‘Wall of untouchability' pulled down

Dalits lay siege to tahsildar's office and forced Salem district administration to take firm action

Published - December 05, 2011 09:41 am IST - SALEM:

Untouchability wall being demolished  at Sanyasipatti,  near Sankagiri on Sunday. Photo: P. Goutham

Untouchability wall being demolished at Sanyasipatti, near Sankagiri on Sunday. Photo: P. Goutham

Dalits of Sanyasipatti near Sankagiri in Salem district fought bitterly for five days before forcing the district administration to take firm action to demolish a four-foot-high and 20-foot-long wall erected right across a tar-topped road with the intention of preventing them from using it.

The ‘wall of untouchability' erected on November 29 in the middle of the night by some caste Hindus was pulled down on Sunday by those who put it up after revenue authorities intervened.

The wall had come up across the road laid by the village panchayat some 15 years ago to provide better access to the Arunthathiyar colony, where 200 Dalits families are living.

A caste Hindu group, which had constructed a temple adjacent to the road, had been at loggerheads with the Dalits for using the road.

“We were asked to take a circuitous route through the fields to reach the colony,” said a youth who was among the agitators.

With CPI (M) and DYFI leading the agitation, the Dalits laid siege to the tahsildar's office at Sankagiri till late Saturday night, forcing the officials to take the decision to have the wall demolished. “The officials first removed just a portion of the wall. But we insisted that it should be totally removed,” said Sekar, a DYFI activist. CPI (M) floor leader in the Assembly A. Soundararajan who visited the spot said the fight would continue till the wall was demolished totally.

On Sunday, a team of revenue officials led by Tahsildhar S. Razyia Begam arrived on the spot. Since talks between two groups had failed with caste Hindus objecting to the demolition and Dalits demanding it, there was threat of a law and order problem. But Sankagiri police provided security for the officials who later asked the caste Hindus themselves to pull down the wall.

S Gopalakrishnan, a bus conductor from the colony said it was a great relief for the people of the Arunthathiyar colony.

This is the third wall symbolising social ostracisation that has been demolished in Salem district within a span of two months.

Earlier officials removed a wall right in the heart of Salem city that separated Dalits from others while another was demolished near Omalur that blocked pathway to Dalit colony from the main thoroughfare.

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