | Posted on Feb 21, 2012 at 09:43am IST
9 months on, Dalits yet to return home
indianexpressExpress News Service

MADURAI: Nine months after 35 Dalit families fled from their native
Vembathur village of Sivagangai district fearing for their lives after
the murder of two persons, fear still stalks the community as they are
yet to return home. Even a police post in the area has failed to
instil confidence among the Dalits.

It all began on January 29 last year when S Muthukrishnan (28), a
Dalit youth from Vembathur, was murdered in the same village. The
alleged motive was revenge as two caste Hindus from the nearby V
Pudukulam village had been arrested following a complaint from
Muthukrishnan's brother S Murugan.

Three months after Muthukrishnan's murder, one of the accused,
Karuppusamy, a caste Hindu from V Pudukulam, was murdered on May 4,
for which 11 Dalits from Vembathur were arrested. Fearing retaliation,
all 35 Dalit families of Vembathur deserted the village on May 4.

Despite two rounds of peace meetings held by revenue authorities,
normality is yet to be restored.

The Dalit families are living scattered in various towns, including
Sivaganga, Thirumancheri and Melur.

Deprived of their livelihood as small farmers and agricultural
workers, members of the families are working as construction workers
and daily wage workers in nearby towns and Madurai city. The schooling
of about 20 children too has been affected.

The latest peace meeting held at Sivaganga on Saturday was inconclusive.

Those who represented the caste Hindus of V Pudukulam village said
since the Dalits were divided into three groups after the local body
elections, the other two groups should be taken on board.

They promised peace and requested the revenue administration to
convince the other two groups to participate in a future peace

Durga Murthy, the Revenue Divisional Officer of Sivaganga, who
presided over the peace meeting, told Express, "We will hold another
peace meeting soon. Revenue officials visited the village. Police post
is there."

A team from Evidence, an NGO, visited the affected village and the
people. A Kathir, director of the NGO, said:� "Chief Secretary and
Director General of Police should ensure the security for the Dalit
people of Vembathur. Those threatening the Dalits should be
apprehended. And `3 lakh should be given as compensation to each
family who were forced to desert their villages."

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