Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy, on Tuesday, May 18, provided a compensation amount to the three elderly Dalit men who were victims of caste discrimination. The compensation of ₹ 25,000 each was provided on behalf of the Tamil Nadu Adi-Dravidar welfare department.
The incident took place in Ottanandal village, which falls within the Tiruvennainallur block in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu.
According to the report, on May 9, the members of the Dalit community organized a temple festival in their colony. The youngsters of the community had organized music and dance events coinciding with the festival.
One of the villagers, Ramesh, a member of the Vanniyar community, recorded the video of the celebrations and complained about the local police station over violation of the COVID-19 norms.
The complaint was filed even after the community members apologized to the upper caste members and avoid making an issue.
The police officials visited the village and seized the speakers and other equipment. The following day, the three elderly men had gone to the police station to assure that they would not repeat it. Leaving the men with a warning, the police returned their goods.
Later, a few Dalit youngsters asked Ramesh why he complained despite their request, which soon turned into a heated argument. The panchayat leaders who belong to the upper caste community asked the Dalit men to prostrate and bow down for their mistake. The video of the incident was purportedly recorded and shared on social media platforms.
The community members visited the station and narrated the incident. A counter complaint was filed by the Vanniyar community, claiming that the Dalits had threatened them with their lives.
Taking cognizance of the issue, district Collector A Annadurai, SP Radhakrishnan, and other officials visited the village and conducted further inquiries. Police forces were deployed to avoid further chaos.
The police booked eight people of the upper caste community under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and two of them have been arrested so far. After the women staged a protest against people who allegedly issued death threats, the police charged over 50 members of the Dalit community.
Nearly 40 Dalit families and more than 200 families of other castes reside in the village.
Residents later filed a petition to the Superintendent of Police with the help of their advocates, seeking withdrawal of the counter FIR filed against Dalits and sought remand of the accused. "The counter case was filed as an act of revenge, and there is no truth in it. We demand that the SP investigates the truth and withdraws cases against the Dalit men who are targeted by the caste Hindus," The Indian Express quoted the residents.
The residents said that such atrocities were faced by the community whenever someone went to fetch water or conduct any events in the area. They were also barred from accessing any amenities available in the village on different occasions.