Vanniyar woman ‘sacrifices’ marriage with dalit youth following pressure from community #Vaw


, TNN | Jun 7, 2013,

Vanniyar woman 'sacrifices' marriage with dalit youth following pressure from community
When 22-year-old Divya, who belongs to the vanniyar community, decided to elope and marry a dailt youth, all hell broke loose.
CHENNAI: Divya Nagarajan could barely stand in the Madras high court premises on Thursday. The pressures of a seventh-month ordeal that included a daring elopement, an inter-caste marriage and caste violence, with strong political overtones that spread across Dharmapuri district, sat heavily on her young shoulders. When 22-year-old Divya, who belongs to the vanniyar community, decided to elope and marry a dailt youth, all hell broke loose. Her father Nagarajan committed suicide, promptingvanniyar community members to go on the rampage in the dalit habitation in Natham colony in Dharmapuri district in November last year. “My husband and I are under huge pressure. I have decided to sacrifice my love, my marriage, for the sake of a society that is caste-obsessed, and for the sake of my mother,” Divya told TOI.

There was high drama in the court premises, when, in an unexpected turn of events, Divya, who had braved the storm and stubbornly refused to leave her dalithusband all through the caste turmoil that rocked Dharmapuri, arrived unexpectedly at the Madras high court on Thursday in response to a habeas corpus plea filed by her mother Thenmozhi last year. She had disappeared from her husband’s house on Tuesday night. Her husband E Elavarasan (20), who had filed a ‘missing’ complaint with theDharmapuri town police, was also present in the court. Divya declined to respond to her husband’s attempts to speak to her. But, Elavarasan, appearing shocked, said, “I strongly believe she will not leave me. We have been facing all these troubles only because I am born a dalit.”

Divya said she was under tremendous pressure to leave her husband and that she was in a disturbed state of mind. Her mother and relatives accompanied the young woman, who appeared too weak to even stand on her own, in the court premises. Her marriage to dalit youth Elavarasan in October last year against the wishes of her family precipitated a deep vanniyar-dalit rift not seen in the region for more than a decade. Under pressure from village leaders to advice his daughter to return to the family, Nagaragan committed suicide, triggering violence that spread rapidly in the region. “My father’s death was unexpected. I have been feeling guilty about his suicide, the violence that followed and the houses of dalit families that were burnt down. I am unable to sleep or eat properly due to the trauma,” Divya said, breaking down.

“Now, whenever I think about it, I shiver with fear. I can’t understand why caste plays such a role in our society?” she said. Justifying her decision to suddenly leave her husband and to return to her mother, Divya said, “I have certain responsibilities towards my family. At the same time I am also grateful to Elavarasan, who took good care of me despite the turmoil around us,” she said, adding that she was forced to remove her mangalsutra soon after she reached her mother’s house in Sellankottai in the district.

Divya said she was not kidnapped or forcibly taken away from her husband. “I have been talking to my mother in recent months over phone. I can understand her trauma. Elavarasan and I have also been under huge social pressure,” she said. On Tuesday, when her mother came to Dharmapuri town for medical treatment, Divya decided to meet her and accompany her back home. “It was a tough decision for me,” she Divya, trying to hold back tears.

Listening to her daughter, Thenmozhi said, “I am in a fix. I don’t know whether to be happy because my daughter has returned to me or feel sad that her married life has been shattered.” Embittered by the events, Elavarasan said, “The last three months I thought her mother had a change of heart and was backing us. It is only now that I believe she has been influencing her daughter and is still opposed to our marriage.”

 

When development triggers caste violence


The educational and economic development of Dalits is seen by the backward castes as a challenge to the social order, as recent incidents in Tamil Nadu show

On the evening of November 7, 2012, a crowd numbering over 1000 people burst into three Dalit settlements in Dharmapuri, north-western Tamil Nadu, and laid them waste. Over a period of several hours, they looted, smashed and burned. Trees had been felled on all approach routes to prevent police and fire-tenders from reaching the scene and those officers who were present decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Over 260 houses were razed to the ground, valuables worth millions of rupees stolen, and goods from televisions to motorbikes smashed and set on fire.

Status competition

The immediate motive for this sustained attack was said to be an inter-caste marriage between a Dalit man and a backward caste woman. Tamil Nadu, however, has a long history of anti-caste activism which encouraged cross-caste marriages. Even today, couples marrying across caste are entitled to various state benefits. This region, furthermore, has a history of communist inspired mobilisation that saw the poor of all castes uniting against landlords and industrialists. In the past 20 years, however, caste identities have been increasingly politicised and polarised by politicians seeking to make political capital out of community identities. It is caste politics and status competition that underpin such violence rather than domestic politics; a point emphasised in May 2013 when violence erupted once more around a Vanniyar (Most Backward Caste) caste conference.

Those at the forefront of the current upsurge in violence are those called the ‘backward’ or the ‘most backward’ castes. These are formal categorisations that entitle groups to affirmative action in recognition of the fact that they have historically lacked the privileges of education and social status. These castes are located just above Dalits in the caste hierarchy but tend to own land. These castes have increasingly mobilised politically to demand special provisions for their group.

In so doing they have reinforced the boundaries of caste and mobilised against perceived threats and injustices. One recurrent assertion of such groups is that Dalits receive favourable treatment from the state and misuse anti-caste legislation to get back at higher castes. Attempts by Dalits to assert themselves in the late 1990s, thus, were met by violent repression from backward castes anxious to defend their status and dominance.

The tragedy of the situation is that there have been systematic efforts to reduce caste tensions in this millennium. Thol. Thirumavalavan, Member of Parliament, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK-Liberation Panther Party) — the largest Dalit party in Tamil Nadu — came to prominence for his fiery rhetoric that promised to hit back against caste aggression and spoke of a counter-violence of the oppressed. Since gaining office, however, he joined hands with Dr. S. Ramadoss — leader of the Most Backward Caste Vanniyar party, Pattali Makkal Katchi — and campaigned on Tamil issues in the interests of social harmony. Indeed, as Gowthama Sannah — Dalit intellectual and VCK leader — put it in 2012:

“Back then when we spoke of hitting back, Mukkulathors and Vanniyars were vehemently and violently anti-Dalit. After Dalits started to counter-attack, their predatory instincts diminished. Now they do not engage in major riots, they do not tend to set light to cheris [Dalit settlements], they do not tend to muster people to attack Dalits. Though small-scale violence persists in many places, the will to engage in major clashes has declined. Then why should we stick to the same ‘hit back’ slogan and strategy? You can only say that when there is a need. Now, when they are being quiet — after the war, peace is the only way.”

Barely a month after this statement, caste ‘wars’ erupted again. Following on from the arson in Dharmapuri there have been similar incidents elsewhere. One question that has been raised is whether this violence can be understood as a form of untouchability or whether it reflects the more recent politicisation of identity. Certainly Dalits have been hitting back across India, but to equate this to the eradication of hierarchy would be premature. Dalits — or Scheduled Castes as they are known in official documents — are still disproportionately represented amongst the poor and landless and still struggle to realise the promises of the Constitution.

While activists are fond of insisting that nothing changes, caste is clearly changing across India and Dalits are developing economically and educationally just as others are. Indeed, it is arguably because of this development that the current conflicts arise. Quietly and gradually, Dalits are escaping forms of dependence and, in so doing, are posing a challenge to the caste order that those just above them in the caste hierarchy find hard to stomach. In Dharmapuri in 2012 and Marakkanam in 2013, mobs deliberately targeted the economic assets of their victims. One factor fuelling their animosity is that Dalits no longer act as submissive agricultural labourers in the fields of the dominant castes. This resentment feeds into a sense of insecurity that is captured in backward caste slogans that say: “first our jobs and now our women.” Women’s bodies, here, serve as the embodied markers of caste purity and so it is when Dalit men marry Vanniyar women that issues arise. The voices and choices of the women concerned are lost in the claims and counter-claims of male politicians.

For all Sannah’s talk of peace, the violence in Dharmapuri was not completely unexpected. Earlier in the year, a Vanniyar Member of the Legislative Assembly had threatened violence against any non-Vanniyar who dared to marry a Vanniyar girl. Though this hate speech was made on an open stage, no action was taken against him for inciting violence. Such speeches are extremely popular within the party because they counter-pose valorous sons-of-the-soil against uppity Dalits who ought to know their place. This construction of an exclusive identity helps create internal solidarity that may help the party in elections, but commentators are increasingly questioning the social costs of such a strategy. Finally, in May 2013, senior members of the PMK were arrested and charged with inciting violence; a move which prompted widespread disruption across the State and party members smashed and burned vehicles, blocked roads and took to the streets.

Vociferous forms

It is tempting to dismiss this violence as indicating the continuing significance of age-old caste identities and relations. To do so, however, ignores the fact that the caste system is clearly changing and the structures underpinning it are starting to shift. Old certainties are being eroded and caste identities are assuming new — often more vociferous — forms. Aspects of caste and untouchability, however, continue to be embedded in the make-up of Indian society. Much as institutions in the U.K. had to confront issues of institutionalised racism, those in India need to recognise and address institutionalised casteism throughout society.

The road towards a casteless and egalitarian society will be long and tortuous, and the divisions between Dalits and ‘caste Hindus’ will prove hardest of all to bridge. Standing by while politicians spew casteist venom renders the authorities partly culpable for caste polarisation and any ensuing violence. If the belated arrest of politicians responsible for ‘hate-speech’ signals a new and more proactive approach to caste politics, then perhaps some good may arise from the ashes of Dalit homes in Dharmapuri.

(Hugo Gorringe is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Edinburgh. Email:Hgorring@staffmail.ed.ac.uk)

 

 

#India – A love affair is the reason for denial of work to Dalits #Vaw #WTFnews


R. ARIVANANTHAM, The Hindu 

Dalit women explaining their woes of discrimination at Deveerahalli village on Thursday. Photo: N.Bashkaran

Dalit women explaining their woes of discrimination at Deveerahalli village on Thursday. Photo: N.Bashkaran

Over 300 Dalit families of Deveerahalli Village, of Kudimenahalli Panchayat, in Krishnagiri district allege that they are being denied work by intermediate castes of the village and of six other nearby villages. The reason behind this, they say, is that a Dalit youth in their area had fallen in love with a girl of an intermediate caste from Sathinayakkanpatti under Damodarahalli Panchayat.

The girl is back with her parents after the youth’s parents wanted her to go back, as they feared the type of mob fury which was unleashed on three colonies in nearby Dharmapuri district, over a similar issue in November last year. But, the boycott of the Dalits of the Krishnagiri village continues though the affair had come to light in December and the girl had gone back to her home.

Intermediate castes have banned Dalits from working on their agriculture fields, brick kilns and other income-earning activities since then. The decision to bar them from such forms of employment was allegedly taken by a ‘khap panchayat’ — a council of older persons who issue decrees to their community members on matters such as marriage — consisting of the leaders of seven villages, in and around Sathinayakkanpatti and Deevarahalli, on December 24 last year, alleged A. Manikandan, district convener of Naam Tamizhar Katchi.

Many Dalits, who have also taken up the lands of intermediate caste on lease, for cultivation of crops, lost lakhs of rupees due to the economic boycott. They were not allowed to step into the farm lands. M. Kumar (37), who is District president of HIV Positive Network, said, “After the incident in December, the neighbouring landowner refused to give water for irrigating my ragi crop, cultivated on half an acre. I was forced to buy water from another village and bring it by tractors to save my crop’’. S. Salamma (45) of Deveerapalli village says she has two young sons to take care of. As her husband, a daily wage earner, has been rendered jobless because of the boycott, the family is totally dependent on the earnings from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) works and the free rice distributed through the public distribution system.

M. Chitra (30), mother of two male children, said, “There is no discrimination at the MGNREGS worksite, but the intermediate castes stopped speaking to us after the order of the khap panchayat”.

The decision taken at the khap panchayat allegedly ordered that Dalits should not be employed under the MGNREGS also. But, it was rejected by the village panchayat president K. Murugesan. Himself a member of an intermediate caste, he told the village leaders that he could not indulge in discrimination as the head of a local body. The parents of the youth and the girl could not be contacted for their comments.

X. Irudayaraj, District Secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, and G. Sekar, District Secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist), added the police and revenue authorities should take action against those indulging in the boycott of Dalits, which denied them livelihood.

Stating that his inquiry found a boycott of the Dalits, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bargur, G. Gajendran said, on Saturday, that he would conduct a meeting between the Dalits and caste-Hindus. As for the love affair, Mr. Gajendran said that even before a formal complaint was lodged by the girl’s family, a police team visited the village and took all possible measures to prevent any untoward incident, and the girl returned to her parents.

Madras High Court terms TN relief for Dalits in Dharmapuri insufficient #Justice


Press Trust of India : Chennai, Fri Jan 11 2013,

The Madras High Court today said the Tamil Nadu government‘s proposal to provide relief of Rs 7.32 crore to 326 Dalit families of four villages in Dharmapuri district affected in the November 7 violence was “not at all sufficient.”

A group had on that day torched 285 huts in three Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri district after a man belonging to Vanniyar caste committed suicide, upset over his daughter marrying a Dalit boy.

A letter produced before the First Bench today showed the details of the proposal sent to state government for sanctioning the relief eligible as per the SC/ST Act for damages caused to household articles, and Rs 7,32,07,715 has been quantified in this regard.

The total amount of damages arrived at in all four Dalit colonies (Rs 3,61,01,435 at Natham, Rs 53,26,550, at Anna Nagar, Rs 2,98,67,230 at Kondampatty and Rs 18,92,500 at Chengalmedu) was Rs 7,32,07,715.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the government has not passed any order in this regard.

The bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan, said, “.. in our view the amount which has been sanctioned is not at all sufficient taking into consideration, the mental agony and pain underwent by affected people of the area.”

“Further the matter of providing adequate relief is under consideraton with government from January 5. Hence, in order to meet the ends of justice, we direct the government to pass appropriate order, sanctioning the amount of Rs 7.32 crore within two weeks from today.”

The bench also directed the state government to appoint former Madurai District Collector U Sagayam to assist Dharmapuri District Collector in disbursing the amount to 326 families of Natham, Anna Nagar, Kondampatty and Chengalmedu in Dharmapuri district.

Advocate General submitted that the government has sanctioned Rs 1,63,00,000 for providing relief for affected people and the Chief Minister has also sanctioned Rs 50,000 to victims from Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

The writ petitions were posted for February 4.

 

How Do We Break The Indian Penile Code? #Vaw #Rape #Justice


REUTERS (FROM OUTLOOK 14 JANUARY 2013)
OPINION
How Do We Break The Indian Penile Code?
This cultural sanction of rape must stop, the state has to speak
MEENA KANDASAMY, in Outlook Jan 14, 2013

The endless discourses of the elite point fingers everywhere: except at the real cause, which is the cultural sanction of rape in India. Arundhati Roy was brave to label it India’s rape culture. Rapes are not just numbers (24,206 in 2011), but categories: first, there is the not-a-rape marital rape. Then, the easily dismissible she-asked-for-it rape to be applied to urban women. There is patriotic rape: singular nights of horror courtesy the Indian army as in Kunan-Pushpora and Shopian in Kashmir; its second cousin, the long-lasting disciplinary rape to teach a lesson to a population seeking self-determination such as by the ipkf in Eelam, or the afspa-empowered army in Manipur; the minority rape as in the rape of Muslim women in Gujarat, custodial rape as in what happened to Chidambaram Padmini and, above all, the commonplace, everyday caste-Hindu rape of Dalit women, as in the rape of Surekha Bhotmange and her daughter in Khairlanji, and a thousand other instances. Please add the word ‘alleged’ in front of every mention of rape, so that we carry this pretence of political correctness.

  • Talk of crime is followed by talk of punishment. The 23-year-old paramedic’s gangrape in Delhi shakes the nation. Seizing the opportunity, violence drapes itself in the clothes of justice, and from the comfort of its kangaroo court, calls for chemical castration and the imposition of a death penalty. Behind this bloodthirsty demand is the propaganda machinery of big media. Out of a hundred questions that come to mind, here’s the obvious one: I do not believe in a hierarchy of victimhood, but why was such a campaign absent when the rapists were not the easily criminalised working classes, but feudal caste-Hindus, army, paramilitary or police personnel, or the rich and powerful? Does caste status, army uniforms, political clout and money grant immunity from media outrage?
  • Then there is patriotic rape, singular nights of horror courtesy the Indian army as in Shopian in Kashmir.

    These phenomenal protests draw the veils over our passive acceptance when we resign our fates to rapes in the private realm. Bleeding from a night of forced sex, when you go to the hospital, brace yourself for disappointment when doctors flash a congratulatory smile at your husband for proving his manhood yet again. You cannot go to the courts afterwards; there is no provision in the Indian Penal/Penile Code to deal with marital rape. In a judgement delivered this December, Delhi district judge J.R. Aryan said, “IPC does not recognise any such concept of marital rape. If complainant was a legally wedded wife of accused, the sexual intercourse with her by accused would not constitute offence of rape even if it was by force or against her wishes.” Translation from the legalese: your husband owns your body. Postscript: marriage is a licence for a man to get free sex and get away with repeated rape. Let us begin by exposing the sexual violence in our homes, tackling the rapists, child abusers and wife-beaters whom we shelter with our silences.

  • Should we buy into this rhetoric of quick justice and fast-track courts, oblivious to the implications of what awaits us and lacking the wherewithal to initiate reforms in the judiciary? In handling rape cases, several judges have proved themselves to be incarnations of khap panchayat chiefs. Two years ago, in dealing with the case of a gangrape of a minor girl, Justices H.S. Bedi and J.M. Panchal of the Supreme Court of India held that “there can be no presumption that a prosecutrix would always tell the entire story truthfully”. Remember, rape trials are tests of true storytelling. Let us devote time to work on that skill so that when we are eventually raped, we increase our chances at getting justice. The above bench also shamelessly said, “In rape cases, the testimony of the victim cannot be considered to be the gospel truth.” This inherent suspicion by the judiciary is another act of silencing. The system tells you, speaking out will be a disgrace since you have to be disbelieved. Understand my contempt, it is equal and directly proportional to the Supreme Court’s misogyny and mistrust of women.
  • Beyond the false pride vested in virginity and the glorified burden of chastity, Indian women suffer because they are seen as sexual objects instead of sexual beings. Just as the Indian male imagination cannot include the possibility of a woman wanting to have sex, he cannot imagine a woman wanting to refuse sex. Their consent is taken for granted, this gives a free run to rape culture. In its most bloody avatar, this denial of a woman’s sexuality can lead to mindless violence and an indefinite moratorium on intercaste marriages. Last month, the Ramadoss-led PMK burnt 300 homes in three Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu, to warn caste-Hindu women off from marrying Dalit men. Love, he claims, is an immature act. The scope of anti-caste rebellion arising out of women’s sexual autonomy singes this disturbed man.
  • We fight for ourselves and spontaneously find our strength. Sorry to disappoint you, Sushma Swaraj. We refuse to be frozen into frigidity merely to fit into your depiction of rape survivors as zinda laash, the living corpses. We are not the walking dead; every day comes alive because of us. We even own the nights. Patriarchal pride dies between our thighs. Your education in feminism will begin, Ms Swaraj, when you learn to respect us. In your spare time, you can start by questioning Hindutva hyper-masculinity and how it resulted in the rapes of Muslim women in Gujarat.

This country gave a gallantry medal to SP Ankit Garg, who ordered the torture of adivasi schoolteacher Soni Sori.

In a city comatose with its own delusions of power, this was a disaster waiting to happen. The Delhi-NCR police have legitimised rapes in the region earlier too, speaking their mind to hidden cameras, saying “she asked for it” and “it is consensual most of the time”. They blamed young women for not staying within their boundaries, for wearing short skirts, for not wearing stoles, for drinking vodka, for enticing men. A cop declared that no rape would happen without the girl’s provocation. No serious action has been taken against any of these cops. It’s difficult to expect otherwise, in a country that gave a gallantry medal to SP Ankit Garg, who ordered the torture of Soni Sori, the adivasi schoolteacher from Dantewada. She was undressed, given electric shocks, stones were shoved in her vagina and rectum. I will save other stories of custodial rapes for another day.

  • This is how the state ushers in a semblance of calm in Delhi: using expired teargas, lathicharging protesters, wielding water cannons in the December cold. Unleashing police terror is a surprise tactic with a long-term payoff, it is violence meant to shut the door on further peaceful protests. Justifying this brutality, the Delhi police commissioner spoke of “collateral damage” and the Union home minister compared protesters to Maoists. When such language is routinely employed by the state—not in reference to rebellion in the Red Corridor, but to pretty placards in the capital city—it signifies an all-out offensive on the people. When the state finds an escape hatch by homogenising all protest and labelling everyone a Maoist, it creates a sense of helplessness and isolation among the young people. Since the ruling order will not meet protesters on the roads or in Raisina Hill, are they suggesting that all of us schedule a rendezvous in Bastar? Assuming politics is an antidote to violence, the protesters at India Gate merely had a defanged demand: “Talk to us.” What they heard was the silence of the political elites and the deathly drone of the state machinery that sought to quell their protests.

The middle classes who got a taste of police violence will now, hopefully, wake up to the reality of police, paramilitary and army excesses in Kashmir, the Northeast and in adivasi villages in central India. Out of their slumbering state, they will perhaps realise the sham of the present democracy and the zero accountability that elected representatives enjoy. The prime minister robotically reading out empty words and the strategic absence of legitimate mediation from the state will not quell protests. On the contrary, it will have the unintended consequence of detonating similar struggles everywhere. The state will have to speak then. If it doesn’t, and the government succeeds in driving all anger and dissent underground, it will have to take the blame for creating guerrillas en masse. Theek hai?

Dalit protest shifts to Salem hospital after 20-yr-old dies


By , TNN | Dec 5, 2012, 07.13 AM IST

SALEM: Angered by the refusal of the government to respond to their demands, at least 500 dalits began a sit-in outside the mortuary of the Salem Government Hospital on Tuesday and refused to let hospital officials do a post-mortem on a 20-year-old girl, who died on Monday, while participating in the mass hunger strike. The strike was to protest against anti-dalit violence in three colonies in Dharmapuri district.

A Mangai alias Mangammal was in Salem GH for four days after her health deteriorated. Doctors said she succumbed to viral brain fever, which she may have contacted due to prolonged exposure to the cold weather. The mob that attacked her village had burned down her house and she had no option but to sleep in the open. Lack of proper medication soon after she developed fever and the hunger strike could have worsened her situation, doctors had said on Monday.

Her relatives were adamant that they would not let hospital authorities do a post-mortem unless the government heard them out. “The government should listen to our demands at least after my daughter’s death,” said C Anbu, Mangai’s father.

 

# India-The murder of a Dalit girl and the silence over it #Vaw


 

Ravi Chandran, http://roundtableindia.co.in

(This article talks about the alleged murder of a Paraiyar girl, Gogila, by her family because of her love marriage with an Arunthathiyar boy, Karthikeyan, in a village in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu. Apart from a small report in Junior Vikatan, the Tamil magazine, there has been absolute silence in the media over this tragic incident. Information for this article was primarily gleaned from conversations with Karthikeyan, the victim’s husband, his family, and the news report.)

paraiyan arunthathiyar marriage

Before going into the issue I want to discuss certain issues related to the discrimination and the tension prevailing among Dalit sub-castes in Tamil Nadu. These tensions can be found in all states in India. In Tamil Nadu, Paraiyars, Pallars and Arunthathiyars are the major sub-castes among Dalits. Paraiyars are advanced in education compared with other sub-castes, Pallars have a little land in some places, and Arunthathiyars are engaged in leather working and scavenging. Pallars and Paraiyars in Tamil Nadu look down upon Arunthathiyars. However it doesn’t mean that the way they look at the Arunthathiyars is similar to the way the Vanniyars or Gounders or Thevars see Arunthathiyars. In some pockets of Tamil Nadu, there are places where these sub-castes do have a mutual understanding and live together; but it does not mean that across Tamil Nadu they live with good understanding. Some of the educated Paraiyars have been doing enough damage to the relationship between the sub-castes. Take the example of the prominent intellectuals of Paraiyars in Tamil Nadu: none have said even a single line that all are Scheduled Castes. Let this be as it is. One point has to be made clear that across Tamil Nadu, any Arunthathiyar man marrying a Paraiyar or Pallar girl will never be accepted by the Paraiyar or Pallar communities.

Even before the odour of the burning homes in Dharmapuri has completely dissipated, some casteist Paraiyars in a Villupuram village have shown the same behavior as the Vanniyars. This incident took place in Pallinellinoor village near Kandamangalam in Villupuram district. The village comprises of 40 Paraiyar houses and 3 Arunthathiyar houses. On November 10th, Mr. Karthikeyan approached the local police station with the complaint that his wife was murdered by her own father and relatives.

Karthikeyan worked for daily wages and he says:

“Eight years ago, Ms. Gogila and I studied together in the Kandamangalam Vallalar high school. Since then we are in love. We both belong to Scheduled Castes, but different sub-castes. She is a Paraiyar and I belong to the Arunthathiyar sub-caste. Since her parents would not agree to the marriage, we got secretly married, which was registered on 1.12.2010 in Kadallur. However we both agreed to live separately till we get our parents to agree to our marriage. Ms. Gogila was working with a company related to medicine, and we both used to meet often.

Her parents came to know about the marriage recently. Immediately they planned to marry her off to someone and were looking for a groom. Ms. Gogila strongly opposed the move, therefore she was sent to her uncle’s house. In her uncle’s house, she was brutally attacked and was asked to agree to another marriage, but she disagreed. Suddenly on 8th Nov 2012, they told her that we will unite you and your husband and brought her back to her house. For three days they kept her in an isolated room, and demanded that she commit suicide. All these conversations were conveyed by Ms. Gogila to me and I have also evidence of the same (that these incidents did happen).

On the evening of 9th November, I called Ms. Gogila. Her mobile was switched off. In the morning I was told that Ms. Gogila had died.

Ms. Gogila was murdered by her parents. Therefore I immediately approached the police station and gave a complaint. The station Inspector came to the village and wanted to collect the body but they (her family) strongly resisted and the Inspector failed to collect the body. The parents burnt the body. Now their parents and others are constantly calling me to take the complaint back from the police station or else I would meet the same fate as Ms. Gogila.”

The Junior Vikatan report (translated) says:

When I (the reporter) spoke to Ms. Gogila’s friends, they said: “It is true that Gogila was in love with Karthikeyan and they got married. Mr. Karthikeyan used to take her to her workplace on his bike every now and then. She also used to say that we got married and our parents don’t know about that. If they come to know there would be a serious problem. However in recent times, she used to say that she is going to tell her father about her marriage. But she never told him. If we asked her about it, she would reply ‘that my father lives proudly and my marriage might hurt his pride. Therefore I do not want my father or parents to face any problem because of me‘. She was a strong woman full of courage and she would say that she will live with him.”

The village has a strong presence of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) cadres and they are keeping silent on this issue. What does that mean?

I am so surprised that no one is speaking about it. The internet is flooded with news on the horrific tragedy of Dharmapuri, but there is very little on this issue. This is not the first such case in Tamil Nadu where Arunthathiyars faced discrimination from fellow Dalits from the Paraiyar community. The above incident, in my view, is not only about caste violence but it is about both gender and caste violence, resulting from the caste prejudice which dictates that a well-off Paraiyar woman should not marry a sweeping community boy. So many fact finding missions have gone to Dharmapuri, but this issue has attracted none. Why?

Dalit movement and intellectuals keep on saying that Dharmapuri is an example of caste violence, but they fail to see the gender violence behind the tragedy which had transformed into caste violence. Certainly every community seems to want to control its population numbers and they see women (marrying outside the community) as a threat and also as easy targets for their male chauvinism.

There are many such incidents where Arunthathiyar men marrying Paraiyar women were murdered or their sisters were sexually assaulted. We are all talking about the ‘love marriage’ that was supposedly the cause of the Dharmapuri violence, but its my view that it was not love marriage (that caused the incident) but the entrenched prejudice that marriages between women from dominant communities and men from lower communities should not be allowed that caused the violence. In Tamil Nadu, Vanniyars are opposing their women marrying Paraiyar men but the Vanniyars have never said that Vanniyar men should not marry Paraiyar women. Basically it is an argument founded on male chauvinism and gender bias, which is the core agenda of every caste organization, may it be of the Paraiyars, Pallars, or even Vanniyars. The present violence would also show that the caste Paraiyars killed their daughter for marrying a lower caste Dalit male.

Finally, why is it that the problems of Arunthathiyars have never gained any public attention in the past or in the present? I strongly feel the Dalit leaders and intellectuals have never tried to take any positive steps towards resolving different sub-caste problems. And thus, they also become silent supporters of violence on Arunthathiyars like in the case of the Villupuram couple.

~~~

 

Attack on Dalit colonies pre-planned, says commission


Dharmapuri, November 12, 2012

PTI

A Dalit woman grieves over the property damage at her house in Natham colony in Naikkankottai on Friday. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan
The Hindu
A Dalit woman grieves over the property damage at her house in Natham colony in Naikkankottai on Friday. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

Taking a serious view of the recent violence in which 268 huts at three Dalit colonies in the district were set on fire, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, which visited the violence-hit areas, on Monday said the attack was “out and out pre-planned.”

The Commission inferred from the visit that the attack was “out and out pre-planned and organised crime” against the Dalit community, NCSC Chairman P.L. Punia told reporters.

The violence was triggered after a man committed suicide on November 7 over his daughter’s marriage to a Dalit.

Mr. Punia said the mob had attacked a Dalit family in Kondampatti village where an inter-caste marriage had happened, revealing that they were taking revenge.

Petrol bombs were hurled at four-wheelers, two-wheelers, and valuables looted from houses revealing that it was not a sudden attack but a pre-planned one, the NCSC chairman said.

No casualty was reported. But all the houses in the colonies suffered damaged, Mr. Punia said, adding that the villagers were in a state of shock.

The Commission praised the district administration and police personnel who acted swiftly to arrest 126 culprits in connection with the violence.

As many as 40 houses were damaged and 175 houses were partially damaged, Mr. Punia said, adding that the government had provided only temporary relief measures. The estimated loss was roughly about Rs. seven crore.

The district administration should constitute a peace committee, Mr. Punia said.

As school girls of affected villages felt afraid to go to school, the district administration should arrange buses with police protection for a couple of weeks till the situation returns to normal, the Commission recommended.

The Commission would recommend to the government to constitute a separate body to provide counselling to the victims, Mr. Punia said.

A senior official of the National Commission for SC/ST had visited the three Dalit colonies on November 10.

 

“Extensive damage caused to Dalits’ property”


R. ARIVANANTHAM, DHARMAPURI, November 11, 2012

D. Venkatesan, Director of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, listening to the grandmother of the Dalit boy, who married a caste Hindu girl in Natham Colony, on Saturday. Photo: N. Bashkaran
The HinduD. Venkatesan, Director of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, listening to the grandmother of the Dalit boy, who married a caste Hindu girl in Natham Colony, on Saturday. Photo: N. Bashkaran

National Commission for Scheduled Castes will submit report tomorrow, says Director who visited Naikkankottai

Extensive damage has been caused to the property of Dalits in the November 7 attack on their colonies here by caste Hindus, according to Director of National Commission for Scheduled Castes D. Venkatesan.

After inspecting the houses that were torched at Natham Colony, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti new and old colonies in Naikkankottai village on Saturday, he told The Hindu here that the Commission’s report and recommendations would be submitted to the Central and State governments on Monday.

Based on the recommendations, the governments would initiate rehabilitation measures, he added.

Women, especially the elderly, broke down on seeing the official and narrated their harrowing experiences. Petitions were also given to Mr. Venkatesan.

At Natham Colony, he spoke to T. Palaniammal, 80-year-old grandmother of E. Ilavarasan, the Dalit, who married caste Hindu girl N. Divya.

There were tense moments during the official’s visit to the village. Some members of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi sought to block the way of Mr. Venkatesan and shouted slogans to disband the Commission, contending that it should have visited the place immediately after the incident.

They demanded that the Collector, the DIG and the SP camp in the colonies and arrange basic necessities for the affected persons. They also wanted a medical camp to be organised.

Prior to Mr Venkatesan’s three-hour visit of the colonies along with police and revenue officials, he held a review meeting with District Collector R. Lilly and Superintendent of Police Asra Garg at the Collectorate.

Three more arrested

Three more persons allegedly involved in the attack on the colonies were arrested and remanded in judicial custody, taking the total number of arrested persons to 95.

The body of Nagaraj was still in the mortuary at the Government Hospital after post-mortem as his community was divided over receiving it. Though the Vanniyar Sangam called for a meeting in Dharmapuri for Saturday to discuss the future course of action, only 12 members turned up at the meeting, as against the expected 500. The group dispersed without holding the meeting.

 

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