“Most of us are left with only one set of clothes. We live on the streets. We are now as good as a walking corpses.”
Those words from Rama, a resident of Kondampatti village in Dharmapuri, summed up the situation that the victims of the recent attack on Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri were facing.
Women who bore the brunt of the attack by caste Hindus opened their hearts out before a panel constituted by the Women’s Coalition for Change (WCC) here on Saturday.
Rama continued: “During Deepavali, the caste Hindu children were holding sparklers in their hands while our children begged for a fistful of rice.”
Rama was not alone narrating her sordid tale. Many like her from the neighbouring Natham Colony and Anna Nagar had turned up to recall with horror their ordeal that began with the attack on November 7.
Subathra, a resident of Anna Nagar, said, “The caste Hindu men threatened to burn us alive. They just entered the village and vandalised our houses and properties in front of the police.”
Jayakumar of Natham Colony said, “There is no doubt that PMK cadre instigated the violence.”
He added: “After Nagarajan’s daughter Divya eloped with Ilavarasan, it was the PMK men — Mathialagan, Chinnasamy, councillor Krishnamurthy, former councillor Pachaiappan and Panchayat Presidents Raja of Natham and Ponnusamy of Kondampatti — who stirred up the violence against us.”
According to Jayakumar, the cadre got a clarion call from one of the chieftains of the party, Kaduvetti J Guru, who exhorted in a public meeting at Ariyangulam a couple of months ago that if any boy from the Dalit community eloped with any girl from the Vanniyar community, he would be killed.
“After Nagarajan’s suicide, the PMK cadre took his body to the graveyard through our colony. There is no need for them to cross our colony to reach the burial site. But they deliberately entered our colony. They kept the body aside and they first vandalised Ilango’s house. They then started to ransack all the 270 houses. This happened in full view of the police, who came a couple of days before the incident to provide security for us. The police just stood as bystanders,” he added.
In the rampage, Jayakumar said he lost nearly `2 lakh cash and several sovereigns of gold jewellery. He said the inter-caste marriage was not the real reason for this attack. “They don’t want us to come up socially and economically,” he added.
The deposition was part of a two-day campaign by WCC where women who have suffered discrimination and oppression during the Dharmapuri caste violence, Paramakudi firing or the Koodankulam protests shared their story.