Thursday, June 24, 2004

Tamil Dalits denied use of male dogs

Sam Daniel

Thursday, June 24, 2004 (Tuticorin):

Dalits living in a village of the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu are denied access to many common amenities.

And off late, the upper castes living in the village have forbidden the Dalits from even using male dogs for hunting�something they've been doing for generations.

"A female dog can bring the catch only if it is nearby. Whereas a male can bring it from a fair distance in the forests," said a local K Thaayamaal, a Dalit woman.

The Dalits are dependent on the upper castes for their livelihood and are worried about the repercussions. "We depend on them for our livelihood. They will call us to work in their fields and pay for it," said another local.

Denials issued

All public facilities including telephone, school, community hall and a health center are located in the upper castes area. The only place the Dalits have access to is the school.

However, the upper castes deny any kind of discrimination including the current one on the use of dogs. "Both communities go together for hunting. How can we ask them not to have male dogs? All these allegations are imaginary," claimed an upper cast local.

The district police have received no official complaint though they say they'll continue their investigations. "Both the upper castes and Dalits have said that no discrimination of any kind exists," said S Choodeswaran additional SP, Tuticorin.

Barely two weeks back Dalits in a nearby village embraced Islam, unable to bear the atrocity of the upper castes. While the Dalits are too scared to tell the truth, it is a challenge for the local police to find out whether caste discrimination is extending to animals too.

Source: NDTV, June 24, 2004

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