“Dalits are not allowed to travel in buses. Dalit students are not allowed to occupy the bus seats. A dalit woman aboard the bus is usually teased. These are indicators that even today untouchability is prevalent in government buses in Cuddalore district,” said Latha Priyakumar, member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.
On Wednesday, a three-member team from National Commission for Scheduled Castes visited the Pacharapalayam village, which was affected by violence.
Addressing the mediapersons Latha Priyakumar said, “In a land where Periyar had started the self-respect movement, untouchability is still prevalent. Our team has visited the village and inquired on the residents, post the violence. Residents have been complaining about the atrocities being inflicted on them.
Dalit girls are even afraid of going to schools or colleges by buses. Education of these girls should not be affected owing to the prevailing social circumstances. I have asked the district administration to take steps in this regard.”
She further said that Pacharapalayam violence was similar to the Dharmapuri violence.
“Economic development of the dalits of this village was one of the reasons for the riot. The mob particularly attacked eight houses, of them four houses belonged to persons who are in police department. This violence aimed at curbing the empowerment of the marginalised group,” she added.
Latha further said, “Since Cuddalore is a caste-sensitive district, political leaders should not give provocative speeches here. If the leaders continue to give instigating speeches, action should be taken against them.”
“Dalits live in island-like settlements with other caste people surrounding these, forcing dalits to walk a long distance to avail public transport facility. Hence, I have asked the administration to arrange special access for them, to enable them to reach the main road and get buses. I have suggested that the administration arrange separate ration shops, separate anganwadi and an Adi Dravidar Welfare School for the dalits of Pacharapalayam,” she further said.