Dalits of Nadupatti colony have been facing atrocities committed by Vanniyars of Kariyampatti for some time. During October 2013, the Nadupatti colony Dalits left their houses and took shelter in a nearby hillock fearing attacks from Vanniyars following a temple festival dispute, where Dalit youth were attacked for wearing T-shirts with Ondiveeran’s image (Ondiveeran: a Dalit folk warrior of Arunthathiyar caste).
The Hindu reports the Dalit exodus from the village in October as having been triggered by a series of incidents of harassment by Vanniyars which started in July 2013:
According to police sources, trouble began on July 16, during a temple festival celebrated by the Dalits. A group of Dalit youth wore T-shirts bearing the image of ‘Ondi Veeran,’ a Dalit icon.
Objecting to this, the Vanniyar youth picked up a quarrel with the Dalits and coerced them to remove the T-shirts.
A few days later, four Dalit youths were assaulted by a group of Vanniyars, for wearing the T-shirts. The same day, a case was registered and arrests were made on both sides.
The district administration should declare Kariyampatti village as ‘atrocity prone zone’ and arrest the accused under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, said Ms. Rajini, the advocate representing the Dalits.
The protesters demanded the government to announce their village as an ‘atrocity prone area’ and take action under SC/ST Atrocities Act against the culprits. Later the protest was called off following a promise from the district administration. A permanent police booth & CCTV cameras were installed in the colony.
In the latest incident, it is alleged that Dalit boys of Nadupatti colony harassed a Vanniyar girl passing by and this prompted the Vanniyars of Kariyampatti village to gather in hundreds to attack the colony.
Around six houses were burnt and more than fifteen houses ransacked by the Vanniyars. The CCTV camera & police booth were also attacked.
Dalits say it was a Vanniyar youth riding on a bike who, while passing through the colony, disturbed the fence erected as part of the earlier arrangement, and ignited the issue.
Media reports police had arrested around 100 people inluding women from both the villages.
Liberation Panthers Party (VCK) district leaders were prevented by police from meeting the Dalit victims of caste violence.
Pictures courtesy : VCK Media Center.