NAGAPATTINAM: Expressing dissatisfaction over the conduct of the district administration and the police in forcibly carrying out the controversial funeral of a 100-year-old Dalit man against the interest of his family, P L Punia, chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), said the police lathicharge on Dalit villagers of Thirunalkondacherry was totally unwarranted and could have been avoided.
Interacting with the kith and kin of the deceased Dalit and inspecting the pathway used for the funeral procession at the village near Mayiladuthurai, the NCSC chairman said he has sought a detailed report from the district administration and the police over the incident and added that he has directed the authorities to improve basic amenities for the Dalits in Thirunalkondacherry.
Speaking to Express, Punia said, “It is unfortunate that such an incident happened in Tamil Nadu, a land known for social revolutions. Roads and basic amenities in Dalit localities here are very poor, whereas other parts in the same area are well developed.”
The Dalit villagers explained the incidents that had happened on January 6 to Punia and alleged that the police forcibly carried the body through an isolated path, much against the wishes of the relatives of the deceased, A Chellamuthu. They said the district administration and the police acted to satisfy caste Hindus in the area.
“There was absolutely no need to lathicharge the Dalit families. The police, instead of tackling the caste Hindus, registered cases against Dalits. I have asked them to drop all charges levelled against the Dalit villagers,” Punia said.
The police had arrested about 35 family members of the victim under IPC 294 (b) (uttering obscene language), IPC 353 (deterring public servant from discharging his duty), and IPC 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) on the day of the funeral. Those arrested were kept in custody till January 7 and were released after other family members rendered a surety.
“Soon after getting the reports from the district administration and the police, representatives of the administration and Dalits would be asked to attend a personal discussion in New Delhi,” the NCSC chairman told Express.
Karthik, grandson of the deceased Dalit man, said, “We have provided the footage of the forced funeral and the police action to the Commission.”