Row over money transaction in Kariyampatti village near Dindigul

The Dalits of Kariyampatti village near Dindigul, about 60 km from here, deserted their houses on Saturday and took shelter at a hillock near Chengalapatti, (away from their hamlet) fearing violent attacks from caste Hindus, allegedly over a temple festival row.  

Perumal (38), a Dalit resident of Nadupatti Colony, claimed that a caste Hindu barged in to his house late on Friday night and threatened to murder his wife for not disclosing the whereabouts of his son, who was involved in a brawl with Vanniyars, a few months ago.

“The men abused my wife and left, but they came later and hurled a petrol bomb on my house,” alleged Perumal. He went on saying, “caste Hindus have been intimidating all Dalit families to leave the village. They have damaged several houses in the past few days. The police and revenue officials haven’t taken action against them (Vanniyars),” he lamented. 

According to police sources, trouble began on July 16, during a temple festival celebrated by the Dalits. A group of Dalit youth wore T-shirts bearing the image of ‘Ondi Veeran,’ a Dalit icon.

Objecting to this, the Vanniyar youth picked up a quarrel with the Dalits and coerced them to remove the T-shirts. 

A few days later, four Dalit youths were assaulted by a group of Vanniyars, for wearing the T-shirts. The same day, a case was registered and arrests were made on both sides.  

The district administration should declare Kariyampatti village as ‘atrocity prone zone’ and arrest the accused under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, said Ms. Rajini, the advocate representing the Dalits. 

Even as the Dalits in the village alleged that they were being targeted by caste Hindus on caste lines, the police and members of Vanniyar community claimed that the dispute arose over a financial transaction.

Counter claim

“We are trying to solve the issue amicably, but a few people with vested interests are trying to politicise it,” asserted Sivakumar, advocate representing the Vanniyars. Dalits and Vanniyars have been living in harmony for several years now. We have never discriminated against them,” he said. 

Brushing aside allegations of violence reported in the area, T. Jeyachandran, Superintendent of Police, Dindigul, told TheHindu that talks were being held with the Dalits to bring them back to their village.

“A strong posse of police personnel have been posted at the village to prevent any untoward incident,” he added.

Collector’s appeal

When contacted, District Collector K. Venkatachalam said that he had in fact visited the hamlet.

“It appears that the issue had snowballed over the money transaction. We need to discreetly inquire into it,” he said making an appeal to the Dalits to get back to their homes.

RELATED NEWS

A new churning in the caste cauldronOctober 17, 2013