THANJAVUR: Dalits of Veerasingampettai village in the district on Wednesday got their first haircut in three years at the local salon. The service had been denied to them due to the diktat of some dominant caste members of the village.
G Thangappan, a Dalit farm worker got his haircut in the presence of leaders of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, S Vigneswaran, revenue inspector of Kandiyur, and Anandathandavam, inspector of police.
“For the last three years, I used to get my haircut at Kandiyur, about 2 km from here,” said Thangappan.
U Punniyamurthy, a Dalit and local unit secretary of CPM, said, “Till three years ago, Dalits used to be serviced by two salons in the village. However, when a PMK man got elected as village leader of the dominant community, Dalits were denied service at the salons.”
The two salons located on the land of a Mariamman temple at Veerasingampettai, used to service not only Dalits of the village but also those from the neighbouring hamlets of Thiruvedikudi, Thiruchchotruthurai and Kalyanapuram. However, for the last three years the Dalits from these villages were also denied service.
A Muthamizhselvan of Thiruvedikudi said two months ago a Dalit youth from Thiruchchotruthurai was roughed up by members of the dominant caste for questioning the denial of service at the salons.
Offering of service to Dalits at the salons in Veerasingampettai was the result of a campaign undertaken by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication front (TNUEF), which had announced action on the issue on September 30. However, a peace meeting was conducted by Tiruvaiyaru Tahsildar on September 29 and it was agreed by all parties present that the services would be offered at the salons from Wednesday. However, TNUEF members became agitated when one of the two salons, owned by a person called Gunasekaran, remained closed.
TNUEF members and Dalits pointed out that the shop, which used to open around 7 am, remained closed till 10.30 am. “Only after the intervention of revenue officials and some members of the dominant caste, the salon was opened,” said Sathish, a Dalit youth. He also pointed out that Sureshkumar, son of Dhanapal, who used to offer hairdressing services at one of the salons, was conspicuous by his absence at the meeting.
Chinnai Pandiyan, district secretary of TNUEF, told
Express that such untouchability prevailed in Varahoor village in Tiruvaiyaru union also. He said in Varahoor, the Dalits were also denied laundry services.
G Neelamegam, district secretary of CPM, V Jeevakumar, C Packirisamy, district secretariat members of CPM, and Sami Natarajan, farmers wing district secretary, were present in Veerasingampettai when the Dalits were offered hairdressing service in the salon.