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Temple No Longer Off-Limits! Pudukottai Collector's Intervention Helps Dalit Community Enter Place Of Worship

Barred from temple entry for generations, the Adi Dravidar families were finally able to step within the temple premises and offer their prayers after the Pudukottai Collector's intervention.

Decades after many freedom fighters struggled for equality and the longest handwritten constitution ensuring rights were crafted, many parts of the country continue to practice regressive casteism and discrimination. Rural villages are among such regions where these practices are deep-rooted and have posed a challenge in establishing an equal society. While eradicating casteism may seem like a far-fetched dream, small measures adopted by people in power are bringing hope for a community where rights are guaranteed to one and all. One such recent news was welcomed from the quaint village of Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu.

Opening Temple Gates To All

Pudukkottai Collector Kavitha Ramu and Superintendent of police (SP) Vandita Pandey were inspecting the village on December 27 over an allegation of faeces found in the water tank used by the Dalit community. While inspecting the case, the collector spent nearly two hours in the panchayat interacting with the villagers and understanding their grievances. At the time, Kavitha was informed that the Adi Dravidar community residing in the village had been denied entry into the temple for generations.

Upon hearing their pleas, Kavitha and Vandita acted upon it immediately and took the families to pray at the Ayyanar temple in Vengavayal. Following this act of breaking past years of discrimination, the collector also booked a case under the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the dominant caste members of the village guilty of practising the crime.

Addressing Years Of Discrimination

According to a report by ABP Live, Kavitha was also able to understand the prevalence of the two-tumbler system carried out in the shops in the village. The two-tumbler system is a practice where tea store owners maintain separate cups and do not permit Dalits members to drink from the same glasses used by upper caste members. After having heard the complaints from people, Kavitha inspected the situation and found tea shops involved in the two-tumbler practice. Directing officials to take action against the shopkeepers, she warned that stern action would be taken against those indulging in discriminatory acts.

Water That Brought Multiple Crimes To Light

Three children from the 31 Adi Dravidar families in Vengaivayal were hospitalised at the Pudukkottai Government Medical College Hospital after consuming contaminated water. During the treatment, the doctor directed the family to check the water that was being consumed in the village. Following this, the villagers investigated the lone overhead tank supplying water to the Scheduled Caste members and were shocked to know that the water was contaminated with faeces.

After the incident came to light, Gandharvakkottai MLA M Chinnadurai, and Pudukottai town DSP G Ranghavi, among others, came down to the village to inspect the issue. As a part of the inspection, the collector also came by and looked into the medical camp organised to treat infections and possible diseases that could spread through the contaminated community drinking water. Kavitha then constituted a committee, including Revenue Divisional Officer; the Project Officer, District Rural Development Agency; the Adi Dravidar Welfare Officer; and a police officer of the rank of a Deputy Superintendent, to conduct necessary inquiries and find out the person behind the deed. The committee has also been entrusted to look into the community's infrastructure needs and was directed to supply water to the families from a bigger overhead tank.

In the wake of the incident, the district administration has created a WhatsApp number (9443314417) for people to relay information on any form of discrimination they face. The Revenue Department officials have also been directed to convene a peace meeting to ensure everyone was allowed to worship in the temple.

Also Read: Hunger, Thirst & Curse Of Being 'Untouchable': What Made Ambedkar The Man Of His Principles

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Jayali Wavhal
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar

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