MADURAI: The perpetrators of violence against Dalits in Seshasamudram village, Viluppuram district last week even violated the modesty of many Dalit women by forcibly removing their sarees, a fact-finding report by the Dalit rights NGO, ‘Evidence’, has alleged.
According to A Kathir, executive director of ‘Evidence’ who led the fact-finding team, at least five women reported that their sarees were forcibly removed while they were fleeing their houses set ablaze by caste Hindus. Kathir said the five included a pregnant woman too.
In its report based on interviews with the affected families, the NGO alleged that the mob targeted the house of one Mahendran(22), a Dalit married to a caste Hindu girl. “It was at Mahendran’s house the mob threw the first petrol bomb. They also hurled casteist abuses at him,” Kathir said.
The flash point was the caste Hindu’s refusal to allow Dalits to take out a procession with their newly-built temple car through the common streets of the village.
The report claims police should have taken the situation seriously at least when Subramanian, the caste Hindu panchayat president, went to the police station the previous day to issue a veiled threat about the consequences if the procession was to take place. The report claims that only around 40 policemen were present when the rampage began around 7 pm Saturday evening after nearly 100 caste Hindu youth entered the Dalit areas. Though the situation worsened quickly with more than 400 people turning violent, most of the police trooped in hours later, the report claimed.
While welcoming the arrest of more than 80, ‘Evidence’ claimed the main perpetrators, including Subramanian, still roamed free. It urged police to nab them.
The report also demanded that the police take note of the visit of a political party member just before violence broke out.