Meanwhile, the Thiruvannamalai Advance Network has taken action on the following four cases:
a. The village of Peranambattu in Polur taluka in Thiruvannamalai district has a population of 2,500 families. Of these only about 300 families are Dalits. On April 10 this year, a group of these Dalits while returning from a funeral in the near by village of Aathurai, were making critical comments about the president of the village panchayat, Murugesan, belonging to an upper caste. The grouse was that president was uninterested in providing people with access to government welfare schemes. On hearing these comments, the son of Murugesan and Arjunan, a ward member, mustered together a rowdy group and attacked the Dalits. Later in the night, a 40–strong mob of the upper castes ransacked the Dalit colony, assaulted and disrobed several women and beat up several Dalits. As a result, three Dalits, Ramasamy, Muthu and Panneer had to be admitted in the hospital at Polur.
As if adding insult to injury, the caste villagers later called for a meeting of the panchayat and imposed more than a dozen discriminatory sanctions on the Dalits — no jobs for Dalits, not allowing them water for drinking or bathing, no noon meals to Dalit children in the school, not accepting milk from Dalits by the milk co–operatives, not selling anything to Dalits in the village shops etc. The villagers also blocked the paths to the Dalits colony, ploughed and irrigated the cremation ground of Dalits.
b. On April 14, a gang of four abused Bal Krishnan, a Dalit from Arunagirimangalam in Polur taluka of Thiruvannamalai district for answering the call of nature by the roadside. In the argument that ensued Balakrishnan was attacked with a hammer. He died on the spot. In spite of the road roko organised by the Network on April 15 demanding the arrest of the culprits two of them are still scot–free.
c. Chitra (18), a Dalit girl from Gangavaram village in Polur taluka was forced by Neethipathi, a youth belonging to the upper caste to elope with him to Chennai. Later the boy’s parents brought them back to the village. Thereafter, Chitra was locked up in the pumpset room in the fields without food and water for four nights. On the fourth night she was forced to eat some poisonous leaves and was driven away to the Dalit colony. Timely treatment by a local medicine man saved Chitra’s life. The police has since filed a case of abduction of a minor.
d. Elumalai, a Dalit belonging to Kilpalur was bringing some wooden furniture in a bullock cart that by chance hit against an auto belonging to a Vania Chettiar of the same village. Manu Chettiar, the panchayat president and a few others intervened and arranged a compromise settlement whereby Elumalai agreed to pay for the damage to the auto.
Later, some mischief–mongers spread false rumours that the Chettiars were being spoken of lightly by the Dalits. As a result the colony of the Dalits was attacked most brutally with iron rods and knives. Elumalai sustained head and body injuries, Subbammal lost her leg and Thangaimalai was seriously injured in the leg. Action against the assaulters is yet to be taken.
NHRC directs payment of compensation
The National Human Rights Commission has directed the Andhra Pradesh government to pay Rs. 50,000 each as compensation to four young Dalit women, including a deaf and dumb girl, who were allegedly victims of rape in the West Godavari district recently. The directive of the NHRC assumes significance since it directed the AP government to review its schemes for compensation to survivors of such crimes belonging to the SCs and STs even if the rapists belong to the same caste or community.
The state police had, in a response to a complaint filed by academician-activist Dr P. Pullarao, told the NHRC that since both the victims and the aggressors in all four cases belonged to the SC/ST communities, the women were not entitled to any compensation. The NHRC directed that compensation payment should be within a month and the offenders must be prosecuted and punished in accordance with law.
Seeking refuge in Buddhism
Around 2,000 Dalit youth from different parts of Karnataka converted to Buddhism at Kanaganahalli, close to the historic Sanhati Buddhist centre, Chittapur taluka. The congregation was organised by the International Buddhist Youth Association and the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti. Sorai Sasai Sonin, a Buddhist priest from Japan made formal prayers and offered diksha to the Dalit youths.
Archived from Communalism Combat, July 2000. Year 7 No. 60, Dalit Drishti 1