SIVAGANGA:The practice of ostracization is not confined to caste Hindus alone in the countryside. It has its tentacles spread among Dalits too. The sleepy Dalit-dominant Bethanendhal in the district is proof to Dalits banishing members of a family belonging to their own sub-sect. The hamlet with a population of 260 of which only five are non-Dalits has ostracized a Dalit family for seven years now.
None of the dalits in the area falling under the Munaivendi panchayat have any kind of rapport with Perumal’s family. Except Perumal’s elderly mother Chinnakaruppi, the remaining 14 in the family have moved to neighbouring villages to educate their kids.
While his community members accuse him of having swindled `3 lakh mobilised for village development in 2006, Perumal (50) says three influential members of his caste - two auditors and one a policeman, in his village are behind the ‘extrajudicial’ punishment awarded to his family for refusing to sell a piece of their land to them.
“The government had issued a patta for an acre land to me in 1998 with a condition that it should be used only for agriculture. Since then, I have been using it for farming. But the trio demanded that I sell the land to them. When I refused, they picked up a quarrel, charged me with misusing the community funds and excommunicated my family,” he alleged.
His mother Chinnakaruppi, who lost her husband last year, yearns to see her family being accepted by the community at least before she breathes her last. “It is depressing to see even the younger generation ignoring us,” she sobbed.
The aged woman travels 5-6 km to the nearby Mulivendhan village to buy groceries. That even the flow of water to their land was restricted and their cattle not allowed to graze, Perumal sold his land, said his wife Murugamma. “All the 80 families are either close or distant relatives. But they do not talk to us,” she said.
Admitting, a villager requesting anonymity said their kin paid a fine of `500 to a “stooge” of the trio for speaking to Perumal’s family. “Hence, we prefer to remain silent,” he said.
As the villagers did not let him enrol his kids in the local school, he had put them at schools in Paramakudi and Mulivendhan.
Panchayat President Cauvery Nathan, who hails from a non-Dalit caste, admits to Perumal’s family being ostracised but seeks to distance himself from the issue.
“It is their internal matter. Neither the family nor their caste members approached me to solve the issue. Hence, I cannot interfere,” he said.