Seeking protection from caste Hindus, more than 100 Dalits from Barathi Nagar in Periya Thadagam picketed the District Collectorate here on Monday.
According to the protesters, 30 Dalit families were being alienated by close to 300 caste Hindu families residing in Barathi Nagar for lodging a complaint against the Caste Hindus who assaulted Dalits last week.
Organiser of Samathuva Kazhagam M. Kargi, who led the protesters, said that the issue started on September 5 after the Dalits refused to play the jamab (instrument) for Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations organised by the Caste Hindus.
Instead, the Dalits installed an idol in their area and played jamab there. This infuriated a few caste Hindus and they allegedly assaulted six Dalits, including three women, on September 7. The injured have been admitted to Coimbatore Medical College Hospital.
The Dalits brought the incident to the notice of the District Collector and 17 Caste Hindus were booked by the Thudiyalur Police in connection with the incident.
While police inquiry is under way, Mr. Kargi said that the caste Hindus have denied jobs for Dalits in their brick kilns, entry into areas where caste Hindus lived, denied provisions in grocery outlets and even blocked drinking water supply.
Protesters alleged that not one of the 17 persons, against whom the FIR was filed, have been arrested till Monday. Mr. Kargi made an appeal to the Collector to arrest all the accused and put an end to the atrocities against Dalits.
More than 100 Dalits, including 40 women, who had picketed the collectorate were cleared from the place and arrested. They were released later that day. Thudiyalur police claimed that normalcy had returned to the locality and that a few organisations were trying to instigate the Dalits and create unrest.
A police officer said that policemen have been stationed at the village and a team of revenue, police and other department officials were visiting the place on a day-to-day basis to assess the situation.
Hindu Munnani representatives petitioned the Collector in connection with the issue and distanced itself from the above said incident. The organisation’s representatives claimed that some persons were defaming their organisation in the social media with the claim that they were behind the oppression of Dalits at Bharathi Colony. A copy of the petition was also submitted to the Superintendent of Police.
A. Nanjappan (36), a Dalit contractor, has lodged a complaint with the Sirumugai Police on Sunday alleging that he was assaulted by a few caste Hindus on September 1. He alleged that P. Jayaraman, a caste Hindu farmer of that locality, picked a quarrel with him over a trivial issue and assaulted him. Nanjappan claimed that the police initially refused to register his complaint, and instead asked both the parties to settle the issue amicably. Later, the police booked Jayaraman under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act.