On January 12, a group of 20 Dalit youth from Vilampatti near Iluppur in Pudukkottai went on a tractor to take part in the ‘annadhanam’ (free meals programme) organised for devotees on padayatra to Palani temple.
“After the pooja, we were waiting in queue for meals and suddenly, a group of Caste Hindu youth arrived and abused us verbally using caste name. They asked me to unfold my dhoti and threatened everyone of dire consequences if we did not obey them,” said P Manikandan, one of the Dalit youth who was part of the group. Later, more caste Hindu youth arrived and warned the Dalits against their dhoti style.
“They told us how dare we were to come to their place in a vehicle and asked us to leave the tractor with them and get it back after coming with the elders from our village,” Manikandan said. Subsequently, the Dalits left the tractor at Valayapatti and returned. The next day, the Dalit youth along with their village elders reportedly went to the village of caste Hindus to get back their vehicle. While the elders were holding a talk, a group of caste Hindu youth barged in and attacked four Dalit youth, including Manikandan.
Despite the elders pacifying them, the caste Hindus forcibly removed the shirts of four Dalit youth, tied their hands and thrashed them. They also assaulted the Dalit elders. On information, the Annavasal police rushed to the spot and rescued all the Dalits and took them to the police station.
“We lodged a police complaint against the caste Hindu youth, but so far, they have not initiated any action,” Manikandan said. During the day, a Dalit youth backed by A Jeeva, district president of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), approached Collector S Ganesh and Superintendent of Police S Selvaraj and submitted separate petitions. The SP has forwarded the petition to Iluppur DSP N Gopala Chandran for action.
In the evening, vice president of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) A Lazar submitted a petition to the SP. He told the media that Pudukkottai district has witnessed more atrocities against Dalits and urged the administration and police to provide security to them.