Most of the youth were working outside district when the attack took place

Even as Dalit colonies in a village in Dharmapuri district, which witnessed a caste flare-up on Wednesday evening, limped back to normality, the victims have alleged that ‘systematic destruction’ of their properties and livelihood resources has taken place.

The Dalit settlements of Natham, Kondampatti and Annanagar in Naikkankottai bore the brunt of mob fury following the suicide of a caste Hindu over the elopement of his college-going daughter with a Dalit youth.

An official estimate, though preliminary as claimed by Collector R. Lilly, has put the number of damaged households at 268. The three colonies in total have 500 houses, a strong concentration of Dalits in one single block in the district.

Almost all the able-bodied youth from these colonies are working in Bangalore as construction workers, godown boys and collectors of used paper market for recycling. Their hard-earned money serves as solid investments in their native village. Some have become landholders. They grow maize, turmeric and tapioca in rain-fed conditions.

“For the past one decade, I have been working in a godown in Bangalore where they pay me Rs. 200 a day. I leave my wife and children back at the village. Our small but hard-earned savings of all these years have gone up in smoke in one single night of riot,” laments Muniappa of Anna Nagar.

Those who have suffered extensive damage claim that the mob, armed with deadly weapons and petrol bombs indulged in four-hour looting. “We were chased out before they began their act. Almirahs were broken and valuables such as gold jewellery and cash stolen before the houses were either set on fire or damaged,” said Rajalingam in Natham colony who runs a lucrative business in used paper market in Bangalore.