Protest against caste discrimination in Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Protest against caste discrimination in Chennai, Tamil Nadu Image Credit: PTI

Social activists in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have urged the government to take action after two recent glaring incidents of caste discrimination against Dalits.

Who are Dalits? Dalit means oppressed. The term was used to refer to people belonging to the backward castes in pre-independence India, who were subjected to untouchability by those belonging to upper castes. They have had the lowest social status in India’s traditional Hindu social system.

According to an article on “A section of Dalits in Madurai’s P Subulapuram district claimed that they were denied permission to cremate the body of their kin in the common burial ground. For years, the members of the Dalit community have been forced to perform last rites of their loved ones in a cremation ground kept separate for them.”

However, duuring the recent rains, the lower community members were denied entry to the common cremation ground allegedly by men from the upper caste community.

The report added: “The body of the deceased was kept in the pouring rain with no access to the cremation ground. The family was later left with no option but to burn the body with petrol.”

Indian lower caste delegates light
Indian lower caste delegates light candles to protest against discrimination and demand equal rights at the World Social Forum in Mumbai Image Credit: AP

Activists shocked at the condition

Activists who visited the spot to look into the allegations of caste discrimination in the village on Saturday claimed that they were shocked to see the difficult situation the Dalits had to endure.

Twitter users and activists shared the reports urging the state government to intervene and take steps to solve the problem.

The 'untouchability wall' in Tamil Nadu

Untouchability, though outlawed in India, still exits. Many Twitter users shared reports about a huge wall termed as “untouchability wall” that has been built in the area to keep the Dalit community isolated in the village. Twitter user @ShobanaRadhakr2 posted: “An 800 meter length #Untouchability_Wall... in P Subbulapuram has deterred the movement and confined the Dalits from three sides. The wall also blocks the flow of sewage from the houses of Dalits.”

Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front’s leader Chellakannu said: “There are huge walls built around three Dalit settlements to keep them isolated in the village.”

More such incidents

According to the report another similar case of caste discrimination in Vellore, members of the Dalit community lowered a dead body from the top of a bridge using ropes allegedly after members of upper-class community denied them access to the common burial ground.

A report on said that on friday night: “A three-member gang allegedly threw kerosene bombs into the house of a Dalit man at Indira Nagar, Kilmuttukur village in KV Kuppam, Vellore district.”