Tamil Nadu

Violence against SC community in T.N. on the rise during lockdown: study

“At least 25 cases of violence have been reported across the State in the last 30 days,” says the executive director of Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO.

In the last 30 days — since March 24 from when the coronavirus-related lockdown has been in place — at least 25 incidents of violence against members of the Scheduled Caste (SC) community have been reported across various parts of Tamil Nadu, said A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO.

The alleged reasons for the violence, reported in remote villages of Tiruvannamalai, Ulundurpet, Tenkasi, Theni, Dindigul, and Pudukottai among others, were land disputes and love affairs, the study by volunteers in the respective districts showed, Mr. Kathir said.

“When the district administration and police were instructing the public to stay home due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the dominant communities in these villages chose to step out and attack the downtrodden people who were without an income due to the lockdown.”

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Mr. Kathir gave examples of such incidents. He said that on March 29, a young man, Sudakaran of Arani Taluk, was brutally murdered by the family of the upper-caste girl he was to wed. “While both suspects in the case were arrested, the incident is highly condemnable.”

In another incident on April 23, a private television channel reporter Adi Suresh was allegedly attacked by a 10-member gang for telecasting a video that showed a statue of B.R. Ambedkar being defaced by unidentified persons. The police had arrested the attackers, Mr. Kathir said.

“About 15 persons forced a group belonging to a Scheduled Caste to vacate a piece of wetland in Tiruvannamalai district. They had agreed to vacate after the harvest season and after normalcy was restored. And yet, violence was unleashed against them and crops destroyed. The police arrested the attackers and sent them to judicial custody.,” he said.

On April 22, at least 15 huts in Kottaipatti, near Nilakottai in Dindigul district, were destroyed by the caste Hindus after Tamil Selvan, a dalit from this village who had married a girl from a caste Hindu community from the adjacent village last year, returned to his house with the wife and his new-born twins.

Atrocities on rise

The Evidence team claimed that there may have been many more incidents of violence during the lockdown which may not have come to light.

“From the complaints received across the districts, we saw that atrocities had risen by at least 40%. A pro-active media would be very helpful to the downtrodden sections as the police and other government machinery was focused on containing the COVID-19 virus. Though the police had arrested the suspects in these complaints, the State government should direct the enforcing agencies to detain the accused under Goondas Act and compensate the victims at the earliest,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 1:10:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/violence-against-sc-community-in-tn-on-the-rise-during-lockdown-study/article31460805.ece

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