Feels that Dalits will not be able to travel far to attend trial

A fact-finding team, comprising 18 human rights activists and journalists from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry, on Thursday assessed the losses suffered by Dalits in the November 7 attack on their colonies and demanded that a special court be established at Natham, one of the three colonies targeted by caste Hindus.

The team felt that the Dalits would not be able to travel far to attend trial. Therefore, the court should come up at Natham.

A. Marx, state convener of the People’s Union for Human Rights (PUHR), told reporters that the government should do this on the lines of the court established at Tsundruru in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh for conducting the trial in the case relating to the massacre of eight Dalits on August 6, 1991.

V.S. Krishna, president of Human Rights Forum of Andhra Pradesh, said it would help the Dalits to fearlessly appear in court and the trial would not affect their livelihood activities.

Mr. Marx said timely police action could have prevented the attack.

The Dharmapuri Deputy Superintendent of Police and other police personnel remained mute spectators. A mild lathi charge could have forced the mob to disperse. Action must be initiated against these officials under the SC/ ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Rs.50,000 provided as relief by the State Government immediately after the incident is inadequate, he said.

Each family whose house was fully damaged must be given Rs.5 lakh, while Rs.3 lakh must be given to those houses that needed repairs. Steps must be taken to retrieve the properties of the Dalits the mob took away.

K. Sugumaran, president of the Federation of People’s Rights (FPR), Puducherry, said that as laid out in the SC/ ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, a collective fine could be slapped on those who indulged in the violence and its perpetrators.

The fine thus collected should be given to the Dalits as compensation.

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front staged a demonstration to demand proper protection for the Dalits and action against officials who failed to prevent the attack. Its State general secretary K. Samuel Raj visited the affected colonies.

Republican Party of India’s C.K. Tamilarasan and president of the Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam P. John Pandian also visited the affected colonies.

Temporary sheds

The construction of temporary sheds is on in all the three Dalit colonies to accommodate those whose houses were damaged or burnt totally in the November 7 attack.

District Revenue Officer P. Ramar told The Hindu on Thursday that the administration had started constructing five temporary sheds with hollow blocks and roofing sheets at a cost of Rs.12 lakh.

Four sheds each with 900 square feet each for men and women in Natham and Kondampatti colonies and one shed measuring 625 square feet in Anna Nagar colony with toilets and bathrooms were being constructed.

All the temporary sheds may be converted into community halls or for some other common purposes after the reconstruction of the houses was over in a week, Mr. Ramar said.