That a 20-metre-long and 10-feet-high wall separates the Dalit families of Raman Colony from the caste Hindus living in VOC Nagar, Salem in Tamil Nadu (July 20) is shocking. The administration should swing into action to bring down the wall, which bears a shameful testimony to rampant caste discrimination. The elimination of untouchability will remain on paper if we fail to act decisively on such crucial social issues. The media's role in highlighting such issues need not be overemphasised.
The Hindu deserves praise for turning the spotlight on the social malaise of untouchability, and the decades-old wall built to separate the Dalit families from others. The resulting woes certainly warrant official intervention.
It is a matter of shame that the wall put up about 20 years ago has been existing along a street named after Gandhiji! The horrible conditions of having to live between the wall, on the one side, and pools of sewer, on the other, as narrated by the underprivileged apart, the very idea to physically, emotionally and mentally keep them at a distance speaks of the centuries-old casteist bias. Thanks to the visual exposure by The Hindu, the Uthapuram wall in Madurai became the subject of discussion throughout the country. And it is again to the credit of the esteemed newspaper that the outside world has got to know of the gross injustice.
Such evils rear their ugly heads not because of lack of legislation but despite them. Although the responsibility of the government is the highest, the entire political class, the media and civil society should muster every strength at their command to deal with the perpetrators of crimes against the oppressed. Governments react only when people make an issue of acts of social oppression. Unless they are prepared to go the extra mile, instances of discrimination will be endless.
Keywords: caste discrimination