December 12, 2012
Most of you must have heard of the attacks on Dalit households in Dharmapuri in early November this year. Vanniyar Sangam and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an electoral party in Tamil Nadu which has its vote-base among the Vanniyar community (which is classified under MBC) was responsible for the arson in which over 500 dalits houses were destroyed. Kaduvetti Guru, MLA from PMK had been making hate speeches against dalit youths in meetings held at Mamallapuram (in Kancheepuram District) and Dharmapuri before this attack. He made virulent speeches against love marriages, especially those in which Vanniyar girls married Dalit youths and exhorted Vanniyar youths to teach these dalit boys a lesson. The Dharmapuri arson is reminiscent of the Gujarat Pogrom in terms of the mobs involved (crowds of more than 1000 persons attacked Dalit villages with just 50 to 100 households).
Many parties and organizations across Tamil Nadu condemned the PMK for these violent actions. Makkal Mandram also condemned PMK for unleashing caste atrocities on the Dalits by putting up posters in Kancheepuram and participating in a protest meeting organized by Viduthalai Siruthaigal Katchi (VCK) in Mamallapuram. Makkal Mandram demanded that the persons responsible for these attacks should be arrested immediately.
On Sunday evening viz., 09.12.2012, Ambedkar Valavan, Joint District Secretary of VCK in Kancheepuram was hacked to death by a gang of five persons at Rattei Mandapam, a busy square in town at 8.00 pm in full public view. His funeral was held yesterday in Kancheepuram. Thousands of people gathered for the funeral procession. The complaint lodged by VCK has named Sridhar’s gang as being responsible for this killing. Sridhar is the uncrowned liquor king of Kancheepuram. Sridhar is a Vanniyar who was earlier in PMK. After an encounter threat by the previous regime, he joined the DMK. He is presently in jail facing some other charges. It is said that each time this man goes to jail a few heads would roll in Kancheepuram. In the funeral procession, slogans were raised demanding the arrest of persons responsible for the murder. Thol. Thirumavalavan, VCK leader addressed the crowd and reiterated the demands. Makkal Mandram also participated in the funeral.
We came to know that yesterday morning viz., 11.12.2012, at about 11.00 am, a group of more than 500 PMK members and mercenaries gathered at the Kancheepuram Collectorate office to give a memo to the District Collector. First they assembled outside the Collector office and had a meeting even after permission was denied. They used a horn mike to make derogatory and vulgar threats against Makkal Mandram. Several of the speakers made several violent threats, including that of rape, against the women activists of Makkal Mandram and instigated the mob to assault our activists. A few policemen who were present were content to watch without interrupting the proceedings. They made all kinds of wild accusations (which are presumably included in the memo too) that Makkal Mandram indulges in Katta Panchayats (traditionally a local coercive arbitration forum in Tamil Nadu, where both parties to the dispute pay the arbitrator to resolve the dispute), that the Commune is built on poromboke (govt. vacant) land and hence should be razed etc. They demanded that the Collector should ban Makkal Mandram or else they will take action against us. Some speakers exhorted a mob to go and attack the Makkal Mandram commune.
We are not worried about the accusations. A simple verification would reveal these to be completely untrue. But we are worried about the threats made. Later yesterday evening, around 6.30 pm several shirtless youths were seen roaming on motor bikes close to our commune. Many strangers have been making their way to our village today. They glare at our people or make threatening gestures. We have young children in our commune. They are affected by these intimidations. We would like to inform our friends, comrades, fellow travelers and well-wishers that PMK, Vanniyar Sangam and Sridhar gang should be held solely responsible in case anything happens to Makkal Mandram activists.
We are not the only ones to be threatened by PMK goons. VCK activists and other media persons too have been threatened with dire consequences for speaking out against caste atrocities in Dharmapuri. We request all democratic, secular, progressive and anti-caste people to speak out against the horrendous politics of caste hatred unleashed by PMK and counter their casteist electoral strategy. We also request all sane persons to put pressure on the Tamil Nadu government to take action against persons guilty of Dharmapuri arson.
Mahesh, Jessy, Geeta and all others
PS: some links to articles about the Dharmapuri arson is given below: