Monday, July 29, 2002

Burning Dalits with an iron rod and force-feeding human excreta

Human dignity is denied; Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment against Dalits
Asian Human Rights Commission - Urgent Appeals Program

We reproduce this report about an incident that has enraged Dalits in India. The horrible nature of caste oppression and the Indian government's unwillingness to deal decisively with this issue is brought home sharpely by this story. We urge everyone to write to the newly appointed president of India to take action on this matter, to punish the perpetrators and to examine the State's responsibilities to Dalits.

Dalits, "Eat The Human Excreta Now!"

Among the various reports of terrorism, extremism, catastrophe, carnage, assaults, attacks and violations around the globe, the atrocity unleashed on the Dalits of the village of Tinnium near Tiruchirappalli in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu is beyond one's imagination and belief. Heinous, inhuman caste atrocities are still alive. Perhaps these atrocities are not an episodic, one-time event but rather represent a resounding state of affairs in India.

Karupiah, 38, of Tinniyum had paid 2,000 rupees (US) to the former village panchayat president, Rajalakshmi Subramanian, for providing a group house to his sister Banumathy. However, Karupiah's sister was never allowed to occupy the house and despite repeated requests for the past two years, neither the house nor the money has been refunded. Thus, Karupiah resorted to beating the tom-tom to ventilate his grievance. Murugesan and Ramasami, Dalits as well, accompanied Karupiah while he beat the drum.

That very same evening all three people were summoned by Kamraj, the present village panchayat president, and Subramani, a retired teacher who is the husband of Rajalakshmi. Subramani, enraged by Karupiah's act of beating the drum, demanded an apology and slapped him with slippers and kicked him hard. Next was Murugesan, 37, and Ramasami, who were also subjected to beatings and were branded on various parts of their body with a red-hot iron rod. Murugesan and Ramasami had to beat the drum again, saying that the earlier incident by Karupiah was false. All of these cruel acts took place in the presence of the family members of these three Dalits.

Even after all of this torture and humiliation, the ire of these barbarous dominant caste fanatics did not subside. Subramani then ordered Ramasami and Murugesan to feed each other human excreta. This egregious act was forced on the Dalits after repeatedly being branded with a hot iron.

All of these dominant caste brutes involved in this dehumanising act absconded when the district collector paid a visit to the village. Efforts had been initiated by human rights defenders for suitable criminal action against the culprits.

This inhuman episode in Tinnium is yet another addition to the unending list of socially sanctified acts of ostracism. These daily occurrences inevitably damage the fabric of human dignity and the rights of equality, liberty and justice.

Monica Vincent
World Council of Churches

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission, July 29, 2002

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