A+| A| A-

Slipping Hegemony of Intermediate Castes

Caste in Tamil Nadu - II

The case of violence against the dalits by the Vanniyars in Dharmapuri recently is not a sign of resurgent casteism as the media and others are claiming. The state has definitely benefited from the anti-caste movements in the past and the dalits are experiencing upward mobility. The violence is a desperate acknowledgement of the dalit reality and the inability of the intermediate castes to exercise caste power over them as in the past.

On 9 November 2012, in a premeditated act of violence, a mob of over a thousand Vanniyars (an intermediate caste), including women, ransacked three dalit settlements in the Dharmapuri district of western Tamil Nadu. While houses and vehicles, including four-wheelers, were set ablaze in the Natham, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti colonies, cash, gold jewels, and household appliances belonging to the dalit families were looted. The ration cards, school and college certificates, and property documents in these homes were reduced to ashes. In a few hours, the Vanniyars who are by no means wealthy had destroyed an estimated Rs 7 crore worth of dalit property. The immediate reason attributed to the incendiary rage of the Vanniyars was a case of inter-caste love and marriage that later led to a suicide. Twenty-year-old Divya, a Vanniyar pursuing a course in nursing, got married to a 23-year-old Illavarsan, a dalit from Natham colony and a recent recruit to the state police force. The couple sought police protection which was, predictably, not forthcoming. Unable to bear the pressure from his fellow caste members, Divya’s father Nagarajan, a genial and composed man by all accounts, hanged himself. As the Natham colony was ransacked, Nagarajan’s body was put on public display.

‘Protecting’ Vanniyar Women

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

C P Bhambri believed that the task of social science, like all other sciences, was to arrive at the truth on the basis of well-established facts....

The COVID-19 pandemic may affect the financing opportunities for innovation. The revenue loss induced by the pandemic is likely to divert the...

When the goods and services tax was introduced in July 2017, states were given a revenue guarantee of 14% per annum on their GST revenue over the...

India’s public health system has struggled to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Even before the pandemic, India’s public health infrastructure was...

The National Education Policy, 2020 unveiled finally seeks to usher in major structural reforms in higher education. Among many measures,...

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur, including the Tribal Market Complex in Imphal East...

Coherent national strategies, backed by regional cooperation efforts, offer a way forward for economic recovery in South Asia, which is rapidly...

Sections 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lay down the procedure for granting compensation to the victims of crime. Under the...

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the...

The first report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission has allayed many fears that arose after the notification of the terms of reference of the...

Back to Top