Friday, August 02, 2002

Tiruchi Dalits starve for refusing to swallow insult

THARIAN MATHEW

TIRUCHI, AUGUST 1: Dalits in Tiruchi district's Thinniyam village who had alleged that upper caste men forced them to eat faeces now say they are paying for complaining with a job boycott.

They say, 25 Scheduled Caste men are being denied work in farms ever since they complained and got nine members of an upper caste family arrested. While one of them was detained under the Goondas Act, the others are out on bail.

The upper castes have reportedly asked Dalits to approach the district collector for jobs. Sivakami, whose family has been ostracised, says they have only one meal a day now. The women, she said, used to earn up to Rs 30 through odd jobs and keep the kitchen fire burning.

Not anymore. Murugesan and Ramasamy were allegedly forced to eat faeces for accompanying Karupiah as he went around telling villagers how an upper caste man had duped him of Rs 2,000.

Lawyers for the Dalits have urged the Lalgudi DSP to get the bails of the accused cancelled. Three of the affected families were taken to Somarasanpet near Tiruchi to work in local farms.

Karupiah said lack of work and money is slowly making them think of a compromise with the upper castes. Tiruchi lawyer R. Alex said some women had borrowed Rs 50 each from the Rs 1,000 they saved as a self-help group.

Source: The Indian Express, August 2, 2002

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