6 Dalits Killed without Haste : Castevirus 002TN2011

26Sep11

The police action against Dalits in Paramakudi leaves indelible scars on the psyche of the oppressed people all over Tamil Nadu.
A large number of people on their way to Sekaran’s memorial and back were stranded in the town because of stone-throwing, setting of fire to vehicles and throwing of petrol bombs by a Upper Caste groups & miscreants. Things went from bad to worse as the police resorted to a lathi-charge and later opened several rounds of fire. According to local residents, gunshots were heard from 12-40 p.m. to 5-15 p.m. People who ran for their lives and those who were injured in the lathi-charge were taken into custody. Some of the policemen were also injured and several vehicles were damaged in the incident.

In view of Sekaran’s memorial day, according to official sources, around 4,000 police personnel, including officers, were deployed at different sensitive villages and hamlets in the district. But in Paramakudi, the police were not deployed in adequate strength at the time of the incident, informed sources said.

The victims of the police firing are R. Ganesan (65) of Pallavarayanendal, T. Panneerselvam (50) of Veerambal, P. Jayapal (20) of Manjur, S. Vellaichamy (65) of Paramakudi, Theerthakani (25) of Keezhakodumalur and Muthukumar (26) of Sadayaneri. Almost all of them were farm workers or labourers in the unorganised sector. Among the Dalits who were undergoing treatment for multiple injuries sustained in the police lathi-charge were I. Israel and M. Thanikodi of S. Kavanur, G. Senthil of Ammankoil, K. Vellaichamy of N. Pethanendal, S. Chandran of Pambur and K. Pandi of Ponnaiyapuram. Pandi, a 60-year-old construction worker, said a group of lathi-wielding policemen beat him up when he was bathing at a place close to the scene of protests. He has fractures in his left arm and left leg.

Vellaichamy, a 70-year-old retired headmaster of a primary school, said he had been visiting Paramakudi for the past 20 years to pay his respects at the memorial of Sekaran. He recalled that the police had never before used such brute force during Sekaran’s death anniversary. Even after taking them to the police station, the injured persons were humiliated, he alleged.

For the past two decades, Dalits have been observing Sekaran’s death anniversary as “guru puja” at his tomb in Paramakudi just as Thevars do on the anniversary of Muthuramalinga Thevar at Pasumpon on October 30. Dalits from several villages and towns in the southern districts visit Paramakudi every year.The number of participants has steadily increased in the past five years. Dalit organisations have been demanding that Sekaran’s anniversary be declared a government celebration as has been done in the case of Thevar Jayanthi, but the government has not paid heed.

As has been pointed out by some civil rights organisations, the incident raises many questions not only about the handling of the situation but also about the attitude of the state towards Dalits. The events have also brought to the fore various issues relating to the plight of Dalits, who form a sizable percentage of the population in southern Tamil Nadu and the composite Ramanathapuram district (comprising present-day Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts) in particular. The issues are many: growing awareness among Dalit youth, deteriorating living conditions owing to dwindling livelihoods, industrial backwardness of the region, conflict between them and the oppressor communities who come in the way of their empowerment including in grass-roots level governance, calculated attempts by vested interests to keep the area as a hotbed of communal tension, and the reported partisan attitude of the police at the time of caste conflicts.

Pic 01: Dalit Blood wasted by Caste Rulars so easily, 4 Killed

The police should have cleared the protesters by other means instead of taking the extreme step of opening fire for burning government vehicles. “No one can bring the victims back to life, but vehicles can be bought,” she said. According to Sampath, the police had always let loose violence on Dalits whenever they raised their voice to assert their legitimate rights. He recalled the attacks on Dalits at Nalumoolaikinaru and Kodiyankulam in Tuticorin district, the drowning of 17 estate workers of Manjolai when they were chased by the police, atrocities committed against the oppressed community of Kangiyanur in Villupuram district while attempting to enter a temple for worship, and the beating up of women, the aged and children at Uthapuram in Madurai district.

In many villages, the residents, particularly Dalits, are in the grip of fear as the police have registered a case against 1,000 unidentified persons. The police have registered cases under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage), 427 (mischief causing damage), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“Don’t be carried away by the officials’ claim that the situation has started returning to normal. Our problems are far from over. We have to take care of the children and the aged, as the menfolk have fled the habitations in and around Paramakudi fearing arrest,” said a woman, echoing the sentiment in the Dalit colonies.

Who is Immanuel Sekaran?

Immanuel Sekaran was a prominent social reformer and freedom fighter. A contemporary of Dr. Ambedkar, he was a Dalit leader who fought against caste discrimination and untouchability in southern Tamil Nadu. On 11/9/1957, this Dalit leader was killed by people owing allegiance to the Forward Bloc leader Muthuramalinga Thevar, of the Thevar community.

Immanuel Sekaran, who was martyred at the very young age of 33, has attained demigod like status among the Dalits in the region. That’s why lakhs turn up on his death anniversary to pay tributes to him. According to some estimates, over a million ordinary Dalits, apart from many leaders, participate in the Immanuel Sekaran Memorial day events. This has been happening regularly since 1988 but was never reported in the mainstream media.

This year’s anniversary marks the 54th since his death. This year too, like every year, the Dalits started making earnest preparations for the Memorial Day. But the Government and the officials of various departments, like every year, started imposing many strictures and placed many hurdles, and made all efforts to scuttle the event. They did not permit the installation of food and water stalls. The Dalits endured all that and remained immersed in their preparations

What next?

The Paramakudi killings bring to light once again the pervasive lack of democratic consciousness and respect for human rights among those wielding power in the state apparatus. There is an urgent need to work for the spread of more democratic values and norms in governance. Paramakudi is a good place to begin this mission. Political and civil society needs to fight for the Government to undertake the following remedial measures as a first step:

The police officials who participated in the Paramakudi massacre should be arrested and tried for murder.

Immanuel Sekaran’s memorial should be allowed to be observed without any hindrance every year.

Government and police officials should act in an impartial manner and follow the constitution and not the dictates of Thevar leaders.

There is a lot of evidence to prove that Dalits are being hindered from joining the police force. On the other hand, unemployed Thevar youth, even if unqualified, are being recruited into the police in large numbers. This has resulted in lopsided representation in the Tamil Nadu police department with the Thevars claiming 30% of all positions. How can Dalit victims expect justice under such circumstances? The Thevar employees who obtained jobs in the department through questionable means should be removed.

The Thevars should be removed from the Most Backward Classes category.

More:

1.  Dalits Blood on Road….Fact Finding Report : People’s Watch

2.  Caste Murders….Fact Finding Report: Navayan

3.  Tragetting Dalits….Fact Finding Report:  rontline



2 Responses to “6 Dalits Killed without Haste : Castevirus 002TN2011”

  1. Ambedkar demanded autonomy (not reservations/affirmative action) to Muslims/Christians/Anglo-Indians/Sikhs/SC/ST communities in 4th August 1932 Round Table Conference.
    http://goo.gl/u0QNW

  2. 2 John Pandian

    Remove Pallan and Parayan from SC category


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