Dalit barred from temple festival

Vilayattu Mariamman Temple at Perumal Malai near Chithode in Erode.
COIMBATORE: Tension prevailed at Perumal Malai near Chithode in Erode district on Sunday as caste Hindus allegedly barred a Dalit woman from participating in the Vilayattu Mariamman Temple festival there.As caste Hindus allegedly snatched the pot of holy water carried by the Dalit and verbally abused her, she went into depression and tried to hang herself to death, but was prevented by fellow Arunthathiyars.Chithode inspector Palaniappan claimed that the situation was defused after peace talks between the two sides.Thangavel, state organiser of Avinashi-based NGO Vizhuthugal, said that the police personnel usually do not register a case under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. Instead, they alert the caste Hindus, who in turn threaten the Dalits to withdraw the complaint, he added.Since majority of the Dalits in Chithode eke out a living by  working in farmlands of upper caste Hindus, they are compelled to do so, Thangavel said.There are about 45 Arunthathiyar caste families that are solely dependent on upper caste people for their livelihood; therefore, not many come out in open for fear of losing their jobs, he added.Nearly six months ago a Dalit couple from Nallur, who visited the Vazhupuramman Temple in Tirupur, was assaulted by the upper caste people for entering the temple premises, he said. In that case also police instead of taking action based on the couple’s complaint turned the tables against them by arresting the Dalit Palanichamy on flimsy grounds.