TAMIL NADU

Fear, despair grip Dalits at Salarapatty

IN TEARS: Velammal, a dalit woman injured in a mob attack at Salarapatty, being consoled by Tirupur MLA C. Govindasamy at the Government Hospital in Udumalpet on Tuesday.

IN TEARS: Velammal, a dalit woman injured in a mob attack at Salarapatty, being consoled by Tirupur MLA C. Govindasamy at the Government Hospital in Udumalpet on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: M. Balaji

M. Gunasekaran

Villagers complain of police inaction

UDUMALPET: “What is our sin? We cannot live in this village anymore. It is a surprise we survived the attack by a mob of caste Hindus yesterday (Monday). We have no other option but to leave this village as there is no guarantee for our lives and property,” lamented Dharmathal, a 65-year-old dalit farm worker.

Yet to come out of the shock several hours after the attack, many women and children at Salarapatty, eight km from here in Coimbatore district, complained on Tuesday that the police arrived late. More than 10 tiled houses were ransacked and two motorcycles smashed by the mob. Some thatched enclosures and three houses were reduced to ashes.

Eleven tea shops in the area had remained closed for over a fortnight after the dalits opposed the two-tumbler system.

The impact of the attack was such that 50 dalit students of a government middle school abstained from classes on Tuesday.

“Caste Hindus, including our schoolmates, have threatened us with dire consequences. We cannot go to the schools here, they will beat us,” complained Arulkumar, a Standard VII student.

Eight dalits, including 70-year-old Velammal, who sustained injury in her hip, are recuperating at Udumalpet Government Hospital. Five caste Hindus also have been admitted to the hospital.

The dalits complained that no solace had come so far from government authorities.

A large posse of police personnel prevented the entry of outsiders, including the media, for hours on Tuesday.

Police blamed

Tirupur MLA and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader C. Govindasamy, after interacting with both sides, blamed the police for inaction during the violence. “Dalit women and children were subjected to a gruesome attack. The authorities should restore peace and take stringent steps to instil confidence in the dalits. The government should immediately provide necessary relief to those who have been affected,” he said. Mr. Govindasamy demanded the immediate withdrawal of an attempt to murder case filed against five dalit youths.

Hunt on for culprits

Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore Rural, G. Karthikeyan, said 30 caste Hindus and five dalits had been arrested.

“Adequate police force has been deployed in the village. We are on the look out for the other persons who were involved in the clash.”

Adhi Thamilar Peravai founder-president R. Adhiyaman and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Susi Kalaiarasan met the dalits after staging a road blockade.

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