These families, belonging to Arunthathiyar caste were issued free patta for three cents of land in Pullakalipalayam village in 1988. Trouble arose soon after the families built huts in their land.
The Hindu caste neighbours vehemently opposed it as they believed Dalits residing in the ‘Western’ part of their village is unholy and would bring bad omen to the locality. The affected families are now settled down in other areas in the same neighbourhood.
“Our huts were then damaged by dominant caste people, while we were out to work in farms. This happened twice so we decided to leave our lands to live elsewhere for rent. We still fear to move over and had sought the protection of the authorities to settle down in our land,” said Veeramani, 45. She and her family is working as farm coolies.
Similar is the fate of other families as they also continue to be ‘landless’ despite government issuing them with free ‘pattas’. A S Pavuthan, founder president of Arunthadhiyar Pasarai of Adhi Tamizhar Jananayaga Peravai said that these Dalits were uneducated and they did not have the wherewithal to fight back caste Hindus, in whose farms they were employed then.
On Wednesday, these 20 families led by outfit members submitted a petition to Kangeyam Tahsildar S Maheshwaran to help them reclaim their lands. Meanwhile, Tahsildar Maheshwaran said that he would inspect the land along with Special Tahsildar for Adi Dravidar Welfare on Thursday to sort out the issue.