Kerala

A village on Kerala-TN border is still fighting caste-based discriminations

Congress leaders including V T Balaram MLA engages in a `panthi bhojanam' with residents of Ambedkar colony in Muthalamada.

Congress leaders including V T Balaram MLA engages in a `panthi bhojanam' with residents of Ambedkar colony in Muthalamada.   | Photo Credit: spl;spl -

While the State is celebrating 100th anniversary of community feast Panthibhojanam initiated by social reformer Sahodaran Ayyappan to fight caste-based discriminations, a Tamil speaking Dalit colony at Govindapuram, near here, is accusing caste Hindus of the neighborhood of practising untouchability.

As residents of Ambedkar colony in the village sharing border with Pollachi in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu are prevented from entering shops and other establishments run by upper caste Gounders, the Dalits belonging to Chakkliya community are running their own barbershop and tea shop. It was only recently, they constructed a temple of their own with caste Hindus denying them entry to the village temple. Even in the case of drawing drinking water from government’s supply scheme, the colony members are permitted to use only taps and tanks marked for them.

Panthibhojanam

It was after a section of the media reported about the prevailing untouchability that Congress leader V.T. Balram, MLA, visited the colony on Monday and took part in a ‘panthibhojanam’ organised by the colony members.

He had also accompanied the colony members to public taps hitherto used by Gounders to draw drinking water.

“The situation there was serious and it is a shame to progressive Kerala. It was only after visiting the colony with Congress leader Sumesh Achuthan, I came to know about the gravity of the issue,’’ said Mr. Balram.

In fact, the colony residents had invited leaders of different political parties to attend the community feast. No representative of CPI(M), which rules the local grama panchayat, turned up. Even the local leadership of Congress had opposed visit of Mr. Balram to the colony.

It was in 2001, the colony created headlines for the untouchability practised by the caste Hindu neighbours.

The then State government acted swiftly and initiated legal action against those who discriminated against the Dalits. However, the untouchability resurfaced in the recent years after a Challiya girl fell in love with an upper caste youth.

“Those people who show discrimination against us are supported by the police, local panchayat and the government. The visit of the MLA has helped us regain confidence but we are still fearful about drawing water from taps used by the Gounders,” said S Lakshmi, a colony resident.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 6:35:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/village-still-practising-untouchability/article18732823.ece

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