ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Elusive Justice to Dalits in the ‘Land of Social Justice’

The recent inhuman incident of mixing human faeces in the overhead tank supplying water to Dalit colony in Vengaivayal village in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu reflects the perpetuating violence against the Dalits. Locating this brutal violence within the larger framework of violence against Dalits in Tamil Nadu, the lackadaisical attitude of Dravidian parties when dealing with the issues related to Dalits is brought to the fore.

Historically, humiliation has been heaped on Dalits in myriad ways. The Dalits of Vengaivayal faced one such humiliation when human faeces were mixed in the water of the tank which supplied drinking water to them. They came to know about it only when a few children fell ill after drinking this contaminated water. They also then noticed that the water was smelling foul. This atrocity is not without precedence. In 2002, dominant caste Hindus of Thinniyam village in Trichy district forced two Dalits to feed each other human excreta. In 2019, in Thiruvanduthurai village near Mannargudi of Thiruvarur district, three dominant caste men tortured a Dalit man, forced him to eat human excreta and then urinated on him. But we are yet to know how such perpetrators were punished. Even though the Dravidian parties emerged out of a struggle against the Brahmin dominance in structures of power and against caste discrimination in various spheres of life, they have not been able to orient Tamil Nadu society towards egalitarian social order even after being in power for more than half a century. This atrocious violence of mixing human faeces in the tank supplying water to Dalit colony in Vengaivayal in Pudukkottai district has caused a great outrage against casteism and its inhuman manifestation in contemporary Tamil Nadu.

Politics of social justice in Tamil Nadu has been narrowed down by the dominant Dravidian parties to mere fulfilment of reservation in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions. Even some of the non-Brahmin and non-Dalit scholars have reduced the understanding of the caste system to Brahmin domination without alluding to the notion of graded inequalities, which is endemic to the caste system. A few landmarks events in contemporary India have helped to unpack certain hidden facts about the prevailing caste system. In north India, the Mandal commission implementation opened up debates, discussions and dialogues on the otherwise hidden prejudices of privileged castes. Similarly, the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act and its implementation exposed deep-rooted anti-Dalit attitude in the so-called land of social justice and developed state of Tamil Nadu.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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