By Harish Murali | ENS – MADURAI
08th June 2013
Pechiammal (61), the grandmother of Dalit boy Arun Kumar who was forced to walk on streets where caste Hindus reside carrying his footwear on his head at Vadugapatti near Usilampatti, is worried about the future of her grandson.
“After my daughter Nagammal gave a police complaint against a caste Hindu youth for humiliating her son Arun Kumar, both have left for our relative’s house fearing for their lives,” said Pechiammal, who was seen sitting alone in the house at Vadugapatti. The village wore a deserted look on Friday, while the caste Hindus ‘closely monitored’ the movement of those Dalits who dared to venture out.
Narrating the atrocities that happened to Arun Kumar, Pechiammal said, “My grandson went to the Kallar Government High School to check his annual exam result. When he was returning, he walked barefoot following the ‘dictum’ of the caste Hindus, carrying his footwear in his hand. However, when he saw a group of students playing cricket, he stopped to watch the game. Unable bear the heat, he put the footwear down and stood on it. It was then that caste Hindu youth Nagamaalai spotted my grandson and forced him to walk carrying the footwear on his head.”
“What happened to Arun Kumar is not unusual. Since Nagammal filed a police complaint, the caste discrimination in our village has come to light,” said a cross-section of Dalits.
About 70 Dalit families live in a ‘colony’ (secluded area earmarked for Dalits) in the village. However, none of them are allowed to walk wearing footwear in the streets of caste Hindus. “We also walk barefoot to a ration shop which is located in the caste Hindu area,” said Alagar (33), a resident.