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Tamil Nadu: Dalit family discriminated with 'untouchability fence'; trapped inside land

Monday, September 14, 2020 • Tamil Comments

Discriminatory practices adopted by a number of upper caste Hindus across the country have made the lives of Dalit people miserable for generations, to say the least. Over the years, they have been lynched, murdered, and attacked for the most trivial reasons, along with being deprived of their basic rights in numerous instances. In one such incident recently reported in Tamil Nadu's Dharmapuri district, a metal fence erected by upper caste Hindu villagers around a Dalit man's property has restricted the entry of lorries and tractors into his land.

Arjunan's family reportedly owns six acres of agricultural property in the village of Dhanagutthalli in Pennagaram taluk and a barbed metal fence was erected around his land, restricting the entry of lorries/tractors inside the property. Arjunan claims that the villagers, who were allegedly resentful of the Dalit man's successful crop harvest, had put up the fence, earlier promising that they would leave space for the entry of vehicles. In an interview with TNM, Arjunan stated, "When the fence was being erected, they promised us that they would leave space for vehicles to come into our land. But on Saturday, we woke up to see the work was complete and we were trapped in our own land. We are unable to get out of this land. There is other agricultural land surrounding ours and it is not possible to walk through those. When we questioned the men who erected the fence, they abused us, used casteist slurs and said they will chop our limbs off if we try to leave our property. They threaten us with bodily harm if we leave our property. They are supported by other intermediate castes in the village but we have no one to talk for us. We need the tractor to begin harvest and the lorry to transport produce. They have now cut off our access to both." He further questioned, "We are the victims, but we are being made to wait even further. The tahsildar said we can use the field behind us to walk into the village. But how will our vehicles come here?"

Arjunan's relatives have apparently been throwing water cans and groceries inside their land after the family was denied access to the other parts of the village. Also, this is allegedly not the first time his family has had to go through discrimination based on their caste as his late father was asked to fall at the feet of upper caste villagers back in 2011 after he tried to buy a land that was previously owned by them. "In 2011, we were called by the Panchayat and they told my father he had to fall at the feet of all dominant caste members for daring to buy land that belonged to them. My father didn't want further problems and agreed to do it. He fell at everyone's feet. But they still didn't leave us alone," he added.

 

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