Tension prevails as Dalits demand equal rights

COIMBATORE: Tension prevailed at Ammapalayam near Uthukuli in Tirupur district on Wednesday as caste Hindus remained adamant against local dalits burying their dead in the same village. With conciliatory talks initiated by district collector and district SP proving to be unsuccessful, the body of 70-year-old C Maral, who died on Tuesday, is yet to be buried. Over 1000 dalits from the Tirupur region remained awake on the road side with the body.
Early on Wednesday morning, thanks to the efforts of Tirupur sub collector, the dalits agreed to cremate the body at the electric crematorium in Tirupur. However, the Gounder who owned the ambulance was reluctant to provide his vehicle to transport the body to Tirupur. This created further tension. Eventually, the dalits managed to avail an ambulance from Tirupur to transport the body.

According to Adi Thamizhar Peravai leader NSA Parameswaran, the district administration had promised to allocate a burial ground for the dalits within seven weeks. A burial ground proposed two km away from the village was rejected by them as they did not have the resources to carry their dead for such a long distance. Parameswaran accused officials of dancing to the tunes of the upper caste Gounder community. He questioned the rationale behind permitting the burial of a Gounder last week on government owned land.

For decades, dalits have been burying their dead on the roadside. However, last week, they got some relief when the Madras High Court ordered the allocation of a permanent burial ground in their village. The village has been in the news for several months because of the oppression and untouchability that dalits are subject to. They have to walk more than ten kilometers just to get a hair cut. Local barbers are prevented from servicing dalits by caste Hindus.

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