Sixteen years have gone since the Melavalavu murders, which shook the nation, took place, but still in some places near Madurai caste discrimination prevails as the recent humiliation of a 12-year-old Dalit boy showed us the “ugly face of casteist social order,” according to Thol.Thirumavalavan, MP and president of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

Addressing the cadre who had gathered in huge numbers at Melavalavu near Melur in Madurai district on the occasion of the anniversary of ‘Melavalavu Massacre’ on Sunday, he said despite the VCK’s numerous struggles to bring about changes in social order, there had been stiff opposition to their efforts.

The political strength in terms of members of the Assembly and Parliament was a means to encourage or intensify the struggle for equality of the oppressed sections of society. “For a political party like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, which believes in abolition of castes, victories in elections do not mean much,” the MP said.

The VCK leader said the gruesome murder of six Dalits, including Murugesan, president of Melavalavu panchayat, was an effort to deny the Dalits their rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The sacrifice made by Murugesan and other Dalits in the face of various atrocities were important for the Dalit movement as they were made to claim lost rights. They sacrificed their lives in the battle to uphold basic democratic and political rights and give shape to the dreams of Dr.Ambedkar, he noted.

At Melavalavu, unmindful of threats from the dominant castes, Murugesan contested the election with the support of the VCK and won.

CPI (M), led by state committee member M.N.S. Venkatraman, Madurai South MLA R.Annadurai, S.K.Ponnuthai of All India Democratic Women’s Association, and members of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front also paid tributes at the memorial.

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