A village which lived in harmony is now flared with communal tension
VIRUDHNAGAR: Saalai Maraikulam village in Kariapatti taluk in Virudhunagar district has been an example of the dominant community and dalits living in harmony for several decades. But, recently the village witnessed several unpleasant incidents, due to which communal tension has become rife, and police deployed to prevent untoward incidents.
The village has around 600 families belonging to the dominant community (agamudayars) and 100 families belonging to a Scheduled Caste (SC) community (paraiyars).
People from both communities used to attend functions at each other’s houses and despite communal clashes in many villages in the southern districts, the village remained peaceful.
However, about four months ago, some members of the dalit community put up a poster ahead of a family function, which had pictures of certain dalit leaders. The other side reportedly opposed this, and since then, several unpleasant incidents have taken place in the village.
The dominant community allegedly do not allow the other group to use the private lands and wastelands now for cattle grazing. The SC people own about 1,000 cattle and the dung is used as a fertiliser. However, the recent problems have affected their livelihood.
“There are about 48 acres of common land in our village. There too, they did not allow cattle grazing. Since we cannot get grazing fields, our livelihood has been affected and we are selling our cattle,” said M Periyasamy, a member of the dalit community.
“After the dispute (over the poster), they started humiliating us. They would not sell tea or grocery to us.
Instead, we had to set up tea shops and grocery shops ourselves,” said B Roobanraj, another member.
Boobanraj added that the dalits had lodged complaints with the A Mukkulam police, but they did not take any proper action. “They (the dominant community) attacked our houses, vehicles and people. I sustained a head injury in one attack. But we were not satisfied with the police action on the incidents.,” he claimed.
However, members of the agamudayar community denied that they started the trouble. T Muthuraj from the community said there had been no such posters praising the leaders of the dalit and thevar communities.