Samathuva Pongal leaves bitter aftertaste at Vengaivayal village

Caste Hindus say the probe is biased; Dalits say dominant caste people skipped the event.
SC community alleged a boycott of the event by caste Hindus | M Muthu Kannan
SC community alleged a boycott of the event by caste Hindus | M Muthu Kannan

PUDUKKOTTAI: Tamil Nadu government’s attempt to bring together the communities at Vengaivayal—mired in allegations of caste discrimination following the discovery of excrement in the village overhead tank last month—through a ‘Samathuva Pongal’ on Tuesday ended in controversy after Scheduled Caste (SC) residents alleged a boycott by caste Hindus. The caste Hindus, who are facing the heat over the water contamination in the village, in turn, accused political leaders of bias and said there is no Pongal for them unless the perpetrators are found.

As soon as the Samathuva Pongal, which also saw the participation of Minister for Adi Dravidar Welfare N Kayalvizhi Selvaraj, alongside local ministers S Regupathy and Siva V Meyyanathan, commenced, members of the SC community were asked to enter the Ayyanar temple in the neighbouring Iraiyur, where they were earlier allegedly denied entry. Once the pooja began, the SC residents complained to the ministers of the no-show by caste Hindus.

While Regupathy later told reporters that caste Hindus were indeed present at the event, SC villagers asserted that they were aware of who was and wasn’t present. M Umeshvaran, a resident, said: “ ... Officials and politicians forced us to attend the Samathuva Pongal, but in the event there wasn’t any ‘samathuvam’ as the caste Hindus didn’t show up.” The SC residents also confronted the ministers over the function boycott during the latter’s inspection of a medical camp at Vengaivayal and the water tank in the village.

Meanwhile, over 50 women from BC and MBC communities threatened to besiege the ministers’ vehicles over their disappointment by the latter’s “one-sided approach” in the investigation into the water contamination. Meena Baskaran R, a caste Hindu, said: “We were not told about the Samathuva Pongal until yesterday. All officials and politicians are hearing only one side’s version. There will be no Pongal for us until the police arrest those behind the dumping of human excrement into the water tank.” 

Pudukkottai SP (in-charge) C Shyamala Devi replied: “We understand the community’s grievances. We ask all to be patient. The case transfer to the CB-CID from the special team is only to speed up the probe.” Following this, the protesters dispersed. Meanwhile, Tiruchy Range DSP of CB-CID, Palpandi, took over investigation into the water contamination at Vengaivayal from the eleven-member special investigation team on Tuesday.

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