Annihilation of the caste system should be the goal and the first step is to eliminate untouchability, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said on Saturday.

Untouchability was the worst feature of the caste system in the country, Mr. Karat told the first State conference of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front here. “Even after 62 years of Independence what we find in our society is that caste transcended all classes. Though the Constitution proclaimed equality, we still find it did not go with the ground reality,” Mr. Karat said.

Struggle against the caste system should go along with struggle against socio-economic and class exploitation. What was needed was a social revolution which could not come without fighting and abolishing the caste system.

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front had been engaged in path-breaking activity over the last three years fighting all forms of caste discrimination and untouchability. Even people outside Tamil Nadu were looking up to the Front as an inspiration in their struggle against oppression. The Front should bring under its fold all those who were against caste discrimination and untouchability and it would become a genuine instrument in bringing about social change in Tamil Nadu, he said.

Earlier, Mr. Karat released a collection of short stories authored by Aadhavan Dheetchanya on atrocities committed against Dalits.

Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front convenor P. Sampath called for starting branches of the front at all levels within the State. The front had created confidence among the oppressed communities.

General secretary of the All-India Vivasayigal Sangam K. Varadharajan, CPI (M) State secretary G. Ramakrishnan, party MLA S.K. Mahendran and All-India Democratic Women's Association general secretary U. Vasuki took part in the conference.

CPI(M) to seek ATR on Misra report

Addressing a public meeting organised by the front here, Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) would demand, in the next session of the Parliament, an action taken report on the recommendations of the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by Justice Ranganath Misra.

Though the Centre had placed the commission's report in Parliament it had not acted on that. The CPI (M) would be in touch with other parties in this regard. The commission had made two major recommendations — to provide reservation up to 15 per cent in education and offer job opportunities for the minorities, who were socially, educationally and economically backward. It had also recommended that those of Scheduled Caste origin, irrespective of religion, be brought under the scheduled caste reservation, Mr. Karat said.

The CPI (M) had been demanding that Dalit Christians and any person of Scheduled Caste origin, irrespective of religion, be provided reservation.

Mr. Karat said the economic policies of the Centre had adversely affected the livelihood of people. The policies limited the opportunities for the Dalits as the government had downsized and banned recruitment to various departments. “So where is the reservation for SC and ST?” Mr.Karat said and pointed out that there was no reservation in the private sector.

Fight privatisation

He called upon the oppressed communities to fight the privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation policies of the government as it was the only way to protect their lives.

The government was promoting privatisation of higher education and allowing business houses to start educational institutions. Foreign educational institutions had also been allowed. This way, education would go out of the reach of SC, ST and other backward communities as there would be no reservation.

Mr. Karat said a powerful struggle had to be launched to protect the rights of the Dalits and other oppressed sections. The goals and aims of social reformers like Dr. Ambedkar and Periyar had not been fulfilled even after 62 years of Independence, he said, calling for a fight against caste oppression. Untouchability in any form could not be witnessed in Communist-ruled States, he observed.

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