Dalit family barred from using road, forced to traverse paddy fields

Untouchability is still prevalent in Tamil Nadu, as incidents of discrimination against Dalits continues.
Dalit family forced to traverse through paddy fields to reach crematorium.
Dalit family forced to traverse through paddy fields to reach crematorium.Photo credit: Internet/Facebook

Tamil Nadu— Following the Tamil Nadu Governor's veiled criticism of the DMK government, a case of Dalit oppression has surfaced, in which a Dalit family was prohibited from using the roads by dominant groups, including the influential Nadars. The village of Naduvakurichim falls under the Mannarkaravai panchayat. According to media reports, the family had to traverse the paddy fields to reach the crematorium.

The report, published in the News Minute, cites T Shanmugam, a local activist and PhD scholar in Economics from MS University, who states, "This form of discrimination has prevailed in the region for several decades. People are coerced to use the paddy fields instead of the main road, which is common to four villages. In 2018, when my father passed away, I staged a protest until I was able to transport his body through the main road. I even threatened to leave his body on the road itself if they didn't grant me access."

Untouchability a common practice in Tamil Nadu

When asked about the case, the staff at Evidence NGO, a Madurai-based organization, remarked, "We discovered the incident through the media, but when we contacted the relevant police stations, we were informed that no formal complaint had been filed. The staff suggested that this could be because the situation is perceived as a minor one, and thus people try to settle it through negotiations."

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi
Tamil Nadu Governor RN RaviPic- Internet

Governor takes potshot at the government

The state government has faced criticism for the increasing atrocities against Dalits, but the most significant condemnation came from RN Ravi, the state's Governor. He spoke on Dr. BR Ambedkar at Anna University in Chennai, saying, "We have been talking about social justice so much, yet there are frequent reports of atrocities against Dalits." Mr. Ravi made these remarks during the launch of Tamil versions of the books "Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery" and "Ambedkar and Modi - Reformer's Ideals, Performer's Implementation."

Mr. Ravi referred to an incident from last year that caused a considerable uproar, saying, "Human feces were found in the drinking water meant for a Dalit colony." He further noted that Scheduled Caste communities are denied entry into temples, and Dalit children are segregated from others in Anganwadi centers. Regarding low conviction rates, he said that out of 100 rapists, only 7 are punished, and we talk about social justice and Babasaheb.

The backlash

The Governor faced backlash from the state government last year for omitting references to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Periyar in his speech, which exceeded his authority. Similarly, in the neighboring state of Kerala, there were also clashes between the Governor and the state government. The investigation into the incident mentioned by the Governor was handed over to the CB-CID, but no one has been arrested in connection with the case as of yet.

Dalit family forced to traverse through paddy fields to reach crematorium.
Kerala tribal man kicked in the teeth for asking Rs100 additional wages

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