An aged Dalit couple was attacked following efforts to bid in an auction for rights over tamarind trees, which are one among the common property resources auctioned by the Government on a regular basis.

Mokkaiyyan alias Muniyandi (62) of Ambedkar Nagar, Kuttimeikkapatti village in Vadipatti taluk near Madurai, was allegedly attacked on April 12 after he tried to bid in the annual auction for 10 tamarind trees in the village. The village had no precedent of a Dalit participating in the auction and exercising their right to auction. However, Mr. Mokkaiyan met the panchayat president R. Ramesh and enquired about the auction and was promised by the latter to give the right to bid for five trees.

The Dalit villagers alleged that there was an attempt to delay and conduct the auctions without giving prior information and when Mr. Mokkaiyan tried to enquire about this allegation with the panchayat president, he was attacked by a group of caste Hindus. The group later entered his house and attacked his wife Muniammal (54). She was admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital here where she underwent treatment for three days.

Following the complaint given by Mr. Mokkaiyan at the Alanganallur police station, cases were filed against panchayat president Ramesh and four others.

In another complaint given by Muniammal, cases were filed against 12 members of the caste Hindu group. Similarly, a case was also filed against Mr. Mokkaiyan.

Madurai-based non governmental organisation Evidence visited the village and found from them that Dalits were rarely allowed to exercise their rights to get these properties in auction.

A. Kathir, Executive Director, Evidence, said that there was an urgent need to devise methods to ensure Dalits their due share in such common property sources. He also said that complaints had been send to the Chief Secretary and State Human Rights Commission. He demanded action against the panchayat president.

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