Dalits of Vaidyanathapuram Colony, on the Nedunkulam Road, coming under Thenur Panchayat in Madurai district, are now victims of alleged discrimination after the pathway used by them for close to 60 years is obstructed by an individual by erecting an iron gate.

Vaidyanathapuram Colony, which is named after Congress stalwart A. Vaidyanatha Iyer, who spearheaded the temple entry movement in Meenakshi Temple, is a small colony with 20 families of Devendra Kula Vellalars (Dalits). The Dalits in the village on Monday said that the pathway was obstructed by K. Raja (alias) Periya Karuppan, a former panchayat chief, since January 2010 and they found it difficult to have proper access to the village and other places.

S. Chappani said, “It is already a very narrow path adjacent to a canal and farmlands. Since gates have been erected we cannot use vehicles. In the recent past, we suffered a lot after one elderly person suffered health problems and we were not able to take the ambulance vehicle in.” Already, 10 Dalit families who lived in the colony, engaged in shoe mending work, have moved away anticipating trouble.

The villagers, with the support of Mallar Kazhagam, had submitted petitions twice to the District Collector during August at the grievance day meeting and sent a letter to the Chief Minister's cell. Dalits demand that since the pathway has been under use for a long period of time, the government should ensure proper access for them.

However, when contacted, Mr. Raja said that it was his own patta land which was earlier, due to local adjustment with the farmers, used for movement of tractors and transport of agricultural goods. “I have all the documents to prove my ownership,” he said.