Paramakudi police firing is a result of an “anti-Dalit bias” among police and government officials and a few belonging to dominant castes, who are unable to digest the economic mobility and assertion of the Dalits, says a fact-finding report.
A fact-finding team, comprising civil rights activists and intellectuals from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, visited Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram and Madurai on September, 19 and 20 and met the family members of the deceased and injured at hospitals, government officials and general public to inquire about the police firing and subsequent attack in which six Dalits were killed and many injured.
The team said here on Wednesday that casteist forces among the State machinery and certain sections of the dominant castes did not like to see Dalits getting organised and celebrate Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja in a big way.
The team found a letter circulated by Aappa Nadu Maravars Sangam, Mudukulathur, asking its members to take efforts to prevent Immanuel Sekaran’s guru puja which was getting attention equivalent to that of Muthuramalinga Thevar’s guru puja.
Against this background, a Dalit school boy, Palani Kumar of Pallapacheri, was murdered on September 9, following which five members were arrested. But the Chief Minister cited a wall writing with objectionable words against Muthuramalinga Thevar in Thevar-dominated Muthuramalingapuram and Dalit-dominated Pacheri as the reason for the murder. But Muthuramalingapuram was a village where Dalits could not walk with their footwear on. How could a Dalit boy walk up to the ration shop in the middle of the village with ease to make wall a writing on a seven-foot-high wall, they posed.
The team found that among 28 Dalit students at Mandalamancikam Government High School 23 got their transfer certificates and moved to another school because of caste animosity during 2010-11.
Eyewitnesses at the riot torn area and youth who sustained bullet injuries said that tear gas shells and water cannons, which were mandatory, were not used before resorting to firing. They also said that the policemen started to attack after abusing them by their caste names and this showed the casteist attitude among the state machinery.
The fact finding team condemned the Chief Minister’s statement justifying the police firing in the Assembly which reflected an “anti-Dalit” outlook. The CM should retract her statement because it had given an impression among the Dalits that there would be no room for justice for them, the team said.
While demanding a CBI inquiry into the firing, the team sought the suspension and booking of cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against police officials Sandeep Mittal, Deputy Inspector General, K. A. Senthil Velan (Deputy Commissioner) and Sivakumar, Inspector.
Families of the deceased should be given a compensation of Rs.10 lakh each, along with a government job. Dalit villages in and around Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram lacked proper basic amenities and had been neglected for long. The government should provide them basic facilities.
Government should also provide details of how many among the policemen and revenue officials in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram and surrounding areas were Dalits and other dominant castes to assess the situation sociologically.
Immanuel Sekaran’s anniversary should be announced as a government function and the road leading to his memorial widened. The team said that government should take efforts to sensitise government officials on issues related to caste and inculcate democratic and constitutional values among them. The team was led by writer A. Marx of People’s Union for Human Rights.
The Hindu / 21.09.2011.