The editorial, “Violence in disguise” (June 18) — on a young caste-Hindu woman from Dharmapuri deserting her Dalit husband under pressure from casteist forces — is a right step towards building public opinion against katta panchayats responsible for the ever-increasing violence against women and the socially marginalised Dalits. It is shocking that such panchayats exist in the Dravidian ideology-driven State of Tamil Nadu.
In recent years, katta panchayats have issued grotesque and disturbing diktats. Since the dominant community which controls land and muscle power and is highly patriarchal in its view hegemonises such panchayats, they are anti-woman and anti-weaker sections. No political party has shown the courage to challenge them. In fact, politicians see in katta panchayats a dependable vote bank.
The violence that followed the marriage between the caste Hindu woman with the Dalit underscored that caste is strongly rooted in our society. It is obvious that the young woman opted to return to her mother due to the coercive persuasion of her community. The dominance of rural bodies like katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu and politicisation of caste are pathetic. The civil administration’s inability to rein them in accentuates the dismal scenario.
Many social evils are closely associated with caste. Inter-caste couples face problems from the day they make known their intention to marry. The number of inter-caste marriages is negligible among men and women who live in the same village. Only those who settle down abroad have successful inter-caste marriages.
K. Ramesh Babu,
A khap panchayat’s opinion that child marriages will reduce rape and other crimes against women, and katta panchayats’ ostracisation of families in which inter-caste marriages take place, are clear instances of disempowering women and fostering inequality. The government should make serious efforts to prevent them from causing further damage to society.
In the older days, marriages took place within the same community because there were few means of communication. So convenience dictated alliances. Today, it takes less than a second to communicate to any part of the world. With communication, the world has shrunk. It is human to fall in love and love is the basis of marriage. Community elders should not become destiny-deciders.
One is reminded of Shakespeare’s words “Love is not love. Which alters when alteration it finds ...” I also recall a popular Tamil poem by Mee. Raa (Mee. Rajendran), wherein he sarcastically speaks about love thus: “Oh my love! Both of us belong to the same caste, same community, same religion, same sect and same creed. That is why we have fallen in love at first sight.”
Keywords: Caste violence