Discrimination keeps Dalit colony out of democratic exercise for years - The New Indian Express

Discrimination keeps Dalit colony out of democratic exercise for years

Published: 26th October 2013 07:44 AM

Last Updated: 26th October 2013 09:32 AM

While the Supreme Court has ensured the NOTA (none of the above) option for voters, here is a colony whose dwellers have never voted in any election so far. The reason, however, is different.

Caste discrimination has kept the polling station out of bounds for the 700-odd Dalit population of the Arunthathiyar Colony at Nathamedu in Pappireddipatti block here. Nathamedu, which is about 35 km from Dharmapuri town, has a population of over 5,000 caste Hindus and a few hundred Dalits.

The Arunthathiyar colony at Nathamedu in Pappireddipatti block of Dharmapuri | M Niyas Ahmed
R Perumal, a resident of Arunthathiyar Colony told Express, “We have not voted in any election as the polling booth would usually be a school in the area where caste Hindus live. They won’t allow us to enter the school to exercise our franchise. Out of fear, we have never voted in any election. However, in the last Assembly election, some of our people voted only because there was heavy police presence.”

He appealed to the district administration to set up a polling booth in their colony for the upcoming Parliamentary election.

“There are more than 300 voters in our colony. If the district administration sets up a polling booth here it will be helpful for us,” said another resident of the colony. This apart, the Arunthathiyars do not have a separate burial ground and had been urging the authorities to provide them one for the past 40 years.

Potable water too has remained a far cry.

None of the Arunthathiyars possess land and earn a living by working as daily wage labourers in the farms owned by caste Hindus. However, most of the caste Hindus refuse to employ them, forcing them to migrate to other  towns and cities in search of jobs.

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(file photo / AP)
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