Chennai, Dec. 20: This incident reminds one of feudal ages when slavery was an accepted social practice. Mr.M.Subramaniam (44), a labourer belonging to Arundhatiyar community and a resident of Ramakrishnapuram near Tiruttani, 84 kms from here was beaten black and blue in front of the village temple when scores of villagers watched as mute spectators. He was attacked by a group of caste Hindu Naidus of the same village for questioning them on denial of passage to his residence. “Mr.M.Subramaniam has given a complaint to the police about the atrocity; the police is not taking necessary action”, says Mr.M.Venkataiyan, a social activist from Tiruttani who helped him get medical treatment. Subramaniam’s wife and three children now live in fear of being attacked by caste Hindus as they are isolated from their own community and branded as “trouble-makers”.
Ramakrishnapuram is a serene village on Tiruttani hills where caste Hindu Naidus are in a majority (nearly 50 families) and Dalit Arundhatiyars a minority (only 8 families). Of the eight Arundhatiyar families, only Subramaniam’s family is not into doing menial work for caste Hindu households. His children are getting school education and he prefers going to masonry work at Tiruttani than doing servile work to Naidu landlords.
“We had a 12-feet wide, half a kilometer long approach road from our colony to the main road allotted by the then Adi-Dravida welfare tashildar Mr.Duraikannu in 1999. But the passage was occupied by Mr.Narayanaswamy Naidu and few others and they started cultivation in the passage,” Mr.Subramaniam told this journalist. “When I pointed out that this is in violation of government norms, they got angry,” he added.
A case was registered with the Tiruttani Police Station in this regard one month ago. But no caste Hindu was arrested till date. When this journalist met Mr.Kalappan Naidu against whom complaint was given, he admitted that he had hit Mr.Subramaniam as he provoked the caste Hindus in the village. Mr.E.Magesh, Inspector of Police, Tiruttani, observed: “It is the responsibility of local revenue officials to ensure that the Arundhatiyar people get a proper passage.”
But the situation on the bureaucratic front is pathetic. “Tiruttani Adi-Dravida Welfare office does not have a Revenue Inspector or a Surveyor; only an office assistant is there,” observed Mr.Sampath Kumar, Adi-Dravida welfare Tashildar of Tiruvellore, who was given additional charge of Tiruttani when this journalist brought to his notice the plight of Arundhatiyars in Ramakrishnapuram. Official apathy and police inaction seem to help caste domination remain intact.