CHENNAI: Torture and harassment continued even after she was rescued from a brick kiln where she was forced into bonded labour. Recounting her nightmarish experience, Poochiammal, a resident of Virudhunagar district, said her caste Hindu employer assaulted her with slippers and dragged her from home even after being rescued from the kiln. Worse, she was pregnant at that time. She was among the group of Dalits who pleaded for justice at a public hearing organised by the TN Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) here on Saturday.
Presenting their case before a panel, headed by former Madras High Court Judge K Chandru, the victims of torture and abuse sought punishment for their aggressors, let scot free by law enforcement authorities.Their main grouse is that the police refuse to register their complaints and take no action against the offenders.
“I had to work in the kiln in order to repay the money my husband had borrowed,” said Poochiammal.
Although the district administration rescued her and 12 other families, who were employed as bonded labours at the kiln, the enraged kiln owner Moorthy physically abused her when she was alone at home and tried to drag her back to work.
“I sustained bleeding injuries, but the police did not register our complaints. But the caste Hindus registered a complaint against me and other families in Ramanathapuram district through a person unconnected to the incident,” Poochiamal revealed.
“Even after 20 months since the incident happened, judicial process is yet to begin and no one has been charge sheeted yet,” she added.
Similarly, Sekar, a village Panchayat chief from Kanchipatti village in Sivaganga district, detailed the caste discrimination in the village community, which has a strong Yadava presence.
“Even though, I am the panchayat head, I had to endure caste insults and discrimination,” the panchayat chief said.
“What is more worrying is when the police join hands with the oppressors and present more trouble than help,” he added.
Earlier, TNUEF state convenor P Sampath said the public hearing is being held at a time when the country is witnessing rise in crimes against Dalits, including sexual abuse.
“For the justice system to work effectively, integrity of the police is necessary,” he said. “But, when the police are themselves busy with destroying evidence and not producing witnesses, then the system collapses,” he regretted.