The Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday ordered notice to the State government, Dindigul Collector, and Superintendent of Police to reply to a public interest litigation petition filed by a labourer alleging social boycott and discrimination of Dalits at Therkutheru village in Palani Taluk.

K. Kaliyappan (34), a resident of the village, had filed the petition through his counsel, R. Alagumani, alleging the prevalence of double-tumbler system (disposal cups for Dalits and glass tumblers for Caste Hindus) in three teashops and refusal to sell provisions to Dalits in four grocery shops in the village.

The petitioner claimed that Dalits were asked to squat on the floor in the tea shops and not permitted to use the benches. They were also not permitted to enter three temples — Kaliyamman Temple, Durgai Amman Temple and Muthusamy Temple — in the village, he alleged.

“This is a clear case of untouchability practised against the Dalits,” the petitioner's affidavit read and stated that the Palani Taluk police too did not allow them to inaugurate an association titled Dalit Arts and Literature Association to fight for their rights.

The petitioner further claimed that the Caste Hindus had imposed a social boycott of the Dalits only after being agitated by efforts taken by the latter to form the association. The tea shop owners, grocers and others were instructed to keep the Dalits away.

A representation was made in this regard to the Dindigul Revenue Divisional Officer who conducted a peace committee meeting on November 19 and instructed the representatives of the Caste Hindus to sell groceries and other goods to the Dalits.

Police presence

“Thereafter, some police officials were posted in my village near the petty and grocery shops. The shop owners sold goods to the Dalits only in the presence of the policemen and not otherwise fearing they might end up earning the wrath of the village elders,” the petitioner said.