Tamil Nadu

‘Melavalavu massacre, a milestone for Dalit movement’

RENEWING A PLEDGE: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol. Thirumavalavan paying homage to victims of a massacre at the 'Viduthalaikalam Memorial' at Melavalavu near Melur in Madurai district on Thursday. Photo: G. Moorthy

RENEWING A PLEDGE: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol. Thirumavalavan paying homage to victims of a massacre at the 'Viduthalaikalam Memorial' at Melavalavu near Melur in Madurai district on Thursday. Photo: G. Moorthy

The gruesome murder of six Dalits in broad daylight was a scar on the history of oppressed classes in Tamil Nadu. It was carried out at a time when the Dalits had been welcoming local self governance that provided them space for empowerment at the grassroots, said Thol.Thirumavalavan, MP, and president, Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

Addressing the cadres who had gathered in thousands at Melavalavu near Melur in Madurai district on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of ‘Melavalavu Massacre’ on Thursday, he said that the sacrifice made by Murugesan and other Dalits in the face of various atrocities were important for the Dalit movement as they were made to claim lost rights. They lost their lives in the battle to uphold basic democratic and political rights and give shape to the dreams of Dr. Ambedkar. “We take oath here every year to ensure that we are on the track to organise the oppressed and fight for their political rights.”

“Our everyday life is to toil for others; work for the economic uplift of others; announce death; dig up graves etc since none is there to voice our concerns. Leaders talk about French Revolution and Russian Revolution. There are people who speak about animal rights but none to speak for Dalits. And it was Dr.Ambedkar who gave face for these faceless people,” he said.

Mr. Thirumavalavan said that they should thank late Chief Minister M. G. Ramachandran for doing away with Village Karnam/Munsiff posts and bringing in the post of Village Administrative Officer. It changed the power equations in the village and provided a chance for landless Dalits to become VAOs.

Panchayati Raj system gave Dalits a chance to share power at the grassroots and this shook the foundation of power which was always with the dominant castes.

At Melavalavu, unmindful of threats from the dominant castes, Murugesan contested the election with the support of VCK and won. But he was murdered along with five others while travelling in a bus.

The VCK leader also remembered the sacrifice of two Dalits at Sennagarampatti who died fighting for land rights.

Demands

He wanted the government to stop giving freebies and instead provide free education. Education stood as the most commoditised service and it should be made free. The government should close all TASMAC-run liquor shops as drinking habit was affecting working classes, especially the Dalits.

Earlier he paid floral tributes at the ‘Viduthalai Kalam’ memorial, gave dress materials to members of the families of victims, christened a dozen babies in chaste Tamil names and conducted an anti-caste marriage.

He also said that the party would start a television channel and have its new headquarters in Chennai.

Cadres of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), led by A,. Lazar and R. Annadurai, MLAs, and members of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, including K. Samuel Raj, general secretary, paid tributes at the memorial.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2022 5:57:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/melavalavu-massacre-a-milestone-for-dalit-movement/article59941096.ece