As they resist efforts to marginalise them

The Dalits of K. Velayudhapuram village near Kazhugumalai in Tuticorin district are living in fear of violence as they resisted the efforts of a dominant caste to marginalise them, according to A.Marx, writer and convenor of People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR).

Mr.Marx said here on Thursday that after the removal of an “untouchability fence” that separated the residences of Arunthathiyars and Reddiars, a team of human rights activists visited the village to assess the situation. The murder of a Dalit and a statement by Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S.Ramadoss that 40 Dalits were issuing serious threats to the lives of 400 Reddiar families in the village forced them to visit the place, he noted.

What the team members found was just the opposite of what Dr.Ramadoss claimed, he said.

A 2-km-long barbed wire fence was erected in 2006 following a decision taken at a kangaroo court. The two shops run by the caste Hindus in the village refused to sell any thing to Dalits, he said.

Sometime after the removal of the fence, a 51-year-old Dalit, Karuppasamy, son of Muthuveeran of the village, was murdered, creating fear among Dalits. Dalits demanded the team members that they should be given adequate police protection to prevent any further attacks, the PUDR convenor said.

The team recommended a probe by the CBCID into the murder of Muthusamy as Dalits in the village had no confidence in the local police who, the said, acted in a biased manner in the past. The team also demanded a police outpost in the village.

Untouchability was practised in the village, and it had been widely reported in media, Mr.Marx said, and added that the village should be announced as “atrocity-prone” under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

He also suggested that a monitoring committee should be formed by the district administration to prevent atrocities being committed against Dalits.

The team included Rajni, advocate, Konangi, prominent Tamil writer, and A.Mohammed Shafi of National Confederation Human Rights Organisations, Madurai.

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