Dalits assert right over land; forcibly evicted

Villagers from Kuravakudi, who came to Madurai Collectorate on Monday, allege that their huts were removed by people claiming to be owners.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

An attempt by around 50 Dalit families from Kuravakudi near Usilampatti to assert their right over more than one acre of land, for which pattas were issued to them in 1998, was thwarted by few caste Hindus claiming to be the land owners, who on Sunday allegedly demolished and burnt the makeshift huts erected by the Dalits.

The Dalits, who filed a petition in this regard with Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao on Monday, alleged that the people engaged by the caste Hindus burnt the huts in the presence and support of police personnel from Usilampatti range. However, the police claimed that the land in question, the subject of several litigations over the years, was presently under the control of caste Hindu families since the last ruling of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court in 2016.

On the contrary, the Dalits claimed that the court ruling was in their favour and one of the cases was still pending in the High Court. Importantly, they blamed the indifference of the district revenue administration over the years, which resulted in the entire mess.

Showing pattas, C. Pichai, a Dalit from the village, said they had been fighting to get access to the three cents of land allocated to each of them for nearly two decades. “Some of us will die soon. We have lost count of petitions we submitted to successive Collectors,” he said.

P. Selvam, another Dalit who filed several litigations, alleged that the land acquisition originally done by the revenue administration was not completed properly. “Using this loophole and in collusion with some revenue officials, the landowners approached court,” he claimed.

V. Sasikala, a Dalit woman, claimed that even the 2016 court ruling urged the district administration to complete land acquisition within eight weeks so that it could be handed over to them.

C.J. Rajan, State president of Samam Kudimakkal Iyakkam, condemned the manner in which the Dalits were evicted. “Even if the police thought it was an encroachment, they should have informed revenue officials. How could they stand witness and even encourage people engaged by caste Hindus to burn the huts. Is this how encroachments are removed,” he said.

Refuting the allegations, a police official said the evictions were removed by Dalits themselves in the presence of Village Administrative Officer and other revenue officials. The Collector has ordered for a detailed enquiry to be conducted by Usilampatti Revenue Divisional Officer.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 5:43:18 PM |

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