Dalits separated by wall at colony

The 20-metre-long and 10-feet-high brick wall was put up about 20 years ago

Published - July 20, 2011 10:38 am IST - SALEM:

Dalits of Gandhi Mahan street in ward-42 in Salem  demand a 20 metre wall  to  be demolished. Photo: E.Lakshmi Narayanan

Dalits of Gandhi Mahan street in ward-42 in Salem demand a 20 metre wall to be demolished. Photo: E.Lakshmi Narayanan

A 20-metre-long and 10-feet-high brick wall of near two decades old here separates 200 Dalit families from others.

The wall, called by them as the ‘untouchable wall of Salem' is separating Raman colony where they, all Arunthathiyars, are living from VOC Nagar located on the other side of wall where many, a majority of them caste Hindus, are residing. The wall, running parallel to a drainage channel along Gandhi Mahan Street, has shut an easy access to main road on the other side.

The Dalits allege that the controversial wall was constructed some two decades back by a private person ‘to prevent the overflowing drainage waters from the adjoining colony to enter into his land.'

“We are told that the wall was erected on both patta and porombok lands for which we need a resurvey,” demand Dalit youths who have taken up the issue with support from Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).

They allege that their children have to take a circuitous route to reach the main road to go to schools.

“The sick and elderly are suffering the worst. It is constructed on poromboke land,” said Pon Saravanan, urban secretary, DYFI. Many vouchsafe the same. As the sewage water gets stagnated, the entire area is stinking with scores of pigs roaming freely.

M. P. Kandasamy, a 70-year-old Dalit, said that the wall has been put up for about 20 years. “It should be demolished and a way for us must be opened,” he insisted, while 40- year old Devakani said Salem Corporation had taken no steps so far to improve the colony's sanitary conditions. “We are boxed in with wall on one side and pools of sewers on other side,” she claimed.

But those who are living in VOC Nagar on the other side of wall said they had purchased plots and constructed houses after spending their hard-earned money. “We are here to live peacefully in a good and hygienic environment and we are against any discrimination. We have not constructed the wall,” said a resident.

A majority of them have moved in recently there.

Salem Tahsildar D. Kumaresan told The Hindu that he was asked to conduct an enquiry into the claims on the disputed wall.

“I will visit the spot tomorrow and after surveying it, I will submit a report. Many claimed that the wall could have been constructed on both private and porombok lands. I have called for land records and accordingly we will act,” he said.

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