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, fearing violent attacks from caste Hindus allegedly over a temple festival row.  

Perumal (38), a Dalit resident of Nadupatti Colony, claimed that a caste Hindus 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. They came later and hurled a petrol bomb on my house,” he alleged. “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.”

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 Dalit icon Ondi Veeran.

Objecting to this, Vanniyar youth picked up a quarrel with them 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 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.

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