Two months after the Dalits of Chettipulam were ushered into the Ekambareshwarar temple by the district administration, they are not finding work.

The village has placed a Samudaya Kattupadu, or unwritten social control, against engaging Dalit labour, said a police source. Dalits do not find jobs in all seven Kadus (administrative divisions) of Chettipulam. There were attempts to pressure people from nearby villages to exclude Dalits from labour.

“A Dalit man, who was de-weeding a field, was asked to leave after a caste Hindu refused to work on the same field,” says Pushpavalli, a Dalit woman, who was relieved as domestic help. According to a Revenue Department official, the tacit agreement among caste Hindus is real, though it would never be acknowledged. Dalits have not entered the Ekambareshwarar Temple after October 27.

It is ‘self-restraint’ on the part of Dalits to ‘avoid conflict’ in the face of evident hostility, they say. “We have a community temple and we do not want any trouble,” says Birla Thangadurai.